ALCOHOL AND STOMACH DIGESTION.
The nitrogenous portions of the food are the only ones digested in the stomach. The oily and fatty, as well as the starchy portions, are digested in the small intestines.
Very little was known about digestion until 1833, when Dr. Beaumont published the results of his investigations upon the stomach of Alexis St. Martin. St. Martin received a severe wound in the left side from a shot-gun. The wound in healing left an opening into the stomach about 4/5 of an inch in diameter, closed on the inside by a flap of mucous membrane. Through this opening the interior of the stomach could be thoroughly examined. Dr. Beaumont made hundreds of observations upon this young man, who was in his home several years. He says:—
"In a feverish condition, from whatever cause, obstructed perspiration, excitement by alcoholic liquors, overloading the stomach with food, fear, anger or whatever depresses or disturbs the nervous system, the lining of the stomach becomes somewhat red and dry, at other times pale and moist, and loses its smooth and healthy appearance, the secretions become vitiated, greatly diminished or entirely suppressed."
One day after giving St. Martin a good wholesome dinner, digestion of which was going on in regular order, Dr. Beaumont gave him a glass of gin. The digestive process was at once arrested, and did not begin again until after the absorption of the spirit, after which it was slowly renewed, and tardily finished.
Gluzinski made some conclusive experiments with a syphon. He drew off the contents of the stomach at various times with and without liquor. He concluded that alcohol entirely suspends the transformation of food while it remains in the stomach.
Dr. Figg, of Edinburgh, fed two dogs with roast mutton; to one of them he gave 1-1/2 ounces of spirit. Three hours later he killed both dogs. The dog without liquor had digested the mutton; the other had not digested his at all. Similar experiments have been made repeatedly with like result.
The elements of our food which the stomach can digest depend upon the pepsin of the gastric juice for their transformation. Alcohol diminishes the secretions of the gastric juice, unless given in very minute quantities, and kills and precipitates its pepsin. It also coagulates both albumen and fibrine, converting them into a solid substance, thus rendering them unfit for the action of the solvent principles of the gastric juice. Hence, any considerable quantity of alcohol taken into the stomach must for the time retard the function of digestion.
Many experiments have been made with gastric juice in vials, one, having alcohol added, the other, not having alcohol. The meat in the vials without alcohol, in time dissolved till it bore the appearance of soup; in the vials to which alcohol was added the meat remained practically unchanged. In the latter a deposit of pepsin was found at the bottom, the alcohol having precipitated it. Dr. Henry Munroe, of England, one of the experimenters in this line of research, says:—
"Alcohol, even in a diluted form, has the peculiar power of interfering with the ordinary process of digestion.
"As long as alcohol remains in the stomach in any degree of concentration, the process of digestion is arrested, and is not continued until enough gastric juice is thrown out to overcome its effects."—Tracy's Physiology, page 90.
In The Human Body, Dr. Newell Martin says:—
"A vast number of persons suffer from alcoholic dyspepsia without knowing its cause; people who were never drunk in their lives and consider themselves very temperate. Abstinence from alcohol, the cause of the trouble, is the true remedy."
Sir B. W. Richardson:—
"The common idea that alcohol acts as an aid to digestion is without foundation. Experiments on the artificial digestion of food, in which the natural process is closely imitated, show that the presence of alcohol in the solvents employed interferes with and weakens the efficacy of the solvents. It is also one of the most definite of facts that persons who indulge even in what is called the moderate use of alcohol suffer often from dyspepsia from this cause alone. In fact, it leads to the symptoms which, under the varied names of biliousness, nervousness, lassitude and indigestion, are so well and extensively known.
"From the paralysis of the minute blood-vessels which is induced by alcohol, there occurs, when alcohol is introduced into the stomach, injection of the vessels and redness of the mucous lining of the stomach. This is attended by the subjective feeling of a warmth or glow within the body, and according to some, with an increased secretion of the gastric fluids. It is urged by the advocates of alcohol that this action of alcohol on the stomach is a reason for its employment as an aid to digestion, especially when the digestive powers are feeble. At best this argument suggests only an artificial aid, which it cannot be sound practice to make permanent in place of the natural process of digestion. In truth, the artificial stimulation, if it be resorted to even moderately, is in time deleterious. It excites a morbid habitual craving, and in the end leads to weakened contractile power of the vessels of the stomach, to consequent deficiency of control of those vessels over the current of blood, to organic impairment of function, and to confirmed indigestion. Lastly, it is a matter of experience with me, that in nine cases out of ten, the sense of the necessity, on which so much is urged, is removed in the readiest manner, by the simple plan of total abstinence, without any other remedy or method."
In Medicinal Drinking, by John Kirk, M. D., this passage occurs:—
"Especially in the matter of support, it is essential to our inquiry to examine fully into alcoholic influence on the change by which food introduced into the stomach becomes capable of passing into the circulation and constituent elements of the living frame. It may be best to suppose a case for illustration. Here, then, is a child of, say, six or seven years of age. This child is of the slenderer sex and has been brought into a state of extreme weakness as the consequence of fever. The fury of the disease is expended, but it has, as nearly as may be, extinguished life. The medical man's one hope for saving this child is now concentrated in what he fancies to be 'support.' Beef-tea, arrowroot and port wine are prescribed. Let it be kept in mind that the pure wine of the grape is discarded in favor of alcoholic wine. Our question is, What effect will the alcohol in this wine have on that process by which the food is to prove really nourishing, and so to be that support which is the only hope for this child? Will it help her? or will it so hinder the necessary change in the food as to kill her, unless she has sufficient strength left to get above its influence? These are surely important questions. Neither of them can be set at rest by the fact that she recovers; for she may have strength enough, as many have had, to survive even a serious error in her treatment.
"What light, then, does true science throw on these important questions? All who know anything on the subject are aware that alcohol, instead of dissolving food, or aiding in its dissolution, is one of the most powerful agents in preventing that dissolution. On what principle, then, is it possible that its being mixed with the materials of food, in this case, can aid in their dissolution, so that they may more easily be changed into the fresh blood required to sustain and recover life in this child?"
He then refers to the experiments with gastric juice in vials, and proceeds:—
"Here, then, is indisputable evidence that alcohol effectually prevents that process which is known as digestion, and which is essential to food's being of any use to support life in man. On what principle can the physician explain his introduction of it into the stomach of a child whose thread of life is attenuated to the slenderest hair?
"We urge the chemical truth that the alcohol, given to promote support, is of such a nature as to prevent that which would nourish, from effecting the end so much to be desired, and for which true food is adapted."
The pure, unfermented juice of the grape, free from chemical preservatives, is now used by many physicians where the miserable concoction of drugs and alcohol, known as port wine, was once considered essential. Unfermented grape juice contains all the nutriment of the grape, without any of the poison, alcohol. After being opened it should be kept in a cool place, or it will ferment and produce alcohol. Fruit juices are very grateful to a fever patient, and should not be withheld as they are in so many cases. Dr. J. H. Kellogg, and other non-alcoholic physicians, recommend them highly. They are better than milk, as milk frequently produces "feverishness," while fruit juices allay it.
For those who think beer or ale an incentive to appetite, Dr. N. S. Davis, and others, recommend an infusion of hops, made fresh each day. It is the bitter which promotes appetite, not the alcohol. For the sake of the little bitter in beer, it is not wise to vitiate the tone of the stomach with the alcohol it contains, and which is its active principle. Many mothers have become drunkards, secret drunkards, possibly, through the use of beer as a fancied aid to digestion. Multitudes of men suffer untold horrors from dyspepsia, caused by the beer which they mistakenly suppose to be a friend to their stomach.
EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL UPON THE BLOOD.
"The blood is a thick, opaque fluid, varying in color in different parts of the body from a bright scarlet to a dark purple, or even almost black." If a drop of blood be placed under a microscope, immense numbers of small bodies will be seen. These are called blood-globules, or corpuscles, or discs. There are both red, and white or colorless, corpuscles. Each red corpuscle is soft and jelly-like. Its chief constituent, besides water, is a substance called hemoglobin, which has the power of combining with oxygen when in a place where that gas is plentiful, and of giving it off again in a region where oxygen is absent, or present only in small quantity. Hence, as the blood flows through the lungs, which are constantly supplied with fresh air, its corpuscles take up oxygen, which, as it flows on, is carried by them to distant parts of the body where oxygen is deficient, and there given up to the tissues. This oxygen-carrying is the function of the red corpuscles.
Hemoglobin, as the coloring-matter of the blood is called, is dark purplish-red in color; combined with oxygen it is bright "scarlet red." Accordingly, the blood which flows to the lungs after giving up its oxygen is dark red in color, its dark color being due to the impurities it contains; and that which, having received a fresh supply of oxygen, flows away from the lungs is bright scarlet—having been cleansed of its impurities. The bright red blood is called arterial, and the dark red venous.
