Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/322

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ister a glass of cold water, and, my life for yours, that on Monday morning the little glutton will be ready to climb the steepest hill in the county. But stuff him with liver-pills, drench him with cough sirup and paregoric, and in a month or two he will not be able to satisfy the cravings of the inner boy without "assisting Nature" with a patent stimulant.

But is it fair to denounce a palliative when the radical remedies have lost their efficacy? What dietetic reform can avail a man to whom oatmeal-gruel has become a poison? How can he invigorate his system by exercise if he is hardly able to support himself on his legs? The asthenic stage of the disease can reach a degree when the mere suggestion of gymnastic enterprises is enough to produce a fit of nervous spasms. I have known of dyspeptics who would not have crossed a room to save a pet bird from the claws of a cat, and who would have joined an expedition to the north pole as soon as to the skating-ring. Theirs is a sad plight, for a rule that holds good of unnatural habits in general applies more especially to the chronic establishment of dietetic abuses, namely, that the further we have strayed from nature, the longer and wearier will be the road of reform. Before the invalid can restore the health and vigor of his system, he has to restore his capacity for exercise. The first object is to create a healthy demand for nourishment. Under normal circumstances that demand is proportioned to the amount of the organic expenditure. The nursing females of the mammalia require a larger amount of nourishing diet than the ordinary wants of the system would account for. During the age of rapid growth, children eat and digest as much as hard-working men. Diabetes, the first stage of consumption and other wasting diseases, is characterized by an exorbitant appetite. Every increase of muscular activity involves an augmented demand for nourishment; cæeteris paribus, the man who walks a mile from his shop to his home will digest his supper more easily than he who takes the street-car. The hotel-boarder who makes it a rule to walk up the four flights of stairs to his attic will sleep sounder, and awaken more refreshed, than he who uses the elevator.

But the far-gone dyspeptic who is incapable of an active effort has to begin with a passive method of natural stimulation—the refrigeration-cure, based on the tonic influence of cold air and cold water. Voracity increases with the distance from the equator. An Esquimau eats a quantum that would crapulate three Hottentots and six Hindoos. A cold winter curtails the profits of boarding-houses. Camping in the open air whets the appetite even without the aid of active exercise. A bracing temperature exacts a sort of automatic exercise: it accelerates the circulation, it promotes the oxidation of the blood, and indirectly stimulates the whole respiratory process.[1] The

  1. "Why should sickness prevail during the warm, pleasant weather so much more frequently than during the cold? The reason appears to me very plain. The cold weather