Hygienic Observations

Homeopathic Vade mecum by E.H.Ruddock. Vade mecum means a hand book or a guide. In the introduction to this book E.H.Ruddock gave the importance to basic Hygienic and diet. According to him these two things are preserver of health….




1. Hygiene. MEDICAL HYGIENE is that branch of science which treats of the preservation of health by means which contribute to the most perfect development of the body, rendering life more vigorous, decay less rapid, and death more distant. It embraces various influences operating upon the physical condition of individuals and communities, whether in promoting their material good, or preventing their deterioration. It consists essentially in the prevention of disease by the removal of its avoidable causes, and consequently involves legislative control, that the safety of the whole may be protected against the errors of the few. In its widest sense, the term Hygiene implies rules for the perfect culture of the mind and body. If our knowledge were exact, and our means of application adequate, we should see the human being in his perfect beauty, as Providence probably intended him to be; in the harmonious proportions and complete balance of all parts, in which he came out of the hands of his Maker, in whose divine image, we are told, he was in the beginning made (Parkes).

Such a condition, if ever attainable, is, we fear far distant at present. But if not fully obtainable, it is at least our duty to aim at that millennium of sanitary philosophers when all disease is to be prevented, not cured. This Manual is our contribution towards that desirable consummation; and although our knowledge and powers are incomplete and limited, sufficient is herein pointed out to change the whole aspect of the world. While, however, we have in this volume pointed out the main causes of physical deterioration and disease, and how these may be avoided or controlled, the well-being of individuals and communities must essentially depend on personal and united efforts and self- restraint. Sanitary improvements in man’s material surroundings will not compensate for social transgressions against laws of morality; for public virtue is essential to public health, and both to national prosperity (Dr. G. Wilson).

Our Observations on Hygiene are necessarily restricted and fragmentary, but withal highly important, and their general adoption would be fraught with rich advantages. It is hoped that, as the result of the education of the masses, a solid groundwork may be laid for the promotion of the national health. The rudiments of medical hygiene may be taught and rendered attractive in schools and should not be regarded as of less moment than the languages of extinct nations, or the records of ancient history. The public press, and more especially popular medical works, may so augment the general knowledge of the cause of disease as to prevent much existing suffering and diminish unnecessary waste of human life. It is, indeed satisfactory to know that these means, as far as they have been adopted, have already largely contributed to these desirable results.

2. General Plan of Dietary.

Homoeopathy is not a system of diet, but of medical treatment. Extended observation proves that the curative action of remedies, chosen according to the homoeopathic law, is but little affected by the food or beverages ordinarily taken; hence, beyond the prohibition of certain articles which disagree with the patient, interfere with the bodily functions or impose on weak or diseased organs a task to which they are unequal, homoeopathic physicians interfere but little with their patient’s diet.

The food of the invalid, however, must be regulated according to the nature, stage and progress of the malady from which he is suffering; therefore, the diet appropriate in various acute and chronic diseases will be found prescribed in the various sections of this Vade Mecum in their appropriate places. (See also Essentials of Diet; or, Hints on Food in Health and Disease by the same Author.)

CIRCUMSTANCES REGULATING THE DIETARY.- In constructing dietaries, the following points must be kept in view- (1) Work.-Besides maintaining the body in health, food is the source of the active energy exhibited in all work or mechanical motion. It follows, therefore, that the diet must be regulated by the amount of work to be performed.

(2) Exercise.- The opportunity for taking regular exercise in the open air should be considered. Quiet and sedentary habits demand only a limited amount of generous diet, and much meat, with its surplus nitrogenous ingredients, is undesirable.

(3) Age.-Milk and farinaceous substances should form the staple food up to the ninth or tenth year. At fourteen years of age a girl requires as much nutriment as a woman. A growing young man, who does the same amount of work as an adult man, requires more food than the latter. When growth and tissue changes are at their maximum, food must be good in quality and abundant in quantity.

(4) Individual Differences.- A weakly person who eats little requires food of a better quality and nicer flavour than one of robust constitution and hearty appetite. What are termed the fancies of delicate persons, especially of children, are often natural instincts, pointing out what is beneficial to the system or the reverse.

(5) Climate.-In cold seasons and climates the food should contain an excess of fatty constituents; but in warm climates the starchy or farinaceous should preponderate. More food, too, is required in cold countries, and in cold seasons, than in hot.


The following suggestions as to the dietary arrangements of persons in health, with occasional modifications, and allowing for individual differences, will generally be found suitable.

