This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
This is one of the most common affections in the whole catalogue of diseases. Scarcely a human being lives that has not or will not be a victim to this harassing disease. In simple indigestion, the symptoms vary much in nature and severity. One may suffer severely, while another has merely slight depression of spirits. Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation alternating with diarrhoea, furred tongue, foulness of breath, palpitation of the heart, pains in various parts, dull headache, hypochondriasis, etc., are present in all cases. The patient's appetite may at one time be wholly lost; at other times it is morbid and ravenous, which, if indulged in, will only add to his misery. There is seldom any healthy feeling of hunger, but, in place of this, the patient has a most miserable sensation of hollowness or sinking at the region of the stomach. Nausea and vomiting are the most distressing symptoms of dyspepsia; the former may occur soon after the food is swallowed, or it may be deferred for an hour or two. The matter ejected is most frequently sour, and mixed with bile, often having the flavor of rotten eggs, which is due to a gas known as sulphuretted hydrogen. This gas, in ascending, often brings the solid food into the throat and mouth, making the patient almost a ruminant animal. Suffering is experienced when the stomach is full or empty, though it differs in various cases. Sometimes not much uneasiness is felt until several hours after eating, when all its attendant horrors are manifested. This is due to fermentation of the food. Water-brash, gastralgia, spasm of the stomach, etc., are constant companions of the dyspeptic, and his days are most miserably spent, while his nights are not much better, because his sleep is not refreshing; the body is not reposed, and he is the frequent victim of horrible nightmares. A dyspeptic patient suffers from every variety of indisposition, and it is easy to learn from his dejected countenance and woe-begone look that he yearns for that comfortable human existence that only a healthy digestive apparatus affords to man. He is fretful and peevish, disssatisfied with others and with himself; has individually no comfort, and allows but little to those around him; everything that was formerly bright and cheerful now bears a gloomy aspect; his smiles are derisive, his opinions cynical, and everything that is bright, cheerful, and lovable has gone with the enjoyment of good health. The disease is in fact a malady that embraces in its symptoms and consequences nearly every physical and mental torture known to mankind.
TREATMENT. -- When it arises from inertia of the
stomach, it may be removed by stomachics. If produced by bad habits,
it can only be corrected by strict adherence to the physiological laws
controlling the digestive functions. When it occurs from softening
of the mucous membranes and a deficiency of the gastric secretion, alnuin
is a good remedy; and chelonin acts well in chronic inflammation of the
organ. When dependent upon nervous debility, herbal phosphorus and
cyprepedin act well. Constipation should be relieved by leptandrin
and similar cathartics. Diet and hygiene form a very important part
in the treatment, and these should receive very careful attention.
Fresh air, baths, friction, out-door exercise, careful avoidance of overloading
the stomach, are indispensable adjuncts to all treatment. It is but
just to myself, and eminently due to my readers, to acquaint them with
my mode of treating dyspepsia, and which, I confidently assert, is attended
with as specific results as can be expected from any medicinal agents.
It is my sincere belief that failure is impossible if the remedies are
taken faithfully, for a reasonable length of time. I advise in all
cases and in all forms of the disease, my "Restorative Assimilant," "Renovating
Pills," and "Herbal Ointment." The Assimilant is taken internally,
in prescribed doses, three times a day; the pills are taken as occasion
requires, to keep bowels regular, and the Herbal Ointment is rubbed externally,
once or twice a day, over the region of the stomach and bowels. The
philosophy of this treatment is obvious; the Assimilant restores the tonicity
of the digestive organs, increases secretion of gastric juice, promotes
chymification, stimulates the the accessory organs of digestion, and, by
its assimilative properties, increases the functional action of the absorbents,
and restores the chemical process of digestion to its healthy state.
The pills increase the peristaltic motion of the bowels, augment biliary
discharges, stimulate the mesenteric glands, while, at the same time, they
give tonic power to the whole alimentary canal. The ointment, by
its discutient properties, removes all inflammation, localizes healthy
blood to the organs and tissues, and prevents centralizaiton of morbific
These remedies at once assert their value, and gain complete mastery over the disease in a short time; and should any of my dyspeptic readers, though faithless in medicinal relief from repeated failures, be pleased to give them a trial, the author is confident that the medicines will cure them and restore them to vigorous health, so that they may once more enjoy the boon of healthy digestive organs. (See page 469.)