PAPERS ON HEALTH
NEW AND COMPLETE ONE-VOLUME EDITION REVISED AND EDITED BY EDWARD BRUCE KIRK
London Simpkin Marshall Hamilton Kent & Co. Paternoster Row
Manchester Albert Broadbent 19 Oxford Road
Glasgow T. D. Morison 240 Hope Street
Philadelphia The Broadbent Press 1023 Foulkrod St. Frankford
COPYRIGHT IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Printed by Hurst Bros., Shaw Heath, Stockport.
Transcriber's Note: The topic of Throat, Sore (Clergyman's) includes advice for enunciating the vowels in their natural order (ā, ay, ee, o, oo). The use of ā indicates that the a has a macron over it, since a macron cannot be represented in Latin 1 character set.
In his later years my father often expressed to me his desire for the reduction of the eleven volumes of his "Papers on Health" to a compact one-volume edition; but as long as fresh papers were being written, he saw no use in beginning this work. In the end the project was interrupted by his last illness and death. Since then, circumstances have prevented the work being undertaken until the present time.
Having been associated with him in his health work for some years, and having often discussed with him all his methods, I have had considerable advantages in undertaking to carry out his intention in the shape of the volume now given to the public.
It represents as nearly as possible the book he planned himself; and though greatly reduced in bulk, all that is of importance in the original eleven volumes has been inserted in it. It is complete in every way; and in many details of treatment, improved methods, applied in later years by Dr. Kirk, have been substituted for the older methods he first introduced.
The arrangement in alphabetical order has been very carefully attended to, and the treatment for any particular trouble within the scope of the work can be quickly turned up.
This edition is sent forth in the hope that it may have even a wider circulation than the last, and may be still more largely blessed than that has been, to the relief of suffering humanity.
I would appeal to those who know the value of this treatment to make the book known to the many who would benefit by its teaching. The cost of the original edition was considerable, but this one is sold so cheaply that anyone may possess it.
EDWARD BRUCE KIRK.
E. U. Manse, Barrhead, Scotland. September, 1899.
PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.
In this edition of "Papers on Health" some changes, as well as some entirely new features are introduced.
The large demand for the first one-volume edition has made it clear that the public approve of the methods, both of arrangement and of condensation employed in it.
Another edition being called for, it appeared evident that several changes were desirable, in order to bring the book in line with rapidly increasing medical knowledge, and to give full effect to more recent experiences in the application of Dr. Kirk's treatment.
Since the "Papers" were first written, medical, and especially surgical, practice has very greatly changed, and some of the practices against which Dr. Kirk most vehemently protested have passed away. Hence, certain modifications introduced into this edition, for which the editor accepts full responsibility. For those who wish to consult the actual writings of Dr. Kirk, the original eleven volume edition is still available.
Great advances have also been made in the knowledge of the causes of disease; and preventive methods of treatment by regulation of diet and habits of life are much better understood. To incorporate some reference to these in a work dealing with health generally, appeared to us absolutely necessary. For these additions also the writer accepts responsibility.
Where it appeared to be useful, illustrations have been introduced, which may help those to whom the treatment is quite new, to practice it more easily and correctly, and to understand better the theories on which it is founded.
These changes have enlarged the book, and somewhat increased the price, which is, however, still such as to place the volume within the reach of all classes.
It is most gratifying to know through letters received from almost all parts of the world, that many are benefitted very greatly by the treatments described. We have constant evidence coming before us from our own experience with patients of the powerful effect they have in healing the sick, and even saving life. We send out this new edition in the hope that it may spread still more widely, the knowledge of such simple and yet effective means of cure.
EDWARD BRUCE KIRK
E. U. Manse, Barrhead, Scotland. July, 1904.
In this book we set forth a series of simple remedies and preventives of many common troubles. They are all well tried and have been proved by long experience to be effective and safe.
We give, as far as we know, the reasons why they are likely to do good, but we acknowledge that there are things which we cannot fully explain. For instance, we do not know why a well aired lather of M'Clinton's Soap should have the soothing effect it undoubtedly possesses, or why spreading handfuls of this lather over the stomach of a person suffering from retching or indigestion should give such relief, we only know that it does!
Some may sneer at the remedy and say it is a case of faith healing and assert that any other application, if put on with equal credulity, would have the same effect. But take a case that lately came under our notice. Indigestion and colic had rendered a baby a few weeks old restless and miserable from the day of its birth. The nurse was kept nursing it all night long, trying to soothe it; at last the mother who had frequently tried the soap lather for occasional attacks of indigestion, and always with good effect, determined to try it on the baby. It worked like a charm, the little one was at once soothed and slept all night, only waking once for its food. This was repeated for several nights, for until the lather was applied the child would not settle to sleep. In a few days the child was quite well, the habit of sleeping was established and the application was discontinued. Now it cannot be said that faith in the remedy had anything to do with the result in this case. We only wish every mother would have faith enough to give this simple treatment a fair trial, making up the lather as described in this book and not, as many do, "improving" on our method by rubbing the soap on the wet skin and making a sort of lather with the hand.
We may say that the soap used for making this lather is not M'Clinton's shaving soap. The latter is specially made to give a thick durable lather; for curative purposes use the lather from M'Clinton's toilet or household soap.
Again, why should the use of the linen underwear we recommend have such a beneficial effect on sufferers from rheumatism and various skin troubles? We have suggested possible explanations, and if these seem inadequate we can only say we know that it has these effects no matter how they are produced.
There are many things in nature that we cannot explain, and since the discovery of X Rays, Radium, etc., scientists are much less dogmatic in declaring anything impossible.
The diet we recommend for health and disease is as simple and cheap as our other treatment. That plain fare is good for both mind and body was proved by the four youths at the Babylonian Court over 2,000 years ago, but alas people squander that priceless boon, health, by letting appetite rule their lives.
We only ask for our treatment a fair trial on our lines. We claim that ours are common sense methods. Anyone can see that if a head is hot and fevered the application of a cold towel is likely to lower that heat and reduce the fever. But it is no use putting a little bit of wet rag on and then saying our treatment has failed. Large towels repeatedly changed for an hour or more may be needed, and this will give more trouble than administering some dose from the chemist's shop, but the results are well worth the additional work.
The day is hastening on when men and women will see what fools they have been, not because they had no sense, but certainly because they had failed to use the abundance which God has given to all.
Not one of the remedies we have recommended can hurt any one, as they are only those which we have for years seen used successfully by ordinary persons who were willing to do their best to cure the suffering. If we can secure one night of sound sleep, or one day of comfort for another, we are bound to do our very best, and it is a wonderful reward to know that one has secured even this in our suffering world. Our Heavenly Father gives no monopoly of this blessing.
Note.—It is earnestly requested that the whole of any article, and of those referred to in it, should be read before beginning any treatment.
PAPERS ON HEALTH.
Abscess.—Let us suppose a swelling appears on some part of the body or limbs, but that there is no discoloration or symptom of the gathering of the dead material beneath it. If it be cut open, a wound is made which is often very difficult to heal. Avoid then, cutting in such cases. If the swelling develops under FOMENTATION (see), the uncut flesh through which it will then break will be in a better state eventually for healing than if cut. Where corrupt matter is clearly present, and in seeking an outlet is endangering the surrounding healthy tissue, the cutting open of the swelling will, on the other hand, greatly relieve, and conduce to a more speedy cure. This is best performed by a thoroughly good surgeon. Thorough syringing of the cavity from which the matter comes out (see Wounds, Syringing) is the best means of cure, aided by thorough heating of the swelling and surrounding parts with moist heat for an hour or more twice a day. This heating must embrace a large part of the limb or body, as the case may be. If the trouble be on the hip or groin, the armchair FOMENTATION (see) should be employed. Other parts should be treated on the same liberal principle of heating (see Fomentation).
Rich diet is extremely hurtful. Egg switched in cream, rum, brandy, and such things are to be carefully avoided. Alcoholic liquors are especially fatal. See Alcohol; Assimilation; Diet; Drinks: Foods, etc.
Oatmeal jelly (see Food in Illness), wheaten meal porridge, Saltcoats biscuits (see Biscuits and Water), form the best nutrients in such cases. These are really much stronger diet than the egg, brandy, etc.
If the abscess be in the foot or leg, with indications of diseased bone, the leg should be bathed in hot water up to the knee. Dissolve a piece of M'Clinton's soap in the water used, and let it be as hot as can be borne. After drying, rub the limb gently yet firmly with olive oil for five minutes. Dress with oil, lint, and a proper bandage.
We have seen a limb which threatened the very life of the patient treated as above. The general symptoms abated almost immediately; growth, as well as healing, set in, and the limb was quite restored to its normal condition. But patient persistence in treatment is needed for a bad case.
If under bathing or fomentation the abscess seems to swell, such is only the natural progress of cure, and should not be regarded as increase of the trouble. Where the swelling shews undoubted signs of diseased matter below the surface, it may be opened as above directed. We know of limbs that have been long distorted, and under rubbing and fomenting they are becoming gradually all they ought to be. No one need fear that by such treatment they will grow worse. See Armpit Swelling; Bone, Diseased; Knee; Limbs, Inflamed, etc.
Acetic Acid.—For use in our treatment we recommend Coutts' Acetic Acid. It is of uniform strength and purity, and can be had from most druggists. Weak acid may be understood as one part of this to twelve parts of water. In many cases, however, much greater weakness than this is necessary, owing to the tenderness of the parts treated. As a general rule, the dilute acid should only cause a gentle nipping sensation and heat in the sore. If it is painful, no good is done. Frequent gentle applications are always much better than a few severe ones.
Tasting the acid is a good test. If it can be swallowed without inconvenience, it may then be tried on a tender part, and if necessary even further reduced in strength. Where more convenient to get it, white wine vinegar may be used instead of this weak acid; it will do equally well.