Breakfast. Breakfast at eight a.m. This meal may consist of bread or dry toast, with a moderate quantity of fresh butter, to which a new-laid egg, boiled three minutes, may be added; or a little home-fed cold boiled bacon, chicken, game, or fish may be allowed to those who take much bodily exercise. For growing boys and girls at schools, the bread and butter, with poor tea or coffee, which is in some cases exclusively and invariably provided for the morning and evening meal, is very insufficient.

A breakfast cupful of cocoa, prepared from fresh nibs, or shells, according to the directions given in section 4, is often suitable and preferable to strong tea or coffee. For some, milk and water is more digestible.

Breakfast is an important meal, and its digestion ought never to be endangered by taking it too hurriedly, or commencing a quick walk, or other active mental or physical exercise, immediately after it. It would be an immense gain to the hard-working city man to make it a uniform habit to rise sufficiently early to allow ample time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and sufficient time after for its digestion to have made some progress before again taxing the physical or mental powers.

Dinner. Dinner at one p.m. Wholesome fresh meat and fresh vegetables, -potatoes, cabbage broccoli spinach, peas, French beans, etc.-carefully proportioned, plainly cooked, served hot, and properly and slowly masticated. These should be varied from day to day, with occasional additions, in moderate quantities, of fruit or farinaceous puddings; and fish substituted once or twice a week for other animal food. Variety should be secured by different methods of cooking the same food, as well as by varying the food itself. A great improvement in health takes place, especially in the case of children, when this suggestion is carried out. Highly seasoned dishes, condiments, pickles, salt and dried meats, rich or heavy pastry, and cheese should be excluded from the dietary of persons who wish to be healthy, especially of those whose habits are sedentary, or who use their brains considerably. Twice cooked meat or fish is never a good article of diet. It is better to eat meat cold the second day, rather than in hash or other dished-up fashion. Weakly persons who are obliged to take much exercise may drink a small quantity of malt liquor (never exceeding half a pint) if they are benefited by it; but in the great majority of cases fermented liquors had better be avoided, and a few sips of filtered water, or a wine-glass of claret, hock, or other light still wine, diluted with an equal quantity of water, substituted. In the generality of cases, especially boys at school, persons are only rendered heavy and sleepy by the use of beer at this meal. But too much cold water at dinner lowers the temperature of the stomach, and so interrupts digestion. A glass of hot water an hour before dinner obviates the need to drink during that meal. Taking wine after dinner is a luxurious, not a healthy habit; and all that can be said of it from a hygienic point of view, is, the less taken the better. A dessert of wholesome fruit is very desirable-apples, pears, oranges, grapes, peaches, strawberries, gooseberries etc.

Tea. Tea may be taken at six or half-past, and include one or two small cups of black tea, preferably China tea, or cocoa prepared from the nibs, or shells, with bread or dry toast, butter fruit, or marmalade, as may be found most digestible or agreeable. In schools the addition of a little green stuff, as water-cress, lettuce, radishes, etc., is very desirable. If it be the last meal in the day, and the person be not plethoric, and taking a great amount of physical exercise, the meal may include some light meat, chicken, or white fish, In that case water is the best drink. Tea especially renders meat very indigestible.

Late Dinners. A different arrangement is necessary for persons who dine late, as then a luncheon should be taken at about one p.m., which may consist of a plate of good beef soup, with vermicelli, rice, or toasted bread in it. Some food ought to be taken; the custom of only taking a biscuit or some such trifle is pernicious, for the system becomes too exhausted for the proper digestion of a full, late dinner. If meat has been taken at breakfast, bread and butter, biscuits, or sandwiches will suffice; wine and malt liquors are better avoided. Dinner may be taken in the evening, and include the dishes already mentioned.

In all cases in which the circumstances permit of it, the dinner hour may be advantageously deferred until seven or seven-thirty p.m., when the engagements of the day are concluded, and persons are not likely to be disturbed by professional or business calls, so that sufficient time may be devoted to it, and that rest (not sleep) taken after it which the principal meal requires, but which it is often impossible to give to it in the middle of the day. Persons much pressed should not ingest full meals during the hours of occupation a light repast is then best the principal meal being taken in the evening when the work of the day is finished. Heavy meals taken during the hours of physical or mental labour, without sufficient rest, are almost certain, eventually to lead to derangement of the digestive organs.

