Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Alcohol Poison in Animals


The following by Dr. Chas. H. Shepard, of Brooklyn, who introduced the Turkish bath into America, is taken from the Journal of the A. M. A., for Nov. 13, 1897:—

“Animal poison is by no means uncommon, and so quick and mysterious is its action that a prompt remedy is a vital necessity. There is good reason to believe that the numerous remedies that have been recommended from earliest times as antidotes for animal poison are worthless, as they have not the properties commonly ascribed to them. The paucity of remedies is so great that alcohol is the one which comes most quickly to the mind of those who have been taught in the traditions of the past, and who are not fully aware of its action on the human system. We shall endeavor to show that the action of alcohol is not helpful, but on the contrary is really detrimental; and also that there is a better way out of the difficulty.

“If we get a splinter in the body, vital energy is aroused to get rid of the offending substance, inflammation is set up, and sloughing goes on until the splinter is voided. If the splinter is covered with acrid material, the same process is intensified, and nature endeavors to eliminate the offending substance through the natural excretions. Upon the peculiarity of the material depends the direction of this elimination.

“It is well known that some poisons are thrown off by the kidneys, some by the lungs, while others again are attacked by all the emunctories. The difference in the power of the system to absorb different substances, appropriate whatever can be utilized, and throw off whatever can not be used, is sometimes called idiosyncrasy, but more properly it may be called vital resistance, and upon the integrity of this power rests the ability to combat disease in all its forms, whether it be the absorption of any animal virus or the poison resulting from undigested food. This ability is in proportion to the integrity and soundness of every tissue and organ of the body. This may be illustrated by the fact that with a person suffering from kidney disease, which necessarily impedes elimination, the ordinary effects of a poison are intensified; therefore whatever aids in the promotion of good health, or in other words, the normal action of all the functions, will contribute to the safety of the individual in any and every emergency.

“When a person dies from the effect of poisoning, it is simply because the system was unable to eliminate the offending substance and was exhausted in the effort. There is a tolerance of some substances which frequently results in chronic disease, and again it is shown in what is called the cumulative effect or acute disease.

“Those who would hold that a substance is at one time a medicament, and at another time a poison, have much trouble in drawing the line between the beneficial and the poisonous effect. The idea that poisonous substances act on the system is responsible for many grave mistakes, whereas always, and under all circumstances, it is the system that does all the action.

“There might be some excuse for the idea that disease is an entity, from the facts that have been brought to light by the germ theory, but this theory is of recent date, while the entity theory is as old as superstition.

“Snake poison, which may be cited as a type of other animal poisons, takes effect through the circulation, and acts by paralyzing the nerve centres, and by altering the condition of the blood. In ordinary cases death seems to take place by arrest of respiration, from paralysis of the nerves of motion. The poison also acts septically, producing at a later period sloughing and hemorrhage.

“Dr. Calmette, a noted French scientist, claims that what is poisonous in the snake’s bite, is not the venom absorbed into the blood, but a principle which the blood itself has developed out of the poison. This would necessitate very quick action when the poison is inserted in one of the large veins, as that is followed by instant death.

“The following cases fairly represent some of the tragedies that are occurring in our everyday life.

“A man 60 years old falls and dislocates his finger, he goes to the hospital, where in a short time he dies from blood poisoning. * * * * * Another man 48 years old, many years a wine merchant, whose great toe was severely crushed by a heavy man stepping on it, was taken with blood-poisoning and in spite of all treatment, even to the amputation of the leg, he soon succumbed to the disease. * * * * * A young woman 24 years old, picks a pimple on her chin and at once her face begins to swell. In vain was all medical treatment, for in a few days she died in terrible agony. * * * * * About a year ago there died in Brooklyn, N. Y., a physician in his 38th year, who six days previously received a slight scratch in his hand while performing a post-mortem examination. All that medical science could suggest was done to no avail. * * * * * In the summer of 1896 a young woman 22 years of age was bitten on the leg by an insect. Several physicians were called in but their treatment gave no relief; blood-poisoning set in; it was decided to amputate the leg, but before it could be done she died. * * * * * In July, 1896, a veterinary surgeon 34 years of age, while removing a cancer from a horse pricked his finger with his knife. The wound was so slight that he forgot all about it. A few days later blood-poisoning set in and in a short time his end came. Some forty years ago a man named Whitney was teasing a rattlesnake in a Broadway barroom, was bitten by it, and, though whisky was poured down his throat by the quart, he soon died.

