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Obesity, or Excessive Corpulence_ The Various Causes and the Rational Means of Cure

Obesity, or Excessive Corpulence_ The Various Causes and the Rational Means of Cure
Category: Obesity / Weight loss
Title: Obesity, or Excessive Corpulence_ The Various Causes and the Rational Means of Cure
Release Date: 2018-04-29
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 56
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Transcriber's Notes:
Blank pages have been eliminated.
Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been left as in theoriginal.
A few typographical errors have been corrected.
The cover page was created by the transcriber and can be considered public domain.


From the French of Dancel.





The subject of "Obesity," including itscause and treatment, has received during thepast few years a great deal of attention bothin England and on the Continent. Thousandsof persons have realized the extraordinarybenefit to be derived from the simple treatmentlaid down in the following pages.

Some members of the medical professionhave, in the course of their practice, availedthemselves of the theory first propounded byour Author, but have failed to acknowledge—eitherthrough ignorance or inadvertence—thesource of their information.

Under these circumstances it has beendeemed an act of justice, though tardy, toplace before the profession and the public atranslation of the original work of Dancel,modifications in matters of theory have, however,been introduced, which the progress ofscience imperatively demanded.

The invariable success which has attendedthe treatment of several cases of obesity inthis city, in accordance with the principles establishedby Dancel, warrants the assertionthat the system is in every respect worthy ofpublic confidence.


To the many individuals of both sexes whoare afflicted with an excessive development offat, rendering the ordinary duties of life notonly irksome but ofttimes impossible,—aneasy method of reducing obesity, in nowiseinterfering with the ordinary daily avocationsof the patient, nor demanding any diminutionin the actual amount of food consumed;requiring the use of none but the mildest andmost harmless medicinal agents; improvingat the same time the general health, and augmentingbodily and mental vigour,—mustprove acceptable.

The process will be found not a mere speculativetheory, but one based upon the greatlaws of Nature, as manifested throughout thewhole of the animal kingdom.


Can corpulence be reduced without injuriouslyaffecting the general health? This isthe grand question, and it is suggestive of another,which is:—an inordinate amount offat once having been deposited in and amongthe living tissues, is its presence necessary forthe preservation of the health and life of theindividual? My answer is,—most assuredlyno! Every one knows that an undue degree ofcorpulence is not only accompanied with greatinconvenience to the individual, but is, inmost instances productive of ill health, andtoo frequently of positive disease.

Having answered this question, anotheroccurs:—are there any substances generallyknown to the profession which have the power[viii]either to destroy fat or to cause its disappearance,and which, at the same time, will haveno action upon the other tissues of the body?My reply is most assuredly there are such;and I will prove my assertion in this respectto be correct, without resorting to the use ofsubtle reasonings or invoking the aid oflearned theories, but will be content to rest itupon the sure foundation of chemical science,—onthat science which teaches the action ofone body with another, which shews us thatin some cases no change whatever is effectedby the mechanical combination of two ormore indifferent substances; and that in otherinstances, the chemical union of two bodieswill be productive of a third, having propertieswholly dissimilar from either of the twooriginal substances:—thus, that one or moreelementary substances or chemical compoundsmay enter into combination with a fatty bodyto produce a third, and yet have no power ofaction whatsoever upon the muscles, the[ix]bones, the nerves, or any other than the fattytissues of the living organism.

Knowing, therefore, the chemical constituentsof fat, and also those entering into thecomposition of the several articles of dietwhich are principally made use of in the civilizedworld, we are enabled to say of a certainclass of alimentary substances, that such containthe elementary ingredients of fat; andthat if you desire to escape the inconveniencesand evils attendant on corpulency, it will bewell to abstain from them; and that, on theother hand, by making use of such and suchalimentary substances, and that too in anyquantity the appetite may prompt, there willbe no danger of suffering the inconveniencesalluded to, because such substances containbut a minute portion of those elements whichenter into the composition of fat.

In the following treatise, a system for thereduction of corpulence, based upon the above[x]well-recognized truths, will be found fullydeveloped, and its correctness established bymeans of numerous cases brought forward, inwhich the results have been entirely satisfactory,and where the patients have kindly permittedme to state their names and addresses.