Acidity of the Stomach.—Often caused by unwholesome food, bad or deficient teeth, or by too rapid eating. Where these causes exist, they should be first removed. Eat slowly, and not too much at a time, and see that only well-cooked, easily digested food be taken. Pastry, sweets and carbonaceous foods in general should not be taken alone at the same meal, they should always accompany some form of proteid food. If, however, pain in stomach is found after meal it will be found that milk can be substituted with comfort. (See Diet). (See Food in Health). If this does not cure, do not take soda as a remedy. Although soda neutralises the sourness, it produces other effects, and tends to cause disease of the stomach. A wineglassful of hot water, with a teaspoonful of white vinegar in it, is the best cure. Although this is itself acid, it acts so as to remove the cause of the sourness in the stomach, and is most beneficial otherwise. It is still better to take a tablespoonful of this hot water and vinegar every five minutes for an hour daily before dinner. Instead of the vinegar, a slice of lemon may be put in the hot water. This will act more efficiently in some cases. In other cases a teaspoonful of Glauber's Salts, taken in a large tumblerful of hot water, half-an-hour before breakfast, for a few weeks, will relieve almost entirely.
Readers must note not to use both the salts and vinegar drink at once. They are intended to cure different sorts of stomach acidity, caused differently.
Look also well to the warming of COLD FEET (see), and see that the whole skin be cleansed daily with soap lather (see Lather and Soap) and stimulated with olive-oil rubbing.
Aconite.—Often in cases where our treatment fails to cure, the failure is due to the patient taking aconite as an allopathic remedy. Used homoeopathically, it may be harmless, but if taken in considerable doses, even once a month, it prevents all cure. It gives relief in heart palpitation, and in case of extreme sensibility, but its other poisonous effects far outweigh the temporary benefits. A gentle, kindly soaping with soap lather (see Lather and Soap) over all the body will relieve extreme sensibility far better than aconite, and can be frequently repeated without injury. Aconite must be avoided if our treatment is to be effective.
Action, Balance of.—An excellent guide to the proper treatment of any case is to be found in the distribution of heat in the patient's body. Hot parts are to be cooled, and cold parts warmed, often both at the same time, so as to restore the proper balance of vital action. Gentle progressive measures are always best in this, especially with children. Cold feet are warmed by BATHING (see) and FOMENTATION (see). A heated head may be cooled with COLD TOWELS (see) or with soap LATHER (see). This principle of seeking a proper balance should be borne in mind throughout all our treatment. Its importance can hardly be exaggerated, as the restoration of this balance alone will frequently effect an almost magical cure where drugs have been wholly ineffective.
After Pains.—See Child-bearing.
Air.—The Black Hole of Calcutta is an object lesson of how necessary to life is the renewal of the air supply. Few people, however, reflect that a deficient supply of fresh air may affect the health, though far short of what will cause death. Many hospitable people will invite so many friends to their houses that the amount of air each can get is less than 1-20th of what the law insists shall be provided for the prisoners in our gaols. Superabundant provision is made for the wants of the stomachs of these guests, but none at all for the more important organ—the lungs. The headaches and lack of appetite next morning are attributed to the supper instead of the repeatedly breathed air, for each guest gives off almost 20 cubic feet of used-up air per hour. No one would ask their guests to wash with water others had used; how many offer them air which has been made foul by previous use? Everyone knows that in our lungs oxygen is removed from the air inhaled, and its place taken by carbonic acid gas. Besides this deoxydizing, the air becomes loaded with organic matter which is easily detected by the olfactory organs of those who have just come in, and so are in a position to promptly compare the air inside with what they have been breathing. The exhilaration produced by deep breathing of pure air is well known. What, therefore, prevents everyone enjoying it at all times? Simply the fear of "cold"—an unfortunate name for that low form of fever properly called catarrh, and a name which is largely responsible for this mistaken idea. "Colds" are now known to be infectious, being often caught in close ill-ventilated places of public assembly. Most people suppose that it is the change from the heat to the cold outside that gives them "cold," whereas the "cold" has been contracted inside. There is no lack of evidence that wide open windows day and night, summer and winter, so strengthen and invigorate that colds are rarely taken, and when taken, generally in a mild form. This also applies to influenza. If delicate consumptives can stand, without any gradual breaking-in to it, unlimited fresh air, and can lie by day and night in open sheds, no one need dread at once to adopt the open-window system. Although few will believe it, until they try it, a wide open window does not produce a draught as does one slightly opened, and it is safer and pleasanter to go in for abundant fresh air than to try what might be called a moderate course. Many think that with an open window the heat of the fire is practically wasted. They do not know that the radiant heat of the fire will warm the person it falls on even though the temperature of the room is very low. The Canadian hunter before his fire is comfortably warm, though the air around him may be a long way below zero. Extra clothing may be worn if any chilliness is felt. While the body is warm cold air has an invigorating effect on the lungs. Indeed, the body soon gets accustomed to the colder air, and those who practise keeping open windows winter and summer find that they do not require heavier clothing than those who sit with windows shut. A slight or even considerable feeling of coldness, when due to cold air and not to ill-health, will not harm.
This is no new idea. Dr. Henry McCormac, of Belfast, father of the eminent surgeon, Sir William McCormac, wrote forty years ago:—"The mainly unreasoning dread of night air, so termed, is a great impediment to free ventilation by night. And yet day and night air is the same virtually, does not differ appreciably. The air by night, whether damp or dry, is equally pure, equally salubrious with the air by day, and calls not less solicitously for ceaseless admission into our dwellings. Air, ere it reaches the lungs, is always damp. Quite dry air is irrespirable. It needs no peculiar or unusual habitude in order to respire what is termed night air. Exposure to contact with the day air equally prepares us for exposure to the contact with the night air. We can multiply our coverings by night with even greater ease than we can by day, and with the most perfect certainty of producing and obtaining warmth. Good heavens! How is it that people are so wildly mistaken as if the great wise Deity, as he does by every exquisite and perfect adaption, did not intend that we should make use of the purest, sweetest air day and night always? The prospective results of breathing purest air by night are so infinitely desirable, the immediate enjoyment is so great that it only needs a trial to be approved of and adopted for ever.... Reasonable precautions—that is to say, adequate night coverings—being resorted to, no colour of risk to the lungs, even of the most delicate, can possibly ensue. For, it is stagnant air, air pre-breathed only, and not pure unprerespired air that makes lungs delicate. Although air, warmth, food, and cleanliness be cardinal conditions and essential to life, still the most important of all health factors is air—air pure and undefiled alike by day and by night.... The constant uneasy dread of taking cold, which haunts the minds of patients and their friends, is doubtless the one great reason why fresh air is thrust aside. And yet cold will not be caught, were it in Nova Zembla itself, by night, if only the sleeper's body be adequately covered.... The pulses or puffs of air that comes in ceaselessly, winter and summer, through open windows by night inspire just as if one slept in the open air, a sort of ecstasy. Gush follows gush, full of delightfulness, replacing the used-up air and purifying the blood. It has oftimes been said to me, 'I open the windows the moment I get out of bed;' to this I have uniformly replied, 'the moment to open the window is before you get into bed, not when you get out of it.' You cannot otherwise with entire certainty secure the benefit of an ever ceaselessly renewed night air so all essential to the blood's renewal and the maintenance of health.... With abundant night coverings there is no shadow of risk. There is none of rheumatism, none of bronchitis, in short no risk whatever. The only, the real risk, which we incur, is that of closing our sleeping chamber windows, of debarring ourselves of pure air during our repose."
Appetite.—Should be an indication that food in general or some certain kind of food is needed by the body. Thus the appetite is the natural test of the amount and kind of food required. Over-eating and indulgence in stimulating foods and drinks, insufficient mastication and bolting of the food (see Over-eating, etc.) give us a false appetite, thus causing over-eating once more. A return to a simple and moderate diet will restore the natural appetite.
Air Bath.—This may with advantage to the health of the skin and body in general, be indulged in every morning during some of the toilet operations, such as shaving, or preferably, dumbell exercise or Swedish gymnastics. If exercises are done in a nude condition the utmost freedom for the muscles is obtained. In a short time a notable change will be observed in the skin, which will lose its pasty appearance, and become soft flesh and of a healthy colour. If possible have the bedroom with windows facing the morning sun, so that the sunlight can also shine in. There are many sanitaria on the Continent and in America where this form of "bathing" is practised. Indeed, one of the great benefits of sea-bathing (overlooked in this country) is the exposure of the skin to air and light. Consequently if the weather and social custom permits, as much time as possible should be spent after immersion, lounging on the sand. A child's natural instinct leads it to play about after its bath in the sea instead of coming at once to be dressed.
A young infant will enjoy lying on a rug on the floor without any clothing and with the window open. Older children will benefit by running about the garden in summer time in bare feet, and with only one garment, say a cotton frock.
It is a great mistake to clothe children too warmly, indeed, the same may be said of adults. Garments should always be loose and porous, so as to allow of the beneficial action of the air on the skin. One of the objections to corsets is that they do not fulfil these conditions (see Tight Lacing, Skin, Care of.)
Air-tight Covering.—The covering of oiled silk, or guttapercha, so frequently placed over wet bandages when these are applied to any part of the body, is not only useless, but often positively hurtful. It is true that the waterproof covering retains the moisture in the bandage, but it is also true that great heat is developed, and the waste products in the perspiration are retained on the surface of the skin. The effect of this is injurious in a very high degree. A little soft old linen for the wet bandage, with a piece of double new flannel over it, will leave all the pores of the skin open, and allow all waste products to pass away freely, while the heat and moisture are retained as much as necessary.
In other cases two folds of moist flannel next to skin, and two folds of the same, dry, above the moist ones, will make an excellent bandage. This applied all over the abdomen, in case of abdominal dropsy, will have a most beneficial result.
