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"The same intelligent power that built our bodies is also the power that heals it"
| HEALING POWERS OF THE BODY
Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
The greatest engineering feat of which we know anything is the building of a complex animal organism from a microscopic ovum. ...
In development and maintenance, and in health and disease, the movements of life appear to be guided by intelligence more often than the conscious intelligence of man.
If we view a few of the engineering feats performed by the body in cases of injury and disease, we are forcibly struck with the truth of Sylvester Graham's remark: In all these operations the organic instincts act determinately, and, as it were, rationally, with reference to a final cause of good, viz., the removal of the offending cause.
HEALING OF WOUNDS
To begin with, let us consider the natural healing of a wound, scratch or broken skin. We have become so accustomed to this familiar phenomenon that we have come to regard it as an almost mechanical process. But a close examination of the process shows us the presence of that same marvelous intelligence that built the body from a tiny microscopic speck of protoplasm to its present state.
Whenever the skin is broken or cut there is an exudation of blood which coagulates and forms an airtight scab. This scab serves as a protection to the wound and remains for a shorter or longer time as is needed.
Underneath this scab a wonderful thing occurs. Blood is rushed to the injured part in large quantities. The tissues, nerve and muscle cells, etc. on each side of the wound start multiplying rapidly and build a cell-bridge across the gap until the severed edges of the wound are reunited. But this is no mere haphazard process. Everywhere is apparent the presence of directing law and order. The newly-formed cells of the blood vessels unite with their brothers on the other side so that, in an orderly and evenly manner, the channels of circulation are re-established. In this same lawful and orderly manner the connective tissues reunite. Skillfully, and just as a lineman repairs a telegraph system, do the nerve cells repair their broken line. Muscles and other tissues are repaired in a similar manner. And what is a wonderfully marvelous fact to observe, no mistakes are made in this connective tissue, but each tissue connects with its kind.
After the wound is healed, when a new skin has been formed so that there is no longer any need for the protecting scab, nature proceeds to undermine and get rid of it. As long as the scab was useful it was firmly attached to the skin so that it was not easy to pull it off, but when there was no longer need for it, it was undermined so that it fell off of its own weight.
What more evidence than this does one require to know that the same intelligent power that built our bodies is also the power that heals it? What better evidence do we want that the healing process is accomplished in the same orderly manner and by means of the same functions with which the body is built, maintained and modified to meet. its present needs.
"Hardening and thickening of the tissues occurs in all parts of the body to resist constant irritation. ... The tumor actually prolongs life."
HEALING OF BROKEN BONES
We get a still more wonderful view of how nature performs her work if we observe the healing of a fractured or broken bone. If an arm or leg be broken, this same marvelous intelligence that has brought us from ovum to adulthood immediately sets about to repair the damage done. A liquid substance is secreted and deposited over the entire surface of the bone in each direction from the point of fracture. This section quickly hardens into a bone-like substance and is firmly attached to the two sections of the bone. Until nature can repair the damage, this bone ring forms the chief support whereby the limb can be used. By the same process of cell multiplication which we saw in the healing of the wound, the ends of the bone are reunited. The circulatory channels are re-established through the part. It is then that the bone ring support is softened and absorbed, except about an eighth to a quarter of an inch about the point of fracture.
HEALING OF BRUISES
If you strike your finger with a hammer, a very painful bruise is the result. There is an effusion of blood under the surface, with inflammation and discoloration. The tissues are mangled, the cells are broken and many of them are killed. But does the thumb always remain so? No. As time passes, new tissues are formed to replace the dead ones and the dead blood and tissue cells are carried away by the bloodstream. The inflammation subsides, the pain ceases and the bruise is healed and soon forgotten. Thus again is manifested the marvelous intelligence of the power that superintends the workshop which we call our body. Once again we watch its work and see its marvelous efficiency as a workman.
A similar manifestation of the body's self-healing, self-adjusting and self-repairing powers is seen in the common accident whereby a sliver becomes embedded in the flesh. If it is not removed immediately, nature, or vital force, does a skillful little piece of engineering and removes it for us. Pain and inflammation are soon followed by the formation of pus, which breaks down the tissues towards the surface of the body. Gradually increasing in amount, the pus finally breaks through the overlying skin and runs out, carrying the sliver along as a souvenir.
A remarkable engineering feat is presented to us in abscess formations. Ordinarily the abscess is limited by a thick protective wall of granulation tissue which prevents the abscess from spreading and prevents rapid escape of the pus into the circulation.
In appendicitis the loops of the bowels around the appendix form friendly adhesions. They adhere together and form a strong wall against further spread of the trouble. Within this enclosure the abscesses form. The line of least resistance normally is into the bowels so that practically every case, if not interfered with by meddlesome doctors, will rupture into the bowels and the pus will pass out with, the stools.
