Milk Cured My Nerve Shock (Mar, 1922)

So milk cures P.T.S.D? Someone should tell the Defense Department!

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Milk Cured My Nerve Shock

The Story of the Physical Regeneration of W. J. McLemore

An Interview and Introduction by Edwin F, Bowers, M. D

ONE of the most deplorable, disheartening and distressing results of the War is our crop of cripples. The cruelly maimed, the pathetic blind, the derelicts who have lost legs or arms in the bestial, bitter game, are figures of sorrow. They affect every decent-minded man or woman with an overshadowing sense of resentment and protest at the futility of it all.

But even more sorrowful and disconsolate are the cripple-minded—those battered wrecks of the carrion-crowded field and the noisesome ditch.

Scenes of terror, and of horror piled on horror, have sapped the foundations of their reason, and tumbled the normal functioning power of their brain and soul into a pit digged by madness.

The asylums for the insane all over the land thrill uncannily to the shriek and the eerie moan of these soul-wounded, these valorous soldiers—whose nerve and brain control was just a little too unstable to stand the strain of going down to hell —and coming out again untouched by its red terror.

And then there is the other great army, built of somewhat sterner soul-stuff, and yet not so staunch as to leave them altogether untouched by the brain-battering.

“Shell shock,” medical men call it, and very curious and interesting—to the pathologist—are the symptoms it exhibits.

There may be only a lapse of memory, an inability to correlate faces, places and incidents, as was apparent in the case of one fine-looking young chap who stopped me on the street the other night, and courteously requested to be directed to Sixty-fifth Street and Central Park West. He was on Sixty-fifth Street. Yet he had absolutely no sense of direction—notwithstanding the fact that he had visited this particular apartment house hundreds of times both before and since he came from France.

In every other respect, save the amnesia concerning location, he seemed absolutely normal. During the brief interval that elapsed while I escorted him to the apartment house he sought, I got his history.

He appeared normal in every respect save that of inability to focus in the mind the fact of the location of even the most familiar place. Consequently he had to solicit the aid of policeman or passer-by in order to find his way back to his own domicile.

He said he knew of scores of chaps who were in identically the same condition as that in which he found himself—except that in some of them the amnesia took the form of being unable to remember one’s own name, or the name of any one—no matter how well-known— whom the shell-shocked victim might meet.

Then there is the insomnia victim, for whom sleep has been murdered, by a thousand Macbeths. There’s the bloodstained hand that refuses ever again to be washed clean; the scream of the opponent into whose vitals the piercing bayonet had been driven; the strangling death clutch of the comrade, shot at his side; the long days and nights of forced march, of body driven to the point of utter Exhaustion, with the still longer night, dragging its trail of hours across a sleepless vigil; all these shocks and strains have broken down brain normalcy.

The result is confusion worse confounded—a complete submergence of the reasoning faculty in certain directions, and a greater or less disturbance of every function of nutrition, assimilation and elimination.

Sometimes this disturbance may take the shape of a terrible and unshakable depression—as in the case of the gallant Colonel Whittlesey.

Whittlesey, it will be remembered, was the Commander of the famous “Lost Battalion”—surrounded and cut off from all contact with other Divisions for a chain of days and nights that dragged themselves into seeming years.

Hardly a minute of this age that he and his men were not at touch and go with Death—that rifle ball, grenade and bomb were not at their deadly work in the ranks of his splendid troops.

The indomitable will forced the merely physical body to a sturdy defiance—even though the supreme sacrifice be demanded to make their defiance good We all know the story of the escue. It is a page from the golden sheaf of treasured deeds—a saga in which the rune of heroic accomplishments shines brightly.

Whittlesey’s body was rescued. But his sensitive soul was mortally wounded in the Argonne. And, many months after, it claimed its right to rest—free from the memory of the coil of horror with which it had been entwined.

Let us hope the deep waters of the Atlantic purged the great white soul of Whittlesey of the load of melancholy, too heavy to be longer borne.

There are, in various Government institutions scattered throughout the country, and in homes where they are more or less dependent, thousands upon thousands of shell-shock victims, in every conceivable stage of abnormalcy. They are being treated by Government doctors, and by physicians in private practice, in the main with but little success. They get the bromides, hyocine, strychnine, caffeine, and their other drugs regularly enough.

But not a very large percentage of them are really cured—even though they may be discharged as cured after many months of treatment.

For one principal cause of the condition has not been removed. This cause is toxemia.

“When the nerves have been shocked by the soul-wounds of the modern hell called “war,” normal functioning of the digestive organs is completely upset. Also, the functions of the endocrine glands—the ductless glands—are thrown out of gear. This disturbance of digestion and of gland functioning, in turn, produces a disturbance in metabolism—that process by which the food is finally converted into tissue cells, and the waste products of the cells properly eliminated.

If there is faulty food conversion and faulty elimination of the “end-products” of this food conversion, the result is a storing up in the body of highly toxic substances.

These poisons depress, and irritate, and inhibit memory.

It is their influence that so frequently causes the mental aberrations, and the various sinister effects of metabolistic disturbance.

They are not usually to be gotten rid of by “masking” the symptoms with hypnotics, sedatives or opiates; or by stimulating the organism with “tonics” and cell irritants.

They are, on the contrary, best gotten rid of by preventing the under-oxydation of the proteid molecule which is so often the cause of these disturbances. And by ridding the system of the accumulation of toxins that act as depressants.

