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Source: Papers On Health

Nothing is more required in healing than properly to
nourish the enfeebled body. In its commencement proper nourishment
demands a proper mixture of food and saliva. In fever, if there be
little or no saliva present, food requiring much saliva to fit it for
digestion only injures. This is the case with so-called rich foods,
especially. Excessive thirst usually marks this deficiency of saliva.
Always consider carefully the flow of saliva before feeding a patient
in a weak state. Get the mouth to "water" somewhat before giving food.
We have seen a cold cloth changed several times over the stomach start
the flow of saliva almost miraculously, relieving the thirst, and
prepare for nourishment which could not be taken before.

Going further into the matter, we see that very likely the stomach
requires assistance to dispose of even well-salivated food. There may
be a lack of gastric juice. In this case, frequent and small quantities
of hot water supplied to the stomach will greatly help it. A
wineglassful of hot water taken every ten minutes for two, four, or ten
hours will be sufficient (see Digestion; Indigestion). It is well to
think ten times of the readiness of the system to digest, for once of
the food to be taken. If the stomach be either burning hot or cold and
chilly, let it be cooled or warmed, as the case may be. Either use cold
towels or give hot water as above, as the case demands. When it is
brought into something like a natural state of feeling, you may then
give food. The hot water will often not only prepare the stomach, but
will start the flow of saliva in the mouth, and that even when the
cooling cloth has failed to do so.

A medical man will, at times, forbid water, however thirsty the patient
may be. He is not unlikely to be labouring under a serious mistake. It
may be just the want of water which is causing the very symptoms which
he thinks to cure by withholding it. We never saw anything but
suffering arise from withholding water from the thirsty.

Milk is a prime element in nourishing the weak. Mixed with its own bulk
of boiling water, or even with twice as much, it is immensely more easy
to digest. The simple water is of vast importance, and the milk mixed
with boiling water is quite a different substance for digestion from
the fresh pure milk. It is better to have a teaspoonful of milk and
water really digested than a pint of rich milk overloading the stomach.

Many persons put lime-water into the milk to make it digestible. In
doing so they put a difficulty in the way, in the shape of the lime. If
one tries to wash his hands in "hard" water, he sees how unfit that
water is to do the proper work of water in the blood and tissues of the
body. Now, it is not difficult to meet this evil where the only water
to be had has a great deal of lime in solution. Boiling this water
makes it deposit much of its lime. If a very, very small bit of soda is
mixed with it in the boiling, it lets down its lime more quickly and

Alcoholic drinks--wine, porter, or ale--are often given as means of
nourishment. They are hurtful in the extreme, as the spirit contained
in them spoils, so far as it acts, both the saliva and the gastric
juice. Rum and milk, sack whey, and other such preparations are equally
bad, and have killed many a patient.

While suitable nourishment is necessary for the sick, great care should
be taken to avoid giving too much. Often the amount of food the patient
requires or can assimilate is exceedingly small. Injudicious attempts
to "keep up the strength" by forcing down food that cannot be digested
often destroy the little that remains, and remove the only hope of
cure. (See also Assimilation; Biscuits and Water; Blood; Bread;
Buttermilk; Child-Bearing; Constipation; Diet; Drinks; Dyspepsia;
Foods; Heartburn; Infants' Food.)

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