The work assigned to the blood in the economy of the human system is: first, to pick up nutriment in its course through the walls of the alimentary canal, and oxygen, as it flows through the lungs, and convey these to all other parts of the body. Second, to act as a sort of sewage stream that drains off waste matter, and to carry this to the organs of excretion by which waste is expelled from the body.
"The blood is the great circulating market of the body, in which all the things that are wanted by all parts, by the muscles, the brain, the skin, the lungs, liver and kidneys, are bought and sold. What the muscles want they buy from the blood; what they have done with, they sell back to the blood; and so with every other organ and part. As long as life lasts this buying and selling is forever going on, and this is why the blood is forever on the move, sweeping restlessly from place to place, bringing to each part the thing it wants, and carrying away those with which it has done. When the blood ceases to move, the market is blocked, the buying and selling cease, and all the organs die, starved for lack of the things they want, choked by the abundance of things for which they have no longer any need."—FOSTER.
This is one way of saying that the processes of repair and waste are constantly going on in the body. Every action of the body, every impulse of the mind uses up some cell-matter, which must then be passed from the body as waste. This is called tissue disintegration. New cells to repair tissue waste are built up from the nutriment which the blood carries from the alimentary canal after the process of food digestion is accomplished. This is called tissue construction, or the process of assimilation. Technically, these are the metabolic, or destructive and constructive processes. Both are essential to health and life. Any substance taken into the body, which will interfere with these processes of nutrition and waste is inimical to health, and in time of disease, dangerous to life.
Alcohol is such a substance.
The cells and tissues of the body which are touched by alcohol are more or less hardened and injured by it, hence are less perfectly nourished than they are when alcohol is not present in the blood. Even a teaspoonful of alcohol to a 1/2 gallon of water hinders natural growth. If liquor is given to puppies it keeps them small. Young growing-cells are most affected by it, because they are most tender. There are growing-cells in adults as well as in children, for people are growing and changing all through their lives.
Hence, when alcohol is administered in sickness the cells are hindered in the full performance of their function of taking up food for the building up of tissue, and as a consequence, the patient's body is really robbed of nutriment by the agent which is supposed to be "keeping up his strength." Truly, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."
That alcohol interferes with the passage of waste matter from the body is generally conceded. Indeed this is claimed by the advocates of its medicinal use as one of its virtues: the fact that less waste passes from the body being urged as evidence that there is less waste, that in some way alcohol preserves tissue from being used up in the natural way. Those who speak thus seem to think that they know better than the Creator how the body should be treated. He made the body so that in health, work, waste and repair should be equal to one another.
Dr. Ezra M. Hunt says in Alcohol as a Food and as a Medicine:—
"We believe that any one who will candidly review the claims put forth for alcohol, in that it delays in any of these hypothetical ways, tissue-change, will conclude that it has no such power in a salutary sense, and that it is unwarrantably assumed that to retard tissue metamorphosis (change) is equivalent to tissue nutrition."
Dr. N. S. Davis says:—
"It seems hardly possible that men of eminent attainments in the profession should so far forget one of the most fundamental and universally recognized laws of organic life as to promulgate the fallacy here stated. The fundamental law to which we refer is, that all vital phenomena are accompanied by, and dependent upon, molecular or atomic changes; and whatever retards these retards the phenomena of life; whatever suspends these suspends life. Hence, to say that an agent which retards tissue metamorphosis is in any sense a food, is simply to pervert and misapply terms."
Non-alcoholic physicians unite in declaring that the retention of waste matter in the system, caused by alcohol, invites disease, and tends to inflammatory action; and in illness retards, and frequently prevents, recovery, for the germs of disease remain longer in the body than they would were it not for the delay in the passage of effete matter.
Alcohol not only hinders the blood in its work of tissue nutrition; it also prevents the full oxidation of the blood in the lungs.
"In order that a steam engine may work and keep warm it is not merely necessary that it have plenty of coal, but it must also have a draft of air through its furnace. Chemistry teaches us that the burning in this case consists in the combination of a gas called oxygen, taken from the air, with other things in the coals; when this combination takes place a great deal of heat is given off. The same thing is true of our bodies; in order that food matters may be burnt in them and enable us to work and keep warm, they must be supplied with oxygen; this they get from the air by breathing. We all know that if his supply of air be cut off a man will die in a few minutes. His food is no use to him unless he gets oxygen from the air to combine with it; while he usually has stored up in his body an excess of food matters which will keep him alive for some time if he gets a supply of oxygen, he has not stored up in him any reserve, or, if any, but a very small one, of oxygen, and so he dies very rapidly if his breathing be prevented. In ordinary language we do not call oxygen a food, but restrict that name to the solids and liquids which we swallow; but inasmuch as it is a material which we must take from the external universe into our bodies in order to keep us alive, oxygen is really a food as much as any of the other substances which we take into our bodies from outside, in order to keep them alive and at work. Suffocation, as death from deficient air supply is named, is really death from oxygen-starvation."—Martin's Human Body.
Much of the food taken into the body is burned to supply energy and heat. This burning is called oxidation. When food is burned, or oxidized, either in the body, or out of it, three things are produced, carbon dioxide (carbonic acid gas), water and ashes. These are waste matters, and must be expelled from the body, or they will clog up the various organs, as the ashes and smoke of an engine would soon put its fire out if they were allowed to accumulate in the furnace. It is the duty of the lungs to pass the carbon dioxide out to the air. With every breath exhaled, this poison gas, generated in the body through the oxidation of food, passes from the system. With every breath inhaled the life-giving oxygen is taken into the body; providing that the person is not in a close room from which the fresh air is excluded.
Any substance taken into the body which interferes with the reception of oxygen into the blood, and with the giving off of carbon dioxide from the same is a dangerous substance.
Alcohol is such a substance.
It has already been stated that it is the duty of the little red corpuscles in the blood to take up oxygen in the lungs, and carry it to every part of the body, and upon the return passage to the lungs to convey the debris, or used-up material, from the tissues, called carbon dioxide gas. A little vapor and ammonia accompany this gas. The action of alcohol upon these little corpuscles, or carriers of the blood, is to somewhat harden and shrivel them, so that they are unable to take up and carry as much oxygen as they can when no injurious substance is present in the blood. In consequence of this, the blood can never be so pure when alcohol is present, as it may be in the absence of this agent.
The following is taken from The Temperance Lesson Book, by B. W. Richardson, M. D.:—
"When the blood in the veins is floating toward the right side of the heart, which communicates with the lungs, it carries with it the carbonic acid (carbon dioxide), and, as I have found by experiment, a great part of this gas is condensed in these little bodies, the corpuscles. Arrived at the lungs, the blood comes into such contact with the air we breathe, that the oxygen gas in the air is freely absorbed by the little corpuscles, while the carbonic acid is given up into the air-passages of the lungs, and is thrown off with every breath we throw out. In this process the blood changes in color. It comes into the lungs of a dark color; it goes out of them a bright red. * * * * * The parts of the blood on which alcohol acts injuriously are the corpuscles and the fibrine. The red corpuscles are most distinctly affected. They undergo a peculiar process of shrinking from extraction of water from them. They also lose some of their power to absorb oxygen from the air. In confirmed spirit-drinkers the face and hands are often seen of dark mottled color, and in very bad specimens of the kind, the face is sometimes seen to be quite dark. This is because the blood cannot take up the vital air in the natural degree. * * * * *
"If anything whatever interferes with the proper reception of oxygen by the blood, the blood is not properly oxidized, the animal warmth is not sufficiently maintained, and life is reduced in activity. If for a brief interval of time the process of breathing is stopped in a living person, we see quickly developed the signs of difficulty, and we say the person is being suffocated. We observe that the face becomes dark, the lips blue, the surface cold. Should the process of arrest or stoppage of the breathing be long continued the person will become unconscious, will stagger and fall, and should relief not be at hand, he will in a very few minutes die.
"I found by experiment that in presence of alcohol in blood the process of absorption of oxygen was directly checked, and that even so minute a quantity as one part of alcohol in five hundred of blood proved an obstacle to the perfect reception of oxygen by the blood. The corpuscles are reduced in size, when large quantities of alcohol are taken, and become irregular in shape."