One of the best and most effective methods of accomplishing this result is to get back to dietetic first principles, by first giving the system a chance to rid itself of accumulated poisons, and then by refraining from putting more poison food, or food that may most readily be changed to toxic material, into the system.

The limited fast for a period of three or four days, during which time a half dozen or more oranges are eaten each day, seems to afford the system a chance to rid itself of a large measure of its stored up toxins.

If, after this, an exclusive milk diet be adopted, a maximum of nutriment, with a minimum of waste product, will be absorbed.

Milk contains every element needed for perfect nutrition, and is eminently fitted to sustain life for an indefinite period.

It affords an easily assimilated form of nourishment, acceptable to human beings of any age, color, or previous condition of servitude.

This refers, of course, to non-pasteurized “whole milk,” and not to milk which has undergone a sterilizing process, or to milk which has been robbed of its vita-mine-yielding butter fat.

Whole fresh milk, or whole milk which has been clabbered by being set near the radiator or the back of the stove for about twenty-four hours, is more than a good food. It is a good food which acts, in thousands of cases, as good medicine.

I have had an opportunity for studying many hundreds of such cases within recent months. One of the most interesting of these was a typical shell shock, the case of W. J. McLemore, 1402 West Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona. I’m going to let him tell his story, hoping that the results he details may stimulate some of the Government medical officers, charged with the conduct of these cases, to a trial of the method.


“I never knew what a sick day meant until I entered the Service. I was in the Army two years altogether. Got along fine the first year, while in the States.

“I was sent to France, in 1918, and had about three months of active service. I didn’t pay much attention to physical needs, while at the front. There were too many other things to do.

“I developed constipation and intense nervousness, waking up one morning with my whole body burning like a coal of fire. I had big welts all over me.

“I bathed in salt water, which relieved me greatly. Then dysentery started in, and I got so weak I could hardly walk.

“Most of the Company was tear-gassed soon after this. This, I believe, was the cause of a catarrhal condition which attacked me at about this time. The catarrh affected the mucous membrane of the throat, nose and eyes in a very disagreeable manner.

“At this time they were sending men who were acting peculiarly back to the base. Men would start to show signs of weakening by worrying about little things, that ordinarily they would never bother about.

“I was among these men. I became nervous and excitable, and finally lost all control of nerve power. I believe I would have died if I had had to stay in France.

“I was very sick coming back. When I left home I weighed one hundred and sixty-eight pounds. I lost forty-five pounds within three months, however, and was so weak I could hardly drag one foot after the other. A most annoying ‘”symptom was dilatation of the pupil of the eye.

“I gave up even-thing, except to try to get my health back again. I was sent to half a dozen Government doctors, in various parts of the country. I went to Murietta Hot Springs, in California— then to Long Beach, California. These did me little or no good. I commenced a course of osteopathic and so-called Battle Creek treatments, baths and so forth, in the west.

v – “I couldn’t see much result from this treatment, so, after taking a course of treatments from Dr. Granger, of Los Angeles, I went home.’ ”Here I was treated by Dr. Charles Palmer, Dr. John J. McGlone, and Dr.

E. Payne Palmer. All these doctors said I had nervous shock, insomnia, and neurasthenia, due to shell shock.

“Electricity and baths seemed to help me somewhat, but nothing afforded permanent relief.

“I have always been interested in physical culture, and have been a reader of the Physical Culture Magazine for a number of years. One night, after lying awake a while, I was reading a copy of the Physical Culture Magazine, and the thought came to me that as I had tried about everything else, I would now give natural methods a trial.

“So I went to a sanitarium where they used physical culture methods. I was first put on a fast for three or four days, drinking twelve to fifteen glasses of water every day.

“Then I ate a half dozen or more oranges every day. I commenced to eliminate great quantities of fecal matter. This lasted for eight or ten days, after which I began to feel quite well.

“Meanwhile, I had been put on a diet of whole milk, drinking on an average of three to four quarts a day.

“Finally I got so that I slept well, and felt thoroughly rested when I got up in the morning. I found I could join in the dances which were held at the sanitarium every night, and enjoy them. And I could go to a show and really enjoy it.

“The terrible feeling of being ‘tensed up’ all the time left me, and I found I could relax once more.

“I have gained many pounds. My catarrh is better than it has been since I was gassed.

“Also, my reflexes, which were greatly exaggerated, are all right again; and the headaches from which I had also suffered since 1918, have entirely disappeared.

“The abdominal tenderness, constipation, and feeling of distress after eating are all gone, and for the first time in two years I actually enjoy my food.

“I am now eating an average well balanced diet, feeling almost as well as I ever have, and am up to ninety-five per cent, of hemoglobin—after being down to below seventy.

“This, I think, speaks pretty well for natural methods. They worked with me. I only wish thousands of our boys who have conditions similar to mine could hp given the benefits of this treament.”

  1. Kosher Ham says: January 19, 201111:48 am

    Well a glass of milk always helped if I had problems with falling asleep.

  2. Daniel Rutter says: January 20, 201112:05 am

    A humane and lyrical description of what we now call PTSD, followed by a sharp turn into Quack Country. Not that there were any GOOD treatments for PTSD at the time, and we’ve hardly got a magic bullet (as it were) to cure it today, but that doesn’t excuse uncritical acceptance of random woo-woo treatments.

    (It’s also interesting how little these “detox” ideas have changed between then and now.)

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