The muscular dystrophies may be defined as a group of primary, muscular wasting degenerative diseases, characterized by progressive muscular wasting and weakness, and occurring usually in the first three decades of life. The muscular abnormalities are always associated with organic disturbances, varied and widespread.
Some of these myopathies are congenital in nature, the onset occurring at or shortly after birth. These appear to be genetically determined. Others are diseases of late onset. They are related to but not identical with the congenital type. The early childhood variety is associated with a pseudo-hypertrophic condition wherein the muscles apparently become larger, whereas the limb-girdle variety, usually of late onset, is more often associated with a wasting, even in the presence of myotonia.
More commonly, the muscular dystrophies are seen without the syndrome of myotonia (continuous muscular tension or contraction), but its occurrence leads to a sometimes separate classification as a myotonic disorder.
The etiology of these myopathies has remained quite obscure. Earlier studies had suggested that the muscular dystrophy patient could not regenerate his muscle cells. However, regeneration has now been demonstrated in nearly every form of muscular dystrophy. Its amount is usually dependent upon the rapidity of the disorder and the degree of inflammation. Thus, the more active the disease process, the more active the regeneration.
It becomes evident that these myopathies are not strictly diseases of the muscle tissue, if we look at the associated findings in the terms of non-muscular pathology.
A good example is dystrophia myotonica - a type of muscular dystrophy which is associated with tonicity of certain muscle groups, particularly the tongue and the thenar eminence of the hand. This condition is transmitted as an autosomal trait, thus is a chromosomal abnormality. Symptoms begin during adolescence or early adult life. Aside from the muscular involvement evidenced by disappearance of reflexes, involvement of cardiac musculature in 80% of the cases, loss of sternocleidomastoid and mastication muscle function, involvement of muscles of phonation, and the profound wasting of both upper and lower extremity musculature - a large group of other findings are indicative of the widespread nature of the disease process. These non-muscular findings are common: premature baldness, posterior capsular cataracts, testicular atrophy with decrease of seminiferous tubules, disturbance of the level of corticosteroids and 17-ketosteriods, diabetes mellitus, intellectual decline, elevated protein in cerebrospinal fluid with enlarged cerebral ventricles, and a thickening of the osseous structure of the skull or a small sella turcica.
I. Physiological Considerations
The muscular dystrophies would seem to be a group of diseases in which the primary pathology is found in the muscles and is in the nature of an abnormal development or a degeneration of the muscular tissue. Throughout the readings given by Edgar Cayce, however, this disease process is seen as a primary glandular malfunction with a secondary effect on the motor nerves to the muscles, and a tertiary result in the muscular tissue which demonstrates itself as a degenerative process. The body apparently can balance itself at any given point if the conditions are right, and the different manifestations are apparently caused by the variation of glandular function throughout the body in particular individuals, plus the nature or severity of glandular malfunction which exists.
Karma - the law of cause and effect - is a major etiological factor here. This would be understandable to those who have studied the readings at any length, for the glandular centers particularly are singled out as the bearers of karma and as the seat of soul memory. It was seen as purely karmic activity for , a 27-year-old woman, while for a 10-year-old boy , "this is karma for both the parents and the body." Occasionally karmic causes may be associated with chemical changes within the body; sometimes with birth presentations. One case, , came about as the result of injuries to the spine and the structural portions of the body, while a 57-year-old woman found her disease brought into activity not from karmic or hereditary causes, "but [from] the use of those things that set the glands to react upon themselves, that supply to the nerve force itself the energies; as would be the tensile strength taken from a wire over which impulses of electrical force might move." (3099-1)
An interesting causative factor was discussed in the case of a 34-year-old woman whose sister was also afflicted with progressive muscular dystrophy. "In analyzing the conditions here, we find much of this prenatal, yet not that which might be called the sin of the fathers, nor of the entity itself, but rather that through which patience and consistency might be the lesson for the entity in this experience" (3681-1) From the standpoint of Cayce's unconscious mind, there were then those individuals who had chosen to learn patience and consistency in this rather difficult manner. At the same time, he could foresee methods by which they could overcome the bodily disease if they chose. In yet other readings he saw the disease process too far gone to offer any promise of recovery.