"Nature can do her own work in her own way, and all our so-called aiding of nature amounts to is nothing more than meddlesome and pernicious interference."
ICE SLOWS HEALING
Where the ice bag is employed for one or two days prior to the usual operations, there is a noticeable lack of effort on the part of nature to wall off the appendix from the rest of the abdominal cavity. However, where the ice bag has not been employed, a distinct walling off of the acutely inflamed and gangrenous appendix from the general pentoneal cavity is found. So greatly does the ice bag interfere with the curative and protective operations of nature that one of the leading abdominal surgeons of this country declares: I have entirely discarded the use of the ice bag, and in cases brought to me in which it has been used, I always announce beforehand that I expect to find a gangrenous appendix and am seldom surprised. Clearly the ice bag should never be used in cases of actual or suspected appendicitis. Nature can do her own work in her own way, and all our so-called aiding of nature amounts to is nothing more than meddlesome and pernicious interference.
If heat or friction of sufficient intensity and duration is applied to the skin, a blister forms; that is, a watery exudate or serum is poured out of the surrounding tissues and circulation into the space between the dermis and epidermis and detaches the dermis from this, raising it up and thus protecting the tissues beneath. The accumulated fluid holds back the heat or, in the case of sunburn, the actinic rays, and protects from the friction. This little piece of engineering work is quite obviously a defensive work. In both burns and sunburn, inflammation and healing follow the blister, and in the case of sunburn pigmentation occurs to protect from future sunburn.
CORNS & CALLOUSES
Of a similarly defensive nature are corns and callouses that form on the feet and hands or any other surface of the body that is subjected to constant friction. The clerk who deserts the store for manual labor finds his hands are tender and blister easily when he handles tools. However, before many days have passed, the skin on his hands has become thickened and hardened, ultimately becoming almost horn-like. When this occurs, he finds that no reasonablc amount of hard work blisters his hands.
"When we consider the wonderful mechanism of the human body, its almost limitless powers of repair and recuperation,
we develop a large respect and admiration for the healing powers of the body."
Tumors likely begin in this same manner. They probably begin as hardening and thickening of the tissues at a point of irritation as a means of defense.
Hardening and thickening of the tissues occurs in any and all parts of the body to resist constant irritation. This can be seen in the mouth, stomach and intestines of those who employ salt and condiments. It is seen in the constant use of drugs. Silver nitrate, for instance, if repeatedly employed, converts the mucous surface upon which it is used into a kind of half-living leather. Other organs harden and thicken as a result of toxic irritation. Toxemia, with or without the aid of external irritation, often necessitates, at certain points of the body, the erection of greater than ordinary barriers against it. When the normal cells of a local spot become so impaired that they no longer successfully resist the encroachment of toxins, not only are the usual defense processes brought into activity, but also, since a more than usual condition is to be met, nature calls into play her heavier battalions.
She begins by erecting a barrier of connective tissue cells. Then, with a slowly-yielding fight against the toxins, she continues to erect her barriers. This may continue until the tumor becomes so large as to constitute a source of danger itself. Were it not for the erection of this barrier, the causes against which it is erected would destroy life long before they ultimately do. The tumor actually prolongs life.
A process similar to this is seen in plants that have been invaded by parasites. The large, rough excrescences seen on oak trees form about the larva of a certain fly. This fly lays its eggs beneath the bark of the tree. The larva which develop from the eggs secrete a substance that results in the formation of the huge tumorous mass. Large tumor-like masses form on the roots and stalks of cabbages as a result of parasitic invasion. The olive tree also develops tumors from a similar cause, while cedar trees present peculiar growths called witches' brooms as a result of a fungus growing on them. There are many other examples, and they are all quite obviously protective measures. Tumor formation is undoubtedly due to a variation in the complex relations determining normal growth and is of a distinctively protective nature. A tumor is not a source of danger until it begins to break down.
MARVELOUS HEALING POWERS
Thus we might continue giving example after example of the wonderful engineering feats of the body and show with what marvelous powers and works it meets emergencies and protects its own vital interests. When we consider the wonderful mechanism of the human body, the certainty with which all organs perform their allotted work, the marvelous ingenuity with which the body meets emergencies, its almost limitless powers of repair and recuperation, we develop a large respect and admiration for the healing powers of the body and learn to view with contempt and disgust the means that people employ in unintelligent efforts to cure.
Well did Jennings affirm:
But at every step of her (nature's) downward progress (in the face of pathoferic causes she cannot overcome), her tendency and effort have been to ascend and remount the pinnacle of her greatness; and even now, in the depth of her degradation, the tendency of all that remains of her, of principle or law, power and action, is still upwards.
(from Herbert Shelton: Human Life Its Philosophy and Laws)
"Everywhere is apparent the presence of directing law and order."