Page:Alcohol, a Dangerous and Unnecessary Medicine.djvu/347

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339
ALCOHOL AS A MEDICINE.

tion at the present time are the coal-tar products. Of these Dr. N. S. Davis has said :—

"Only a few years since, the profession were taught to regard the degree of pyrexia, or heat, as the chief element of danger in all the acute general diseases. Consequently, to control the pyrexia became the leading object of treatment; and whatever would do this promptly, and at the same time allay pain and promote rest, found favor at the bedside of the patient.

"It was soon ascertained that antipyrin, antifebrin, phenacetin and other analogous products, if given in sufficient doses, would reduce the heat, and allay the pains with great certainty and promptness, not only in continued fevers, but also in rheumatism, influenza, or la grippe, etc.; and thus their use soon became popular with both the profession and the public. No one, however, undertook to first ascertain by strictly scientific appliances the actual pathological processes causing the pyrexia in each form of disease, or even to determine whether in any given case the increased heat was the result of increased heat production, or diminished heat dissipation. Neither were any of the remedies subjected to such experimental investigation as to determine their influence on the elements of the blood, the internal distribution of oxygen, the metabolism of the tissues, or on the activity of the eliminations. Consequently their exhibition was wholly empirical, and the one that subdued the pyrexia most promptly was given the preference. Yet we all know that the pyrexia invariably returned as soon as the effects of each dose were exhausted, and in a few years the results showed that while the antipyretics served to keep down the pyrexia, and give each case the appearance of doing well, the average duration of the cases, and their mortality, were both increased.

"Step by step experimental therapeutic investigations have proved that the whole class of coal-tar antipyretics reduce ani-