Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dynamic Abdominal Health, Part Two - E.M. Orlick

Frank Zane

Joe Weider


For some unaccountable reason we human beings seem to know less about the make-up and functions of our own bodies than we do about our automobiles, radios, etc. To a certain extent this is understandable, for the latter are less complicated. But on the other hand, they are also much less important to our well-being. If a piston seizes or a radio tube burns out due to our ignorance we might be inconvenienced temporarily but replacements can be made, even if at a price. However, if through ignorance we permanently damage our heart or any other vital organ replacement is out of the question and the cost in mental and physical suffering, in loss of working time and even in direct treatment might well be thousands of times greater.

There is nothing of greater importance to an individual than his own life, despite the fact that he may be willing at times to sacrifice this for the benefit of others. It would be a safe guess to say that any sane individual if faced by the choice of giving up his worldly goods of his life would inevitably choose to give up the former. Yet in spite of this, millions of persons are at this very moment hastening their deaths through ignorance, abuse and neglect. It is strange indeed that the self-same individual who is ready to make any personal sacrifice whatsoever to stave off immediate death will do little or nothing now to prevent death at some later date. To see this in another light, let us assume we had the power to look into the future and could determine the exact date at which an individual was destined to die. Let us suppose further that this age was set at 60 years. Now, if we captured this man when he reached the age of 50 or 55 and gave him the choice of facing a firing squad or giving up all his worldly possessions there is little doubt at to what his choice would be. Yet this same individual if told a thousand times during his youth and early adulthood that he was cutting five or 10 years off of his lifespan through ignorance, apathy or self-abuse would be unwilling to make even the slightest sacrifice that he might live these extra years.

Think of the years that a person will spend in studying a trade, profession or business that he might obtain the necessities and some of the luxuries of life. In contrast ot this, think of the infinitely less time that the self-same individual will spend in studying his mental and physical make-up, both of which are even more important to health, happiness and a fuller life. It simply does not add up, for here we have sane human beings fighting for life with every means at their disposal and, at the same time undermining the very life for which they struggle; here we have individuals giving their utmost in time, effort and money that they might enjoy the pleasures of life, while at the same time they neglect or destroy those very things which make enjoyment possible.

Some of the things responsible for this paradox are perhaps excusable, but self-imposed ignorance on matters of vital importance to the individual himself certainly is not. Particularly is this true in respect to health and physical fitness, about which so much excellent knowledge is available. In fact one need hardly look for this information for we are almost continually surrounded by it. Our newspapers, the better class of magazines, our book stores, the municipal libraries, the radio, health association publications, and a host of other mediums are continually bombarding the public with information vital to good health. Unfortunately, knowledge cannot be gained by simply exposing yourself to it. It must be assimilated and this takes time and effort, and it must be put into use, and in respect to health and fitness this takes a certain measure of self-discipline.

To return to the anatomy and physiology of the abdominal region. It would be possible to describe these in a vague sort of way by the use of words chosen entirely from the "basic English" vocabulary about which at the present time there is so much talk. However, if something is worth knowing at all it is worth knowing in some detail and, in our particular respect, this involves the use of a fairly wide vocabulary including a number of technical words.

The authors have no desire to appear pedantic and make no excuse for using words which the average individual may not be familiar with. In every trade and profession there are hundreds of technical words which the interested individual must add to his vocabulary in order to understand the field of work in which he is engaged. In matters of health and physical fitness there are also technical words which the individual must add to his vocabulary in order to have a clear understanding of these important fields. A little mental effort and the use of a reasonably good English dictionary is all that is necessary to understand the description which is to follow. Certainly anything as important to you as this is worthy of some intellectual effort on your part.

The Abdominal Cavity

The abdominal cavity is situated in the lower part of the trunk, between the brim of the pelvis below, and the diaphragm above. It is bounded by the vertebral column at the back and by a muscular wall on the sides and in front.