“Such results seem entirely unnecessary were the proper course pursued, and at the same time they are a fearful commentary on the medical resources of the day.

“The latest researches in regard to alcohol reveal it as a poison to the human system in whatever way it may be diluted or disguised. Its effect is always the same in proportion to the amount taken. It is impossible to habitually use it in any form, even in small quantities, without disease and degeneration resulting therefrom. When taken into the stomach the action is the same as with any other narcotic; the meaning of this word is to become torpid. It benumbs the nerves of sensation, and thus the vital resistance to any offending material is reduced, and while the patient feels less of any disturbance the real harm goes on with accumulated force because of the lack of vitality and non-resistance of the nervous system.

“When the body is in the throes of a vital struggle with a virulent poison it would seem, to any unprejudiced mind, the height of folly to further weaken the vital resistance by the administration of any narcotic, and especially alcohol.

“The eminent German, Professor Bunge, says: ‘All the results which on superficial observation appear to show that alcohol possesses stimulant properties, can be explained on the ground that they were due to paralysis.’ * * * * * Professors S. Weir Mitchell and E. T. Reichert, in Researches on Serpent Poison, make this notable statement: ‘Despite the popular creed, it is now pretty sure that many men have been killed by the alcohol given to relieve them from the effects of snake bite, and it is a matter of record that men dead drunk with whiskey and then bitten, have died of the bite.’

“As a great contrast to the weakness of the mass of our people who are drug-takers and alcohol-consumers, and who are liable to almost any epidemic that comes along, and quickly succumb to a serious injury, may be mentioned the Turkish soldiers of to-day, who know nothing of drugs as we use them and never use alcohol in any form. During the late controversy with the Greeks, one of them who was reported as having been shot in the stomach, remained in the ranks, and afterward walked ten miles. Another one who was wounded twice in the legs and once in the shoulder, continued attending to his duties for twenty-four hours, until an officer noticed his condition and ordered him to the hospital. The heat was tremendous, but the troops endured it without complaint, and the doctors were astonished at the wonderful vitality of the wounded Turks, who recovered with remarkable rapidity. This, with good reason, is attributed to their abstemious lives.

“It has been stated that the Moqui Indians handle the rattlesnake with impunity, and are not inconvenienced by its occasional bite.

“The rational treatment of animal poison is to endeavor to prevent the entry of the virus into the circulation and to neutralize it in the wound before it is absorbed; but when it has entered the system everything should be done for its elimination.

“The most powerful aid to the human system, and the most perfect eliminator known to man is heat. It is used with much advantage, and great success by means of water, both internally and externally, but above all is its use by hot air, as in the Turkish bath, which works in harmony with every natural function, promoting the action of all the secretions, and more particularly the excretions. By this means will the system unload itself of an accumulation of impurities in an incredibly short space of time, while the heat aids in destroying whatever there may be of virus therein.

“Calmette, whom we have previously quoted, has shown that whatever be the source of snake venom, its active principle is destroyed by being submitted to a temperature of about 212 degrees for a variable length of time.

“In the not remote future thousands of human beings will owe to the Turkish bath not only an immunity from disease in general, but also an escape from the horrors of a premature death from hydrophobia, the poison of snake bite, or the slower action of infectious disease.

“The mass of testimony that has been accumulating for over thirty years past is more than sufficient to convince any reasonable mind that is willing to examine the facts.

“The medical profession has searched the world over and under for the means of controlling disease, while within the human body itself lies the vital power which needs only to be cultivated and exalted to its true function to banish the mass of disease from the land.”

Dr. Shepard states in another article that Turkish baths are now used in London and Paris for the cure of hydrophobia.

Dr. J. H. Kellogg says:—

“A great number of remedies have acquired the reputation of being cures for snake bites. The partisans of each one of these have been able to produce a large number of cases, which apparently supported their claims; the uniform testimony of all scientific authorities upon this subject, however, is that all these so-called antidotes are worthless. Prof. W. Watson Cheyne, M. B., F. R. C. S., surgeon of Kings College Hospital, London, England, states, in the International Encyclopedia of Surgery, that ‘there is no known antidote by which the venom can be neutralized, nor any prophylactic.’ This eminent authority also remarks further: ‘Hence medication with this view is to be avoided altogether, and the aim of treatment should be to prevent the poison from gaining access to the general circulation, and to avoid its prostrating effects if its entrance has already taken place.’ The same writer asserts that the only aim of the constitutional treatment should be ‘to sustain the strength until the poison shall have been eliminated.’ The idea that the saturation of the body with whisky to the point of intoxication, if possible, is beneficial in these cases, is in the highest degree erroneous. Whisky intoxication, according to Dr. Cheyne, actually ‘favors the injurious effect of the poison. What is required is to keep the patient alive until the poison has been eliminated.’ Whisky will not do this, but actually aids the poison in its fatal work by lessening the resistance of the patient, and hence lessening his chances for recovery.

