November 21, 2015 untangledwebn

The Healthy Human Gut


by C. Leslie Thomson

Early in 1943, James C. Thomson saw the publication of what was probably his most ambitious piece of writing. Based on over thirty years of professional experience, and a vast collection of information from all manner of sources, he succeeded in putting together what he called ‘a sixty-­‐piece jigsaw puzzle’. The pieces represented a seemingly ill-­‐assorted set of facts and findings in the fields of human health, animal behaviour, sociology,

psychology, medical belief, folklore, political expediency and salesmanship. The one feature common to all was the function of the gut -­‐ normal and disordered -­‐ and the work was originally entitled Constipation and Our Civilisation. It was quickly recognised by many of his contemporaries as a fundamental contribution. Sir Albert Howard, for example, called it ‘a remarkable book that must be read’. Because of some regulation on advertising at the time, subsequent editions of the book were retitled Two Health Problems, with ‘Constipation and Our Civilisation’ as the subsidiary name. In this form it ran through several reprintings until James C. Thomson’s death in 1960. It had, by then, been due for a major revision and the publishers invited me to carry out a re-­‐casting of the material. The outcome was a slimmer volume, a new name -­‐ Intestinal Fitness -­‐ and the omission of much contemporary comment of 1943 which, by 1961, lacked relevance. (Also, as several aspects of the argument in the original work had been developed more fully in other writings, a somewhat simpler sequence became possible.) Because of a combination of circumstances, by 1976 the publishers allowed the book to go out of print. However, there is a continuing demand for the work, and what follows is an attempt to present the essence of James C. Thomson’s message. Here and there this has been made easier by the wider acceptance of ideas considered heretical a third of a century ago, or by the availability of related writings, as noted above. As far as possible the sequence and character of J.C.T.’s argument have been preserved.