Dr. J. J. Ridge says in Addresses on the Physiological Action of Alcohol:—
"It has been found by experiment that, when alcohol is taken, less carbonic acid comes away in the breath than when it is not. This is partly because the blood-corpuscles cannot carry so much, and partly because so much is not produced, because there is less oxygen to join with the food and produce it. Just as burning paper smokes when it does not get enough oxygen, so other things are formed and get into the blood when there is not enough oxygen to make carbonic acid. These things make the blood impure, and cause extra work and trouble to get rid of them. This is why persons who drink alcohol are more liable to have gout and other diseases, than total abstainers."
Dr. Alfred Carpenter, formerly president of the Council of the British Medical Association, says in Alcoholic Drinks:—
"A blood corpuscle cannot come into direct contact with an atom of alcohol, without the function of the former being spoiled, and not only is it spoiled, but the effete matter which it has within its capsule cannot be exchanged for the necessary oxygen. The breath of the drunken man does not give out the quantity of carbonic acid which that of the healthy man does, and the ammoniacal compounds are in a great measure absent. Some of the carbon and effete nitrogenous matter is kept back. The retention of these poisonous matters within the body is highly injurious. Let the drinker suffer from any wound or injury and this effete matter in his blood is ready at a moment's notice to prepare and set up actions called inflammatory or erysipelatous, or some other kind; by means of which too often the drinker is hurried into eternity, although, perhaps, he may have been regarded as a perfectly sober man, and have never been drunk in his life."
In the light of these scientific facts, what can appear more utterly foolish than the swallowing of alcoholic patent medicines which are widely advertised as "Blood Purifiers"? That they will render the blood impure is only too evident in the light of scientific truth.
Dr. Nathan S. Davis has written much in disapproval of the use of alcohol in fevers, pneumonia and diphtheria, putting stress upon the fact that these diseases, of themselves, interfere with the reception of oxygen into the blood, and hence the use of all remedies that notably diminish the internal distribution of oxygen, or impair the corpuscles of the blood, should be avoided. Not only is alcohol of such a nature, but all the coal-tar series of antipyretics also. Since the internal distribution of oxygen, and the processes of tissue change are essential to the repair of the body, and alcohol hinders the blood in the full performance of its duties in these respects, it certainly seems clear that those physicians, who are extremely cautious in the use of this drug, or who do not use it at all, are more likely to be successful in saving their patients than are those who use it freely. Death-rates, with and without alcohol, show conclusively the superiority of the latter treatment.
ALCOHOL AND THE HEART.
The organs of circulation are the heart and the blood-vessels. The blood-vessels are of three kinds, arteries, capillaries and veins. The arteries carry blood from the heart to the capillaries; the veins collect it from the capillaries and return it to the heart. There are two distinct sets of blood-vessels in the body, both connected with the heart; one set carries blood to, through and from the lungs, the other guides its flow through all the remaining organs; the former are known as the pulmonary, the latter as the systemic blood-vessels.
The smallest arteries pass into the capillaries, which have very thin walls, and form very close networks in nearly all parts of the body; their immense number compensating for their small size. It is while flowing in these delicate tubes that the blood does its nutritive work, the arteries being merely supply-tubes for the capillaries, through whose delicate walls liquid containing nourishment exudes from the blood to bathe the various tissues.
The quantity of blood in any part of the body at any given time is dependent upon certain relations which exist between the blood-vessels and the nervous system. The walls of the arteries are abundantly supplied with involuntary muscular fibres, which have the power of contraction and relaxation. This power of contraction and relaxation is controlled by certain nerves called vasomotor nerves, because they cause or control motion in the vessels to which they are attached. When arteries supplying blood to any particular part of the body contract, the supply of blood to that part will be diminished in proportion to the amount of contraction. If the nervous control be altogether withdrawn, the arterial walls will completely relax, and the amount of blood in the part affected will be increased correspondingly.
Alcohol, even in moderate doses, paralyzes the vasomotor nerves which control the minute blood-vessels, thus allowing these vessels to become dilated with the flowing blood.
"With the disturbance of power in the extreme vessels, more disturbance is set up in other organs, and the first organ that shares in it is the heart. With each beat of the heart a certain degree of resistance is offered by the vessels when their nervous supply is perfect, and the stroke of the heart is moderate in respect both to tension and to time. But when the vessels are rendered relaxed, the resistance is removed, the heart begins to run quicker like a clock from which the pendulum has been removed, and the heart-stroke is greatly increased in frequency. It is easy to account in this manner for the quickened heart and pulse which accompany the first stage of deranged action from alcohol."—RICHARDSON.
Dr. Parkes of England, assisted by Count Wollowicz, conducted inquiries upon the effects of alcohol upon the heart, with a young and healthy man. At first they made accurate count of the heart beats during periods when the young man drank water only; then of the beats during successive periods in which alcohol was taken in increasing quantities. Thus step by step they measured the precise action of alcohol on the heart, and thereby the precise primary influence induced by alcohol. Their results are stated by themselves as follows:—
"The average number of beats of the heart in 24 hours (as calculated from eight observations made in 14 hours), during the first, or water period, was 106,000; in the earlier alcoholic period it was 127,000, or about 21,000 more; and in the later period it was 131,000, or 25,000 more.
"The highest of the daily means of the pulse observed during the first, or water period, was 77.5; but on this day two observations are deficient. The next highest daily mean was 77 beats.
"If, instead of the mean of the eight days, or 73.57, we compare the mean of this one day; viz. 77 beats per minute, with the alcoholic days, so as to be sure not to over-estimate the action of the alcohol, we find:—
"On the 9th day, with one fluid ounce of alcohol, the heart beat 4,300 times more.
On the 10th day, with two fluid ounces, 8,172 times more.
On the 11th day, with four fluid ounces, 12,960 times more.
On the 12th day, with six fluid ounces, 20,672 times more.
On the 13th day, with eight fluid ounces, 23,904 times more.
On the 14th day, with eight fluid ounces, 25,488 times more.
But as there was ephemeral fever on the 12th day, it is right to make a deduction, and to estimate the number of beats in that day as midway between the 11th and 13th days, or 18,432. Adopting this, the mean daily excess of beats during the alcoholic days was 14,492, or an increase of rather more than 13 per cent.
The first day of alcohol gave an excess of 4 per cent., and the last of 23 per cent.; and the mean of these two gives almost the same percentage of excess as the mean of the six days.
Admitting that each beat of the heart was as strong during the alcoholic period as in the water period (and it was really more powerful), the heart on the last two days of alcohol was doing one-fifth more work.
"Adopting the lowest estimate which has been given of the daily work of the heart; viz. as equal to 12.2 tons lifted one foot, the heart during the alcoholic period, did daily work excess equal to lifting 15.8 tons one foot, and in the last two days did extra work to the amount of 24 tons lifted as far.
"The period of rest for the heart was shortened, though, perhaps, not to such an extent as would be inferred from the number of beats, for each contraction was sooner over. The heart, on the fifth and sixth days after alcohol was left off, and, apparently at the time when the last traces of alcohol were eliminated, showed in the sphygmographic tracing signs of unusual feebleness; and, perhaps, in consequence of this, when the brandy quickened the heart again, the tracings showed a more rapid contraction of the ventricles, but less power than in the alcoholic period. The brandy acted, in fact, on a heart whose nutrition had not been perfectly restored."
Richardson quotes these experiments of Parkes and Wollowicz as if he agrees with them that increased heart-beat must of necessity mean increased work done by the heart. Dr. Nathan S. Davis, Dr. Newell Martin, Dr. A. B. Palmer, and some other investigators, show conclusively that mere increased frequency of beat above the natural standard is no evidence of increased force or efficiency in the circulation.
"The more frequent beats under the influence of alcohol constitute no exception to the general rule, for while the heart beats more frequently, its influence on the vasomotor nerves causes dilatation of the peripheral and systemic blood-vessels, as proved by the pulse-line written by the sphygmograph, which more than counterbalances the supposed increased action of the heart. The truth is, that under the influence of alcohol in the blood the systolic action of the heart loses in sustained force in direct proportion to its increase in frequency, until, by simply increasing the proportion of alcohol, the heart stops in diastole, as perfectly paralyzed as are the coats of the smaller vessels throughout the system. This was clearly demonstrated by the experiments of Professor Martin of Johns Hopkins University, to determine the effects of different proportions of alcohol on the action of the heart of the dog; and those of Drs. Sidney Ringer and H. Sainsbury, to determine the relative strength of different alcohols as indicated by their influence on the heart of the frog. Professor Martin states that blood containing 1/4 per cent. by volume of absolute alcohol, almost invariably diminishes, within a minute, the work done by the heart."
(This estimate would equal in an adult man an amount equal to the absolute alcohol in two or three ounces of whisky or brandy.)
