In the early days of Homoeopathy, particular rules were laid down as to the avoidance of foods which were in themselves possessed of medicinal or drug like properties, especially such as were antidotal to certain homoeopathic remedies. Among these may be mentioned coffee, tea and wines, which were to be avoided when remedies to which these are antidotal are prescribed. It was to obviate this contingency that the use of cocoa as a beverage became popular with homoeopaths. We are not so strict nowadays, but strong tea and coffee, very hot drinks of all descriptions should certainly be barred from the dietary of patients under homoeopathic treatment, and in acute affections, such as fevers and inflammations, water is the only safe drink. It may be hot- but not too hot-if the patient cannot tolerate cold drinks.
Great attention has been concentrated on the Art of Feeding Scientifically during recent years, and as woman is largely responsible for her offspring as well as for herself the question is one which concerns her in a double sense. Therefore it is fitting that a “Ladies Manual” should have some space devoted to the practical outcome of the most recent researches in this line.
In these days one cannot speak of diets without some mention of “Vitamins”. Vitamins are living powers residing in the foods we eat. They are not material at all, and no one has ever seen a vitamin. They are, as a matter of fact, inferences only, deduced from experimental feeding, chiefly of rats, and named “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, “E”, and other letters of the alphabet as new observations are made and new classifications are required. For those who are curious in these matters the book by Dr. and Mrs. Plimmer, “Food, Health, Vitamins” (Longmans), may be consulted with profit.
The main conclusions of the Vitamin Doctrine do not differ materially from the teachings of experience in the past. The need for new analysis arises from the greater artificiality in modern life and in the artificial methods of preserving and preparing foodstuffs in vogue at present. Vitamins are life principles, and when living substances like fruits, salads, milk, eggs, etc., are eaten uncooked, the life of the foods is transferred direct to the life of the person who consumes them. It follows that food which can be eaten uncooked is to be preferred to cooked food, and fresh fruit and vegetables are better than fruits and vegetables preserved in tins or bottles. On the other hand, great improvement in the methods of canning and preserving foods has been effected of late, so that their vital value is little if anything impaired.
A grain of wheat is a very beautiful thing. It is also an almost perfect form of human food. But “scientific” milling has succeeded in depriving this piece of Nature’s perfection of its outer covering of bran and its vital germ in the production of the flour of which our white bread is made. Hence the growing demand for wholemeal breads at the present time. But the deficiency can be rectified more simply by making bran itself a regular article of diet. A perfectly clean bran – “Braud Bran” is the best-can be obtained from the corn chandlers or millers and this can be eaten with porridge, mixed with puddings, made into cakes and biscuits, and used with advantage in an infinite number of ways.
Bran Porridge can be made by mixing bran and coarse oatmeal in equal proportions by weight, that is about three parts bran in bulk to one part oatmeal. This should be cocked for three minutes only, and can be taken in exactly the same way as ordinary oatmeal porridge.
Bran Tea is another useful preparation. It is made in this way: Four tablespoonfuls of bran, a little brown sugar or black treacle, and a large tumblerful of water. Boil five minutes and strain. A slice of lemon may be added if desired. This can be taken hot or cold at bed time or any other time. These prescriptions I learned from my friend, Mr. Ellis Barker, whose book, “Good Health and Happiness” (Murray), has a good deal to say about the virtues of bran.
The value of bran as a food element in the dietary of girls and women cannot be easily be exaggerated. It contains iron and salts needed in the development of blood, bones and teeth, as well as supplying the “roughage” needed to give bulk to the bowel contents and so stimulate their action. How important is the regular excretion of the bowels needs no insisting on. This can generally be attained by proper feeding and regular habits, and when these are insufficient, homoeopathic remedies will usually do the rest. In this way life-long trouble can often be avoided for the future mothers of the race. It is to be feared that boarding-schools have much to answer for in this respect. Either through lack of facilities or indolence on the part of the girls, they will go for days without having an action, and then the routine of purgatives has to be resorted to, with all their attendant train of evils.
