Isaac G Briggs.

Epilepsy, hysteria, and neurasthenia, their causes, symptoms & treatment; online

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for until food is thoroughly masticated there will be
no relief. The only part of the whole digestive process
placed under the control of consciousness is mastica-
tion, and, paradoxically, it is the only part that
consciousness usually ignores.

A healthy man never knows he has a stomach ;
a dyspeptic never knows he has anything else, because
he will not eat his food, but throws it into his stomach
as the average bachelor throws his belongings into a


A varied, tasty diet, thoroughly chewed and
salivated, with rest before and after meals, is the only
means of curing dyspepsia, for no medicine can supply
and properly distribute nerve-energy.

Digestive pills are all purgatives, with a bitter to
increase appetite, and occasionally a stomachic, bound
together with syrup or soap. Practically all contain
aloes, and very rarely a minute quantity of a digestive
ferment like pepsin. Taken occasionally as purges,
most digestive pills would be useful, but none are
suited to continuous use, and the price is, as a rule,
out of all proportion to the primary cost, while one or
two are, frankly, barefaced swindles.

The analyses of the British Medical Association
give the following as the probable formulae for some
well-known preparations :

Beecham's Pills - Aloes ; ginger.

Holloway's Pills - Aloes ; ginger.

Page Woodcock's - Aloes ; ginger ; capsicum ;

cinnamon and oil of

Carter's Little Liver Aloes ; podophyllin ;

Pills liquorice.

Burgess' Lion Pills Aloes ; ipecacuanha ; rhu-
barb ; jalap ; peppermint.

Cockle's Pills - Aloes ; colocynth ; jalap.

Barclay's Pills - Aloes ; colocynth ; jalap.

Whelpton's Pills - Ginger ; colocynth ; gentian.

Bile Beans - Cascara ; rhubarb ; liquorice ;


Cicfa - - Cascara ; capsicum ; pepsin ;

diastase ; maltose.



" Simple diet is best ; many dishes bring many diseases."


" Alas ! what things I dearly love
Pies, puddings and preserves
Are sure to rouse the vengeance of
All pneumogastric nerves ! "


THE man who pores over a book to discover
the exact number of calories (heat units)
of carbohydrates, proteins and fats his body
needs, means well, but is wasting time.

In theory it is excellent, for it should ensure
maximum work-energy with minimum use of digestive-
energy, but in practice it breaks down badly, a weak-
ness to which theories are prone. One man divided
four raw eggs, an ounce of olive oil, and a pound of
rice into three meals a day. Theoretically, such a
diet is ideal, and for a short time the experimenter
gained weight, but malnutrition and dyspepsia set in,
and he had to give up. The best diet-calculator is a
normal appetite, and fancy aids digestion more than a
pair of scales.

In spite of rabid veget- and other " arians ", most
foods are good (making allowances for personal
idiosyncrasy) if thoroughly masticated. The oft-
quoted analogy of the cow is incorrect, for herbivora



are able to digest cellulose ; but even cows masticate
most laboriously.

Meat juices are the most digestion-compelling
substances in existence, and a little meat soup, " Oxo "
or " Bovril " is an excellent first course.

No one needs more than three meals per day, while
millions thrive on one or two only, which should be
ready at fixed hours ; for the stomach when habituated
becomes congested and secretes gastric juice at those
hours without the impulse of the will, is ready to
digest food, and gets that rest between-times which is
essential to sound digestion. The man who has snacks
between meals, and chocolates and biscuits between
snacks can never hope to get well.

To eat the largest meal at midday, as is the custom
of working-men, is best, provided one can take half
an hour's rest afterwards.

Drink a pint of tepid water half an hour before every
meal. If the stomach be very foul, add a teaspoonful
of bicarbonate of soda to the water.

The question of alcohol is a vexed one, but Paul's
" Take a little wine for thy stomach's sake," is
undoubtedly sound advice, though had Paul been
trained at a London hospital, he would have added
" after meals ". Unfortunately, moderation is usually
beyond the ability of the neuropath, and consequently
he should be forbidden to take alcohol at all. Spirits
must be avoided.

Moderately strong, freshly made tea or coffee may
be consumed in reasonable quantity.

