The word rheumatism is derived from the Greek word "rheum" which means a swelling. This disease is recognized as one of the most serious threats to health. It is a crippling disease which causes widespread invalidism but seldom kills.

Rheumatism refers to an acute or chronic illness which is characterized by pain and swelling of the muscles, ligaments and tendons or of the joints. It affects men and women, both young and old. Quite often, this disorder extends to the heart and the values and the lining of this vital order becomes inflamed. It is the most common cause in 80 percent of the cases of valvular organic diseases of the heart.

Rheumatism, perhaps, more than any other disease, although readily diagnosed, is never the same in any two individuals. There are too many variations in the development of this disease.

Broadly speaking, however, rheumatism, which may be acute or chronic, can be roughly grouped into two classes. These are muscular rheumatism which affects the muscles and particular rheumatism which affects the joints. The muscular variety is, however, far less common than that affecting the joints. In the acute form, it is often found among children and young people, but in the chronic form, it is generally confined to adults.

The onset of the acute type of rheumatism is characterized by fever and rapid pulse with intense soreness and pain. In the acute muscular type, the tissues become so sensitive that even the weight of bed clothing aggravates the pain. The liver is found to be swollen. Acute rheumatism is extremely painful but it leaves no permanent defects if treated properly. It may settle into a chronic state under a wrong mode of treatment.

The symptoms of chronic muscular rheumatism are pain and stiffness of the affected muscles. The pain increases when an effort is made to move these muscles. In cases of chronic auricular rheumatism, pain and stiffness are felt in one or more joints of the body, with swelling in most cases. It is not usually fatal but there is a danger of permanent deformity.

The chief cause of rheumatism is the poisoning of the blood with acid wastes, which results from imperfect elimination and lowered vitality. Meat, white bread, sugar, and refined cereals, to which modern man is most addicted, leave a large residue of acid toxic wastes in the system.

These acid wastes are not neutralized due to the absence of sufficient quantities of alkaline mineral salts in the foods eaten. This upsets the acid-alkaline balance in the body and produces the condition described as acidosis.

When there is abundant vitality, excess acids are ejected almost before they reach any appreciable concentration in one or the other of the acute cleansing efforts such as colds and fevers. When the vitality is low, the acid wastes are concentrated around the joints and bony structure, where they form the basis of rheumatism. The reason why large quantities of acid wastes piling up in the system are attracted towards body structure for storage is that lime, which is the most prominent constituent of the bony structure, is an alkaline substance. In certain cases, infection from the teeth, tonsils and gallbladder may produce rheumatism. The disease is aggravated by exposure to cold water.