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. Tibbles 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 10, from Chapter 5, on Exercise


Exercise both for the body and mind is an essential requisite for the perpetuation of healthy life. Says Dr. Thomas on exercise — “The laborer is apt to murmur that he is necessitated to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, and looking around on his superiors, he repines at his condition and station, considering that as hard and afflicting which infinite wisdom has destined to be absolutely the only method by which he can be put in possession of the chief of all earthly blessings — a sound body and a quiet mind; for those whom poverty obliges to labour for their daily bread are not only the most healthy, but, all things considered, generally the most happy.”

“Toil and be strong. By toil the placid nerves Grow firm and gain a more compacted tone; The greener juices are by toil subdued, Mellow’d and subtilized; the vapid old Expell’d, and all the rancour of the blood.” — Armstrong.

Nervous energy through the organs.

A large amount of nervous energy is distributed to the organs of voluntary motion, and in every part of the body we find that nature imparts her powers in proportion to the degree of exercise which these organs perform; thus, in good pedestrians, we find the muscular energies of the legs have become, by long continued practice, singularly developed, compared with those of the arms, and body ; the skin of the field labourer, exposed to every alternation of weather, becomes thickened to almost the consistence of horn, whilst that of the gentle drawing room loiterer dwindles into delicacy and tenderness. So also with the glandular system: those glands which are excited into most frequent action increase in strength and structure, whilst those, on the other hand, that are rarely employed, fade gradually away into the mere vestige of what they should be.

Organs in motion

It is quite clear, therefore, that if the organs of voluntary motion are not brought into that necessary degree of active exercise which, by the nervous power distributed to them, they are evidently desired to perform, the general health of the body must eventually become affected to an injurious extent, the great law of organic structures apparently being, that whatever destroys the harmonious action which should necessarily subsist between all and every function, whether by the exhaustion of excessive use or the decay incident to non-employment inevitably leads to evil.

Man was never designed for a state of inactivity

The tranquil sensations produced by moderated exercise, the comfortable repose to which it conducts, the cheerfulness of mind, the regularity of action in all the vital functions, and the successful resistance of many exciting causes of disease, are results that manifest how strongly the constitutional powers are fortified by well-tempered activity ; whilst indolence of habit, on the contrary, invariably tends to produce organic disturbances, such aB congestion of the liver and abdominal organs, corpulency, apoplexy, derangements characterized by partial loss of tone of the nervous and consequently the vascular systems, and a general susceptibility to morbid impressions.

The youth of a boy

In a work published in Philadelphia, U. S. entitled “Health and Beauty” the following occurs : — “When three years of age the subject of this brief history could scarcely stand; at five he walked badly, when supported by leading-strings; and it was only after dentition, seven years old, that he could walk without assistance; but even then he frequently fell, and could not rise again. Given up by the Physicians he continued in this state until the age of seventeen, when the loins and lower extremities could scarcely support the upper part of the body. The arms were extremely weak, and contracted, the approximation of the shoulders diminished the capacity of the chest, impeded respiration; the moral faculties were quite torpid, and, in short, nature was at a standstill. In the month of November 1815, this unfortunate youth was presented to Mr. Clias, the celebrated superintendent of a gymnasium then at Berne, in Switzerland, as he afterward was of others in Paris and in London. On being admitted, his strength was tried, and the pressure on the dynamometer was only equal to that of a child seven or eight years old. Inability to pull, ascend the ladder, and jump, he was utterly deficient. He ran over a space of a hundred feet in one minute and two seconds, and could not stand when he had finished. Carrying a child of fifteen pounds made him totter, and a child of seven years old threw him with the greatest facility.


A person of the other sex, thus enfeebled, would be thought by a committee of crones and mantua-makers to whom probably she would be consigned, to require, of absolute necessity, the support and comfort of corset busks. Her physician would prescribe tonics and sea bathing, and a generous regimen; not bad things in their place, and with suitable hygienic aids, but quite unfitted to prevent the increasing debility and superadded deformity from the use of exercise. But to return to the poor feeble youth. Was any effort made to strengthen his back by compression of its muscles, or to take off from the weight of his head and chest, and by various mechanical contrivances? Captain Clias did not put faith in the doctrine, that, to give muscles strength, they must not be used at all, but he believed that the feeble imperfectly developed ones of this young invalid might be made to grow and acquire strength, on the same principle as that by which the legs of a dancer and a porter, and the arms of bakers and boatmen, become full, muscular, and strong. His scholar was subjected to the gymnastic regimen for five months; after which period he could press fifty degrees on the dynamometer; by the strength of his arms he raised himself three inches from the ground, and remained thus suspended for three seconds; he leaped a distance of three feet; ran a hundred and sixty-three yards in a minute, and carried on his shoulders a weight of thirty-five pounds. Finally, in 1817, in the presence of several thousand spectators, he climbed to the top of a single rope, twenty-five feet high; he did the same exercise on the climbing pole; jumped with a run six feet, and ran over five hundred feet in two minutes and a half.

