SYMPTOMS OCCURRING DURING FASTING
In some diseased conditions the action of the heart is low, in others, it is high. While it is reasonable to expect that the beat of the heart will show lower register when the blood is laden with waste and is dense in quality, after all, physiological temperament determines heart action both normal and abnormal. Disease in some subjects is invariably accompanied with fever and a rapid pulse; in others a sluggish heart with lowered temperature prevails. But whether in disease heart action be high or low, poisonous substances are present in the blood, and these acting upon the nerves that control the heart, the latter may develop irregularities that seem to indicate organic defect, and that are often so diagnosed. But, following the argument of the text, it is obvious that, whatever the symptom, improvement in heart action must necessarily result in a fast when elimination has advanced sufficiently to have removed the major portion of poison circulating in the blood. No fear need be entertained concerning the ability of the heart to perform its function during a fast, for the organ, as each day goes by has lighter work to do, and it is served with the increasing nerve power of a system that is gradually purifying itself.
As soon as a fast is entered, elimination asserts its predominance. In many instances desire for food is replaced by repugnance, and there is no hunger until the process of purification is completed. The very odor of food, and even the perfume of flowers are to some subjects annoying. In aggravated form this symptom offers the possibility of serious organic deficiency. This statement is not to be taken as conclusive or as a rule, for often in cases in whom bilious excretion predominates, eases whose illness is purely functional in origin, the symptom described occurs. In any event it should be carefully studied and its immediate causes analyzed.
In some instances patients have claimed the sensation of false hunger, of appetite, from the beginning to the end of the fast, but this was due to irritative conditions. There are variations in this sign, more or less to be attributed to the time devoted to the preliminaries, and, when the fast is properly begun and properly continued, neither false hunger nor true hunger is ever in evidence until the end.
Another symptom always present is the thick yellowish-white coat donned by the tongue during abstinence from food. This is in evidence until the impurities of the body are eliminated, and the clearing of the surface of the tongue is one of the positive signals that indicate a complete and successful fast. This coat deposited upon the tongue is perhaps the simplest sign of a foul internal state, and it is also an indication that elimination of impurities is taking place. When food stimulation due to excess supply dominates elimination, the coated tongue, then invariably present, signifies the effort of nature to rid the system of gathering waste. At times during a fast, when the secretions of the body continue to be acid in character, an apparently clean tongue may develop, and in this event strict interpretation of the symptom might lead to the inference that the system is cleansed and is ready again for feeding. The "acid tongue" is easily recognized, for pulse and temperature assist in guidance, while it is altogether probable that additional evidence of its cause will be discovered in the appearance of small ulcers or cankers upon the mucus membrane of the mouth or upon the tongue itself.
Like the tongue, the breath becomes laden with disagreeable evidences of a foul interior, and during the earlier portion of the fasting period, its odor is most offensive. Gradual improvement in this respect is an indicator of the progress of purification which the body is undergoing, and the termination of a successful fast is heralded by an odorless breath.
One of the products of fermentation within the body during disease is known by the name of acetone. There is no doubt that acetone, the result of the decomposition of organic matter, is present in greater or lesser degree in many cases during the fast. It is not at any time necessarily a product of the albumen of food, but is more probably the result of the destruction of that part of the body albumen that has come from the breaking down of tissue cells, waste that, instead of being normally eliminated, is retained with consequent decomposition. In other words, the material that produces acetone has served its purposes as living cell growth. In cases under medical treatment its presence is regarded with dread, and at times when it appears, as it is apt to in anaesthetized subjects under the knife of the surgeon, operations have been abandoned because of the fear of death while the paralysis of the anaesthetic endures. Its appearance in a patient undergoing a fast is an indication of derangement of more than ordinary gravity. In health there is no production of acetone, since discarded cell waste is eliminated before fermentation can occur. Once food is denied and cell refuse is discharged into the channels of evacuation, acetone, when it is present, appears in all the excretions, and its characteristic ether-like odor is most pronounced. In cases like these one of the signs of the beginning of the end of the fast is discovered in the disappearance of acetone from urine, breath, and excrete generally. It is then no longer formed, since the body is again in position to produce normal healthy cell structure balanced by normal elimination of waste.
In disease it is quite usual to observe body odors that are unpleasant. These are again manifestations of foulness within, manifestations signifying that toxins exist, and that nature is seeking to remove them through every organ of elimination, not the least of which is the skin. One experienced in handling mental disease soon becomes expert in distinguishing the marked odor attached to most lunatics. Even in the milder forms of nervous derangement, such as hysteria, emanation from the body is distinctly changed, so much so that it is frequently noticed by the patient himself. Effluvium, usually disagreeable in character, is present in disease other than that connected with the mental processes and with the nerves--witness, for instance, the distinctive odor of the victim of pulmonary tuberculosis. Because of the predominance of the eliminative function during a fast, the smell of the body is then decidedly more perceptible than is the case in functional disease when food is supplied. So true is this that the presence of a fasting subject can at once be detected by one familiar with the phenomena of the method. The excretions at this time are strongly impregnated with bile, and the peculiar odor that is characteristic of this fluid is most apparent. This results because the entire system has been called into eliminative action, and temporary saturation is the result. The breath is laden with this ill-smelling exhalation until purification is complete, and the skin carries it until the latter point is reached in the progress of the fast.
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