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Sources: Papers On Health

This trouble is often only aggravated and made chronic

by the use of purgatives. Some simple change of diet, such as a ripe

uncooked apple, eaten before breakfast, or a fruit diet for a day or

two may put all right. So also with the use of wheaten meal porridge or

bread. When this can be taken with pure CANE SYRUP (see), the two

together will make such a change in the food as will frequently banish

all inaction of the
owels. Rest must be reckoned on, especially if the

patient has been using purgatives freely. Do not act as if castor oil

were a necessary article of diet. When the constipation is more

obstinate, in the case of a child, good golden syrup may be given, a

teaspoonful after each meal. A quarter of a pound of the best Spanish

liquorice, costing sixpence, should be boiled in a pint of water down

to three-quarters of a pint and strained. A dessertspoonful of this

after each meal may be given instead of the treacle. It is the best

tonic we know, and infinitely better than quinine and other costlier

drugs. If a stronger mixture be desired, put half-an-ounce of senna

leaf in the juice while being boiled. This may be increased to a whole

ounce of senna if still stronger effect be desired.

Some are more liable than others to attacks of constipation, but

chronic constipation may generally be put down to errors in diet, or

want of sufficient exercise. Indigestible foods, such as pastry and

heavy puddings, as well as foods which leave little residue in the

intestine, such as white bread, puddings, arrowroot, are highly

constipating. Tea has also a similar effect, also large quantities of

meat. Constipation is seldom found in vegetarians, since vegetables and

fruits act as a stimulus to the intestine. Brown bread and oatmeal

porridge have also an aperient effect. If it is suspected that milk has

been a cause of constipation in any particular case, it may be boiled

and used with coffee instead of tea.

Much may be done by judicious exercise to relieve chronic constipation,

and help the liver to work (see Appendix; Physical Culture). Deep

breathing will also affect the intestines and urge a motion. Bathing

and massage of the abdomen are also useful (see Massage). Clothing

should be light and loose, tight lacing being a frequent cause of


Every effort should be made to keep the bowels regular, as protracted

constipation leads to many painful affections, such as headaches,

piles, and even inflammation of the intestine, the various products of

putrefaction being absorbed and carried through the blood stream. A

daily motion should invariably be solicited at a regular hour. On

rising, before the morning bath, is a good time, though some prefer

just before retiring to bed, and more, probably, go immediately after

breakfast. The great thing is to get into the habit of going daily at a

fixed time; nothing should be allowed to interfere with this, and it is

highly desirable that children should be accustomed to this habit.

Parents should, therefore, see that the schools selected have

sufficient closet accommodation, as schools in private houses often

have but the one closet for a large number. As a result of this

restricted accommodation, the habit of using aperient medicines is

acquired with very injurious results, for if the call of nature is

neglected the desire passes away, and constipation is inevitable. It

soon comes to be a settled condition and will often be the cause of

life-long ill-health. The evils from the formation of such a physical

habit will far outweigh all the so-called accomplishments that may be


Hot or cold water taken in sips throughout the day has often proved a

most valuable cure for constipation.

When artificial means are required to move the bowels, an enema is much

to be preferred to drugs. The way to administer it, so as to be most

effective, is as follows: Use a fountain enema holding three quarts.

Put into it two or three quarts of water as warm as can be comfortably

borne. A teaspoonful of salt added to the water will make it more

effective, or soapy water may be used, made from M'Clinton's soap. The

fountain should be hung up as high above the patient as the

india-rubber tube will allow. The patient should lie on the right side,

with knees drawn up. The tube should then be introduced into the

rectum, and should be three or four inches in. The water may then be

turned on with the thumb valve. If the abdomen can be rubbed by an

attendant in an upward direction it will be better. The water should be

retained, if possible, twenty minutes or half-an-hour.

A HOT FOMENTATION (see) over the liver, before using the enema, will

make it more effective.

A bulb enema syringe may be used instead of the fountain, and less

water--a pint or even less, and the water tepid or cold, may be

preferred by some. The disadvantage of a bulb syringe is however that

sometimes air gets in along with the water, causing pain and