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.
Whereas, where the tubercles come singly, or in successive crops and rapidly soften, and are expectorated, and where some long time interposes between the crops, the health and strength return, and there is just a chance that no more tubercles may form. It is in this variety of unmixed Phthisis that a natural cure, by the contraction and cicatrization of an abscess, may by possibility take place. We cannot expect, we scarcely dare permit ourselves to hope, that the disease will cease in that manner; but if it cease in any form of the malady, it is in this.
The treatment to be adopted, and the plan of regimen to be observed, resolve themselves into the methods of prevention when the disease is likely to occur; of arresting its progress when that disease is incipient or limited in extent; and of alleviating the most distressing symptoms, when no hope remains of stopping its course, or of averting its fatal close.
Pure air; nourishing but unstimulating food; moderate exercise; early hours; cleanliness; warm clothing; and abstinence from excessive study, from severe bodily toil, from occupations in their nature unwholesome, from such callings also, as are fertile of care and anxiety, and from vicious and exhausting indulgences of all kinds, these are the means of preventing consumption in children, and others, who are in danger of contracting it.
At the very commencement of Consumption, before the disease has proceeded too far, it is often found that removal to a more favorable climate than that in which the patient resides, will have a beneficial effect in checking the disease. What is required is an equal, dry climate. But in an advanced stage of the disease, if the lungs are rapidly undergoing disorganization, and there is a corresponding amount of general suffering, no benefit, but on the contrary much inconvenience and useless expense, and inevitable disappointment will be increased by change of place, unless the natural home of the patient be clearly unhealthy. "When I am asked about removal," says Sir Thomas Watson, "either to another country, or to some distant part of our own, I always advise that he should not forego the comforts of his home, and leave his family and friends, to seek advantages which he will not find among strangers, and amid the discomforts of a lodging perhaps, or an incommodious dwelling. I think it wrong and cruel, to send people away merely to die: and that many are so sent to this place and that, in the almost certain prospect of their never returning, no one, I think, can doubt."
"It was long thought, and it may still perhaps be the popular belief, that Phthisis was more common and more fatal in cold regions than in warm, and that warmth of climate was therefore the main thing to be desired for consumptive patients. But this was a fatal mistake. Speaking generally, a very warm atmosphere is hurtful to such patients. They melt away under the heat. Out of an aggregate strength of 86,661 soldiers serving in the Windward and Leeward Command, (West Indies), not fewer than 1023 were attacked by Phthisis, being 12 per thousand, annually; while, out of an aggregate strength of 44,611 Dragoon Guards and Dragoons serving in Great Britain, only 286 were attacked, being about 5 1/2- per thousand. The black troops in the West Indies suffer even more than Europeans from Consumption.
Madeira has long been a favorite resort for consumptive patients from Europe; and many places in France and Italy, and of late years, Egypt, have been much resorted to. In the United States, Dr. H. Hartshorne strongly recommends the interior of Florida, as a residence for consumptives. Dr. Coolidge, in his statistical report on the sickness and mortality in the Army of the United States, remarks that the climate of those broad and elevated table-lands which skirt the base of the Rocky Mountains on the East, is especially beneficial to persons suffering from pulmonary disease, or with a scrofulous diathesis. This has been known to the French inhabitants of the Upper Mississippi and Missouri for many years. The reports from the line of posts stretching from the Upper Platte through New Mexico to the Rio Grande, give a smaller proportion of cases of pulmonary disease than those from any other portion of the United States. The air in this region is almost devoid of moisture, there are no sudden changes of temperature; the depressing heats of the Eastern summers are never felt; and although in the north the winters are extremely cold, a stimulant and tonic effect is the only result of exposure in the open air."
With regard to diet it is desirable that the patient should live well, and take such articles of food as are nourishing and easily digested. "With very few exceptions, that kind of nourishing food which the patient has found to agree with him best is the best for him." Dr. Watson says: "There can seldom be any good reason for denying to a phthisical patient a moderate quantity of wine, or (if that agrees better with his taste, or habits, or feelings) of malt liquor, or of alcohol in some one or other of its many shapes; and in cases where the patient is feeble and chilly, with a tendency to blueness of the surface, some kind and amount of alcoholic stimulant is positively indicated. I do not, however, commend the practice of stuffing a consumptive patient all day long, beyond his appetite and will, with strong meats, and drinks and drugs accounted tonic. Whatever in the way of diet and of habits tends to conserve or to restore the general strength is to be enjoined; whatever is likely to impair it is to be avoided.
With regard to exercise; the patient should be encouraged to take, in the open air, and at suitable times, as much bodily exercise as is compatible with the avoidance of great or permanent feelings of fatigue.
Riding on horseback has been strongly recommended in the earlier periods of the disease. Its main advantages seem to be that it allows the enjoyment of fresh air, and of exercise, without putting the patient out of breath; and these advantages are great. Many phthisical patients remain, it is said, free from cough, and those affected with Haemoptysia cease to spit blood, so long as they continue to take exercise on horseback. Riding in a carriage or in a boat is beneficial, but in a less degree.