In the old book ‘Erythroxylon coca: a treatise on brain exhaustion, as the cause of disease” by W. TIBBLES, MD. A disorder is described we do not recognize anymore: brain exhaustion.

Dr. Tribbles believed coca leaves is the remedy of choice….

Brain exhaustion was a special case of nervous exhaustion, states of the nervous system we now know that those are probably related to slow inflammation. For symptoms of tiredness, irritability, lack of energy, chronic pain in the past doctors could only diagnose these as ‘exhaustion’.

Why palmitoylethanolamide is used.

Nowadays we know much more. For such states, the natural anti-inflammatory compound and supplement palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) seems quite a good fit.

Many patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome have benefited from PEA (eg. 2-3 times daily 400 mg). Patients often prefer the PeaPlex capsules, because the biological and physiological normalizing action of PEA has been supported by a special selection of low dose vitamins of the B group, suited to support the immune system and the nervous system.

For pain relief and for inhibiting inflammation, most patients choose:

  • PEA capsules produced in the Netherlands by Russell
  • PEA tablets produced in Italy by Epitech

Here we disclose an old text on brain exhaustion, part 4,

The second part of chapter 1 on the brain and Nervous System, the process of digestion and the Circulation of the Blood:


Physiology: The process of Digestion — The Circulation of the Blood,

The sympathetic system consists chiefly of a double chain of ganglia — that is, swellings at various points in its course, formed by the presence of bundles of nerve cells, lying at the sides and in the front of the spinal column, and connected with one another, and with the spinal nerves, by filaments passing from the ganglia. From these ganglia branches also proceed, which follow the course of the blood vessels, and form great plexuses or networks by the nerves interlacing, over the heart, and about the stomach. The sympathetic nerve influences the muscles of the vessels generally, but, especially those of the heart, intestines, &c; it also appears to regulate the secretions and movements of the various organs over which it is distributed. Some of these, however, such as the heart, lungs, and stomach, receive also nerves from the cerebrospinal system, and are, therefore, not exclusively under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system. This is especially the case in regard to the heart and stomach; the movements of the former organ being greatly influenced by the state of the mind. Excessive fear may so far disturb its action as to diminish considerably the force and number of contractions, and in some cases, the emotional influences are such as to entirely suspend the movements of this organ. The stomach is also greatly influenced by the state of the mind.

The progress of digestion.

In the science of Physiology, few subjects have a deeper interest or are more studied by the popular mind, than the process of digestion. Persons who never think of analyzing any of the other processes of animal life manifest a great interest in the function of digestion, and generally seek to acquire information regarding the nature of the food they eat, and the manner in which the food is metamorphosed into living tissue to supply the wear and tear of the body. The process in that most complete chemical laboratory — the stomach, and the part it plays in the animal economy, presents most attractive features to those who value their health.

Our bodies are made up of a number of different organs and tissues. In the first place, there is the heart, the central pump, which distributes the blood through its vessels. Then there are the lungs, which purify that blood. Then, again, there are the stomach and bowels, which prepare the food, and gradually turn it into the blood. And lastly, there are the brain and nervous system, which regulate the working of the whole frame.

The steam engine and our body

Our bodies have been compared to the steam engine, there is a certain similarity in the manner in which the one and the other fulfill the assigned work. What takes place in the steam engine? Fuel is put into the furnace, the water in the boiler is heated, and expands into steam; the piston then works up and down, and the whole machinery is set in motion by the combustion of the fuel or coal which is put into the furnace. The same thing takes place in our bodies. We eat food which passes into the stomach by means of that food we are kept warm, the nervous and muscular forces are developed, and we are set working as in the steam engine. There is one important difference between the two. The burning of the coal in the furnace has a tendency to wear cut the sides of the boilers; the passage of the food also has a tendency to wear out its coats; but, this wear and tear is renewed by the food we take, which is not only to supply warmth but, also builds the body and repairs its waste; in the case of the steam engine, however, we cannot throw pieces of iron into the boiler, that they may be converted into a new boiler, but the engine must be stopped before we can put in new parts. Thus our bodies, in the mechanism, far surpass the steam engine, inasmuch as they are self-repairing.


