This section is from the "Nature Cure: Philosophy and Practice Based on the Unity of Disease and Cure" book, by Henry Lindlahr.
A few years ago several gentlemen of Greek nationality called on me with the request that I visit a friend of theirs who had been lying sick for about two months in one of our great West Side [Chicago] hospitals. On investigation I found that the patient had entered the hospital suffering from a mild case of pneumonia. The doctors of the institution had ordered ice packs. Rubber sheets filled with ice were applied to the chest and other parts of the body. This had been done for several weeks until the fever subsided.
As a matter of fact, ice is more suppressive than antifever medicines. The continued icy cold applications chill the parts of the body to which they are applied, depress the vital functions and effectually suppress the inflammatory processes.
The result in this case, as in many similar ones which I had occasion to observe during and after the ice-bag treatment, was that the inflammation in the lungs had been arrested and suppressed during the stage of destruction, when the air cells and tissues were filled with exudates, blood serum, pus, live and dead blood cells, bacteria, etc., leaving the affected areas of the lungs in a consolidated, liver-like condition.
As a consequence of suppression in the case of this Greek patient, the pneumonia had been changed from the acute to the subacute and chronic stages and the doctors in charge had told his friends that he was now suffering from miliary tuberculosis, and would probably die within a week or two.
After receiving this discouraging information, the friends of the patient came to me and prevailed upon me to take charge of the case. He was transferred to our institution, and we began at once to apply the natural methods of treatment. Instead of ice packs we used the regular cold-water packs, strips of linen wrung out of water of ordinary temperature wrapped around the body and covered with several layers of flannel bandages.
The wet packs became warm on the body in a few minutes. They relaxed the pores and drew the blood into the surface, thus promoting heat radiation and the elimination of morbid matter through the skin. They did not suppress the fever, but kept it below the danger point.
Under this treatment, accompanied by fasting and judicious osteopathic manipulation, the inflammatory and feverish processes suppressed by the ice packs soon revived, became once more active and aggressive, and were now allowed to run their natural course through the stages of destruction, absorption (abatement) and reconstruction.
The result of the Nature Cure treatment was that about two months after the patient entered our institution, his friends bought him a ticket to sunny Greece. He had a good journey, and in the congenial climate of his native country made a perfect recovery.
I have observed a number of similar cases suffering from consolidation of the lungs and the resulting asthmatic or tubercular conditions, which had been doctored into these chronic ailments by means of antipyretics and of ice.
Equally dangerous is the ice bag if applied to the inflamed brain or the spinal column. Only too often it results either in paralysis or in death. In many instances, acute cerebrospinal meningitis is changed in this way by drug and serum treatment or by the use of ice bags into the chronic, so-called incurable infantile paralysis.
We say so-called incurable because we have treated and cured such cases in all stages of development from the acute inflammatory meningitis to the chronic paralysis of long standing.
In our treatment of acute diseases we never use ice or icy water for packs, compresses, baths or ablutions, but always water of ordinary temperature as it comes from the faucet. The water compress or pack warms up quickly, and thus brings about a natural reaction within a few minutes, while the ice bag or pack continually chills and practically freezes the affected parts and organs. This does not allow the skin to relax; it prevents a warm reaction, the radiation of the body heat and the elimination of morbid matter through the skin.