In the early part of this century, a medical physician named J. H. Tilden abandoned the use of drugs after 18 years of practice. He claimed they did not cure disease; they contributed to it! He began treating his patients, only according to what he called the “theory of toxemia.” Later he published a book, Toxemia Explained.
This theory wasn’t new; it had been the basis of certain healing practices since ancient times. But his discussion of toxemia is simple and concise. It explains well how we develop many diseases; and from this emerges crystal-clear, some methods of regaining health and preventing further illness.
Toxemia literally means poisons in the blood; but Tilden used the word in a broader sense. Thus it refers to poisons distributed throughout the body in the cells and tissues, and in the fluids of the body including the blood.
The theory of toxemia goes like this: In our day-to-day lives, we expose ourselves to health eroding conditions. These interfere with our body’s ability to work properly. When this happens, our kidneys, lungs, skin and intestines become less efficient at eliminating wastes. These wastes then accumulate in our blood and tissue fluids (which, recall, and bathe all our body’s cells). When the wastes accumulate to a high concentration, they become toxic (poisonous) to our cells that is, interferes with the operation of the tissues, organs, and systems composed of the cells, and, in particular, interferes with the efficiency of our waste eliminating organs. More wastes accumulate, and a destructive cycle is in action.
For comparison, consider a small pond where various plants, fish, frogs and crickets thrive. Under ideal conditions, fresh water circulates into the pond at a regular rate. Water occupying the pond will flow out, carrying with it wastes produced by the animals and plants. If the pond’s inflow and outflow of water becomes sluggish or blocked, the wastes collect. The water stagnates. Gradually, the vibrant health of the pond declines: The lilies become soggy and covered with slime; the fish swim listlessly – if at all! and the frogs no longer croak; the shore and floor of the pond become covered with a brown muck; and the once crystal-clear water becomes dark and smells foul.
This filthy, dismal condition of the pond is analogous to the body of the average middle aged patient I’ve seen. His body produces wastes faster than it can dispose of them. The wastes pile up and just like the pond his blood and tissue fluids stagnate. One’s breath may have a stench as offensive as that of the pond,2 unless he flushes his mouth with an odor-killing solution.
When this average person’s throat is sore, it isn’t because he has been attacked by vicious germs. According to the theory of toxemia, it’s because the cells and tissues of his throat are poisoned; they’re unable to resist penetration by microbes. Microbes generally aren’t aggressive invaders; they simply fall into holes in our tissues dug by out toxifying habits.
When he’s arthritic, it’s not due to the “wear and tear” of the everyday-use of his joints. It’s due to the cells and tissues of his joints being toxic from accumulated wastes. His joint tissues can’t cope with the normal stresses of joint movements. The joints thus degenerate and are unable to repair themselves. Movement of the joints then severely irritates the tissues. They become inflamed, swollen and painful.
If he has gastrointestinal problems like foul smelling gas, it’s not because he ate the wrong type of beans and swallowed too much air (though these may contribute to his problem). It’s because of the poisoning of the cells of his gastrointestinal tract that produce and secrete digestive enzymes. They no longer properly perform this job. So food isn’t digested completely. While dawdling through the intestines, it ferments, putrefies, rancifies, and releases the resulting compounds into his blood.” Through the blood, these compounds are distributed to his cells and gunk up their metabolic machinery. The intestines, a sewage system that has become a cesspool, become a source of disease for the rest of the body. They poison his brain and nervous system, making him mentally slow and dull, emotionally depressed and irritable; they poison his heart and other muscles, making him weak and lethargic; they poison his skin, making it sallow and wrinkled; and they poison his glands so that he feels tired, lacks enthusiasm and sex drive, and develops infections with ease. His intestines also further poison their own cells and tissues, intensifying the whole destructive cycle.
For dealing with these conditions and virtually all others, Tilden’s theory of toxemia provides physicians with what seems a fundamental form of treatment. It’s called detoxification. Through detoxification, the concentration of wastes in the body is lowered to a non-toxic level. This disencumbers the patient’s cells and allows the tissues, organs, and systems made of them to operate more efficiently.
A body poisoned for years-on-end may require considerable help to safely detoxify. A patient being detoxified may require supervised fasting; judiciously prescribed colon lavages or high enemas, physiotherapy, like the use of diatheramy to flush blood through the liver, kidneys, and lungs; nutritional therapy; and spinal manipulation.