The glands throughout the body are those tissues which secrete substances needed for cells to reproduce themselves in all portions of the body. When this glandular activity breaks down at any point, the rest of the body is called upon in an abnormal manner if the substances are not supplied. This imbalance then brings about a lack of nourishment and what we know as a disease process. The following perhaps best explains this in the words of the readings:
One should consider, as in this body, that the physical body in its creation was and is given the ability to reproduce itself. Thus each organ, each portion of the body secretes, from the physical, the mental and the spiritual life, that needed to reproduce itself for a growth to better conditions -or the realm for which it prepares itself. When these activities break down, these have to be supplied or they call on other portions of the organism - and thus they become overcharged or undernourished. Then disintegration begins in one form or another. (3337-1)
The effect of this adjustment, the lack of proper glandular function, in the nerves and the muscle tissues is to deprive the nerves of energy and to create degeneration in the muscle tissues.
As we find, the disturbances here are of the progressive nature; that is, the condition has become constitutional, in that the body adjusts itself in many ways to the weaknesses and these continue to sap the vitality and strength from the nerves that control the tendons and muscles of the locomotories. This is indicated in the lower limbs as well as now, beginning in the arms; and gradually, unless retarded, there will be the rolling up or folding up of the body-forces in any attempt to use the body muscular forces. (3099-1)
For, the nerves are but the wires to the body forces themselves. And, through lack of generative power within the system, or the glands from which the secretions are taken for the continuing of strength in same, these become as burned wires, or cords, or threads through the body and gradually fail to supply muscular forces, or the strength to tendons through which these nerve energies pass. (3099-1)
This condition is becoming quite progressive in that there is not the ability left in the nerves and muscular forces for the use of the limbs. Even the activities of the organs are becoming involved so as not to be able to control them through the nerve energies. (3337-1)
These three extracts point out that the real underlying pathology in these conditions which have been called muscular dystrophy is a malfunction of the glands of the body which create the energies and forces that pass through the nerve supply to the muscular tissue. The glands involved are those which secrete substances which allow reproduction and normal growth of nervous tissue dealing with locomotory activity. As the disease progresses, we see then "More of atrophy of the nerves which control the muscular forces of the body. (5078-1) Whereas the pathology becomes most noticeable and disabling in the muscles, yet we also recognize that a side effect of the primary disease process is a malfunctioning of organs throughout the body. These in turn finally break down under lack of proper nerve energies and the entire body thus becomes involved.
It is not clear from the readings what mechanism brings about the glandular malfunction, nor is it clear specifically where all these glands are located.
The nature of the affliction, however, has become clarified, as to the successive steps in the etiology of the muscular dystrophies.
II. Rationale Of Therapy
In approaching therapy, we should remember that the body has a capability of normal function:
Thus, we would administer those activities which would bring a normal reaction through these portions, stimulating them to an activity from the body itself, rather than the body becoming dependent upon supplies that are robbing portions of the system to produce activity in other portions, or the system receiving elements or chemical reactions being supplied without arousing the activity of the system itself for a more normal condition. (1968-3)
Therapy for the muscular dystrophies must be divided basically into two sections. The reason for this can be found in the preceding section, where karma seems to play such an important part in the causation. The difference between karmically induced illness and a disease on a different etiologic basis might be theorized as a difference in the degree of chromosomal changes or - if chromosomes are not deeply involved - the disease process in karmic conditions certainly involves the entity deeply at a physical, mental, and spiritual level. "Thus individuals must consider the whole entity when considering those things that would be helpful. Thus one must begin with the spiritual attitude of the entity toward life." (4014-1) This rather clearly points out the first area toward which therapy should be directed when this disease is karmic. We have no way of determining at the present time where karma is involved. Thus each case must be approached with this particular factor in mind. A prayerful attitude, as a constant activity, would be necessary for those who are responsible for the ill person.
At a physical level therapy should be directed at the three areas which have already been suggested as the site of pathology. The glands which control the rebuilding of the energies of the nervous system; the nerves themselves which probably suffer the most; and the muscle tissue which wastes away as a result of the other activities - all these need help. It is to be assumed that correction of the function of the first two named would lead to a restoration of normal function of the disturbed organs which may or may not be present in any particular case.
Keeping all these factors in mind, then, the following steps should be followed in arriving at a comprehensive therapeutic approach to muscular dystrophies:
- Begin with the spiritual attitude of the entity toward life.
