"In the Beginning"—Health

The fourth part of our series examines the vital importance of water.

Prepared by KATHLEEN MUNRO and ELAINE RIEGELMANN, Portland Sanitarium

I know a little fairy who lurks within the spring. She is so pure, she is so true, so sweet the song she sings;


She bringeth peace and plenty and giveth health again,

This sweetest, dearest gift of heaven, Bright Water is her name."

"In health and in sickness, pure water is one of heaven's choicest blessings. Its proper use promotes health. It is the beverage which God provided to quench the thirst of animals and man. Drunk freely, it helps to supply the necessities of the system, and assists nature to resist disease. The external appli­cation of water is one of the easiest and most satis­factory ways of regulating the circulation of the blood."—Ministry of Healing, p. 237.

Since water comprises two thirds of the body weight, we are not surprised to find that it plays a very important part in its proper functioning. Body activities are carried on largely by the use of water. There is a con­stant demand for water, and a constant loss of it, in the process of carrying food to the tis­sues and carrying waste products away. This makes it essential that a proper water balance be maintained at all times. An individual may survive for weeks without food, but he cannot live for more than three or four days without water.

Pure water must be drunk in abundance be­tween meals—six to eight glasses being re­quired by the system every day. Most people would do well to adopt a schedule of water drinking, until they form the habit of drinking a sufficient amount without thinking of it. A good rule to follow is to drink two glasses of water before breakfast, two .glasses between breakfast and dinner, one or two glasses be­tween dinner and supper, and one glass upon retiring.

Large quantities of water and other liquids should not be taken with meals. This dilutes the digestive juices, tends to wash the food down before it is properly masticated, and en­courages overeating. Cold liquids chill the stomach.

In an effort to improve upon God's original beverage, man has concocted many other drinks —tea, coffee, alcoholic liquors, and soda-foun­tain beverages. These not only supply little or no food value, but are also harmful, containing poisons and stimulating or sedative drugs.

Pure water and fruit juices are a simple health necessity. In experiments on normal young men who were given a very limited amount of water, it was found that they howed disturbances such as headaches, loss of appe­tite, nervousness, digestive disturbances, and inability to concentrate on their work. These symptoms were promptly relieved by a return to adequate water drinking.

The external use of water in the cleansing of the body is desirable from both the aesthetic and hygienic standpoint. Baths not only remove airt, but they also soothe the nervous system and improve the tone of the skin.

Various effects are obtained by different tem­peratures of water. A warm bath is most de­sirable for cleansing purposes. A short cold bath or shower is stimulating, and when taken regularly is decidedly helpful in building body resistance. A hot bath is not indicated under normal conditions. Too many people take baths that are much too hot, and suffer from their weakening effect, and an .increased susceptibility to cold. The daily, warm, cleansing bath, fol­lowed by a cold shower or pour for normal in­dividuals, is to be highly recommended as a health practice. Frequent bathing, brushing the teeth, and caring for the hair and nails influ­ence personality as well as health, and con­tribute to self-confidence and success in life.

Aside from ordinary washing, hands should constantly receive special care. The hand-to-mouth route is one of the main ways by which disease germs travel, and hands should be kept scrupulously clean—especially when handling food of any kind. As stated by one authority, "Of all the techniques for preventing the spread of disease, none is so important as hand­washing."—Harmer and Henderson, Principles and Practice of Nursing, p. 159.

Water has been called the universal solvent, and together with the action of air and sun, it is our most reliable cleansing agent. In the days when God gave explicit instructions to Israel concerning personal hygiene and camp sanitation, the teaching was based upon the principle of thorough washing—not upon the use of disinfectants. Today scientific research corroborates these sanitary laws, and we more fully appreciate the import of the divine injunc­tion, "Wash you, make you clean." Someone has observed, "No more do we hear of the tra­ditional Saturday night bath, the annual house cleaning, the seasonal change of bedding, and the semimonthly change of underwear." "With greater knowledge have come higher ideals."—Campbell, L. D., Decalogue of Health, pp. 68, 76.

"John Wesley is credited with the old adage, 'Cleanliness is next to godliness.' It might be added that cleanliness is a part of godliness, for a clean body temple leads to clean thoughts and a clean character."—Id., p. 76.

In sickness water is one of the best medicines. In many cases one of the first things the doc­tor will order is to "push fluids.' In other words, he wants the patient to take more than the usual amount of water and fruit juice, to help the body in its fight against disease.

Still another valuable use of water is in hy­drotherapy, or water treatments. The external use of water depends upon the presence or ab­sence of heat for its effect, and so we have both hot and cold applications, alone or in combina­tion, depending upon the effect desired. Many water treatments can be given satisfactorily at home, and are of great value in the treatment of disease. We need to remember, however, that water is not a cure-all, and that it can also do harm as well as good. Anyone admin­istering water treatments in the home should understand the basic, underlying principles of hydrotherapy. If you have not had the oppor­tunity to learn and practice the giving of sim­ple home treatments, join a home nursing class as soon as possible and avail yourself of this knowledge. We have the following instruction of divine origin:

"Thousands have died for want of pure water, and pure air, who might have lived. And thousands of invalids, who are a burden to themselves and others, think that their lives depend upon taking medicines from the doctors. They are continually guarding themselves against the air, and avoiding the use of water. These blessings they need in order to be­come well."—Counsels on Health, p. 53.

Let us all follow more faithfully the orders of the doctor who prescribed the use of water "internally, externally, and eternally."


Campbell, L. D., Decalogue of Health, Pacific Press, Mountain View, California, 1936.

Etheredge, M. L., Health Facts for College Stu­dents, W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1936, 2c1 ed.

Harmer and Henderson, Principles and Practice of Nursing, Macmillan, New York, 1939.

Life and Health Library, Nos. I, 6, 7, Review and Herald, Takoma Park, D. C.

Trott, L. L., Red Cross Home Nursing, Blakiston, Philadelphia, 1942.

White, E. G., Counsels on Health, Pacific Press, 1923; Ministry of Healing, Pacific Press, 1909; Prin­ciples of True Science, Washington College Press, Takoma Park, D. C., 1929.

Williams J. F., Personal Hygiene Applied, Saun­ders, 1937, 6th ed., revised.


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Prepared by KATHLEEN MUNRO and ELAINE RIEGELMANN, Portland Sanitarium

May 1944

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