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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/823

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THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

stance, dropsy frequently appears in the last stage of pulmonary consumption, when the wasted lungs have become unable to fulfill the chief purpose of respiration. Next to the alcohol-habit, the habitual breathing of impure air is the present main cause of dropsy, for air is gaseous food, and a sufficient supply of oxygen a chief preliminary in the conditions of the blood-making process. Malarial diseases likewise impoverish the blood by a direct process of disintegration;[1] and dropsy appears as an occasional after-effect of a long-continued ague. Remedies: Mountain-air, a light but nourishing diet, and strict abstinence from alcoholic stimulants.

Emetics.—Tepid water is a prompt, and the most harmless, emetic. In urgent cases (poisonings, etc.) add a modicum of white mustard (Sinapis alba), and tickle the fauces with the wing-feather of a pigeon, or any similar object. Excessive vomiting can be checked by stimulating applications to the pit of the stomach and the extremities.

Epilepsy.—Epilepsy, or the falling-sickness, is a complication of nervous derangements,[2] and results more frequently from sexual excesses than from all other causes combined. In young children, however, epilepsy is sometimes a consequence of teething-difficulties, of acidity in the stomach, and of worms, and in such cases can be readily cured by a change of regimen,[3] or, in malignant cases, by a protracted fast. For adults, strict continence and out-door exercise is the best prophylactic. Excessive heat, however, should be carefully guarded against, as well as all exciting passions.

Excoriation.—Infants are apt to become "galled" in particular parts of their bodies, about the groins, the lower part of the neck, and under the arms especially in consequence of the condemnable practice of tight swaddling. To dry up such sores, "galling-plasters" (acetate of lead, etc.) often lead to worse complications, and the best remedy is cleanliness, and fine lint, smeared with spermaceti-ointment or warm tallow.

Fainting-Fits, or Syncope.—Syncope, or "fainting," "Ohnmacht," "Desmayo" as three nations have called it with a correct appreciation of its chief cause, as distinct from that of apoplexy and convulsions, results from a general deficiency of vital strength. Cold water, applied to the neck, the feet, and the palms of the hands, by means of a bathing-brush, is the best restorative. In severe cases inflation of the lungs by mechanical means has often proved effective. Dr. Engleman mentions the case of a lady in child-bed, who, "after being happily delivered, suddenly fainted and lay upward of a quarter of an hour apparently dead. A physician had been sent for; her own maid, in the mean while, being out of patience at his delay, attempted to assist her herself, and, extending herself upon her mistress, applied

  1. "Climatic Fevers," "Popular Science Monthly," vol. xxiii, p. 477.
  2. "Nervous Maladies," "Popular Science Monthly," vol. xxiv, p. 454.
  3. "Enteric Disorders," "Popular Science Monthly," vol. xxiv, p. 196.