By chemical methods, food can be separated into its constituent elements, beyond which it cannot be divided. These elements are principally Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen. The latter three are gases, the first is solid. These elements when combined together, chemically, form solid articles of food. Carbon, I have no doubt you — readers — have all seen in the form of charcoal, it also exists as the diamond. Oxygen exists in the air and constitutes one-fifth of its volume, the other four-fifths are nitrogen, the presence of the latter is to act as a diluting agent, in the same manner as water dilutes brandy. Oxygen is a great supporter of combustion. But, you may ask, by what agency are these elementary substances brought into the condition of food? It is done by plants. As plants do not possess the power of traveling in search of food, it is necessary that the food should come to them. It does so after this manner: the elements have a natural tendency to combine, oxygen combines with carbon to form carbonic anhydride; oxygen also combines with hydrogen to form water, and nitrogen combines with hydrogen and forms ammonia. Ammonia is present in large quantities in the soil, and the value of manures is dependent upon the amount of ammonia in no little degree. The carbonic anhydride is also present in the air. And upon water, carbonic anhydride, and ammonia plants are able to support themselves. The carbonic acid is absorbed by the leaves of plants, they decompose it, and absorb into their structure the solid carbon, setting free the oxygen. Likewise, with the ammonia and water, they store them up after entering them into new and various combinations. Thus plants prepare food out of the soil. We know that animals feed upon plants. “Wheat and flour, and oatmeal, and things of that kind consist of the same elementary materials as the flesh of animals. In animals we find albumen, it is also a constituent of wheat, and is that substance which forms the white of egg; and in every thousand parts of blood, there are 70 parts of this albumen. Fibrine, is a constituent of meat, and the coagulation of blood is due to the presence of it. Vegetables also contain it. Another principle of food is gluten, which is very much like the fibrin. Caserne, the curd or coagulable part of milk, an important ingredient of cheese, is found in peas, beans, and nuts.

Food may be divided into three great classes. 1st food that goes chiefly to warm the body. 2nd food that goes to build up the tissues of the body. And, 3rd mineral food. The first is made up principally of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen; in oils, starch, sugar, and all that kind of food, the three elements are present; food of this kind is the most warming.

Burning a candle

After burning a candle it is no longer grease, but that a substance has been decomposed into carbonic anhydride and the vapor of water, which are diffused through the air, an amount of heat is liberated by the decomposition which to a degree raises the temperature around the flame. Exactly the same kind of process takes place in our bodies. All through the animal frame, in the blood, and the various tissues, a large quantity of this carbon is present, also a quantity of hydrogen, much of which has entered the system as fatty food. Through the medium of the lungs, oxygen becomes diffused through the blood, whenever and wherever this oxygen comes in contact with carbon and hydrogen, carbonic anhydride and water are formed, and, resulting from the union, a certain amount of heat is liberated. It is a continual necessity that we take such food as meat, starchy matters, — as flour, rice, sago, and sugar. It is necessary, in order to build up the body and supply the continual waste of the tissues, that we eat an amount of such food as contains the element nitrogen. Fatty and starchy foods are chiefly used for warming purposes, likewise, they materially assist in the repair of the continual waste; so with nitrogenous foods as milk, cheese, &c, they not only are converted into flesh, but they help to warm the body. Then there is the mineral food; it may appear strange to most of our readers, but it is nevertheless true, that, to properly build up our bones, muscles, &c, we require a certain amount of mineral elements and compounds, as soda, potash, lime, iron, phosphorus, sulphur, &c, but, happily, these are supplied to us in our ordinary food.

