Diet: If the entire nervous system is in a condition of pathological irritability, as in cases of neurasthenia and hysteria, it is the object of rational diet to keep all irritations from such a vibrating organism.
To prescribe: “No coffee, no tea, no alcohol, no strong spices and no tobacco,” will do no harm, and in most cases will prove beneficial.
Nothing is more absurd than the attempt to strengthen nervous people by the use of alcohol. When forbidden alcohol entirely, it will very often transpire that some symptom, like headache, neuralgia, etc., was due to its use. Whenever the general conditions permit the continued use of alcohol to a certain extent, it must not be left to the patient’s judgment to determine how far this may go, but definite quantities must be prescribed in each individual case, although the patient’s experience may be of assistance in determining the quantity. (Moritz).
Good results have been obtained by limiting the meat diet of extremely nervous patients, and prescribing for them a diet consisting principally of milk, eggs, cereals, vegetables and fruits. In this way the irritating effect of many of the meat extracts is avoided. At the same time the digestive work of the stomach, reduced by the limited meat diet, and the stimulation of stool, always promoted by a prevalence of vegetable elements in the diet, exercises a beneficial influence on the condition of the patient.
Disturbances of the stomach and intestines are very closely connected with neurasthenia, loss of strength of the nerve-tissue, and hysteria, in some cases being the cause, and in other cases, which occur more frequently, the consequence of the same.
Excessive and, more rarely, defective secretion of hydrochloric acid by the stomach cells, cramps, general atony or debility, of the stomach, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, tympanites (excessive production of gases), may all arise from nervous causes. In such cases the diet must be the same as given for nervous disease.
Not only in these cases, but in most instances of nervous diseases, a diet which does not produce irritation and excludes alcohol, will have to be prescribed. The danger of alcohol in cases of peripheric neuritis, epilepsy and mental diseases, is obvious.
Epileptics, like other nervous patients, should receive a diet that is mainly, but not solely, a vegetable diet, exclusive of all highly spiced food.
The same principles govern in case of Basedow’s disease, which is a special type of irritating disease.
Absolutely necessary foodstuffs to be recommended in this case are clams, sole and water cress, because they contain more organic iodine than any other known food-stuff.
As iodine is the basic mineral of the thyroid gland, and other preparations are poisonous or dangerous, the necessity of partaking of these dishes becomes obvious, in addition to the fact that if properly prepared, they are delicious. This organic iodine will regulate the secretions of the glands.