The shape of the abdomen in infancy resembles a truncated cone, which has been inverted. As the individual grows up a change takes place with a definite difference appearing between the sexes. Thus in the adult female we find the original shape reversed, whereas in the male the abdomen becomes somewhat barrel-shaped with a front-to-back flattening.

The abdominal cavity is lined by a membrane called the peritoneum which, because of its moist, slippery surface, allows the visceral a limited amount of frictionless movement. The contents of this cavity have already been given elsewhere but bear repetition at this point. They are as follows: the stomach, the small intestine, the liver the gall-bladder, the pancreas, the large intestine (except the rectum), the spleen, two kidneys, two suprarenal bodies, the abdominal aorta and its branches, the inferior vena cava, the vagi, sympathetic ganglia and nerves, the beginning of the thoracic duct, and numerous lymph nodes.

Drugs, Food Fads and Other Dangerous Shortcuts to Abdominal Health

Shortcuts to wealth and health have, from time immemorial, been strewn with swindlers, confidence men, high pressure salesmen and quacks. A mixture of gullibility and ignorance combined with the desire to get something of value without working for it has made and will continue to make many thousands of persons the victims of unprincipled businessmen and out-and-out racketeers. P.T. Barnum, one of the great showmen of all times and a keen student of human nature, gave classic expression the this when he said, "A sucker is born every minute."

In the days of the traveling medicine show it was comparatively easy for a distinguished looking barker with a gifted tongue to spellbind almost any ordinary group of citizens with the wonders of a special snake oil which was guaranteed to more than half of the known ailments. Today, due to the higher educational standard of the masses, the "medicine man" would find it a difficult task to get Mr. Average Man to trade his dollar for a bottle of cure-all. Unfortunately, the medicine man, or at least his counterpart, has also kept pace with the times and in place of snake oil we have a hundred-and-one equally worthless concoctions bearing high sounding scientific names, supported by glowing testimonials, and deftly associated with real or fictitious big-name individuals or institutions. In place of the gifted tongue we have a host of high pressure advertising mediums such as the barker of old never even dreamed of. Amongst these might be mentioned radio, the press, the billboard, innumerable publications of all forms and person-to-person contracts.

Modern salesmanship isn't the kind you can walk away from as you walked away from the silvery tongue of the marketplace medicine man. It glares at you from billboards as you drive along the streets and highways; it forces itself upon your attention as you read your favorite newspaper or magazine; it blares defiantly at you from your radio or bathed in music and soft-spoken words creep quietly into your subconscious mind. You do not buy according to your reasoned preferences for these are determined for you. You do not buy according to your needs for even these are manufactured for you by semi-hypnotic suggestions, by false interpretations of obvious symptoms and by nourishing whatever hypochondriac tendencies you may happen to possess. The old-time medicine man knew something about human nature but compared to the scientific advertising psychologists of today he was a rank amateur. As a result of all this, some remarkable changes have taken place in the fake patent medicine racket. Whereas the medicine man of yesterday took in only the open-mouthed yokels, the medicine man of today takes in all classes of people from the dumbest to the smartest and where the old-timer filched the odd dollar here and there from the public, the modern 'benefactor of mankind' is filching millions.

To be sure there are in existence many laws destined to protect the public from such rank racketeers but unfortunately, due to laxity or loopholes, their effectiveness is almost entirely lost. Consequently the market is flooded with all manner of magic mixtures -- useless, harmless and dangerous -- purporting to cure everything from bunions to bald heads. Among the most common and also most dangerous of these are the 'obesity cures' and the 'constipation cures' which beat a steady tattoo on our eardrums via the radio and constantly assault our eyes from the pages of magazines and periodicals.

United States Government chemists and also chemists of the American Medical Association have frequently examined and exposed fake patent medicinal cures. For reasons beyond the comprehension of the layman these hardly ever appear in publications other than the more strictly scientific one and rarely name the exposed product outright. There are undoubtedly legal and ethical factors involved but surely there must be some direct way in which the government can prevent the sale and manufacture of products which are worthless or dangerous, despite claims made on their behalf.