"These investigations of Professor Martin, being directly corroborated by those of Drs. Ringer and Sainsbury, complete the series of demonstrations needed to show the actual effects of alcohol on the cardiac, as well as on the vasomotor, and also on the direct contractability of the muscular structure, when supplied with blood containing all gradations in the relative proportion of alcohol, leaving no longer any basis for the idea, popular both in and out of the profession, that alcohol in any of its forms is capable of increasing, even temporarily the force or efficiency of the heart's action."—Dr. N. S. Davis in Influence of Alcohol On the Human System.
The following letter will be of great interest to all students of the physiological effects of alcohol:—
"CHICAGO, ILL., March 3, 1899.
"To MRS. MARTHA M. ALLEN, "Syracuse, N. Y.,
"MADAM: Your letter asking my attention to the apparent contradiction of authorities concerning the work done by the heart when influenced by alcohol was received yesterday.
"The explanation is not difficult. It depends entirely on the different views of what constitutes the work of the heart.
"One class of investigators, led by the original and valuable experiments of Parkes and Wollowicz base their estimate of the heart's work entirely on the number of times it contracts or beats per minute. Thus Dr. Parkes, finding that moderate doses of alcohol increased the number of contractions of the heart from three to six beats per minute more than natural, readily estimated the number of additional contractions that would occur in twenty-four hours, and thereby demonstrated a large amount of increased work done by the heart under the influence of alcohol. All writers who speak of 'stimulating' or increasing the action of the heart by alcohol follow this method of measuring the amount of work done. They generally add that it is like applying 'the whip to a tired horse.'
"The other class of investigators who claim that alcohol diminishes the actual work done by the heart base their estimates on the amount of blood the heart passes through its cavities into the arteries in a given time. This is the physiological function of the heart; i.e. to aid in circulating the blood. Professor Martin's experiments were admirably contrived to determine, not how frequently the heart beat, but the amount of blood it delivered per minute under the influence of alcohol and without alcohol.
"He, and all others who take this basis of work, found that alcohol in any dose diminished the efficiency of the heart in circulating the blood in direct ratio to the quantity taken.
"My own original experiments, made fifty years ago, uniformly showed that alcohol quickly increased the number of heart beats per minute, but at the same time diminished the efficiency of the circulation generally. Every experienced practitioner knows that the weaker the heart becomes, the faster it beats. Consequently, the number of times the heart contracts per minute is no measure of the efficiency of its work in circulating the blood. Indeed the mechanism of the heart is such that there must be sufficient time between each of its contractions for its cavities to fill, or it is made to contract on an insufficient supply, and the efficiency of the circulation is diminished.
"Yours respectfully, "N. S. DAVIS."
The International Medical Congress of 1876 adopted as its reply to the Memorial of the National Temperance Society, and of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union respecting "Alcohol as a Food and as a Medicine," the paper by Dr. Ezra M. Hunt, one conclusion of which was, "Its use as a medicine is chiefly that of a cardiac stimulant."
As experiments conducted since that time show that it is not a cardiac stimulant, but a direct cardiac paralyzant, what excuse is there for using it as a medicine now?
"Whenever the heart is compelled to more rapid contraction than is natural, it has less time to rest. Although it seems to be constantly at work, it really rests more than half the time, so that, although the periods of relaxation are very short, they are so numerous that the aggregate amount of rest in a day is very great. Now, if the rapidity of the contractions is increased materially and continuously, although the aggregate amount of time for rest may be the same as before, yet the waste caused by the contractions is greater, while the time for rest after each one is shorter. This lack of rest produces exhaustion of the heart-muscle, ending in partial change of the muscular tissue into fat. The heart then becomes flabby and weak and its walls become thinner, a condition known to physicians as a 'fatty heart,' often resulting in sudden death."—Tracy's Physiology, page 158.
Dr. T. D. Crothers, of Hartford, Conn., has made many observations with the sphygmograph to learn the effects of alcohol upon the heart. He says:—
"On general principles, and clinically, the increased activity and subsequent diminution of the heart's action brings no medicinal aid or strength to combat disease. This is simply a reckless waste of force for which there is no compensation. Without any question or doubt the increased heart's action, extending over a long period, is dangerous.
"The medicinal damage done by alcohol does not fall exclusively upon the heart, although this organ may show it more permanently than others."—Transactions of Second Annual Meeting of A. M. T. A.
Dr. I. N. Quimby, of Jersey City, N. J., in an address before the American Medical Temperance Association, after describing two clinical cases which ended in death, made the following statement:
"There was nothing so strange about the death of these two patients, although they both died unexpectedly to the physician and their friends, but the declaration I am about to make may be somewhat new and startling, namely: That neither of these patients, in my candid judgment, died from the effect of disease, but rather from vasomotor paralysis of the heart, superinduced by the administration of the alcohol, which brought on a sudden and unexpected collapse and death."
Alcohol causes fatty degeneration of the heart and other muscular structures. Old age also causes these degenerations, hence alcohol is said to produce premature aging of the body.
"In fatty degeneration the cells and fibres of the body become more or less changed into fat. If a muscular fibre undergoes fatty degeneration, the particles of which it is made disappear one by one, and particles of oil or fatty matter take their place, so that the degree or amount of degeneration varies according to the extent to which this change has gone on. When the fibres of which a muscle is composed have become thus altered by fatty degeneration they become softer according to the amount of it; they are more easily torn and may even tear across when the muscle is being used during life. The more a muscle is thus degenerated the weaker it is, because it contains less muscular substance and more fat. Not only do the heart and other voluntary muscles thus degenerate, but those of the arteries also.
"Fatty degeneration is promoted by alcohol because alcohol prevents the proper removal of fat, which has been seen to accumulate in the blood; alcohol prevents the proper oxidation or burning up of waste matters; growing cells which are affected by the chemical influence of alcohol are not quite natural or healthy, so are more liable to degeneration; alcohol hinders the proper removal of waste matter from individual cells and tissues."—DR. J. J. RIDGE, London.
Dr. Newell Martin says in The Human Body:—
"Although fatty degeneration of the heart may occur from other causes, alcoholic indulgence is the most frequent one. Fatty liver or fatty heart is rarely if ever curable; either will ultimately cause death."
Dr. Ridge says these degenerations occur in the tissues of thin people as well as in those of stout persons. In thin people they are usually in the fibres only, not between them.
It is because of this degeneration of the heart and other muscles caused by alcohol that athletes in training need to be so very careful to avoid the use of beer and other intoxicating drinks.
Diseases such as fevers, diphtheria, and pneumonia which interfere with the reception, and internal distribution of oxygen, favor granular and fatty degeneration of the heart and other structures of the body. Hence non-alcoholic physicians urge that alcohol and such other drugs, as have like action in hindering full oxidation of the blood, and causing fatty degenerations should be studiously avoided. These physicians attribute many of the deaths from heart-failure in such diseases to the combined action of the disease and the alcohol in exhausting the heart, and weakening its structure.
Comparative death-rates with and without alcohol show conclusively the superiority of the latter treatment.
EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL UPON THE LIVER.
The liver is a very large organ, the largest and heaviest in the body, weighing in a healthy adult from three to four pounds. It secretes the bile. Its cells also store up, "in the form of a kind of animal starch called glycogen," excess of starchy or sugary food absorbed from the intestine during the digestion of a meal. This it gradually doles out to the blood for general use by the organs of the body until the next meal is eaten.
Dr. William Hargreaves says:—
"The office of the liver is to take up new substances having not yet become blood, as well as the portions of integrated matter that can be worked over, and brought again into use. It is in fact the economist of the system. It excretes bile, and liver-sugar, and renews the blood. When the liver is disordered the whole body is more or less deranged and the proper nutrition of its parts arrested."
Dr. Alfred Carpenter says:—
"The liver has to do several things; a considerable part of its duty is to purify the blood from debris (waste matter), to filter out some things, to break up and alter others, and to expel them from the body in the form of bile. There are certain diseases in which the liver suddenly declines to do any more work. Acute atrophy of the liver is the name of this condition, and when it arises death rapidly results from suppression of the secretion of bile. It brings about a state of things called acholia; the patient is actually poisoned by the non-removal of those ingredients from the blood which it is the duty of the liver to remove. This corresponds in effect to the condition which alcohol can bring about by slow degrees."
The liver is the first important organ, next to the stomach and bowels, to receive the poisonous influence of alcohol.
