NOTES OF VISITS TO FOREIGN BATHS

John Macpherson
1872 The Lancet  
THE TAUNUS GROUP. I PAID more than one hurried visit to Ems and to Wies-baden, but there is little new to be said of these well-known places. While Ems has lost much of its reputation in tuberculosis, it fully retains its position in the diseases of women and in irritation of mucous membranes. The chalybeate discovered here a year or two ago is found to be unimportant, owing to its deficiency in carbonic acid. Wiesbaden, with its enormous supply of hot water, not to mention its mineral
more » ... ts mineral constituents, must always remain a popular and useful bath; it is growing fast, many families are resorting to it as a residence, partly on account of the supposed mildness of its winter climate. Of Schwalbach and Schlangenbad there is only to be said that both of them have had the extent of their bathing establishments increased, and that Schwalbach has an improved trinkhalle; that Schwalbach is the great place of resort of Russian and of English ladies; and that the little bath of Schlangenbad has no fewer than eight doctors, and is in high favour with Russians, chiefly of the fair sex. The climate of the southern slopes of the Taunus has long been a favourite one, and few of the English visitors of Homburg know anything of the many pleasant spots within a short distance of that place. Of these comes first, as a bath, the station of Soden, with its numerous wells, so rich in salt and carbonic acid. They vary in temperature from 59° to 84°, and in amount of salt (not counting the almost indifferent Schlangenbad) from 26 gr. to 111 gr. Some of the wells contain a good deal of iron, but it is generally overwhelmed by the salt. The Champagne fountain has 50 gr. of salt to '15 gr. of iron. However, Soden has an admirable chalybeate at a distance of but twenty minutes, at Neuenhain ; it is very pure, having only 5'7 of solid constituents, of which '34 are iron. The graduated strength of the wells makes it possible to vary much the nature of the water prescribed, and to regulate the degree of action on the bowels. Soden stands on the main road leading direct from Hochst to Eonigstein. The springs are in two groups on either side of the road. The kurhaus, built on a slope, ' , looks down on a charming park-like garden, having excel-' lently arranged walks, and planted with a great variety of trees, which now afford abundant shade, having been planted in 1838, when I remember the place looking quite bare. In this garden is the Sprudelquelle, the main source for the supply of the new bath-house, which has just been erected. It contains twenty-six baths, and two separate douches, shower-baths, and all other conveniences. The water is heated by steam. The baths themselves are of plain wood, as the waters destroy paint, and act on metal. The temperature of the bath is usually 90 5° that of the douche 635°. The latter has a force given by a column of water of 36 ft. in height. The bath water contains about 112 grs. of common salt in the 16 oz., and abundance of carbonic acid. But Soden is praised as much for its climate as for its waters. The climate is on the whole mild, and subject to few alternations. It is believed to have a calm and stillness somewhat like that of Pau, which is so much insisted on. The climate is considered to be sedative, therefore better suited to erethic than to torpid constitutions threatened with phthisis. During the summer months Soden is, like all foreign baths at low elevations, sufficiently hot; and in the months of July and August those especially suffering from their chests should seek a cooler temperature than it affords. Dr. Thilenius, son of Dr. Otto Thilenius, who had so great a share in developing the place, has produced a very admirable book on Soden, far superior to the ordinary books of the class. From his work I learn that the waters of Soden are useful, as aided by the climate, in scrofula, in chronic laryngitis, in bronchial catarrh, and in pleuritic exudations. Mr. Nunn, of the Middlesex Hospital, who paid Soden a much longer visit than I did, has kindly placed his notes at my disposal, in which he says it is not difficult to imagine, in the case of chronic lung-disease, that patients, from dry, exposed, and exciting climates, find a haven of rest in this hill-protected village-built on a soil yielding an endless supply of salt springs and inexhaustible crops of luxuriant grass. The waters are also largely employed in various forms of dyspepsia and catarrh of the stomach, in chronic pharyngitis, also in chronic diarrhoea, and sometimes in affections of the liver of a congestive nature. Now especially that the baths have been built, Soden will also be found useful in anaemia, chlorosis, and various uterine affections. Soden has a reputation that is chiefly continental. In the total of 4000 visitors during last year, every nationality was well represented except that of the British Isles. Possibly the place may be too quiet for English. Trousseau long ago said that the waters of Soden offered the same advanta.ges as those of Homburg, and remarked that possibly visitors for' whom calm was necessary, and who disliked the artificial life of watering-places, might prefer the soft and peaceful solitude (solitude it is no longer) of Soden to the tumultuous pleasures of Homburg and of Wiesbaden. Mr. Nunn observes that one great charm is possessed by Soden-namely, that it has no pauper indigenous population. It has no dirty hovels ; it consists almost entirely of detached villas, which open their doors to the visitor at the end of April or the beginning of May, and shut them towards the middle of September. Many of the Frankfort people have quiet country houses here or in the neighbourhood. The hotels are comfortable, and the charges moderate. Half-an hour's walk, or a little more, from Soden, is the pretty little valley of Kron Thal; it has a small bathing establishment and two wells, the taste of which is very agreeable. The one contains 22 grains of common salt, but only '05 of iron ; the other 27'2 and '10. The latter, therefore, is the only one of the two that can be counted a chalybeate, and it is not a strong one. Formerly the well was considered a much more powerful chalybeate, and I cannot help thinking that these wells do contain more iron than is shown by the latest analysis. The waters are, in any case, good for dyspepsia, and I wonder that the place is not more resorted to. The country is prettily wooded. Königstein, lying 1300 feet above the sea, and with its beautiful views all over the plains, recommends itself much to English families as a summer resort; it is distant about three miles from Soden, the road from which place to it is a continued ascent. There is a well-managed hydropathic establishment here; but the fine air and the beautiful country are the chief recommendations of the place. Most travellers are familiar with the view from Falkenstein, pitched on a rock. I recollect having a distant view from it of Homburg, before that place had sprung into renown. The pleasant village of Hofheim, at the entrance of the Lossbach valley, with its hydropathic establishment, deserves a word of mention as a pleasant summer residence. ' Weilbach is one of the baths of which one cannot explain the virtues simply by a consideration of its constituents, although Roth put forth an elaborate theory of the action of its waters; yet they have been attested by a very sceptical writer, Dr. Braun, in his own person, when he suffered from hsemoptysis and enlarged liver. Weilbach is a bathing establishment built in the centre of a nicely laid-out wood, on a slope, almost a plain, lying to the south of the Taunus. The village is at some distance, and the railway station, on the line from Wiesbaden to Frankfort, a twenty minutes' walk. The waters of Weilbach are of the temperature of 56'7°; their solid contents 11'5 grains, of which 2 grains are common salt, and of carbonate of soda, of magnesia, and of lime, about 3 grains each. The quantity of sulpburetted hydrogen is '16 cubic inches. The soda-lithia well contains nearly 10 gr. of common salt, 8 gr. of carbonate of soda, and 0 045 gr. of carbonate of lithia, and scarcely any sulphuretted hydrogen. Although, as in other cases where a little lithia has been discovered, the lithia well here has been proclaimed a cure for gout and for gravel, it is the sulphur spring that is mainly used. It is employed for drinking, for baths (of which they have fourteen comfortable zinc ones), and especially fur inhalation in a glass house built over the spring. It has been generally admitted that the drinking of the waters here has a specific effect on congested livers and haemorrhoidal affections, also on chronic metritis when asso-
doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(02)64089-9 fatcat:ou7jyumqpnemhhioegn3hkv2se