Georg Ivanovas From Autism to Humanism - systems theory in medicine

5.4 Balneology

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d) inner cleansing and the experimental setting

Prießnitz and Kneipp followed the humoural concepts of Middle Ages and the beginning of Renaissance. Except of hardening (which was no issue of the orthodox medicine then and is no issue of the orthodox medicine now) the aim of Kneipp’s therapy was to dissolve and to secrete (Kneipp 1954a: 27). Kneipp describes a case of asthma where after the first water applications the urine of the patient became opaque, thick and ‘dirty’, just ‘like an inner abscession had opened’. Every day more urine and more ‘dirty’ urine was excreted. After four days the asthma became better (Kneipp 1954b: 160).

Granichstaedten a medical doctor and student of Prießnitz describes secretions over the skin. He wrote: “A form of eruptions, the so called bathing rash or miliary herpes, occurs most often and is a good sign for the effectiveness of the water to secrete pathological substances”. He saw this rash mostly after the third bath. The day before, the patient was uneasy and the feeling vanished with the outbreak of the rash (Granichstaedten: 136, my translation). Also he saw ulcers the size of a pea (sometimes larger) with a red halo, more or less painful (Granichstaedten: 136-137). A late form of such an excretion was an abscession appearing after some months which might last for several weeks. This was a very painful process accompanied by a swelling of hands and legs. He understood this skin reaction as a result of earlier drug therapies (Granichstaedten: 137-138). That is, by these eruptions the body wants to get rid of old drugs.

The idea of a secretion and an inner cleansing sounds strange to modern doctors. Kneipp’s asthma case can be seen as accidental. The early eruptions described by Granichstaedten could be a reaction to an overstimulation, as well. Today it would be probably qualified as a kind of allergic reaction. The eruptions months away from a stimulus will today not be attributed to the stimulus.

But as already seen with Hippocrates’ rhythms one should be careful to dismiss such observations as fantasies. Secretion is not only an important issue in the Hippocratic tradition. Different methods of CAM observe it, as well, speaking of an ‘inner cleansing’ and there is some evidence, supporting this concept.

Fasting is a therapy of CAM claiming to have many positive effects. This claim finds some support of orthodox medicine lately (Kuchroo/Nicholoson 2003). The newly presented explanation that the effect of fasting is due to the influence on leptin regulating inflammatory and immune response and directly effects T cells, sounds interesting. But it is not the main factor, for sure. Fasting doctors always propagated an inner cleansing what has caused a lot of fun among orthodox physicians.

In the course of a fasting therapy many people utter that they have a bad taste. When asked, some older patients say: “Oh, yeah, it is the taste of tetracycline!”. It cannot be proved in such cases that it is a disposal of an old substance, a remnant of an earlier disease or therapy that is excreted. But there is some probability that by fasting old and subacute inflammations and/or deposits of old drugs or chemical substances are dissolved.

To confirm this I would like to refer two examples of an ‘inner cleansing’:

  1. Lützner was one of the leading figures of the fasting therapy in the last decades (Lützner 2000). He saw a case where a patient after two weeks of fasting developed a black coating on her tongue which smelled like shoe cream. The coating remained for two days. Asked about, she admitted to have worked in a shoe factory about twenty years before. The CAM interpretation is that she excavated an old substances still present in her body (Lützner, personal communication).
  2. I had a patient, a twenty year old girl who had to give up her profession as hairdresser because of allergic reactions (asthma and eczema). A few years later, at the time of the treatment, she suffered from rare nightly asthmatic crises (ever 6-12 months), but had quite often eczematic rashes on her hands and a contact allergy for imitated jewellery. One day after taking a homeopathic drug nearly the whole face was covered with a rush. The ears had about the double seize. Especially the earlobes were swollen. (She said that she regularly used cheap earrings and to avoid eczema she put on a cortisone cream before.) This rash lasted for several weeks. The most interesting part was that after some days she developed some cysts at the occiput at the margin of the hair. These cysts opened and secreted for several days a fluid smelling exactly like the substances she had worked with as a hairdresser. After the treatment her allergy had improved considerably

These two observations pose a methodological problem. They are made in retrospective. Normally such retrospective causalisations are defined as accidental, what seems a little bit difficult in these cases. But, it is true, such reactions can never be predict prospectively. A trail on shoe workers investigating the excretion of shoe cream through fasting would provide only negative results.

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