This section is from the "Nature Cure: Philosophy and Practice Based on the Unity of Disease and Cure" book, by Henry Lindlahr.
A plentiful supply of pure fresh air is of vital importance at any time. We can live without food for several weeks and without water for several days, but we cannot live without air for more than a few minutes. Just as a fire in the furnace cannot be kept up without a good draft which supplies the necessary amount of oxygen to the flame, so the fires of life in the body cannot be maintained without an abundance of oxygen in the air we breathe.
This is of vital importance at all times, but especially so in acute disease, because here, as we have learned, all the vital processes are intensified. The system is working under high pressure. Large quantities of waste and morbid materials, the products of inflam-mation, have to be oxidized, that is, burned up and eliminated from the system.
In this respect the Nature Cure people have brought about one of the greatest reforms in medical treatment: the admission of plenty of fresh air to the sickroom.
But, strange to say, the importance of this most essential natural remedy is as yet not universally recognized by the representatives of the regular school of medicine. Time and again I have been called to sickrooms where by order of the doctor every window was closed and the room filled with pestilential odors, the poisonous exhalations of the diseased organism added to the stale air of the unventilated and often overheated apartment. And this air starvation had been enforced by graduates of our best medical schools and colleges. This unnatural and inexcusable crime against the sick is committed even at this late day in our great hospitals under the direct supervision of physicians who are foremost in their profession.
It is not the cold draft that is to be feared in the sickroom. Cool air is most agreeable and beneficial to the body burning in fever heat. What is to be feared is the reinhalation and reabsorption of poisonous emanations from the lungs and skin of the diseased body.
Furthermore, the ventilation of a room can be so regulated as to provide a constant and plentiful supply of fresh air without expos-ing its occupants to a direct draft. Where there is only one window and one door, both may be opened and a sheet or blanket hung across the opening of the door, or the single window may be opened partly from above and partly from below, which insures the entrance of fresh, cold air at the bottom and the expulsion of the heated and vitiated air at the top. The patient may be protected by a screen, or a board may be placed across the lower part of the window in such manner that a direct current of air upon the patient is prevented.
In very cold weather, or if conditions are not favorable to constant ventilation of the sickroom, the doors and windows may be opened wide for several minutes every few hours, while the patient's body and head are well protected. There is absolutely no danger of taking cold if these precautions are taken. Under right conditions of room temperature, frequent exposure of the patient's nude body to air and the sunlight will be found most beneficial and will often induce sleep when other means fail.
I would strongly warn against keeping the patient too warm. This is especially dangerous in the case of young children, who cannot use their own judgment or make their wishes known. I have frequently found children in high fever smothered in heavy blankets under the mistaken impression on the part of the attendants that they had to be kept warm and protected against possible draft. In many instances the air under the covers was actually steaming hot. This surely does not tend to reduce the burning fever heat in the body of the patient.