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Source: Papers On Health
The frequent prescription in these papers of hot water, to
be taken often in small quantities, makes it of importance that some
explanation of its action should be given.
We see, frequently, such a thing as this: a person is confined to bed,
sick and ill; there is no desire for food, but rather a loathing at the
very idea of eating; distressing symptoms of various sorts are showing
that the work of digestion and assimilation is going on badly, if
really going on at all. The patient is started on a course of hot water
in half-teacupfuls every ten minutes. When this has gone on for perhaps
six or seven hours, he begins to be very hungry, and takes food with
relish, probably for the first time for months past. In the meantime a
greatly increased quantity of water has passed from the body one way
and another, but has all passed loaded with waste material. The breath
is loaded with carbonic acid and other impurities; the perspiration is
loaded with all that makes it differ from pure water; the urine,
especially, is loaded with waste separated from the blood and tissues
of the body. The space, so to speak, left vacant by all this washing
away of waste matter makes its emptiness felt by a call upon the
stomach to furnish fresh material. Some will say that the hot water
merely passes off by the kidneys without entering the circulation at
all. This is impossible, and facts, patent to everyone, demonstrate
that they are in error. The substances with which the water becomes
impregnated show that it has been mingled with the circulation, and the
wholesome effects produced prove that it has made itself useful.
"Hard" water, as it is called, will not do so well as "soft" water.
Distilled water is best of all. So much superior is it, indeed, that
its use cannot be too strongly insisted on. It can be had from the
druggist at twopence per quart.
Where nourishment is given with too little water, the food will often
fail almost entirely to enter the circulation. But a little warm water,
somewhat above blood heat, but not too hot, will make all right. This
is especially seen in nourishing infants (see Infants' Food). Food,
then, will not act as water does, nor will water act as food. Even a
little sugar mixed with the hot water completely alters its effect on
the body. As it has already dissolved the sugar, it cannot dissolve
what is needed to be removed from the body. Sugar and water is not a
bad mixture, but it will by no means do instead of pure water in the
cases we contemplate. On the other hand, a mixture of alcohol with the
water is ruinous, and that just in proportion to the quantity of
alcohol, small or great. Beer, for example, can never do what is
required of water, nor can wine, or any other alcoholic drink. Tea
added to the water also alters its quality. The water alone, and as
nearly perfect in purity as it can be got, is the only thing which will
do the necessary work.
Sometimes one finds a great prejudice against hot water. You see one
who is miserable through derangement of the stomach and digestive
organs, and you mention "hot water." The very phrase is sufficient to
put an expression of strong prejudice on the face. Yet that very hot
water is perhaps the only thing that will cure the patient. If you wait
a little, there will be an opening to explain that hot water is very
different to tepid water. Under blood heat, and yet heated, water tends
to produce vomiting; above blood heat, nothing will so well set the
stomach right. This is true, however, only when the water is taken in
very small quantities. You must see that the water is not smoked in the
heating or otherwise spoiled. And also that it be not too hot. If it
scalds the lips it is too hot. When it is comfortably warm, but not
tepid, it does its work most effectively.
Next: Water For Drinking