CONSTITUTIONAL EFFECTS OF ALUMINIUM


CONSTITUTIONAL EFFECTS OF ALUMINIUM.
 Read before I.H.A., Bureau of Materia Medica, June 25, 1936.

V.T. CARR, M.D.


I wish to call your attention to the untold amount of damaging influence aluminum and its compounds may create in the human body on its fluids and tissues. I feel no apology is due for making this a seemingly personal matter. Before I am through I have reason to believe that you will consider it one of the most vital subjects with which we must acquaint ourselves if we are to be masters of the Healing Art. Should my personal experience succeed in directing your sincere thought and efforts to investigate this most insidious influence which has and is now dragging down the innocent to an untimely grave, I have not lived in vain.

Given every advantage for starting a life, I was physically rugged with an abundance of ambition backed up by a determined will. To my parents I am immeasurably indebted for teaching me how to preserve the soul, mind and body unsullied from degrading habits, questionable or otherwise. Words do not express the gratitude for the advice and skill of my professional colleagues in the conquest against ill health through the four decades of my life.

During this time it is important to mention that there were a few critical events. The first one at the age of twenty-two years was pulmonary tuberculosis; at twenty-seven years, partial left-sided paralysis; at twenty-nine a severe attack of jaundice followed by a perceptible paretic-like state; and lastly, chronic hypertrophy of the liver with severe gastric disturbances and with terrific headaches.

From ten years of age, extending over a period of forty three years, to August, 1933, I ate all of my food prepared in aluminum kitchen utensils with a few exceptions, an iron kettle and an iron griddle and eight years away from home. After long, weary and dreary years of unsuccessful fighting for release from my bondage, I was advised to discard all aluminum cooking utensils. As the antidotal treatment removed the mental depression, an interesting study from authentic sources followed on the clinical aspects of chronic poisoning by aluminium and its alloys.

Tracing back the symptoms I found the common prominent ones were present in the beginning though lighter in form. Increasing in intensity with advancing years, it is interesting to note at the age of thirty-nine years these symptoms without exception were greatly modified by eating for several months uncooked foods, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and milk. Surely the problem of my ill-health was solved and I concluded the sole cause was wrong eating. Unknowingly, I was eating non-aluminized food.

Circumstances, however, prohibited the continuance in the eating of uncooked foods. Returning to the modern approved balanced diet, cooked and uncooked foods, I was sadly disappointed when I sank deeper into the grip of mysterious something. The use of catharsis with enemas for the obstinate constipation and fasting a day or two for relieving the terrific depressive headaches were only palliative measures.

Three main groups of symptoms were discernible in my case, viz., gastrointestinal, cutaneous and general including neuromental. It is of interest to mention here that Dr. Leo Spira made the same grouping of symptoms by a systematic examination of cases extending over a period of ten years. To quote Dr. Spira: “A very careful medical study of a disease picture which exhibits considerable variety and yet, on the whole, presents a uniform complex of chronic signs and symptoms.” Established methods of treating these diseases proved ineffective. “An opportunity to investigate the reason for this came when I, myself, (Dr. Spira) hitherto in perfect health, became a victim to chronic disease.” (More will be written on this later.).

Dr. Spira emphasized the occurrence of gastrointestinal disturbances in all cases, with constipation the outstanding feature. If it is not habitual, it is present from time to time. In my case, with the increased severity of constipation, bilious headaches occurred about three times yearly. From twenty to about thirty-five years of age, I wakened nearly every morning with a dull, sore feeling, a bruised sensation in the right side of my head. Then the pain increased in severity with a hot sensation, to appear as a rule after rising and quietly moving about.

During the past several years the sore, bruised sensation started at the base of the brain or in the right side extending through the entire brain, finally centering with all vengeance, as the day advanced, in the fore part of the head. At times with the headache, a dull sore sickening feeling extended down the right side into the gall bladder region. At the same time, with coldness of the hands and feet, the body was very sensitive to the changes in temperature. The headache with all of its symptoms would disappear either by a long nights sleep, by a day or two of fasting or by vomiting at first a yellow, then a greenish vomitus.

It seems that as the gastrointestinal symptoms progressed, metabolic disturbances developed. By general observation, many cases gradually lose weight, a few become obese, while some remain normal in weight. In the early part of my life I had a greedy appetite; however, my weight remained normal. After my twentieth year, I gradually lost twenty-five pounds, followed by anaemia which remained more or less constant. Then I experienced dryness and a fine bran-like scaling of the skin with a roughening on the legs and arms.