"If alcohol is used habitually, though only in small quantities at a time, the liver may become the seat of serious changes. There may be a great increase of fat deposited in the cells, producing what is called 'fatty liver,' or it may lead to a great increase of connective tissue (membrane) between the cells, and surrounding the blood-vessels. This newly-developed connective tissue gradually contracts, and in so doing crushes the cells and obstructs the blood-vessels, making the organ much smaller than natural, and causing the surface to be covered with little projecting knobs, consisting of portions of liver-tissue that have been less compressed than the part that separates them. The pressure upon the liver-cells and the destruction of many of them, prevents the proper formation of bile and liver-sugar. The contraction of the newly-developed tissue, by obstructing the blood-vessels, interferes with the circulation. Malt liquors seem to produce fatty degeneration, while the stronger liquors cause the development of connective tissue."—Tracy's Physiology.
Speaking of diseases of the liver, Dr. Trotter said in his Essay on Drunkenness:—
"The chronic species is not a painful disease; it is slow in its progress, and frequently gives no alarm, till some incurable affection is the consequence. Hence, the fallacy and danger of judging merely by the feelings of the beneficial effects of the use of intoxicating drinks; for the liver and stomach may be seriously diseased, while a man imagines himself in moderate health."
Hardening of the liver, or "hob-nailed" liver, is said to be the result, largely, of taking liquor upon an empty stomach. Dr. E. Chenery, of Boston, in his excellent book, Facts for the Millions, tells of a patient of his who was well up to the evening before, when he went out and drank with some companions, taking the liquor on an empty stomach. That night, vomiting and pain in the right side came on, with high fever. Headache began and increased, followed by delirium and a general jaundiced condition. He died as a result. The disease was acute inflammation of the liver, brought on by the one broadside of alcohol poured "point blank" into the organ.
Dr. Chenery says further on in the same book:—
"There is another disorder of a very serious nature which science is now laying at the doors of the liver—diabetes mellitus, or sugar in the urine. Till quite recently, this formidable affection has been regarded as having its seat in the kidneys; and it is so classified in medical writings. Later researches, however, show that the sugar has been formed in the economy before it reaches the kidneys, and that these organs act only as strainers with respect to it, removing it from the blood as they remove salt and various other substances. In seeking for the fountain-head of diabetic sugar, it is found that the liver is the great glycogenic, or sugar-originating factory of the body. In an ordinary state of health this substance is produced in just the proper amount for the uses for which it is intended, so that it is all disposed of in the organism, and does not pass off by the kidneys. If any cause interrupts the processes by which the sugar is consumed, while its manufacture goes on normally, there will come to be an over-supply of sugar in the blood, which, when it reaches 3 parts to 1,000 of the blood, will begin to pass off by the kidneys and appear in the urine. On the other hand, if an undue amount of it is formed, the consumption remaining normal, it will also accumulate in the circulation, and be eliminated by the kidneys. In either case we have diabetes, the sugar irritating and diseasing the kidneys as it passes."
Dr. Harley, of the Royal Society of London, has made the subject of alcohol and diabetes matter for considerable study. He says a small quantity only of alcohol injected into the portal (liver) circulation of healthy animals will cause diabetic urine.
"If any one doubt the truth of the assertion that alcohol causes diabetes, let him select a case of that form of the disease arising from excessive formation, and after having carefully estimated the daily amount of sugar eliminated by the patient, allow him to drink a few glasses of wine, and watch the result. He will soon find the ingestion of the liquor is followed by an increase of sugar. If alcoholics increase the amount of saccharine matter in the urine of the diabetic, we can easily understand how their excessive use may induce the disease in individuals predisposed to it."—DR. HARLEY.
Some physicians claim that in jaundice and certain other bilious disorders even medicines prepared in alcohol are decidedly prejudicial and aggravating.
Dr. J. H. Kellogg, and other writers draw attention to the effects of alcohol in hindering the liver in its duty of destroying the toxic substances generated within the system of a sick person by the specific microbes to which the disease owes its origin, saying that the activity of the liver in destroying these poisons is one of the physiologic processes which stand between the patient and death.
The more this question is studied the more apparent is it that, other things being equal, the sick person who is cared for by a non-alcoholic physician has a much better chance of recovery than the one dosed by "a brandy doctor."
EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL UPON THE KIDNEYS.
"The kidneys, being the chief organs for the excretion of nitrogen waste, are among the most important organs of the body. Any defect in their healthy activity leads to serious interference with the working of many organs, due to the accumulation in the body of nitrogenous waste products. If both kidneys be cut out of an animal, it dies in a few hours from blood-poisoning, due to the accumulation of waste poisonous substances which the kidneys should have got rid of. Serious kidney-disease amounts to pretty much the same thing as cutting out the organs, since they are of little use if not healthy. It is always fatal if not checked, and often kills in a short time. The things which most frequently cause kidney disease are undue exposure to cold, and indulgence in alcoholic drinks."—Martin's Human Body.
"The kidneys are supplied with arterial blood, which, having given up water, urea, salt, and certain other substances, either secreted or simply strained from it, returns to the kidneys nearly as bright and fresh as when it entered them. While the lungs are concerned in removing carbonic acid—the ashes of the furnace—it is the peculiar province of the kidneys to remove the products of the wear and tear of the bodily machinery—the wasted nerve and muscle—in the form of urea, or other crystallizable substances, the presence of which in the economy for any considerable time is attended with disastrous results.
"Now, nature has put these organs, charged with so important work, as far away as possible from any source of irritation. Could alcohol get as direct access to them as to the liver, there is no doubt that their function would be destroyed almost at once, since the change in arterial blood by alcohol is much more extensive and damaging than that wrought in such venous blood as the liver receives from the portal veins. Thus while the liver takes the alcohol immediately from the alimentary canal, the kidneys receive it only after it has passed through the liver, the heart, the lungs, and the heart again; by which time much of it has escaped, while the remainder has been greatly diluted by the blood of the general circulation; yet coming to the kidneys even so considerably diluted, it has power to congest, irritate, and excite them to the excretion of an unusual amount of the watery elements of the urine, as if to wash the irritant away.
"But it is only the watery element that is increased, not the urea, which is the substance representing the waste of vital action, and is a poison to the system; this it is the special office of the kidneys to remove. Not only does alcohol not increase its elimination, but actually lessens the discharge. And should the irritation of the spirit continue, or be augmented in force, inflammation would follow, and the excretion of urea nearly or entirely cease and life be in the greatest jeopardy. Relief or death then must speedily follow."—Dr. E. Chenery, of Boston, in Alcohol Inside Out.
"Alcohol causes kidney-disease in several ways. In the first place it unduly excites the activity of the organs. Next, by impeding oxidation it interferes with the proper preparation of nitrogen wastes: they are brought to the kidneys in an unfit state for removal, and injure those organs. Third, when more than a small quantity of alcohol is taken, some of it is passed out of the body unchanged, through the kidneys, and injures their substance. The kidney-disease most commonly produced by alcohol is one kind of "Bright's disease," so called from the physician who first described it. The connective tissue of the organ grows in excess, and the true excreting kidney-substance dwindles away. At last the organ becomes quite unable to do its work, and death results.
"The three most common causes of Bright's disease are an acute illness, as scarlet fever, of which it is a frequent result; sudden exposure to cold when warm (this often drives blood in excessive quantity from the skin to internal organs, and leads to kidney-disease); and the habitual drinking of alcoholic liquids."—Dr. Newell Martin in The Human Body.
"Every physician knows or should know, that the quantity and quality of the effete, or waste, material separated from the blood by the kidneys and voided in the urine, is such as to render a knowledge of the action of any remedy or drink on the function of these organs, of the greatest importance in the treatment of all diseases, and especially those of an acute febrile character. As was long since demonstrated by clinical observation, and more recently by patient and accurate experiments by Bouchard and others, the amount of toxic, or poisonous, material naturally separated from the blood by the kidneys and passed out in the urine is so great that if wholly retained by failure of the kidneys to act for two or three days, speedy death ensues. Equally familiar to every observing physician is the fact that in all the acute febrile and inflammatory diseases, not only is the quantity of the urine secreted generally diminished, but its quality or constituency is also changed to a greater degree than even its quantity. Thus, some of the more important constituents are increased, others diminished, and often new or foreign elements are found present, all resulting from the disordered metabolic processes taking place throughout the system during the progress of these diseases.
"It is, therefore, hardly necessary to remind the physician that it is of the greatest importance to know as correctly as possible both the direct and the indirect influence of every medicine or drink on the action of the kidneys and all other eliminating organs and structures, lest he unwittingly allow the use of such as may not only retard the elimination of the specific causes of disease, but also favor auto-intoxication by retarding the elimination of the natural elements of excretion.
"That the presence of alcohol in the living system positively lessens the reception and internal distribution of oxygen, and consequently retards the oxidation processes of disassimilation by which the various products for excretion are perfected and their elimination facilitated, is so fully demonstrated, both by observation and experiment, as no longer to admit of doubt.