The process of digestion

The process of digestion is to separate the soluble from the insoluble part of the food that we take to supply the necessities of our bodies, the soluble part is absorbed into the system, the insoluble part is carried away to be reconstructed in nature’s laboratory, and after this reconstruction it is again presented to us as food. Of the complicated apparatus constituting the digestive organs, the mouth, being the first receptacle for the food, may be

now considered:

The mouth is a cavity with a moveable bottom or floor consisting of the tongue and lower jaw, there are 32 teeth in this cavity, arranged in two rows, sixteen in each row. The moment food is entered into the mouth, its temperature is rendered more nearly like that of the body, then it is moved about by the tongue, and is reduced by the teeth to more minute particles, by the process of crushing and grinding, which process is called chewing or mastication. While this chewing is going on, the food is mixed with a fluid called saliva, which is poured out on each side of the mouth by three little glands, one of which is situated under the ear, the other two are under the tongue. These glands bear a resemblance to the kernel of a walnut when the shell is removed, they are hollow; the cells of which the glands are composed are also hollow. It is from the interior of these glands that the watery secretion called the saliva is poured out. This secretion is not merely poured out, but is prepared by these glands. The little cells which compose the extremities of these glands derive their nourishment from the blood, and as each cell reaches maturity it bursts, and the fluid which we call saliva is poured out, they are capable of very rapid formation and supply three or four pints of fluid daily. The saliva is a viscid fluid, consisting mainly of water, containing a little albumen and some salts. The object of the saliva is not merely to assist in forming the food into a pulpy mass, but it induces a particular chemical change. “When we chew a piece of bread, and turn it over in the mouth a few times, it acquires a different taste, and becomes much sweeter, this change is due to the action of the saliva on the starch contained in the bread, a part of which is converted, by the chemical action of the saliva, into sugar: Starch is insoluble, sugar is soluble, hence the importance of well chewing your food, before swallowing it. The rapidity with which a considerable number of persons take their meals very much decreases the amount of support which is obtainable from their food.

Into the stomach

The next point to be considered is the manner in which the food is passed into the stomach from the first receptacular organ — the mouth. After undergoing the process of chewing, and the chemical change which converts the starch into sugar, it is then ready to be swallowed. The food is now rolled together into a ball by the combined action of the tongue, cheeks, and lips, and delivered over to deglutition. Leading from the stomach towards the month is a muscular tube called the gullet, or esophagus; at the upper part of which is placed a kind of funnel-shaped bag, the pharynx. But, this, however, is only one passage out of three, which exist at the back of the mouth, and all lead in different directions; the second passing down the front of the food-pipe into the wind-pipe leading into the lungs; the third opening that presents itself being directed upwards and forwards into the nose. You will naturally ask “what guides the food into its proper channel, and prevents it taking the wrong course?” Immediately at the top of the wind-pipe, is placed a little valve — the epiglottis, which, during the process of swallowing, falls down and closes the opening of the wind-pipe, rendering the passage of food to the lungs, under ordinary circumstances, impossible. Sometimes, however, by accident or otherwise, it may happen that a crumb of bread, or a drop of fluid, passes down the wrong passage. This takes place when we attempt to laugh, sneeze, or a cough, so as to open the epiglottis at the moment that something is passing. Next, the food is prevented from passing into the cavity leading to the nose by a moveable fleshy curtain, called the soft palate, which if destroyed, as in some cases, a part of the food comes back through the nose. If during the act of swallowing, we burst into a fit of laughter, this barrier will be overcome, and some of the food will be expelled through the nose. Well, the food having been carried to the back part of the mouth, other apertures being closed, it is grasped by the muscles of the gullet and carried down to the stomach by means of the muscular action of the two coats of the esophagus. The first part of swallowing is voluntary, but after it reaches a certain point we lose all control over it, as you may have noticed when you have unintentionally swallowed a plum-stone. The food has now reached the stomach. What is the structure of this organ? It consists of three coats. 1st the external one, which is a part of the general serous lining of the abdomen, the use of which is principal to afford facility of motion to the organs, so that they may be able to adapt themselves to their different degrees of distension, and move one upon the other with ease. This membrane is a white color and invests the whole of the organs of the abdominal cavity, taking different names according to its position. The second coat is muscular and consists of sets of fibers running in various directions; a large one passes longitudinally, from one end of the organ to the other, and appears to be a continuation of the longitudinal muscular fibers of the gullet, another set run transversely, and a third obliquely. By the joint action of these fibers the stomach is able to contract and lessen its diameter in various directions.