A stinging, biting sensation induced scratching, followed by smarting sensation. Pruritus. In the advanced stage, excoriation and rhagadae occurred between the toes, exuding a sticky fluid when rubbed. Furuncles appeared inside and around the nose, on the chin and on both forefingers in the same location. They changed to a smooth, reddish, slightly raised lesion and developed finally into a cicatrix.

The third group in the symptom complex is characterized by mental depression together with a paralytic loss of power. (C.M. Boger). This gradually proved a great liability in the performance of either physical or mental work. Concentration became exceedingly difficult in my school and college work. I felt I was trying to do something for which I did not have the require amount of energy. Near the age of twenty-five years my physical powers were decidedly limited. After a short period of violent exertion, I became tremulous with vertigo. In a mental way the depression and dullness of emotions seemed to create a strong tendency for fixed ideas. With moments of inquietude and irritability there was a mixture of anxiety, timidity and fear.

During these times, there was a dislike for company. Naturally slowness of perception, want of attention with weakness of memory were present. The deeper the mental depression, the more I was haunted by gruesome ideas. To complete this picture, the paretic-like condition was expressed in nearly every function, viz., respirations were shallow, the voice was thin and weak, sensation of weakness and lassitude in the back, extending up into the head with an unconquerable sleepy feeling. I desired to speak but it was impossible – too tired to speak; heaviness of the legs and staggering when walking; stasis of the bowels caused obstinate constipation accompanied by flatulence, sluggish circulation with varicosity in the legs, coldness and blueness of feet and hands.

My pulse rate for many years has been between 60 and 75, at rest; and systolic readings from 80 to 100 with pulse pressure 15 to 25. The signs present in the alimentary tract were sensation of fullness and of tightness in the stomach region, empty eructations when changing position; inactivity or slow expulsive power of the rectum with the stools either soft or large, hard and knotty; dryness of mouth, throat and rectum. Before going on the diet of uncooked food as previously described, I had severe colitis – bloody mucus with or without stools.

The tongue lost its normal aspect. It was large in size with an imprint of the teeth; it was covered with a thick, dirty, white fur. With slowing down of the human economy, naturally engorgement of the largest gland might be expected. When all the aluminum cooking utensils came into disuse and the antidotal treatment started, the edge of the liver was about three inches below the costal margin. It was sore and very tender to touch.

With this brief history of the symptoms of my case, I will now turn your attention to the experiences of others who were not only personally poisoned by aluminum and its alloys, but who observed the poisonous effects in their extensive practices.

Dr. Cooper mentions a case of a lady aged forty-seven years who had suffered for many years from rheumatic arthritis of the non- deformans type. This had been pronounced as progressive and incurable. The knees, ankles, feet, arms and shoulders were mainly affected. At times there was locking of the knees (joint dryness) with stiffness. She complained of pain running down the right side of the abdomen since removal of her appendix two years previous. Backache and a bearing down sensation were increasing in intensity. Constipation form want of expulsive power in the lower bowel. For many years eczematous spots affected the scalp and right eyebrow. She also suffered from a chronic postnasal catarrh.

She had used all aluminum utensils in her cooking for years. Discarding the utensils, all of the symptoms lessened in severity and in two months time she was greatly improved. A maid in the employ of this patient had attacks of indigestion for about two years; medical treatment gave only temporary relief. The pain, including nausea without any vomiting, would come on a few hours after eating to be relieved by eating again. Incidentally, her indigestion disappeared as if by magic subsequent to the disuse of aluminum dishes.

In Dr. Coopers own case, compressive headaches on waking mornings made work laborious. A feeling of looseness of the upper teeth with sensitiveness of the gums when compressing the jaws. For two years, he had been troubled by an apparent looseness of the knee joints when either foot met unevenness in the ground. Stopping aluminum resulted in the loss of all of the above symptoms and in his own words, “I have been decidedly better mentally and physically”.

There prevailed a far-reaching malady of unknown origin in England. It was much discussed in the French medical journals, before and during Dr. Spiras ten years of study and observation on this matter, viz., four years on the continent, especially at Carlsbad, and six years work in England. Symptoms from all of the three groups occurred among the patients so afflicted. Of course it cannot be assumed that each and every case developed all the symptoms to the same marked degree.

The symptoms of one particular group predominated or there was found to be a few symptoms from all the three groups. However, constipation was present in almost every patient with gastrointestinal symptoms varying in character, including anorexia, furred tongue, nausea, retching, vomiting, borborygmi (noise of gas in bowels) and flatulence. Tympanites with firmness of the abdominal walls was very common; also frequent occurrence of colicky pain suggestive of gastric ulcer, colitis, appendicitis, etc.

