IN recent years the public has to a great extent been over- educated with regard to the existence of his bowel. Taught that constipation figures as the root and causes of most ills, the idea is almost prevalent that we would be better without the last nine feet of bowel, better known as the colon or large intestine. At any rate, we endure its presence on sufferance, and the only remedy to prevent it from suffering the whole gamut of disease is to see that nothing ever lingers within its walls for long, and to hurry on the contents with “non-griping”, “non-habit forming” and “gentle” laxatives.
Thus the patent medicine vendor has approached the glib ignorance of the public to sell his wards, by using the emotional and personal factors in his scheme of advertisement. And being a subject which the great proportion of the community consider unethical and unmoral to inquire deeply into, similar to matters relating to problems of sex, most of the evils of so-called constipation arise from ignorance and misrepresentation.
To cure constipation by means of laxatives, is comparable to curing headaches with aspirin, and the use of this method certainly will bring about eventually, a break-down in the eliminative machinery of the body, opening the door to nearly every ailment as man already believes.
To understand the problem, one must search a little further than reading popular adverts, seeking not only the cause of constipation but also its rational methods of cure.
Its causes, to most readers of this journal must be partially known ; causes such as fundamentally and biologically the wrong food with its train of malnutrition of every system, lack of vitamins and mineral salts, also lack of proper mechanical stimulus in the food waste which the body is trying to propel onwards. Causes such as structural abnormalities, set up by bad posture, strain, overloading the system and irregular routine.
Lastly, but not least are the psychological causes of an emotional repressive nature, fears anxiety and nervous, does not always effect even a fifty per cent cure, because usually by the time the patient admits to himself that he actually suffers from constipation, the condition has progressed farther than that begun by the original causative factor, and the condition is not just constipation but intestinal toxaemia. To purge to lubricate, and thrust out the accumulated debris in the colon with laxatives in not the remedy, for the toxaemia will remain.
To understand why laxatives can be harmful and how the effects of constipation can become progressive in its effect on the bowel one must first understand something of the anatomy and physiology of the colon.
The latter begins as the caecum, to which is attached the appendix, where the coils of the small intestine end. The caecum is situated low down on the right hand side of the body, in the region which most people know as the appendix area. It then travels vertically upwards as the ascending colon to the lower surface of the liver, roughly the margin of the right ribs, where it bends at right angles and proceeds as the transverse colon to the opposite side of the body, ending a little higher. It then takes another sharp turn downwards and becomes the descending colon, and when it reaches the level of the pelvis it is called the pelvic colon.
After following the inner contour of the pelvis, turning inwards and backwards it becomes the sigmoid colon, and after several more fairly sharp turns it finally becomes the rectum and so passes out of the body at the sphincter valve known as the anus. On an average the whole large intestine or colon is none feet in length, but as its overall length is shortened by the fact that it is slightly coiled and forms shallow pouches and narrowed portion it is able to fit into a comparatively short space. However it can dilated to a treatment capacity at times if its contents is great.
Normally food passes through the colon very slowly, there being on an average only one to three peristaltic or propelling movements occurring during twenty-four hours, and usually when the disgusted food reaches the caecum from the small intestine, it is of a fairly fluid consistency, and in the ascending and transverse colon much of this fluid is absorbed back into the lymphatic circulation, so by the time the faces reach the rectum, which is similar to a strong tank it is of a fairly solid and compact nature, taking up very much less room than it did previously.
Obviously the construction of the colon cannot be entirely similar throughout, as in its first half it has to deal with mostly fluid substances and in the last half, much more solid matter in fact, the ascending and anatomically adapted to absorption of fluid substances, greater dilatation and lesser motor power or spasticity.
The rest of the colon absorbs much less readily, has greater muscles tone and is mostly concerned with propelling the contents of the bowel onwards whilst the natural flora or bacteria present complete their work of breaking down certain substances in the faeces. What happens when constipation becomes chronic ? Firstly the nervous reflexes of the bowel are partly dislocated, and a person feels little urge to go to stool.
This happens for either of two reasons usually (1) that the walls of the bowels have become so coated with mucous, old encrusted particles of faeces and weakened with the continual overloading and dilatation from gaseous substances that the intrinsic muscles of the abdomen are generally in a similar condition. (2) That the motor function of the second half of the colon has become exceedingly tense and spastic, owing to the unsuitable food substances in the diet, inattention to natures calls, extreme mental and bodily tension, and bad habits of posture, with the results that the caecum becomes grossly dilated, and complete disharmony exists in the entire large intestine.
