From the expert.....
Bowel Action During Fasting
During the first five years of my practice I employed the enema, both in the fast and while my patients were eating, but I particularly employed it in the fast. I had been taught that it was necessary in the fast, that if the enema was not used to wash out the colon, waste matter that had been thrown into this would be re-absorbed and the patient would suffer from auto-intoxication. Two facts caused me, finally, to begin to doubt the wisdom of employing the enema. These were:
1. I found the enema painful when I took it myself and I noticed that most of my patients also found it painful.
2. I found it left me with a feeling of weakness when I took an enema and I found the same thing to be true when my patients were given enemas.
These experiences caused me to do some effective thinking. The first question I asked myself was this: Am I doing right in employing an enervating measure in my care of my patients? I could not get an affirmative answer to this question, no matter how I tried. Then I ran my mind back over my studies of fasting among animals. The question came naturally to mind: If fasting animals, many of which fast for much longer periods than man can ever fast, do not need enemas, why does fasting man require them? I could find no logical reason why man required them while fasting. Then I reviewed the literature of fasting and I discovered that Jennings, Dewey, Tanner and others had not employed the enema. Cautiously, I began to test the no-enema plan. I soon became convinced of its superiority over the enema plan. I found Dr. Claunch rejecting the enema. I discovered that Dr. Page was not an advocate of its use. I had arrived at my conclusion the hard way, only to find that I was not alone.
Dr. Tilden, a frequent and regular user of the enema, admitted that it was enervating. But why should we employ methods of care that further enervate our patients? It is our duty, in caring for our patients, to conserve the energy of each patient in every way possible and not to needlessly dissipate the precious energies of life.
It is our duty at all times to conserve the energies of our patients. All enervating practices should be eliminated from our care of the sick. We may say that no such practices are ever justifiable, except where they are the lesser of two evils and there are rare instances where the enema may be the lesser of two evils. Macfadden, himself a great advocate of the use of the enema and of its use in the fast, says: "But enemas are somewhat enervating, and when the patient is already weak, he may find it a drain upon his vitality to take many of these."--Encyclopedia of Physical Culture, Vol. III, p. 1374.
I soon became convinced from tests I made that there is no absorption of toxins from the colon. At that time, twenty-five years ago, physiologists were still teaching that toxins are absorbed from the colon. Since then, they have changed their minds. The lining membrane of the colon no more absorbs toxins than does the lining membrane of the bladder. If the bladder does not absorb urine which is liquid, how can the lining membrane of the colon absorb feces, which is more or less solid? Answer this question in any way you may, there is one thing of which I am certain and this is, that, no symptoms of auto-intoxication develop during a fast of the longest duration when no enemas are employed.
I am certain of another important matter, namely, that the frequent use of the enema during the fast, as at other times, impairs bowel function, so that after the fast is broken, bowel function is not as efficient as in those patients who have not had enemas. My good friend, Dr. Carlos Arguello, of Nicaragua, put this matter to a test by dividing his patients into two groups and giving one group enemas and the other no enemas during their fasts. After their fasts were broken he kept careful records of the bowel movements of the members of both groups. Those who received no enemas had nearly a third more movements in the same period of time following the breaking of their fasts.
The regular and frequent use of the enema induces several important evils in the colon and their use is not to be recommended at any period of life, certainly not when one is sick and weak and needs to conserve himself in every way possible. At the beginning of 1925 I ceased using the enema and I am much better satisfied with its non-use in the fast than with its use. My patients also escape the discomforts it induces.
Dr H M Sheltons Hygienic System VOL III