Vegetable salads are excellent if compounded with
liquids other than vinegar or salad oil, and of
ingredients other than cucumbers, radishes, and the

Take little starchy food and sweetmeats. It may
surprise those with " a sweet tooth " to learn that,
to the end of the Middle Ages, sugar was used only as


a medicine. Meat must be eaten if at all in the
very strictest moderation, and never more than once
a day. Eggs, fish and poultry in moderation too
take its place.

Healthy children need very little meat, while it is
a moot point if children of unstable, nervous build
need any at all. The diet at homes for epileptics is
usually vegetarian, and gives excellent results.

Never swallow skin, core, seeds or kernels of fruits,
many of which, excellent otherwise, are forbidden
because of the irritation caused to stomach and bowels
by their seeds or skins.

Bromides are said to give better results if salt is
not taken. A little may be used in cooking, if, as is
usually the case, the patient has to eat at the common
table, but condiments are unnecessary and often
irritating to delicate stomachs.

The diet of nervous dyspeptics must be very simple,
and though it is trying and monotonous to forgo
harmful dainties in favour of wholesome dishes, it is
but one of the many limitations Nature inflicts on
neuropaths. Many an epileptic, after believing himself
cured, has brought on a severe attack by an imprudent
meal. La Rochefoucauld says : " Preserving the
health by too strict a regimen is a wearisome malady ",
but it is open to all men to choose whether they will
endure the remedy or the disease.

Most men eat six times the minimum and twice
the optimum quantity of food per day. For every
one who starves, hundreds gorge themselves to death.
" Food kills more than famine ", and the poor, who
eat sparsely from necessity, suffer far less from gout,
cancer, rheumatism and other food-aggravated
diseases than the rich.

Most books give detailed lists of foods to be eaten
and to be avoided, but this we believe is productive
of little good.


Let the patient eat a mixed diet, well and suitably
cooked, taking what he fancies in reason, masticating
everything thoroughly, and gradually eliminating
foods which experience teaches him are difficult for
him to digest.



" Causing a symptom to disappear is seldom the cure of
any ill ; the true course is to prevent the symptom."

KNGS of muscle cause wormlike movements
of the bowels, and so propel forward food
and waste. Weakening of these muscles
or their nerve controls from any cause, results in a
" condition of the bowels in which motions occur
only when provoked by medicines or injections ".
In some cases though motions occur freely, food
ingested is retained too long in the digestive tract.

The blood extracts what water it needs from the
fluid waste in the large bowel, but when the weak
muscles allow this to remain too long, an excess of
moisture is removed, leaving hard, dry masses, painful
to pass.

When the faeces reach the anus, they cause an
uneasy feeling, which directs us to seek relief, but
if we neglect this impulse the bowel may become so
insensitive that it ceases to warn its owner of the need
to evacuate. Meantime, the muscles which expel
the faeces get weak, so that every motion needs a
strong effort of will, and much harmful straining.

Much misery is caused by false modesty in the
presence of others. It can never be immodest to
attend to the calls of Nature, and such hypersensitive-
ness is dangerous, for rupture, piles, fissure, prolapse,
fistula, are often due to straining.

Lack of exercise weakens the intestinal and


abdominal muscles. Unsuitable or imprudent foods
or drinks, indigestion, excessive worry, and anything
that lowers the general health tend to produce con-

Bacteria flourish freely in faeces, and though it is
doubtful whether the " Auto-intoxication " so freely
ascribed to them, is supported by facts, it cannot be
doubted that, whatever the precise mechanism by
which the effects are produced, constipation does
result in a lowering of the resistance to disease. More
frequent fits, colic, foul breath, headache right across
the forehead, lost appetite, drowsiness, skin eruptions,
irritability, insomnia, melancholia and anaemia
(especially the " green sickness " of women, usually
connected with menstrual irregularities) are but a few
of many ills partly or wholly due to or consequent
upon constipation.

The symptoms of constipation of the small bowel
are dry stools, usually light in colour.

To cure this type, more water should be drunk, so
that the waste may pass to the large bowel in a fluid
state. Drink freely between meals, especially in
summer, when profuse perspiration often causes
obstinate constipation.

The symptoms of constipation of the large bowel
are furred tongue, foetid breath, sallow or jaundiced
complexion, and mottled stools of round, hard balls,
the first portion being very firm, and the remainder
nearly liquid. There are occasional attacks of colic.

