"Total abstinence from all food was again enjoined . . . "
"How terribly strange," he exclaims, "that physicians generally will not make themselves acquainted with . . . abstinence!"
Writing in this same article of a case of neuralgia, he says: "I stopped all eating entirely, for a time, then graduated her food to the capabilities of her organs, altering the nature as well as the quantity of food, and so great was the change in one week . . ."
He says: "I find it necessary in almost all of these cases to abstain entirely from all food for some days, no matter how weak they be; they soon find that they are stronger without food than with it, for nothing weakens anyone like pain . . . One has to be very careful how they try the fasting experiment, as they may carry it too far, which would be injurious, and if not far enough, they do nothing. As a general thing, I make it a rule not to prescribe fasting to any extent, unless the patient will come to the establishment, or is where I can see him every day, and then I have but little trouble in curing even the most inveterate cases."
Greatest stress was placed upon the value of fasting in acute disease. Writing in the Journal, February 1862, of the care of acute cases by Hygienic means, J. H. Stillnab, M.D., said that "entire abstinence from food until the prominent symptoms of the disease--I care not what it is--abate, is of the utmost importance." He further says of the care of acute disease, which he defines as "remedial effort," that, if Hygienically cared for, this will "save the pains and confinement of a long illness" and "there would be no chronic disease." He recounts successfully caring for cases of ague and fever by "total abstinence and warm drinking."
In the August 1851 issue of the Journal, one Dr. Wilmarth stresses the value of abstinence in disease. In an article published in 1856, Dr. James C. Jackson, discussing the evils of drugging the sick, said: "What your patient wants is abstinence from food and brain quiet . . ." S. M. Landis, M.D., writing in the Journal, September 1857, said: "In acute and inflammatory diseases, no food should be used . . ."
Of serious bowel disease, Kittredge said: "When once the membranes become inflamed, it is in vain you try to cure it . . . while the patient is made or allowed to swallow food, as it will never be chymified, and of course, act as any foreign substance would do, provoking and perpetuating the disease."
Writing in the Journal, August 1858, Kittredge stressed the importance of abstinence in typhoid or slow fever. Young says of a typhoid fever case that he reported: "The patient was stubborn, and persisted in spite of the absence of hunger, in taking food. This intensified the symptoms." Discussing the sickness of the Prince of Wales, who recovered from typhoid fever after his life had been dispaired of, upon the discontinuance of alcoholic medication and the substitution of milk therefor, Trall said: "If the doctors in all similar cases will give milk instead of brandy, or will even omit the stimulants without giving the milk, there will be less danger of the patient dying and no danger whatever of mistaking intoxication for 'goneness' of one lung nor of misjudging the vomiting of narcosis for 'perforation of the bowels.'"
Speaking of rheumatism in an article in the Journal, August 1858, Kittredge stressed the "absolute necessity for fasting in such cases." Dr. Trall reproduces the account of one of his colleagues (Journal, June 1857) who cared for a case of inflammatory rheumatism in which J.P.H. says that: "No food was taken for two weeks."
Writing of a case of puerperal fever, Journal, October 1860, A. Augusta Fairchild, M.D., remarks that she had the assistance on the case of a nurse of "good common sense" who did not entertain the "foolish notion so prevalent regarding the care of the sick . . . she did not fear that the sick woman would 'starve' when she was not in a condition to receive food, nor that she would sleep too much, or breathe the pure air. The world would be blessed indeed if we had more such nurses."
Writing in the Journal, March 1862, of the preparation of patients for operations, Trall, who was a skilled surgeon, condemned both the physics employed by allopaths and those employed by the physio-meds to empty the bowels and the emetics employed with which to empty the stomach. He thought it "bad practice under any and all circumstances to disturb and, to a certain extent, prostrate a patient with a dose of medicine of any kind, just before he is to submit to a serious surgical operation. He needs at this time all of his vital resources for recuperation and reparation, and to waste any portion of them is just to that extent to hazard the final success. If the bowels require cleansing of the fecal accumulations, an enema of warm water is amply sufficient. If the stomach is foul, one day's fasting will rectify that difficulty . . . "
Both in the Graham Journal and in the Journal there are accounts of men and women employing fasting for short periods in minor troubles without professional supervision. For example, a mechanic, recounting his personal experience in caring for his sick child, in a letter which Trall reproduced in the journal, June 1857, says that "no food was taken for two weeks." He says that his neighbors protested that: "You will certainly starve the poor child to death." Neighbors are still making this same unintelligent statement. In the September 19, 1851 issue of the Journal, an anonymous writer, discussing "self-treatment," says: "By way of experiment, about this time, I tried the effects of the hunger cure. After abstaining from food for several days, I found the severity of my pains entirely overcome, and it has not returned to this day.
In giving instructions for breaking the fast, they said: "When your tongue is clean, your rest peaceful, your skin clear, your eyes bright, the pain gone, the soreness gone, and you are very sharply hungry, you may select from the scores of healthful articles of food that which pleases you and eat with moderation."
When we consider the facts that fasting, especially in acute disase, was stressed by Graham, Jennings, Trall, Jackson, Kittredge, Taylor, Nichols and other leading Hygienists of the time, and the further fact that in their writings and public lectures the graduates of the Hygeo-Therapeutic College stressed the importance of fasting in acute disease, it becomes obvious that the subject was taught in the college. But warnings were issued against using fasting to the exclusion of other essential Hygienic means. Fasting, they said, may be said to be in the strictest sense only an adjuvant, and properly employed is a most useful auxiliary, and in almost all cases is much to be desired; but it is possible to lay altogether too much stress upon it to the neglect of the more important elements of Hygiene.