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The secretions of the body on the whole are either suspended altogether or greatly reduced during the fast. Secretion is commensurate with need. The body is not wasteful of its supplies, as a brief study of secretion will show.
The saliva is greatly diminished. Von Noorden says of Succi's experimental fast: "The secretion of saliva diminished in acute starvation even when water was taken ad libitum. Thus, Succi, on the seventh day of his fast, only produced as much saliva by the movements of his jaws in three hours as under ordinary circumstances is secreted in five minutes." Saliva changes during the fast from its normal alkalinity to a neutral or slightly acid condition. It again becomes alkaline upon the return of hunger or after eating is resumed.
In some cases the saliva becomes very foul and possesses a very unpleasant taste, sometimes, even causing vomiting. In certain cases it may be thick, tough, transparent, gelatinous, slimy and then gray, yellowish, greenish and even pus-like.
The secretion of gastric juice is continuous throughout most of the fast, but in a greatly diminished quantity and is of a weakly acid character. At times its secretion may be stimulated by the usual factors responsible for "psychic secretion."
In cases of gastric hyperacidity, gastric distress continues and may even increase during the first three to four days of the fast. The hyper-secretion, however, soon ends, discomfort wanes and finally ceases entirely, and after a few more days of fasting, eating may be resumed without the previous distress. No other measure will so speedily or so surely end hyperacidity. There are fasting experts of large experience who hold that regularly the secretion of gastric juice ends with the expulsion of the last morsel of food in the stomach and does not recommence until the next meal is taken. On the other hand, I have seen a few cases that regurgitated and expelled gastric juice after the fast had progressed two, three and more weeks.
The secretion of bile customarily continues during the early days of the fast. Indeed, it may be secreted in increased amounts. In some very foul conditions of the body, the secretion of bile is greatly increased, either during the first few days of the fast, or, at some period of its progress. This is likely to be regurgitated into the stomach where it causes nausea and vomiting. In such cases the bile is invariably evil-smelling and tainted. After a crisis of this kind, the patient's condition is seen to be much improved. The amount of bile secreted is then greatly decreased in amount.
A profuse cholerrhagia (flow of bile) through the bowels or by vomiting, is often seen in fasting. This produces drainage of bile through the bowels, instead of by cholecystotomy (the surgical way of draining the gall-bladder) in these cases and should convince the most skeptical of the superiority of this plan of care.
Normally bile is poured into the intestine only in response to a need for it in the work of digestion. It is poured out as the chyme from the stomach empties into the duodenum. If no food is eaten no bile is poured out. Physiologists are agreed that when an animal is fasting no bile enters the intestine. This is probably also true of a really healthy man; but it is certainly not true of the sick man.
The liver, among other things, is an organ of elimination. The products it takes from the blood are made into bile and poured out as such. When the sick man fasts the liver greatly increases the production of bile and this is poured into the intestine. The quantity and character of bile secreted during a fast as well as its degrees of alkalinity or possible acidity seem to be dependent upon the toxic overload under which the patient is struggling. Habitual hearty eaters, particularly those who consume large quantities of proteins and carbohydrates, produce the most bile and suffer most discomfort as a result.
Observations upon thousands of fasting cases have convinced me that the sooner the "over-production" of bile commences, after the cessation of eating, and the more bile is thrown off, the more rapidly the patient recovers his or her health. The patient is cleaning out. It is doubtful if such bile would have much value as a digestive fluid. In many cases, at least, its alkalinity is greatly reduced and it may even be slightly acid at times. When vomited it ranges in color from almost that of water, having but little bile pigment in it, to very dark. It often has a very offensive odor, not an odor of decay, and is commonly mixed with large amounts of mucus, this latter coming largely from the stomach, no doubt. Such bile must be considered as almost wholly a product of the excretory function of the liver. The secretory function is probably at rest like that of the glands which secrete digestive juices.
This is only one of the evidences of increased elimination during a fast and the cleaning out accomplished by this is of immense value in restoring health to those who have, through abuse or neglect, permitted their health to slip away.
The pancreatic and intestinal juices are reasonably thought to be secreted in reduced quantities. It is known that they are weaker in digestive power than normally, but little else is known concerning them. They are customarily secreted and poured into the intestine in response to the need for them and, when no need exists, little or no juice is secreted. What secretion is present is probably lacking in enzymes.
