This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Because bowel complaints usually prevail most during the hot season of the year - the latter end of summer and autumn, when fruit is most abundant, and in tropical climates where fruits are met with in greatest variety - it is inferred, according to the poet Hoc propter hoe mode of reasoning, that the one is the consequence of the other. It were about as reasonable to attribute the occasional occurrences of sea-scurvy in the navy to the use of Lemon juice, Lime juice, or potatoes. These articles of diet are powerfully anti-scorbutic, and so are ripe fruits anti-bilious; and diarrhoea, dysentery, and cholera are complaints in which acrid and alkaline biliary secretions are prominent conditions. I have seen many cases of dysentery, obstinate diarrhoea, and liver disease in people who have been long resident in tropical climates, and, from the history which I have been able to obtain respecting their habits of diet, I have come to the conclusion that these diseases were induced and aggravated, not by the light vegetable and fruit diet most in use among the natives, but because Englishmen usually carry out with them their European modes of living.
They take large quantities of nitrogenous and carbonaceous food, in the shape of meat and wines or spirits, rather than the light native food, as rice and juiey fruits, and the vegetable stimulants and condiments, the native peppers and spices so abundantly provided by Nature. It is well known that, though large quantities of animal oils and fats, wines, spirits, and malt liquor, which contain a large amount of carbon, may be consumed with comparative impunity in cold climates and in winter, when the carbonaceous matter gets burnt off by the more active exercise and respiration; in hot climates and in summer this element gets retained in the liver, and ultimately gives rise to congestion of that organ and its consequences - diarrhoea, dysentery, and bilious disorders. Though in extensive practice for fifteen years, in a district abounding with orchards and gardens, I can not remember an instance in which I could distinctly trace any very serious disorder to fruit as a cause; though one might reasonably expect some mischief from the amount of unripe and acid trash often consumed by the children of the poor. I would not be supposed to advocate either immoderate quantities of the most wholesome fruit, or the indiscriminate use of unripe or ill preserved fruits.
But I do contend, as the result of my own experience, that not only is a moderate quantity of well ripened or well preserved fruit harmless, but that it is highly conducive to the health of people, and especially of children, and that it tends to prevent bilious diarrhoea and cholera. I am inclined to view the abundant supply of fruit in hot climates, and during the summer and autumn, and the great longing of people, especially of children (in whom the biliary functions are very active), for fruit, to a wise provision of an over-ruling and ever-watchful Providence, which generally plants the remedy side by side with the disease, at a time when the biliary system is in most danger of becoming disordered. I have generally observed that children who are strictly, and I think injudiciously, debarred the use of fruit, have tender bowels, and I have noticed that they are almost universally pallid; while, on the other hand, children who are allowed a moderate daily proportion of sound fruit are usually florid, especially among the poor. I therefore imagine that the use of fruit facilitates the introduction of iron, the coloring principle of the blood, into the circulating system.
When living in the country, with the advantages of a large garden and plenty of fruit, I always allow my children a liberal proportion, and never had occasion to treat them either for diarrhoea or skin eruptions, though it is a very common opinion that cutaneous diseases are often brought on by the too free use of fruit. On first removing my family to town, the usual supply being cut off, two or three of the younger ones became affected with obstinate diarrhoea and dysentery, which resisted all the ordinary modes of medicinal treatment My opinion on the subject afterward induced me to give them a good proportion of fruit every day, as Grapes, Oranges, ripe Apples, etc., when all the symptoms presently subsided, and they have never since been troubled either with bowel complaints or skin eruptions to any noticeable extent The editor of the Lancet, in animadverting on the "health of London daring the week ending August 20," makes the following remarks: "The deaths ascribed to diarrhoea are 126, of which 115 occurred among children.
The tender age of nearly all the sufferers, 97 of them not having completed their first year, is sufficient to dispel the popular error that the use of fruit is the exciting cause." Several years ago a serious and very fatal epidemic, then called "English cholera," prevailed in the neighborhood where I was living. It chiefly attacked very young children and old people, and was almost as rapid in its progress as the Asiatic form. This epidemic occurred in the autumn, and many people, influenced by the common prejudice, dug holes in their gardens and buried all their fruit, and some even went so far as to destroy their trees. I made many inquiries as to the previous habits of the victims of this epidemic, and in almost every case I learned that fruit had not for some time previously formed any part of their diet One writer in the Lancet has strongly recommended the use of baked fruit as a preventive of cholera, and another has strenuously advocated the administration of diluted sulphuric acid during the actual attack, and the proofs brought forward of their good effects correspond with my own experience.
It is asserted that the cholera has never yet prevailed in the cider counties, nor in Birmingham, where acidulated treacle beer and sulphuric acid lemonade are freely used to obviate the poisonous effects of white-lead in the manufactories. - M.D., in London Time*.