On the 'obesity cures' which have been exposed there are two which have become more or less classic in medical literature. These had been advertised very widely and were sold over the counters of many respectable stores throughout the country at fantastic profits to the manufacturers.

One, when analyzed, was found to be made up of one pound of powdered alum, 10 ounces of alcohol and enough water to make up the remainder of the quart. It was estimated that the cost of these ingredients totaled about 30 cents. The sale price to the public was $20.00 per quart.

The other reducing compound was found to be made up as follows: 86.6% ordinary Vaseline, 6.6% salicycle acid, 5.3% menthol and 1.5% of some unidentified material. A three-ounce bottle of this sold for $10.00. Its actual cost was about 10 cents.

How effective are these for reducing weight? You have probably guessed the answer. Like all others of this harmless type, they are absolutely worthless as weight reducers. There are a few advertised 'obesity cures' which, under certain conditions are effective. For example, those which have thyroid extract as their active ingredient are effective in reducing weight where the obesity is due to under-activity of the thyroid gland. Likewise, obesity-curing concoctions containing dinitrophenol (!) may also be instrumental in reducing weight, but both of these drugs are positively dangerous when used indiscriminately and, the latter has been known to cause blindness and even death. It should go without saying that no sane individual would use either of these drugs or any mixture of them unless expressly advised to do so by a very competent physician.

From the above it is obvious that the popular magic weight reducers which are flooding the market today are of two types, the absolutely useless and the positively dangerous. Neither should be resorted to under any circumstances.

In recent years there has been a definite attempt on the part of certain companies interested in the manufacture and sale of laxatives to suggest their products as obesity cures as well as cures for constipation. Such a great emphasis has been placed on this relatively new use of laxatives that many obese persons who have never suffered from constipation have been tempted to try out this shortcut to a streamlined body. To the surprise and delight of many, the use of cathartics was actually followed by a loss of weight. Naturally this encouraged them to take larger and more frequent doses with the result that they soon became habitual users. In time, much to their disappointment, they discover that no permanent loss of weight has taken place. In other words, though the use of a cathartic is generally followed by loss of weight, this is soon made up again. The mystery is easily explained. The cathartic, in addition to stimulating bowel evacuation, also causes abstraction of water from the body. This is responsible for loss of weight but as soon as the individual partakes of water or fluid foods a replacement of the abstracted water commences and in a comparatively short time the body-weight of the individual is the same as it was before.

By the time the wishful weight-reducer gets wise to this he finds that though he was absolutely free from constipation before he is now a chronic sufferer. It he had known that excessive use of cathartics would weaken the muscle tone of the intestines and eventually lead to chronic constipation, you can rest assured that he would not have resorted to their use in the first place. Unfortunately, even after he has become a victim of this scourge, it is highly unlikely that that he would guess that a respectable, widely advertised 'constipation cure' is actually the cause of his constipation and, once again, he becomes the victim of a vicious cycle. Certainly the fake medicine man of today is far superior to his predecessor of yesterday for he not only provides the 'cures' but actually creates the ailments which make the cures necessary.

Despite the fact that there are times when a mild laxative might be in order, the excessive or habitual use of cathartics in any form cannot be too strongly condemned. In addition to creating constipation and failing to reduce obesity the use of cathartics might cause inflammation of the large bowel and, where the individual is suffering from appendicitis, actually bring about his death. If you must use a cathartic for a temporary attack of constipation, then use pure Castor Oil ( 2 tablespoons), or Milk of Magnesia (2 tablespoons). If you suffer frequent attacks of constipation, or if you get a pain in the abdomen, do not take any form of laxative until your doctor tells you to. In the first instance the cathartic would only aggravate your condition and in the second, if the pain is a symptom of appendicitis, it might constitute the last dose you will ever take.

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