Its Causes, Effects, and Cure.
"Influenza" is an Italian word signifying an influence of the stars, but it is more probably a peculiar state of the atmosphere. It has been applied to febrile catarrh, termed by the French "la grippe," but formerly it was termed "cocoluche," because those who suffered from it wore a nightcap on their head. It has been very much in fashion lately, and any kind of cold which is accompanied with catarrhal symptoms is termed influenza. In nine cases out of ten it is a misnomer. The true disease seldom occurs except in an epidemic form, and attacks many persons at one and the same time. It comes on quite suddenly, and its symptoms are those of a general fever: great prostration and loss of strength, loss of appetite, with heat and thirst, cough, and difficult breathing, owing to the air valves and bronchial passages being clogged with mucus. There is also a running of the nose and eyes, and a sense of weight across the forehead, and a throbbing pain in the head, with great depression of spirit. The fever symptoms do not last more than four or five days, or a week at longest (sometimes only one or two days), although the cough may linger for some time after the fever has gone, varying according to circumstances, such as exposure to cold or wet.
Influenza is not of itself a dangerous disease, and no one ought to die of it. The strong and healthy have little to fear, as they require very little medical treatment. Wrong treatment causes complications and death, and even with those in a delicate state of health, with right treatment death should not take place.
What are the causes of influenza? The causes are too much dampness in the air and much rain, exposure to the south, southwest, and south-east winds, sleeping with room windows open at night; and too little sunshine, which causes too much carbonic acid gas and nitrogen gas to float about in the air we breathe, and this produces all the symptoms of the disease known as "Influenza." Now we must bear in mind that all human beings require oxygen for life, and that all vegetation thrives on carbonic acid gas; further, that we inhale the oxygen and throw out the carbonic acid gas during the day, and that during this time vegetation takes in the carbonic acid gas and throws off oxygen gas, which we need. When the sun has gone down, and during the whole of the night, they exhale, or throw off, carbonic acid gas and take, in oxygen gas. But how does the gas produce these symptoms? By means of its chemical action on the secretory vessels and the process of drying up and stopping the secretion of the vessels which secrete the fluid that lubricates the mucous surfaces of the mucous membranes or lining of the air tubes, through which we breathe, keeping them in a good, working condition.
Treatment for Influenza with Non-Poisonous Herbal Remedies.—Put the patient to bed for a day or two in a warm room, and give plenty of Composition tea (made of the best composition powder) until the patient perspires freely. If composition powder cannot be got, then use Peppermint, Balm, Hyssop, Water Mint, Yarrow, or Pennyroyal tea; or the 3rd Preparation of Lobelia, or Anti-spasmodic Tincture. If the bowels are constipated, give Constipation Herbs as made and prescribed for constipation (see article on "Constipation"). If there is a cough, the above treatment will take that away. If there be tightness of the chest, rub it all round with No. 6 (for the recipe of this see answer to Correspondent "N. L. P.," Oct., 1916), and then with Chickweed Ointment. For diet, give light food, such as Slippery Elm gruel, Slippery Elm Food, Lentil Flour Food, or plenty of new milk, rice food, sago, a little dry bread, or a little bread-and-butter; and as a drink give plenty of hot tea, sweetened, with a little milk in it, or plenty of hot water, but en no account give barley water, egg or baking powders, or custard powders in the food they eat. Neither must soda water or any intoxicating drinks, wines, or cider be given to the patient, or any temperance drinks containing Quila bark. Eggs, boiled very hard, can be used, and eaten as food with good results.
Common Plants and their Uses in Medicine was written by Richard Lawrence Hool, F.N.A.M.H., in 1922.