This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
The abdominal pain of acute diarrhoea is soothed by compresses, poultices, or warm bathing. In children some care is required as to the bath, for convulsions have occurred on placing a child suffering from diarrhoea in a bath at 98° F. This was most likely from an increase in body-temperature under the influence of external heat (Dr. Haddon: Practitioner, vol. viii.). The child ultimately recovered, but in such a case the cold sheet would probably answer better.
Cold applications are often more suitable than hot ones in choleraic diarrhoea (McKenna: Lancet, ii., 1876), and I agree with Messemer in the experience that cold water enemata act excellently as tonics and astringents in chronic cases. If slowly injected, they distend and keep apart the coats of the bowel, and thus save irritation (Medical Record, 1878). I have followed this practice for many years. Wenzel, an experienced naval surgeon, recommends injections of ice-cold water in dysentery, and has found recent acute cases subside quickly under this without other treatment. Fleury gives some remarkable illustrations of chronic dysentery and diarrhoea cured by the systematic use of the cold douche, one patient, aged forty, having previously used many medicinal remedies under able physicians. It is certainly a remedy to be remembered in obstinate cases.
Even in cholera the application of water, warm or cold, may be made highly serviceable. Trousseau wrote strongly in its favor when prejudice against it was greater than it is at present. The stage of collapse may be controlled by a hot mustard blanket-pack; but, as a rule, more permanent good will be obtained from cold applications. Niemeyer is an authority for recommending the pack with iced sheets in cholera (Lancet, ii., 1876, p. 346), and Dr. Chapman has offered evidence in favor of ice-bags to the spine.