By: Herbert M. Shelton
The colon functions by carrying the
residues of digestion upward from
the cecum, across the transverse
colon, and downward through the
sigmoid to the rectum and to the
Digestion is completed in the small
intestines and it is there that the digested
portions of the food are absorbed. Some water and electrolytes may be
absorbed from the colon, but there is no further absorption of food.
There is no absorption of toxins from the colon unless abnormal poisons are
put there, e.g., caffeine, allicin, mustard oil, mercury, strychnine, etc.
The colon, like the rest of the alimentary tract, is lined with a skin or membrane
that is called mucous membrane. Irritation or inflammation of the colon is
known as colitis or colonitis.
Supposed by some authorities to be perhaps the most common disease of
civilized man, colitis is asserted to be very rare among uncivilized peoples.
Constipation is perhaps the most annoying symptom of colitis, although it is
likely to be alternated with diarrhea. If the colitis is acute (diarrhea) there may
be mucus in the loose, watery stools.
All the forms of colitis discussed in this article come under the general
technical classification of "mucous colitis."
A state of spasm of the colon is common in cases of colitis, especially if the
condition is marked.
Frequently, there also is a sagging of the transverse colon—enteroptosis. The
colon may sag in the absence of colitis and colitis may exist without sagging,
but spastic colitis is almost certain to accompany both conditions.
It is a mistake, however, to think of spastic constipation as the cause of
mucous colitis. This view is no more rational than to think of colitis as the
cause of spastic constipation.
In chronic colitis the more marked inflammation may be located at different
parts of the colon, the acute exacerbations of which will be named after the
location of the more severe inflammation, as sigmoiditis, proctitis, etc.
For long periods the condition may be obscure, the individual merely being
conscious of abdominal distress, which he may attribute to constipation or to
gas. When mucus appears in the stools, the condition is already well
As the colitis becomes more marked the mucus may appear in the stools in
masses of jelly-like consistency, in suspicious looking ropy shreds like casts
of the bowels, or the feces may be coated with mucus and this may be
wreaked with blood. There is now no mistake that colitis is present.
I do not intend here to attempt to cover all the variations from the common
picture of colitis. These may occur often, but for all practical purposes, they
are of little significance.
As the colon is divided into a few sections, it becomes possible to have such
special forms of colitis as proctitis, sigmoiditis and others, but the so-called
disease is the same in each case. Let us look at the two "diseases" just
named. There is no actual dividing line between the sigmoid and the rectum.
If we imagine a hairline dividing the two continuous sections of the colon, we
may recognize the folly of naming inflammation on one side of this line
sigmoiditis, and, if it extends only an eighth of an inch over the line into the
lining membrane of the rectum, calling this proctitis. It is like naming pimples
on the left cheek one disease and pimples on the right cheek something else.
We make the same confusing classifications of inflammation according to
locations throughout all parts of the body.
Inflammation of the lining membrane of the nose is rhinitis, inflammation of the
lining membrane of the nasal sinuses is sinusitis, inflammation of the
bronchial tube is bronchitis; but these are only different names for precisely
he same condition in the different locations.
Gastritis is he same condition in the lining membrane of the stomach. To call
all of these local inflammations different diseases is only to add to growing
Often great skill is needed to diagnose correctly the form of colitis with which
the patient suffers, and to detect just where the inflammation is located.
Skill in diagnosis may not indicate familiarity with cause. The greatest
diagnostic technique is often harnessed to the most ineffective means of mere
palliation. We are here more interested in what is causing the patients trouble
than in what particular section of the colon is irritated or spastic.
Symptoms of colitis are alike in kind, differing only in location and degree. One
significant fact that has received much notice is that every case that presents
the marks of chronicity has a colon complex; that is to say a negative or
People who are ill or who suffer are rarely cheerful and happy. Anxiety,
apprehension and consequent depression form the rule in sickness of every
It is rarely possible for one to remain mentally or emotionally indifferent to
physical discomfort. A certain measure of self-pity creeps into the
consciousness of the most sanguine and stoical.
