Dr. Babington* relates several cases successfully treated by it. Dr. Watson regards it as the most effectual tonic which can be employed, and Dr. R. B. Todd states that it excites a disposition to sleep more decidedly than opiates, which do not generally act favourably in any of the forms of Chorea. (See also Epilepsy.)
2920. In Epilepsy, " the cold shower-bath," observes Dr. Watson,§ "is one of the most useful remedies employed for strengthening the body. This tends," he continues, "perhaps more than any single measure, to give permanent firmness and steadiness to the system." The best test in all cases of the tonic and bracing effect of this remedy is the occurrence of a pleasant and general glow after each application of it. It is the only safe mode in which the cold bath can be used by an epileptic person. In this case, as in Chorea, if the patient be of a feeble constitution, the water may at first be used tepid; by degrees it should be used cold. It should be employed every morning, or every other morning, as soon as the patient gets out of bed.
2921. In some forms of Hysteria, in Hypochondriasis, and in Nervous Prostration, after excessive study, or debilitating disease, the shower-bath, as advised in the last section, proves in the highest degree useful.
2922. In Scrofula, salt-water baths, both hot and cold, have been strongly advocated by White, Cullen, Russel, Thompson, and others; but that they exercise any direct beneficial influence on the disease is denied by Lloyd, Chalk, Phillips, &c. Their chief efficacy appears to depend upon cleansing the body, opening and stimulating the pores of the skin, and allowing the cutaneous exhalation to be carried on with normal activity. It should also be observed that sea-bathing has generally been employed at those seasons of the year at which, without any treatment, all the symptoms of Scrofula are alleviated, viz., summer and autumn. In very weakly subjects, however, or when softening of tubercular matter has taken place, so far from being beneficial, cold-water bathing is decidedly injurious, producing a degree of depression, from which the constitution can with difficulty recover itself.
* Guy's Hosp. Reports, vol. xiii. Lectures, vol. i. p. 665.
Lectures, Med. Gaz., April 27, 1849. § Op. cit., p. C51.
The patient should begin by sitting in a hip-bath for five minutes three times a day, the water being about 65° F. The time is gradually increased, and the temperature lowered, until the patient sits for twenty minutes, thrice daily, in water at 50°. In some cases the spine is sponged for three or four minutes before leaving the bath, and very often a shower-bath is used after the first daily sitting bath, the head being protected by a conical cap. Gentle exercise for five minutes before, and half an hour after, each of these processes, is ordered. It has been found particularly beneficial in persons who have been debilitated by a long residence in a hot climate.* In Prostatorrha, the cold hip-bath is often of great service.