The first step towards cure is to form regular habits.
At a suitable time, say shortly after breakfast, or after
supper if you suffer from haemorrhoids, go to the
lavatory, whether you feel uncomfortable or not.
Wait patiently, do not try to hasten matters by
violent straining, and if for some weeks there is little
improvement, do not despair, for the habits of a life-
time are not overcome in five minutes, just because


you have decided to amend your careless ways. A
short, brisk walk beforehand often helps.

If necessary, use a chamber and " squat " as
savages do. In this position, the thighs support the
abdomen, and force is exerted without straining.
Massaging the abdomen by firmly rubbing it round
and round, clockwise, with the hand, often does good,
as does pressure with a finger on the flesh between
the end of the backbone and the anus. Try every
method before taking purgatives, for with patience
and determination these are rarely necessary.

Carefully cooked and " concentrated ", easily
digested and " pre-digested " foods contain little
residue ; every meal should contain some indigestible
matter to stimulate the intestines. Brown bread,
porridge, lettuce, cress, apples and coarse vegetables
are all good for this purpose, but if taken too freely
may cause heartburn and flatulence. Meat, milk,
fish, eggs and most patent foods have not enough
waste. Boiled milk is very constipating.

Purgatives, injections and medicines, alone, are
useless, for the bowel becomes still more insensitive
to natural calls under the artificial stimulation of drugs,
on which it becomes so entirely dependent that
without their aid it will not act.

It may be necessary to clean out the bowel by an

Make a lather with clean warm water and plain soap,
and fill the enema syringe (a half -pint size is useful).
Smear the nozzle with vaseline, lean forward and insert
into the anus, pointing a little to the left. Press the
bulb, withdraw the nozzle, retain the liquid a few
moments and a desire to go to stool will be felt.

A simpler plan is to buy glycerin suppositories. One
is inserted into the anus and acts like an injection. It
must be clearly understood that these are emergency


If internal piles come down at stool, do not allow
them to remain and get engorged with blood. See
that your hands are scrupulously clean, and your nails
closely cut and free from dirt ; then moisten the middle
finger with a little vaseline taken to the lavatory for
the purpose, and gently return the haemorrhoids,
sitting down for a few minutes to retain them.

A mild purge may be taken once a week with advan-
tage. Glauber's Salts (Sodium Sulphate), Cascara
Sagrada, and liquid paraffin are all good, while Castor
Oil Globules are suited for children.

For flatulence, take a lo-minim capsule of
Terebine after meals, or charcoal, either as French
Rusks (" Biscols Fraudin ") or a teaspoonful of
powdered charcoal between meals. One drop of
creosote on a lump of sugar, peppermint water, and
sal volatile may also be used. Sufferers should toast
bread, and use sugar sparingly.

Patent medicines almost invariably contain a brisk



" Better to hunt in fields for health unbought,
Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught."

Dry den.

IF men but realized what complicated machines
they were, they would use themselves better.
In the body are 240 bones and hundreds
of muscles. The heart, no bigger than the clenched
fist, beats 100,000 times a day ; the aerating surface
of the lungs is equal in area to the floors of a six-roomed
house, and by means of its minute blood-vessels which
would stretch across the Atlantic, 1,500 gallons of
blood are brought into contact with over 3,000 gallons
of air every day.

Seven million sweat-glands, 30 miles long, get rid
of a pint of liquid and an ounce of solid waste each day
while it takes a tube 30 feet long, with millions of
glands, to deal with a sip of milk.

Man's finest steam engine turns one-eighth of the
energy supplied into work ; nature's engine, muscle,
turns one-third into work. The body contains 9
gallons of water, enough carbon to make 9,000 lead
pencils, phosphorus for 8,000 boxes of matches,
iron for 5 tacks, and salt enough to fill half a dozen

Over 40 food-ferments have been found in the liver ;
there are 5,000,000 red and 30,000 white blood
corpuscles in a space as big as a pin's head, each one
of which travels a mile a day and lives but a fortnight,



millions of new ones being built up in the bone-marrow
every second ; a flash of light lasting only one eight-
millionth of a second, will stimulate the eye, which
can discriminate half a million tints. The ear can
distinguish 11,000 tones, and is so sensitive that we
hear waves of air less than one sixty-thousandth of an
inch long ; a mass of almost liquid jelly for 81 per
cent of the brain is water, and Aristotle thought it
was a wet sponge to cool the hot heart sends
out impulses ordering our every thought and
act, and stores up memory, we know not how or

There are 10,000,000,000 of cells in the brain cortex
alone, and 560,000 fibres pass from the brain down the
spinal cord.

