The Kneipp Cure: A Health Reform For Your Body – Sebastian Kneipp
Scarcely ever has a book found its way through Europe and the whole civilized world in so incredibly short a time as the little volume of which this is a translation. Finding help nowhere and lacking both physical and mental strength due to his failing health, the young author was left to spend his time in the royal library. Here one day an old little book attracts his curiosity, he opens it, it treats of water-cures. This moment was to be a turning-point in his life. The contents of the small unsightly volume were to be the rough outline of a plan which, in its completion, has become a blessing for numbers of his fellow-creatures who, laboring under more or less grievous disease, were restored to the full possession of bodily health and mental vigor; for as soon as the author in this early period of his life had experienced the salutary effects of water, it seemed but natural to his noble heart to make as many as possible partakers of the benefit he then enjoyed in the sense of undisturbed health. Since his endeavors in this respect had for their sole objects the glory of God and the good of poor sufferers, since he sought neither honor nor any other earthly reward, he was well armed against the temptation to give up a work which, besides adding considerably to the exertions imposed on him by his sacred office, earned for him much contradiction and ingratitude. “The Kneipp-Cure” is not only a fantastic read, but for many sick people a way into a much brighter and healthier future. This book is illustrated.
The Kneipp Cure: A Health Reform For Your Body.
ISBN eBook: 9783849660499
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JUST as on a tree no leaf resembles perfectly to another, so also do men’s destinies differ one from the other. If every man were to write a sketch of his own life, we should have as many different tales as there are men. Intricate are the ways twisting themselves in our life in every direction, sometimes like an inextricable ball of confused silk, the threads of which seem to be laid without plan or purpose. So it frequently seems; but it never is so in reality. Faith darts its enlightening beam into the darkness, and shows how all these entangled paths serve wise purposes, and how all of them lead to one end, designed and fixed by the all-wise Creator from the beginning. The ways of providence are wonderful.
Looking back from the high watch-tower of old age on the past years of my life and all the complications of my paths, they seem to wind themselves sometimes on the brink of the abyss; but they lead against all expectation to the glorious heights of vocation, and finally attain them, and I have every reason to praise the tender and wise ruling of Providence, the more so as the paths which, according to human ideas, seemed to be sad and leading to death, showed to me and numberless others the opening to a new life.
I was more than 21 years old when I left my home as a weaver seeking employment; but, since the days of my childhood, something else had occupied my mind. With unspeakable pain and longing desire for the realization of my ideal, I had awaited this departure for long, long years, as my sole wish was to become a priest.
I went away then, not as was expected to throw the weaver’s shuttle, but I hurried from place to place seeking for someone who would provide me with the means for studying. The now deceased Prelate Matthias Merkle (died 1881) at that time chaplain in Gronenbach, took me under his care, gave me private instructions during two years, and with indefatigable zeal tried to prepare me for the gymnasium, so that I was able to be received there at the end of that time. It was no easy task and its effects on my body and mind seemed to render all my efforts utterly useless. After five years of the greatest exertions and privations my strength both physical and mental was broken. Once my father came to town to take me away, and even now the words of the innkeeper, at whose inn we stopped, seem still to be ringing in my ears. “Weaver,” he said, “this is the last time you will come to fetch your student.” A physician in the army, a celebrated man, who at that time was known as a benevolent and generous helper of poor patients, visited me 90 times in the second last year of my studies, and in the last one more than a hundred times. He wished ever so much to help me, but my increasing debility rendered his medicinal knowledge and devoted charity unavailable. I myself had given up all hope long ago, and was expecting my end with quiet resignation. To procure a little amusement and distraction of mind, I used to run over the pages of many books. By chance — I only use this customary but insignificant word, because it is customary; for things never happen by chance — an unsightly little book fell into my hands; T opened it; it treated of the water-cure. I read the book and found in it descriptions of various diseases and the wonderful effects obtained by the use of the water-cure.
At last this was the thought which struck me: You may find your own state described in it. And so it was; my state was represented to a hair’s breadth. What joy! What comfort! New hopes electrified my withered body and my still more withered mind. At first this little book was the straw to which I clung; soon afterwards it became the staff which supported the sufferer; to-day I acknowledge it to be the life-boat sent to me by a merciful Providence at the right time, at the hour of extreme need. This little book, treating of the healing power of fresh water, is written by a physician; the applications are most of them extremely rugged and rigid. I tried them for:! months, for (! months; no real improvement ensued, but at the same lime I did not grow worse and that gave me new courage. I spent the winter of 1849 in Dillingen. Two or three times a week I went to a solitary spot to bathe in the Danube for some moments. Quickly I ran to the spot; more speedily I hastened back to my warm room at home. This cold exercise never hurt me, but, as I thought, it was of no great use either. In 1850 I came to the Georgianum in Munich. And there I found a poor student who was in a much more miserable state than myself. The physician of the institution refused to give him the certificate of health necessary for his ordination, declaring that he would not live much longer. Now I had a dear companion whom I initiated into the mysteries of my little book, and we tried to surpass each other in the practice of the various water applications. In a short time my friend got the desired certificate, and at the present day he is still alive. I myself grew continually stronger, I became a priest and am living as such over 44 years. My friends tell me that they admire the power of my voice and are amazed at the bodily strength I enjoy at the age of 76. The water remained my well tested friend, and who can blame me, if I remain faithful to it also?