It is usual for a female hibernating bear to bring forth her young and secrete sufficient milk to maintain her cubs. The human mother is not so fortunate. Fasting occasions a rapid reduction in milk secretion and for this reason should be resorted to during lactation only when urgently necessary.
The sweat is foul and in rare cases profuse. Under ordinary circumstances sweating can hardly be regarded as an eliminating process, but apparently there is increased elimination through the skin during a fast.
During a fast some patients will throw off an almost incredible amount of thick, tough, transparent, white, gelatinous and slimy expectoration. Later this may become gray, yellowish or greenish and pus-like in quality. The discharge from the nose may also increase at first and then gradually lessen. In chronic bronchitis, asthma, etc., the same gradual cessation of the catarrhal condition and of the cough and expectoration occurs. The discharge from the nasal sinuses gradually ceases as the catarrhal condition ends. In cases of "diseased" and long abused stomachs such matters may be thrown out by the gastric mucosa and vomited. Thus we see how nature adopts every possible avenue of elimination as a means of cleansing the system. In cases of mucous colitis, the amount of long, tenacious, worm-like ropes of mucus that will be passed is astounding. After a time this ceases and the "disease" is ended.
Acid secretions of the vagina, leuchorrheal discharges, etc., soon cease and the secretions become normal through fasting. The foul stench that comes from the vagina and womb of the woman suffering from female troubles, or tumor of the womb, soon ceases and the odor becomes normal.
The volume of urine excreted during a fast, as at other times of life, is determined by the amount of water consumed and by the amount of sweating done.
In the early days of the fast, the urine is invariably dark in color and high in specific gravity, strongly acid in reaction with abundance of urea, phosphates and bile pigment. Its odor is foul and strong. It becomes lighter in color and loses its offensive odor as the fast progresses. After the first increase in elimination has passed, specific gravity is lowered, and the quantity of mineral substances decreases. Specific gravity may go as low as 1.010. Its acidity is increased at first, but towards the end of a complete fast the urine may become neutral or even alkaline in reaction.
Dr. Hazzard says: "The hibernating bear never soils his den with urine or ordure, for no waste is formed, consequently none is voided." This is a very marked difference between hibernation and fasting.
Examination of the urine of Succi, made by Apollo and Solard, showed its toxicity to be much increased. Dr. Kellogg draws from the increased elimination of toxins from the body, the strange conclusion that it shows conclusively that fasting is not an efficient means of cleansing the body of poisons. The increased elimination of toxins, shown in the case of Succi, proved to Dr. Kellogg that elimination is checked.
True, he thinks the increased urinary toxicity results from absorption from the colon, but there is no reason why there should be more absorption from the colon during a fast than when one is eating, and certainly there is less in the colon to be absorbed.
Kellogg tells us that fasting produces all the evidences of intestinal auto-intoxication. This is decidedly not true, but on the contrary, fasting is the speediest means of eradicating such intoxication.
It has been my observation that intestinal auto-intoxication is found in those who habitually eat, and eat excessively. In discussing intestinal auto-intoxication Kellogg himself traces it chiefly to dietetic errors rather than to fasting.
The increased toxicity of the urine of the fasting person is due to increased elimination and not, as Kellogg reasons, to the fact that "fasting is not, as claimed, an efficient means of cleansing the body of poisons." I presume that to satisfy Kellogg that fasting is an efficient means of increasing elimination we would have to prove that the kidneys wholly cease to excrete toxins. He seems to think that fasting should send the toxins out of the body through some secret channel rather than through the organs of elimination, or else, that by some subtle alchemy, these toxins should be transmuted into angels of mercy and left in the body. The fact that they are eliminated in greater abundance somehow proves to him that elimination is checked by the fast.
