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ordinary efforts on the part of the lungs, the liver, and the kidneys for the elimination of the poison, and the maintenance of the healthful functions of these organs. The insidious nature of this poison, stealthy in its march yet unerring in its aim, renders it peculiarly formidable. The case of Alexis St. Martin, upon whom Dr. Beaumont made some interesting physiological experiments upon the digestion of food, reads an instructive lesson:
Says, Dr. Beaumont-"St. Martin has been drinking spirits, for eight or ten days, pretty freely; complains of no pain nor shows symptoms of general indisposition; says he feels well and has a good appetite. August 1st.-Inner membrane of the stomach unusually morbid; appearance of inflammation more extensive, and spots more livid than usual, from the surface of which exuded small drops of thick, clotted blood. ** The gastric fluids extracted this morning were mixed with a large proportion of thick, ropy mucus, slightly tinged with blood. The free use of ardent spirits, wine, beer, or any intoxicating liquor, when continued for some days, has invariably produced these morbid changes.”
Here, then, we have ocular demonstration of the morbific tendency of this agent. The subject complained of no pain, nor symp. toms of general indisposition, excepting an uneasy sensation and slight tenderness over the epigastrium, and slight vertigo and dimness of vision on stooping down and rising up, and yet the mucous membrane was the seat of intense congestion, to such a degree, as to cause the exudation of blood upon its surface. When the inordinate use of alcoholic drinks has been habitual for a length of time, the mucous membrane of the stomach becomes thickened, the organ in a measure loses its power of contracting upon food, the pit of the stomach becomes distended, and malig nant disease not unfrequently ensues. "It is incontrovertibly established by a collection of many facts, that this disease (cancer of the stomach,) is frequently brought on in those who become addicted to the inordinate use of spirituous liquor." (Cyclop. Pract. Med., vol. iv. p. 260.) The close proximity of the stomach to the liver, and the direct sympathy existing between them, persistent derangement in the function of the former almost necessarily involves that of the latter: hence, seated pain over the region of the liver, swelling, and entire perversion of the hepatic secretion, are frequently concomitant of gastric disorders. Constant irritation sometimes induces excessive enlargement of the liver, but most
generally it becomes hard, small, with few traces of blood vessels, and an entire arrest of the healthy secretion of bile is the necessary result. The experience, of almost every physician will attest the depressing effects of alcohol in acute disease. External appear ances may indicate the enjoyment of high health; the blood circulates with freedom through the capillaries, lighting up the cheek with the color of the rose, but it is carrying along with it a poison which is slowly consuining the vital energies. When disease atttacks the internal organs, where are the innate recuperative powers of the system? Paralysed, as if by the weight of some unmovable incubus. The blood, deficient in oxygen, is deprived of its stimulating and health-giving influence. Depleting remedies, the most potent in states of high inflammation, are powerless, nay, directly injurious. The system succumbs from the abstraction of even a small quantity of blood, or under the operation of brisk cathartics, and disease, in a majority of cases, makes a triumphal march with his victim an easy captive.
The inebriate transmits a desire for stimulants to his offspring. Examples of hereditary transmission of disease occur within the observation of almost every one. Consumption, scrofula, insanity, deafness, and various other disorders, descend from one generation to another. Peculiarities of individual character in the parent are exemplified in the child. When the brain and nervous system have been the subject of such torturing persecution; at one time lashed into fury, and at another, sunk to the lowest depths of depression, is it wonderful that the offspring of such parents should inherit a weak and perverted nervous system—overthrown by the least unusual exciting cause, subject to spasms, convul sions, and falling readily into attacks of epilepsy or idiocy? Not only is this peculiarly delicate and irritable temperament transmissible from parent to child, but descends even to the third gencration; and in many instances, where the influence of parental example has been withdrawn by reformation or death, even the subduing power of maternal affection, and the unqualified condemnation of society have proven entirely inadequate to extin guish the latent spark. In a report on Idiocy, by Dr. Howe,* to the Legislature of Massachusetts, we have the following statistics: "The habits of 300 of the idiots were learned, and 145, or nearly one half are reported as known to be drunkards. Such parents,
* Youmans, on Alcohol.
it is affirmed, give a weak and sickly constitution to their children, who are consequently deficient in bodily and vital energy, and predisposed by their very organization to have cravings for alcoholic stimulants." I believe that the records of hospitals for the insane, will exhibit comparisons equally as striking as the above. Within the field of his own observation, almost every physician can recur to the fact of whole lines of ancestry, extending through several successive generations, having been consigned to premature graves, if not by debauching and profligacy, by the exhausting effects of alcohol upon the physical system, causing them readily to fall a prey to acute disease.
