Arthritis and Folk Medicine

About The Usefulness of Iodine

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Arthritis and Folk Medicine
Dr. Jarvis' Unpublished Notebook
-147 hand written pages of advice to correspondents-
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An Energy Disease
Dr. D.C. Jarvis
Also by Dr. Jarvis
The Two Blood Vessel Beds
The Treatment of Arthritis
Our Changing External Environment

ARTHRITIS is only a new name for what early Vermonters called rheumatism. Because it is not contagious and seldom kills, doctors do not always give it the interest, attention, and time that they should. It is usually a disease of long duration, too, and so a doctor often finds it hard to keep up his interest in the treatment. For that matter, he is at a loss as to just how he should proceed with treattment, since the cause of arthritis is not fully known. As a result of his repeated failures to relieve the symptoms a medical man is likely to get the impression that arthritis is incurable and he will therefore lose interest in it.

The patient, however, endures all the sustained agony of any other chronic disease. Arthritis does not kill quickly and dramattically, like heart disease, nor does it develop with the slow and cerrtain inevitability of cancer. Arthritic patients often live to a great age, and indeed they seldom die of their disease. Yet they have one common symptom: excruciating pain. When we consider that this pain affects more people than that from any other chronic disease it seems strange that more progress has not been made in understandding the cause of an ailment so widespread and so painful, and in findding a cure for it.

Most of us think of arthritis as a disease of later life, but allthough elderly people often have it there are a good many others under forty-five who are afflicted. In either case, it is only reasonnable to believe that there must be certain definite reasons for the preesence of the disease.

There are fundamental laws of body chemistry and physiology that nature requires us to observe. We may be ignorant of these laws because most of us no longer live close to the soil, but that doesn't excuse us from the penalty of failing to observe nature's rules. Innstincts brought across the human bridge from our parents guide and direct us during our childhood in observing the natural laws relating to our body's good health. Once we are adults, however, we abandon these childhood instincts, and so we have nothing to guide and direct us in observing nature's laws. As a result, the laws are broken, and sickness and unhappiness begin to appear.

Somehow we find it hard to accept the wise plan nature has provided for us. We rebel against her and try constantly to revise the plan and shape it to our own desires. But it never works. Sooner or later we are punished in the form of sickness, which may someetimes be arthritis. Nature has a way of eliminating humans who break her laws. An individual must adjust to his environment as she intended, or else be sick and perhaps die.

People with arthritis live in a world of pain, helplessness, and confusion. When arthritis strikes, with its agony, swelling, and stifffness, worry and fear must follow. As the pain gets worse the worry grows, and as the stiffness begins to interfere with normal living fright becomes a daily companion. As the unfortunate sufferer strugggles to find a way out he encounters only confusion when it comes to treatment. Often he is told there is nothing to be done, that there is no cure for his arthritis.

But is it really so hopeless? Let us turn to Vermont folk mediicine and discover what has been learned by the trial and error methhod of research during the past two hundred years. In doing so we will find out what happens when one ceases to rebel against nature and instead accept her wisely arranged plan and obeys her laws. Let us relearn these laws by studying honeybees, fowl, and animals, and observe whether arthritis is favorably influenced when the laws are observed.


For many years organized medicine has used the bacteriological appproach to solve clinical problems presented by a patient. In sharp contrast to this laboratory theory of infection is the theory of energy diseases developed by Vermont folk medicine as a result of close association with nature. Organized medicine has come to its hypootheses through the test tube and the microscope; Vermont folk mediicine's approach has been through the study of the instincts and beehavior of wild and domesticated fowl and animals.

Folk medicine recognizes three kinds of sickness that may apppear in the human body. The first is referred to as energy diseases resulting from continued activity of the energy expending mechanism in the body, because the individual does not know how to release the body from such activity. In this category would come high blood pressure, heart attacks, stomach and intestinal ulcer, muscle paralyysis, hay fever, asthma, migraine headaches, diabetes mellitus, arthriitis, and cancer.

The second variety of sickness is what folk medicine calls bacteriological diseases, caused by the presence within the body of harmmful micro-organisms that grow, multiply, and destroy. They are often referred to as infectious diseases. Typhoid fever would be one of them.

The third kind is known as parasitic diseases, or those due to bites of insects and the presence within the body of parasites, like the trichinosis which develops when you eat contaminated pork conntaining the parasites of this disease.

As a result of its method of research--the trial-and-error methhod--Vennont folk medicine has come to believe that physiological and chemical changes in the body underlie modern sickness. These changes are considered to be the same whether they occur in plants, fowl, animals, or man, in that they produce clinical physiology and biochemistry in the body.