The villous

The third and internal coat is called the villous, or mucus. Now the moment the food enters the stomach, it stimulates the nerves spread over that organ, its muscles begin to contract, and the whole organ commences a sort of churning motion, first from left to right, then from right to left. The inner coat is covered by a number of little depressions, opening into which are numerous little tubes; when the food enters the stomach, these little tubes are likewise set in action by the stimulation of the nerve fibers of the stomach, and a very peculiar juice, extracted or prepared from the blood, called the gastric juice, enters the stomach. The principle of this gastric juice is called pepsin, it has a peculiar influence upon the flesh-forming portion of our food — an acid, probably hydrochloric, is also present in this fluid. The gastric juice mixes with the food, and together with the motion of the stomach, reduces it to a soft consistency, similar to that of pea-soup. A part of this pulp enters the vessels of the stomach and is directly conveyed to the blood.

The part of the starchy matter of our food which is not rendered soluble by the action of the saliva is changed by the action of the stomach and gastric juice — likewise the nitrogenous part of the food also. After remaining in the stomach for some time, that portion which is not absorbed in the stomach, passes into the bowels, through the opening called the pylorus; the bowels, or continuation of the stomach, consist of a long tube average about twenty-four feet in length, the first part of which is called the duodenum. Into this part of the bowels two tubes enter, one from the liver, bringing the bile, the other from the pancreas or sweetbread. Under the liver is situate the gallbladder. When the food leaves the stomach and enters into the duodenum it is called chyme and is in an acid state, but during its journey through this tube being mixed with the pancreatic juice and the bile, it is rendered alkaline. The fat of the food, when it comes from the stomach is but little changed, but the alkaline mixture contained in the duodenum emulsifies the fat and renders it soluble, and fit to be taken up in the bowels, the food is now called chyle. During its passage through what is called the small intestines, a separation of the food takes place, the nutritive particles are sucked up and carried into the current of the blood. The internal lining membrane of the intestine is covered by an immense number of hair-like projections — called villi, in each of which is an artery, a vein, a nerve, and an absorbent vessel. These absorbents open when there is chyle in contact with them, probably in consequence of the stimulation imparted to the nerve, which brings more blood to the artery, and a kind of erection takes place. The food that these villi have absorbed, is carried away by a number of tubes, called lacteal vessels. These lacteals discharge the food they convey into a number of kernel like projections, called the mesenteric glands. In passing through the number of little passages contained in these mesenteric glands, which passages are lined with a number of small cells, a portion of the food is again changed into a number of very minute raspberry like bodies. This changed chyle is now allowed to pass through a duct called the thoracic duct, by which it is conveyed into the blood.

Last phase of digestion

“We have now traced the food, from its entrance into the system, till its nutritious particles are removed to form a portion of the tissues of the body, but we have still the excrementitious portion remaining behind. This, however, is speedily carried away. Having been passed by the peristaltic motion through the three small intestines, it is admitted into the commencement of the large intestine. Here we have a dilatation of the canal, together with a valve-like structure; the latter allowing substances to pass from the small intestine to the large but preventing all return, and the former constituting a kind of bag, called the cecum. This is situated on the lower side at the bottom part of the abdomen. The direction of the colon or large intestine is upwards and a little backward to the false ribs, at which point it is turned out of its course by the Liver, and it then forms a large arch by passing along the cavity of the trunk, and above the small intestines. Having reached the walls of the trunk on the left side, it is again bent out of its course and descends downwards in front of the kidneys. Its course on this side is not so direct as on the other; for near the pelvis, it forms a double curve, having something of the appearance of the letter S. It afterward dips down into the pelvis, forms the rectum, and terminates in the anus.

When the excrementitious matter has accumulated in sufficient quantity, the rectum is stimulated, and the sphincter muscle, which exists at the mouth of the rectum — the anus, relaxes, the abdominal muscles contract, which has the effect of pressing on the intestines, and the excrementitious matter is forced away from the system. Having traced the nutritive matter of our food into the torrent of the circulation of the blood, we will now examine the manner in which it is conveyed into the various tissues and organs of the body.


  1. Tibbles (1859-1928) Erythroxylon coca: a treatise on brain exhaustion, as the cause of disease, 1877, Helmsley: W. Allenby; Leeds: Joseph Dodgson; Leicester