SYMPTOMS are the phenomena of ill health, as well as of organic disease. Symptoms are generated by the reaction of the body to a noxious agent. The noxious agent may be a microbe, an over amount of otherwise nutritious material, an exposure to the elements, a nervous or a mental shock, or an injury.
In ill health as distinguished from organic disease, symptoms may be produced by an over or under action of some organ, or symptoms may be due to an invasion of the system by germs, or to the retention in the system of unoxidized food products; and yet again symptoms may be due to the defense mechanism of the organism.
All of these phenomenon may occur as a normal action as well as a result of a morbid condition. For instance, swallowing is a normal action; in sore throat repeated efforts at swallowing are excited by the local congestion. An abnormal reaction is always exaggerated, as compared to the normal.
The observation of these disturbed normal reflexions suggests the thought that many symptoms are produced by reflex disturbance. Thus stimulation and likewise inhibitions of functional activity may be symptom producers.
All the vital processes involved in the maintenance of life and health are dependent on the fundamental functions of the cell. The basic cell functions become modified for particular purpose in the higher organisms. Cell nourishment is transformed into cell energy, and when this energy is discharged, cell function manifests as secretion, excretion, contraction and perception, as of stimulation or sensation.
This discharge of energy is in response to a stimulus from without, which means the cell is excitable or capable of being stimulated. A fully energized cell is more excitable than when more or less exhausted from work already done.
The simplest stimulus may be heat or cold; or stimulation may come from food, drugs, internal glandular secretions, toxins of disease and nervous impulses from the cerebrospinal or sympathetic systems.
This is all preliminary to a brief consideration of modern medical thought. Today no one maintains an exclusive bacteriologic or chemical or physical theory of disease; neither does any medical thicker exclude the idea of an omnipresent, eternal, boundless and immutable principle, which is the one reality antecedent to all manifested and conditional being. This is the vis medicatrix naturae.
Physiology and bio-chemistry today relate to life in its protean manifestations and its equally protein reactions to its surroundings. Evolution of from has given way to a study of lifes inherent stability among forces that tend to its disintegration.
Changing function and not changing form is the line of investigation looking toward new therapeutic aids.
The virulence of the same type of organism, according to present-day bacteriologic data, varies in different circumstances. This change is of greater moment than change of form. Chemotherapy depends for its efficacy upon the way in which the body reacts. For instance, large doses inhibit and shall doses stimulate. To illustrate: Zelder has shown that the fermentative properties of yeast are increased by small doses of x-rays and decreased in large doses. Schamberg and Wright, in their experimental work, found that large doses of mercury not only act as a poison but actually depress the formation of antibodies, whereas small doses stimulate antibody formation as in syphilis.
It is the reaction of the body to the remedy that produces the cure. Included in this study of reaction are bodily reactions, which, one must not forget, are influenced by conditions of health, atmosphere and nourishment, as well as by emotional and intellectual stress.
Now then, in order to make some of this philosophy of practical utility in every-day practice, we shall make a grouping or symptoms, according to the idea first suggested by Dr. W.H. Burgess 1 under three heads, viz.:.
(1) Retention, or symptoms due to retention of morbid matters resulting within the body.
(2) Infection, or symptoms produced by the infection of pathogenic organisms foreign to the body.
(3) Enervation inducing catabolic changes and toxemia.
We, at this time, may pass by the symptoms due to injury and to poisons.
Chilly sensations, sneezing, coryza, obstructed respiration, fulness in the eyes and head. Harsh, dry skin, face of a purplish tint, at other times face may appear flushed. Rapid pulse. Soreness of muscle. Fever, at times rather high; coated tongue; perverted taste. Sore throat may be present, as well as renal activity. There may coexist rheumatism, neuralgia, bronchial exudate, cough and poor appetite.
Exposure is often the main cause of this group of retention symptoms. The skin shows it; the bluish tint and late the flushed face indicated that the surface circulation is disturbed and the dermal glands are impeded.
The increased nasal, lachrymal and renal secretions show that toxic material is retained in the system hence the glandular activity of the nasal mucous membrane and kidneys to excrete the toxins. The rapid yet labored pulse shows contracted capillaries, confirmed by the muscular soreness, fever and pains. Cough, bronchial exudate and rheumatism show chronicity of this retention state.
What should we do? Open the skin pores by warm baths of epsom salt, a tablespoonful to a bowl of warm water, the extremities frequently.
A great variety of ill-health symptoms depend on this one retention deviation from the normal. The element of retention which we have been describing underlies a host of human ailments. It is a symptom producer, and the remedies adapted to it are well known to the thinking prescriber. The remedy selected, coupled with epsom warm sponge baths, will work wonders in all such cases. To prevent recurrence, diet is of importance as we shall see later.
Aside from frequent warm epsom sponge baths, I may mention a few remedies.
Kali bichromicum.-Potassium is an important cell salt and an effective antitoxic remedy. Sulphur is synergesic to kali bichromicum and may be given together with it with advantage.
Aconite-In fever, pain and restlessness, this remedy is helpful and it prolongs the effect of the sponge baths. The remedy is most useful early and when the nasopharyngeal conditions are pronounced.