A clear, watery cell, no larger than the dot on an
" i " encloses factors causing genius or stupidity,
honesty or roguery, pride or humility, patience or
impulsiveness, coldness or ardour, tallness or short-
ness, form of head or hands, colour of eyes and hair,
male or female sex, and the thousand details that make
a man.

Yet man uses this marvellous mechanism but care-
lessly, and the widespread poverty, the worry and
discord in the lives of the happiest, our ignorance, the
evil habits we contract, and the vice, miseries, diseases
and labours to which most expectant mothers are
too often exposed, explain why one baby in every
eight never walks ; why but four of them live to man-
hood ; why less than 40 years is now man's average
span ; and why this brief space is filled with suffering
and misery, from which many escape by self-destruc-

Sound children do not come from unclean
air, surroundings, habits, pursuits, passions and
parents. Children conceived in unsuitable sur-
roundings by unsuitable parents, die ; must die ;


ought to die. They are not built for the stern battle
of life.

" Where the sun does not enter, the doctor does ! "

Italian proverb.

Plenty of fresh, clean air is essential to health.

In all rooms a block of wood nine inches high should
be inserted beneath the whole length of the bottom
sash of the window. This leaves a space between the
top and bottom sashes through which fresh air passes
freely, without draught, both night and day, for it
should never be closed. A handy man will fit a simple
device to prevent the windows being forced at night,
but better let in a burglar than keep out air.

If it be cold or draughty in the bedroom, hang a
sheet a foot from the window, put more blankets or an
overcoat on the bed, or put layers of brown paper
above the sheets, but never close the window.

You can take too much of many good things, but
never too much pure air.

Cleanliness. Keep the body clean by taking at
least one hot bath per week ; per day if possible.
Much filth is excreted by your sweat-pores ; why
let it cake on skin and underlinen, and silently silt
up your thirty miles of skin canals, thus over-
working the other excretory organs, and gradually
poisoning yourself ?

Neuropaths always suffer from sluggish circulation
of the extremities, and to improve this, hot and cold
baths, spinal douches and massage are excellent. A
hot bath (98-1 10 F.) ensures a thorough cleansing,
but it brings the blood to the surface, where its heat is
quickly lost, enervating one, and causing a bout of
shivering which increases the production of heat by


stimulating the heat-regulating centre in the brain.
Baths above 110 F. induce faintness. To prevent
shivering, take a cold douche after the hot bath, and
have a brisk rub down with a coarse towel, when a
delightful, warm glow will result. Do not freeze your-
self, or the reaction will not occur ; what is wanted is
a short, sharp shock, which sends the blood racing from
the skin, to which it returns in tingling pulsations,
which brace up the whole system. The douche is over
in a few seconds, and may be enjoyed the year round,
commencing in late Spring.

The cold bath must not be made a fetish. If the
glow is not felt, give it up, and bathe in tepid (85-92 F.)
or warm (93-98 F.) water. When started in the
vigour of youth, the cold bath may often be continued
through life, but it is unwise to commence in middle
life. Parents should never force their children to
take cold baths, to " harden them ".

Other Hygienic Points. Tobacco is undesirable for
neuropaths, save in moderation.

Clothes should be light, loose, and warm. Epileptics
should wear low, stiff collars, half a size too large, with
clip ties. Such a combination does not form a tight
band round the neck, and can quickly be removed if
necessary. Wear thick, woollen socks, and square-
toed, low-heeled, double-soled boots. Hats should
be large, light, and of soft material. Woollen under-
wear is best. Change as often as possible, and aim at
health, not appearance.

Let all rooms be well lighted, well ventilated, moder-
ately heated, and sparsely furnished with necessities.
Shan draperies, have no window boxes, cut climbing
plants ruthlessly away from the windows, and never
obstruct chimneys.

Buy Muller's " My System ", which gives a course of
physical exercises without apparatus, which only take
fifteen minutes a day. The patient must conscien-


tiously perform the exercises each morning, not for a
week, nor for a month, but for an indefinite period,
or throughout life.

