Thirty-four years ago I happened to pick up a book on yoga and learned something amazing. Among all the strange and difficult postures illustrated there was the simple one pictured here. The caption read, “This is the most natural and healthy way to perform our bodily functions.”
It was a shock. But the concept appealed to this 20-year-old’s sense of irony and fondness for non-conformity. I immediately adopted the method, and for the next 34 years continued to enjoy its benefits.
The subject was, of course, unmentionable. So, as much as I wanted to help others avoid their daily struggle on the “porcelain throne,” I never mentioned my secret to anyone. I had my own life to live and felt resigned to the fact that this ignorance would just have to continue – generation after generation. Little did I know.
Twenty-eight years after my initial discovery, the thought started coming that “now is the time to share it with the world.” As a vehicle for spreading the knowledge, I felt inspired to create a device that would convert a conventional toilet into a squat toilet. I had no experience inventing anything, nor any inclination towards the business world, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I simply had to accomplish this mission.
I didn’t find out why it was so important until much later. When I finally started marketing the product, I scoured the Internet and the libraries for all the research that had ever been done on the benefits of squatting. Each day brought a new revelation of the harm caused by the modern commode. Squatting seemed to be the “Rosetta Stone” that solved many mysteries, which for decades had baffled the medical profession. Doctors had been groping in the dark for the cause of all the colon, bladder and prostate disorders which – for some “strange” reason – were absent in the developing world.
I carefully studied the anatomy, history and epidemiology of each disease. Whether it was something deadly like appendicitis or colon cancer, or something merely annoying, like bladder incontinence or hemorrhoids – the conclusion was unavoidable: Each disease could clearly be traced to the cumulative damage caused by an aberrant method of evacuation.
To take one example, consider the history of appendicitis. Before sitting toilets came into common use in the mid-Nineteenth Century, the disease was unknown. It didn’t even have a name until 1886, when a Harvard professor, Reginald Heber Fitz, coined the term “appendicitis.” He was also the first one to recommend the immediate removal of an inflamed appendix.
Currently 40,000 appendectomies are performed in the U.S. each year, merely to prevent appendicitis. In spite of that, seven percent of the population will contract the disease. Among squatting populations appendicitis is virtually unknown.
How does the modern commode cause appendicitis? The appendix is attached to a part of the colon that cannot be squeezed empty while sitting. Wastes get lodged in the appendix, where they stagnate and form a breeding-ground for virulent bacteria. The appendix gets infected and inflamed. If it bursts, the result is often fatal.
In a similar way, I analysed nine other common diseases and came to the same conclusion. They were all due to one of two problems caused by the long-term use of sitting toilets. The first is “fecal stagnation.” Wastes cannot be fully expelled in the sitting position, so they stagnate and solidify. The tissues of the colon wall suffocate and become vulnerable to cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
The second problem is damage to the pelvic nerves from chronic straining on the toilet. This injury is responsible for prostate and bladder disorders that have reached epidemic proportions in our society.
As my research progressed, I felt like a prosecutor building a case against the dearest and most trusted friend of every member of the jury. At first glance, the charges seemed preposterous – like some kind of practical joke. And the subject matter was something that most people don’t even want to think about. Breaking this taboo was a daunting challenge, but I took comfort in the words of Justice Louis Brandeis, who said, “A little sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
I assembled all the evidence and put it on the website – constantly adding and revising, as more information became available. I contacted hundreds of doctors to tell them the good news. With rare exceptions, their response was absolute silence. How could they validate a new approach which would invalidate their own claims to being "experts?" One doctor said she was completely convinced – but could never recommend squatting to her patients for fear of losing her medical license.
It became clear to me that millions of people around the world were suffering needlessly and dying prematurely, due to the ignorance of the medical profession. And that my chance discovery 34 years ago was no accident, but was part of the cosmic plan to restore mankind to a natural state of health.
IT'S NOW OFFICIAL. Recognized by no less an authority than the U.S. Patent Office, Boone has a resident who truly knows "squat."
In July, local inventor Jonathan Isbit was awarded U.S. Patent No. 6,256,800 for an invention that he claims can prevent some serious health problems. The invention allows a standard toilet to be used in the squatting position.
Isbit cites extensive medical research indicating that the invention could help prevent hemorrhoids, colon cancer and other common gastrointestinal ailments.
"Eighty per cent of colon tumors occur in the sigmoid and the cecum, the two areas that are not fully evacuated in the sitting position," Isbit said. "Doctors feel that fecal stagnation is one of the causes of colon cancer. The squatting position, used by two-thirds of the world's population, is much more effective."