When we consider the nature of colitis, it is not surprising that the sufferer
becomes depressed and anxious. Many so-called neurotics and psychotics
are such only because of long-standing colitis.
In at least 95% of cases of chronic colitis, constipation is an outstanding
feature. It frequently continues over a period of years, during which time the
sufferer tries laxatives, purgatives, teas, oils, enemas, colonic irrigations and
other means of securing "relief" from his constipation, never once realizing
that the constipation is only a symptom.
Although these measures often afford some temporary relief, they serve, in the
end, to aggravate greatly the condition.
All colitis sufferers complain of indigestion, both gastric and intestinal, and of
rumbling of gas in the intestines, with more or less pain, sometimes of a
colicky nature. They have a sense of fullness and uneasiness.
Commonly there is a dull and constant or sharp and intermittent headache.
Many of these patients complain of a feeling of stiffness and tension, even
pain, in the muscles of the neck, often with pain just below the juncture of the
neck and the head.
Frequently colitis sufferers describe their symptoms as a "drawing" sensation.
Most of these cases appear anemic and dysemic. They are thin and
undernourished, as a rule, although colitis is by no means confined to the
properly nourished. The tongue is commonly coated, the tastes unpleasant,
and the breath offensive.
There may be a feeling of extreme exhaustion with a lack of enterprise and
ambition. Nausea may develop immediately upon the expulsion from the
colon of a large accumulation of mucus. Invariably this is followed by a feeling
of great relief.
In colitis the facial expression is one of dejection and misery, frequently
combined with anxiety, although many try bravely to repress their feelings,
while others appear to be in a constant state of unconcealed apathy.
The patient may become very nervous, irritable, excitable, even border on
melancholia and hysteria.
Not only a trial to themselves, they become a trial to everyone about them. In
severe and long-standing cases, the patient's whole thinking centers on his
physical state. Few conditions can compete with colitis in engineering
Many colitis sufferers become habituated to the taking of drugs. They try
everything that is advertised as a remedy. They exhaust the list of laxatives,
cathartics, tonics and digestants. They go from one physician to another,
studying their symptoms and confusing their feelings.
Enemas, cascades, irrigations, different methods of dieting and psychiatrists
are all tried in vain. Some study anatomy, physiology and foods and acquire
an extensive technical vocabulary, often quite meaningless.
It has been suggested more than once that the milder types of insanity often
have their origin in colonic irritation. At least mental diseases requiring
restraint have evolved in colitis sufferers.
Such cases at least make it clear that the mental reactions to colitis are real
and not mere fancies. One man of great prominence gives as his opinion that
a chronically diseased colon forms the basis of more mental and physical
troubles than any other single functional abnormality.
Most important in caring for the sufferer with colitis is to ignore symptoms and
the acute exacerbations, and to recognize and remove the cause of the
suffering. We are fully convinced, that the development of colitis is
concomitant with the retention of toxic waste and its accumulation in the
blood and lymph. Whatever will free the body of its accumulated toxic load will
prove adequate care for the colitis sufferer.
The mind of the patient and the mind of the one who cares for him must both
be freed from the tyranny of local symptoms. The discomforts must be
persistently minimized for the reason that the mucus, the gas, the rumbling,
the spasticity, the constipation and the nervous irritability are neither singly
nor collectively the cause of the trouble.
Recovery cannot be expected without complete and prolonged rest, away
from friends and relatives and away from the enervating environmental
Physical rest means going to bed and remaining there. It means ceasing
physical activities and relaxing. Mental rest requires poise. It means the
elimination of worry, fear, anxiety and depressing emotions.
Sensory rest requires quiet and freedom from sensory excitement.
Physiological rest can be obtained only by going without all food.
Fasting soon results in a relaxation of the spastic bowel and stomach.
Instead of bulk-free diets, a fast is indicated. Fasting speeds up that part of
metabolism that eliminates waste and rejuvenates fatigued nerve and cell
structure. It permits the body to establish a normal blood chemistry in its own
inimitable manner. No man understands how to establish a normal blood
chemistry. No one can either duplicate or imitate the ways of the body in re-
establishing its normal blood chemistry.
