History of Fasting

Theory of Fasting

The Technic Of Fasting

The Hygiene Of The Fast

Natural Therapy



MUSCULAR action in the body may be brought about in two ways--through the brain itself, or through internal or external physical causes. In both instances the nerve centers perform their functions, either in the inception of the thought or in the transfer of inward or outward cause. The act of moving the hand, for example, may originate in the brain, or it may occur because the member is in proximity to fire. In the former contingency the act begins with the thought in the brain, and nervous influence operates directly upon the muscles. In the second condition the sensory nerves inform the brain that the flesh is burning, and the brain sets in motion the muscles necessary to move the hand. In both cases the motive power emanates from the brain, and the phenomenon as observed may happen in connection with any specific portion of the body. Not only are these phenomena true of the muscles controlled by the will, but they may also be observed in similar phase in organs beyond the power of volition in function, as the heart, the lungs, and the stomach. Swallowing an emetic causes vomiting, an effect occasioned by muscular contraction of the stomach for the purpose of ejecting a substance irritating to the nerves of that organ. The mere sight or thought of a disgusting object may have the same consequence, and imagination is frequently able to produce results like those that are caused by the administration of a powerful drug or by a combination of physical conditions.

Every organic act, normal or abnormal, is due solely to a current sent from one of the great nerve centers, and the latter may be called into operation either directly by feeling or thought, or indirectly by reflex action. The mind and the emotions exercise large influence upon physical function, but the field over which that influence extends is comparatively little known. It is, in some respects, almost unbounded, for every bodily function may be hastened, retarded, or even totally suspended by the subjective effect of thought. Pleasurable emotions are physically wholesome; painful ones, the reverse; but, when too intense and sudden, either can terminate life.

The fibers of the pneumogastric nerve are distributed principally in and about the lungs and the stomach; hence its name. Whatever may be the motor functions that this nerve supplies, it has great power over the process of digestion, for, when its fibers are severed below those branches that extend to the trachea, digestion is virtually arrested. Nervous influence is essential to the proper action of the stomach, and, in the region of this organ, the nerves are so interlaced one with another that, even though the direct road be destroyed, by-paths will still remain for the passage of nerve energy. If the latter force were not needed in digestion, no reason would exist for the suspension of function by its withdrawal. This is well illustrated when it is observed that the invariable effect of worry, anxiety, fright, anger, and the like, is to arrest for a time all digestive action. Cause is obvious when the close connection that exists between the brain and the pneumogastric nerve is considered. Also, if nervous force is diverted in directions other than those pursued in the digestion of food, or if it is impeded by impingement of nerve substance at emergence from the spinal column, similar results ensue as when the pneumogastric nerve is severed.

Does the physical condition of the body in reflex affect the minds. Observation shows that it has such influence upon brain function that perfect reflection of physical condition is continuously displayed in the working of the intellect. A healthy and balanced mind can emanate only from a healthy body. The reverse is equally true.

In health the constructive and destructive changes that take place in the human body progress without noticeable diminution or increase in excellence of brain function so long as balance between assimilation and elimination is the rule. In conditions of debility from whatever cause, but especially when the intake of food is in excess of demand, and waste is accumulated in quantity too great for disposal by the eliminative organs, absorption of poisons generated in fermenting refuse retained in the intestinal tract is continuous, and the subject becomes a victim of autointoxication, is drunk with the products of his own decomposition. This condition, long continued, is no less baneful in effect than is that of alcoholic saturation, and in some instances it takes the form of insanity, while in all diminished brain power is in evidence.

The digestion of a meal with the subsequent forcing of food waste through the bowels consumes nerve energy in amount greater than is ordinarily conceived. Some investigators go so far as to say that the process involved requires nervous expenditure in excess of that demanded in the exercise of the voluntarily controlled muscles. In any event overfeeding never fails to result in weakened vitality. In the normal subject, sufficient food, perfectly digested and assimilated, produces a body with brain power equal to clear thought, an organism with a maximum of both physical and mental energy. Food in amount more than the individual requires entails excessive labor upon the organs of digestion, drain upon nerve power, and consequent of vitality.

Barring destructive changes in brain or nerve tissue from injury, the cause of mental disease is one and the same with that of physical unbalance. Physical signs invariably preceding mental danger signals should be heeded and remedied when first displayed. One of the simplest of these warnings is the drowsiness that overcomes the overfed. Here the nerves evince fatigue, and incidentally fatigue, both muscular and mental, is one of the safety valves of the human machine. If at this time stimulating effort is resorted to, results are always detrimental, for, as in exercise, to stifle a feeling of fatigue in order to be able to continue muscular exertion is like forcibly closing the safety gauge so that the boiler may be overheated. In other words, taking a stimulant when tired in order to whip up flagging physical or mental vigor subsequently leaves both body and mind in condition more exhausted than when the sensation of fatigue first signaled its warning. Likewise food, which in itself is stimulating in effect, taken when either physical or mental weariness is felt, carries its own quota of detrimental consequences.

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