This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
The general indications for treatment are,
1. To increase the general vigor of the system by tonic remedies;
2. To balance the circulation;
3. To increase the demand for food, and thereby improve the quantity and quality of the digestive juices. This can be best accomplished by the following means in addition to the measures already mentioned:
Water baths are of course useful to keep the skin free from impurities and to increase its activity. Too frequent bathing, however, will be found harmful, as will also, in most cases, bathing in cold water, especially in the morning, before breakfast. The latter practice has been much recommended, and has been employed by many. We have heard people boast of having taken a cold shower-bath every morning, summer and winter, for years. Some even went so far as to claim to find enjoyment in springing out of bed on a winter morning before daybreak and after running a few rods, with no protection from the frosty air and snow, taking a plunge in a lake or stream through a hole cut in the ice for the purpose. Hundreds have been greatly injured by such foolish practices. A person in pretty good flesh may take with advantage a hand bath with tepid water, every morning upon rising. But the average dyspeptic will not do well to bathe so often. Two or three times a week are enough in summer, and half as frequently in winter.
For those who are quite gross, with inactive skins, sluggish livers and bowels, there is nothing better than the Turkish bath when given with discretion. This is one of the most active stimulants to activity of the skin which can be employed. The vapor and Russian bath, and the wet-sheet pack, rank next in value. These measures must not be employed too frequently, however, as they are powerful depletents when injudiciously used, though most energetic vital stimulants if properly employed.
The tepid or cool spray is also a valuable remedy used prudently.
Sea bathing, so much lauded, is often overdone. If the patient is chilled in taking the bath, it is decidedly harmful.
The vigorous rubbing and manipulation of the skin and muscles which properly follow the baths referred to, are as beneficial as the baths themselves, and are especially needful to secure a good reaction.
To encourage the surface circulation, the oil bath, or inunction, is a most admirable remedy. It is especially serviceable in cases in which there is dryness of the skin. Under the influence of inunctions of fine olive-oil, vaseline or refined cocoa-nut oil, applied one to three times a week, the skin grows moist, supple, and warm, and the patient will usually increase in weight as well as improve in color and in general vigor. In weakly patients who are unable to take sufficient exercise, this remedy is of great value, especially when coupled with massage, a system of rubbing which in some cases secures surprising results. Simple dry-hand rubbing morning and night is useful, and often seems to benefit the patient more than anything else that can be done.
In cases of obstinate constipation, due to inactivity of the liver, water-drinking is of advantage, when the stomach will bear it. The quantity of water to be taken must vary from a single glassful taken before breakfast to a half-dozen glasses a day in the intervals between the meals. Repeated experiments by the most eminent physiologists have shown that the liberal use of water as a beverage is a great promoter of vital activity, not only of the liver but of other vital organs. This must not be carried to excess, and must be discontinued if it disturbs digestion.