Life itself is a manifestation of that called God in the earth. Give thanks for the very fact that ye are conscious of yourself, even with the frailties of the body; that thy mind and thy purposes and thy hands may do much to show the appreciation in self of the opportunity in this experience to be a channel of blessings to others, in making known to others the love of the Christ for those who are weak in body, who are hindered from the activities of a normal physical world.
For He, thy God, thy Christ, is conscious of and hath need of thee; else thy individual self, as [50641, would not be aware of thy consciousness of being shut-in, would not be aware that there are material activities in which the entity might enter into - also that ye can, if ye will, be a witness for thy Maker. (5064-1)
- Bring added stimulation and strength to the muscle tissue. This will be done mostly with massage.
- Direct therapy toward improving the glandular function.
- Add that to the system which will assist the nerve tissue of the body in gaining strength and vitality.
- Improve the assimilation so that the body will gradually regain its ability to take from the food those substances necessary and to distribute these throughout the system.
Cayce saw the massage doing many things. In addition to stimulating centers of spinal autonomic function to greater activity, he also saw massage of the abdominal areas as being an aid to assimilation. The abdominal lymphatic centers (the Peyer's patches), through massage, would distribute their energies through the system more efficiently: "Thus sufficient of the cellular forces may be enlivened, in" the flow of the lymph as well as the corpuscle activity in the bloodstream, with these energies to revivify and build back the resistance and strength to the body." (3099-1) Even over distant parts of the body, the oils used act as food values which stimulate the lymph and emunctory circulation.
The wet cell is used in the majority of cases found in this file (six of eight), using at times camphor, silver, and Atomidine, but at all times gold, in the solution jars. Gold as it is used here performs a major function in this therapy in that it carries the vibration of gold to the central nervous system. This supplies a factor lacking in the nerves themselves and gradually builds toward a normal nervous system. The spirits of camphor supplies healing forces; while Atomidine brings about cleansing. (2514-1) In this same reading Cayce suggested that the Atomidine was given to aid in assimilating from the nerve forces. Elsewhere in the readings it is found that Atomidine "will not only be a curative property but a preventative! May be used internally and externally as well, and especially for any form of disorder in glands or tissue of body." (358-2) In another place it is described as a purifier and a cleanser for the glandular forces of the system.
Perhaps the attitude of the individuals who are concerned in the treatment is so important that it cannot be overemphasized. Treatment of any case must be approached cautiously, if the following extract can be thought of as applying to all:
The conditions may or may not respond. It will depend upon the determination of the body-mind of this entity to live, to supply, to call on those energies of the Divine within self to unite in the efforts to stay the energies in the body-force.
Then there would be supplied those elements that, if assimilated, may aid in supplying - through the mind forces and the body-energies - the physical reactions to the body. (3099-1)
III. Suggested Therapeutic Regimen
Once the spiritual attitudes of the individual affected are considered and redirected, then the remainder of the therapy for the muscular dystrophies becomes somewhat simplified.
The four remaining goals of therapy can usually be achieved by the use of massage, which seems to be primarily used in every case; the wet cell appliance, with its gold chloride, silver nitrate, camphor and Atomidine used in the solution jars; and dietary adjustments which vary somewhat for the individual. There are several other suggestions - vitamins, beef juice, osteopathy (in one case), gold chloride and soda taken internally, and in one case a calcium additive - but these appear to be individualized and not essential to the outcome as a routine for all cases.
Massage should be given for a minimum of 30 minutes daily after the appliance has been used. It should be directed mainly at those areas of the spine that correspond with the extremities most afflicted. However, it should be continued down over the extremities and the joints, and even over the abdominal area. Plenty of oil should be used so that the skin absorbs as much as it can. Oils that have been suggested or combinations of oils are:
- Peanut oil, 2 ounces Olive oil, 2 ounces Melted lanolin, 1/2 ounce
- Olive oil and peanut oil, equal parts.
- Olive oil and tincture of myrrh, equal parts.
- Peanut oil, 5 ounces Kerosene, 1 ounce
- Peanut oil by itself. Add lanolin if a rash occurs.
- Cocoa butter.
In case , a massage with cocoa butter was to be given from the base of the skull to the soles of the feet with a rotary motion. The ones giving the therapy were instructed to use suggestions of a constructive nature while these treatments were being applied. The massage given to a 34-year-old woman, [368 1], was to be given over the spine and the limbs, again using cocoa butter, and was to follow electrical-driven vibrator treatment to the spine daily. In all other cases the oils were suggested. It is important that these massages be given in a regular, consistent manner. Success in some cases was dependent upon the consistency and the persistence of "those about the body."
