This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
This complaint is mostly met with in persons of mature years, and is usually the result of irregularity of living, improper diet, or insufficient exercise.
Intense study, the neglect of due exercise in the open air, indigestible food insufficiently masticated, hard drinking, particularly of spirituous liquors, late hours, too frequent a use of warm slops, such as tea; the immoderate use of tobacco, both in smoking and chewing, are the most frequent causes of this most troublesome complaint. Unlike most other complaints, it may last a long time without apparently either increasing or diminishing in intensity. Dyspepsia is often symptomatic of organic disease of the liver or spleen.
The state of the tongue is in general a pretty good indication of a disordered state of the stomach, but it does not point out the kind and degree of that disorder. With a furred tongue there is perceived a disagreeable taste in the mouth in the morning, and the breath, in many instances, notwithstanding the greatest care that can be taken, acquires an offensive smell. In consequence of continued disease, the skin of the tongue appears sometimes to have lost its natural colour, and to have become permanently white.
In some states of depraved digestion there is nearly a complete disrelish for food; the patient may take his meals at regular times, and even eat heartily, but without much gratification. With hard drinkers nausea and vomiting frequently occur in the morning; and in ruined constitutions there is almost constant thirst, with feverishness, loss of appetite and strength, shortness of breath, paleness of the countenance; with somewhat of a yellow tinge, languor, and, towards the close, dropsical swellings of the limbs.
In complaints of the stomach, in addition to defective appetite, indigestion, flatulency in a high degree, acidity and pain in the stomach, the patient is often afflicted with costiveness, giddiness, pain in the balls of the eyes, imperfect vision, ringing in the ears and palpitations. The mind in such cases is frequently irritable and desponding, and great anxiety is observable in the countenance. The pulse is usually rather frequent, and slight exercise produces considerable fatigue and perspiration. Restlessness prevails at night, the sleep is disturbed by frightful dreams and startings,not affording much refreshment, and occasionally there is much moaning, with a sense of a heavy weight on the chest, or what has been called the night-mare. In some instances there is very severe pain in the stomach, now and then accompanied by Pyrosis, (Water brash). Occasionally the stomach suffers from spasms, owing to some error in diet, or perhaps connected with that state of the constitution produced by a tendency to Grout. Its attack is usually sudden, attended with great pain, and is usually of a formidable character.
Although dyspeptic complaints, when they exist in consequence of debility of the stomach, may be alleviated, or be entirely removed by desisting in time from bad habits, using a proper diet, and taking proper medicines; still, when they have been of long continuance, so as to produce great debility, and pass into some other disease, such as dropsy, consumption, etc.; or when they originate from organic disease, such as cancer of the lower entrance of the stomach, or ulceration of the coats of the stomach, they are sure to prove fatal.
If the complaint is of long standing, but not very severe, with merely a sense of weight at the stomach after eating, with a feeling of sinking when the stomach is empty, the patient may take a teaspoonful of the following mixture, three times a day in a glass of water; gradually increasing the dose to two teaspoon-fuls;
Take Solution of Potash...............Two Drams.
Tincture of Cascarilla...................One Ounce.
Tincture of Orange Peel................Half an Ounce. - Mix.
The bowels, at the same time, may be kept gently open, by taking one or two of the Cathartic Pills, No. 5. At the same time strict attention must be paid to the diet, and if the Indigestion has been brought on by immoderate smoking, or by chewing tobacco, the practice must be abandoned, or a cure is not. possible.
When Indigestion is attended with much pain in the stomach, and vomiting, a blister or a mustard poultice applied over the stomach will frequently afford relief.
If, after using the above tonic for two or three weeks, there should be no relief, the patient may try the Tonic Mixture, No. 11; and he may take two of the following pills every day, about an hour before dinner:
Take Turkey Rhubarb..........................72 grains.
Cayenne Pepper...................................24 grains,
Compound Extract of Colocynth..............24 grains.
Castile Soap........................................48 grains.
Oil of Cloves.......................................12 drops. - Mix, and divide into 48 pills.
As Dyspepsia has usually existed for some time before exciting much attention, it would be folly for the patient to expect a rapid cure. Nor can he expect a cure at all, unless he attends to his diet, and takes proper exercise. Tough beef steaks must be altogether excluded from his table, and he must live mainly on mutton and fish; he must abandon new and hot bread; he must take but little tea; he should take his food a little at a time and frequently, always chewing it well; he must go to bed early; he must lay aside his pipe. Good strong coffee, in moderation, will be beneficial; but it must be coffee, and of good quality, and not a base imitation. Fermented liquors, unless of very good quality, are best avoided, and, even when good, must be taken in great moderation. The patient should be warmly clad. Warm bathing, occasionally, will be of service. Should the sleep be disturbed at night, he may take 5 grains of Extract of Henbane, or 10 grains of Bromide of Potash, at bedtime.