Due to modern man’s propensity for eating highly challenging foods in improper combination–many times while under a great deal of emotional stress–the human gastrointestinal tract is most often the primary site of physical derangement. Constipation, colitis, diverticulitis, stomach and intestinal ulcers, chronic indigestion, gastric reflux, food sensitivities and related disturbances are so common that they now threaten to gain acceptance as a normal and inevitable occurrence of adult life.
Debilitated gastrointestinal function is one of the most important predisposing factors in mental and physical deterioration, and the subsequent development of chronic disease. If we are to regain or maintain vigorous health, it is essential that the workings and environment of the digestive canal and its associated organs be maintained or restored to optimal efficiency.
Vital Force or Chi
It is important to note that all the functions of the body are wholly dependent upon the operations of vital force, or chi. The scientific term vitalism refers to the concept that the functions of a living organism are animated by a non-physical vital force that is distinct from all biochemical processes, including the energy produced via metabolism. A doctrine of most traditional healing practices, including traditional naturopathy and Chinese medicine, is that disease largely results from a deficiency or imbalance in this vital energy.
“Aliveness” derives from the presence of a high-vibratory, vital energy within the organism that sustains life, in part by driving the biological processes of every cell. Vital force, or chi, has its own movement and activates the movement of things other than itself. All physical and mental activities are manifestations of vital force, which vary in accordance with the structure and function of the different tissues.
Vital force is not synonymous with the metabolically generated energy derived from the oxidation of glucose. Rather, it is the force animating the metabolic processes that ultimately yield caloric energy. Vital force differentiates life from death. When alive, every part of the body is supported by vital force. A corpse can be thought of as a body without vital force. To maintain health, there should neither be an excess nor a deficiency of vital force, either of which leads to illness.
Digestion and Vital Force
Clearly, it is important to understand how the body acquires vital force. The body is not imbued with a fixed quantity of perpetually recirculating vital force. Instead, all the mental and physical processes are constantly depleting vital force, and so, the organism needs to replenish its quotient of this energy on a continuous basis.
How does the body replenish its circulating level of vital force? It does so primarily through breathing and the digestion of food.
Vital force is a natural energy that is acquired by human beings and all living things via extraction from the air and liberation of the vital force stored within natural foods. When food plants, fish, poultry, etc. breathe and nourish themselves, they too absorb vital force.
Thus, when we eat a bowl of brown rice, a large raw salad or grilled wild salmon our digestive organs must be able to efficiently digest that food so that the vital force stored within it can be liberated for use by the body.
When the digestive system becomes compromised, a vicious cycle of deterioration is set in motion. In this reference, if your vital force is low, your digestive function will not have sufficient power to properly break down your food. Lacking robust digestion, your body will not be able to maintain its requisite level of vital force.
Not only do the majority of modern people suffer with some degree of digestive weakness, but, to make matters worse, due to persistent emotional stress, obesity, poor posture and sedentary behavior, they also don’t breathe completely anymore. Breathing more shallowly and rapidly means they are using only a portion of their lung capacity, thus most people cannot rely upon respiration to compensate for the shortfall of vital force ensuing from digestive inefficiency. This too sets a vicious cycle in motion wherein progressively less circulating vital force weakens the entire breathing mechanism, resulting in even shallower breathing and deficient cellular oxygenation.
Ultimately, death is the result of affected organs (such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, etc.) that decline to the point where they can no longer absorb and utilize vital force. In the late 19th century and early to mid-20th century, practitioners of naturopathy referred to depletion of vital force below the level of functional bodily efficiency as enervation, because they thought the nerves were the pathways for vital force. In fact, the nerves, the acupuncture channels and the blood are all conduits of vital force.
Enervation is one of the two foundation stones of disease. The other is autotoxemia, meaning a build-up of toxins in the body beyond the body’s threshold of tolerance. Enervation, or deficient chi, is announced by such symptoms as fatigue, lack of stamina, circulatory weakness, immunological weakness, chilliness, digestive weakness, occasional dizziness, memory weakness, emotional weakness, shallow breathing, urinary weakness and sexual weakness.
As we can see, the ramifications of compromised digestion go far beyond being annoyed by symptoms such as chronic gastric reflux, bloating and constipation. The vitality of every mental and physical process depends upon digestive efficiency. The less efficient our digestion, the lower the flame of life burns within us.
