Constipation and its Cure.
Harry Benjamin ND
Compiled and Edited by Ivor Hughes.
CONSTIPATION AND ITS CURE
The condition of the eliminatory musculature in the constipated person is exactly similar to that which is seen, say, in the arm of a person who, because it has been broken, has had it in a sling for some weeks. The muscles of the arm will be found to have relaxed to such an extent that its owner will be unable to make it perform its normal functions. He must exercise it gradually, and in time normality will be regained.
Therefore, in order to restore natural tone to the eliminatory musculature, it is quite apparent that we must exercise it. The best way in which this process may be carried out is by the following regime, once you have adopted a diet which provides sufficient bulk after digestion to stimulate the muscles of elimination to action. As all muscular structure is kept in tone by actual use and is built up by exercise, you must exercise the muscles of elimination twice each day in the effort to build them up to normal. In no circumstances should purgatives or such-like aids to enforce bowel action be used.
TO SUCCEED YOU MUST REGARD THE FOLLOWING AS A MOST IMPORTANT RITE : On two occasions every day, say at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., you should attend stool, and make an effort to evacuate the bowels, whether the impulse to do so is present or not. On each occasion you should try to obtain a natural movement, but without undue strain. The idea is to coax the bowels into action by means of gentle pressure, rather than to use undue force. In this way you will be exercising the muscles and gradually building them up to normal activity and usefulness.
Let it be understood that results will not follow immediately. It will all depend upon the degree of relaxation of the muscles how long it will be before satisfactory results ensue. However, the attempts will be quite successful in time, in every case, if persevered with ; and when once the bowels have been made to move naturally, it will be found that they will respond with increasing frequency as the regular efforts are pursued. Ultimately, two habitual daily movements will be obtained.
It must be emphasised that the diet must be kept right, and the daily regular efforts never relaxed, except for the most compelling reasons. In this way only lies success.
As instructed in the various treatments, the enema or gravity douche should be used to cleanse the bowels until they begin to function normally of their own accord, as a result of the instructions given above. As necessary, the enema or douche should be used nightly up to the end of the first week of treatment, and every other night thereafter as required.
THE USE OF THE ENEMA OR GRAVITY DOUCHE
This is an absolutely harmless method of cleansing the system and occupies not more than five minutes.2 The enema or douche should be used every night for the first week of the treatment if necessary, and every other night thereafter in those cases where a natural movement of the bowels is not yet being obtained. Once natural bowel action begins, it should be dispensed with altogether, unless there is any future tendency towards constipation, when it should be used again.
1See that the water is ready to run freely before inserting into the rectum.
2For babies, a small bulb enema containing one to two ounces of water should be used. For children, from one to two pints of water should be used for the enema. For adults, from three to jour pints of water should be used.
THE MORNING DRY FRICTION
This bath can be taken with a rough dry towel or with a moderately soft bristle brush (the latter is better). If a brush is going to be used, the best way to test the bristles to see whether they are suitable for this purpose is to rub the brush over the back of the hand, and if the sensation is not unpleasant, it can be depended upon for satisfactory use on the body i e., after one has become accustomed to the friction. Naturally the skin will be a little tender at first, but it will gradually become toughened. If a brush is used, the procedure should be as follows :
Take the brush in one hand and begin with the face, neck, and chest. Then brush one arm, beginning at the wrist and brushing towards the shoulders. Now stoop down and brush one foot, then the ankle and leg. Then do the other foot and leg, and next the hips and central portion of the body. Continue brushing each part until the skin is pink. Use the brush quickly back and forward on every part of the body. The whole process does not take very long, about a minute or so. If a towel is used it should be fairly rough, and the same process gone through as above explained.
THE COLD SITZ-BATH
The procedure is as follows :
Then get out and dry with a rough towel. When you become stronger, the rubbing-dry process should be carried out with the hands. This is in itself a good exercise and improves the condition of the skin. The whole of the foregoing process should take from two to three minutes at first, but its duration should be gradually increased as you become more accustomed to it. If you feel warm after the sitz-bath, you can usually be sure you have not overdone it.
SPECIAL NOTE. During the colder months it is advisable in certain
cases to add a little warm water to the sitz-bath so as to just take the
chill off. But as a general rule, the colder you can stand it, the better.