"As nearly all the toxic elements of urine are the results of these oxidation processes, the presence of alcohol in the system could hardly fail to interfere with them in a notable degree.
"The direct and somewhat extensive series of experiments instituted by Glazer, as published in the Deut. Med. Wochensch., Leipsic, Oct. 22, 1891, demonstrated this, as shown by the following conclusions:—'Alcohol, in even relatively moderate quantities, irritates the kidneys, so that the exudation of leucocytes and the formation of cylindrical casts may occur. It also produces an unusual amount of uric acid crystals and oxalates, due to the modified tissue changes produced by the alcohol. The effect of a single act of over-indulgence in alcohol does not last more than thirty-six hours, but it is cumulative under continued use.'
"Dr. Chittenden kept several dogs under the influence of alcohol eight or ten days, and found it to increase the amount of uric acid in their urine more than 100 per cent. above the normal proportion.
"Mohilansky, house-physician to Manassein's clinic, in the conclusions drawn from his interesting experiments on fifteen young men to determine the effects of alcohol on the metabolic processes generally, stated that 'it does not possess any diuretic action: but rather tends to inhibit the elimination of water by the kidneys.' It is further stated that this result is owing to the coincident effect of diminished systemic oxidation and of blood pressure.
"On the other hand, several observers have reported that the flow of urine was increased by the use of alcohol. From as full an examination of the subject as I have been able to make, it appears that the diverse results obtained have depended upon the previous habits of those experimented on, and the widely varying quantities of water drank with the alcohol. When the alcohol is taken with large quantities of water, as is usual with those who use beer and fermented drinks generally, the total amount of urine passed is usually increased, but not more than is found to result from taking the same quantity of water without any alcohol. When alcoholic drinks are taken by those already habituated to its use, it has less marked effect on the quantity and quality of the urine than when taken by those who had previously been total abstainers. This was illustrated by the experiments of Mohilansky on the fifteen men, some of whom were habitual drinkers, some occasional drinkers, and others total abstainers. When all were subjected to the same diet and drinks, with alcohol, in two the daily amount of urine voided remained unaltered, in five it was increased seven per cent., and in eight it decreased twelve per cent. But whatever may be the variations in the mere quantity of urine voided under the influence of alcohol, the alterations in quality pretty uniformly show an increase in the products of imperfect internal metamorphosis or oxidation, such as uric acid, oxalates, casts, leucocytes, albumen and potassium, with less of the normal products, as urea and salts of sodium.
"During the past year I have met with three cases in which the regular daily use of alcoholic drinks for several months, in quantities not sufficient to produce intoxication, had so altered the blood, and the renal function, that the urine contained both casts and albumen, and some degree of oedema was observable in the face and extremities. These changes were so marked as to justify a diagnosis of incipient nephritis, or Bright's disease. Yet after totally abstaining from the use of alcoholic drinks and remedies, and taking such vasomotor tonics as strychnine and digitalis, with a regulated diet and fresh air, they completely recovered.
"When it is remembered that in diphtheria, pneumonia and typhoid fever, the acute diseases in which a large part of the profession administer most freely alcoholic remedies, the function of the kidney is altered in almost the same direction as are found to take place under the influence of alcohol, it should certainly cause every practitioner to pause and critically review the pathological basis on which he has been prescribing. An anaesthetic, like alcohol, may certainly render a patient with diphtheria, pneumonia or typhoid fever more quiet, and cause him to say he feels better, but if it at the same time diminishes the internal distribution of oxygen, retards the oxidation and elimination of waste and toxic products through the kidneys and lungs, and lessens vasomotor force, it cannot fail to protract the duration of disease, and increase the ratio of mortality."—Dr. N. S. Davis, A. M. T. A. Quarterly, April, 1894.
Dr. J. H. Kellogg, by a series of carefully executed experiments, conclusively demonstrated that alcohol hinders the elimination of poisonous matter by the kidneys. This property of alcohol is one of the objections which he sees to its use as a medicine. He says:—
"Water applied externally stimulates elimination by the pores of the skin, and employed freely internally by water drinking, and enemas to be retained for absorption, aids liver and kidney activity. If the patient dies it is because his liver and kidneys have failed to destroy and eliminate the poisons generated with sufficient rapidity to prevent their producing fatal mischief in the body."
ALCOHOL AS A MEDICINE.
Although nearly all of the foremost scientific investigators of the effects of alcohol upon the body have lost faith in the old views of the usefulness of alcoholic liquors as remedial agencies a considerable proportion of the medical profession do not seem yet to have learned how to treat disease without recourse to the alcohol therapy. This is largely due to the fact that the new thought has not yet crystallized to any large extent in the medical text-books, and also to the widely variant views held by professors of medicine.
The medical use of alcohol has been, and still is, the great bulwark of the liquor traffic. The user of alcoholics as beverages always excuses himself, if hard pressed by abstainers, upon the ground that they must be of service or doctors would not recommend them so frequently. In all prohibitory amendment, and no-license campaigns, the cry of "Useful as Medicine" has been the hardest for temperance workers to meet, for they have felt that they had to admit the statement as true, knowing nothing to the contrary. Indeed, thousands of those who advocate the prohibition of the sale of liquor as a beverage, use alcohol in some form quite freely as medicine, and are as determined and earnest in defence of their favorite "tipple" as any old toper could well be. Many use it in the guise of cordials, tonics, bitters, restoratives and the thousand and one nostrums guaranteed to cure all ills to which human flesh is heir.
The wide-spread belief in the necessity and efficacy of alcoholics as remedies is the greatest hindrance to the success of the temperance cause. It is impossible to convince the mass of the people that what is life-giving as medicine can be death-dealing as beverage. The two stand, or fall, together. Hence there is no more important question before the medical profession, and the people generally, than that of the action of alcohol in disease, and, as a goodly number of the most distinguished and successful physicians of Europe and America declare it to be harmful rather than helpful, it behooves thoughtful people to carefully study the reasons they assign for holding such an opinion. Certainly it is true that if physicians and people would all adopt the views of the advocates of non-alcoholic medication the temperance problem would be solved, and the greatest source of disease, crime, pauperism, insanity and misery would be driven from the face of the earth.
To understand the arguments advanced in favor of non-alcoholic medication it is needful to make some study of the effects of alcohol upon the body, and of the purposes for which alcoholics are prescribed medically.
Alcohol is used in sickness as a food, when solid foods cannot be assimilated, "to support" or sustain, the vitality; it is used as a stimulant, a tonic, a sedative or narcotic, an anti-spasmodic, an antiseptic and antipyretic; it is used in combination with other drugs, in tinctures and in pharmacy. It is not wonderful that the people esteem it above all other drugs, for none other is so variously and so generally employed. Those who discard it as a remedy teach that only in human delusions is it a food or a stimulant, and for the other uses to which it is put, outside of pharmacy, there are different agents which may be more satisfactorily employed.
IS ALCOHOL FOOD?
So well agreed are all the scientific investigators that alcohol has no appreciable food value that it would seem foolish to spend time upon a discussion of alcohol as food were it not that the idea of its "supporting the vitality" in disease, in some mysterious way is deeply rooted in the professional, as well as the popular mind.
Foods are substances which, when taken into the body, undergo change by the process of digestion; they give strength and heat and force; they build up the tissues of the body, and make blood; and they induce healthy, normal action of all the bodily functions.
Alcohol does none of these. It undergoes no change in the stomach, but is rapidly absorbed and mixed with the blood, and has been discovered hours after its ingestion in the brain, blood and tissues, unchanged alcohol. In many of the experiments made with it upon animals, considerable quantities of the amount swallowed were recovered from the excretions of the body, without any change having taken place in its composition. This, of itself, is sufficient evidence to show that it is a substance which the body does not recognize as a food.
Foods build up the tissues of the body. All physiologists are agreed that since alcohol contains no nitrogen it cannot be a tissue-forming food; there is no difference of opinion here. Dr. Lionel Beale, the eminent physiologist, says that alcohol is not a food and does not nourish the tissues.
"There is nothing in alcohol with which any part of the body can be nourished."—Cameron's Manual of Hygiene.
"Alcohol contains no nitrogen; it has none of the qualities of the structure-building foods; it is incapable of being transformed into any of them; it does not supply caseine, albumen, fibrine or any other of those substances which go to build up the muscles, nerves and other active organs."—SIR B. W. RICHARDSON.
"It is not demonstrable that alcohol undergoes conversion into tissue."—DR. W. A. HAMMOND.
If it is a food why do all writers and experimenters exclude it from the diet of children, and why is the caution always given people to not take it upon an empty stomach? Foods are supposed to be particularly suited to an empty stomach.
