The Journal of Advanced Therapeutics, pages 93-97, Vol. 25, 1907

Under-oxidation of the blood and the resultant subnormal temperature of the body are far more common and are of greater significance than the casual observer is prepared to believe. This conclusion is based upon very extensive observations of the subject of subnormal temperature, its cause, the consequences, and the seeming little attention these conditions have received.

Medical literature has been exceedingly silent upon the subject. The question of the importance of means of oxidizing the blood for the prevention and cure of disease has scarcely passed the primary stage. We all know, empirically, that increasing oxidation of the blood by fresh air treatment is often attended by good results, but how best to oxidize, when to increase oxidation, and how much oxidizing to do are matters that have not even reached the stage of practical art, much less one of science.

Physiologists long ago settled the question of how animal temperature is produced and maintained. The cause of body heat was formerly attributed to fermentation, but later to combustion; the chief agent of which process is oxygen.

If the blood does not receive sufficient oxygen to cause the proper amount of combustion to take place, it will surely result in a lowering of body temperature. A low temperature is not a normal condition. It is a danger signal. Not necessarily an immediate danger but a danger nevertheless.

As soon as oxidation to a part is diminished, that part begins to die and becomes a suitable field for infection.

When the blood receives sufficient oxygen to unite with carbon in the proportion of two atoms of oxygen to one of carbon, carbon dioxide is formed which is in a suitable condition to be eliminated. When an insufficient amount of oxygen is received by the blood, carbon monoxide is formed which is not readily eliminated and, through its toxic influences, functional disorders arise.

Carbon monoxide is a deoxidizer, destroys hemoglobin and otherwise lessens the resisting powers of the blood to the destructive influences of micro-organisms and organic diseases are invited.

The union of carbon monoxide with the oxygen-carrying bodies of the blood has such a strong tendency to permanency that its separation is only accomplished after prolonged and persistent efforts at oxidation.

One of our best aids in making a diagnosis generally is the clinical thermometer, but the force of habit is responsible for many oversights in its use. As a rule, when we unsheathe our thermometers for clinical observations, we anticipate fever and feel contented when the register fails to poke its nose above the spear that stands for normal. So strong is this habit and so fully are we imbued with the idea of fever that we have fallen into the custom of calling the clinical thermometer "a fever thermometer." It is a most common occurrence to hear a physician ask for "a fever thermometer" or speak of the clinical thermometer as a fever thermometer.

Why call it a fever thermometer when there is as much significance to be attached to the reading when the register stops below the normal mark as there is when it rises above? I fear that we are too liable to conclude that a low register is the result of haste, imperfect contact, failure to exclude air, or that a subnormal temperature is non-important. Probably we pass a subnormal temperature over lightly because it does not indicate an acute trouble or anything that would tend to a rapid dissolution.

It is to be feared that we have learned too little of the lesson of under-oxidation as a cause of disease, if, indeed, not a most important factor in senile atrophy.

It is natural for one who has studied a subject as long and as closely as I have this one to run to extremes, but I have found so much in it that has been apparently overlooked that it astounds me. I find that many other physicians are equally surprised when they are induced to get out their thermometers and test the temperature of their obstinate and chronic cases. They can hardly believe their own eyes when they almost invariably find a high percentage of them subnormal from the fractional part of one degree to two, three, four, or five degrees. Especially will this be found true when the temperature is tested early mornings. The subnormal temperature is not only observable mornings but in a very high percentage of cases, it obtains throughout the twenty-four hours of the day.

In seeking an explanation for the great prevalence of sub-normal temperature, some have ventured the suggestion that "a low register may be looked upon as a normal condition." This deduction can be controverted by placing those of low temperature under better conditions for oxidizing the blood, when the temperature will be seen to rise to 98.6oF. and maintained indefinitely.

The symptoms that arise from under-oxidation of the blood are not necessarily in proportion to the degree of subnormal temperature. A patient, showing the fractional part of one degree of subnormal temperature, may present as severe symptoms as one who is several degrees below.

