Medical science has failed to discover the "epileptic center", that is, the locality of the brain especially affected in the epileptic convulsions. The discovery was made through the diagnosis from the iris, in the following way, by Rev. N. Liljequist, a Swedish clergyman, who has devoted his life to the study of this interesting science and who has written a most instructive book on the subject.
Liljequist one day examined a man suffering from epilepsy. The disease had been caused by an accident in a saw-mill. A saw burst, a piece of it striking the man behind the left ear, burying itself deeply in the bones of the skull. The epileptic convulsions dated from that time. Evidently the condition was due to pressure on the brain, caused by the piece of steel, which had penetrated the skull. Liljequist looked into the iris for a sign of the wound in the head and found a well defined open lesion in the left iris. Afterwards, when examining the eyes of epileptics he always looked for signs of the disease in this area of the iris and seldom failed to discover indications of abnormal conditions in that locality.
My experience has been the same. In almost every case of epilepsy I find the signs of drug poisons, of nerve rings, or of acute and chronic lesions in the iris area of the left cerebellum. (See chart, frontispiece, area 3.)
Ten years ago Mr. L. came to me for examination. His left iris showed a marked lesion in area 3. It was apparently the sign of an injury, and when I examined the skull I found behind the left ear deep scars radiating from the depression. The location of the lesion in the iris and the scars behind the ear made me think at once of epilepsy, and I asked him whether he was not affected by the malady.
He answered, "This is the trouble about which I have come to consult you; when I was four years old I had a fall and crushed in the bones of the skull behind the left ear. Immediately following the accident I went into spasms and convulsions and have suffered with epilepsy ever since."
The findings in this case fully confirmed the discovery, of Liljequist. It will be seen that the epileptic area lies in close proximity to the ear.
Physiology teaches us that one of the functions of the internal mechanism of the ear is to aid in the maintenance of equilibrium. These centers, therefore, must be the ones affected in epileptic convulsions, for muscular coordination and the sense of equilibrium are instantly and completely inhibited in such attacks as evidenced by the sudden fall and violent spasms.
Iridology has been of incalculable value, not only in discovering the location of the epileptic center, but also in throwing new light on the causes of the dreadful ailment. Undoubtedly, in the instance of Mr. L., whose skull was injured by a fall, the disease was caused by pressure of the indented bones, and therefore seemed to be a fitting case for a surgical operation. Fortunately for him he was not operated upon. I say fortunately, because trephining of the skull has proved to be anything but a blessing. For a time the operation was popular in the hospitals of Vienna, but it was found that most of these "successful" operations were, in the course of years, followed by serious brain diseases. It has been practically abandoned as a cure for epilepsy except in cases of accidental injury to the bony structure of the skull similar to the one above described.
In many instances the removal of the pieces of bone pressing on the brain has undoubtedly cured cases of epilepsy, insanity and other mental disorders, but the after effects of trephining, on the whole, have not been desirable.
In many cases of this kind adhesions are formed which draw the brain tissues out of their proper alignments and interfere with circulation and nutrition. The developments in Mr. L.'s case proved that, at least in some instances, epilepsy caused by injury to the skull can be cured by natural methods of treatment applied to the organism as a whole. When he came to us for treatment his condition was serious. The attacks displayed especial severity at night. An attendant had to be with him constantly. Aside from the typical brief spasms, he exhibited a peculiar form of convulsions, which I have not observed in any other case.
For hours at a time he would be tossing about in spasms, in a dazed, semi-conscious condition. Within six months, however, the convulsions ceased entirely. He remained with us nine months longer, undergoing the regular regimen without experiencing a recurrence of the old trouble.
In many instances we have, by means of Iridology, traced the exciting cause of the disorder to abnormal conditions in the digestive organs. Several cases resulted from irritation by worms, others from certain forms of indigestion. The latter patients were invariably addicted to voracious over eating.
A certain form of indigestion, due to an abnormal condition of the stomach, and to over eating, affects the solar plexus, and from there the impulse to convulsions is transmitted to the epileptic brain center. In such cases we found fasting to be of great benefit in overcoming the abnormal appetite, as well as in curing the digestive disturbance.
In patients of this type we have observed that the convulsions begin with the undulatory movements in the stomach region and thence travel upward to the brain.
It is a fact that epilepsy often comes and goes with rheumatic conditions and no doubt many cases are due to excess of either phosphoric or uric acid in the organism. These acids are powerful stimulants and irritants of nerve and brain tissues and their activity must be held in check by sodium and sulphur. Proteid foods abound in the acid producing elements, phosphorus and nitrogen, but are lacking entirely in the acid binding alkaline elements. "We can readily see why a one sided meat-and-egg-white-bread-potato-coffee-and-pie diet may produce nervous ailments, such as epilepsy, St. Vitus' dance, hysteria, nervous excitability and sexual over stimulation.
Naturally the cure of such abnormal excitability of nerve and brain tissues lies in a reduction of the acid producing proteids and carbohydrates and in an increased use of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in the acid binding and eliminating organic salts.
Years ago, when my professional shingle was adorning one of the old mansions on sooty, gasoline scented Michigan Boulevard, a Southern lady came to me with her son who was about twenty-two years of age. His blue eyes displayed a heavy scurf rim. The dark pigmentation was especially marked in the areas of feet and legs, and it protruded like a "V" into the field of the left cerebellum. In this area were visible also segments of several nerve rings. The upper iris displayed very distinctly the whitish half-moons of bromids.
The stomach and intestines exhibited the light yellowish discoloration peculiar to scrofulous elimination through these organs. (This discoloration of the intestinal field is often mistaken for the yellowish signs of quinin and sulphur.) This data given, the rest was easy.
I addressed the young man as follows: "You have always suffered from poor circulation, cold, clammy, sweaty hands and feet." "Yes, that is so." "You suppressed the foot-sweat."
"Yes, that is so. I was playing with a football team and perspiration of the feet troubled me very much. I used drying powders and cured it."
"Soon after that you had attacks of dizziness and fainting spells and then regular epileptic fits." "Yes, that is true."
"Since then you have taken bromids in large quantities but, instead of curing the disease, it has grown worse. Lately your memory has been very much weakened. There is a lack of concentration and at times a great physical lassitude and mental stupor."
"It is worse than that," answered his mother; "of late he has frequently left home for his office and landed in a different part of the city without knowing how he came there. Once, in that dazed condition, he was nearly killed by a street car. It seems that nothing can be done for him. I have been traveling with him now for three years from one specialist to another, but without avail."