Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Finlanders were formerly in the practice of rolling themselves in the snow

The Finlanders make use almost entirely of vapour baths dry and moist. In the first or dry sudatory, the thermometer of Fahrenheit is from 140° to 167° (40° to 60" of Reaumur)—in the second, or moist sudatory, the heat does not exceed 122° of Fahrenheit (40° Reaumur.) The vapour in this last is pungent, and offends the eyes—flame is extinguished, and animals suffer very much, and even perish in it—men become vertiginous, and almost in a state of stupor—their animal heat augments one or two degrees, and the pulse in an adult gives 115, and even 125 beats in a minute—and is, in a child of ten years old, increased to 160—infants when in it appear almost dead, and yet there are some exposed twice a day to such a punishment. This is perhaps the reason why there are so many deaths in early life in Finland.

These baths commonly produce a febrile action, easily recognised by the redness of the skin, heat, and burning thirst, extreme debility, difficult respiration, stupor in some, and obstinate wakefulness in others. The perspiration being thus augmented, all the other secretions are diminished, especially milk and urine. The senses become deadened, and the flesh is in general more flabby than common. In this state of things, perspiration after a while ceases, nor could it be renewed if the heat were augmented to 144° of Fahrenheit.

The dry bath, from 140« to 144° of Fahrenheit, is more supportable than a moist vapour bath of 117° to 122° of Fahrenheit. The Finlanders were formerly in the practice of rolling themselves in the snow, but at present the custom is almost universally abandoned. In Carelia, Tevastia, Savolax, it is customary to bathe every day—in Nieland less frequently.

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