But the most revolting condition into which the human body is brought, is, that which favors its spontaneous combustion. Many well attested instances are recorded, where the bodies of individuals, entirely isolated, and removed from any ordinary inflammable material, have spontaneously taken fire and been, at least, partially, if not wholly consumed. I am not aware that that peculiar chemical condition of the solids and fluids which predisposes to such a catastrophe, has ever been clearly and satisfactorily defined, but I believe that the victims have been in the daily habit, during life, of indulging liberally in the use of alcoholic stimulants.
Thus have we taken a cursory glance at a few of the effects of alcoholic stimulants upon man's physical constitution in a state of health. Their value, as remedial agents in a diseased condition of the body, cannot be questioned, but it would take us beyond the limits of our present purpose to protract this article to greater length.
Flesh Worm, (Filaria Medinensis.) By N. S. WALKER, M. D., of Arlona, Putnam county, Ga.
Two years since, I saw and treated a singular case of what I at last pronounced a living animal, and perhaps of the above name. The history of the case is this:
The parents seemed healthy, though in very indigent circumstances. The only child was apparently healthy, until about three months after its birth, when a small red speck was noticed
on the gluteal muscles, at or near the rim of the pelvis, which gradually enlarged, to the size of a small pea, of oval shape; and in about two weeks after its first discovery, it gradually began to elongate and to descend the thigh, making perhaps the distance of two lines a day at first, but gradually increasing in speed and in length. The cord-like object was well defined under the skin, and could be seen as well as felt.
The worm, as I shall call it, went on in a zig-zag course downwards, nearly passing around the limb, but mostly confined to the outer, and under surface. The anterior part, for perhaps an inch, was of a bright scarlet color, and grew paler upwards, until the skin, immediately over the track, assumed a dark yellow cast. The child showed symptoms of uneasiness, especially at night, when it was feverish and restless. When the head had reached the lower half of the leg, I cut across it in several places, and one cut was made half an inch from the head, and from this cut there oozed out a few drops of a light, thin, yellow fluid.
This operation, contrary to the advice of most writers, put a stop to the train, all, except the half inch, or more, of the head, which went on, though slower than formerly, and when it had reached the ankle joint, I again cut it up in small bits, but could not extract any part of it-though I did not persist in trying. This last operation put a final stop to it, and the skin assumed its natural color. At the time the worm was cut first, it progressed at least a half inch in twenty-four hours; and from the time it was first seen, until it reached the foot, there intervened at least four months.
This certainly must have been a Guinea worm, (Filaria Medinensis of the books,) and is altogether interesting, from its novelty in this country. The parents were filthy in their habits, and the floor of the house was of dirt. The length of the worm could not well be ascertained, as the latter end was not well defined, though I supposed it to be, at one time, at least ten inches long.
[Professor Richard Owen gives the following description of the Guinea-worm, which we append as corroborative of the above re port:-"The Medina or Guinea-worm (Filaria medinensis, Gmel.) is developed in the subcutaneous cellular texture, generally in the lower extremities, especially the feet, sometimes in the scrotum, and also, but very rarely, beneath the tunica conjunctiva of the
eye. It appears to be endemic in the tropical regions of Asia and
"The length of this worm varies from six inches, to two, eight or twelve feet; its thickness is from half to two-thirds of a line; it is of a whitish color in general, but sometimes of a dark brown hue. The body is round and sub-equal, a little attenuated towards the anterior extremity. In a recent specimen of small size, we have observed that the orbicular mouth was surrounded by three slightly raised swellings, which were continued a little way along the body and gradually lost; the body is traversed by two longitudinal lines corresponding to the intervals of the two well-marked fasciculi of longitudinal muscular fibres. The caudal extremity of the male is obtuse, and admits a single spiculum; in the female it is acute, and suddenly inflected."-Hunterian Lectures, Lect. vi., p. 96.]-[EDTS.
Treatment of a Case of Puerperal Convulsions by the internal administration of Chloroform. Reported by JOSIAH BROWN, M. D., of Gaylesville, Alabama.
Wednesday, 24th December, 1856. Called to see Mrs. Grubbs at 7 o'clock P. M, age 19: good constitution, plethoric habit, and seven months advanced in first pregnancy. She had been suffering with headache a fortnight or more, accompanied with an oedematous condition of the lower extremities.
I found her in one of those horrible convulsions of the epileptic form, such as none but the most experienced physician can witness with any degree of composure. This being the first case of the kind with which I had ever met, and presenting, as I thought, many unfavorable and fatal symptoms, I resolved at once to put her upon a somewhat heroic treatment.
I first abstracted 40 oz. of blood, which did not appear to have the least effect in arresting the paroxysms; I then exhibited chloroform, by inhalation, as far as seemed judicious: all to no purpose the spasms recurring with equal severity every twelve or fifteen minutes. It then occurred to me that I had recently seen a statement of its being given internally for Cramp Colic, with the most happy effects. The question suggested itself, why it might not be a safe and effectual remedy in this case.