This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
Trall insisted that "strictly speaking, fever and food are antagonistic ideas. No simple fever, if well-managed, requires dieting in any way, save the negative one of starvation, until its violence is abated."--Hydropathic Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 447. Again he says: "If you give food in the early stage of a fever, you do not feed the system, you only aggravate the fever. Why? Because the vital powers are so occupied in the remedial effort that they cannot digest or assimilate. That is why so many fever patients are fed to death by the nurses and doctors * * * In fever it (the living system) cannot digest food."--Jennings-Trall Debate.
Fever indicates poisoning, usually decomposition in the intestines. It means that there is a mass of rotting food in the food tube poisoning the body. It means something else--namely: nutrition is suspended until the poisoning is overcome. It means that no food should be given to the patient until all fever and other symptoms are gone. It means that nothing but water, as demanded by thirst, should be given to the patient.
So long as there is fever and diarrhea, no food, of whatever character, can be of any use to the body. If the patient appears to be hungry, it is thirst. Give him water, for food will not relieve the thirst.
The following quotation from Trall is to the point in this connection: "Food should not be taken at all until the violence of the fever is materially abated, and then very small quantities of the simplest food only should be permitted, as gruel, with a little toasted bread or cracker, boiled rice, mealy potatoes, baked apples, etc. There is not a more mischievous or more irrational error abroad in relation to the treatment of fever than the almost universal practice of stuffing the patient continually with stimulating slops, under the name of mild nourishing diet, beef tea, mutton broth, chicken soup, panada, etc. The fever will always starve out before the patient is injured by abstinence, at least under hydropathic treatment, and the appetite will always return when the system is capable of assimilating food."--Hydropathic Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 84.
In speaking of the treatment of smallpox, Dr. Shew declared, Hydropathic Family Physician, p. 249: "Most fever patients are allowed to eat too much. Some may be allowed too little; but this must be the exception to the rule. In all severe fevers, the system absolutely refuses nourishment; that is, it is not digested or made into blood. Hence all nutriment, in such cases, is worse than useless, since if it does not go to nourish the system, it must only prove a source of irritation and harm. If the disease is severe, then it would be best as long as the fever lasts, to give no nourishment whatever. In mild cases it would of course be otherwise, although it would harm no one to fast a few days, but would, on the contrary, do them good. When nourishment is given, it should be of some bland and anti-feverish kind. Good and well-ripened fruit in its season would be especially useful, taken always at the time of a regular meal."