The continual irritation of the bowels by drugging can only add to the suffering
of the patient, as this makes the condition worse. Medicated enemas are
highly irritating. Enemas containing soapsuds, molasses and other such
substances are also to be condemned.
It is important to know that colitis is but a part of a general irritation and
inflammation of the mucous surfaces of the body (just a few years ago it would
have been called a general catarrh) and that whatever frees the patient of his
colitis will, at the same time, free him of his other itises in other regions—in the
nose and throat, in the womb or in the bladder, to name a few local mucous
The common condition called diarrhea is simply a colitis of short duration. Not
serious in the average case, and lasting but a day or two (to a few days) it is
the rule of many to neglect the state of the colon and resort to means of
suppressing the diarrhea. Often the condition is nothing more than a
temporary irritation of the bowels by unsuitable or fermenting food. This is
especially true when it develops in children. But repeated crises of this kind
tend to evolve chronic colitis.
As long ago as 1918, Richard C. Cabot, M.D., of Harvard University Medical
School and the Massachusetts General Hospital, wrote in his book for social
workers, A Layman's Handbook of Medicine:
"Simple diarrhea or acute colitis of adults gets well as a rule in a week or ten
days. The important remedies are rest and warmth and starvation."
He indicates that this same care is best for infants and children, although he
thought that a purge at the outset of the diarrhea should help. The important
thing for us to note, however, is the recognition of the value of the fast in
I think it should be added that a week to ten days constitutes more time than is
required for most cases of diarrhea to come to an end if fasting is instituted at
the first sign of diarrhea. Often two or three days are enough.
Amoebic dysentery is a form of colitis that is said to be caused by an amoeba.
It is quite common in many parts of the world and I have had opportunity to
handle a number of cases coming to me from Mexico and South America.
I do not think that the dysentery is caused by the amoeba, but I am convinced
that the amoeba and the medication aimed at this microbe tend to perpetuate a
disease that, initially is but a simple inflammation of the bowel. The disease
would "run its course" in a week to ten days in almost all cases, if not
complicated by feeding and drugging.
When the true cause of the disease is understood and removed, a speedy
return to health follows; but if these cases are treated in the usual manner, the
disease may last for years and end in death.
Drugs to kill amoeba, medicated enemas to kill parasites—these build
ulcerative colitis and proctitis. The fact is that the war that is supposed to be
made on the amoeba too often kills the patient before the disease is
controlled. Some day amoebicides, parasiticides and germicides will be given
up, as they tend to kill the patient too.
Instead of making war on the amoeba, the fast provides an opportunity for the
body to cast off its nutritive redundancy and its toxic load and the diarrhea
comes, to an end.
Whatever part the amoeba plays in the causation of the disease, it cannot be
specific nor can it be primary, as this microbe ceases to annoy when the fast
has progressed for a few days.
Two lovely young girls of the same family, citizens of this country, but living
with their parents in Mexico City, where the father was stationed, developed a
sickness diagnosed as amoebic dysentery, a disease very common in
They had been treated in the regular manner: Drugs to kill the amoeba and
plenty of "good nourishing food." In spite of the drugs, perhaps because of
them, the dysentery persisted; in spite of the "nourishing food" they continued
to lose both weight and strength.
Their parents began to despair of their lives. They knew of deaths in the
disease in Mexico and began to fear that they were going to lose both of their
Then a New Yorker visited the family. He told them of Natural Hygiene and
urged them to give it a chance to restore the health of the two girls. The
mother brought them to this country, where they were given a fast of only one
The diarrhea ceased, they became more alert and developed a demand for
food. The sisters were fed on a diet of fresh fruits, non-starchy vegetables and
minimum quantities of proteins. Their recovery was rapid and they put on
weight on a diet that would not ordinarily sustain weight. Now after the
passage of more than fifteen years, these two young ladies are still enjoying
Ulcerative colitis is but a further evolution of mucous colitis. The chronic
inflammation has resulted in hardening and ulceration of the membrane of the
Severe ulcerative cases may evolve out of acute colitis, but this is not the rule.