Supper. If under exceptional circumstances this be necessary it should be of the lightest and simplest character. A small quantity of farinaceous food, which may be easily digested, is all that is required. For example in the case of school boys and girls, who have dined early, a light repast of bread and milk, or milk porridge is suitable.

Objectionable however, as it is to go to bed with a full stomach, it is also objectionable to go to bed with an empty one. Restlessness and sleeplessness accompany repletion; they also accompany fasting. The student or literary man whose labours continue far into the night, should therefore be careful to have some light nourishment some time before he retires if he has any difficulty in getting to sleep.

3. On Cooking Animal Food.

Cooking subserves several very important purposes, and therefore demands more intelligent consideration than is usually given to it. Uneducated persons do not understand the reasons for certain preparations and processes and only act according to custom and the traditions of the kitchen and the sick room. Hence, good food is wasted and spoiled and both the healthy and diseased are disappointed of the anticipated flavour and nourishment. Cooking removes some things that might prove injurious, destroying parasitic germs that may exist, It renders food more pleasant to the eye, agreeable to the palate and digestible by the stomach. It softens connective tissue, relaxes muscular fibre, coagulates albumen, and solidifies fibrine, thus making the whole substance less cohesive and more easily masticated, dissolved, and assimilated. Previous beating and brushing facilitates the process, and makes the flesh more tender; hence the common custom of beating chops and steaks. The warmth of the food also aids digestion.

In cooking animal food, the following processes are in ordinary use Boiling, Roasting, Broiling Baking, Frying, Stewing. Speaking generally, about one-fourth of the weight is lost by the process; but the loss varies with the quality of the meat and the process employed. Dr. Letheby estimated the loss at the following percentages-

Boiling Baking Roasting.

Beef generally 20 29 31

Mutton generally 20 31 35

Mutton legs 20 32 33

Mutton shoulders 24 32 34

Mutton Loins 30 33 36

Mutton Necks 25 32 34

Average 23 31 34

The loss arises principally from evaporation of water, the escape of fat and nutritive juice, and the destructive action of heat. According to Dr. Letheby, it is least in boiling, greatest in roasting, because in the former process there is no evaporation of water. This suggests that in the baking and roasting endeavour should be made to prevent evaporation. Indeed, the perfection of cooking is to retain as much as possible of the constituent element of the meat; and this is accomplished in the different methods adopted by subjecting the meat at first to a strong, quick heat, which coagulates the albumen at the surface, and thus closes up the pores by which the nutritious juices would escape. A lower and less rapidly acting heat will then suffice; for, thereafter, the cooking goes on through the agency of the natural moisture of the flesh. Converted into vapour by the heat, a kind of steaming takes place, so that whether in the open, on the spit, or in the midst of boiling water, the meat is in reality cooked by its own steam. When properly prepared, instead of being dried up or insipid, the meat will be full of its own juice, which will flow forth as rich gravy at the first cut.

Boiling.-For this process a large joint is preferable. It should be put suddenly into boiling water, and remain at boiling temperature for five or ten minutes. By the contraction and coagulation thus caused, the internal juice is prevented wither from escaping into the water by which it is surrounded, or from being diluted and weakened by its entrance through the pores. The boiling may then cease, and the remainder of the process may go on most effectually at a temperature of 160 degree to 170 degree F. indeed, the common mistake is to shrink and harden the muscular fibre by the maintenance of excessive heat.

Roasting, to retain the nutritive juices, should take place quickly, and before a fierce fire at first; a lower heat, at a further distance from the fire, will then suffice.

Broiling should be done in the same way. A beef-steak or mutton-chop should be done quickly over a hot fire, that the natural juices may be retained.

Baking is but a method of roasting, but with this difference, that it takes place in a chamber from which there is usually no escape for the volatile fatty acids which are generated. They, therefore, impregnate the meat and render it richer and stronger, and less adapted for weak digestion.

Frying is, for the same reason, objectionable, because the fatty matter in which the meat is cooked produces an excess of the volatile acids; moreover, the fat is often burnt, and thus changed in its character, and rendered unsuitable for invalids.

Stewing is the best process for digestion. The meat should be just covered with cold water, then heated up and kept simmering, not boiling, till thoroughly done. The nutritive materials are diffused through the solid and liquid, which are then served up together. Hashing is the same process with meat previously cooked. But hashed or otherwise twice-cooked meat is very unwholesome.