Finally, remember that so few die a natural death
from senile decay because so few live a natural life.



" O magic sleep ! O comfortable bird

That broodest o'er the troubled sea of the mind
Till it is hushed and smooth."


SOME men need only a few hours' sleep, but
no one ever overslept himself in natural
slumber. There are anecdotes of great men
taking little sleep, but their power usually consisted
in going without sleep for some days when necessary,
and making up for it in one long, deep sleep. Neuro-
paths require from 10-13 hours to prepare the brain
for the stress of the next day, but quality is more
important than quantity.

Patients go to bed tired, but cannot sleep ; fall
asleep, and wake every other hour the night through ;
sleep till the small hours, and then wake, to get no more
rest that night ; only fall asleep when they should be
rising ; or have their slumber disturbed by nightmare,
terrifying dreams, heart palpitation, and so on.

Noise often prevents sleep. A clock that chimes
the quarters, or a watch that in the silence ticks with
sledge-hammer beats, has invoked many a malediction.
Traffic and other intermittent noises are very trying,
as the victim waits for them to recur. Townsmen
who seek rural quiet have got so used to town clatter,
that barking dogs, rippling streams, lowing cows,
rustling leaves, singing birds or chirruping insects keep
them awake. Too much light, eating a heavy supper,



all tend to banish repose, as do also violent emotions
which produce toxins, torturing the brain and causing
gruesome nightmares.

Grief and worry especially business and domestic
cares constipation, indigestion, bad ventilation,
stimulants, excitement and a hearty supper are a few
of the many causes of insomnia.

In children sleeplessness is often due to the bad
habit of picking a child up whenever it cries, usually
from the pain of indigestion due to having been given
unsuitable food. Feed children properly, and train
them to regular retiring hours. School home-work
may cause insomnia ; if so, forbid it.

Man spends a third of his life in the bedroom, which
should be furnished and used for no other purpose.
Pictures, drapery above or below the bed, and wall-
paper with weird designs in glaring colours are undesir-
able. The wall should be distempered a quiet green
or blue tint, and the ceiling cream. A bedroom should
never be made a storeroom for odds and ends, nor is
the space beneath the bed suitable for trunks ; least
of all for a soiled-linen basket.

Some time before retiring, excitement and mental
work should be avoided. The patient should take a
quiet walk after supper, drink no fluid, empty bladder
and bowels, and take a hot foot-bath.

Retire and rise punctually, for the brain, like most
other organs, may be trained to definite habits with

If sleeplessness be ascribed, rightly or wrongly, to
an empty stomach, a glass of hot milk and two plain
biscuits should be taken in bed ; dyspeptics should
take no food for three hours before retiring. If the
patient wakes in the early morning he may find a
glass of milk (warmed on a spirit-stove by the bedside)
and a few plain biscuits of value.

A victim of insomnia should lie on his side on a firm


bed with warm, light coverings, open the window,
close the door, and endeavour to fix his attention on
some monotonous idea ; such as watching a flock of
white sheep jump a hedge. Think of trifles to avoid
thinking of troubles.

How often do we hear people complain that they
suffer from insomnia, when in fact they get a reason-
able amount of sleep, and indeed often keep others
awake by their snoring.

When you wake, get up, for a second sleep does no
good. When some one, on seeing the narrow camp-bed
in which Wellington slept, said : " There is no room to
turn about in it," the Iron Duke replied : " When a
man begins to turn about in his bed it is time he turned
out of it."

The only safe narcotic is a day's hard work. For
severe insomnia consult a doctor ; do not take drugs
that way lies ruin. By taking narcotics, or patent
remedies containing powerful drugs, you will easily
get sleep for a time only and then fall a slave to
the drug. Such victims may be seen in dozens in any
large asylum.



" The surest way to health, say what they will
Is never to suppose we shall be ill ;
Most of the ailments we poor mortals know
From doctors and imagination flow."


" Men may die of imagination,

So depe may impression be take."


" Suggestion is the introduction into the mind of a practical
belief that works out its own fulfilment."



AN suffers from no purely imaginary ills,
for mental ills are as real as physical ills,
and though an individual be ailing simply
because he persuades himself he is ailing, his mind so

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Online LibraryIsaac G BriggsEpilepsy, hysteria, and neurasthenia, their causes, symptoms & treatment; → online text (page 5 of 11)