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.
Bowels irregular, generally costive; discharges yellow, whitish, or drab; disagreeable taste in the mouth, usually in the morning; furred tongue, yellowish or white; loss of appetite; sallow or dingy skin; patches on the skin known as "liver spots;" white of the eye yellow or dingy; flatulence; headache in the front part of the head; dullness and heaviness most of the time; lassitude and drowsiness after meals; great depression of spirits; sediment in the urine when cold; vertigo; noises in the ears; disturbed sleep.
Errors in diet may justly be said to be the most frequent of all the numerous causes of torpidity of the liver. Fashionable dinners, late suppers, overeating, especially the excessive use of fats, sugar, pastry, condiments, alcoholic drinks, and tea and coffee, may be charged with being the most common causes of inactivity of this organ. The free use of mustard, ginger, pepper, curry powder, and other irritating condiments in many tropical countries, leads to the almost universal prevalence of this disease. In addition, sedentary habits, the use of tobacco and other narcotics, restriction of the liver by wearing tight clothing, and malaria should also be mentioned as important causes of this very common affection. We should also remark that the prolonged use of laxative medicines, "after-dinner pills," and the various drugs that are recommended for constipation, are most prolific sources of torpid liver. The same may be said of mercury, although this drug is less frequently used than formerly, and is seldom employed to such an extent as twenty years ago. The liver possesses the curious property of being able to retain in its structure metallic poisons which may be brought to it in the circulation, so that the effect of injuries received from a mercurial course is apt to be more or less permanent
In severe chronic cases of this affection the patient must studiously avoid the use of fats, sugar, condiments, and alcoholic drinks. Regulation of the diet is a positive necessity in the radical treatment of this disease. Tobacco, if used, must also be discontinued. If the patients habits are sedentary, he must begin a course of regular, systematic exercise, and should in every way possible, build up his general health. Food should be taken in moderate quantities, and should consist chiefly of grains and acid fruits. Some patients are obliged to avoid the use of milk; with others it does not seem to disagree. In addition to these general measures, the patient, if not emaciated, may take with advantage for two or three weeks two or three vapor baths or packs a week. The wet girdle or umschlag should be worn night and day. The use of the hot and cold douche over the liver is very efficient. Central galvanization may also be applied with advantage. The use of mercury with various laxatives, purgatives, and the hosts of liver medicines which are recommended for this very common affection, will do more harm than good. The best that any of these drugs could do would be to whip up the flagging energies of the already overworked organ without in any way lightening its burdens or giving it increased strength to perform the labor required of it The repeated use of remedies of this kind greatly aggravates the trouble, increasing the inactivity of the organ. Careful experiments scientifically conducted have also shown that mercury and various other remedies which have been most relied on to stimulate the organ to activity, either decrease the amount of bile secreted or have no effect upon it whatever. The apparent evidences of benefit derived from their use are entirely due to the fact that they poison the bile which is poured out into the intestines, thus rendering it unfit for absorption, so that an unusual amount is discharged from the bowels, although the amount secreted is not increased, but, as has been shown to be the case with mercury, is actually decreased. The liver pads which have attained such an enormous sale within the last few years are utterly devoid of merit on the ground claimed, namely; that they extract the disease from the system by absorption. It is possible that they do some little good by retaining the heat and moisture of the skin, and thus acting as a poultice; but for this purpose they are far inferior to the wet bandage.