This section of the book is from "Fasting, Hydropathy and Exercise", by Bernarr MacFadden.
Refrigeration is Nature's specific for the cure of germ-diseases, and the tardy recognition of that truth is certainly not justified by the lack of suggestive facts.
The first November frosts abate climatic fevers throughout the lowlands of the temperate zone. In the marshes of the Mississippi Valley agues that defy the remedies of the drug-store yield to the expurgative influence of a blizzard. North winds, reducing the temperature of the dog-days some forty degrees in as many minutes, bring a new lease of life to thousands of slum-tenants, to victims of chronic headaches, to infants exhausted by confinement in the sweltering atmosphere of city tenements. Refugees from cholera epidemics venture to return with the snowbirds.
And it is no accident that nine out of ten international wars ended with the victory of Northland tribes over their Southern neighbors. Egypt and Persia vanquished by Greeks, Greece by Romans, Rome by the barbarians of the Teutonic forests, South-German Austria by North-German Prussians, Southern Russia by the descendants of Rurik, Southern Italy by Savoy, South-Spanish Moors by North-Spanish Goths, Dixie by Yankeeland, South Mongol China by North-Mongol Japan. Highlanders, the world over, boast their superior vigor and longevity.
Physiology explains those facts and confirms the claim of the hydropathist Schrodt that refrigeration is one of the few natural tonics, stimulating the activity of the organic functions without the risk of deleterious after-effects. A cold bath and a current of cold air accelerate the pulse and the process of respiration. The gasps resulting from a cold plunge-bath indicate the effort of Nature to restore the proper degree of animal warmth by setting the calorific apparatus to work under high pressure.
A dose of drastic drugs, e.g., alcohol in its concentrated forms, accomplish a similar result with almost equal promptness, the organism labors with feverish activity to rid itself of a life-endangering poison, and temporarily the whole system participates in the influence of the stimulant. But as soon as the problem of expurgation has been solved, a debilitating reaction sets in; the organism sinks under the exhausting aftereffects of the unnatural irritant, the mind is clouded by lingering poison-fumes, the depression of vital energy avenges itself by protracted languor, and the misery of mental gloom.
The benefits of the refrigeration tonic, on the other hand, are not modified by the risk of such penalties. The stimulating effect abides. And the first flush of that effect more than equals the bracing influence of the best drug-tonic. A cold bath renews the tension of nerve-vigor almost like refreshing sleep; its mental effect induces all the pleasant and none of the objectionable symptoms of intoxication.
Like fasting and exercise, hydrotherapy is a true remedy, relieving the ailments of the human organism without exacting a price that makes the cure a greater curse than the evil.