The part of the body affected and which tissue or organ shows a change in function is governed by the ability of the body cells of that part to resist the altered body physiology and chemistry. Folk medicine reasoning in these matters is based on observing fowl and animals while they are alive, and noting what happens after they are slaughtered and prepared for market.

To understand how this reasoning is applied, let us have a closer look at the energy expending mechanism. It is helpful, particularly, for anyone with arthritis to understand how the mechanism works, because arthritis is considered an energy disease by folk medicine, and many of its observations, deductions, and conclusions are related to the behavior of that mechanism. It is natural that this should be so because most of the domesticated fowl and farm animals are kept for what they will produce, and anything that interferes with normal production is of interest to the owner.

To begin with it is well known that only certain organs and tisssues control the expenditure of energy in all animals. including man. As we have enumerated before these are the brain. heart, blood, the thyroid gland, the adrenal glands, the celiac ganglia, and the symmpathetic division of the autonomic nervous system. The adrenal glands govern emergency energy. while the thyroid controls the level of constant energy. Taken together, these organs and tissues are the means whereby energy is released in this or that gland or combinaation of muscles to enable an animal or human being to secure food. to escape from danger, and to reproduce its kind.

The transmitting system of animals and man includes the sennsory nerves of the body. the nerves that control the voluntary musscles, and the sympathetic nerves that supply the great network of blood vessels, which in turn are supplied to each of the hundreds of millions of cells of the liver, the thyroid gland. and the digestive system.

These energy controlling systems constitute a network so vast and intricate that if all the tissues of the body were removed except the nerve mechanisms there would remain only an effigy. Standing alone without accelerators or controllers these mechanisms would work all day and night, in danger, in hunger, in the presence of prey or mates. But it would be of little benefit to man or to animals like the race horse to have a perfect mechanism for generating energy if there were no compensating device by which speed could be adapttively altered.

In such a hypothetical situation man would not be able to adapt his mechanism to his changing requirements. The race horse would not be able to develop his speed. Man and all animals would exist on a constant energy level; they would operate at a given speed and their energy would be changeless. The mating season would be idenntical with every other season, and there would be no rhythm of adaptation to cold.

Thus, if every animal had the same speed of energy transfonnaation everything would be alike and predictable. There would be only basic oxidation, not adaptive oxidation. The ovaries, testes, mammmary glands, muscles, bones, tendons, the fat, and connective tisssues-none of these can alone change the rate of burning food in the cells of the body. The brain can supply the spark to start food burnning which results in the production of energy, but it cannot adapttively regulate the speed with which the burning of food in the body cells takes place without the help of the heart, the adrenalthetic nervous system, and the special senses.

The brain-heart-thyroid-adrenal-sympathetic system represents the energy expending mechanism of the body, and is the distingguishing feature of man and the higher animals. It controls adaptively the muscular action, glandular secretion and emotional expression.

When we make a supreme effort all the available energy is mobiilized. Adrenalin circulating through the blood stream causes a flash of oxidation not only in the millions of brain cells but in the entire sympathetic nervous system. Cells and system are stimulated at the same time to their maximum activity.

This simultaneous stimulation of the adrenal glands, the celiac ganglia and plexuses, and the sympathetic nervous system causes a powerful beat of the heart, a speeding of the sugar from the liver to the blood stream, and a speed-up of breathing. The result is a great output of energy for attack that more nearly resembles an explosion than a physiological act. Following such a maximum amount of activity there is rapid exhaustion. All the processes of the body not needed in the emergency are meanwhile completely prohibited.

Let us observe how this mechanism works, beginning with the body at rest. That part of the nervous, endocrine, and chemical systems which builds up and stores reserves against the day of need is now in the driver's seat. The whole process of food intake and digestion, from the moment of a desire to eat down to the evacuaation of indigestible residue, is under its control. Now the door of each body cell is readily opened to allow food and oxygen derived from the blood stream to enter, so that the vital activity of the cell may be carried on. The fluid in the body derived from the blood stream is constantly on the move, on its way to the body cells which are ready to receive it. There is no gathering of unwanted fluid by the cells in any part of the body.

In this state of bodily rest the heartbeat and breathing are at a relatively slow rate. The larger part of the blood supply has been withdrawn from the brain, muscles, heart, and lungs and placed at the disposal of the digestive tract and abdominal organs, which are quietly engaged in carrying on the vital processes of the body. That part of the nervous system which brings about peace and quiet in the body is in control, and the portion of the endocrine system designed to increase the ability of the body cells to take up fluid laden with food and oxygen is active. The human motor is in low gear.

