is almost sure to start up with a feeling of strangulation" ("Popular Science Monthly," p. 611). But even in such cases the proximate cause can generally be traced to some occurrence of the preceding day; indeed, most sufferers from chronic asthma know from the experience of their waking hours what the next night may be expected to have in store for them.
I do not suppose that your correspondent, whose letters bespeak him an intelligent observer, can be a dupe of the vulgar fallacy which mistakes a low temperature for the cause of "colds" and catarrhs; still, it is evident that he overrates the danger of its employment as a "remedial agent." For one life lost by the abuse of cold water, a million have been lost by the abuse of drugs. Dr. Carl Bock, whose manual of health, "Das Buch vom gesunden und kranken Menschen," is a standard (though entirely non-systemic) work on practical hygiene, recommends a sponge or shower-bath among the safest antispasmodics (c. "Angor pectoris, or Asthma," p. 502). It is well known that the paroxysms of yellow fever and cognate diseases decrease the intoxicating effects of alcoholic stimulants, and hydropathists have repeatedly called attention to the fact that under similar circumstances the dreaded nervous shock of a cold douche is partly neutralized by the conditions of the disease itself, and acts only as a tonic in the best sense of the word; and, since Dr. Koch's discovery, no modification of accepted medical theories has excited more attention than the successful application of cold baths to the treatment of typhoid fever. For a practical illustration of their efficacy in severe cases of spasmodic asthma, I can refer Mr. Crosby to the experience of two of my correspondents, Mr. Otto Schreiner, of Jacksonville, Florida, and Dr. H. D. Warner, of Reliance, Polk County, Tennessee. After stating his personal experience, Dr. Warner adds, "Priessnitz," the founder of hydropathy,"would become the patron-saint of asthma-patients, if they could rid themselves of the superstitious dread of cold water and give the plan a fair trial."
Stramonium (vide Datura in "American Cyclopædia," or any medical or pharmaceutical compend) is one of the strongest narcotic poisons, and in its physiological action resembles belladonna and henbane, producing "dryness of the throat, active delirium, dilatation of the pupils, and a rapid pulse. Death may occur with coma and convulsions." And such remedies Mr. Crosby proposes to apply to patients who "can endure only the most soothing and gentle treatment"! It is true that the action of the drug is somewhat modified by the abnormal condition of the system; still, its after-effects are perceptible for days; while those of cold water are limited to the dread of direful consequences, and one or two test-experiments will rarely fail to remove that objection, which is, after all, only a specialized form of the same traditional fallacy which in winter ascribes fatal consequences to an open window, but risks the sickening effluvium of an unventilated bedroom; which in warm weather dreads a draught of cold water, but trusts its life to the tender mercies of the liquor-mixer. Besides, the asthenia of an asthma-spasm is an eclipse, a temporary paralysis, rather than an exhaustion of the vital energies; and the shiver of a cold douche, instead of complicating the afflictions of the patient, relieves them by breaking the spell of the obstruction. Of course, neither stramonium nor cold water alone can reach the cause of the disease, which must be removed by an invigorating regimen out-door life, wholesome food, and persistent continence; cold water, however, is at least an adjuvant means to that end, while the repeated use of narcotic drugs never fails to impair the tone of the nervous system, and thus directly tends to perpetuate an asthenic diathesis.
But I fully agree with your correspondent that asthma is the most capricious disorder of the human organism, and that its study can never be exhausted. Most of his observations can be readily reconciled with the doctrine of my treatise; but, even in as far as they may represent the record of an exceptional experience, I consider them, on the whole, a valuable contribution to the pathology of the disease.
F. L. Oswald.
An article on animal friendships, which appeared not long since in "The Popular Science Monthly," reminded me of a remarkable instance that came under my own observation a short time ago.
While on a visit to a farmer in a neighboring county, I was surprised to see a magnificent, full-grown wild-turkey wandering around with the fowls in his barnyard. On watching the turkey, I was still more surprised to notice that she followed particularly a large rooster; the two seemed to be on excellent terms, and frequently strayed off from the main flock together. Inquiring of the owner, I learned the following facts: Two of his children found a few wild-turkeys' eggs in the forest and brought them home, placing them under a domestic turkey, with other eggs, to hatch. Three of the wild-turkey eggs hatched, and two of the chicks lived to grow up, but soon
- "China tobacco" and niter are hardly less objectionable. Only three weeks ago Charles H. Codman, the well-known liberal and political economist, died from the effects of inhaling niter-fumes. (Vide p. 148 in Boston "Index" of September 27, 1883.)