Alcohol, a Dangerous and Unnecessary Medicine/Preface to the Second Edition
When the first edition of this book was published in 1900, there were only a few leading physicians either in Europe or America who were ready to condemn the medical use of alcohol. Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson, Sims Woodhead, and a few others in England; Forel, Kassowitz and one or two more on the Continent, and Nathan S. Davis, T. D. Crothers and J. H. Kellogg, in America, were about all that could be quoted largely as opposed to alcoholic liquors as remedies in disease. Whisky was then looked upon as necessary in the treatment of consumption and diphtheria. Ten years have brought about a .great change. There are many American physicians now willing to admit that they have very little or no use for alcoholic liquors as remedial agents, and now, instead of recommending whisky for consumption anti-tuberculosis literature almost everywhere warns against the use of intoxicating drinks. The use of antitoxin in diphtheria has driven out whisky treatment in that disease with markedly favorable results. Under the whisky treatment death-rates ran up to fifty-five and sixty per cent.; now the diphtheria death-rate is very low. Ten years ago many good authorities still ranked alcohol as a stimulant ; now, almost all rank it as a depressant. In England, leading physicians and surgeons have spoken so strongly against alcohol in the last few years that the London Times, England's leading newspaper, said: "According to recent developments of scientific opinion, it is not impossible that a belief in the strengthening and supporting qualities of alcohol will eventually become as obsolete as a belief in witchcraft."
So far as the writer can learn from replies sent to her inquiries by teachers of medicine, and by study of textbooks on medicine, and articles in good medical journals, alcohol now has only a very limited use in medicine with the great majority of successful physicians. Some recommend wine in diabetes mellitus, saying that it acts less like a poison and more like a food in that disease than in any other. Some use alcoholic liquors in fevers as a food "to save the burning of tissue," but an article on "Therapeutics" in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for November 6, 1909, page 1564, says that sugar would probably have equal value in such case. The same article says that hot baths, with hot lemonade, and a quickly acting cathartic, will abort a cold without any need of recourse to alcohol.
The writer wishes here to make grateful acknowledgment of courtesies received from busy physicians who have aided materially in her work by answering personal letters of inquiry, also letters published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, by kindness of the editor. Especially would she thank those professors of medicine and superintendents of large hospitals, who so courteously aided her in preparing a paper for the International Congress on Alcoholism, held in London, July, 1909, to which she was a delegate, representing the United States government. A few of the replies received at that time are given in this book. There was not room for all.
She wishes also to acknowledge kindness and much help received from pharmacists and druggists in the fight against dangerous patent medicines and drug drinks sold at soda fountains. The Druggists' Circular, of New York, deserves special mention in this connection.
It has been necessary to make many changes in this edition because of the changing views on alcohol and the publicity on patent medicines. Physicians will find Chapter XVI entirely new, and of great interest.
M. M. A.