The reason why we often say new flannel is simply that few know how to wash it so as to retain its soft and porous nature as it is when good and new. That softness and porousness may be retained in a very easy way. When you have put your soiled flannel through two good washings with soap in the usual way, dip it in clean boiling water, and finish cleaning it with that dipping. You will have it white and fine as when new.
M'Clinton's soap, being made from plant ashes and not from soda, is much less liable to shrink and harden flannel; in fact, it is best for all fine washing.
Alcohol.—This, in various forms, as brandy, whiskey, rum, wine, cordials, beer and stout, is a frequent prescription in many troubles. In no cases have we known good effects from its use, which is most strongly to be condemned. Various reasons for this statement will be found under the heading of troubles for which alcohol is prescribed. Here we simply give the fundamental truths as to its action on the system.
In our system of treatment we ever seek to nurse and stimulate those nerve-masses which constitute the sources of vital action. Every drop of alcohol does so much to weaken and destroy these. A certain quantity, if taken by the strongest man, will kill that man as surely as a bullet in the brain. Half the quantity will only render him insensible. Half that, again, only renders him incapable of controlling his bodily movements. Half that, again, only slightly disturbs the system; but it affects him in the very same manner in which the fatal dose affects him, though not in the same degree. It is a narcotic, and like all such, it always reduces vital action, while nothing is more important in all healing than to increase it. Hence alcohol is the deadly foe of healing, and one chief preparer of the system to fall before disease. The so-called stimulating action of alcohol has been thoroughly explained by the author of these papers in other writings, and shewn to be simply an indirect and temporary effect, obtained at the price of a considerable reduction of the general vitality of the nervous system.
Young ladies, as a class, are subject to a terrible danger. Great numbers of mothers actually make their daughters drunkards by ever and again dosing them with brandy. This is done in secret, and imagined to be a most excellent thing. For instance, if the bowels get lax, as is the case in certain stages of disease, brandy is given as a remedy. How little do those who give it know that it is lessening vital energy and making cure impossible! But it is doing nothing else. We have many times over seen the dying sufferer restless and ill with nothing but the effects of constant small doses of brandy, or alcohol in some other form.
In looseness of the bowels we give a teaspoonful of lemon juice in a little hot water and sugar. That has as much effect as is desirable, and it has no bad effect whatever. Or enema injections may be employed. (See Diarrhoea, Dysentery, Enema). Even infants are treated with "brandy," till we cannot help believing they die of the drink, and would survive if it were put away. Gradually the cruel folly of all this will, we doubt not, dawn upon the general mind.
Amputations.—These are often performed in cases in which proper treatment on the lines of these papers, would save both life and limb. By all means, before consenting to such an irrevocable act as amputating a limb, let the treatment with fomentations, hot water, and acetic acid be well and thoroughly tried. Many limbs which were medically condemned have been thus saved within our personal knowledge. In some cases the disease may be obstinate; but at least let a fair trial be given to our treatment before giving up a limb. The treatment will be found under the headings of the various troubles and parts affected (see Armpit Swelling; Bone, Diseased; Knee-swelling; Pains, etc.)
Angina Pectoris.—In a variety of cases, more or less severe spasmodic pains are felt in the chest. Angina Pectoris (literally, agony of the chest) is one of the worst of these. All these pains, as a rule, may be removed completely by treatment such as the following:—
Prepare a bed (long enough for the patient to lie at full length upon his back), with a large thick sheet folded on the lower part of it. Spread over this sheet a blanket wrung out of hot water, so as to be both moist (but not wet) and warm (see Fomentation). See that the blanket is not so hot as to burn the patient and add to his pain. It must be tested with the back of the hand, and be just as warm as this can well bear. On this let the patient lie down, and wrap him up tightly in it from the feet up to above the haunches. Have two or three towels folded so as to be about six inches broad, and the length of that part of the patient's spine above the hot blanket. Wring these out of cold water. Place one over the spine, so as to lie close along it; on this, place a dry towel to keep the damp from the bed, and let the patient lie down on his back, so as to bring the cold towel in close contact with the spine. When this towel becomes warm, another cold one must be put in its place. After about half an hour's pack and eight changes of the cold towel, the pain in the chest should be subdued for the time. If the cold towel does not heat in five minutes, the patient's vitality is low, and a hot cloth should be placed along the spine, and renewed several times, and then another cold one; but as a rule this will not be required. When taken out of the pack, let the skin be washed with SOAP (see) and warm water; then a slight sponge of nearly cold water, and a gentle rubbing with olive or almond oil. Rub the back first, and gently "shampoo" all the muscles; that is, knead and move the muscles under the skin so as to make them rub over one another.
If the pain in the chest be of an inflammatory nature, the cold towels must be applied over the place where it is felt, instead of on the spine (see Inflammation.)
Ankle Swelling.—When long continued in connection with disease or accident, this sometimes leads to a partial withering of the limb up to its very root. In such a case it is best to deal first with the roots of those nerves which supply the limb, which are, in the case of the legs, in the lower part of the back. It is important to apply light pressure to these roots by gently squeezing the muscles of the lower back. This raises a feeling of gentle heat, which slowly passes down the limbs even to the toes. Then the gentle pressure and squeezing must be carried all down the limb, avoiding any degree of pain, until all its muscles have had their share. While progressing down the limb with his rubbing, let the rubber be careful that the individual strokes of his hands be upwards, towards the hip. The blood will thus be propelled towards the heart, while the stimulus of rubbing is conveyed along the nerve trunks towards the foot. The squeezing should be done with a grasping movement of the hands, the limb being held encircled in both hands, thumbs upwards. Warm olive oil is used in this squeezing, and also, if the skin be hard and dry, soap lather (see Lather).
Even slight displacements of bones will disappear under such treatment, if patiently continued day after day, as the patient can bear it without fatigue. In such gentle remedies, perseverance plays a large part. (See Abscess; Diet; Exercise).
Ankle, Twisted or Crushed.—Place the foot as soon as possible in warm water, as hot as can comfortably be borne; keep it there until free from pain, or for an hour, or even more if necessary. If the flesh be torn, dress with cloths wrung out of vinegar or weak acetic acid before placing in the water.
When the bath has done its work, and the limb comes out of the water alarmingly swollen, good and skilful bandaging will do excellent work. If you have at hand an old shirt, or some such thing, tear it into strips about three inches wide, till you have as much material as will swathe the whole limb from behind the toes up to the top of the thigh. This need not be all in one piece, but only so that you may apply it in such a way as to bring a very gentle pressure on the whole surface of the injured limb. It is important that the bandaging should be comfortable. The way in which bandaging is sometimes done is cruel in the extreme. Cases that are a disgrace to humanity are constantly coming under our notice, in which limbs are lost for life by the treatment they receive in this respect. Skilful surgeons do it in the most gentle manner; they even swathe the limbs in soft loose cotton before they apply the bandages, so that a perfectly equal and comforting pressure may be secured. Lay the limb to rest, well and softly supported in a horizontal position. When the swelling falls, gently tighten the bandage from time to time as required. Each time the bandages are removed for this purpose, sponge the limb with warm vinegar or weak ACETIC ACID (see). When the swelling subsides, the ankle may be put again in the hot bath for half-an-hour, and then, if any bones be broken, is the time for setting them right. The ankle will probably turn black. If so, do not apply leeches, but allow the black blood to be absorbed by natural process.
A twisted or bruised wrist or hand is to be treated in the same way. The swelling may also be removed by gentle rubbing upwards along the limb, so as to help the blood in its course.
Armpit Swelling.—Often this comes as the result of a chill, or of enfeeblement of the system from various causes. In the early stage, such a swelling should not be treated so as to develop a sore. Treatment with iodine is to be avoided.
The first thing, in this early stage, is to increase vital action in the part, and also in the whole system (see Abscess). Moist heat is to be applied. Make a BRAN POULTICE (see), which should come right round from over the spine, over the swelling, and over the whole shoulder. Let this be kept hot for an hour at least. If it can be thus applied twice a day without too much fatigue, do so. If the swelling softens and becomes less under this treatment, a few cold cloths may be applied to brace the part and aid its vitality. Do not, on any account, make the patient shiver. If the swelling increases and becomes discoloured, keep to the hot treatment until it bursts and discharges. For treatment then, see Abscess; Wounds.
During all this treatment the whole back should be gently rubbed daily with warm olive oil for half an hour, if as much can be borne.
Assimilation.—Is the process whereby the digested food is carried into the blood stream, and thus conveyed to the different parts of the body where the hungry cells are in need of it.
Fine threads of blood vessels (capillaries) take it up from the stomach and intestines. Also along the intestines there are little projections (villi), through which the food passes into a blood stream leading to the liver, where the blood is then purified. These projections also contain lacteals or little vessels containing blood without its red corpuscles. A duct carries this colourless blood mixed with absorbed food to the left side of the neck, where it empties into the blood stream. These lacteals have a special affinity for the fat of the food. Most of the rest of the food, including the proteid and the carbohydrate or starchy portion now in the form of sugar, passes into the capillaries, and then is led to the liver.
The liver will not let through more sugar than is required, storing it up for future use. It also acts as a careful guardian, by arresting many poisons which would otherwise pass into the general circulation. The liver requires for the proper performance of its functions plenty of pure blood, hence the necessity for fresh air and exercise, that the lungs may work well. The liver is easily influenced by alcoholic beverages, and by getting too hard work to do through eating rich foods. A consideration of this delicate and intricate process, whereby the digested food is absorbed, will show that badly-digested food can not hope to be well assimilated, consequently attention should be paid to the quantity and quality of the food we eat (see Digestion; Diet).
