Many scientific truths have been presented in the Spirit of prophecy writings. At the time of their writing these were quite largely not in accord with prevailing scientific views. From time to time, however, the truths presented have been confirmed by scientific research, thus definitely strengthening our belief in the Spirit of prophecy. The principles that have been advocated by the Spirit of prophecy for years are sometimes practiced and taught by those not of our belief, while we as a people have often been slow in putting them into practice.
Much has been said in the writings of Mrs. Ellen G. White about the physiology of the circulatory system. Some of the counsels published in 1865 are just being confirmed at the present time by the large mass of experimental work being done in physiology. It is thus becoming clearer and clearer that all the principles of health reform are on a firm scientific basis.
The blood is the current of life, for by it nutrition is carried to the tissue cells, and waste products are carried away from them. The blood stream is also needed for the regulation of body temperature. Perfect circulation is therefore necessary for perfect function of all the organs of the body. If the circulation of the blood is hindered by poor health habits, as inactivity, mental depression, overeating, tight or insufficient clothing, especially of the extremities, we cannot but expect that the body will not function normally, and will become more susceptible to disease.
Chilling of the body, due to improper clothing and exposure, or mental anxiety and depression, may cause either congestion of the internal organs or prolonged constriction of the blood vessels of certain organs. Mental work, unaccompanied by adequate physical exercise, may decrease the healthy tone of the blood vessels and thus make the body unable to properly react to cold. If, on the other hand, clothing is evenly distributed, exercise is regularly taken, the mental outlook on life is optimistic, and the temperature of the room is correct, then the circulation of the body becomes properly balanced.
Under ordinary conditions the blood is distributed throughout the body without congestion in any one area. Activity in any organ will call for increased flow of blood in that part. This extra blood, however, cannot be drained to any extent from the active tissue of other organs. To supply this temporary need of blood, there are areas in the circulatory system which act as reservoirs for blood. These reservoirs are especially called upon when there is a need for increased loss of heat from the body, as during muscular exercise and digestion. Physiological studies show that the amount of blood thus drawn from the reservoirs of the body may increase the total volume of circulating blood as much as thirty per cent. These blood reservoirs are found in the spleen, liver, lungs, and in the large blood vessels of the trunk.
Conditions which cause constriction of the blood vessels of the skin also cause congestion of blood in the large blood vessels of the trunk. When this condition is prolonged, the body is rendered more susceptible to some diseased condition.' This is especially true when the changes in temperature are sudden, and the body does not have time for acclimatization. It takes several days before the body becomes accustomed to great changes in the weather. As the body becomes accustomed to climatic changes, there is a shifting in the total volume of circulating blood. In hot weather more blood is needed for the dilated blood vessels of the skin. Before the adjustment is complete the circulatory system is under a strain, and internal congestion, spasm of the vessels to certain organs, and other undesirable reactions are more likely to occur.' During the acclimatization to hot weather, the blood volume increases more rapidly than the total hemoglobin and total red-cell volume. Consequently, the percentage relation of these constituents is decreased during the period of adjustment. The temporary decrease in percentage of the blood constituents may explain in part the discomfort experienced early in acclimatization.
These findings concerning the produclion of internal congestion by changes of external temperature are in definite accord with the teachings of the Spirit of prophecy which point out that the balance of the circulation n.ay be improved by proper dress, room temperature, exercise, thought, eating, and bathing. A study of the following references will indicate a clear accord between the recent findings of the circulation and the health reform truths presented: "Testimonies," Vol. II, p. a6; Vol. III, pp. 138, 139, 69, 70; "Ministry of Healing," pp. 238, 237, 293, 307.
Circulation is largely controlled by nervous reflexes. For example, the heart may be slowed by an ice bag applied to the area over the heart, and the circulation in the nose may be impaired by a cold draft at the back of the neck. When the circulation is imperfect in a part of the body, the nutrition of the organs may be insufficient, and the protection afforded against germs may be low. During. the last few years several scientists have studied the effect of disturbed circulatory control upon disease.
To summarize briefly : When the blood vessels of organs contract as a result of reflex action from a cold draft to the skin, or as a result of mental anxiety, or for other reasons, there is a temporary lack of nutrition and oxygen in these organs. If this is not too prolonged, there will soon follow a reaction in which the blood flow is increased. However, if the contraction lasts over a long period of time, the tissues are damaged and more passive dilation occurs as a result of the presence of waste toxins. Undue cooling of the body by exposure to cold is prone to cause these prolonged reactions.
The tissues thus affected are more likely to collect bacteria which may be circulating in the blood stream, for the same conditions which cause damage to the tissues also cause an increase in the bacteria in the blood stream. This results from an increased absorption from infected areas, such as the mouth or the intestines. Disease of the kidneys, heart, nose, throat, or lungs, or even of the brain and nervous system, may arise from this absorption associated with a shifting in the total volume of circulating blood. Here again we see the scientific confirmation of the statements found in the Spirit of prophecy writings in regard to the cause of disease.
