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Medical ArticlesBreath And Nerve
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Source: Papers On Health
Is the process whereby the digested food is carried into
the blood stream, and thus conveyed to the different parts of the body
where the hungry cells are in need of it.
Fine threads of blood vessels (capillaries) take it up from the stomach
and intestines. Also along the intestines there are little projections
(villi), through which the food passes into a blood stream leading to
the liver, where the blood is then purified. These projections also
contain lacteals or little vessels containing blood without its red
corpuscles. A duct carries this colourless blood mixed with absorbed
food to the left side of the neck, where it empties into the blood
stream. These lacteals have a special affinity for the fat of the food.
Most of the rest of the food, including the proteid and the
carbohydrate or starchy portion now in the form of sugar, passes into
the capillaries, and then is led to the liver.
The liver will not let through more sugar than is required, storing it
up for future use. It also acts as a careful guardian, by arresting
many poisons which would otherwise pass into the general circulation.
The liver requires for the proper performance of its functions plenty
of pure blood, hence the necessity for fresh air and exercise, that the
lungs may work well. The liver is easily influenced by alcoholic
beverages, and by getting too hard work to do through eating rich
foods. A consideration of this delicate and intricate process, whereby
the digested food is absorbed, will show that badly-digested food can
not hope to be well assimilated, consequently attention should be paid
to the quantity and quality of the food we eat (see Digestion; Diet).
Whatever thus makes living substance is nourishment; whatever fails to
do so is not. If food be taken, and even digested, without being thus
assimilated, it becomes an injury to a patient instead of a help. In
cases of fever, inflammatory disease, or wasting sores, much rich food
feeds the fire. It is like laying rafters on the roof of a burning
house for purposes of repair. In such a case small quantities of milk,
or milk and hot water (see Digestion), represent the total food which
can be effectively used in the body. We write on this subject that in
treatment our friends may watch not to injure by making the blood too
rich in elements which the system cannot usefully assimilate. Such
foods as oatmeal jelly and wheaten porridge will often furnish more
real nourishment than pounds of bread, beef, and potatoes. A little
careful thought will guide to correct treatment in this matter. An
easily assimilated diet is found in Saltcoats biscuits and hot water;
many inveterate stomach troubles have yielded to this, when taken as
sole diet for some weeks (see Biscuits and Water).
Treatment may also be given for lack of assimilative power. The back,
especially on either side of the spine, is rubbed with gentle pressure
and hot olive oil. This pressure is so applied that a genial heat
arises along the whole spinal column. This done twice a day, for
half-an-hour at a time, and continued for several weeks, will markedly
restore assimilative power. Cases which have been perfectly helpless
for eight and even ten years are cured by this simple method,
sufficiently and carefully followed.
We had a patient who was stout, but weak and weary, with the muscles
slack and showing loss of power. The effect of back-rubbing,
accompanied by easily assimilated food in small quantities and often,
was to lessen his weight by a considerable amount. But the muscular
power at once began to increase, and the man was soon like one made
anew. Digestion had not been impaired in this case, but the blood
formed by it was not converted into good living substance. Sight and
hearing have even been restored by these means when the failure in eye
or ear has been due to waste material accumulating, as frequently is
In connection with many troubles, what may be called local
assimilation has to be considered. A foot, say, with a bad abscess or
diseased bone (see Pain, Severe) is cured by hot bathing and
pressure. From a shrunken and feeble limb, the leg grows to a healthy
and strong one. This occurs because the heat and pressure have so
stimulated its vitality that the material supplied by the blood can be
utilised in the leg for purposes of healthy growth. So with any other
part of the body. Such diet as we have indicated supplies easily
assimilated substance. The local heating, pressure, and bathing enable
this substance to be utilised where it is needed. A little careful
thought on this line will guide to proper treatment of almost any case
where assimilation has failed, either locally or generally, and will
lead the way to a method of cure.
Asthma exists in various forms, having equally various causes. One of
these causes, giving rise to a comparatively simple form of the
disease, is cramp of the ring-muscle of the windpipe, so contracting
the windpipe that breathing is rendered difficult. A "wheeze" is heard
in breathing, though there is no bronchitis or lung trouble present.
The cause of this cramp is an irritation of the ring-muscle's nerve. It
can be relieved by pressing cold cloths gently along the spine, from
the back of the head to between the shoulders, taking care that the
patient remains generally warm during the treatment, and attending to
the feet and skin as directed below in this article. Sometimes the
cause seems to lie in the air of the place where the sufferer resides.
A change either to high ground or the seaside will often entirely
remove asthma, especially in the young. In any such case a trial should
be made of several places, if that be at all possible, and that place
fixed upon where the asthma is least felt. At SEAMILL SANATORIUM
(see) many asthmatic persons have found complete freedom from their
trouble from the day of their arrival, and the treatment given has made
this cure permanent.
Another cause of asthma is lack of power in the breathing muscles. In
such a case the patient clings to a particular attitude, in which
alone he can breathe. This is in most cases due to a lack of vitality
in the root nerve which supply the breathing muscles.
An attack of this may often be relieved by rubbing, with the points of
the fingers chiefly, gently yet firmly up and down each side of the
spine, close to the bone. Even rubbing above the clothing will
frequently relieve. The roots of the nerves supplying power to the
breathing muscles lie just on each side of the spine, and this kind of
rubbing stimulates these roots. It is not rubbing of the skin or
backbone which is wanted, but such gentle treatment of the nerve roots
on either side of the bone as makes them glow with genial warmth. This
rubbing is of course better done on the surface of the skin. See that
the patient is warm, then dip the fingers in cold water, and rub as
directed. When the water makes the patient feel chilly or he tires of
it, use fresh olive oil, warmed if necessary. Avoid all alcoholic
drinks, which simply rob the nerves of the very power needed for cure.
Temporary relief may be given by such drinks, but it is at the expense
of lowered life and reduced chances of recovery.
A tablespoonful of hot water every five minutes is the best curative
drink. It may be given for several hours if required. To give this
rubbing treatment and drinking hot water fair play, however, attention
must be paid most carefully to the feet and skin of the patient.
The feet frequently are cold, and in bad cases swell, the skin at and
above the swelling being pale and soft. In minor cases this state of
the feet may be treated by rubbing with hot olive oil. In serious cases
rubbing is to be alternated with bathing the feet in hot water, until
the feet and limbs glow with heat. This may be done two or three times
a day, for half an hour, or even an hour. It increases very greatly the
vital power for breathing.
Again, the skin in bad cases of asthma becomes dry, hard, and a light
brown substance forms on its surface. If the skin thus fails, severe
work is thrown on the already overloaded lungs, and the breathing is
much worse. Give the patient a night's pack in the SOAPY BLANKET
(see). If there is not strength to stand the entire treatment, keep
in the blanket pack for a shorter time--one, two, or three hours. Not
more than two nights of this treatment should be needed at a time. The
soapy blanket greatly stimulates the skin, and opens all the closed
pores, immensely relieving the lungs. If feet, skin, and back be
treated as we have advised, even a very obstinate case of asthma should
be cured. See Appendix; Bathing the Feet; Rubbing; Soap; Soapy
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