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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/212

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one of the three legumens—beans, peas, and lentils—is pretty sure to suit every constitution, and as bowel-regulators their value can hardly be overrated. Taken like medicine at regular intervals of eight hours, and in doses of about a pint and a half, the third or fourth meal of pea-soup (boiled in soft water and flavored with butter and a pinch of chopped onions) will prove as effective as a moderate medicinal aperient; but, while the effect even of a mild cathartic is followed by an astringent reaction, the relief obtained by an aperient regimen is permanent, unless that effect is persistently counteracted by the original cause of the disorder. Fruit, fresh or stewed, ripe grapes, or tamarind-jelly, and frequent draughts of pure cold water, will insure the efficacy of the remedy.

Besides an astringent diet, the chief predisposing causes of constipation are: warm weather, overheated rooms, want of exercise, sedentary occupations, tight garments, the after-effects of drastic drugs, of malarial fevers, and sometimes of self abuse. Parturition is frequently followed by a protracted period of close stools. In the most obstinate cases of constipation clysters are preferable to cathartics, for the reason that the former reach the special seat of the disease, viz., the lower part of the rectum, while the latter begin their work by convulsing the stomach, and, by irritating its sensitive membrane, disqualify it for the proper performance of its function. But injections, even of the simplest kind, should be used only as the last resort, after all the following remedies have proved ineffective:

Mastication.—Thoroughly masticate and insalivate each morsel of solid food. Eat slowly; do not soak your bread, etc., to facilitate deglutition, but let the saliva perform that business. The stomach of bilious dyspeptics often rejects a stirabout of bread and milk, but accepts the ingredients in a separate form.

Passive Exercise.—Kneading the abdomen, or riding on horseback or in a jolting cart, often affords relief by dislodging the obdurated obstructions of the lower intestines.

Cold sponge-baths excite a peristaltic movement of the colon, and often induce a direct evacuation.

Air-baths have an analogous effect, and in summer the bed should be removed to the airiest room in the house. After the stools have become more regular, exhausting fatigues (in warm weather especially) should be carefully avoided. The advent of winter greatly lessens the danger of a relapse. Frost is a peptic stimulant, and after October the cold ablutions can be gradually discontinued. Fresh air, an occasional sleigh-ride, or an excursion on a rumbling freight-train, will do the rest; and the cure is complete if, during the next warm season, the digestive organs perform their proper functions without the aid of artificial stimulants. The remedies for bilious constipation have been mentioned in the chapter on "Dyspepsia," but I will here repeat the chief rule for the cure of chronic indigestion: "Never eat till you