Because of the very strong statements that are found in the Testimonies in regard to the use of proper clothing which will not interfere with the circulation, and because of scientific findings, special attention should be directed toward the present practice of inadequate clothing of the extremities. According to our present-day fashions, small children, girls, and women are clothed with very little or no covering on the legs and arms. It is the usual practice to wear this type of attire during the chilly mornings and as the weather is cooling, just when the body is already under strain.
During the cold weather warm coats are placed on the trunk of the body, further aggravating the condition. This extra clothing does not help in warming the body as much as one would expect, for the main areas of heat loss are in the limbs. It should be noted that the skin surface of the legs and arms amounts to about one half of the total body surface. Also, the increased difference in the skin temperature of the legs and arms as compared to that of the trunk would tend to cause more congestion in certain organs. Thus, there may be harmful and prolonged congestion of the storage areas of the blood, and constriction of vessels in areas such as the nose, lungs, throat, kidneys, and pelvic organs.
The reflex actions of cold on the limbs are constriction of the blood vessels of the skin, and a driving of the blood to the internal areas or reservoirs, causing internal congestion. At the same time there may be reflex constriction of certain internal organs, such as the nose, lungs, throat, kidneys, and pelvic organs. Both the congestion and the constriction may be present in the body at the same time, with detriment to the tissues, and may be the cause of disease. These facts have been brought out very emphatically by quotations from the Testimonies. We cite the following:
"In some countries the custom of leaving bare the shoulders and limbs of little children still prevails. This custom cannot be too severely condemned. The limbs, being remote from the center of circulation, demand greater protection than the other parts of the body. The arteries that convey the blood to the extremities are large, providing for a sufficient quantity of blood to afford warmth and nutrition. But when the limbs are left unprotected or are insufficiently clad, the arteries and veins become contracted, the sensitive portions of the body are chilled, and the circulation of the blood hindered.
"In growing children all the forces of nature need every advantage to enable them to perfect the physical frame. If the limbs are insufficiently protected, children, and especially girls, cannot be out of doors unless the weather is mild. So they are kept in, for fear of the cold. If children are well clothed, it will benefit them to exercise freely in the open air, summer or winter."—"Ministry of Healing," p. 382.
"Perfect health depends upon perfect circulation. Special attention should be given to the extremities, that they may be as thoroughly clothed as the chest and the region over the heart, where is the greatest amount of heat. Parents who dress their children with the extremities naked, or nearly so, are sacrificing the health and lives of their children to fashion. If these parts are not so warm as the body, the circulation is not equalized. When the extremities, which are remote from the vital organs, are not properly clad, the blood is driven to the head, causing headache or nosebleed; or there is a sense of fullness about the chest, producing cough or palpitation of the heart, on account of too much blood in that locality ; or the stomach has too much blood, causing indigestion.
"In order to follow the fashions, mothers dress their children with limbs nearly naked ; and the blood is chilled back from its natural course and thrown upon the internal organs, breaking up the circulation and producing disease. The limbs were not formed by our Creator to endure exposure, as was the face. The Lord provided the face with an immense circulation, because it must be exposed. He provided, also, large veins and nerves for the limbs and feet, to contain a large amount of the current of human life, that the limbs might be uniformly as warm as the body., They should be so thoroughly clothed as to induce the blood to the extremities.
"Satan invented the fashions which leave the limbs exposed, chilling back the life current from its original course. And parents -bow at the shrine of fashion, and so clothe their children that the nerves and veins become contracted, and do not answer the purpose that God designed they should. The result is, habitually cold feet and hands. Those parents who follow fashion instead of reason, will have an account to render to God for thus robbing their children of health. Even life itself is frequently sacrificed to the god of fashion."—"Testimonies," Vol. II, I). 531.
From a study of these and other quotations, we may draw the following practical conclusions in regard to the present practices of fashion. These conclusions are being substantiated by current scientific investigations.
1. Uneven distribution of clothing as is observable among women and small children may definitely be the cause of certain diseases.
2. Clothing must be altered according to occupation, climate, and changes in the weather.
3. When the weather is chilly, clothing should be added uniformly over the body surface rather than simply over the trunk.
4. Physiologically, individuals do not become accustomed to exposure of the limbs while the trunk is overclothed.
'"Ministry of Healing," p. 271.
'For further study see Physical Therapy Bulletin, Vol. 4, numbers 34; 35, 41-46, and 48. Copies of this bulletin may be obtained from the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, College of Medical Evangelists, Loma Linda, California.
'Id., Vol. 4, numbers 20-22.
'These investigations have been reviewed in clearer detail in Physical Therapy Bulletin, Vol. 5, numbers 9-18.