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JAMA 100 Years Ago
November 25, 1998


Author Affiliations

Edited by Jennifer Reiling, Editorial Assistant.

JAMA. 1998;280(20):1788. doi:10.1001/jama.280.20.1788

Schweninger's Cure for Obesity.— Prof. H. Cohn, the Breslau ophthalmologist, recently visited the Schweninger establishment and witnessed such remarkable cures that he describes his experiences at length. One woman has lost fifty pounds in eight weeks; another twenty in five weeks, and another who weighed 240 pounds when she arrived had reduced her weight to 145 when she left. From exhaustion at the slightest effort, the patients could take long walks and climb hills without fatigue, with the heart working normally. The treatment is threefold: massage, hot baths and diet. The massage is done by the physician, for fifteen minutes, before meals. The patient is instructed to breathe deep, which is considered one of the most important factors of the results attained with the massage. The abdomen is kneaded and finally large pieces of the derma are taken up and squeezed energetically between the hands to crush the subcutaneous adipose lobules. In conclusion the masseur gets on the patient on his knees and digs them into the epigastrium while the patient takes several deep breaths. Cohn describes his consternation at this sight, but the patients did not seem to mind it much, although they frequently drop to sleep afterward from exhaustion, and the abdomen is covered with ecchymoses. The twenty-minute hot baths are given to the arms, feet or a sitz bath, on separate days, never the entire body at once. The water flows in and out of the tub at a temperature increasing from 30 to 40 degrees R. The food is served in tiny doll dishes and only a pint of liquid is allowed during the entire day (Gerolstein sprudel water). Bread, cake, butter, fat, sugar, coffee, tea, milk, wine, beer and brandy are rigorously excluded from the diet, but eggs, ham, roast meats, fruits, vegetables, etc., all in small amounts, afford a varied menu for the four meals. The patients gradually become accustomed to the dry diet. Constipation is controlled by aloes pills at night or an injection of five grams of glycerin in the morning. The Sunday is a day of rest for all, and the rules are suspended. Six to eight weeks are required for the cure, and the patient, to retain the benefits, must not return at once to his former habits of life.—Presse Méd., October 28.