“The reputation of whisky as a remedy in these cases is due to the fact that on an average only one person in eight who is bitten by a rattlesnake is really poisoned; the reasons for this were fully explained in an interesting paper on ‘Rattlesnakes,’ by the eminent Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, and published in the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge for 1860. If the snake strikes several times before inflicting a wound, the sacs containing the venom may be emptied, so that the succeeding bite will introduce only the most minute quantity of poison—not enough to produce serious, or fatal results. If the part bitten is covered by clothing, the poison may be absorbed by the clothing, so that but very little enters the circulation. In various other ways the snake is prevented from inflicting a fatal wound. The popular idea, that every bite of a rattlesnake is necessarily poisonous, is thus shown to be erroneous. It is not at all probable that the administration of whisky has ever in any case contributed to the long life of a person bitten by a rattlesnake.

“Whisky is often recommended by physicians with the idea that it will sustain the energies of the patient, or will stimulate the heart, etc.; but it has been clearly shown that alcohol in all forms is not only useless for these purposes, but does actual damage, since it lessens the resistance of the patient, weakens the heart, and helps along the prostration which is the characteristic effect of the rattlesnake venom. Alcohol has, for many years, been used as an antidote for collapse under an anæsthetic administered for surgical purposes, but no intelligent physician nowadays thinks of using alcohol for such a purpose; instead, alcohol is given before the anæsthetic for the purpose of facilitating its effect. Errors of this sort which have once become established are very hard to uproot. Probably some physicians will continue to use alcohol for shock, exhaustion, general debility and similar conditions as well as for rattlesnake poisoning for another quarter of a century, but such use of alcohol does not belong to the domain of rational medicine and is not supported by scientific facts.”

“Under the Pasteur method, a man who did not take alcohol was much more likely to recover from the bite of a mad dog than one bitten under the same conditions, who used that drug; while in lock-jaw there was absolute failure to secure immunity if the patient had taken alcohol. In India it used to be given in large quantities for snake bite, but it was found that it had a direct effect in interfering with the processes of repair, and so is being abandoned.”—Dr. Sims Woodhead, of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, London, Eng.

“Nothing could be more irrational and dangerous than the popular notion concerning the antagonism of whisky and snake-bites, and Willson reports that several of the fatalities in his series were directly due to alcohol rather than to the bite.”—Editorial, Journal of the American Medical Ass’n.

Rheumatism:—“Unquestionably, the most active cause of rheumatism, as well as of migraine, sick-headache, Bright’s disease, neurasthenia and a number of other kindred diseases, is the general use of flesh food, tea and coffee, and alcoholic liquors. As regards remedies, there are no medicinal agents which are of any permanent value in the treatment of chronic rheumatism. The disease can be remedied only by regimen,—that is, by diet and training. A simple dietary, consisting of fruits, grains, and nuts, and particularly the free use of fruits, must be placed in the first rank among the radical curative measures. Water, if taken in abundance, is also a means of washing out the accumulated poisons.

“An individual afflicted with rheumatism in any form should live, so far as possible, an out-of-door life, taking daily a sufficient amount of exercise to induce vigorous perspiration. A cool morning sponge bath, followed by vigorous rubbing, and a moist pack to the joints most seriously affected, at night, are measures which are worthy of a faithful trial. Every person who is suffering from this disease should give the matter immediate attention, as it is a malady which is progressive, and is one of the most potent causes of premature old age, and general physical deterioration. American nervousness is probably more often due to uric acid, or to the poisons which it represents, than to any other one cause.”—Good Health.

“Alcohol favors the development of rheumatism. It does this by preventing waste matter from leaving the system. Beer and wine, because they contain lime and salts, are said to cause rheumatism, or at least to aid in its development. These salts are absorbed into the system, unite with the uric acid, and form an insoluble urate of lime, which is deposited around the joints, thus causing them to become enlarged and stiff. * * * * *

“The success of the Turkish bath treatment has been phenomenal. Of over 3,000 cases treated here at least 95 per cent. have been entirely relieved, or greatly helped. Some who were treated over twenty years ago have stated that they have not had a twinge of rheumatism since. Very few have persevered in the use of the bath without experiencing permanent relief.”—Dr. Charles H. Shepard, Brooklyn.