There is another method of cooking, by which the meat is stewed in its own vapour alone. The meat is placed in a covered jar, is put into water in a saucepan, and the water is made to simmer, and when a sufficient time has elapsed the meat is done quite tender, and well adapted to the invalid. Warren’s Cooking Pot, and the Norway Nest, are constructed to prepare meat in this way.

Soups, Broths, etc.-If, however, it is desirable to extract the nutriment so that it may be given in a liquid form, the meat should be finely chopped or minced, put into cold water, and after maceration for a short time, gradually heated to a simmering temperature, at which it should be kept for half an hour if broth be required. But if soup be wanted the heating should go on to boiling point, and be maintained there, in order that the gelatine may be extracted to solidify the soup. Bones yield abundant gelatine, but require long boiling. It should be carefully observed that the minced meat should be put into cold water for a time, never into boiling water at first. The actual amount of nourishment contained in soup (apart from fragments of meat or vegetables which it may contain) is small; but recent researches have shown that a small quantity serves admirably to stimulate the gastric glands to secretion, so that the practice of beginning a meal with (a little) soup is physiologically a sound one.

It is a cause of regret to find how extensively the principles we have expressed in this section are disregarded. Even in some well-informed circles there exists lamentable ignorance or extreme carelessness as to the proper method of cooking animal food so as to utilise its most valuable constituents.

4. Non-intoxicating Beverages.

Uses of Tea.-Owing to its stimulating action on the nervous system, tea, is very serviceable to travellers and soldiers, and should be preferred to alcoholic stimulants after fatigue. It is equally efficacious against heat and cold, in nervous exhaustion, particularly in hot climates, or consequent on walking in the sun, especially when followed by shortness of breath, it has often proved strikingly beneficial. It excites vital action, and stimulates respiration, Though it supplies very little nutritive material, it increases cheerfulness and activity, clears and quickens the brain, stimulates the energies, and lessens the disposition to sleep. By its heat it warms the body when cold, by promoting the action of the skin it cools it when hot, and by its astringency it modifies the action of the bowels. It is better than coffee as a counteractive to beer. Of course, the use of every stimulant is followed by a certain reaction, and this statement applies to should be used with moderation. China tea is more suitable to most persons than Indian, especially if digestion is weak.

Tea Injurious.- As commonly prepared tea is often the cause of much Dyspepsia, particularly when drunk in excessive quantities, or too frequently-that is, as a rule, more than once a day. When tea causes loss of appetite, palpitation of the heart, mental excitement, or sleeplessness, obviously its use should be relinquished. Tea should never be given to children, even although largely diluted. The common practice of adding a small quantity of milk and water begets a relish for it, leading to its use at an age when the nervous and muscular systems require no such aid.

Tea taken with animal food tea-dinners, or meat-teas, as they are called is more liable to produce indigestion than when the meal consists chiefly of bread and butter. Two or three hours after dinner. when digestion has proceeded too far to be much interfered with, the habit of taking one or two small cups of tea is usually unobjectionable; but tea is always better avoided at bedtime.

Green Tea.-Pure green tea is the same leaf as the black, but more quickly dried and in good qualities is not injurious. But inferior sorts, faced with a preparation of Prussian blue, gypsum, and indigo are decidedly so.

Flavoured teas have been exposed during manufacture to the aromatic essences of plants, but though rendered somewhat more agreeable, are not of higher or lower chemical or dietetic value.

Preparation.-To make tea, especially for the dyspeptic, it should only be infused in boiling water three minutes, and then poured off into a heated teapot, so as to separate it from the leaves. Thus prepared, tea is not so likely to cause flatulence; but it is less economic than the ordinary method, much more tea being required. Soft water makes the best tea, but soda should not be used, for it only extracts the astringent tannin, while at the same time it spoils the tea, both in flavour and beneficial effect. The water should only boil once, immediately before using it, and not for hours, as is sometimes the case; the teapot should be quite dry, as well as hot, when the leaves are put into it, and the infusion, as before stated, not allowed to exceed three minutes.

Teapots that retain the heat are better than those that allow it to pass off readily; hence black earthenware teapots should not be used; white, glazed earthenware, or porcelain, are suitable; but brightly polished silver teapots are the best, for they radiate much less heat than any other material. A cosy retains the heat.

Edward Harris Ruddock
Ruddock, E. H. (Edward Harris), 1822-1875. M.D.

Author of "The Stepping Stone to Homeopathy and Health,"
"Manual of Homoeopathic Treatment". Editor of "The Homoeopathic World."