Whatever thus makes living substance is nourishment; whatever fails to do so is not. If food be taken, and even digested, without being thus assimilated, it becomes an injury to a patient instead of a help. In cases of fever, inflammatory disease, or wasting sores, much rich food feeds the fire. It is like laying rafters on the roof of a burning house for purposes of repair. In such a case small quantities of milk, or milk and hot water (see Digestion), represent the total food which can be effectively used in the body. We write on this subject that in treatment our friends may watch not to injure by making the blood too rich in elements which the system cannot usefully assimilate. Such foods as oatmeal jelly and wheaten porridge will often furnish more real nourishment than pounds of bread, beef, and potatoes. A little careful thought will guide to correct treatment in this matter. An easily assimilated diet is found in Saltcoats biscuits and hot water; many inveterate stomach troubles have yielded to this, when taken as sole diet for some weeks (see Biscuits and Water).
Treatment may also be given for lack of assimilative power. The back, especially on either side of the spine, is rubbed with gentle pressure and hot olive oil. This pressure is so applied that a genial heat arises along the whole spinal column. This done twice a day, for half-an-hour at a time, and continued for several weeks, will markedly restore assimilative power. Cases which have been perfectly helpless for eight and even ten years are cured by this simple method, sufficiently and carefully followed.
We had a patient who was stout, but weak and weary, with the muscles slack and showing loss of power. The effect of back-rubbing, accompanied by easily assimilated food in small quantities and often, was to lessen his weight by a considerable amount. But the muscular power at once began to increase, and the man was soon like one made anew. Digestion had not been impaired in this case, but the blood formed by it was not converted into good living substance. Sight and hearing have even been restored by these means when the failure in eye or ear has been due to waste material accumulating, as frequently is the case.
In connection with many troubles, what may be called local assimilation has to be considered. A foot, say, with a bad abscess or diseased bone (see Pain, Severe) is cured by hot bathing and pressure. From a shrunken and feeble limb, the leg grows to a healthy and strong one. This occurs because the heat and pressure have so stimulated its vitality that the material supplied by the blood can be utilised in the leg for purposes of healthy growth. So with any other part of the body. Such diet as we have indicated supplies easily assimilated substance. The local heating, pressure, and bathing enable this substance to be utilised where it is needed. A little careful thought on this line will guide to proper treatment of almost any case where assimilation has failed, either locally or generally, and will lead the way to a method of cure.
Asthma exists in various forms, having equally various causes. One of these causes, giving rise to a comparatively simple form of the disease, is cramp of the ring-muscle of the windpipe, so contracting the windpipe that breathing is rendered difficult. A "wheeze" is heard in breathing, though there is no bronchitis or lung trouble present. The cause of this cramp is an irritation of the ring-muscle's nerve. It can be relieved by pressing cold cloths gently along the spine, from the back of the head to between the shoulders, taking care that the patient remains generally warm during the treatment, and attending to the feet and skin as directed below in this article. Sometimes the cause seems to lie in the air of the place where the sufferer resides. A change either to high ground or the seaside will often entirely remove asthma, especially in the young. In any such case a trial should be made of several places, if that be at all possible, and that place fixed upon where the asthma is least felt. At SEAMILL SANATORIUM (see) many asthmatic persons have found complete freedom from their trouble from the day of their arrival, and the treatment given has made this cure permanent.
Another cause of asthma is lack of power in the breathing muscles. In such a case the patient clings to a particular attitude, in which alone he can breathe. This is in most cases due to a lack of vitality in the root nerve which supply the breathing muscles.
An attack of this may often be relieved by rubbing, with the points of the fingers chiefly, gently yet firmly up and down each side of the spine, close to the bone. Even rubbing above the clothing will frequently relieve. The roots of the nerves supplying power to the breathing muscles lie just on each side of the spine, and this kind of rubbing stimulates these roots. It is not rubbing of the skin or backbone which is wanted, but such gentle treatment of the nerve roots on either side of the bone as makes them glow with genial warmth. This rubbing is of course better done on the surface of the skin. See that the patient is warm, then dip the fingers in cold water, and rub as directed. When the water makes the patient feel chilly or he tires of it, use fresh olive oil, warmed if necessary. Avoid all alcoholic drinks, which simply rob the nerves of the very power needed for cure. Temporary relief may be given by such drinks, but it is at the expense of lowered life and reduced chances of recovery.
A tablespoonful of hot water every five minutes is the best curative drink. It may be given for several hours if required. To give this rubbing treatment and drinking hot water fair play, however, attention must be paid most carefully to the feet and skin of the patient. The feet frequently are cold, and in bad cases swell, the skin at and above the swelling being pale and soft. In minor cases this state of the feet may be treated by rubbing with hot olive oil. In serious cases rubbing is to be alternated with bathing the feet in hot water, until the feet and limbs glow with heat. This may be done two or three times a day, for half an hour, or even an hour. It increases very greatly the vital power for breathing.
Again, the skin in bad cases of asthma becomes dry, hard, and a light brown substance forms on its surface. If the skin thus fails, severe work is thrown on the already overloaded lungs, and the breathing is much worse. Give the patient a night's pack in the SOAPY BLANKET (see). If there is not strength to stand the entire treatment, keep in the blanket pack for a shorter time—one, two, or three hours. Not more than two nights of this treatment should be needed at a time. The soapy blanket greatly stimulates the skin, and opens all the closed pores, immensely relieving the lungs. If feet, skin, and back be treated as we have advised, even a very obstinate case of asthma should be cured. See Appendix; Bathing the Feet; Rubbing; Soap; Soapy Blanket.
Back Failures.—Often a severe pain in the toe, foot, ankle, or lower leg has its cause, not in anything wrong with the part which is painful, but in some failure of nerve in the patient's back. Blistering or other treatment of the painful part will often injure, and cannot do much, in any case, to cure. Pains even in the knee and groin sometimes have the same cause—in back failure. In other cases the symptoms are, weariness, stiffness, inability to stoop, or stand long without support, and pains in the stomach and thighs.
A little thought will enable any one to distinguish between pains due to back failure and those due to local causes. If there is no appearance of anything wrong at the part pained, then the evil is probably in the back. It is even a good rule to consider the pain at first as due to back failure rather than local causes, for by treatment of the back the local trouble, when that is present, is much helped and relieved.
In the case of pains in the arms or hands, the upper part of the back is indicated; in leg and foot troubles, the lower part. Neuralgic pains are almost always of this class.
In any case of this kind, heat may be applied to the spine, and rubbing with hot oil given to it, at its upper or lower part as required. If the heat and rubbing increase the pain, then cold applications may be used. Sometimes heat and cold may be needed alternately; but common sense must guide, and all irritation or chilling of the patient must be carefully avoided.
The best manner of applying cold to the spine is described in article on Angina Pectoris. Towels are folded as there directed. The moist one (well wrung out) is placed next the spine, either over the part desired or the whole spine. The dry one is placed over this, and the patient lies down on his back on the top of them; or, if he cannot lie, as sometimes happens, the towels are gently pressed with the hand against the spine until sufficient cooling has resulted. The patient should never be made to shiver. If he feels chilly, hot fomentations to the feet and legs, as described in article on Angina Pectoris, may be applied.
Balance, Loss of.—Cases where loss of balance in walking and standing are due to St. Vitus' Dance will be treated under that head. Other cases, where loss of power in the motor nerves causes this unsteadiness, are treated of here. As these cases differ totally from St. Vitus' Dance in cause and treatment, it is well carefully to distinguish between them. In St. Vitus' Dance, then, notice that the patient cannot lie still. In case of simple loss of power, he staggers or falls only when moving, or trying to move. Probably also in the last case there are cold feet and clammy skin. For this, bathe the feet at bedtime in hot water, dry, and rub them with hot oil. Then apply to the back on going to bed a warm cloth, covered with soap lather (see Lather), with dry towel above it. Do this each night for a week. When taking off the cloth, sponge the back with warm vinegar or weak acid (see Acetic Acid), and rub with warm olive oil.
After a week of this treatment, apply each night for two or three days, a large BRAN POULTICE (see) across the loins for an hour at bedtime, with olive oil before and after. Above all, conscientiously let the patient rest. A good deal of lying in bed and on a sofa must be taken, and good nourishment given (see Assimilation, etc.). Some weeks of alternate treatment like this should effect a great improvement, if not a radical cure.
Balance of Action—See Action, Balance of.
Band, Flannel.—A piece of fine new flannel made to cover the whole back, and sewed under the usual underclothing, has a truly wonderful effect when worn in certain cases of illness. The same effect is not produced by doubling the flannels that are worn. What we have specially to call attention to is the fact that the piece is extra to all that which covers the rest of the body. The heat of the back, which is so very important from the nerve structure of the spinal system, is made to gather under a single ply of flannel, but much more quickly under two folds of the same material. When, therefore, there is anything like natural heat in the back, this piece of new flannel makes it gather quickly, and keeps it stimulating the parts to which it is confined. Then, if the front of the body is more thinly clad, it is very much the same as when a hot bag or a bran poultice is applied to the back, and a cold cloth in front. The effect is not so immediate, but in the course of time it gets to be even greater. We have never been able to see much come of "magnetic" or "electric" belts other than would result from wearing the woollen material they are covered with; but we have seen constantly all the good effects ascribed to the most costly appliances produced by a bit of new flannel. If there can be a good rubbing given with olive oil, and then the extra flannel put on, the effect is delightful. Again, when the skin has been cleansed effectually with the mixture for NIGHT SWEATS (see), put the flannel on. It causes a gathering of heat, which stimulates the spinal nerves, and produces good effects all over the body and limbs.
A broad band of extra new flannel round the lower half of the body is somewhat equivalent to fomentation got in the armchair, or in the hot pack of the lower body. Those who are exposed, as coachmen are, and subject to lumbago and other troubles, will find a flannel band work wonders. This flannel band on the lower back is valuable in cases of rheumatism, sciatica, and various kidney troubles. On the upper back it is good for bronchitis and some forms of asthma.