“Those having a bath cabinet can have a good substitute at home for the Turkish bath. Remember that if tobacco and alcohol are indulged in, there can be no permanent relief.”

The New Hygiene says:—

“Under no circumstances take any of the thousand and one nostrums advertised as sure cures for this disease. Pure unadulterated blood is the only remedy. This can only be produced by cleansing the system of impurities, and giving it the right kind of material out of which to make it. Keep out the poisonous physic, clean out the colon, strengthen the lungs, and feed the system with proper food, and this disease will vanish like a fog before the rising sun.”

The same book in advocating the use of the Turkish bath for rheumatism, says:—

“The fact, which is well attested, that when a person enters the bath the urine may be strongly acid, but, on leaving the bath, after half an hour, it is markedly alkaline, shows that the bath has a strong effect upon the system.”

Dr. Ridge says of rheumatic fever:—

“I would urge most strongly the desirability of avoiding every form of alcoholic liquor, from the very commencement of the disease, as affording the best chance for a speedy and safe recovery. The highest authorities are agreed on this point, but there is a lingering practice which makes reference necessary in order to confirm the wavering.”

In Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York, the hot blanket pack is used in acute rheumatism, almost to the exclusion of other methods. The pack should be continued two to four hours at least, and may be repeated two or three times within the twenty-four hours with advantage.

Nature Cure says that thorough massage, and half a dozen cups of hot lemonade will cure a severe case of sciatica:

“The massage should be commenced moderately, and increased as the patient can bear it. Rubbing and slapping of the muscles with bare hands will hasten a cure, and be agreeable to the patient. One to two hours treatment, if vigorous, will effect a cure.”

Sea-Sickness:—Brandy is a common resort in this trouble, many taking it under such circumstances who would under no other. Yet it frequently adds to the sickness, instead of relieving it.

“Be sparing in diet for two or three days before the expected voyage. If very sensitive, take to your berth as soon as you go on board, or lie down on deck; get near the centre of the vessel, and lie with your feet to the stern. Go to sleep if possible. Iced water may be sipped, but nothing solid should be taken at first; after a while a cracker or wafer may be taken.”

It is said upon good authority that if two or three apples are eaten shortly before going on board, or before rough water is encountered, sea-sickness is entirely averted. It will be well to partake of no other food for some hours previous to the voyage when trying this.

Good Health says:—

“If any of our readers have occasion to cross the ocean in the stormy season, we recommend three things; keep horizontal, with the head low; put an ice-bag to the back of the neck, keep the stomach clean, free from greasy foods and meats, and eat nothing till there is an appetite for food. A habitually clean dietary before going on board is doubtless a good preparation for such a voyage, as well as for any other nerve strain, or test of endurance. It pays to be good—to your stomach, as well as in other ways.”

The following is guaranteed by a Russian physician to be an effective cure and a means of avoiding sea-sickness when the symptoms first make their appearance. Take long and deep inspirations. About twenty breaths should be taken every minute, and they should be as deep as possible. After thirty or forty inspirations the symptoms will be found to abate. This is recommended for dyspepsia also.

Sore Nipples:—“Alum water, or tannin, used for several months in advance will harden as effectually as brandy. If there is soreness on commencing to nurse, put a pinch of alum into milk, and apply the curd to the nipple.”

Spasms:—“These are caused by flatulence, as a result of indigestion. A little hot ginger tea, or capsicum tea, may do all that is required. If these are not at hand, loosen every tight band, rub well the region of the heart and stomach, slap the face with the corner of a wet towel, and give sips of cold water.”

Shock:—“In shock, or collapse, the state is similar in some respects to that which is present in fainting. Every function is almost at a standstill; absorption from the stomach and elsewhere is at its lowest point, because the circulation of the blood is so much interfered with. Hence much of the brandy which is so often given, and to such a wonderful amount, with very little apparent effect of intoxication, is really not absorbed at all, and is very often rejected from the stomach by vomiting, when reaction does occur, if not before.

“The patient should be wrapped up warmly, and put to bed as soon as possible. The limbs may be rubbed with hot flannels, and hot water bottles put to hands and feet. In some cases, also, towels wrung out of hot water may be wrapped around the head. Hot milk and water, hot water slightly sweetened, or with a little peppermint water in it, should be given as soon as the patient can swallow. Hot beverages will warm the skin more rapidly and powerfully than any alcoholic liquor.