Those who carry out the instructions given for mucous colitis will not evolve
In a syndicated newspaper article published October 24, 1962, Walter C.
Alvarez, M.D. declared that chronic ulcerative colitis is "unfortunately ... a
disease which we physicians do not understand well. We don't know for sure
what causes it."
He explains that no germ or virus has been found that can be blamed as
causing the often severe diarrhea and says that some cases seem certain to
start with a nervous cause, such as an unhappy marriage.
He adds that some physicians are sure that the disease begins and is kept
going by "an allergic sensitiveness to some food or foods." Then he says:
"However it starts, it often ends with a bad ulceration of the inner lining of the
The patient develops fever, there is diarrhea with blood and pus in the feces,
and, eventually, the colon shrinks and becomes deformed and shortened. In
ulcerative colitis, constipation frequently alternates with diarrhea.
This condition may evolve after years of suffering with chronic colitis or it may
evolve immediately after a severe acute inflammation of the colon.
In either case, it is correct to say that when colitis has passed through the
successive stages of irritation, inflammation, ulceration and induration, it is
ready for the evolution of cancer, which needs but the addition of a
continuous bath of decomposition from excess and unsuitable food.
It is essential to understand that all chronic forms of inflammation begin with
irritation, followed by inflammation and ulceration.
If the location favors stasis—stoppage of the blood flow—induration and
cancer follow. In its origin, irritation is absolutely innocent of all taint of
malignancy; hence there is no reason why it cannot be remedied.
When ulcerative colitis is established, cancer is not far away. Indeed, the
objective symptoms of cancer and ulcer are far from pathognomonic—that is,
undeniably proving the presence of either.
But there seems to be no reason to doubt that eating to the point of keeping
the colon and rectum saturated with putrefaction is the one and only way to
complete the evolution of cancer of the bowel.
The beginning of the trouble is simple inflammation, which is absolutely
innocent of all taint of malignancy until the diseased membrane of the colon or
rectum has been mascerated, so to speak, in a continuous bath of
The care of chronic inflammation of the colon and rectum should be
successful at any stage before the beginning of malignancy. After the
malignant stage is reached, hope flies out the window.
This is to say, when colon disease has evolved through irritation,
inflammation, ulceration and induration to cancer, any remaining possibility of
recovery is wrecked by methods of diagnosis and treatment that set up
psychosis or mental depression as deadly as cancer itself.
Operation for cancer of the rectum or colon, making an artificial anus above
the cancer, a questionable palliation, creates a blind pouch out of the
cancerous portion of the colon or rectum, thus producing a miniature gehenna
within the patient's body.
Alvarez says: "In a few cases, if no medical treatment helps, as the last resort
the colon can be removed surgically."
The drug treatment he describes is purely symptomatic: barbituates to enable
the patient to sleep, codeine to "quiet" the bowels and "give rest" extra fluids,
and "some iron" for his anemia.
He recommends antibiotics and cortisone-like drugs for other symptoms. One
gets the idea that "treat the symptoms as they arise" is still good medicine.
Reverting to the article by Alvarez, he also says:
"... the patient should be kept in bed awhile, on a liberal diet, and one tasty
enough so that he will eat it, and not leave it on his plate. He must have
enough food and vitamins so that he can keep up his nourishment."
This is a slightly different way of expressing it, but what he says is only a
restatement of the old advice that the patient must "eat plenty of nourishing
food to keep up his strength."
Eating prevents the bowel from healing and keeps alive the disease process.
If the fast were instituted at the outset of the diarrhea, the formation of the
ulceration could perhaps be avoided.
Authorities are floundering about, trying first one thing and then another,
hoping that something may prove to be of value. But without knowledge of
cause, there is nothing constructive that they can do. To remove the colon as
the last resort certainly does not remove the cause of the suffering. It seems to
be an open confession of failure.
It is essential to understand that irritation is absolutely innocent of the taint of
malignancy; hence there is no reason why it should not be remediable.
Malignancy is the ending, not the beginning of the pathological process.
Those who carry out the instructions given for mucous colitis will not evolve
By: Herbert M. Shelton
Excerpted from: Fasting Can Save Your Life