The nervous group of symptoms were no less in importance. “They comprised depression, and even melancholia, loss of energy and general lassitude”.

The cutaneous manifestations of different forms and varieties occurred with greater frequency in England. Itching was present in nearly all forms. Sometimes intensive itching ushered in the skin changes; and later it decreased in severity. The skin lesions simulated eczema of all stages. There were found urticarias, boils, dermatitis in its varieties, furuncles, etc., and what seems peculiar and possibly distinctive is the frequency and the severity of the symptoms in the extremities, the hands and feet.

It was common to find skin diseases anatomically related to these parts – lesions ordinarily attributed to be vasomotor neurosis or fungus in origin. However, no fungus could be detected and the vaso-motor neurosis would be absent. Where the fungus was found, local treatment of any kind failed to make an impression. In fact so many forms of maladies pursued a chronic course, defying all known remedial measures, and in addition to this, they all had in common the triad symptom- complex, viz., gastrointestinal, cutaneous and neuromental, all of which strongly suggested some unknown causative factor.

Here was a challenge. By self-observation, Dr. Spira correlated the symptoms in his own case with those he had so untiringly investigated, the character of which has just been summarily described.

That he might solve this puzzling situation, he chose the “empiric method of elimination”. At first each article of food in his own case was gradually struck off of the list, even all water was boiled before using. To avoid possible contamination from cistern water, as in bathing, the cisterns in his house were emptied and cleansed. Theory of an organic poison and food idiosyncrasies cast aside, attention was given to the utensils in which food was prepared.

Now as a fact, all of the cooking utensils used in the house were made of aluminum. In as much as they were kept clean by soda or special cleansing powders, for the sake of experiment, only water and brush was used. Consequently the gastrointestinal symptoms and “the rebellious skin disease eczema diagnosed ringworm and the affections very similar to dhobi-itch came to a standstill”. Dr. Spira continues by saying his improvement was more pronounced by the removal altogether of the aluminum cooking utensils – tinned foods, hard aluminized or chlorinated tap water running through lead pipes.

It must therefore be assumed that all of the symptoms were due to a poison contained in the aluminum utensils. For medication, he used high grade charcoal and an aperient to absorb and eliminate the accumulated poisons. A restricted diet was used, consisting mainly of fruit and vegetables, raw and cooked, potatoes, baked with their jackets, and soft-boiled eggs. Tap water was excluded in boiling the food. Following this same course of treatment with the puzzling protracted cases, after every other method had failed, in his own words – it resulted in the most rapid disappearance of all the symptoms, including the skin manifestations.

COMPOSITION OF ALUMINUM UTENSILS.

As a metal, aluminum is so tenacious in its chemical affinity that its reduction and refining process from its ore is performed by electrolysis. The commercial product is derived in part from the bauxite ore which contains impurities, chiefly silicon as high as 7 per cent, iron oxide and titanium oxide. Another ore, cryolite, carries aluminum as a fluorid. The cryolite has proved too expensive, so a synthetic compound is used for the present. This artificial cryolite contains comparatively more fluorine than the natural mineral, viz., four molecules NaF as compared with three molecules NaF.

During the reduction-refining process of the bauxite ore, the mass comes in direct contact with the carbon lining of the furnace box. This lining is made of petroleum coke, with a suitable oil or tar binder rammed in place. The anodes suspended in the mass are of like composition as that of the lining (cathode).

Now the alumina obtained from the bauxite is dissolved with the liquid cryolite, then the salts of calcium and more aluminum fluorids are added. Again the mass comes in contact with the carbon of the cathode and anodes which disintegrate into the aluminum and its alloys. Thus, with the passing of a direct current through the mixture, aluminum is separated, together with some impurities.

Before marketing the reduction product, grading is attempted according to the amount of impurities. Almost limitless in number, the chief ones are iron, silicon, carbides, copper, sulphides, sodium, fluorines and sometimes manganese, zinc, lead and antimony. The sandcast cooking utensil is now preferred by the manufacturers because to is appearance of durability and to some degree is more substantial.

DISINTEGRATION OF COOKING ALUMINUM UTENSILS.

It would seem that this should not be disputed. Observant housewives ofttimes remark that the metal tarnishes, roughens not only by scraping but also by pitting. To make a simple test, boil drinking water thirty minutes in an aluminum dish, pour the water into a glass jar and allow it to stand until cold. Aluminum, with impurities as a precipitate, is seen in the bottom of the jar. Repeat the boiling water test in pyrex or in enamel ware and the water remains clear.

Aluminum is attacked by acids and is soluble in alkalis. Sour cherries cooked in the metal dish and allowed to stand many hours will cause pitting of the metal.