” Subsequently, when he became a clergyman, in a village near Berne, he could walk twenty-four miles on foot without incommoding himself; and the exercises, which he always continued, have given him, in place of his valetudinary state, a vigorous constitution.”

Exercise and work

Where our occupations in life necessarily interdict bodily exercise, at the periods of being engaged upon them, we should be careful to employ such counteracting influences as occasion may admit; thus, if clerks, and others who are often injured by continued stooping in a sitting posture, were to vary their position by sitting at a raised desk, much benefit would be derived from the temporary suspension of the accustomed position. When the opportunity occurs, persons compelled to sedentary employments should take as much exercise as possible, before and after the labors of the day; and no exercise will be found more beneficial than sharp walking in the open air.

The lungs.

The actions of walking, running, and leaping, not only tend to regulate the general circulation and the local expenditure of nervous energy, but also to increase the strength, and conduce to a more energetic action of the lungs. The respiration becomes quickened by muscular action; we inhale more vehemently, consequently, the blood receives a greater degree of arterialization, as instanced by the expanding colour in the cheeks; and the lungs are excited to a degree of action which, if not maintained to exhaustion, is attended by general benefit. The necessity for this occasional exertion of the lungs is instanced in early life by the proneness of infants to paroxysms of crying, induced, not altogether by pain, but rather as an energetic effort to expand and invigorate the pulmonary organs.

Sir Henry Holland, in his “Medical Notes” says:

“might not more be done in practice towards the prevention of pulmonary disease, as well as fur the general improvement of health by expressly exercising the organs of respiration — that is, by practising according to method those actions of the body through which the chest is part filled or emptied of air? Though suggestions to this effect occur in some of our best works on consumption, as well as the writings of certain continental physicians, they have hitherto had less than their due influence, and the principle as such is comparatively little recognized, or brought into general application. In truth, common usage takes, for the most part, a directly opposite course; and under the notion or pretext of quiet, seeks to repress all direct exercise of this important function, in those who are presumed to have any tendency to pulmonary disorders . . . As regards the modes of exercising the function of respiration, they should be various, to suit the varying powers and exigencies of the patient. Beading aloud is one of very ancient recommendation, the good effects of which are not limited to this object alone. It might indeed well be the practice of distinct recitation, such as implies a certain effort of the organs, beyond that of mere ordinary speech, more generally used in early life, and continued as a habit, or regular exercise, but especially by those whose cJiests are weak, and who cannot sustain stronger exertions. Even singing may for the same reasons be allowed in many cases, but within much narrower limits, and under a much more cautious notice of the effects, than would be requisite in reading. If such caution be duly used as to posture, articulation and the avoidance of all excess, these regular exercises of the voice may be rendered as salutary to the organs of respiration, as they are agreeable in their influence on the ordinary voice. The common course of education is much at fault, in this respect.”

Suffer from work.

Literary and scientific men suffer much, not only from overexertion of the mental powers but from the strained unnatural position of the body; as well as the general muscular activity; clerks and various artisans, such as tailors, shoemakers, watchmakers, etc., suffer also from the same cause. The bent sitting posture when long or habitually continued, by reason of the pressure upon the stomach and other organs, is productive of evils such as dyspepsia, diarrhoea, headache, etc., and in clerks and others, when the pressure is increased by leaning the breastbone upon the edge of the desk or table, pulmonary consumption, nervous palpitations, heart disease, brain exhaustion, etc., very frequently ensue.

Morning exercise works.

Morning exercise (walking, running jumping, or other athletic exercises) in the open air, at the expense of one hour stolen from the allotted period of sleep, will impart to persons in sedentary employments a sustaining influence throughout the labours of the day, which will be found positive in promoting health, and likewise refreshing: the same remark is equally applicable to young persons,, male or female. Parents ! do not injudiciously enforce upon your children too rigorous an exclusion from outdoor exercise; hundreds of children are suffering from disease, caused by keeping them indoors too much.

Labour is absolutely necessary.

“Where the necessity or inclination for labor no longer exists, indolence is too frequently the consequence, and when this disrelish for proper employment is induced, both mental and physical disturbance takes place, such as dullness of spirit, apathy, impatience, nervous affections, indigestion, sluggish action of the liver, melancholy, etc. Wealth is often found to be a curse rather than a blessing. Labour is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of health and happiness.


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