In addition to all this, there is an absolute essential. If it isn’t supplied, our efforts will be in vain; for, in short order, our patient will be as toxic as he ever was. The essential is this: We must educate him in what to do and what not to do, to avoid poisoning himself again. Many doctors ignore this aspect of health care. By so doing, they imply that educating patients in proper health practices isn’t important. Granted, they may quickly dole out a pittance of advice; but calling this education is stretching the definition until it almost snaps.
If we could teach and motivate people to avoid all things that toxify them, there would be much less need for physicians like ourselves. People’s resistance would be high enough to keep them healthy. But avoiding all toxifying factors is an unrealistic goal, for some are impossible to avoid at times. Consider those of us who who live in areas where we are mass medicated with fluoride in our water. It’s difficult to avoid this pollutant if we’re thirsty and out and about the town. We could carry canteens of purified water, or bear our thirst until we get to an uncontaminated water source. This is impractical, though; so poison ourselves we must, at least to some degree.
Despite such difficulties, there is a great deal patients can do to keep themselves relatively free from toxemia and, insisted Tilden, relatively free from sickness. For the sake of illustration, let’s look at some avoidable toxifying. chemicals and how these contribute to toxemia.
As Paul Gillete, Ph.D. has pointed out, “even when they are not used negligently, pesticides can be dangerous. Studies show that prolonged exposure for example, by people who work with them can impair sensory and motor efficiency and memory. This is not surprising when one considers that D.D.T. and other insecticides accomplish their mission by inducing paralysis of the insect’s nervous system. Large doses can destroy nerve cells in higher animals as well.”
He goes on to say, “other toxins are perhaps more dangerous because of their apparent innocuousness. Furniture polish, liquid and powdered cleaners, laundry bleaches, paints, turpentine and mothballs, among other common household products, all contain substances which can cause brain malfunction or even death if ingested, inhaled, or brought into contact with mucous membranes.”
If pesticides in large doses can destroy nerve cells, is it reasonable to assume that small doses can at least impede the functioning of nerves? If so, pesticides can interfere with the innervation that’s vital for the normal operation of the body’s tissues and organs. If there is interference with innervation to tissues and organs responsible for clearing the body of wastes, these structures won’t perform their jobs well, and wastes will accumulate.
The Food and Drug Administration often supports the exposure of humans to poisons by arguing essentially this: “These substances are harmless in the amounts we take in.” If we were talking about only one or two such substances, this might be true. But we’re talking about literally thousands of them! In fact, we swim in a sea of chemical pollutants.6 Have the industries that have synthesized this chemical world for us done studies to determine the effects of the combination of all these substances? Assuredly not! Still, they assure the public that the chemicals are harmless in the products they produce and pander.
What about cigarettes? This is a source of toxemia-inducing chemicals that few people deny is harmful. When one smokes, a sticky tar with many chemical constituents – including several cancer-causing agents – is deposited on the mucous membrane of the lungs’ air passages. The tar, chemicals and gases irritate the mucous membrane. This impairs the ability of oxygen to pass through the membrane from the lungs into the blood. It also impairs the ability of carbon dioxide to pass in the opposite direction. This throws off the balance of blood chemistry and, in turn, the general metabolism – perhaps just slightly, but slightly may be the drip of water that sinks the ship. The cells and tissues and the organs composed of them operate most efficiently when the body chemistry is balanced. If it’s imbalanced, they operate poorly. this can impede the body’s ability to excrete wastes – again allowing them to build up to the point of toxemia.
Also when one smokes, the hairlike structures in the air passages become paralyzed. They lose their ability to sweep foreign matter from the lungs. When this happens, one has lost a powerful weapon against harmful particles breathed in. Such particles can irritate the membrane of the air passages and lungs; and this can set up reactions that further interfere with the expulsion of gaseous wastes.
There is an overabundance of chemical (as well as mechanical and psychological) factors with which to toxify ourselves. People continually saturate themselves with these then they wonder why they’re sick! This is like standing in the rain and wondering why you’re wet. As Tilden’s theory of toxemia explains, detoxifying patients can be a boon to their health; but teaching and motivating them to actively avoid re-toxifying themselves can be of more far reaching benefit. If Tilden was right, this may be a doctor’s noblest deed.