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Health, or, How to Live

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    BY TEMPORARY ABSTINENCE

    As a general rule, keep the stomach in right action, and the whole system will be right. This organ is very much exposed to hurtful influences, some of which cannot always be avoided. Although, as a very general rule, — a rule with few exceptions, — its maladies can be avoided by a knowledge of its peculiar functions and laws, yet it may possibly, by the strictest care, become deranged, and the whole system be put into liability to suffering. Its lining membrane may become coated with a viscid mucous secretion, or its nervous tone may be temporarily prostrated, so that a healthy appetite may be gone, and the whole system brought under some form of fever. If, on the approach of the disturbance, abstinence from ordinary food be rigidly adhered to for a day or two, the stomach may free itself from its causes of oppression. If, instead of resorting to emetics and cathartics, as is frequently done, the person affected would cease all ordinary eating, and live on mere Indian gruel, till the stomach could have time to clear itself from its mucous coating, or gather up its electric vigor, the whole difficulty might come to an end; a protracted sickness, severe drugging, a large bill, and perhaps a premature grave, might be avoided.HHTL 152.2

    A popular idea exists, that when the stomach gets deranged, the bile has entered it, and must be dislodged. Hence, they will take emetics, throw up bile in the course of vomiting, and thus seem to prove their notions correct. Whereas, the bile rarely comes up hill into the stomach except by the effort of vomiting. The bile they see is brought up from below, from the second stomach, or duodenum, by the severe reverted action of the stomach, calling into its sympathy its associated organs. The stomach would not much better bear bile introduced into it, without vomiting, than it would bear a decoction of tobacco on its first introduction. It would set up rebellion against it, and throw it off with almost as much earnestness, as it would against a solution of tartar emetic.HHTL 153.1

    Whenever the stomach has lost its tone, or become oppressed by wrong eating, the only cure that can suffice, consists in temporary abstinence from food. Hundreds of thousands have sick headache, nervous headache, heartburn, sour stomach, and other ailments which are, if not caused, greatly enhanced by bolting down the food without stopping to masticate it; and the poor foolish sufferers will swallow quarts of pills, neutralizing salts, emetics, syrups, and a host of other things, in hope of cure; — and they make about the same progress that a man would to drink himself drunk every day, and sleep himself sober every night. As long as they will swallow their food whole, they may expect to suffer. When they will cease insulting their stomachs by their swinish eating, they will find by short fasting, that organ to regain its strength.HHTL 153.2

    But fast eating is not the only promoter of gastric disturbance. The taking of condiments with meats is a crime against the stomach. Instead of leaving that organ free to carry on its own vital functions, they throw in pepper, and ginger, and spice, and mustard. All these are as truly destructive to its tone and healthy action, as alcohol. They produce unnatural excitement, and weaken natural strength. The taking of mustard with meats is a very popular habit, and one that is directly against health. If any one would inquire which he had better take, mustard or pulverized Spanish blistering flies, let him test their strength. Put a poultice of mustard on one arm, and a plaster of flies on the other, and see which can be borne the longest. This test will prove that the use of flies on meats would be less hurtful than the mustard. If these stomach complaints are produced by these unnatural and unnecessary agents, and a cure is desired, let them dismiss these things at once, and fast until Nature can perform a cure.HHTL 153.3

    Vast disturbance is the direct effect of various stimulants. There are ladies suffering from various forms of dyspepsia and its often accompaniment, consumptive cough, which has been, to say the least, greatly increased by stimulating drinks. They have created great fondness for their favorites, coffee and tea. They love their intoxicating power, as truly as the drunkard loves his liquors, and for precisely the same reason; because they spur up Nature — quicken a mind that is drooping under the reaction of a former excitement — produce a cheering sensation on the jaded nervous system. Tell them about abandoning such a habit and, as in the case of the rum and tobacco drunkard, you might sooner succeed in persuading them to abandon the Christian faith. They will be found more firmly wedded to this worldly lust, than they are to a healthy body, a sound mind, or a sanctified heart. An unnatural animal passion rules the day, over better judgment, reason, conscience, and all the higher powers of nature. Health, with all its attendant blessings on the soul, is worth something, but their gratified passion is valued more.HHTL 154.1

    But they cannot have this and health too, after symptoms of suffering show themselves. They must be content to suffer on, or put away their idol appetites. The best cure for periodical or protracted headache, is ceasing to create or foster the complaint. The best drops for consumptive cough consists in dropping the foolish habits which produce it, or keep it in existence.HHTL 154.2

    Let them cease destroying the tone of the nervous system, from which arise a host of complaints, and these complaints will soon disappear. While this portion of our being is kept in tune, there is but little danger of much derangement. But get this out of tune, and there is scarcely any trouble that may not arise. — Philosophy of Health, pp. 169-182.HHTL 155.1

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