Medical Aspects of the Latter-day Saint Word of Wisdom by L. Weston Oaks (1929)

From Books in Word of Wisdom Literature by Jane Birch

Oaks_Medical Aspects

Medical Aspects of the
LATTER-DAY SAINT WORD OF WISDOM

By: L. WESTON OAKS, M.D,

PUBLISHED BY THE
BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY
PROVO, UTAH


Copyright by

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

1929


 

CONTENTS
Chapter                                                                                                    Page

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………… 9-13

Alcohol and humanity ………………………………………………………….. 14-39

Alcohol as a body fuel ……………………………………………………. 19-21

Effect upon digestive mechanism ……………………………………. 21-25

Effect of alcohol upon parenthood and the unborn ……………. 25-27

Alcohol’s action upon the nervous system of man ……………. 27-36

Alcohol and long life ……………………………………………………… 36-37

In summary …………………………………………………………………. 37-38

Bibliography ………………………………………………………………… 38-39

III. Tobacco and humanity ……………………………………………………….. 40-83

Effect upon the mucus membranes ………………………………….. 45-47

Upon the lungs …………………………………………………………….. 47-48

Upon the digestive system …………………………………………….. 48-49

Effects upon the glands of internal secretion…………………….. 49-50

Upon the heart and blood vessels …………………………………… 50-55

Tobacco and human sight ………………………………………………. 56-59

Effect upon hearing ……………………………………………………………. 60

Upon the nervous system ………………………………………………. 60-66

Upon mental effort ……………………………………………………….. 66-74

Effect upon women and young girls ………………………………… 74-78

Effect upon the non-user ……………………………………………….. 78-81

Bibliography ………………………………………………………………… 81-83

The tea and coffee question ……………………………………………….. 84-106

Effect upon the brain and mental activity ………………………… 88-91

Effect upon the brain, outside of mental effort ………………….. 91-93

Effect upon spinal cord and voluntary muscles ………………… 93-94

Action upon the kidneys ……………………………………………….. 94-95

Caffein’s effect upon digestion ……………………………………….. 95-96

Effect upon the sensory organs, including eyes and ears ……. 97-98

Effect upon the nursing mother …………………………………….. 98-102

Caffein’s action upon the heart and blood vessels ………….. 102-103

Poisoning …………………………………………………………………. 103-105

Bibliography …………………………………………………………….. 105-106

Bits of health wisdom ………………………………………………………. 107-121

Play and recreation …………………………………………………….. 108-113

In the emotions …………………………………………………………. 113-114

Overeating ……………………………………………………………….. 114-116

Eating too fast ………………………………………………………….. 116-117

Eating too much meat …………………………………………………. 118-119

Heavy sugar consumption ………………………………………….. 119-120

In conclusion …………………………………………………………………… 121


INTRODUCTION

Joseph Smith, first leader and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons), gave to his followers as revelations from God, not only spiritual, but also temporal doctrines. Such is in keeping with his teaching that “the spirit and body are the soul of man”, implying that anything which degenerates the body retards progress of the soul. According to this doctrine,” temporal” and “spiritual” affairs assume equal importance; and all phases of life must be included in one’s religion.

These revelations were given early in the nineteenth century, when the world was barely beginning to emerge from superstitious and speculative ages, in which haphazard co-incidents or philosophical theorizing determined man’s convictions about the physical world. In medical thought, there were numerous “schools” based upon different hypotheses concerning the causes of disease, and effects of foods and drugs upon the body. None of these groups was offering consistent results. “Shotgun” prescriptions, containing numerous drugs given in the hope that some one of them might hit the desired mark, were the rule. By the use of alcohol, by stuffing the body with food for one disease and starving it for another, by blood-letting and various other uncertain means, medical men with the meagre training of their time, were attempting to speed up or slow down processes of the body so it would remain healthful or be freed from disease. Our modern scientific method had barely begun to cast a dim shadow into the fog of ignorance; and the most progressive thinkers were, as yet, merely groping their way.