“If the patient cannot swallow, an enema of hot water, or hot, thin gruel, should be administered, and may be of use in addition to hot drinks. Beef extract may be added to the hot water with advantage.

“In the vast majority of cases there need be no anxiety so far as the shock is concerned; reaction will occur in due time if ordinary care be taken, and will be more natural and steady if the system is not embarrassed by the presence of the narcotic alcohol. In the state of collapse the voluntary nervous system is depressed; alcohol diminishes the power and activity of the nervous centres of the brain, hence its action is undesirable in shock or collapse.”—Dr. J. J. Ridge, London.

“No procedure could be more senseless than the administering alcohol in shock. A stimulant of some kind is necessary in such cases, and alcohol, instead of being a stimulant is a narcotic. * * * * * Alcohol causes a decrease of temperature, the very thing to be avoided in cases of shock.”—Dr. J. H. Kellogg.

“I am perfectly sure that a large dose of alcohol in shock puts a nail in the coffin of the patient.”—Dr. H. C. Wood of the University of Pennsylvania.

Sinking Sensations:—Many women have a feeling of weakness or “goneness” at about eleven o’clock in the morning, and are led by it to the injurious practice of eating between meals. It is often due to indigestion, or to the use of beer or wine. A few sips of hot milk, of fruit juice, or even of cold water will often relieve it, especially if total abstinence is persevered in.

Sudden Illness:—“Those taken suddenly ill are likely to fare best if placed in a recumbent position, with head slightly elevated, all tightness of garments about the neck or waist relieved, and a little cold water given in case of ability to swallow. A mustard plaster on the back of the neck, or over the stomach, and hot water or hot bottles to the feet, are never out of place, while vinegar, or smelling salts, or dilute ammonia to the nostrils is reviving.”—Ezra M. Hunt, M. D., late secretary of New Jersey State Board of Health.

“Both the popular and professional beliefs in the efficacy of alcoholic liquids for relieving exhaustion, faintness, shock, etc. are equally fallacious. All these conditions are temporary, and rapidly recovered from by simply the recumbent position, and free access to fresh air. Ninety-nine out of every hundred of such cases pass the crisis before the attendants have time to apply any remedies, and when they do, the sprinkling of cold water on the face, and the vapor of camphor or carbonate of ammonia to the nostrils, are the most efficacious remedies, and leave none of the secondary evil effects of brandy, whisky or wine.”—Dr. N. S. Davis.

Sunstroke:—“There has lately been a correspondence in the Morning Post on the subject of ‘Sunstroke and Alcohol.’ We quite agree with the statement that ‘nothing predisposes people to sunstroke so much as this pernicious habit of taking stimulants (so-called) during the hot weather.’ As far as this country is concerned, nearly every case of sunstroke might be more appropriately designated ‘beerstroke.’ One effect of alcohol is to paralyze the heat-regulating mechanism; the blood becomes overloaded with waste material, and the narcotism, and vasomotor paralysis, produced by the alcohol, is added to that produced by the heat. Abstainers, other things being equal, can always endure extremes of temperature better than consumers of alcohol.”—Medical Pioneer, England.

“During the month of January, 1896, there occurred over three hundred deaths from sunstroke in Australia. When called upon to offer suggestions relative to its prevention, the medical board promptly informed the Colonial government that, of all the predisposing causes, none were so potent as indulgence in intoxicating liquors, and in its treatment nothing seemed to have a more disastrous effect than the administration of alcoholic stimulants.”—Medical News.

The Bulletin of the A. M. T. A. for August, 1896, contained the following:—

“Recently a leading medical man, a teacher in a college, warned his student audience against the anti-alcoholic theories urged by extremists and persons whose zeal was greater than their intelligence. He affirmed positively that the value of alcohol was well known in medicine, and established by long years of experience.

“Not long afterward a man was brought into his office in a state of collapse from sunstroke, and this physician and teacher ordered large quantities of brandy to be administered; the patient died soon after.”

Dr. T. D. Crothers tells of a case where alcohol was administered to a child for partial sunstroke, and says, “there were many reasons for believing that the profound poisoning from alcohol gave a permanent bias and tendency that developed into inebriety later.”

“When a person falls with sunstroke (or heatstroke) he should at once be carried to a cool, shady place. His clothing should be removed, and cold applications made to the head, and over the whole body. Pieces of ice may be packed around the head, or cold water may be poured upon the body. Cold enema may also be employed. In case the face is pale, hotapplications should be made to the head and over the heart and the body should be rubbed vigorously.”—Dr. J. H. Kellogg.

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