The subnormal individual will almost invariably present some one or more of the following symptoms: Fatigue, lack of energy, pain in the back, loss of memory, sleeplessness, headache (creeping, throbbing, or bursting), constipation, loss of appetite, constant sense of pulse-beat, visual disturbance, stomach complications, disordered menstruation, vertigo, lower limbs have a tendency to give way beneath the weight of the body, shooting or darting pains, headaches sent them to oculist, cold hands and feet, frequent micturition nights, numbness or creepy sensations, heavy sediment in urine, cough, tightness of chest, difficulty in breating, palpitation of the heart, flushing of face or body, apprehensive of dreadful happenings, etc.

From these symptoms, we are warranted in rendering a diagnosis of under-oxidation, taking on the form of either neurasthenia, insomnia, functional insanity, asthma, constipation, consumption, dyspepsia, anemia, liver or kidney disorder, ovarian trouble, womb disease, menstrual irregularities, sexual depression, malnutrition, hysteria, chorea, etc. And, we might find that organic complications have already set in as bacterial and toxic troubles are highly favored.

Interference with functional activity impairs the resisting powers of the whole economy. If the blood is not right, other things will go wrong.

I believe that I am well within the limits of facts when I assert that under-oxidation of the blood is responsible for the great majority of functional diseases and that organic diseases owe their existence mainly to function perversion.

A sufficiency of oxygen for the blood means better blood, better combustion, better equilibrium of the body temperature, better circulation, better vasomotion, better functional performance of all the organs, better assimilation of food, better elimination of waste products, less chance for auto-intoxication, better chance for body builders, and less chance for body destroyers.

It is a praiseworthy fact that the attention of the medical world is being more and more directed towards better oxidation and less medicine as a means of treating disease. It was a great revolution in medicine when the profession discarded the practice of medicine by depletion for that of oxidizing and building up. It was a great step but we have been dreadfully slow in formulating the new method into a practical and satisfactory system. As a comparison between the two systems of medicine, a brief summary will show a radical difference.

For instance, the practice of medicine by depletion had reached the zenith of its glory in the days of George Washington, and soon after his time it began to wane. Up to the George Washington period, most all acute troubles were classed as fevers. When one was taken sick, he was put to bed, the doors and windows were closed, the cracks were chinked, evidently with the object of excluding every breath of fresh air. All the available bed clothing about the house was piled on the patient with the view of causing him to sweat. If he failed to sweat, hot bran or steaming hot ears of corn were packed about his body, he was denied drinking water, and was either bled, leeched, cupped, or blistered; all with the object of depleting the fluids of the body to overcome disease.

Under the revised system, the order of procedure is completely reversed. Now, the doors and windows are thrown open, if the weather will at all admit, to give the patient fresh air for the purpose of better oxidizing the blood. Light weight covering is used or none at all, to allow the excessive temperature to radiate in the open air. If the temperature is not reduced to a desirable degree in this way, a cool sponge bath is given and if the temperature is too stubborn, a cold plunge may be resorted to and the patient is given all the water he can drink, and when he becomes convalescent, he is put out of doors for more fresh air than it is practical to get indoors. The great aim is to build up and give the patient resisting powers and not to deplete and tear down.

Oxidizing the blood for the purpose of preventing and curing disease has grown steadily in favor. But slow progress has been made towards the improvement or better application of Nature's remedy. We still use it, indiscriminately, as Nature originally provided it for the most part.

Better ventilation of the patient's apartments or turning the patient out of doors is good in many instances, but it does not assure the necessary amount of oxygen in many cases for obvious reasons. A want of knowledge of how to breathe properly, the too passive activity of the air to satisfactorily meet existing pathological conditions, obstructions of the nose, the lining membranes of the lungs thickened by catarrh and coated with mucus are some of the obstacles to free ventilation of the blood or, in other words, the proper exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide.

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