This is an article written for the McCarrison Society for Nutrition and Health in 2002 by the late Dr, Walter Yellowlees MC.,MB., ChB., FRCGP. Nothing has changed.
Read about Dr Walter Yellowless.
Read about Dr Walter Yellowless.
A great deal of publicity has been given over the years to cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) following long flights by air. Press reports quote statistics which suggest that four hours sitting in a car can have the same dire consequences. Readers may not realise that a long period of immobility in either a plane or a car is not the only risk which leads to clots forming in our lower leg veins.
TRAVELLING NOT THE ONLY CAUSE
DVT is a well-known complication of lying in a hospital bed, especially following an abdominal or hip replacement operation; vein thrombosis can also occur without any prolonged spell of sitting or lying. I recall a tragic case of a tourist who was overcome by breathing difficulty as he sat on the toilet of a bed and breakfast house; he emerged seeking help but collapsed and died. He had extensive varicose veins and signs of probable DVT.
Perhaps readers are fed up with my repeated references to the work of the late T.L. Cleave. I make no apology. Cleave's research was once hailed as possibly the most important 20th century advance in our understanding of disease causation, but in medical literature, including writings published on the causes of DVT, Cleave is forgotten. He gave sound anatomical and epidemiological evidence to prove that the basic cause of varicose veins and of DVT was simply constipation. The fibre-depleted foods of industrial nations, above all refined sugar and white flour, render the contents of the human colon hard, solid and slow moving. The heavy, overloaded colon exerts unnatural pressure on the underlying large veins of the pelvis. The flow of blood in partially blocked veins is impeded, and so blood clots are formed and may be carried to the heart and thence to the lungs; the human colon is pressed more closely against the pelvic vein on the left side, which explains the more frequent occurrence of varicose veins in the left leg. A pregnant womb makes the situation worse and so varicose veins often follow childbearing.
Research of hospital records in Natal, South Africa in an area serving rural Africans whose staple diet was hand-pounded unrefined maize, revealed an extraordinary absence of varicose veins or DVT; thousands of pregnancies were included. So, although hours of sitting may be a secondary cause of DVT the basic cause is constipation. Any reader who doubts the efficacy of wheat bran fibre in altering bowel function, need only note the effect of taking two or three tablespoonfuls of bran daily. The taking of bran as a preventative to post-operative thrombosis has been successful in the two hospitals where both the surgeon and his ward sister were keen to give it a try in place of conventional purgatives.1 Bran is easy to take in soup or milk and for those who fear that bran, on the outer surface of a wheat grain, is likely to be coated with insecticide, organic bran is available from most health food shops.
Many doctors and nutritionists may, with laughter, dismiss this simple explanation of the cause of a serious and sometimes fatal disease, but is it not strange that so few of the sceptics are prepared to give it a try? Wheat bran is comparatively cheap; trials in hospital wards require no expensive equipment.
Cleave, T L, The Saccharine Disease pp 59-60.
John Wright & Son, Bristol, 1974.