Drinking Cool Water Upon Arising
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to contribute significantly to the process of cleansing and repairing the gastrointestinal tract is the daily drinking of 3 cups of cool, pure water on an empty stomach each morning upon arising.
Cool does not mean cold water and certainly not ice water. Excessively cold or ice water shocks and suspends stomach activity whereas moderately cool water (usually room-temperature water is sufficiently cool) stimulates and promotes it. The cool water should be taken at a slow-to-moderate pace over the course of about 5 to 10 minutes, and not administered in one continuous chain of swallows.
Why Cool Water Is Superior To Warm Water Upon Arising
Why not warm water upon arising? Warm water drunk freely upon arising will, like cool water, dilute the acid residues that result from the fermentation of foods in the stomach, diffuse bacteria from the stomach lining and produce a mild osmotic draining of the blood vessels of the stomach.
However, warm water does not exert a stimulating effect upon the muscular activity, nor the mucous membranes (i.e., the lining) of the stomach. Therefore, if water is taken first thing in the morning as a therapeutic measure, it should always be accompanied by a vigorous self-massage of the abdominal organs to secure the stimulation that warm water fails to supply. But let’s face it: in this modern, fast-paced era, no one will usually take the time to do that.
Due to its lack of stimulating power to the muscular layers of the digestive canal, the tonic, or strengthening, effect of warm water is far inferior to that of cool water. Warm water relaxes the muscles of the stomach, and in some cases can produce nausea, especially if the effect of quantity is added to that of temperature. Lukewarm water excites upward peristalsis of the intestines, which is why it is often used as an emetic (inducing vomiting). These days one of the primary digestive complaints that adults report is gastro-esophageal reflux disorder (GERD), which is clearly a manifestation of a tendency toward reverse peristalsis.
The concentrated introduction of 3 cups (24 oz.) of cool water into the stomach upon arising is directly stimulating to the nerves found within the stomach lining. Not only is the activity of the stomach muscles incited, but, as a reflex reaction, the body, seeking to distribute this cool fluid over a greater area so as to moderate sudden stimulation, will rapidly expel it into the small intestine, thus effecting a cleansing of the stomach.
Also, in reaction to the perception of coolness, the body rushes warming blood to the stomach’s mucosal lining, which then becomes suffused with blood, resulting in dilation of its pores. Similar to stimulating perspiration in order to achieve a thorough cleansing of the skin and its blood supply, the drawing of blood to the stomach’s mucous membrane (and the subsequent dilation of its pores) affords increased opportunity for sanitizing the stomach of the food residues and microorganisms that encourage gastrointestinal derangement and the development of disease.
Laxative Effect Of The Morning Cool-Water G.I. Tract Reviver
Cool, pure water taken on an empty stomach upon arising exerts a mild laxative action. Water taken at this time can move relatively unimpeded (due to absence of a large mass of semi-digested food) all the way to the descending colon (i.e., left side of the colon; the rectum is the lowest portion of the descending colon) and, through its presence there, stimulate colon activity.
Be sure to delay eating after drinking the cool water. Ideally, you should allow 45 minutes to an hour for the water to do its work. If food is ingested before the water leaves the stomach and makes its way down through the intestines, much of the therapeutic effect of this procedure won’t have time or the proper conditions to develop. On the other hand, if the cool water is not obstructed by the soon introduction of food and the subsequent firing up of the digestive processes, it can freely course through the entire digestive canal, not only cleansing the stomach and intestines, but also exerting a soothing anti-inflammatory effect upon the gastrointestinal lining.
Note: In the interest of time, one could have ready a container of cool (room-temperature) water at the bedside, and drink it upon awakening.
A Simple Way To Begin Healing The G.I. Tract
One of the most basic and efficient measures for helping to ameliorate chronic constipation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines is this simple Morning Cool-Water G.I. Tract Reviver. This invaluable technique may also prove of good service in cases of chronic indigestion due to atony (lack of tone and strength) of the muscles of the stomach and intestines. Cool water stimulates and tones the muscles, nerves and blood vessels of the entire digestive canal.
For those who are not troubled by any noticeable digestive problem or constipation (2 to 3 easy, full bowel movements per day is the goal), the Morning Cool-Water G.I. Tract Reviver is still an important permanent feature of the health-conscious individual’s morning routine since its cleansing, soothing and strengthening effects can help to maintain optimal functioning of the digestive system over the long term.