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Sources: 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 t
e 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.)