He who has been in want and misery himself, knows how to sympathize with the want and misery of his neighbor. Not all patients arc alike unfortunate, and surely he who has the means of regaining health, can easily reconcile himself with a short time of suffering. Such rich patients I have refused by the hundreds and thousands during the first years. But the poor man, who is needy and abandoned, given up by the physicians and no longer helped by medicaments and remedies, has every right to our sympathies. Great numbers of this kind of people are my favorite patients; such poor and entirely forsaken people I have never sent away. It would seem hard, unconscientious, and ungrateful to shut my door upon such poor sufferers, or to deny them the resources which brought me health and strength in my times of need.
The great number of sufferers, the still greater difference of their sufferings, urged me to enrich my experience in the use of water and to perfect the method of applying it.
To my first adviser, the well-known little book, I am always indebted for the introductory lessons I learned from it, hut I soon found out that many applications were too rigid, too violent and discouraging for human nature. For this reason people called at first the water-cure a “horse-cure,” and up to this day many who abuse that which they do not understand, like to give the name of swindle and quackery to everything connected with the water-cure.
I willingly grant that many applications and exercises of the primitive and still undeveloped water-cure were more suited to a muscular and strong-limbed horse than to a human being covered with soft flesh and stringed with tender nerves.
In the life of the celebrated F. Ravignan S. J. the following incident is recorded: “His complaint, a disease of the throat, was increasing on account of too great exertion, (he was a celebrated preacher who practiced his sacred office with apostolic zeal in Paris, London, and many other large towns) and soon became chronical. ––– His windpipe was simply one wound, his voice was entirely gone. He had to spend two whole years (1846 — 48) in a state of inactivity and suffering; and cures tried at several places, change of air in the south, were of no result. In June 1848, F. Ravignan was living with Doctor K. R. .in his country-house in the vale at B. One morning after Mass, the doctor looked anxious and announced to the assembled family that F. Ravignan felt worse and could not come to breakfast. Then he himself disappeared and went to the patient saying: “Arise and follow me!” “But where to?” the latter replied. “I am going to throw you into the water.” “Into the water?” said Ravignan, “with my fever and my cough? But never mind, I am in your hands and must obey.” A so-called shower-bath was meant, a violent but efficient remedy, as the biographer says. The effect was evident. At dinner time that same day, the doctor triumphantly produced his patient, then remarkably better; and he who was voiceless in the morning, told the tale of his recovery at night.
This, I too, term somewhat of a “horse-cure” which, notwithstanding the good result, I should not like to imitate or to recommend for imitation.
Here I must state that I do not approve of all the applications now in use in the water-cure hospitals; of some of them I even strictly disapprove. They appear to me too strong, and, pardon the expression, too fanatical. Too many things are treated exactly alike, and much too little difference is made, in my opinion, between the various patients, their greater or lesser weakness, their more or less obstinate illness, the more or less advanced devastation and consequences, etc. etc.
It is just in the variety of the applications and in their proper choice, that the master-hand will and must be recognized.
Patients of the different hospitals came to me complaining bitterly: “It is beyond endurance, it is killing me.” But thus it ought not to be. Once a healthy man presented himself to me, asserting that he had been injured by washing himself in the morning. “How did you do that?” I asked him. “I put my head under the pump and let the icy water run over it for a quarter of an hour!” It would certainly be a miracle, if such an unreasonable man did not entirely ruin himself. We mock and deride such a foolish proceeding, and yet, how many who must he supposed to know how to apply the water reasonably, have acted just as foolishly, in my opinion even more foolishly, and thereby prejudiced the patients against the water forever. I could give numerous instances which would be just as many proofs of my assertion.
I warn against every too strong or too frequent application of water, for that which otherwise would be an advantage of the curing element, is thereby turned to injury, and the hopeful confidence of the patient is changed into fear and horror. For 30 years, I have tried every single application upon myself. Three times — this I acknowledge openly — I found myself induced to change my system, to loosen the strings, to descend from strictness to mildness, from great to still greater mildness. According to my present conviction, now fixed for 17 years and tested by innumerable cures, he who knows how to apply tin water in the plainest, easiest and most simple way. will produce the most profitable effects and the safest results. The various modes in which I use the water as a remedy, are told in the third part of this book, treating of the different diseases. In the second part (see the particular preface), I have given, especially for country people, some remedies to make a family herb tea chest, which herbs, applied interiorly, tend to the same purposes as the water; either to dissolve, to evacuate, or to strengthen.
To every patient consulting me I put some questions so as not to act too hastily and to his disadvantage.
In like manner this little book is bound to answer shortly the following questions:
1. What is sickness, and what is the common source of all sickness?
The human body is one of the most marvelous structures of God’s creative hand. Every joint agrees to joint, every accurately measured limb to the harmonious whole, combined to an astonishing unity. More remarkable still is the conjunction of the organs, and their activity within the body. Even the most disbelieving physician and naturalist, who “has not found a soul with his lancet and his dissecting knife,” cannot refuse his most just and highest admiration to the inimitable wisdom displayed in the structure of the human body. — This euphony and harmony, called good health, is disturbed by different causes, which we call “diseases.” Such diseases of the body, interior and exterior, belong to the daily bread which most human creatures must eat, willingly or unwillingly. All these diseases whatever their names may be, have their cause, origin, root and their germ in the blood, or rather in disturbances of the blood, whether it be only disturbed in its circulation, or corrupted in its ingredients by humors not belonging to it. The net of blood-vessels spreads its red vital spirit through the whole body, in its suitable way. Order consists in proportion; every too much or too little in the tempo of the circulation of the blood, every penetration of foreign elements, disturbs the peace, the concord, causes discord, changes health to sickness.
2. How is the healing to be effected?