Benedict says of the urine during a fast: "Complete fasting during which no water is consumed results in lowering in a marked manner the total amounts of urine voided per day. * * * In general, when water is taken during a fast, the volume of urine approaches more nearly that voided by people under normal conditions. Indeed, when moderate amounts of water are consumed, the volume of urine presents as a rule no noticeable abnormalities.* * * In general, then, during the early stages of a fast, with the exception of the first day, the volume of urine is in large measure determined by the quantity of drinking water consumed. If the amount of ingested water is small, the volume of urine may exceed it several times. When the volume of drinking water is over 1000 cc., the volume of urine is usually not far from that of the water consumed. * * * In all of the samples of urine, whether tested by periods or for the whole day, the reaction was acid. The pressure of other work prevented an accurate determination of acidity. According to Brugsch, however, the acidity, at least in the later stages of a prolonged fast, remains nearly constant from day to day. * * * All the specific gravities observed came well within what would be termed normal limits. * * * In general, the average amount of total solids during the different experiments is not far from 40 grams per day.* * * The only data regarding the ash elimination during fasting with which we are familiar are the quantities in the urine of J. A. On the last day with food the total ash of urine amounted to 23.0 grams; in the five fasting days, the total ash eliminated was 14.7, 6.7, 5.7, 5.0, and 4.5 grams respectively. * * * In general, the amount (of organic matter) eliminated ranges somewhere between 30 and 40 grams * * * The proportion of ash in total solids, as a rule, is greatest on the first day and markedly less on the second day. * * * There is a tendency for the nitrogen excretion to approach constancy on the fourth day.* * * In considering the long experiments, it is noteworthy that the carbon elimination is invariably lowest on the first day, and on the remaining days is relatively constant. * * * The excretion of total crea-tinine, namely, performed creatinine plus creatinine formed by heating the creatinine of the urine with acid, remains singularly constant on all days of the fast, even during the 7-day fast, experiment No. 75. * * * While the quantity of performed creatinine gradually diminishes as the fast progresses, the amount of creatinine, which in normal urine, is extremely small, gradually increases, and on the sixth day of the fast, there is excreted 0.585 grams of creatine. * * * The proportion of creatinine has a distinct tendency to diminish as the fast progresses. * * * During even a short period of inanition, the uric acid output may be greatly reduced.* * * The excretion of sulphur increases on the second day. There is an increase on the third day, and a steady diminution on the succeeding days of the fast.* * * There is, as a rule, a tendency for the phosphoric acid to increase for a few days after fasting begins and then subsequently diminish. * * * The chlorine elimination on the last food day is invariably larger and on the first fasting day there is usually a marked diminution in the amount."
Dr. Eales says: "I have a record of a case where on the twenty-eighth day a large amount of sediment appeared in the urine and the temperature, which had been sub-normal for years, immediately rose to normal after the urine cleared." This case is of interest, not merely as indicating increased elimination of toxins by the fast; but also as showing how the fast brings about a return to normal temperature in cases where sub-normal temperature exists. In this case, at least, it would seem to have returned to normal as a result of the elimination of material which had interfered with heat production or heat conservation.
One of my own cases passed a large quantity of sediment in the urine which was flaked and looked like flakes of iron rust. No analysis was made to determine the character of the sediment. Another case had an abscess of one kidney (which had been diagnosed, after being X-rayed, as a kidney stone and for which an operation had been advised) to drain, an eight-ounce glass full of pus passing at one time.
Daily determination of the specific gravity of the urine was made during the fast of Dr. Eales. On the first and second days of the fast his urine had a specific gravity of 1.015. On the third day the specific gravity of the urine was 1.018. It rose to 1.020 on the fourth day and to 1.023 on the fifth day. On the sixth day it dropped to 1.022; was 1.020 on the seventh and eighth days; 1.018 on the ninth and tenth days; 1.020 on the eleventh and twelfth days; 1.022 on the thirteenth; 1.020 on the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth days; 1.018 on the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth days; 1.019 on the twenty-first day; 1.018 on the twenty-second and twenty-third days; dropped to 1.005 on the twenty-fourth day, due to the consumption of large quantities of water; rose to 1.012 on the twenty-fifth day; back to 1.018 on the twenty-sixth; 1.020 on the twenty-seventh; 1.016 on the twenty-eighth; and 1.018 for the last three days of the fast. During the day of the tenth day of the fast, following an enema and a bath, the specific gravity of the urine fell to 1.010.
Except during the first five days, the doctor consumed habitually during the fast two quarts of distilled water each twenty-four hours. The volume of urine kept up through the whole of the fast, about sixty-five ounces being excreted every twenty-four hours. On the last day of his fast his record shows his urine to have been normal in color and reaction.
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