Page:Alcohol, a Dangerous and Unnecessary Medicine.djvu/19

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11
ALCOHOL AS A MEDICINE.

opposed its claims to merit. It remained for the medical science of the latter half of the nineteenth century to clearly demonstrate with nicely adjusted chemical apparatus and appliances the wisdom of these doubts.

The scientific study of the effects of alcohol upon the human body began about sixty years ago. The first American investigator was Dr. Nathan S. Davis, of Chicago, who was the founder of the American Medical Association. During the months of May, June, July, September and October, 1848, Dr. Davis published in the Annalist, a monthly medical journal of New York City, a series of articles controverting the universal opinion that alcoholic drinks are warming, strengthening and nourishing. In 1850 he executed an extensive series of experiments to determine the effects of a diet exclusively carbonaceous (starch), one exclusively nitrogenous (albumen), and alcohol (brandy and wine), on the temperature of the living body; on the quantity of carbonic acid exhaled; and on the circulation of the blood. The results of these investigations were embodied in a paper read before the American Medical Association in May, 1851. They showed that alcohol, instead of increasing animal heat, and promoting nutrition and strength, actually produced directly opposite effects, reducing temperature, the amount of carbonic acid exhaled, and the muscular strength. So opposed were these conclusions to the generally accepted