Page:Alcohol, a Dangerous and Unnecessary Medicine.djvu/18

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ALCOHOL AS A MEDICINE.

for all the ills to which flesh is heir, indeed for something which would enable men even to defy Death, and the subtle new spirit was eagerly proclaimed as the long-looked-for cure-all, if not the very aqua vitæ itself. Physicians introduced it to their patients, and were lavish in their praises of its curative powers. The following is quoted from the writings of Theoricus, a prominent German of the sixteenth century, as an example of medical opinion of alcohol in his day :—

"It sloweth age, it strengtheneth youth, it helpeth digestion, it cutteth phlegme, it cureth the hydropsia, it healeth the strangurie, it pounces the stone, it expelleth gravel, it keepeth the head from whirling, the teeth from chattering, and the throat from rattling; it keepeth the weasen from stiffling, the stomach from wambling, and the heart from swelling; it keepeth the hands from shivering, the sinews from shrinking, the veins from crumbling, the bones from aching, and the marrow from soaking."

Being a medicine, which very rapidly creates a craving for itself, the demand for it became enormous, and, as time advanced, people began prescribing it for themselves, until its use both as medicine and beverage became almost general.

If the medical profession is responsible for the wide-spread belief that alcoholics are of service to mankind both as food and medicine, it should not be forgotten that it is to members of the same profession the world is indebted for the correction of these errors. All down through the centuries there have been physicians who doubted and