Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/329

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THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

the Germans call the eleven-o'clock refreshment, used at least to consist of cold meats; but competing saloon-keepers have now introduced hot lunches, and in our larger cities there is no escape for dyspeptics; "the smoke of their torment ariseth for ever and ever."

The gastric irritability which forms a lingering after-effect of chronic dyspepsia can be better allayed by a vegetable diet than by the nutritive extracts which are supposed to aid the work of digestion. The bulk of innutritive admixtures somehow excites and maintains the vigor of the digestive organs; and the human organism can not thrive on concentrated nourishment, as for similar reasons the lungs can not be fed on pure oxygen. Water, either pure or in organic compounds, is likewise an effective sedative and depuratory; it aids the process of eliminating the indigestible or noxious elements of various articles of food, whose ingestion therefore excites thirst. But, without waiting for that urgent appeal, we should remember that the diet of our instinct-guided relatives contains about ninety per cent of water, and that a dearth of fruit should be compensated by artificial compounds, supplying the requisite amount of fluids in a palatable form. The remedial influence of many famous spas is due to the water as much as to its mineral admixtures. About fifty years ago, the Brooklyn hotels were crowded with visitors, attracted by the fame of a doctor who cured all manner of diseases with pure rain-water. The mystic motto of Thales, "Ariston men liydor" ("The best of all things is water"), might perhaps be explained from such facts. Our diet, in fact, is much too dry, and could be improved without resorting to lager-beer, which redeems its deleterious influence to some degree by helping the Germans to digest their pungent comestibles. Water, in some of its combinations, is also an effective aperient; in watermelons and whey, for instance; but still more in conjunction with a dish of legumina—peas, lentils, and beans. No constipation can long withstand the suasion of a daily dose of pea-soup, or baked beans, flavored with a modicum of brown butter, and glorified with a cup of cold spring-water; and, moreover, the aperient effect is not followed by an astringent reaction the cure, once effected, is permanent. Plethoric dyspepsia is almost invariably accompanied by close stools, and the drugs that have been swallowed to ease Nature for a day—would poison half the living creatures of the American Continent.

But rather forego the beans than eat them with pork. The interdict of the Hebrew lawgiver, I suspect, has something to do with the climate-proof health of his countrymen, for in warm weather fat pork is about as digestible as yellow soap. The Hungarian peasants are ravenously fond of it, and neither out-door life nor the vigor of their Turanian stomachs can save them from the consequences. Every summer, and sometimes three and four times a year, the digestive system of the rustic Magyar relieves itself by an expurgative process known