Then an alarm is sounded. Anyone of the five senses, but usuually sight, hearing, or touch, brings a warning of impending danger, and at once that part of the nervous, endocrine, and chemical mechhanism which organizes the body for an emergency takes over. Heart and breathing speed up rapidly to hasten the circulation of blood and to meet the increased need for oxygen taken in by the lungs and transferred to the blood. In the digestive tract and abdominal organs blood is drained to be sent to the muscles, brain, eyes, ears, and heart. Each adrenal gland is activated, and through the emergency function they possess, they pour adrenalin into the blood stream, which serves to increase and prolong the activity of the nervous and chemical systems that organize the individual for combat. The hearttbeat is strengthened, and the blood is suffused with sugar stored in the liver, glands, and muscles.

To produce the display of energy needed to meet an emergency when an alarm is sounded, the human motor is now in high gear. These changes characterize the new state:

1. There is a cessation of processes in the digestive tract.

2. Blood shifts from the abdominal organs to the organs immeediately essential to muscular exertion.

3. There is increased vigor of contraction of the heart.

4. A discharge of extra blood corpuscles from the spleen occurs.

5. There is deeper breathing.

6. A dilation of the breathing tubes leading to the lungs takes place.

7. There is a quick abolition of muscular fatigue and mobilizing of sugar in the circulation.

When war breaks out between nations the arts and industries that brought wealth and contentment must suffer serious neglect or be wholly set aside by both attacker and attacked. All the supplies and energies developed in the period of peace must be devoted to the present conflict.

So it if with the body. Functions which establish and support the body reserves in a quiet time are, in time of stress, instantly checked or completely stopped, and these reserves are drawn upon lavishly to increase power in attack or defense.

There are lesser demands made on the nervous, endocrine, and chemical mechanisms that organize the body for varying degrees of great effort-demands like fear, anxiety, unproductive worry, an unnhappy enviornment, grief, a drop in the outdoor temperature, and certain foods. These factors, which are present singly or in combiination in some degree every day, maintain the body on one of the varying levels of emergency organization. The body cells are denied the proper quantity and quality of food they need to build up body reserves.

Doctors who are called upon to treat modern man recognize that his peaceful intervals are few and far between. As he lives his business and private life he inevitably encounters recurring frustraations and irritations, and the emotions of fear, anger, anxiety, joy, grief, and deep disgust.

Under primitive conditions the body's device for mobilizing its energy expending mechanism for fight or flight was probably of major importance, but today it is likely to be more detrimental than otherwise. Emergencies in these days most commonly call for self  control and quiet thinking. Nevertheless, these primitive reactions constantly take place, with results somewhat comparable to opening the throttle of an idling motor.

The effect on the machinery is not wholesome. When we are overwrought it would probably be wise if we did something vigorous, not commit an assault, of course, but take a brisk walk in order to use the body as it was intended to be used when organized for an emergency. When the body goes on a combat basis the physiological changes that suddenly occur are all adapted to putting forth a suupreme muscular and nervous effort, because primitive battle connsisted of fierce physical combat of beast with beast, man with man. or one against the other.

Many surface manifestations are easily observable when the body organizes itself on a combat basis. They are present in a degree measured by the intensity with which the organization takes place. These manifestations include contraction of blood vessels. with reesulting pallor; the pouring out of cold sweat; stopping of saliva flow; dilation of the pupils of the eyes; rising of the hairs; a rapid beating of the heart; hurried respiration; trembling and twitching of the musscles, especially those about the lips.

Such signs and symptoms are all well recognized accompaniiments of pain and great emotional disturbances such as horror. anger, and deep disgust, but they are mainly superficial. There are other organs hidden deep in the body which do not display so obviously the disturbance of their action during states of intense feeling.

As an organ of struggle the mind of man keeps his energy exxpending mechanism constantly under the stress of fear, worry. and anxiety. As a result a group of clinical conditions peculiar to civiilized man have appeared, which might be called energy diseases.

The heart of modern man if affected profoundly be the fretttings and frustrations peculiar to his way of life--a pattern in which he works physically, mentally, and emotionally all day and worries at night. Man is a combat animal and will probably always be one. I t is this combat instinct that makes business and professional commpetition attractive to him. The way of living he has created will not wreck him, however, if he learns how to control the energy expendding mechanism of his body.

You may ask, "Why should an individual with arthritis be innterested in this mechanism?" He should be interested because connditions in his life may be responsible for activating the energy exxpending mechanism, and he ought to know what happens in the body in relation to arthritis when that activation occurs.

He should know, for example, that a change in the reaction of the blood takes place, its normal faintly alkaline reaction increasing until it becomes hyperalkaline. Then the blood calcium is preciipitated, just as it is in the teakettle when water boils. and preciipitated calcium fonns a deposit, just as it does on the bottom of the teakettle.

This free calcium in the blood makes the body tissues tough, interferes with the normal fonnation of tissue juices, makes it more difficult for the heart to circulate the blood, and brings about a deeposit of calcium in the blood vessel walls. When the body holds all the precipitated calcium possible it spills over into the bursae and the joints.