Secondly because the faeces remain an unnaturally long time in the bowel poisonous substances are produced from the fermentation of starch and cellulose residues and putrefaction of nitrogenous elements from protein foods. Unfavorable bacterial reaction sets in on this account and the natural flora of the intestine is reduced. Thus a vicious circle occurs while a slow auto- intoxication from the absorption of these poisonous substances takes place, with all its train of infections throughout the system.
Thirdly the colon tends to acquire an abnormal position in relation to the rest of the viscera. The dilatation of the caecum drags situated in the pelvis. The transverse colon frequently becomes lengthened and sags down in a large loop on account of the weight of excessive pressure from within. The descending colon also sometimes sags and crowds down into the lower pelvis causing kinks and depressions into the lower bowel, giving rise to accumulations of highly toxic gas and large quantities of hardened faeces.
So it is not just a matter of giving a laxative to overcome constipation, for laxatives generally work on the following principles. The absorption of water into the bowels to render the faces more fluid ; the irritation of the mucous lining of the bowel to set up pseudo peristalsis.
The giving of a substance which will absorb of mechanical stimulus by reason of its bulk ; and the giving of various non-absorbable mineral oils to lubricate the passage of the stool. All these, it is obvious, only partially attack merely the actual contents of the bowels, leaving the bowels structure to look after itself regardless as to whether the laxative injures the bowel, and forgetful of the fact that the very contents itself is largely causative. The giving of a laxative only hurries on the fermenting food residues through an overburdened and complaining colon.
THE CURE AND RECONSTRUCTION.
The all important factors in the cure of constipation such as the application of a suitable diet to fit the case, the adoption of a regular effort (not straining) to go to the stool and remedial exercises to overcome the muscular atony are not be dealt with in this article, the method that is to be considered is the method of colon irrigation.
This method is a direct attack upon the bowel itself, the main draining system of the body, and aims at removing not only the accumulated faeces, toxins and food residue contained in the bowels, but it aims at actually cleansing the very walls of the colon, destroying the harmful bacterial flora, breaking up the catarrhal adhesions of the lining, reinstating the faulty mechanism of peristalsis through stimulated movement and also to a lesser extent the straightening out of the kinks and dropped portions of the intestine.
Through this method of cleansing, the secretions of the bowel which assist in the normal function occurring in this part of the body are encouraged to operate again.
Water is the chief factor in this therapy, for water is the greatest purifier of nature, and when wisely applied will do much to restore health. Christ himself taught that water was one of the necessary elements to obtain a purification of both body and soul. Its symbolical use was applied in many of the miracles he performed and was the chief factor in the greatest act of cleansing in the Christian faith, the ceremony of Baptism. Christ taught his followers to fast upon water and cleans themselves within by means of water.
The sick bathed in water and in the recent translations by Professor Edmund Sezekely of the Aramaic script of the Gospel of St. John, it is recorded that Christ ordered them to wash out their bowels with water by means of what we commonly call an enema.
But the therapy of colon irrigation takes us further than a mere enema, and has attained the level of a specialized technique. In achieving an active, rapid and effective elimination of toxins from the body and bowels it has no equal, yet its application is simplicity itself.
There have been several methods devised for the purpose of irrigation, some better than others, but the principle is the same throughout, namely to flush thoroughly the entire large intestine with water. It is usually done in stages. First the rectum and pelvic colon is emptied and then gradually the rest of the intestine. By this technique the water, flowing all the time, penetrates throughout its entire length entering into the smaller loops and depressions and removing all the accumulated debris adhering to the walls.
All the time the presence of the warm water is relaxing the tense and spastic portions of the bowels wall, and gently exercising the intrinsic muscles to form peristalsis and propel the dissolved faecal masses and toxins away. The kinked and sagging portions are filled out and the constant movement assists the bowels to return to its normal position and shape and by strengthening the muscles to maintain this recovered tone.
That briefly is how the system of colon irrigation operated, and by a few clever inventions, the pressure of the water can always be controlled flowing into the bowel, at the same time circulating it right round to the caecum. Also there are ingenious devices for checking the operation when difficult passages have to be traversed.
In some cases certain medicaments are added to the water for the neutralizing of over acid condition, for removing mucus and hardened faecal masses, and for replacing a suitable soil for the natural flora to proliferate on. Varying temperatures are employed for excessively spastic bowels and for those very devoid of tone. The whole process is almost painless and the majority find it a very comforting treatment, giving them a feeling of exhilaration and cleanliness afterwards.
Of course in serious cases of constipation and in fact any disease where this condition exists several treatments are necessary to achieve complete cleanliness of the bowel, but cases of years standing where laxatives have been employed daily, a natural motion is brought about in a very short time because the whole bowel is re- constructed are re-educated.