Louise Ní Chríodáin

Dear reader, your ‘acid­ity and flat­u­lence’ ex­plain your ‘noises’

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Front Page - Louise Ní Chríodáin

There have been many med­i­cal ad­vice col­umns through­out this pa­per’s his­tory, though in the 19th cen­tury much of the “ad­vice” came from the ped­lars and pur­vey­ors of pills, po­tions, lo­tions and con­trap­tions which claimed to cure every ill and ail­ment.

The new mil­len­nium, how­ever, in­tro­duced a new col­umn to the pa­per: “Health Hints by Medico” ex­plained con­di­tions and dis­eases, wrote on health mat­ters – as var­ied as how to sea-bathe and the dan­gers of moun­tain climb­ing – and an­swered ques­tions from cor­re­spond­ing read­ers.

Here’s a sam­ple of Medico’s ad­vice to cor­re­spon­dents dur­ing the first few years of the 20th cen­tury, giv­ing just a hint of what was con­cern­ing read­ers of the time, and the con­tem­po­rary pre­scribed treat­ments.

Vi­o­let. – Are you laced tightly? This is one of the causes of red nose, and if you are you should give it up at once. Dis­ease of any of the ab­dom­i­nal or­gans also causes it.

W.C. – The most com­mon cause of loss of hair also pro­duces dan­druff of the scalp, and in cur­ing the one we ar­rest the other. Wash your head with 1 in 1,000 so­lu­tion of bin­io­dide of mer­cury . . .

J.C. – There is no cer­tainty that your sen­sa­tions are re­ally due to worms, but since there is some doubt you may clear it up by tak­ing the fol­low­ing pow­der at night, with cas­tor oil to fol­low in the morn­ing: San­tonin 4gr.

Cy­clist. – We know of no ev­i­dence that cy­cling stops the growth of healthy chil­dren, and we see no rea­son why it should . . .

Boiled un­der gar­ments

Old Reader. – If you are to get rid of your rash you must first get rid of the par­a­sites. Your un­der gar­ments should be boiled. Noth­ing else will kill them. Then you should bathe your­self and rub into the skin sul­phur oint­ment.

Starch. – It is a cu­ri­ous taste your friend has, but the starch will do her no harm pro­vided she does not take it in such a large quan­tity as to in­ter­fere with her di­ges­tion. It will not make her white as you sup­pose, nor pro­duce ane­mia . . .

Car­na­tion. – It is pretty ev­i­dent that your diges­tive or­gans are not quite well; this will ex­plain the red­ness of your nose, and also your gen­eral ner­vous­ness, bag­gi­ness be­low the eyes.

Thomas F. – Your “acid­ity and flat­u­lence” ex­plain your “specs” and “noises”. Get your diges­tive or­gans right by light food and free pur­ga­tion . . . and you will not suf­fer from these il­lu­sions of the senses.

Esper­ance T. – At your time of life the oc­cur­rence of a dis­charge is ex­tremely sus­pi­cious, and you should waste no time in hav­ing the re­gion ex­am­ined by a sur­geon who prac­tices in women’s dis­eases . . .

Ho­tel. – You would be bet­ter tak­ing a pill than smok­ing your­self sick in or­der to over­come your con­sti­pa­tion . . .

Lot­tie. – Your eczema has noth­ing to do with the state of your mind. ‘Wa­ter in the head’ is a dis­ease of in­fants . . . It is most likely that your for­get­ful­ness and dreami­ness are due to the state of your diges­tive or­gans.

Old Mother. – You are quite safe to take the juice of an or­ange in the morn­ing. Do not trou­ble about what they say.

Nemo. – If the black­heads are not in­flamed they are quite easy to keep away if you will wash your face with warm wa­ter soft­ened by the ad­di­tion of a lit­tle soda or am­mo­nia, and then by firm and reg­u­lar rub­bing with a hard towel mas­sage the skin well.

A.B.C. – The ner­vous­ness is sec­ondary to the state of your diges­tive or­gans. You should eat spar­ingly and care­fully, and in­stead of bread, eat toast cooled be­fore it is but­tered . . .

Huntstown. – You should try the ef­fect of tak­ing fat ba­con for break­fast, and go with reg­u­lar­ity, tak­ing a pill of aloin 1/4gr at bed­time when the sys­tem will not act.

Vere­cund. – You do not men­tion your age, blush­ing is usu­ally an af­fec­tion of youth, and age cures it. Strength and health usu­ally give the con­fi­dence which abol­ishes blush­ing.

M.G. – The glass of beer, along with the ten­dency to less ex­er­cise, is the most likely cause of your cor­pu­lence . . .

A Great Suf­ferer. – “You should not let the feel­ing you men­tion keep you from tak­ing ad­vice. In­stead of the soap make a lo­tion of car­bolic acid, one tea­spoon­ful to a pint of hot wa­ter, and bathe the parts freely, us­ing it also as a sitz bath every day.”

Troubled. – The best way to clear the com­plex­ion is to get into ro­bust health. This will not get rid of freck­les in some peo­ple, but they look all right if the com­plex­ion is clear.

S.F.P.N. – You must give up your folly ab­so­lutely. The fol­low­ing mix­ture may be help to you in every way, but if you are to re­cover you must never again yield to temp­ta­tion. R/Sodii sul­phatis, 1½oz; potas­sii bro­midi, 4dr; tinc­ture bel­ladon­nae, 4dr; aquae ad, 10 oz. A ta­ble­spoon of wa­ter at bed­time.

Bor­neo. – Your vari­cose vein is likely to be in­flu­enced ad­versely by the con­sti­pa­tion. You might aid that ma­te­ri­ally by eat­ing brown bread in­stead of white. Al­ways have it stale, and this will help you from tak­ing an ex­cess. Ban­dage your leg as you get up with a crepe ban­dage . . .

XXXX. – Habits such as you com­plain of are very dif­fi­cult to over­come at times. Even if you can­not look peo­ple in the face you should not keep out of com­pany. There is an old su­per­sti­tion that peo­ple who can­not stare you in the face are not hon­est, but there is lit­tle or no truth in that . . .

W.H. – You would do well to avoid the radishes for break­fast. Salad with a dress­ing would be all right for din­ner . . .

Jacko II. – Yours is not a case for treat­ment here. Go to a doc­tor on the spot.

“Health Hints by Medico” col­umn ex­plained con­di­tions and dis­eases, wrote on health mat­ters – as var­ied as how to sea-bathe and the dan­gers of moun­tain climb­ing – and an­swered ques­tions from cor­re­spond­ing read­ers

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