This water then contains, without a doubt, iron dissolved, both by fixed air, and by vitriolic acid: in this latter circumstance having the advantage over Tunbridge, and most of our other chalybeates. This renders it not liable, like them, to deposit its metallic principle by keeping. Yet the mineral vitriol is so very much diluted and so minutely divided, as to render it at once extremely beneficial, perfectly innocent and accepted even to weak stomachs.
There is also a small proportion of muriatic and earthly salt, mentioned above, but not in such proportion as to claim any share in the medicinal effects.
It is particularly adapted to promote appetite and digestion, and to strengthen the tone of the stomach, impaired by excess or other causes. It gradually strengthens the whole habit, and hence is excellent in that weakness, which remains after acute diseases, and for those who, without any apparent cause, lose their strength, fall away, and are generally said to be going into weakness. It is useful in the first stage, or beginning of consumptions, and may be used with advantage, even in the more advanced stages, if the matter spit up be good pus and there be no considerable degree of fever.
It is of great service in nervous diseases, and in such as arise from weakness of the system, and reciprocally serve to increase it as in the beginning of a dropsy, in the Pluor albus or other feminal weaknesses, Diarrhoea and Diabetes. It is good to prevent the gout in the stomach and bowels, may be useful in rheumatisms, and in some bodies may remove the cause of barrenness or imbecility. In general it will be serviceable in a relaxed state of the solids arising from luxury, or excess or inaction, or a sedentary life, or consequent on iome d sease: it will correct a bad habit of body, and promote good suppuration and granulation in ulcers; and its frequent use will render a person less liable to be affected by cold, damp or putrid air, epidemical or other causes of diseases. It will provide an efficacious medicine in all the cases which were mention’d under the article of iron (another article in this book)
If the escape of the fix’d air was prevented we might also expect from it, in part, the virtues ascribed to that pervading principle. It may perhaps sometime prove of consequence enough, to have some care taken to preserve its virtues entire, to be render’d (as it easily might) more commodious and easy of access, and to make it a matter of general joy, that a medicine of such public utility, is not in the hands of private men, who might circumscribe its use, but a part of the public estate and free to all comers.
These waters are unfit for old and infirm persons who have not heat enough to promote their action. The same may be the case of some very weak habits, and to such the exhibition of the water should be very gradual, and prudently regulated; it is not good for people plethoric, fat, dispos’d to inflammation or spasmodic affection: and generally, where it heats much, it must either be omitted, or taken with proper
precautions. To some, a vomit, bleeding, or purging may be necessary, before entering on a course of this water; weak and delicate stomachs may require it diluted, or warm, or with the addition of a little aromatic, or stomach tincture: and in some, particularly the consumptive and gouty, it will be proper to drink it with milk. Bark infused in it will in some cases be of service. The body should, in general, be kept moderately open during its use.
The method of using the Water
The best time for drinking this water is when the stomach is empty, in a morning, or an hour or two before dinner. It is proper to begin with half a pint, or a pint, and gradually to increase the dose, so as to take in some cases four or five pints a day, or even to use it for common drink at meals. The use of it should be continued for a pretty long time to reap the benefit of it, and where the quantity drank has been gradually increased, as soon as the end proposed is obtained, it shou’d be gradually decreased though not perhaps entirely left off. The summer season is best for drinking it, although the chief reason for this is that the fittest for exercise and bathing which greatly promote the good effects of the water, especially in nervous cases: this is also one motive for advising its being drank at the spring rather than at home. Moderate exercise, regularity, temperance, a light simple diet, not flatulent, using but little animal food, malt liquor, tea or coffee and relaxation of the mind also contribute much to assist its operation; as does, in obstructions, the warm bath.