Foods induce healthy, normal action of all the bodily functions.
The chapter upon "Diseases Produced by Alcohol" is evidence that by this test alcohol shows up in its true nature as a poison, and not a food. Alcohol destroys healthy normal action of all the bodily functions, and builds up impure fat, fatty degeneration, instead of strong, firm muscle. Dr. Parkes, one of the most famous of English students of alcohol, says:—
"These alcoholic degenerations are certainly not confined to the notoriously intemperate. I have seen them in women accustomed to take wine in quantities not excessive, and who would have been shocked at the imputation that they were taking too much, although the result proved that for them it was excess."
Dr. Ezra M. Hunt, late secretary of New Jersey State Board of Health, remarks:—
"The question of excess occurs in sickness as well as in health, and all the more because its determination is so difficult and the evil effects so indisputable. The dividing line in medicine, even between use and abuse, is so zigzag and invisible that common mortals, in groping for it, generally stumble beyond it, and the delicate perception of medical art too often fails in the recognition."
All non-alcoholic writers assert that the continuous use of alcohol as a medicine is equally injurious to all the bodily functions as the employment of it as a beverage. Calling it medicine does not change its deadly nature, nor does the medical attendant possess any magical power by which a destructive poison may be converted into a restorative agent.
Dr. Noble, writing recently to the London Times, said:—
"The internal use of alcohol in disease is as injurious as in health."
Since foods induce healthy, normal action of all the bodily functions, and alcohol injures every organ of the body in direct proportion to the amount consumed, by this test it is proved to not be a food.
Foods give strength. Alcohol weakens the body. This has been determined again and again by experiments upon gangs of workmen and regiments of soldiers. These experiments always resulted in showing that upon the days when the men were supplied with liquor they could neither use their muscles so powerfully, nor for so long a time, as on the days when they received no alcoholic drink. Of the results of such tests Sir Andrew Clark, late Physician to Queen Victoria, said:—
"It is capable of proof beyond all possibility of question that alcohol not only does not help work but is a serious hinderer of work."
So satisfied are generals in the British army of the weakening effect of alcohol that its use is now forbidden to soldiers when any considerable call is to be made upon their strength. The latest example of this was in the recent Soudan campaign under Sir Herbert Kitchener. An order was issued by the War Department that not a drop of intoxicating liquor was to be allowed in camp save for hospital use. The army made phenomenal forced marches through the desert, under a burning sun and in a climate famous for its power to kill the unacclimated. It is said that never before was there a British campaign occasioning so little sickness and showing so much endurance. Some Greek merchants ran a large consignment of liquors through by the Berber-Suakim route, but Sir Herbert had them emptied upon the sand of the desert. A reporter telegraphed to England:—
"The men are in magnificent condition and in great spirits. They are as hard as nails, and in a recent desert march of fifteen miles, with manoeuvring instead of halts, the whole lasting for five continuous hours, not a single man fell out!"
This was in decided contrast to the march in the African war some years before when, as they passed through a malarial district, and a dram was served, men fell out by dozens. Dr. Parkes, one of the medical officers, prevailed upon the commander-in-chief to not allow any more alcoholic drams while the troops were marching to Kumassi.
Experiments in lifting weights have also been tried upon men by careful investigators. In every case it was found that even beer, and very dilute solutions of alcohol, would diminish the height to which the lifted weight could be raised. As an illustration of the deceptive power of alcohol upon people under its influence, it is said that persons experimented upon were under the impression, after the drink, that they could do more work, and do it more easily, although the testing-machine showed exactly the contrary to be true.
Athletes and their trainers have learned by experience that alcohol does not give strength, but is, in reality, a destroyer of muscular power. No careful trainer will allow a candidate for athletic honors to drink even beer, not to speak of stronger liquors. When Sullivan, the once famous pugilist, was defeated by Corbett, he said in lamenting his lost championship, "It was the booze did it"; meaning that he had violated training rules, and used liquor. University teams and crews have proved substantially that drinking men are absolutely no good in sports, or upon the water. Football and baseball teams, anxious to excel, are beginning to have a cast-iron temperance pledge for their members. So practical experience of those competing in tests of strength and endurance teach eloquently that alcohol does not give strength, but rather weakens the body, by rendering the muscles flabby.
Sandow, the modern Samson, wrote his methods of training in one of the magazines a few years ago, and stated that he used no alcoholic beverages. The ancient Samson was not allowed to taste even wine from birth.
A question worthy of serious consideration is: how are the sick to be strengthened and "supported" by drinks which athletes are warned to specially shun as weakening to the body? Either the sick are mistakenly advised, or the athletes are in error. Which seems the more likely?
Dr. Richardson says in Lectures on Alcohol:—
"I would earnestly impress that the systematic administration of alcohol for the purpose of giving and sustaining strength is an entire delusion."
In another place he says:—
"Never let this be forgotten in thinking of strong drink: that the drink is strong only to destroy; that it never by any possibility adds strength to those who drink it."
Sir William Gull, late physician to the Prince of Wales, said before a Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance:—
"There is a great feeling in society that strong wine and other strong drinks give strength. A large number of people have fallen into that error, and fall into it every day."
Any unprejudiced person can readily see that experience and experiment unite in testifying that alcohol does not give strength, hence differs radically from most substances commonly classed as foods. Yet millions of dollars are spent annually by deluded people upon supposedly strength-giving drinks, and thousands of the sick are ignorantly, or carelessly, advised to take beer or wine to make them strong and to support them when solid food cannot be assimilated. Truly, "My people is destroyed for lack of knowledge."
Foods give force to the body.
Dr. Richardson says:—
"We learn in respect to alcohol that the temporary excitement is produced at the expense of the animal matter and animal force, and that the ideas of the necessity of resorting to it as a food, to build up the body or to lift up the forces of the body, are ideas as solemnly false as they are widely disseminated."
Dr. Benjamin Brodie says in Physiological Inquiries:—
"Stimulants do not create nerve power: they merely enable you, as it were, to use up that which is left."
Dr. E. Smith:—
"There is no evidence that it increases nervous influence, while there is much evidence that it lessens nervous power."
Dr. Wm. Hargreaves, of Philadelphia:—
"It is sometimes said by the advocates and defenders of alcohol, that by its use force is generated more abundantly. This it certainly cannot do, as it does not furnish anything to feed the blood or to store up nourishment to replenish the expenditure. For by their own theory, the increase of action must cause an increase of wear and tear; hence alcohol instead of sustaining life or vitality, must cause a direct waste or expenditure of vital force."
Dr. Auguste Forel, of Switzerland:—
"All alcoholic liquors are poisons, and especially brain-poisons, and their use shortens life. They cannot therefore be regarded as sources of nourishment or force. They should be resisted as much as opium, morphia, cocaine, hashish and the like."
Dr. W. F. Pechuman, of Detroit, in his valuable little treatise, Alcohol—Is it a Medicine? says clearly:—
"When alcohol or any other irritant poison is put into the system, the conservative vital force, recognizing it as an enemy, at once makes an effort through the living matter to rid the system of the offender;—the heart increases in action and new strength seems to appear. Now, right here is where the great mass of people and a large number of physicians are deluded. They mistake the extra effort of the vital force to preserve the body against harmful agencies for an actual increase in strength as the result of the agent given; we wonder that they can be so blind as not to see the reaction which invariably occurs soon after the administration of their so-called stimulant."
Dr. F. R. Lees, of England:—
"All poisons lessen vitality and deteriorate the ultimate tissue in which force is reposited. Alcohol is an agent, the sole, perpetual and inevitable effects of which are to avert blood development, to retain waste matter, to irritate mucous and other tissues, to thicken normal juices, to impede digestion, to deaden nervous sensibility, to lower animal heat, to kill molecular life, and to waste, through the excitement it creates in heart and head, the grand controlling forces of the nerves and brain."
If alcohol is a destroyer of bodily force, as any ordinary observer of drinking men can readily see, it is a problem beyond solving, how it is going to give force to, or sustain vitality in, the patient hovering between life and death. Too often has it been the means of hastening into eternity those who, but for its mistaken use, might have recovered from the illness affecting them.
Food gives heat to the body.
Alcohol does not, but really robs the body of its natural warmth. This finding of science was received with the utmost incredulity when first presented to the medical world, but the invention of the clinical thermometer settled it beyond controversy. It is now believed by all but a very few of those who have knowledge of the physiological effects of alcohol. While Dr. N. S. Davis, of Chicago, was the first to demonstrate this fact, it was Dr. B. W. Richardson, of England, who succeeded in putting it prominently before the attention of physicians.