Isbit said that many medical authorities consider the use of the sitting posture for elimination to be an unnatural and unhealthy development, which has only existed for the past 150 years. "I feel like I've been given a mission to finally expose a 150-year-old mistake," Isbit said.
Creating his invention was a labor of love. Protecting it through the patent process was not nearly as difficult as he had been led to believe. According to Isbit, he carried out most of the patent application process himself, without the use of a patent attorney. "I had a professional patent writer prepare the description but I completely revised it, replacing all the graphic references with euphemisms and adding a discussion of the health benefits."
He said he had a friend do the engineering drawings and he handled the patent protests when an examiner said that his Nature's Platform was similar to another device. Isbit explained that the other device simply raised the user's feet while seated on the toilet, relieving some, but not all, of the pressure. The important difference between the two devices, according to Isbit, is that the Nature's Platform places all of the body's weight on the feet and properly aligns the intestines and colon.
The examiner was convinced and the patent was awarded.
"I hope that it (the Platform) will make itself obsolete. I hope to sell thousands and then millions throughout America and Europe and make toilet manufacturers redesign all toilets to allow squatting."
This is not a new quest for either health or enlightenment. Isbit said that he discovered this position 30 years ago after reading a book on yoga. "There was a picture of a yogi in this position with an explanation.
"I've now been doing it for 30 years and wanted to communicate this idea. In today's culture, if you don't have something useful to sell, people don't listen." Isbit, 51, was a computer programmer by trade and said that he wrote the first commercial computer program to play Scrabble.
He received a bachelor of science in computer science from Rutgers University in 1976. As a practitioner of yoga and Transcendental Meditation, he moved to Boone in 1996 to work at the Heavenly Mountain Resort as a computer programmer.
In 1998, his quest for a healthier posture and research into the yogi's claim led him to design and develop early prototypes of Nature's Platform. He said that his early test subjects were fellow meditators in Boone and around the country. "They were receptive to yoga concepts," he said. "They loved it. The biggest problem I had was getting the testers to give back the prototypes."
Isbit cites one study involving 20 patients with severe hemorrhoids. According to the research, published in the Israeli Journal of Medical Sciences, the patients had all used conventional treatments with little or no results. Then they were told to switch to the natural squatting posture, and within a few days to a few months, 18 of the 20 patients were free of all symptoms of hemorrhoids.
"This is an area of life which no one likes to discuss, for obvious reasons," said Isbit. "But that's precisely why this ignorance has persisted. Before the 1850s, everyone used the squatting position. Then the ‘porcelain throne' was created to allow aristocrats to use a more ‘dignified' posture.
“No one dared to oppose it for fear of being ridiculed and being associated with an indelicate issue. So, like the Emperor's New Clothes, it was tacitly accepted, leaving a legacy of health problems that haunt us to this day.
"The authentic squatting position, used throughout the world, puts the body's full weight on the feet. Nature's Platform is the only product on the market which allows the use of this posture on an ordinary toilet. It can be used even by people who thought they were incapable of squatting."
After designing Nature's Platform, Isbit located craftsmen to manufacture it. The product is made by local North Carolina carpenters and metal fabricators. He said that he wanted to make the product light, convenient and easy to use and was concerned that not all people in a family, or their guests, would want to use the Platform.
The first engineering challenge was to make it easy to assemble and store. The Platform can be taken down and put up in a matter of seconds. It is thin enough to store next to a standard toilet and strong enough to support a 300-pound man or woman. Isbit demonstrated the proper position on Nature's Platform, quickly and easily stepping up on the frame and, yes, the user can read newspapers and magazines in this position.
Isbit needed to get the word out to the public and began advertising in June in "Yoga Magazine," "Natural Health" and "Vegetarian Magazine." Then the orders began trickling in. Seventy-three of the Platforms have been sold since June [article is dated July 30, 2001], and the company is receiving one to two orders per day.
After perfecting his prototype and finding a manufacturer, Isbit looked, unsuccessfully, for investors. He financed his operation with loans and his savings and said that now that some are selling he can pay off his loans. Isbit is already considering modifications for future models: a step system and handrails to help the elderly or handicapped climb up on the Platform.
The Nature's Platform receives orders on the Internet at www.NaturesPlatform.com and ships the product to customers throughout North America.
The company can also be reached by phone at (828) 263-6884.
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