In strict opposition to the most advanced knowledge of his time, and in face of great uncertainty

in the scientific world, Joseph Smith, in February, 1833, proclaimed as coming direct from God, what is now known as the “Mormon Word of Wisdom” In it are unequivocal statements that wine and “strong drinks are not good for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies”. That “tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly” of man. That hot drinks—which at that time referred especially to tea and coffee—are not good for the body. That meat is good for man, but should be ” used sparingly”. That grains and fruits are good for man, but should be used “with prudence and thanksgiving”. That wheat is the especial food of man; and other grains are better to be used as food for animals. Added to these—but given at a previous time—is the doctrine that “food and raiment”, things to taste and smell, things to “please the eye and gladden the heart”, and things to “strengthen the body and enliven the soul’\should be used with “judgment, not to excess “. This is taken to include all intemperances and excesses which would injure the body or decrease efficiency. Also, since Joseph Smith included in his revelations several passages urging continued study of all forms of truth, such a designation would comprise not only those which were considered as such at that time, but also all that subsequent knowledge might reveal.

Members of the Latter-day Saint Church who live in full accord with doctrines they are taught, have always unquestionably complied with requirements of the Word of Wisdom, as they understood it; and have found nothing in its instructions which failed to promote their best welfare. For the individual, this is a convincing test of its truth. The validity of such a gross test, however, is challenged by our every-day observations of people, apparently in the finest of health, who habitually ignore, and daily live contrary to its teachings. Did our mental processes

and natural curiosity lead us no farther than to accept outward appearances, we might feel justified in concluding that robust persons, who are addicted to alcohol, tea and coffee, heavy meat diets, and excesses of various sorts, suffer no particular handicaps because of these things. Experience, in medical practice at least, teaches that we must look deeper to ascertain the true results. These individuals may or may not be exceptions to the rule; but, in the eyes of the unthinking, they represent valid examples disproving existence of truth in the Word of Wisdom.

A better way of testing the truth of the doctrine might be found in collection of health statistics from a large body of adherents, and comparing them with others from a similar group whose unrestrained appetites take no account of such restrictions. Such a project, however, is obviously out of the question, even with modern laboratory facilities and technique. More suitable is a study of the exact physiologic effects of each separate item mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. This reduces it to a summary of facts that may be subjected to direct tests, for elimination of bias and speculation. The relatively undeveloped state of medical science at the time Joseph Smith voiced the Word of Wisdom, offered no crucial tests for such positive statements, even to those most strongly opposed to these facts. Since then, however, experimental observation has placed at our disposal a great body of repeatedly proved facts by which we may test the main provisions of this doctrine. Material which follows is mainly of this nature. Personal opinion of the author has been eliminated as fully as possible, in order that the reader may be free to form his own conclusions from the facts presented, uninfluenced by any prejudice which may have crept into the writer’s own mind.

In order to pass fair judgment upon any question, whether it be one of health, politics, finance or morals, we should first hear the evidence. Unfavorable conclusions must result from finding that derogatory influences outweigh beneficial effects; and, naturally, commendation would signify the reverse. Very few substances can justly be condemned for every purpose. Even materials which, in large quantities, are violent poisons, may have some beneficial properties when taken in small doses and under certain conditions. Powerful drugs have an indisputable place in the true human economy; but relatively few of us consider them as acceptable instruments of pleasure or daily necessities in the healthy individual’s life.


CHAPTER V

BITS OF HEALTH WISDOM

 

p. 108, PLAY AND RECREATION

p. 113, IN THE EMOTIONS

p. 114, OVEREATING

p. 116, EATING TOO FAST

p. 118, EATING TOO MUCH MEAT

The diet of an individual should be made up of such foods as he likes, and which agree with him. It should, as a rule, be a mixed one. That is, it should consist of both animal and vegetable materials in proper proportions. There is, however, a marked tendency, on the part of many people, to eat too much meat. This part of the diet should be governed largely by the temperature in which one works, and to a lesser extent by the type of work one is doing. The Word of Wisdom advises us to eat sparingly of meats; and this is excellent instruction, so far as present-day knowledge of physiology goes. During the warm season, even man engaged in heavy manual labor should eat only small quantities of meat; and those whose occupations are sedentary in type should mostly avoid them. In cold weather, the outdoor laborer requires a fair ration of meat; but the one remaining within doors shut, even then, eat prudently of it. Over-indulgence in this respect is believed to greatly increase the load of the kidneys, to render one more liable to rheumatism, gout and Bright’s disease, and to help materially in causing high blood pressure. It is a known fact that a person suffering from kidney trouble must submit to the diet greatly restricted beats, and they are to survive. There seems nothing unreasonable in supposing it would be better to lessen the load before the kidneys break down under it.

Pork is usually undesirable as a regular article of diet, since it taxes most digestion to a greater extent than does any other animal food. With a few individuals, it also has the property of acting as a great poison.

p. 119, HEAVY SUGAR CONSUMPTION

p. 121, IN CONCLUSION

 

 

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