The Cold Foot Bath.
ONE of the first things people who are troubled with cold feet do is to plunge them into cold water. Nor is the assertion, put forth in some of the hydropathic works, that the cold foot bath was prescribed by Priessnitz for the same purpose that the faculty order warm ones, correct. When the feet are already cold, neither Priessnitz nor any one in his sober reason would prescribe cold water, which can only make the parts colder. To obtain the good effect of the cold foot bath, so far as the feet are concerned, they should be warm whenever it is taken. For a tendency to coldness of the feet, a very common symptom in these days of so called luxury and refinement, and one that indicates a state of things in the system incomparably more to be dreaded than the mere coldness of the feet, this is the remedy. It may be taken at any convenient time; just before the morning walk is a very suitable occasion, the parts being usually warm early in the day.
At other times, if cold, they should, if at all practicable, be warmed by exercise and friction before subjecting them to the action of cold water. But in cases of old age, great debility, etc., the warm footbath and other warm applications may be resorted to before the cold. Thus with cold, exercise and friction, accustoming the feet daily and frequently to cold water, will beget in them a habit of remaining warm. In a great variety of ailments, such as toothache, rush of blood to the head, headache, earache, inflammation of the eyes, gout, rheumatism, hemorrhage, etc., the cold foot bath is a valuable remedy. It is ordered deep or shallow, and of duration according to the nature of the case.
Wading Foot Baths.
I Have often directed patients to wade in water in some convenient place as a means of hardening the system and of giving tone to the nerves. Delicate ladies who were not able, as they supposed, to endure cold water applied to the feet, have by degrees, wetting the feet but little at first, become so accustomed to the coldest water that in a few weeks they could bear as much as any one would desire. Caution and perseverance should be the rule.
It is partly by sympathy and partly by the abstraction of heat, that foot baths and wetting the feet act in so beneficial or deleterious a manner as we know them to do. The principle of sympathy is an old one in the medical art, but none the worse for that.
The Warm Foot Bath.
I Am aware that some who consider themselves genuinely hydropathic object to the use of this remedy. Having truth for my object, however, I care not for such objections so far as I myself am concerned, and without stopping here to argue the question, I simply remark that warmth under some circumstances is as natural an application for the living body as cold under other circumstances. I have already remarked, under the head of the cold foot bath, that putting the feet into warm water is often a good preparatory process to that bath. It is good also, now and then, for soothing divers aches and pains, and also for warming the feet of old and weakly people, who cannot exercise sufficiently. Soaking the feet in hot water for twenty minutes, and taking five or six drops of spirits of Camphor in a teaspoonful of sugar will often break up a cold, if taken in season.
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