The wet cell appliance was suggested for use in six of the eight cases reviewed. In every instance the instructions were to use the wet cell 30 minutes daily. The large nickel plate was to be attached at the umbilical center, which was described as being three fingerbreadths to the right of the umbilicus and two or three fingerbreadths up from that point. The user was instructed rather carefully in nearly every instance to put the copper plate at the ninth dorsal vertebral area. This location varied with the type of solution carried in the solution jar. There was no clear pattern as to why the gold chloride solution would be alternated with sometimes silver nitrate, sometimes camphor, sometimes Atomidine. This apparently depended upon the needs of the body and the condition for which the reading was being given. On the other hand, the instructions were consistent and frequent to clean the plates before and after using; to keep all the parts disconnected when not in use; to take the tops off the solution jar and the wet cell battery when not in use and to keep these parts cleaned. If not kept meticulously clean, sometimes fever and perspiration would tend to clog the constant flow of energy from the vibrations present. The attachments should be removed after use and should be put together 20 minutes before being applied to the body each day. Different solution jars and connections should be used for the various solutions.
The battery is charged with one-and-a-half gallons of distilled water, one-and-a-half pounds of copper sulphate, one ounce of sulphuric acid, six drams of zinc, and one-half pound of willow charcoal. This is the usual charge. For most cases this solution and the materials in the solution jars should be changed after 30 applications. In some instances different strengths were used. For , only three drams of zinc were recommended and no willow charcoal. For , double strengths were advised - two gallons of distilled water, three pounds of copper sulphate, two ounces of sulphuric acid, one-half pound of willow charcoal and six drams of zinc. It is not clear why the different strengths were used.
The gold solution is made up to one grain of gold per ounce of solution, and three or four ounces is used in the solution jar. A silver solution was variable; in one instance - one ounce of 2% solution of silver nitrate was added to one ounce of distilled water and one ounce of ethyl alcohol. Atomidine was made up one ounce of the commercial strength to two ounces of water. A full strength of spirits of camphor was recommended.
A well-balanced diet should be used in all cases, varying at times according to the body needs. Consistent recommendations throughout the readings are to eat no fried foods, to avoid white flour and white sugar, and to take the fish, fowl, and lamb for meats.
Eliminations should be kept regular. Colonics should be utilized if necessary, and constipation certainly should be avoided. Good eliminations are always necessary to good assimilation.
Osteopathy was suggested weekly for six months for a seven-year-old boy, , until he started on the wet cell appliance. The gold and soda were given orally in two instances. For , one grain of gold chloride was added to one ounce of distilled water to make up the first solution. Then three grains of sodium bicarbonate were added to one ounce of distilled water to make up the second solution. Then each week, this woman was instructed to take one drop of solution number one, and two drops of solution number two, stir them in a glass of water and drink at once. They were not to be taken oftener than once a week. Beef juice was suggested to supply some of the vitamins, and Kaldak was suggested to be used in raw milk daily for one individual.
Therapy, then, consists primarily of massage of a thorough, yet gentle nature, directed primarily toward those areas most afflicted, and the use prior to the massage of the wet cell appliance, which brings into the system in a vibratory manner influences which apparently cannot be absorbed through the intestinal tract. These two modes of therapy bear the major portion of the load in restoring the glands of the body back toward normal, bringing a rejuvenation and resuscitation to the nerves which have been in a sense burned away, and revivifying and regenerating the muscular tissue. In the process, they reverse the changes in the internal organs which may have come about.
Do these, as we have indicated... Not as rote, but knowing that within self must be found that which may be awakened to the building of that necessary for the body, mentally and physically and spiritually, to carry its part in this experience. For the application of any influence must have that which is of the divine awakening of the activative forces in every atom, every cell of a living body. (726-1)
- 1. Yudell, Alan. Newly Defined Muscular Dystrophies, Ariz. Med. 24:950-954, 1967.
- 2. Shy, G. Milton. Diseases of Muscle; Textbook of Medicine, W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1967.
- [Note: The preceding overview was written by William A. McGarey, M.D. and is excerpted from the Physician's Reference Notebook, Copyright © 1968 by the Edgar Cayce Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA.]