The normal temperature of the human body is a little over 98 degrees by Fahrenheit's thermometer. If the temperature is found to be much above or below 98 degrees the person is considered out of health; indeed by this condition alone physicians are able to detect serious forms of disease. By the use of the clinical thermometer, placed under the tongue, it is easy to determine what agents acting upon the body will cause the temperature to vary from the natural standard. When alcohol is swallowed there is at first a decided feeling of warmth induced; if the temperature be taken now it will be found that in a person unaccustomed to alcohol the warmth may be raised half a degree; in one accustomed to alcohol the warmth may be raised a full degree, or even a degree and a half beyond the natural standard. But this warmth is only temporary, and is soon succeeded by chilliness.
Dr. Richardson says in his Temperance Lesson Book:—
"The sense of warmth occurs in the following way: When the alcohol enters the body, and by the blood-vessels is conveyed to all parts of the body, it reduces the nervous power of the small blood-vessels which are spread out through the whole of the surface of the skin. In their weakened state these vessels are unable duly to resist the course of blood which is coming into them from the heart under its stroke. The result is that an excess of warm blood fresh from the heart is thrown into these fine vessels, which causes the skin to become flushed and red as it is seen to be after wine or other strong drink has been swallowed and sent through the body. So, as there is now more warm blood in the skin than is natural to it, a sense of increased warmth is felt. The skin of the body is the most sensitive of substances and the sense of warmth through, or over the whole surface of the skin is conveyed from it to the brain and nervous centres of the body, by which we are enabled to feel.
"The warmth of surface which seems to be imparted by alcohol, only seems to be imparted. Positively the warmth is not imparted by the alcohol, but is set free by it.
"In a short time the sense of warmth is succeeded by a feeling of slight chilliness. Unless the person is in a very warm room, or has recently partaken of food, the thermometer will now show a decided decrease in temperature, reaching often to a degree. Should the person go out into a cold air, and especially should he go into a cold air while badly supplied with food, the fall of temperature may reach to two degrees below the natural standard of bodily heat. In this state he easily takes cold, and in frosty weather readily contracts congestion of the lungs, and that disease which is known as bronchitis. If the person drinks to drunkenness his temperature will be found to be from two and a half to three degrees below the natural standard. It takes from two to three days, under the most favorable circumstances, for the animal warmth to become steadily re-established after a drunken spree.
"The excitement of the mind in the early stages of drunkenness is not natural; it is exhaustive of the bodily powers, and exhaustive for no useful purpose whatever. * * * * *
"As nothing has been supplied by the alcohol to keep up the supply of heat the vital energy is rapidly exhausted, and if the person is exposed to cold, the exhaustion becomes extreme, sometimes fatal. All great consumers of alcohol are chillier during winter than are abstainers, and as they labor under the delusion that they must take wine or ale or spirits to keep them warm, they keep on making matters worse by constantly resorting to their enemy for relief."
Dr. Newell Martin makes this very clear in his physiology, The Human Body.
"Our feeling of being warm depends on the nerves of the skin. We have no nerves which tell us whether heart or muscles or brain, are warmer or cooler. These inside parts are always hotter than the skin, and if blood which has been made hot in them flows in large quantity to the skin, we feel warmer because the skin is heated. As alcoholic drinks make more blood flow through the skin, they often make a man feel warmer. But their actual effect upon the temperature of the whole body is to lower it. The more blood that flows through the skin, the more heat is given off from the body to the air, and the more blood, so cooled, is sent back to the internal organs. The consequence is that alcohol, in proportion to the amount taken, cools the body as a whole, though it may for a time heat the skin."
If other evidence that alcohol is not heat-producing in the body were necessary it could be found in the fact that the products of combustion are decreased when it is present in the body. The quantity of carbonic acid exhaled by the breath is proportionately diminished with the decline of animal heat.
Arctic explorers learned by experience what science discovered by experiment. Dr. Hayes, the explorer, says:—
"While fresh animal food, and especially fat, is absolutely essential to the inhabitants and travelers in Arctic countries, alcohol, in almost any shape, is not only completely useless, but positively injurious."
Lieutenant Johnson, who accompanied Nansen upon his northern expedition, said, when interviewed by a reporter of the London Daily News:—
"The common opinion that alcohol becomes in some way a necessity in cold countries is entirely a mistaken one. This has been conclusively proved by the expedition. In making up his list of the Fram's equipments, Nansen did not include any spirits, with the exception of some spirits of wine for lamps and stoves."
In the list of stores taken upon the long sledging expedition after leaving the Fram no liquors are mentioned. See Farthest North, by Nansen. The omission of spirits was not because of any "temperance fanaticism," but because the experience of former Arctic expeditions had shown clearly that men freeze more readily after partaking of alcohol than when they totally abstain from it.
That wine is not a fuel-food was shown conclusively in the Franco-Prussian war during the siege of Paris. Food was scarce in the French Army, and wine was liberally supplied. The men complained bitterly of the extreme chilliness which affected them. Dr. Klein, a French staff surgeon, was reported in the Medical Temperance Journal of England, October 1873, as saying of this:—
"We found most decidedly that alcohol was no substitute for bread and meat. We also found that it was no substitute for coals. We of the army had to sleep outside Paris on the frozen ground. We had plenty of alcohol, but it did not make us warm. Let me tell you there is nothing that will make you feel the cold more, nothing which will make you feel the dreadful sense of hunger more, than alcohol."
There is no evidence against alcohol stronger than that which shows it to be not heat-producing, as commonly believed, but a reducer of heat in the body. Indeed, this question of bodily temperature is used in recent times to decide whether a man who has fallen upon the street is troubled by apoplexy, or influenced by alcoholism. If the clinical thermometer shows the temperature to be above normal, it is apoplexy; if below normal, it is alcoholism.
"Alcohol is clearly proved to be not a fuel-food, for if it were it would enable the body to resist cold, instead of making it colder; and in the extreme degrees of cold it would go on burning like other fuel-foods, and would maintain, instead of helping to destroy, life."—Richardson's Lesson Book.
Yet because it creates a glow of warmth in the skin immediately after drinking it, thousands of people will discredit all evidence that it is a reducer of bodily heat. Clinical thermometers, and after-sensations of chilliness, are unheeded, for "Wine is a mocker," and multitudes are willing to be deceived by it.
So, also, with the conclusions against it as a strengthening agent; because it dulls the sense of hunger and of fatigue, those who crave it will declare in the face of all scientific testimony that it strengthens them, and takes the place of food. They will cite, too, the cases of people who "lived upon whisky" during an illness of greater or less duration. Of the sustaining of life upon alcohol only, Dr. N. S. Davis has said:—
"The falsity of all such stories is made apparent by the fact that nineteen-twentieths of all the alcoholic drinks given to the sick are given in connection with sugar, milk, eggs or meat-broths, which furnish the nutriment, and would support the patients better if given with the same perseverance without the alcohol than with it. While we have quite a number of examples of men living on nothing but water forty or fifty days, I have never seen or learned of a well-authenticated case of a man's taking or receiving into his system nothing but alcohol for half of that length of time, without becoming sick with either gastro-duodenitis, nephritis, or delirium tremens."
Some of the defenders of the medicinal use of alcohol claim that since it has been shown to reduce tissue waste it should be classed as an indirect food, a conserver of tissue. Of this claim, Dr. N. S. Davis says in the Bulletin of the A. M. T. A., November, 1895:—
"A careful study of the conditions and processes necessary for both tissue building or nutrition, and tissue waste or disintegration, in all the higher order of animals, will show that neither process can be materially retarded without retarding or preventing the other. Both processes take place only in bioplasm or vitalized matter, supplied with oxygen, water and heat. Neither the assimilation of new material food, nor its use in tissue building can be effected without the presence of free oxygen and nuclein, or corpuscular elements of the blood. And without the presence of the same elements we can have no natural tissue disintegration and removal of the waste. The processes of tissue building and tissue disintegration, are therefore, so intimately related, and dependent upon the same materials and forces, that neither can be hastened or retarded from day to day without influencing the other. When alcohol or any other substance, introduced into the blood, retards the tissue waste, as shown by the diminished amount of excretory products, it must do so by either diminishing the amount of free oxygen in the blood, by impairing the vasomotor and trophic nerve functions or by direct impairment of the properties of the nuclein or protogen elements of the blood and tissues. The popular idea, both in and out of the profession is, that the alcohol, by further oxidation in the blood, lessens the amount of oxygen to act on the tissues, and generates heat or 'some kind of force.' Those who advocate this theory of saving the tissues by combining the oxygen with alcohol seem to forget that in doing so they are diverting and using up the only agent, oxygen, capable of combining with, and promoting the elimination of, all natural waste products as well as the various toxic elements causing disease.