Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/628

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private laugh. Wealthy bachelors should at once pack a valise, and (as the period of their martyrdom will generally coincide with the excursion-season) take a steamboat-ticket to some popular picnic grove, and associate with the noisiest and merriest of their traveling companions. Mirth itself has a stimulating effect. Sorrow deadens the energy of the vital powers, for Nature is too economical to prolong a losing game, and, if the burdens of life begin to outweigh its pleasures, the organic apparatus gravitates toward a suspension of its functions. The mainspring has lost its tension. But, if life becomes visibly worth living, the soul procures a new lease of vital power; every organ seems to work with a will, and asthenia disappears without the aid of Dr. Brown's brandy-bottles. "Being happy," says Ludwig Boerne, "is a talent that can be cultivated"—certainly a talent of great hygienic value; the gift of confining the flow of ideas to a pleasant channel, of wearing roseate spectacles as others would wear an electric belt, of enjoying life by a sheer effort of will-force, may be a faculty that can only be exercised during a limited period, but that period suffices for the cure of various distressing complaints, insomnia, for instance, and many symptoms of chronic dyspepsia, but especially chronic asthma. Asthma does not prevent longevity; there are people who have smoked stramonium-leaves for half a century, and, if they had chronicled their experience, they would find that in ' the dullest years they had to light the greatest number of pipes. A piece of good news is worth bushels of asthma-weeds; buoyant spirits seem to react directly on the stringency of the bronchial tubes, and the relief thus obtained is not apt to be followed by a relapse.

There is also a curious correlation between asthma and close stools. They come and go together. Any thorough and permanent aperient serves at the same time as an asthma-cure. Drastic purges act only for a day or two, and then leave the bowels in a worse condition than before. The cathartic effect of Glauber's-salt, for instance, is almost invariably followed by an astringent reaction. For a permanent relief of costiveness a change of diet is the safest plan, and no dietetic aperient of the Graham school can compare with the three legumina—beans, lentils, and peas. Stewed prunes rank next, and next such household remedies as blackberry-soup, clabber and rye-bread, or molasses with warm water. But the aperient effect of molasses decreases after each repetition of the dose, while stewed peas taken like medicine, three times a day, will prevail where Glauber's-salt fails. As an asthma-cure it can do no harm to apply the remedy beyond the alimentary wants of the system, temporary overeating being a lesser evil than continual under-breathing. At the end of the second or third day the bowels will yield, and the simultaneous improvement of the asthma-symptoms is generally permanent.[1]

  1. Hospital statistics have revealed the fact that the inhabitants of the beer-drinking countries of Southern Germany enjoy a remarkable immunity from asthmatic affections,