The word rheumatism is derived from the Greek word "rheuma", which means a swelling. It refers to an acute or chronic illness which is characterised by pain and swelling of the muscles, ligaments and tendons or of the joints. It is a crippling disease which causes widespread invalidism, but seldom kills.
This disease affects men and women, both young and old. Quite often, it extends to the heart and the valves and the lining of this vital organ becomes inflamed. It is the most common cause in 80 per cent of the cases of valvular organic diseases of the heart.
Rheumatism, perhaps, more than any other disease, although readily diagnosed, is never the same in any two individuals. There are too many variations in the develop- ment of this disease. Broadly speaking, however, rheumatism, which may be acute or chronic, can be roughly grouped into two classes. These are muscular rheumatism which affects the muscles and articular rheumatism which affects the joints. The muscular variety is, however, far less common than that affecting the joints. In the acute form, it is found among children and young people, but in the chronic form, it is generally confined to the adults.
The onset of acute types of rheumatism is characterised by fever and rapid pulse with intense soreness and pain. In the acute muscular type, the tissues become so sensitive that even the weight of bed clothing aggravates the pain. The liver is found to be swollen. Acute rheumatism is extremely painful but it leaves no permanent defects, if treated properly, it may settle into a chronic state under a wrong mode of treatment.
The symptoms of chronic muscular rheumatism are pain and stiffness of the affected muscles. The pain increases when an effort is made to move these muscles. In case of chronic articular rheumatism, pan and stiffness are felt in one or more joints of the body, with swelling in most cases. It is not usually fatal but there is a danger of permanent deformities.
The chief cause of rheumatism is the poisoning of the blood with acid wastes, which results from imperfect elimination and lowered vitality. Meat, white bread, sugar and refined cereals, to which modern man is most addicted, leave a large residue of acid toxic wastes in the system. These acid wastes are not neutralised due to absence of sufficient quantities of alkaline mineral salts in the foods eaten. This upsets the acid-alkaline balance in the body and produces the condition described as acidosis.
When there is abundant vitality, excess acids are ejected almost before they reach any appreciable concentration in one or the other of the acute cleansing efforts such as colds and fevers. When vitality is low, the acid wastes are concentrated around the joints and bony structure, where they form the basis of rheumatism. The reason why large quantities of acid wastes piling up in the system are attracted towards body structure for storage is that lime, which is the most prominent constituent of the bony structure, is an alkaline substance. IN certain cases, infection from the teeth, tonsils and gall-bladder may produce rheumatism. The disease is aggravated by exposure to cold water.
In the case of acute rheumatism, the patient should be put on a short fast of orange juice and water for three or four days. The procedure is to take the juice of an orange diluted in warm water, if desired, every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nothing else, whatsoever , should be taken, otherwise the purpose of the fast will be entirely lost. While fasting, the bowels should be cleansed through a warm water enema.
After the juice fast, the patient should be placed on a restricted diet for 14 days. In this regimen, orange or grape fruit may be taken for breakfast ; lunch may consist of raw salad of any vegetables in season, with raisins, prunes, fit or dates ; and for dinner, one or two steamed vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, carrots, turnips and cauliflower and a few nuts or some sweet fruit may be taken. No bread or potatoes or other starchy food should be taken, otherwise the effect of the diet will be lost. Thereafter, the patient may gradually commence a well-balanced diet of three basic food groups, namely seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits.
In case of chronic rheumatism, the patient may be placed on an all-fruit diet for four or five days. In this regimen, he should have three meals a day of fresh, juicy fruits such as apples, grapes, peaches, pears, oranges, pineapples and grapefruits. He may, thereafter, gradually adopt a well-balanced diet of three basic food groups.
The short juice fast followed by a restricted diet in case of acute rheumatism and the all-fruit diet in chronic cases may be repeated at intervals of two or three months, depending on the progress being made.
The patient should take ripe fruits and fresh vegetables in abundance. Lemons are valuable and the juice of two or three lemons may be taken each day. Lots of butter-milk should be taken. The foods which should be avoided are meat, fish, white bread, sugar, refined cereals, rich indigestible and highly seasoned foods, tea, coffee, alcohol, sauces, pickles and condiments.
Rheumatism is particularly responsive to raw vegetable juice. The alkaline action of raw juices dissolve the accumulation of deposits around the joints and in other tissues. The carrot juice combined with juices of red beet and cucumber is especially valuable. Three ounces each of best and cucumber juices may be mixed in ten ounces of carrot juice in this combination.
Other helpful methods in the treatment of rheumatism are application of radiant heat and hot packs to the affected parts, a hot tub bath, cabinet steam bath, dry friction and sponge. The hot Epsom salt bath is also beneficial and should be taken twice a week for three months in case of chronic rheumatism and once weekly there-after. The affected parts should also be bathed twice daily in hot water containing Epsom salt ( 1/4 lb. of salt to a bowlful of hot water) after which some olive oil should be applied. Fresh air, deep breathing and light outdoor exercises are also beneficial. Dampness and cold should be avoided.