Gelsemium-Is a relaxant. Some prostration or lax of pep is evident in the symptoms calling for this remedy, with flushed face, contracted pupils, along with fever and a compressible pulse.
Muscular soreness calls for eupatorium perf. or macrotys. “Bone pains” in the first and muscle stiffness and soreness in the second mentioned remedy.
2.SYMPTOMS OF INFECTION OR INVASION.
When the system suffers from the invasion of pathogenic germs, there is a higher temperature than in retention, a more rapid and excited pulse, with protraction. The temperature increase daily, and the pulse continues rapid but weakness as the disturbance continues rapid but weakness as the disturbance continues.
These are toxic symptoms, as in retention, but more devitalizing, as seen in local ulceration and skin eruptions, as well as the vital powers are engaged in a conflict, exhaustive in character, as shown by the high fevers circulatory excitement, headache, nervous excitement and skin and mucous membrane changes. The causative factor is thus disclosed early in the disturbance, even before the invading germ has had time to reveal its real identity, and before the decomposition of tissue waste and foods produces the full picture of term infection, as the main disturbance.
TREATMENT OF INFECTION OR INVASION.
Having determined that invasion, instead of retention, is the symptom producer, and having decided that the toxemia is bacterial, one may stimulate the system to antibody formation by means of various remedies now at our disposal as a result of serum and vaccine treatment.
At present, I am using Edwenil, a modern, non specific antigen which has been a development through years of research in an attempt to arrive at an ideal immunizing agent. It has its origin in a combination of muscle extract and normal horse serum which, through a process of manufacture gives a colloidal suspension which, when suspended in an isotonic-calcium sodium solution, is known as Edwenil.
Although Edwenil does not respond tot he ordinary laboratory test for protein, it undoubtedly is protein in nature, although probably a simple compound of amino-acids or acid, and possibly a conjoined glucoside. Its value in treating conditions here under discussion lies largely in the fact that, although inducing a maximum antibody stimulation, it is in itself definitely nontoxic and harmless in any conceivable therapeutic dosage.
If the toxic state is determined to be due to faulty metabolism, the warm Epsom salt sponge bath to which solution a few drops of carbolic acid have been added, will be of material help.
The indications for remedies are quite well known but the dietetic errors lying back of such conditions were not so clearly discerned.
A good dietetic maxim is to “feed according to the work to be done.” A low diet during illness, fruits and fresh vegetables or water alone, or milk in small amounts. Tea, coffee, or Postum according to the patients habit, and in small amounts.
Diet is a cause of ill-health and is a symptom producer. Before the ill-health manifests itself,the patient eats more than he can use. The foods rich in protein and in carbon do the damage. True, we must have protein to make blood, but meat is only one source of it; aside from met, there are eggs, beans, cheese, nuts and milk. Get variety in these for healths sake.
If one is not muscularly active, cut down heavy food one-half. Heavy foods are breads, cereals, beans and vegetables. Light foods are low starch vegetables, fruit, milk and nuts.
Food toxicity depends on their carbon content. Carbon is a vital necessity for the cells; it is positive and combines with the metal oxides. Too much carbon spells ill-health.
How do we know that carbon in excess is a poison? We know it by the fact that all forms of carbon with oxygen are poison. Carbon monoxide is extremely poisonous. Carbon dioxide is less toxic than CO. Alkaloids having the grater proportion of carbon are more poisonous than those with a lesser carbon content.
To combat carbon toxicity, sulphur is a great help. Wurmb says. “It accelerates the interchange of elements and fulfils all the demands upon which the removal of abnormal products is condition.” If the sulphur is combined with calcium, the antidotal effects of carbon toxicity are the more quickly obtained-calcium takes up carbon slowly but continuously.
From first to last, in spite of the many forms of enervation, there is a weak pulse, loss of weight and of strength. The mental state is not lowered in proportion to the physical state. There are other symptoms, not all constantly present; they are cold extremities, sweating feet, night sweats, mucous exudates, pain, fever, local congestions, flabby muscles, “all gone” feeling, vague nervous impression, pulse quick and moderately full during fever, but always with a weakened force. Takes cold at every change of weather.
TREATMENT OF ENERVATION.
To raise the nerve power is the first step in the treatment of enervation.
Nux vomica is an important remedy in his condition. It is a vital tonic and will help materially to reestablish nerve power and normal metabolism. But if the trouble has progressed or has had undesirable treatment, then calcium and sulphur will help to build up strength, and prevent invasion complications.
Here again, one or two epsom salt sponge baths will stimulate skin activity.
Some form of mineral salts such as mineral sal, hypophosphites, or alfalco tonic, will meet this requirement. If iron is needed the ferrous sulphate is effective in less dosage than the usual preparations.
This is an outline of the value of knowing symptom producers and that which they produce. Tracing symptoms to that which is their main cause is a help in classifying the case or, what is the same thing, arriving at a working diagnosis. The latter will necessarily be modified and one will necessarily be modified and one will reach more exactness but only as the case develops.
In the meantime what you do will aid in the symptom development as well as in their final relief.