The object of treatment is to throw the deposited calcium into solution again, thus relieving joints and bursae of the precipitated calcium. Dairy cows in pasture achieve this, as we have seen, by seelecting only acid reaction vegetation, and native Vermonters do it by the daily use of apple cider vinegar on their food and by taking honey. By using the vinegar-and-honey combination the daily food intake is made acid in reaction· before it enters the mouth, in acccordance with nature's plan. This prevents calcium from preciipitating in the body. One reason why these Vermonters live so long is their Ibility to solve the calcium problem. They keep body tissues free from deposits in places where no deposits should occur.

It is common knowledge that arthritic patients feel worse when they are under some emotional strain which activates their energy expending mechanism. In some an emotional upheaval can produce an attack of arthritis, and in all of them the mechanism may be actiivated by such common emotional problems as chronic resentment, an unhappy marriage, a better career disappointment, or by some frustration against which the person battles subconsciously every day. The first symptoms of arthritis may occur immediately after a siege of family trouble, and it will be caused by mineral precippitation in the body which activates the energy expending mechhanism.

A common illustration from Vermont daily life will illustrate, I think, what happens when the mechanism is set in motion. During the deer season if a deer is shot while it is calmly eating or resting, with its body motor in low gear, the cooked meat will be very tender and have a good taste. But if he is frightened, shifts his body motor into high gear and starts running, and is shot while running, the cooked meat will be tough and have a poor taste. That is a homely but vivid example of what happens when the energy expending mechanism is dominant. As I have said before, native Vermonters have learned that they can throw the precipitated calcium into soluution and make the meat of fowl or animals tender and good tasting by a twice-a-day apple cider vinegar dose before the animal is slaughhtered.

It is a paradox in our modern world that nearly every machine you can buy is accompanied by a book of instructions telling you how to operate it and make simple adjustments. but the human machine, as old as man himself, has never had any such instructions, except those which medicine has provided. We are, however, born with instincts which nature intended to guide and protect us. Leavving these instincts behind us in childhood and denying them later we lose the knowledge that enables us to shift from high to low gear. Yet it is quite possible to relearn this knowledge.

A young Vermonter learns it by demonstrating how it is posssible to calm down a cross dog, an irritable horse, or a pugnacious bull, simply by adding apple cider vinegar to the animal's ration at feeding each day and repeating this daily for a month or two.

When I heard about this treatment from my native Vermont friends it aroused my interest at once, because it indicated that this was a way to shift the human motor from high to low gear. I spent five years in studying pugnacious bulls to find out whether the sweetening of the disposition was accurate or not.

The owner of the herd I studied did not raise his replacements but purchased them from cattle dealers and nearby farmers. Connsequently he classified the bulls in his herd as animals to be sold for beef when they were ready for market.

It was only logical, then, that when the farmer bought a bull his first thought was to put some weight on him and his second thought Was to make the meat tender. The bulls were therefore allways in rotation in the herd: as soon as one was properly condiitioned for a profitable sale another was bought to take his place.

Some of the bulls. by the law of averages, were short-tempered animals. which is probably one of the reasons why they were sold. They would bellow, wave their heads from side to side. and paw the barn floor. To put it conservatively, they were entirely out of harrmony with the barn environment. I asked permission to tryout apple cider vinegar on these bulls to learn whether it would control their dispositions.

A pint of apple cider vinegar, just as it came from the vinegar barrel. was placed before a belligerent bull to study his reaction. He sniffed it a few times and then took all of it. Then we put a quart before him, and he took it quickly without any ill effects. Apparenttly apple cider vinegar is acceptable to a bull, because he will take a large amount of it if he is given a chance. Repeated trials with variious bulls showed that everyone would take a pint of vinegar any time it was placed before him.

I learned that an)' pugnacious bull could be calmed down simpply by pouring two ounces of apple cider vinegar over his ration at each feeding. In time. if the treatment was continued, he would become docile and could be easily handled, although I might add that he was never to be trusted.

After five years of calming down bulls by this method I asked my farmer friend what he thought of it. "Dr. Jarvis," he said, "we don't have any cross bulls in this barn any more."

Turning to humans, in the practice of medicine, I discovered that two teaspoonfuls of vinegar and two of honey in a glass of water would shift the human motor from high to low, and in the process it would calm down the individual and make him easier to live with.

The person with arthritis should try to remember that apple cider vinegar, besides the other results it may produce, will also calm down the energy expending mechanism that organizes the body for aggressive action, either mental or physical. In doing this it shifts the motor from high to low, and since arthritis is an energy disease this knowledge can be very helpful.

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