Translator's Prefaceiii.
Author's Prefacev.
Author's Preface to Third Editionvii.
Umbilical Hernia10
Medical Theories14
Medical Specialism16
Periodic Headache17
Effect of loss of blood18
Sanguineous Apoplex20
Pulmonary Affections21
Fatty Liver22
Abdominal Dropsy23
Hepatic Obstruction24
Broussais, his Theory25
Signs of Hepatic Obstruction27
Uterine Affections28
Skin Disease29
Cause of Obesity30[xii]
Sudden Death32
Quantity of Fat35
Case in Java36
Appearance of the Obese37
Varicose Veins40
Effects of Exercise43
Pre-disposition to Fat44
Intestinal Tract46
Composition of Fat47
Chemistry of Fat48
Experimental Feeding50
Effects of Fluids51
Nitrogenous Food52
Whale Tribe55
Insufficient Exercise56
Active Exercise57
Jail Prisoners58
Carbon of Plants59
Treatment of Obesity60
Compulsory Abstinence62
Use of Acids63
Use of Iodine64
Similarity of Fat and Water65
Bi-Carbonate of Soda67
Alkalis alone not sufficient68
Increased Tone69
Cases of Reduction of Corpulence70
Case of Guénaud71
Increased Muscular Power73
Unimpeded Respiration74
Case of Widow Rollin76
Case of Chauvin77
Case of Roberts78
Swelling of the Legs79
Cardiac Symptoms81
No excess of Blood82
Case of Madame Meuriot83
Case of Madame Pecquet86
Loss of One Hundred Pounds weight88
Case of Madame de M.89
Case of Lucian Eté92
Case of Madame d'Hervilly93
Case of M. Desbouillons94
Systematic Opposition96
Not a matter of Faith98
Fat and Fatigue99
Case of Madame C.100
Change of Temperament101
Case of Albert C.102
Case of Mr. L.103
Case of Dr. Halberg105
Case of Jules Wimy107
The Postmaster at Orleans[xiv]109
Constancy of Result110
Resolution necessary111
The Fat Professor113
Cases of Skin Disease114
Prejudices Overcome115
On the selection of alimentary substances favorable to the reduction of Corpulence116
Man Omnivorous117
Power of Selection118
Of Meats119
Of Fish120
Of Milk121
Of Beverage122
Beer and Cider123
Alcoholic Drinks124
Wine and Water125
Of Tea and Coffee126
Strong Coffee127




The physician has a twofold duty to perform.He is called upon not merely to alleviate pain,and to undertake the cure of disease, but he is,moreover, required to lay down rules for thepreservation of health, the prevention of disease,and its too frequent concomitant, pain.

Now, health being dependent upon the dueand regular performance of the vital functionsby the several physiological organs of the body,any excessive development of these organs, orundue manifestation of force on their part,must, of necessity, be contrary to the generalhealth of the body, and be productive of diseaseand pain.

In many persons there exists a constitutionaltendency to the excessive formation of blood,occasioning a plethoric condition, and therebyrendering the individual liable to a great manydiseases; others again suffer from an exaltedor diminished sensibility of the nervous system,[2]inducing some of the greatest woes to whichhumanity is liable.

Many different elements are combined in thestructure of the various organs of the body,and among these fat, in suitable proportion,must be recognized as necessary for the dueand equable performance of the several organicfunctions.

This fat, however, often becomes excessive,giving rise at first to great inconvenience, aftera time inducing debility, and finally constitutinga disease (hitherto deemed incurable) termedobesity.

The possession of a graceful figure may be oflittle importance, in so far as the happiness ofmost men is concerned; but as regards thegentler sex, such is by no means the case.Women are too apt to believe that, in theabsence of physical beauty, the possession ofmental and worldly treasures can only sufficeto render them endurable in their social relations.Beauty, the richest gift of nature,deserves to be carefully guarded by those whohappily possess it; corpulence, its enemy, isdestructive to the finest organization.

It is a painful sight to witness the manyinstances of women, who, though still of youthfulyears, and whose elegance of form, but ashort time since, did but enhance their unsur[3]passedloveliness of countenance, lose by degrees,in the midst of an overwhelming fat, allthis relative and graceful harmony, and whoseever increasing corpulence serves only to renderthem ill-favoured and repulsive. In all cases,so detrimental a change is much to be regretted;but for ladies mingling in the fashionablespheres of life, it is to be borne only whensuch a condition can be shewn to be utterlybeyond all hope of relief.

Excessive corpulence has destroyed theprospects of many, both men and women, byrendering them incompetent to discharge theduties of a profession by which they had hithertogained an honourable livelihood. Superabundanceof fat prevents an infantry officerfrom following his regiment—a cavalry officerfrom being long on horseback; and thus bothare alike compelled to retire from the service.The operatic artiste, whose voice orpersonal beauty had been hitherto a mine ofwealth to the theatre, falls into indigence,because an excessive development of fat nowembarrasses the lungs or destroys her personalcharms.

Every one engaged in intellectual pursuitswill say that since he has increased in fat hefinds that he cannot work so easily as he didwhen he was thin. The painter feels the want[4]of that vivid imagination which was wont toguide his brush. The sculptor labours withindifference upon the marble. The literaryman feels heavy, and his ideas no longer flowin obedience to his will. The clerk in hisoffice is ever complaining of the efforts he isobliged to make to resist an overwhelmingdrowsiness which interferes with his calculatingpowers, rendering him unable to composea letter, or even to copy one. Obesity, in fact,lessens both physical and moral activity, andunfits man for the ordinary business of life.

It was in conformity with this opinion, nodoubt, that the Romans at one time, wishingto have no drones among them, banished thoseof their fellow citizens who laboured under anexcessive development of fat. One can conceiveof the existence of such a law among apeople who condemned to a like punishmentany citizen known to be indifferent to thepublic welfare.

We must admit, however, that it would bea grave error to assert that all persons sufferingunder an excess of fat are invariably wantingin the finer feelings, or even in moralenergy. There are many living proofs to thecontrary. But it is among women chiefly thatwe witness instances of great mental refinementand susceptibility, in union with a bodysteadily increasing to a lamentable size.

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