Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/184

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cited may be added an epidemic of this nature noted by M. Gelineau, with which a great part of the crew of the Embuscade were struck. The patients were all great smokers. It is worthy of notice that this disease is much more common among men than women.

Difficulty of breathing approaching asthma has also been recorded. Blatin gives a case of a young officer whose asthma could be attributed to no other cause, and who was cured by a simple abstinence and tonic medicines.[1]

Tobacco, acting upon the cardiac and pulmonary branches of the pneumogastric, is not likely to leave untouched its gastric terminations. In an animal under the influence of small doses of nicotine the gastric juice is secreted with increased rapidity, and the action of the walls of the stomach is more noticeable. With strong doses or long-continued usage this secretion is very considerably diminished, and the peristaltic motion enfeebled. That is to say, the tobacco acts upon the pneumogastric, excites it in small, and paralyzes it in large, doses. The smoker takes his after-dinner pipe or cigar to aid digestion. Undoubtedly, it excites the par vagum, increases the gastric secretion, and accelerates the peristaltic motion. Undoubtedly, also, this daily stimulation enfeebles the nerve, and digestion becomes more difficult. The swing back from the excitement causes a reaction, which only an increase in the doses can overcome. The nerve is partially paralyzed. The appetite fails, nutrition is impeded, dyspepsia reigns conqueror.

A military man of thirty-seven years fell into a consumption without any other affection antecedent or concomitant than distaste for food, and salivation. Dr. Roques, after various essays, learned that he was a great user of tobacco, which had led to a sort of chronic fluxion of the salivary glands, and an almost total cessation of the digestive functions, and consequently caused the feeble and consumptive state into which he had fallen. Gradual diminution and ultimate abandonment of tobacco led to a cure in about three months.[2]

The influence of tobacco upon vision is well known. One of the symptoms produced in acute nicotism is blindness, and chronic nicotism gives rise to similar affections. Thus Mackenzie found that patients afflicted with amaurosis were mostly lovers of tobacco in some form. Sichel found cases of complete amaurosis, which, incurable by other means, were easily conquered by cessation from the weed. Hutchinson found, out of thirty-seven patients, twenty-three were inveterate smokers. The observations of Wordsworth and others have so clearly established the fact that the continued excitement of the optic nerve by tobacco sometimes produces amaurosis, that it is now generally cited in text-books as one of the causes of that disease.

We have completed our brief examination of the physiological ac-

  1. Blatin, p. 159, from l'Abeille Méd., t. iii., 1846.
  2. Ibid., p. 265, from Mémoire de Med., et de Chir. Prat., t. v.