It may be used in connection with the other forms of treatment given for these in separate articles. When linen underwear is worn, this band should be worn under that, next the skin.
Bandage, Four-ply Flannel.—The four-ply flannel bandage is simply what its name implies—a bandage of the shape and size to cover the parts treated, and at least four-ply thick. It is wrung out of cold water, and covered with a thick dry bandage while applied.
Bandaging.—See Veins, Swollen, etc.
Barley.—If this grain is well grown and thoroughly well cooked, it will be found to be one of the best foods for restoring an exhausted digestive system.
Take two or three handfuls of "pot" barley; boil this in water for two hours at least, thoroughly to burst the grain; then water and grain together are turned into a suitable dish, and placed, covered over, in the oven, where it may simmer for another two hours. When turned out, it may be salted to taste. After the four hours' cooking, the grain and water are a kind of barley pudding. A dessertspoonful of this every half-hour, from eight in the morning till eight at night, will help wonderfully a weak stomach, if taken as the only diet. This is what is meant when "barley pudding" is prescribed in these articles.
Bathing.—Cold baths, while greatly to be recommended to those who are strong, should not be taken by any one who does not feel invigorated by them. As every one should, if possible, bathe daily, the following method is worth knowing, as it combines all the advantages of hot and cold bathing. The principle is the same as explained in Cooling in Heating. Sponge all over with hot water and wash with M'Clinton's soap; then sponge all over with cold water. No chilliness will then be felt. Very weak persons may use tepid instead of cold water. These baths taken every morning will greatly tend to prevent the person catching cold.
Cold bathing in water which is hard is a mistake, especially in bathing of infants. The skin under its influence becomes hard and dry. Warm bathing and M'Clinton's soap will remedy this.
Bathing the Feet.—This apparently simple treatment, if the best results are desired, must be gone about most carefully. A foot-bath for ten or twenty minutes, though a considerable help in many cases, is not at all sufficient. It must be given, in most cases, for forty minutes to give sensible relief. Some patients faint long before this time if the feet are placed in very hot water from the beginning. To avoid this faintness, proceed as follows: Get a vessel that will hold the feet easily, and be deep enough to reach nearly up to the knees. Put water in this one inch deep, and at blood heat—that is, just to feel warm to an ordinary hand. Set the feet to be bathed in this, and have plenty of hot water at hand. Let the patient be comfortably covered and seated, and wait two minutes or so. Add then a little hotter water, and every two minutes add a little more water, hotter every time, gradually increasing the quantity and temperature of the water. In half an hour a good strong heat and large deep bath will be reached, and in only a very few cases will there be any faintness. If the heat is raised too fast, give a little cold water to drink, and proceed more slowly. This is in cases where simple stimulus to vital action is required.
If the bathing be for sores, or disease of joints, the sores should be dressed first with cold cream or vaseline, or covered with a cloth dipped in olive oil. If the skin becomes irritated from prolonged bathing, cover before bathing with a cloth dipped in weak vinegar or very weak ACETIC ACID (see). If the patient is too weak for bathing, a fomentation may be applied as described in article on Angina Pectoris, only extending, however, over the knees. Such fomentation may also be used whenever cold cloths applied to a diseased or inflamed part tend to cause a chill. It will quite prevent this.
Baths for Head.—In many cases of indigestion and brain exhaustion head-baths are of great value. School teachers, business men, and many others suffering from these, will find a daily head-bath half an hour before dinner of the greatest value. This treatment should be given, however, only to those who are vigorous enough to bear it. Some are too exhausted, and for these other methods must be employed. The head-bath is given by rubbing the whole head well with soap lather (see Lather; Soap); then wash off and treat with cold water poured over the head for a short time—a few seconds only; then rub vigorously with a dry, warm towel till the head glows with friction. In the case of ladies, the hair may be thrown over the front of the head while the back of the head is treated thus, and then thrown back while the front of the head is treated also, the bulk of the hair being thus kept dry.
Bedsores.—There are cases in which the outer skin has been taken off by long lying, or wearing wet compresses for a long time. A large part of the body is reduced, as some would say, to "red flesh"—in reality it is reduced to inner skin deprived of its outer layer. We have taken a few handfuls of finely wrought soap lather (see Lather; Soap), and spread them as lightly as possible over this fiery surface. There was an instant change from severe distress to perfect comfort, and healing began at once. This treatment may be applied to any simple abrasions of the skin. Bedsores are not likely to occur if the skin is sponged daily with water and this mild soap, and rubbed with Rectified Spirit of Wine, to which a small piece of camphor has been added.
Beef Tea.—It is well to bear in mind that there is scarcely any nourishment even in home-made beef juice (the best form of any extract of meat).
Home-made beef juice is prepared by scraping the meat into shreds, placing in a jar, and leaving the water to soak into the meat for about half-an-hour. Then place in a saucepan on the fire for an hour, during which time it must not boil. After being then brought to the boil, it should be removed immediately, and the lump of meat removed.
Some idea may be obtained of the relatively small amount of nourishment even in this form of extract when it is remembered that the thin flaky matter which sinks to the bottom in the bowl is practically the only nutritive portion in the dish.
All extracts and such-like preparations are inferior to home-made beef tea in value. We do not deny, then, the value of beef extracts as stimulants in certain diseased conditions, but we do not recognise them as a useful food. Further, the stimulating effect upon the heart is largely due to the hot water they are made with (see Bone Diseased).
Bile, Black.—For this take two tablespoonfuls of hot water every five minutes for six hours per day. A good many cases, some even given up by the doctors, have been cured by this simple, yet efficient means.
Bile on the Stomach.—Take half a teacupful of hot water every ten minutes for ten hours. Next day take the same every twenty minutes for a like period. The third day the same every hour. For ten days after take the same before each meal. We have seen a case of liver complaint of more than twenty years' standing cured thus. See also that the feet and legs are rendered healthful, and kept so. If cold and clammy, they should be bathed in hot water for five minutes or so, dried, and rubbed with warm olive oil.
Care must be taken also to give a simple diet. Oatmeal jelly, wheaten meal porridge, barley pudding (see Barley), and such foods, should form the staple nourishment. Avoid eggs, butter, cream, and beef. See also Sea-Sickness.
Biscuits and Water.—The biscuits referred to are manufactured in Saltcoats.[A] They are made from the purest whole wheaten flour. The late Mr. Bryden, of the Saltcoats Home, used them along with hot water as sole diet in many serious digestive troubles, with marvellous success. Where no food will lie on the stomach, one small, or half a large, biscuit is to be taken three times a day, as a meal, and at meal-times. This will prove amply sufficient to maintain the system in such a case, until the stomach gains power for more. In the case of SORES and ABSCESSES (see), such a diet of biscuits and water provides pure blood, and makes healing by other treatment very much easier. We have known limbs saved from amputation largely by such diet. It will suit equally well the delicate young lady and the strong labourer. Too much of ordinary food goes to increase ulceration and nourish disease. The Saltcoats biscuit provides nothing for these ends, and is of immense value as an aid to cure. One great advantage of this diet is that it is a dry one, and the biscuits must be thoroughly chewed to enable them to be swallowed at all. The saliva is thereby thoroughly mixed with the food, which is all-important to make it digestible. These biscuits are also so plain as not to tempt the patient to eat more than he can digest, which is the great danger in sickness. The slops of gruel and cornflour so often given are never chewed at all, and often do nothing but harm. Such starchy foods really require to be more thoroughly mixed with saliva than any other food, as unless, by action of the saliva, the starch is converted into sugar it cannot be assimilated in the stomach.
[Footnote A: By Mr. R. Black, baker.]
Bleeding.—In any case of this pack the feet and legs as directed in Lungs, Bleeding from, and press cold cloths to the place the blood comes from, stomach, womb (see Miscarriage), or lungs. If it comes from the nose, apply the cold cloths to the head and back of the neck.
Blisters.—The destruction of the skin over any painful part, by means of blisters, is to be always avoided if possible (see Burns, Knee, Pleurisy, etc.)
Blood.—A most common trouble is anaemia, a lack of good red blood, showing itself in a waxy paleness and whiteness of lips, often accompanied by exhaustion and great fatigue. To remedy this, first secure a supply of pure water, of which 80 per cent. of the blood is made up. Give this warm in dessertspoonfuls every five minutes. Give two tablespoonfuls, or perhaps only one, of very light food, or milk and boiling water half and half, every half-hour. This may be done in smaller portions every fifteen minutes, or in larger quantities every hour or two hours, according to the state of the digestion. Fruit is a valuable means of quenching the anaemia thirst, besides being very beneficial for the blood. Green vegetables and salads are also most valuable (see Vegetables; Assimilation; Diet; Digestion). As much fresh air as possible is also to be breathed by the patient. Either much time must be spent in the open air, or, if strength forbid this, the room must be thoroughly ventilated. Close air is the enemy of good blood. We know of many cases cured by this simple regimen. Care must also be taken to increase the patient's vitality by various means. If thoroughly good medical advice can be obtained, it should be taken (see Air and Appetite; Balance, Loss of, etc.)
Blood Poisoning.—(See Blood, Purifying; Sores).
Blood, Purifying.—Fever arising from bad state of the blood may be treated by careful cooling of the spine and head, with towels well wrung out of cold water, frequently changed (see Fever). The pulse in one case so treated was reduced from 130 to 96 by a few applications. If a sore exists, treat it as in article Sores. If an eruption in the skin breaks out, cover the surface at night with soap lather (see Lather; Soap). Wipe that off with weak acetic acid (see) in the morning, and the skin will come right. Let the diet be simple and cooling (see Abscess; Assimilation; Skin; Sores; Appendix, etc.).
