Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 129.djvu/71

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FOOD IN NERVOUS DISEASES.

hidden, or should direct the wanderer into the right path, or hold out a lamp in the darkness — so that they that have eyes to see shall see. Yea, even thus has the Blessed Lord made known the truth to me in many a figure. And I, even I, do put my trust in thee, and in thy law and in thy church — receive me, Lord, as thy disciple and true believer from this time forth as long as life endures.




From The National Food and Fuel Reformer.

FOOD IN NERVOUS DISEASES.

"Dr. Johnson, the professor of medicine at King's College, in the course of a series of lectures, now being published in the Lancet, upon nervous disorders, recommends as an efficacious method of treatment, a total change of diet without the aid of medicine. No doubt there may be much favour in this mode of cure when the disordered condition of the nerves springs from purely physical causes; but where overwork, mental strain, grief, religious despondency, or ennui are concerned in the matter — where, in fact, the mind has acted on the body, not the body on the mind — there can be nothing like a total change of scene and surroundings. The nervous excitement from which the speculator suffers may occur from very opposite causes in the office-clerk. Half the nervous disorders of middle-class women are due to the monotony of their lives. It is obvious that without a change in the manner of living, both of the speculator and the clerk, no good could come of a change of diet. In cases of disordered nerves, arising from grief or a severe mental shock, the diet-cure would be of but slight avail; and in the saddest of all forms of nervous disorders, religious despondency, it would be useless. Grief, anxiety, and religious despondency, are best treated by change of scene, and by a total separation of the patient from all former surroundings. Grief and anxiety wear themselves out in course of time, and as they lessen so does the nervous condition improve. Religious despondency, on the other hand, is far less hopeful. One thing, however, must be remarked, that the persons most subject to religious despondency are idle, with little or no occupation for mind or body. In these good steady work would be of great service. Nervous disorders are of so many kinds, spring from so many causes, and possess such an infinity of complications, that to lay down a uniform system of cure would be out of the question; but in any case, change of scene and surroundings, and change of occupation, are, doubtless, far more valuable aids than medicine."

The above paragraph appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette on Saturday, the 19th of February, and gives vivid evidence that scientific men are now becoming aware of the influence food has on human development. We have not yet read Professor Johnson's lectures, but the corroboration of an eminent medical man to our own views enhances their value. If a change of diet can cure nervous disorders, diet itself must have great influence on nervous development, and consequently on the mind. The article in the Pall Mall Gazette denies this, but the denial merely proceeds from an incomplete understanding of nervous action. The mind, as it is called, and the body are one, and can only act by the same laws; whether action' proceeds from the nervous centres and is invisible, or from the muscular system, and is visible — it is the action produced by force generated within.

The German professor, Helmholtz, has lately brought the calculations of the force that has to be engendered within to our comprehension, and if such a force has to be maintained, it can only be done by nourishment or food. Food consists not only of organic vegetable and animal matter, but also of air and water, and therefore a change of air is often invigorating to the nervous system. Our ideas of the mind's work are still very confused, for all nervous action is produced by exertion or waste of force. Grief is nervous exertion; joy is nervous exertion; despondency is nervous exertion; every thought is nervous exertion, and all this exertion wants maintaining and feeding. Whenever exhaustion appears, or so-called nervous disorder, it is nothing else but the consequence of want of nourishment. Grief makes a greater claim on the nervous centres than joy, and it is exceedingly wrong to avoid food in grief. Despondency is nothing but the result of incomplete nutrition of the nerves, which give way under outward pressure; it is only necessary to be judicious and give good nourishment to desponding persons, such as will invigorate and prove of tonic value, and the nervous system will return to its natural elasticity. Despondency exhausts the nervous system greatly, for all thought is action, and desponding thought wastes