THE EPSOM-SALTS BATH*
It is prepared as follows : Dissolve from two to three lb. ( 1 to 1.5kg) of commercial Epsom salts in an ordinary bath of hot water. Remain immersed in the bath for from ten to twenty minutes. This bath should be taken just before retiring to bed, and care should be exercised not to get chilled afterwards.
Wherever Epsom-salts baths are indicated in the treatment for any special disease, at least one ordinary hot cleansing bath should be taken as well every week. Never use soap with the Epsom-salts bath, as this interferes with its beneficial effects.
SPECIAL NOTE.* People with weak hearts should be careful about taking Epsom-salts baths. Anyone who cannot stand a hot bath well should not take these baths at all. It is best to take the baths as hot as possible, but with those in a weak state or with elderly people, it is wiser to have the bath not too hot, just comfortably so. If a full bath is not possible, an Epsom-salts hip-bath may be taken instead. Use � lb. (500 g) of salts for the hip-bath.
THE HOT AND COLD SITZ-BATH
The arrangements are as follows : Place two hip-baths side by side, the one containing from four to five inches of hot water, the other the same depth of cold. Get into the hot sitz, sit in it for a few minutes, then get out and immediately into the cold one. Sit in that for just one minute, then get back into the hot sitz again, and repeat two or three times in all.
SPECIAL NOTE. In very cold weather the cold sitz may be slightly warmed, if desired; but the colder you can stand it, the better will its effects be.
The procedure is as follows :
In the case of fevers the packs can be put on several times during the day, for an hour or so. For a pack for the alleviation of a fever (or other serious inflammatory condition), it is best to use a trunk or whole body pack, and for this purpose a sheet should be wrung out in cold water and wound round the trunk or whole body two or three times, then covered with a blanket or blankets. Where reaction to the trunk or full body pack is poor, hot-water bottles may be applied to the feet and also to the sides of the body, or hot bricks wrapped in flannel may be used.
The movements represented in the exercises have been specially selected because of their great organ-squeezing, body-twisting, and spine-stretching qualities. It does not matter so much whether you build up your biceps, but it is important that you keep the muscular walls of the stomach and abdominal region firm and the spinal tissues well stretched. To keep the muscles of the trunk of the body firm and vigorous means to keep internally fit. A system of exercises such as the following, therefore, practised each day, in conjunction with a general scheme of health-building treatment as advocated for your case, will greatly enhance your possibilities of achieving that return to a condition of really sound health which I know you so earnestly desire. To the man or woman who is not accustomed to the performance of exercises it may seem, at first, that the system here given is rather strenuous. However, the poorer your muscular condition is, the more rapid will be the response and improvement. If you find the whole system too difficult at first, begin with half the number of exercises, and as you become accustomed to them add the remainder gradually. Each exercise should take just one minute to perform.
(2) Stand erect, arms at side. Inhale, raising the arms forward and upward until the palms touch above the head, at the same time rising on the toes as high as possible. Exhale, lowering the toes, bringing the hands downwards in a wide circle until the arms touch the thighs.
(3) Stand erect, hands on hips. Inhale slowly and deeply, raising the shoulders as high as possible, then with a jerk drop them as low as possible, letting the breath escape slowly.
(4) Stand erect, hands at shoulders. Inhale, raising elbows sideways ; exhale, bringing elbows down so as to strike the sides vigorously
(5) Inhale deeply, then exhale slowly, at the same time clapping the chest with the palms of the hands, covering the entire surface.
(6) To stimulate the action of the diaphragm : Lie flat on floor or mattress, the head unsupported. Relax the muscles all over the body, then inhale deeply, using the diaphragm only, raising the wall of the abdomen just below the ribs without elevating either the chest or the lower abdomen. Take about four seconds to inhale, then exhale in twice that length of time, contracting the abdomen below the ribs.
(7) As often as possible during the day, especially when in the open or when walking, fill your lungs to the fullest extent as many times as possible. A correct full breath should be taken in the following manner : Draw in all the breath you can through the nose, allowing the expansion to commence in the abdominal region, and gradually ascend to the chest. After you have drawn in all the breath you can, hold it for a moment, and try to inhale another breath, and following this, exhale fully. Repeat this exercise until a slight feeling of fatigue ensues.
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