Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Baths & Bathing Part 2

Today's post continues from yesterday picking up about Sea Bathing, from "A Family Medicine Directory ©1854 by Charles Dinneford.

The topical action of sea-water is more stimulant than common water, and, employed as a bath, it more speedily and certainly causes the re-action and glow, and, consequently, the sea-water bath may be used for a longer period, without causing exhaustion, than the common water bath. It is a popular opinion, which is, perhaps, well founded, that patients are less liable to take cold after the use of salt water, as a bath, than after the use of common water.

Artificial Sea-Water Bath.—A solution of one part of common salt in thirty parts of water, is a cheap substitute for a sea-water bath. When, however, a more faithful imitation of sea-water is desired, the following formula, founded on Marcet's analysis, may be relied on:—
Common Salt 390 grains
Sulphate of Soda (crystals) 172 grains
Chloride of Calcium (crystals) 36 grains
Chloride of Magnesium (crystals) .... 144 grains
Iodide of Potassium 1 grain
Bromide of Potassium 1 grain
Water 1 wine quart
This imitation is perfect.
The following remarks on " Sea Bathing" are compressed from an able article which formerly appeared in The Lancet:—
" The Cold Sea Bath—Is a therapeutic agent, not only of immense power, but it admits of no substitute: it will accomplish what no other remedy will effect. On the other hand, a cold plunge, indiscreetly resorted to in visceral disease, may prove to be a plunge into eternity. For these reasons the cold sea bath should only be used (by invalids) under special medical direction. Nor is any medical practitioner justified in giving directions for its use, unless he have a practical acquaintance, not only with the morbid conditions which it is calculated to rectify, but with all the circumstances which indicate or contra-indicate its use— with the requisite dose or frequency of repetition—with the signs of an over-dose or excessive use—and with the indications for perseverance in its use on the one hand, or for its discontinuance on the other. All this is considered essential in administering a drug, and it holds with equal force in reference to a bath. Yet the use of the cold bath as a remedy for disease, is, perhaps, less understood by the profession than any agent of equal power. The conditions of its administration, not less than the effects of its abuse, are alike subjects on which erroneous views extensively prevail.

" There are reasons for this deficiency of knowledge, which go far both to explain and excuse it. In the first place, a comparatively small number only of the practitioners of these islands have opportunities of witnessing and watching the operations of the old sea bath—those, namely, who are located at marine watering places. Their inland brethren cannot be expected to take much interest in the study of a subject which to them must be purely theoretical. Nor is it at all necessary that they should do so. I only entreat them, as they value human life, to abstain from prescribing at random, a remedy of which they cannot understand the value; and to admonish their patients visiting the coast, not to consign their health to the care of the ignorant proprietors of bathing machines, or their more ignorant ' guides.' As well might a lancet be plunged into the vein of a patient at the dictum of the instrument maker, or calomel be administered under the advice of the laboratory man, as for such persons to have the direction of this powerful remedy. So far as disease is concerned, every bathing establishment should be under medical superintendence. And as every watering place may be supposed to contain medical practitioners who are practically acquainted with the subject, there can be no excuse whatever for the encouragement of the form of hydropathic quackery above described.

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