This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
This will by no means increase a tendency to dropsy, but will rather obviate it; in point of fact, the only safe and thoroughly reliable diuretic for the relief of albuminous dropsy is water, and it is a most likely preventive of any such complication. As nourishment under the dilemma now described, whey (being free from casein proteid) is a very appropriate form of nourishment.
For any acute congestion, or inflammation of the kidneys, a diet almost exclusively of skimmed milk, or of diluted milk, will be essential, whilst the patient is kept warm in bed under woollen clothing, and abstaining almost, if not altogether, from animal food, even as broth, or soup. The restriction to milk diet should be maintained far into convalescence, so as to avoid bleeding from the kidneys if stimulated by stronger foods. When thirsty, the patient should drink barley water, or thin arrowroot, or apple water, and later on, "imperial drink." For making this, put two teaspoonfuls of cream of tartar into a jug, and pour in two pints of boiling water, so as to dissolve the same; then add the juice of. a lemon, and some sugar, mixing these together. When it is cool the drink may be placed by the bedside, and taken at will. Different dietary tactics are needed for chronic kidney congestion, when the heart gets to require ample support, so that animal food, such as red meat, must be allowed daily, else the system will break down. If the urine becomes scanty during fever, or in pneumonia of a low type, the acid phosphates are then of much service, likewise fresh lemon juice with water.
John Ruskin, in July, 1871, penned the following characteristic letter: "My,dearest Tom, really your simplicity about naughty me is the most comic thing I know, among all my old friends. Me, docile to doctors! I watched them (when I had three) to see what they knew of the matter, did what they advised for two days; found they were utterly ignorant of the illness, and were killing me. I had inflammation of the bowels, and they gave me ice, and tried to nourish me with milk. Another twelve hours, and I should have been past hope. I stopped in the middle of a draught of iced water, burning with insatiable thirst, thought over the illness myself steadily, and ordered the doctors out of the house. Everybody was in an agony, but I swore and raged till they had to give in, ordered hot toast and water in quantities, and mustard poultices to the bowels. One doctor had advised fomentation, that I persevered with, adding mustard to give outside pain. I used brandy and water as hot as I could drink it for stimulant, kept myself up with it, washed myself out with floods of toast and water, and ate nothing, and refused all medicine.
In twenty-four hours I had the pain under, in twenty-four more I had healthy appetite for meat, and was safe; but the agony of poor Johanna! forced to give me meat; for I ordered roast chicken instantly, when the doctors, unable to get at me, were imploring her to prevail on me not to kill myself, as they said I should. The poor thing stood it nobly; of course, none of them could move me one whit. I forced them to give me cold roast beef, and mustard, at two o'clock in the morning, and here I am, thank God! to all intent and purpose quite well again, but I was within an ace of the grave. But I know now something of doctors that (well, I thought Moliere had had enough of them, but he's complimentary to what I shall be after this). Thanks for all your good love, but do try to understand me a little better, indocilest when I choose of human creatures, but yet your's most affectionately, John Ruskin".
Dr. Morton, of New York, claims that the healing properties of many mineral springs, attributed hitherto to chemicals contained therein, do in reality depend on imprisoned sunlight, which can now be revealed by the X-rays, radium, and ultraviolet rays. When a patient swallows a solution (notably of quinine) it gives off within him, if rendered fluorescent by radioactivity, sunshine rays which are luminous if radium be held near the body, so that practically the patient's interior is thus bathed in sunlight. A hope is entertained, with no little confidence, that this discovery may lead on to a scientific cure of internal cancer by an extension of the same means.
Scientific dentistry has recently discovered that by a patient's gazing intently for a while at an electric light within a bulb of blue glass, the operation of immediately extracting a tooth is rendered almost painless.
In past times sufferers from small-pox were surrounded by some English doctors with red fabrics as to bed clothing, curtains, and window blinds; which practice has incurred modern ridicule, and amused derision. But Finsen, the famous scientist of Copenhagen, has ascertained that by excluding from such patients during this disease the chemical rays (blue, violet, and ultra-violet) of light, and admitting only the heat rays (red, and yellow) thereof, under such conditions no deep pitting of skin results from the pocks, and no secondary fever ensues. Finsen was first led to form these conclusions in 1832 when watching the successful treatment of small-pox patients in dark rooms.
It is claimed by some medical thinkers, and with no small show of reason, that water absorbs nerve energy, and may be purposely charged therewith, for a sick person's benefit, by "passes" from a sound, healthy, vigorous, plain-living, pure-minded individual, who lives much in the open air, and is of regular habits, without any excessive, or harmful indulgences; such water should be forthwith drunk by the patient, between two meal-times. On this showing, the ideal master of the healing art is the man who has an abundance of nerve energy, some of which he can transfer at need, and likewise possesses the power of imparting to the convictions of another an irresistible suggestion of health and vigour. Similarly, the susceptible invalid, lacking nerve health, and a complement of vital force, should drink occasionally a tumblerful of pure water which has been exposed to direct outdoor sunlight on a bright morning, or to brilliant moonlight at night when the moon is waxing towards its full; an exposure for fifteen minutes in each case will suffice. By this means the occult power of either luminary is conveyed through the water into the blood.