Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/218

This page has been validated.
206
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

precede putrefactive decay; the chyle should never stagnate, the stream of the organic functions should move with an uninterrupted current. There are rivers that become so low in summer that pools of water can be found only in the deeper cavities of the river-bed, and such pools are sure to swarm with "wrigglers," or incipient gnats. But, as soon as the current of the rising river drains those pools, the wrigglers speedily vanish.

The maw-worm plague is caused and should be cured on the same principle. Most people eat too often. Before the stomach can dispose of the first meal, it receives a second consignment, and soon after a third, of comestibles elaborately contrived to retard digestion; afternoon work monopolizes the energies of the system; the melange in the small intestines becomes unmanageable, stagnates, and at last ferments. Babies are gorged with milk till the contents of the little vessel literally spill at the muzzle; they are swaddled and bandaged, kept in horizontal confinement, and anxiously prevented from every motion that might ease the labor of the sorely overtaxed bowels. Fresh air, the next best peptic stimulant, is likewise carefully excluded. Nature fights the enemy for a week or two, but at last succumbs to odds: fermentation sets in; parasites fasten upon their well-prepared pabulum, and soon the tortures of the mummified little martyr are aggravated by the wriggling of hundreds of ascarides. Nervous children can thus be worried into epileptic fits, and even delirium and brain-fever. Locally the worm-plague produces constipation, hæmorrhages (often resembling the symptoms of true hæmorrhoids), and burning stools.

If the evil has reached proportions that defy dietetic specifics, the removal of the cause (as in prurigo, scabies, and syphilis) requires the application of artificial remedies. Injections of warm water with an infusion of quassia, or carbolic acid, will expel pin-worm; oil of chenopodium (worm-seed) in minute doses, administered with a tea-spoonful of castor-oil, is an effective prescription for the expulsion of the "round-worm."

Among the remedies against tæicæ, or tape-worms, the following vegetable specifics are not less effective and much safer than the calomel preparations which were formerly prescribed for that purpose: Pomegranate-bark (Granati fructus cortex); male fern (Filix mascula); but especially pounded pumpkin-seed. Three ounces of the fresh seed, mixed with a pint of water and pounded into an emulsion, taken after a twenty-four hours' fast, rarely fail to evict the tenant within three hours.

But the germs of the parasites remain behind, and the same predisposing conditions may at any time effect their redevelopment. Dietetic remedies must complete the cure. Children should be restricted to three meals a day. Let them earn their recovery by exercise—running, tumbling, dangling at the end of a grapple-swing. Adults should