Sir Arbuthnot Lane has told us times without number that chronic constipation is responsible for the diseases of women and for the existence of the gynecologist. There is much truth in that statement. Many diseases are undoubtedly caused by chronic constipation, and every disease without exception is aggravated by that evil. Constipation means not merely stagnation of the bowel contents. Stagnant food, and especially stagnant animal food, is apt to putrefy putrefy, creating poisons. The bowel walls, like our teeth, are weakened by faulty feeding, and they are apt to become injured by the use of powerful laxatives and purgatives and then the poisons readily pass into the bloodstream. The best way to regulate the bowels consists of course in a diet which stimulates their activity, a diet which contains plenty of roughage and raw stuff. Those who live on coarse wholemeal bread, use wholemeal flour in the cooking, take plenty of raw food and salads and adequate liquid, particularly water, rarely suffer from bowel stagnation. Insufficient liquid naturally leads to the excretion becoming solid. The bowel is very capacious. It wants to be well filled with roughage to stimulate it into activity. The health of a house depends on its drainage. Unless the drainage of our body is thoroughly efficient, the bodily edifice, like the human habitation, becomes unwholesome.
Many girls and grown-up women suffer from anaemia. Particularly those who live in towns are troubled with this complaint. Iron in the chemical form, as usually given by allopaths, is bad for the teeth, injurious to the stomach and constipating. Among the foodstuffs richest in iron are greens, particularly spinach, bitter vegetables of every kind, yolks of eggs, the outside of grain furnished by whole meal bread and bran. It is better to supply the missing iron by foodstuffs than by chemicals.
There is an old saying” “Every baby costs its mother a tooth.” Nature is determined to give the baby the first chance. In order to supply the coming baby with lime and phosphorus the bones and teeth of the mother are drawn upon mercilessly. The mother who wishes to keep her teeth and to give the baby the best chance will do well to live on a diet rich in vitamins before the baby is born. She should eat plenty of raw fruit, salads, wholemeal bread, milk, butter etc., and she should keep her bowels in perfect order without using purgatives. Bowels should certainly be emptied once a day, and if possible two or three times a day. Babies and children should be taught to do likewise. An anemic child is nearly always be faultily fed and a constipated child.
The troubles of girls at period time are often caused by constipation, which in turn is due to faulty feeding. Among primitive races, we find very little trouble at menstrual periods and in childbirth. The natural processes take place naturally, easily and painlessly. Inner cleanliness is more important than outer cleanliness, and the health of our bodies depends on the food we eat.
Child-bearing is often made painful and dangerous through faulty feeding. Regular habits become difficult when the internal organs are displaced and pressed upon by the growing child. Still, regularity can, as a rule, be maintained without artificial assistance if wisely selected natural foodstuffs are habitually taken. Wholemeal flour and bran are wonderful health- builders, energisers, and are truly tonic foods.
The change of life is a perfectly natural process which ought to be painless or practically painless, Wise nutrition at that time of life greatly facilitates the change and robs it of its terrors. Profuse and scanty menstruation, painful menstruation, piles, varicose veins, and many other troubles peculiar to women depend largely on the want of a pure bloodstream and an active bowel. It is a well-known fact that many troubles of the female breast are due to chronic constipation and self-poisoning. Hardened, swollen, painful or suppurating breasts very frequently become normal when bowel activity has been regulated and heating foods replaced by cooling and blood purifying ones.
Where there is delay in the bowel, heating foods are most undesirable. Many of the chronically constipated improved wonderfully in health when flesh, fish, and fowl have been greatly reduced or have been abandoned altogether. Of course, flesh and fish must be replaced by body-building foods, among which milk, eggs, cheese, nuts and almonds stand foremost. Milk is liquid beef, and cheese and butter are milk in a modified form, while eggs may be described as concentrated chicken.1 1. Those persons who require fuller instructions for their guidance may find them in the volume we referred to, the an author’s “Essentials of Diet; or, Hints on Food in Health and Disease”.