Blood, Supply of.—To supply good blood in cases where it is lacking, either from indigestion or low vitality, nothing is better than milk, diluted with an equal quantity of boiling water. It may be less or more diluted, as the patient's power of digestion is greater or less, but in all cases half and half can be tried first. This forms a natural blood supply. Claret, switched egg and brandy, are to be carefully avoided. Boiling water amalgamates with the milk, and care therefore must be taken to see that it is really boiling. Give a teacupful of this every two hours. If the patient is very weak, this may be the only diet. But often he will be going about work or business, and yet needing fresh, good blood supply. Then the cupful may be taken every two hours, in addition to the usual meals. Experience will soon show how this may be done. But two hours after a meal, the milk and water may be given.
Boils.—The following treatment will be found effective to heal less severe forms of boils, by soothing the whole fevered system of nerves, and stimulating the skin in its getting rid of waste material.
Begin, then, by thoroughly soaping the head (see Head, Soaping). Go to the back next, and soap similarly. The same process may, if desired, be carried over the whole body to the very tips of the fingers and toes. In a delicate case, do this in portions so as not to run any risk of exposing the patient too much.
Lay on the boil, after the soaping, and while the patient is under its soothing influence, a large piece of thickly folded flannel, or a small sponge, squeezed out of water as hot as the patient can bear. Continue this, with frequent re-heating of the application for a quarter-of-an-hour, then allow the patient to rest.
When you have soaped a patient as we have described, say twice, it is necessary to wash off the particles that may remain on the skin with white vinegar or weak acetic acid. Then, if you have overcooled with the soap and acid, it will be well to rub over with warm oil. By these simple methods of treatment you will banish all tendency to boils. You will change great suffering into comparative comfort, not only without expenditure of strength, but in a way in which you add vigour to the whole frame. One very great advantage of this treatment is that you do not need to move the patient in any distressing way. If you have only tact and gentleness of touch, you can do all that we have described without causing one moment's distress. The severe form of boil known as Carbuncle is very dangerous, and in such cases good surgical aid is necessary, in addition to above treatment (see Diet).
Bone, Diseased.—Diseased bone is not incurable. Bone is indeed constantly being replaced as it disappears in the ordinary waste of the body. Defective vitality in any part may cause an accumulation of bad material, which forms the basis of bone disease.
To cut off a diseased foot or ankle is easy, and soon done. To cure it, may take a long time and much patience, but is worth a great deal. We know large numbers of limbs that are sound and good now, that were doomed once to be amputated, but which we were able to rescue in time.
Moreover, a very short time of well-regulated fomentation improves the general health, and prevents the diseased material spreading from the foot or ankle through the body.
Take, then, a case in which the ankle bone has first become painful, perhaps without any perceptible cause, or it may be as the result of an injury to the part. It then swells and becomes inflamed. At this stage two or three fomentations (see) well applied may very likely cure it entirely. But if neglected, or leeched, blistered, and the skin spoiled with iodine, what is called disease of the bone may set in, accompanied with discharge of matter at one or more places on the ankle. This discharge, where it is evidently lodging in the limb, may be assisted to escape by careful lancing by a good surgeon. For such a case, fomentation of as much of the limb as possible is the treatment. Let a bath be procured, in which the limb may be immersed in hot water as deeply as possible, even up to the very thigh. Let the water at first be comfortably warm. Increase its temperature gradually until as hot as can be borne without pain. Keep the limb in this bath for an hour, or for such shorter period as the patient may be able to bear it. Gently dry, and rub all over with warm olive oil. Wipe this gently off, and cover the limb with clothing. Then syringe any sores with weak acid (see Acetic Acid; Wounds), and dress with bandage (see Ankle, Twisted). Do this twice each day, and persevere.
If it cannot well be bathed, let it be fomented by a large piece of flannel soaked with boiling water, and placed round the diseased part. We have seen a wasting bone healed entirely in a few weeks by this means. We have seen a man with the bones of both his legs splintering off and coming through the skin perfectly healed in a few months. It stands to reason that it should be so. The bathing in his case, like the fomenting in others, were so effectually done that the bones themselves were heated, and strong healing action set in at once. We saw lately a piece of dead bone above four inches long come out of a young man's arm as the result of nothing else but fomentation. The arm was soon as whole and as useful as could be desired, though it had been to all appearance only fit to be taken off at the elbow. The steady supply of moist heat does wonders in this way.
We have seen some most remarkable specimens of what was erroneously thought sufficient fomentation. One was a case of diseased thigh-bone. A bit of old flannel, about a quarter of a yard square, had been wrung out of water slightly tepid and laid on the skin, covered by a little cloth scarcely equal in size. The application would not have conveyed activity to the skin on which it was laid, though it required to convey it to the heart of a large mass of bone. The helpless complaint of the operator was that it did no good. How in the world could it do good? Not less than six or seven or even eight yards of a blanket are required. That is to be folded and rolled up so that a good quantity of boiling water may be poured first into one end of it and then into the other. It has to be squeezed and kneaded till the heated water and steam are fairly soaking the inside of the blanket. When this is opened up, it is far too hot to put to the skin, but a double flannel or strong towel may be put on first, so that the heat shall go gradually through to the body, and by-and-by into the bone. This may be done at least once a day—if agreeable, it may be done twice. But it must be so well done that the heat shall effect the bone, or you cannot look for any result of importance.
If under the bathing the skin becomes irritated, as it will often do, cover it with cloths soaked in weak vinegar till the bathing is over. If the skin suffers from the fomentation, do the same thing, and if this does not cure, dress it, before putting on the fomentation flannels, with SOAP (see) lather as if for shaving, spread like butter on a cloth, and made to shelter the skin from irritation till the fomenting is done. This is of great importance in many cases; the skin is often so sensitive that it cannot well be bathed without being protected.
In the case of hip-joint disease, the ARMCHAIR FOMENTATION (see) is the best form of fomenting. For other parts, common sense will guide how to produce an extensive and thorough heating of the diseased part and its neighbourhood by some similar means (see Bathing the Feet; Pains, etc.). It is only heating the failed tissues, only keeping on such heating, and all the elements of perfect cure are supplied. Even limbs which have shrunk and become shorter, grow out to their natural size under this patient heating.
Get "steel drops" and all such-like sent down the sewer. The rats may have them if they are disposed. Give wheaten or oatmeal porridge, bread or Saltcoats biscuits, with good buttermilk, and the poor creature, half dead with poisonous "drops," begins ere long to have red on his lips and on his cheeks, some fresh vigour in his muscles, and healthy bone in the course of formation, where bone was only wasting before. How is this explained? On the simple principle that the bodily system can turn wheaten meal into all the elements wanted for good bodily health. Beef tea, soups, "fine things" of all descriptions, never on earth gave human beings solid strength, but in myriads of cases they have been successfully employed to take it away. Above all, they fail to give healthy bone.
Get the patient to take wheaten or oaten meal porridge twice a day at least. We are not so stern as some in forbidding all else, though in this we may fall short; but by all means let eating and drinking be considered in the light of what we have been writing (see Food in Health).
Good air is important in this, as in all cases of ill-health.
Much depends, in this treatment, on cheerfulness of mind. Let the patient feel that he is going to be cured. Avoid opium, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, and all worry. This will actually increase the vital exchange in the body and very much help the cure.
Bone, Soft.—Often, in the young, the bones are so soft that they bend more or less, and the beginning of a distressing deformity appears.
In such a case plaster jackets and steel bands are of little use, and often very painful. It is better to use bandages, applied so as to support where that is necessary. Also avoid all long sitting, such as is found at school. It is best sometimes not to permit the child to walk at all. Better far to lose two years of schooling than to be deformed for life. Parents should see to it, with all weakly children, that school does not become a means of trouble. Continuous education is not nearly so important as is sometimes supposed.
For positive treatment, let the parts be well and carefully rubbed (see Massage) every day with olive oil, in such a way as to direct a flow of blood to the feeble bone. It must largely be left to the healer's common sense how this is to be done, but a little thought will show how. At many Hydropathic Establishments it may be learned.
This careful rubbing, with good diet and proper bandaging, will gradually effect a cure in most cases. But here, as elsewhere, patience must rule. Plenty of good porridge and milk, with abundance of fresh air, work wonders in this disease.
Bowels, Glands of.—Symptoms of glandular trouble in the bowels are—weariness and pallor, lack of appetite, softness and shrinking of limbs, with swelling of the belly. In its earlier stages, before consumption sets in, this trouble may be perfectly cured. We have seen even apparently hopeless cases recover under proper treatment. In its essence the trouble is a failure of power in the nervous centres upon which health of the bowels depends. To supply this needed power, take a small bag of cotton cloth, like a little pillow-slip, of just the size to cover the patient's whole back. Fill this with bran, prepared as for poultice (see Bran Poultice). Oil the back before applying this, and place, if needed, four ply or so of cloth on the back to moderate the heat to the skin. After half-an-hour, if the patient feels desirous, renew for another hour; do this each day at bedtime for a week at least. Rub the body all over with warm olive oil when this is taken off; then place a bandage with only a gentle tightness in such a way as just to help the relaxed bowels, but only just so much—not by any means to try and force them into what might be thought proper dimensions. Give a teaspoonful of liquorice mixture (see Constipation) thrice a day before meals in a little hot water. Feed on wheaten porridge and generally light diet, being careful to regulate it so as to make the bowels work easily and naturally. If not too bad a case, this treatment will soon tell favourably. Enemas (see) of either cold or warm water, as required, will also greatly help.
