Article #1: Why You Have Arthritis by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
Years ago when a man or woman had pains and inflammation in the muscles and/or joints, the diagnosis was likely to have been rheumatism.
Rheumatism took many forms, such as inflammatory, muscular and joint rheumatism. In the lower back it may have been called lumbago. Rheumatism of the chest muscles received the name pleurodynia. Sometimes this was mistaken for pleurisy. Then there was the acute form that was known as rheumatic fever.
Today, the term rheumatic is not used so much. The “old disease” has been fragmented into arthritis, of which several varieties are listed: lumbago, bursitis, sciatica and other so-called diseases. Chronic rheumatism of the joints (rheumatoid arthritis) is said to sometimes follow a cold, acute rheumatism, tonsillitis, and to sometimes develop independently of these “diseases.” It may develop in any joint in the body and slowly extend to other joints, but has a tendency to develop first in joints that have been injured.
In persons past forty, sprains and other injuries are sometimes followed by the development of arthritis. The joints don’t heal perfectly but remain stiff and even painful, with the result that the limb is weakened or even crippled.
The reason for the failure of the injured joint to heal is that the individual is already toxemic and ripe for the development of arthritis. Such a development may receive the name traumatic arthritis. Arthritis is a frequent development in athletes whose activities place a great strain on their joints, although it is not likely that these strains do more than determine the location of the development. The eating excesses and indulgences for which some athletes are known are the more likely causes.
Arthritis may develop at any season of the year but is more often developed in the winter season, and cold seems to make the symptoms worse. The disease is much more prevalent in cold climates than in warm ones. However, there is no reason to think that climate, per se, is a cause of the disease. It is more probable that the inactivity of the indoor life, the lack of fresh air and the overeating of the richer foods that characterize winter living are the chief causes. It should not have to be repeated that any influence that produces enervation and checks excretion will contribute to cause.
All so-called rheumatic conditions were once attributed to the accumulation of uric acid within the body. There are those who still hold to this older theory. This acid is one of the end products of protein metabolism, but is unlikely that any one of the end products of metabolism (this is to say, any one of the wastes of the body) is solely responsible for the disease. There may be some deposit of uric acid crystals in the capillaries but this does not seem to be the cause of arthritic diseases.
The idea that arthritis and other “rheumatic” diseases are caused by the accumulation in the body of uric acid led to the idea that flesh eating causes or helps to cause such affections. The fact is that excessive starch and sugar eating seems to have more to do with the evolution of arthritis than does flesh eating. But we cannot lay such developments to any one habit of life or to any one article or one class of food. The total enervating mode of living and the total toxic load carried by the individual must be regarded as cause.
Fermentation in the stomach and intestines (indigestion) resulting from wrong combinations is perhaps more important as a factor in causing this condition than the food itself. In most, if not all, cases of arthritis there is a long history of indigestion preceding the development of the joint inflammation. (Inflammation of a joint is the meaning of the term arthritis.)
Food combinations that do not digest readily favor fermentation and putrefaction. If elimination is also checked as a result of an enervating mode of living, the toxins absorbed from the digestive tract tend to accumulate in the body. This results in the evolution of disease in line with the individual diathesis.
Indigestion, whether resulting from wrong combining or from any other cause, favors the evolution of serious disease. The liver and kidneys are constantly taxed beyond their limit in excreting the poisons that come from indigestion. It becomes impossible for them to keep the blood and tissues free of waste and the absorbed poisons. The resulting accumulation of toxins from the tissues and from the digestive tract cause disease.
While arthritis is frequent among athletes and physical laborers, a lack of exercise may also contribute to its causation. It is impossible to have normal health without adequately meeting the normal needs of life. A sedentary existence is itself a cause of a general lowering of the tone and functioning vigor of the body. The inactive person has sluggish circulation. This prevents normal tissue renewal. The ground is thus prepared for the development of disease.
Among the most common causes of indigestion are overeating, drinking with meals, eating when fatigued, eating immediately before engaging in heavy work, eating when emotionally stressed, eating between meals, lack of sleep and taking drugs. Among the common causes of enervation, a state that both checks excretion and impairs digestion are all drug habits—the coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, tobacco, antacid tablets, headache pills, sleeping pills, etc., and poor physical habits—overworking, excesses, oversunning, overbathing and all other indulgences. Overworked emotions are one of the main causes of enervation.
It is said that “rheumatism” almost always weakens the heart. Great numbers of cases of so-called “rheumatic heart” are credited to “rheumatic fever” in infancy and early childhood. It has been known for over eighty years that the salicylates (aspirin) damage the heart. Yet when this drug is freely given in so-called rheumatic fever and in arthritis and the heart is damaged, the effects of the drug are ignored. It is doubtful if heart damage will occur in cases not treated with drugs.
Many years ago Sir William Osier said in his Principles and Practices of Medicine, “The salicylates (a class of drugs which we have previously pointed out is employed in almost all treatment of the so-called rheumatic diseases) are useless.” They are employed to relieve pain and for no other purpose. The patient pays a fearful price for a brief respite from pain, for it is necessary to repeat the dose at
intervals and to increase both the frequency and the size of dose as the use of the drug discontinued.
It is freely admitted by the profession (an admission that even the vendors of patent medicines keep echoing) that there is no cure for arthritis. All the drugs employed in the treatment of arthritic sufferers are employed as palliatives. Cortisone has replaced the old standby of yesteryear—potassium iodide. It may be less damaging than the older drug but is no longer thought of as anything more than palliative. It has very harmful “side effects” and will sooner or later be abandoned.
The climate cure, the Turkish bath cure, the hot springs and mineral springs cure, massage, etc., have been and are popular in treating arthritis. They have no other apparent benefits than that of temporarily palliating symptoms. As palliatives they are less damaging than drugs. This is the best that can be said of them. The sweat baths, hot baths, prolonged baths, massage and similar treatments add to the enervation of the patient and help to prolong the disease.
Nothing short of the removal and correction of the causes of enervation assures a re-establishment of health. Rest is the means of restoring normal nerve energy—rest of body and mind. Physiological rest (fasting) is the surest, best and most satisfactory means of promoting the excretion of accumulated toxins. A corrected mode of living after the fast will prevent a return of the toxemic state and
promote the evolution of good health. The arthritic who as a remedy mentality will search in vain for a remedy that will restore him to health; the intelligent individual may easily live himself into good health. Health is an evolution of healthful living; it is not the product of “cures.”
Chronic rheumatoid arthritis is a state from which recovery (full and lasting recovery) is easily possible if a Hygienic program is fitted to the individual’s needs before irreparable damages have occurred in the joint tissues. Even apparently hopeless cases make full recovery. There are, in many advanced cases, tissue changes that cannot be undone. This makes it all the more important that Hygiene be adopted early.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Structure And Function Of Joints
- 3. Types Of Arthritis
- 4. Why You Have Arthritis
- 5. Treatments
- 6. Erroneuous Theories
- 7. What To Do If You Have Arthritis
- 8. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Why You Have Arthritis By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Arthritis By Dr. Robert R. Gross
- Article #3: Well! You Wanted to Know! By V. V. Vetrano, B.S., D.C., M.D.
- Article #4: How to Deal With Bursitis by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton