November 24, 1850
Dancel cures obesity over and over again in Madame K. "On the other hand I recommended her food should consist of meat principally." Dancel notices that early weight loss benefits the patient substantially and would use the "full meat diet" to achieve results quickly.
Obesity, or, Excessive corpulence : the various causes and the rational means of cure
The following letter has been also received:
"Saint Dié, 24th Nov., 1850.
"Sir,—Having read your book on the treatment of obesity, I wish to ask if you will undertake my case, although living at a distance of three hundred miles from Paris. I am fifty years of age, and possessed of a vigorous constitution. Since I have retired from business, now ten years ago, I have steadily increased in corpulence; my present weight being one hundred and eighty-nine pounds. I am troubled with an affection of the heart, shortness of breath, and my legs swell, especially when not taking much exercise on foot. I am not fond of walking, since it induces great fatigue. My belly has become much enlarged, and I am greatly troubled with drowsiness. For breakfast I use coffee with milk, although I am not fond of it, but I find that it prevents headache, to which I am otherwise subject, &c. You will oblige me by sending the necessary instructions, if you can take charge of my case, by the bearer of this letter, together with such medicines as you may direct.
"Yours, &c. K."
In answer to Madame K., I sent her the medicine, together with the necessary information. On the 25th of February I received a letter, from which the following extracts are made:—
"Your directions have been scrupulously observed for the past fifteen days. I take a daily walk in the mountains, and to-day was weighed. I have lost but four pounds: too small a reduction I fear; but perhaps due partly to my temperament. The medicine requires to be taken in larger doses, I think. Nevertheless I am well satisfied with the result thus far, being now free from those troublesome palpitations of the heart to which I have been hitherto subject."
The 9th of April following this lady wrote: "My legs do not swell as they used to do, and the palpitations have ceased. I am delighted with this good result of your method of treatment."
Nothing more was heard of Madame K. until the month of August in the following year. She then writes that in accordance with the advice of the medical men of Saint Dié, she, together with her family, went to take the waters of Plombières. That on her return her legs were again swollen, and that she suffered from palpitation of the heart, which gave rise to a choking sensation. She was desirous of again undergoing the anti-obesic treatment. On the 30th of September following she wrote that she had followed my instructions during the last three weeks, and had lost only four pounds in weight; but added, I have obtained a much more valuable result, and that is, the almost total release from my troublesome heart palpitation. I have not since heard from this lady, but I have no doubt that she has been once more cured of her palpitation, and that she is no longer troubled with swellings of the feet and legs. The loss of fat in this case has been attended with freedom from palpitation of the heart, from shortness of breath, and from swelling of the lower extremities. What explanation can be given as to the cause of these results? As to her ailments, did they arise from an excess of blood in the system, or was she suffering from cardiac disease? Physicians thought so and bled her, administered sedatives and alteratives, and restricted the diet of the patient. Still they did not cure her. On the other hand I recommended her food should consist of meat principally; that she should be allowed strong coffee and wine; which, together with the employment of alkaline remedies, reduced her fat and effected a cure. The following season she goes, together with her family, to the springs, and returns thence afflicted in the same way as before, and again my mode of treatment produces the same result.
It is manifest that this heart affection, this shortness of breath, depended upon obstruction to the heart's action, and not upon any excess of blood in the system, since I abstracted no blood, but on the contrary, administered stimulants, together with the use of full meat diet. The swollen limbs arose no doubt from a partial portal obstruction, and ceased when the reduction of fat was effected. It may be urged that the patient was better, or even cured, of heart palpitation, before she had lost much in weight. She had lost, however, four pounds; and four pounds of fat occupy a large space. The fat in a living body is fluid and very light. A pound, therefore, is a large quantity. When a person begins to lose his corpulency, the reduction takes place first in the interior of the body, and consequently there is a great improvement during the first six or eight days in the general health of obese patients, when treated in accordance with the principles now advocated.