Bowels, Inflammation of.—This (called medically Peritonitis) is an inflammation of the membrane covering the bowels. It results from chill or strain, and sometimes, in the case of child-birth, from dirt introduced into the parts by handling with unwashed hands. In such cases, the utmost care must be taken to ensure cleanliness, which will secure against one fertile cause of the disease. The hands should be always fresh and clean, and all cloths, etc., should be either most carefully washed or burnt. Where the trouble arises from strain, or chill, these lower the vitality, and the membrane becomes gorged with blood at fever heat. To regulate this heat, then, and free the membrane from the blood which over-fills it, is to lead to a cure. Rub the back with warm olive oil, place on it a large BRAN POULTICE (see), or an india-rubber bag of hot water covered with moist flannel; this must in either case be large enough to cover the entire lower back. Anything may be used, if these cannot be had, which will powerfully stimulate the back with moist heat. Wring a small thin towel out of cold water, and place it over the bowels. At first this must be very gently laid on. After a little, and when several times freshly applied, this cold cloth may be very gently pressed all over the bowels. Relief will almost certainly come ere this has been done for an hour. Then a rest may be given for two hours, and after that a large fomentation applied to feet and legs (see Fomentation). While this is on, the cold cloths may be changed over the bowels again, and over the chest as well. After an hour of this, great relief should be felt. If there is great thirst a small bit of ice may be sucked, or a few drops of vinegar in water may be taken; but the outside cooling will probably render this unnecessary. Avoid all alcoholic drinks.
Shivering and a feeling of cold is often the earliest symptom, and as it is of immense importance that warming measures should be promptly applied. Hot bricks, or bottles, placed merely to the soles of the feet, are but poor helps: it would be vastly better to pack the feet and legs in a hot blanket fomentation at once, and, if pain at all shows itself, to apply a large fomentation to the lower part of the back. The sooner this is done the better; besides, there is the consolation that the treatment can never do any harm even if applied in a case in which there has occurred a harmless chill. The dread which some medical men have of cold applications is wonderful, but we know that the front-rank men have no such fear. When care is taken to have the hot application on first, there is, and can be, no possible danger in any case in cooling down the burning circulation. One or two applications have sufficed in many cases we have seen.
Bowels, Lax.—A teaspoonful of lemon juice (freshly expressed), along with hot water and sugar, will often relieve where the bowels are acting excessively. For infants in diarrhoea a mixture of honey and lemon juice is an excellent cure, and has been most successful in our experience. Avoid brandy and alcohol generally.
Bowels, Locking of.—Sometimes when one part of the bowels is much more active than another, it passes into that other, and they become locked, like a stocking half turned inside out. This causes dreadful pain, and if not soon relieved is fatal. Purgatives are of no use, and usually make matters worse. A surgical operation in very skilful hands will relieve, and must be quickly performed when necessary.
In cases in which the one part of the bowels has not yet gone far into the other, nothing more is required than a cold cloth gently pressed over the parts. We have seen relief set in on the fifth or sixth change of such a cloth, when nothing else was used whatever. When a hot bag, or bran poultice, has been put on the back, and cold cloths persistently changed over the bowels, the whole matter has been put to rights, and natural motion of the bowels has been had within an hour after the applications have been begun.
There is, however, a stronger measure than merely heating the back and cooling the front in this way. The patient may be put at once into a sitting bath or small tub, and a panful of cold water poured or dashed on to the bowels; they then contract so powerfully, and shorten themselves so much, that all invagination, as it is called, is made to cease instantly. We should be disposed to try the mildest method in the first instance, unless the case is one in which the lock in the bowels had just taken place. Then it might be well to dash the pailful of water on so as to put all right at once, and afterwards simply to apply such remedies as would tend to prevent a recurrence of the evil.
It is, however, usually the case that the distress has lasted some time before an opportunity of doing anything occurs, inflammation, more or less, has set in, weeks may have passed, and blundering treatment may have done great mischief. Then it is safe to use the heat at the back, and frequently changed cold cloths in front, so as to reduce the inflammation, and contract the bowels more slowly, so as to remove the obstruction. When these have been used for some time, if the obstruction is not removed it will be well to resort to the stronger measures. Nothing is more beautifully simple than the ordinary action of the bowels. The healthful movement is like that by which an earth-worm moves along the ground: so long as the tube is thus moving its contents onward, by contraction and expansion, no part can pass inside or outside that which is before it; but when one part loses nervous tension, and expands without contracting quickly enough, the part behind it tends to worm itself into it, and a "knot," as it is sometimes called, is formed. No possible instrument can reach it except by cutting the body outright, but the action of cold is so powerful in contracting the tube that the "loop," as it is also called, is drawn out, and the right state of things is produced. It is important to remark that there are glands near the lower bowel that swell and form tumours. The cold applications reduce these very speedily to their usual size, and if their swelling is an obstruction, it is soon removed. But it is the lock in the tube itself that is the real malady of which so many die, and with which so many more narrowly escape.
The trouble is best avoided by attention to the regular action of the bowels. It arises from great irregularity in that action.
Bowels, Reversed.—See Bowels, Locking of, above.
Brain Exercise.—Proper exercise for the brain is most important. But this is not to be found in that kind of severe mental labour which is sometimes mistaken for it. Children at play have genuine brain exercise. So has a man at what is called a "hobby," such as photography, golf, or cycling. The child at school, the man in his office, are not at exercise, but at wearing work. This distinction is most important. Exercise, again, is not found in careless dreaming, but in some form of "play" which calls for steady, but almost unconscious, and altogether enjoyable thinking. Books sometimes furnish this, when they lift the mind as far as possible out of its usual track, and produce only pleasant thoughts. Tragedies, novels which end miserably, or which are pessimistic, should all be avoided. Perhaps some easy science or art is the best exercise of all, when the brain is suffering from overstrain. But taste will guide in this. The great matter is to have pleasurable, easy, and natural employment for the brain. This and not work is strengthening "exercise," whether in child or man. So far as we can we should see that the weary get it. For he who procures this for his fellow works immense good.
We have seen, for instance, a student attacked with dysentery while in the hardest part of the session at the university. His whole system became prostrate, and muscular activity to a very small degree would have killed him; so would the continued mental toil necessary to go on with his studies. Yet his brain was in need of exercise almost from the first appearance of his disease. He must have this or be miserable, and not likely soon to recover. An intensely interesting book fell into his hands, altogether away from his track of toil. He read day after day at this book. This was his "exercise"—that is, it was the activity of that one only part of his physical system which needed such exercise for the time. That exercise allowed all the other organs to recuperate.
Brain, Inflammation of.—This arises often from over-schooling of young boys and girls. Care should ever be taken to avoid this. Obstinate constipation in the bowels, chills and exposure, are also fruitful sources. Much worry and anxiety also bring on this serious illness. All sometimes combine to produce a bad case. Pain in the head sets in, followed by convulsive attacks; yet the trouble may be cured in many cases with comparative ease. Leeches, opium, and blistering are to be avoided as most injurious. For treatment it is well to begin at the feet; if these are clammy and cold, wrap in hot fomentation up over the knees (see Fomentation). Proceed to give a pretty warm injection of water into the lower bowel (see Enemas). This should be repeated several times, allowing it to pass off each time. If this increases the pain, try an injection of cold water. This treatment of feet and bowels is most important, and should never be neglected; it renders the treatment of the head tenfold more effective. Cold cloths may now be gently pressed for some time over the head. If the pulse is violent and feverish, let several towels be well wrung out of cold or even iced water, fold one so as to cover the entire head and back of the neck, and have the others ready, similarly folded. Press the first on gently, especially at the back of the head, so that the cooling cloth covers the head all over and soothes the violently heated brain. As soon as one towel grows warm, take a fresh cold one. Relief should come in an hour at least, but longer may be required. During the cooling see that the heat of the fomentation on the legs is well kept up; change if necessary. When the more painful symptoms abate, oil the lower part of the back, and place on it a bran poultice (as recommended in Bowels, Inflammation of). This will go far to prevent any relapse. If the symptoms recur, use the treatment again. See Brow, Weary; Eyes, Failing Sight. See also, for other brain troubles: Restlessness; Sleeplessness.
Brain Rest.—The need for this is often indicated by irritability of temper. This coming on is generally a warning that a period of rest must be taken. An overheated brow is also another indication. If this shows itself in a child during or after school, together with listlessness and excitability, all idea of lessons should at once be laid aside for a time. It is nothing less than cruelty to work an overheated brain in such a case. Let the child go free from school till all the head trouble is removed. Also let the head be soaped (see Head, Soaping).
Sometimes pain in the head sets in from overwork. Even in the young, fainting may show itself. Rest is essential, and will prove a perfect cure, together with a little brain exercise of the kind described in article Brain Exercise, always avoiding fatigue. Let all readers remember that it is better to lose six months in rest than become permanently incapable, therefore let old and young take rest in time.
Bran Poultice.—Get a sufficient quantity of good bran in an ordinary washhand basin. Heat the basin before beginning operations. Have also a boiling kettle at hand. Pour the boiling water by little and little into the bran, and mix and stir it up until it is all a moist mass, but not wet. The thing is to avoid putting in more water than the bran can easily absorb and hold. Then have ready a flannel bag of the size and shape required for the poultice. Fill this with the bran, and it is ready. The skin to which it is applied should first be oiled with olive oil. The poultice may be fastened on with flannel bands. In any case it must lie tightly on the skin. The patient must lie on it, if it be applied to the back. One or two tablespoonfuls of mustard may be added if great power is required, not otherwise.
Instead of this poultice, an india-rubber bag full of hot water may be used, with two or three ply of moist flannel between it and the skin. Our only reason for recommending bran is that many could not afford the india-rubber bag.
Bread, Wheaten.—In some cases the bran in whole wheaten bread and Saltcoats biscuits is found to irritate the stomach and bowels. As diet for those able to digest the bran, nothing is better. Where it cannot be digested, ordinary bakers' bread boiled in water to soft pap is found to make a good substitute. This must not be boiled with milk unless where there is diarrhoea to be cured, as milk tends to produce bile and costiveness. Oatmeal jelly (see Food in Illness) is also a good substitute for biscuits and wheaten bread.