Carbonate of soda added to vegetables, which is frequently done in their cooking, gives a dull effect to the metal and creates a dark scum on the sides of the dish. The solution responds decidedly to the test of aluminum. Some manufacturers caution their customers against the use of soda, or any cleanser containing an alkali, on their aluminum ware.

M.I. Makushenko, in Factors Affecting The Corrosion Of Aluminum, leaves no room to doubt the poor wearing qualities of aluminum cooking utensils:.

The corrosion of aluminum by moisture and natural water depends upon external factors as well as upon physico-chemical properties of the metal. Weakly, alkaline water effects the quickest destruction of aluminum; hard, neutral spring water affects the aluminum but slightly. Moistening the aluminum and drying in air produces a deep deterioration. Addition of salt or soda increases the corroding properties of water, and these compounds are the main cause of the rapid deterioration of aluminum. Some foodstuffs, like boiled rice, after being kept a long time in aluminum vessels, have a deep effect. Of the technical impurities in aluminum, the resistance to corrosion is lowered most by copper, iron, and zinc. Non-metallic impurities (carbides, sulphides and fluorines – V.T.C.) likewise lower the resistance of corrosion, as do internal defects such as blow- holes, porosity, etc. Polishing has a favorable influence.

ABSORPTION, DISTRIBUTION AND STORAGE OF ALUMINUM.

IN THE ANIMAL BODY.

As a prelude, it is well to mention here that aluminum is found in the human body in a very limited extent. Reports from physiochemists differ on how dispensable the metal is to life processes. The amount present in many instances is barely detectable. Therefore, in the human body it is termed a “trace element” and little understood as to its function.

As early as 1911, Prof. Geis called attention to the significant results obtained by the assistances of his collaborators of the effects of aluminum compounds. I quote from his summary:.

These studies have convinced me that the use in food of alum or any other aluminum compound is dangerous practise. That the aluminum ion is very toxic is well known. That “aluminized” food yields soluble aluminum compounds to gastric juices and stomach contents has been demonstrated. That such soluble aluminum is absorbed in some degree and carried to all parts of the body by the blood, can no longer be doubted. That the organism can “tolerate” such treatment without suffering harmful consequences has not been shown.

In the same year, 1911, at the suggestion and with the material aid of Geis, Khan adequately determined by experiments with standardized methods and tests, the quantitative amounts of aluminum in organs and tissues of dogs, thereby substantiating Prof. Geis findings. Fed aluminized biscuits daily during the short periods from fifty-two days to two months, the average amount of aluminum in milligrams found in three dogs were: in the blood, 26.1; bile, 22.8; liver, 16.6; muscle, 7.7; pancreas, 6.6; kidneys, 6.2; spleen 4.9. General conclusions:.

1. When biscuits baked with alum baking powders are fed in a mixed diet to dogs, aluminum passes in considerable amounts into the blood.

2. The absorbed aluminum circulates freely, and, although it does not show a tendency to increase proportionately in the blood, it accumulates to some extent in various parts of the body.

3. Aluminum is absorbed in part and is excreted to some extent in both the bile and urine.

Realizing the prevailing controversy between those who believe that aluminum compounds added to foods are harmful and those who took the opposite view, Underhill and Peterman began their investigation. In 1922 they devised a delicate and accurate methods, the alizarine method, to avoid serious criticism as to conclusions. As a consequence, new facts were added which throws valuable light on the aluminum problem. Possibly one reason for their success, aside from their accuracy and precision, is the use of animals in sufficient numbers, sixty-seven in all, to bring out the variations relative to the behavior of aluminum in the body.

The quote “Individual animals (as well as humans) vary widely in their response to any given treatment, is well known and must always be borne in mind.” Time and again throughout their expositions and discussions on their experiments, it was emphasized that when results are examined, it is found no definite laws for aluminum absorption may be formulated. Here again, we read, “It is evident that wide variations in the aluminum content of the blood may occur at different times following the ingestion of food containing comparatively large quantities of it.” Consequently when the averages were made with sixty-seven subjects, a reasonable degree of fairness rendered valid conclusions, as follows:.

After prolonged periods of feeding with food rich in aluminum, absorption of the metal decreased. However, aluminum continues to be absorbed when aluminum-rich diets are fed for various periods of time.

Tissues of older animals contain more aluminum than embryonic or puppy tissues.

It is indicated that there exists a direct relationship between the age of an animal and the quantity of aluminum stored in its tissues.

The aluminum absorbed circulates in the blood, and is stored especially in the liver, brain, kidneys, spleen and thyroid.

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V. T. Carr