Often the water with which bread is baked causes it to be difficult of digestion. Hard water is bad for this. For an invalid, bread baked with distilled water, or pure rain water, is often a means of great comfort and help. A slight admixture of pure CANE SYRUP (see) or liquorice juice in the water will tend to prevent bile and costiveness. A sufficient action of the bowels is of great importance for where good nutrition is desired.
Bread, especially when fresh, is made much more digestible by slowly toasting it in the oven till it is a golden brown throughout. It is then known as "zweibach" (twice baked). When eaten dry, it requires considerable mastication, and for that reason is much better than soft bread. It can be also broken up and eaten with hot milk and sugar.
Breast with Corded Muscles.—Often a slight hardness shows itself in a woman's breast, when the muscular tissue becomes what is called "corded." It is well, first of all, in all cases of breast trouble to avoid alarming the patient. Great anxiety is often endured through fear of cancer when there is no need. A "corded" breast may usually quite easily be cured, and the patient should be made perfectly easy in mind about it.
Take a good lather of soap (see Lather; Soap). Apply this night and morning, gently lathering the breast for some time. After this, each time, rub the back well with hot olive oil, so as to produce a thorough glow of heat all over it. Sometimes the swelling will disperse under this treatment. It may, however, grow larger and show a tendency to break. In this case treat as in next article.
We shall also probably find, on examining, that the skin was failing to do its part well. If rubbed with Cayenne lotion the clean, healthy skin will send off much more waste than was allowed to pass through it before.
Breast, Swelling in.—A blow on the breast, or the drain of nursing a child, along with a chill, often produces swelling, sometimes hard and painful. This, if left uncured, may even develop into an ABSCESS (see). As it sometimes arises from dirt being left on the nipples, all nursing mothers should be particular about cleanliness, which itself prevents many ills.
For cure, bathe the feet in hot water (see Bathing Feet), rub them over with warm olive oil, and wear good cotton stockings if in bed. If going about, put a pair of woollen stockings over the cotton ones. Rub the back as recommended above, using first a little hot vinegar, then the oil. The feet bathing may be every three days, and rubbing the same. If the swelling does not yield to this, place the patient comfortably in bed. Put a good-sized basin of hot water, which has been boiled and allowed to cool so far, tightly under the breast, so that it may be bathed with a sponge. Do not use too hot water, but just comfortably hot. Keep up fresh supplies, and bathe for an hour if patient can bear it. If she becomes fatigued, lay her down to rest for fifteen minutes or so, and then continue treatment. No poulticing is needed when this is well done. A thorough heating of the whole breast is what is wanted; rub gently with olive oil, and cover warmly after bathing (see Cancer).
Breast, Sore Nipples on.—Take a little warm vinegar or weak acid (see Acetic Acid). Bathe the sore nipple with this, avoiding pain, for about ten minutes. Every two minutes dry, and anoint gently with warm olive oil. We have seen one application cure a bad nipple; but apply twice daily as long as needed.
Breath and Blood.—Often difficulty of breathing, especially in close air, mistaken even for asthma, is due simply to the quality of blood supplied to the lungs. Sometimes giving up the use of sugar effects a cure, for sugar produces an excess of carbon in the blood, which requires an excess of oxygen in the lungs to purify it. Thus breathing is difficult, especially where oxygen is deficient in the air breathed. Sometimes the lungs are not strong enough to stand the necessary fresh air required in such cases, or other troubles may prevent a delicate person from exposing themselves. Then it is of importance so to regulate the diet that less oxygen will do all that is needed in the lungs. "Rich" food, much fatty matter, sugar, and all sweets and sweetened things, are to be avoided. If this be done, the need for much oxygen disappears, and the patient will have no difficulty of breathing in suitably ventilated places.
But the best treatment is hot oil rubbing along the spine, over the stomach, and even down the limbs to the ankles. An hour of this every day will work wonders. Or a large BRAN POULTICE (see) may be laid across the back for an hour twice a day. Cultivate also all cheerful thoughts, and banish sad ones as far as possible. Sad thoughts greatly diminish nerve power.
Breath, and the Heart.—Stout people are usually more or less "scant of breath." Accumulations of fatty material, or changing of muscle into fat, cause this, especially if about the chest and heart. To reduce the fat, and grow healthy muscle instead, will perfectly cure the difficulty of breath. Moderate open-air exercise and simple food, such as Saltcoats biscuits, oatmeal jelly, and barley puddings will largely help this. Avoid also all alcoholic liquors, the use of which is often the sole cause of the trouble. Keep the skin active (see Skin).
The hot FOMENTATION (see) to feet and legs is a truly powerful remedy for all lack of force in the system, especially if followed by the massage treatment described in MASSAGE (see).
Breath, Hot.—This may be felt either because the breath is actually hot, or because the membranes of the tongue and mouth are unusually tender, and feel the breath hot in consequence when it is not really so. This latter case is usually accompanied by a sore tongue. To heal the tongue, it must be soaked freely with vinegar or weak ACETIC ACID (see), so diluted as to give only a very slight feeling of smarting after even prolonged application. Apply it with a good camel's hair brush, and brush with a little fine almond or olive oil after the acid. The mouth may be rinsed with the acid, but brushing is best.
But where real heat is found in the breath, it arises from an overheated state of the body internally. This frequently arises from failure in the stomach to digest properly. If the hot breath arises from this, small drinks of hot water, frequently taken, will usually cure it. A warm bran poultice, placed on the back at bedtime opposite the stomach, will prove a more powerful remedy in addition to the hot water. More powerful effect still will be found in such stimulus to the skin as washing it all over twice a week with vinegar or weak acetic acid. On other days let the patient be rubbed over with good olive oil, mixed with enough CAYENNE "TEA" (see) to cause a slight burning sensation. Let this also be done twice a week, and twice a week also wash all over with M'Clinton's soap and hot water. A plain diet of course, should be observed (see Digestion; Dyspepsia; Food; Teeth, etc.).
Breath, and Muscles.—Sometimes difficulty of breathing is due, not to anything wrong with lungs or windpipe, but to failure in the diaphragm (or large muscular "floor" of the chest), and the other chest muscles, which work the lungs. A feeling of sinking and weakness round the waist indicates in such a case diaphragm failure. Gentle heat at the small of the back, and olive oil rubbing, form treatment for this. For other chest muscles, give a warm washing each night with SOAP (see) over the body, and rub, especially the back and chest, with hot olive oil. You soon bring the muscles into good trim.
Breath, and Nerve.—Difficult breathing, especially in ascending a hill, is often due simply to the lack of the nerve power by which the breathing muscles work. A teacupful of hot water half-an-hour before each meal, by helping digestion, will often remove the difficulty. Rub each evening along the spinal cord with hot olive oil.
Breath, and the Skin.—The organs of breathing remove much waste from the system, but the skin also removes a very large part. If either fails, the other has more work thrown upon it, as we see in the severe "night sweats" which accompany chest and lung failure. In such cases, rub with CAYENNE LOTION (see and Night Sweats). Avoid the use of hard water in washing and bathing, especially with infants.
Cold baths for the weakly, chills, damp beds, and such things, cause rheumatism and colds by stopping the proper discharge of waste by the skin. After such chill, or cold in damp bed, a hot wash and good hot oil rubbing will avert all evil. This may not always be available; but, if it can be got at all, should be given as soon as possible. The use of the soapy blanket is of the utmost value in severe cases (see Soapy Blanket). Strict cleanliness of person and underwear should be observed. The AIR BATH (see) will also give tone to the skin (see Skin and Underwear).
Breathing, and Bronchia.—The bronchia are the branching small tubes which lead from the windpipe to all parts of the lungs. Two different states of these often pass as bronchitis. In one of these the tubes are swelled, congested, and full of fiery heat. The whole body is also fevered, and breathing is difficult, with cough. This is true BRONCHITIS (see). But often, with difficult breathing and irritating cough, there is no heat and fever. In this case bronchitis treatment gives no relief. This is, indeed, only an irritated state of the lining of the tubes, and far from dangerous. A change of climate to a drier atmosphere will often entirely cure it. Often also a time spent in a room, where the air is kept dry but fresh, and at one steady temperature of about 60 deg., will cure. Our chief purpose in mentioning it, however, is that this comparatively slight trouble may not be mistaken for true bronchitis.
Breathing, Correct Method of.—The capacity of an ordinary pair of lungs is about 250 cubic inches. In ordinary breathing, however, we only take in from 20 to 30 cubic inches. Hence the necessity for practising correct deep breathing.
Correct breathing requires cultivation and effort at first, afterwards it will become unconscious. The head should be thrown back, the shoulders squared, and a slow deep breath gradually inspired through the nose till the lungs are filled throughout with air. The expiration should be just as gradual with relaxation of every muscle. It is most important that the lower part of the chest should first be filled by depressing the diaphragm (the muscular floor of the lungs). Some practise is needed before this habit is acquired, but it is well worth cultivating. Place the hands on the sides of the abdomen while inspiring, to feel that this is expanding. Teachers of singing insist on diaphragmatic breathing, which is also of great benefit to the stomach, liver, and other organs. By the movement it gives to the intestines their action is also assisted, and constipation is prevented.
This deep breathing may be practised several times each day (say ten breaths at a time) till the habit of correct breathing is acquired. It will be found to have a wonderfully soothing and calming effect (see Worry). Such exercise should always be taken in the open-air, or in a room with a widely open window. A good plan is to take them in bed before rising, with little or no clothes on, while lying flat on the back.
Paleness, langour, irritability, and general ill-health result from insufficient breathing. Furthermore, the system becomes unable to resist disease. We know no aid to beauty more effective than the practice of deep breathing.