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The biggy of the late 1800's. Clearly shows the massive inroads in medical science and the treatment of disease.

ALCOHOL AND THE HUMAN BODY In fact alcohol was known to be a poison, and considered quite dangerous. Something modern medicine now agrees with. This was known circa 1907. A very impressive scientific book on the subject.

DISEASES OF THE SKIN is a massive book on skin diseases from 1914. Don't be feint hearted though, it's loaded with photos that I found disturbing.




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“It is only lately we have begun to regard alcohol in its true light, as a drug and not as a food.”—The late Sir Spencer, Wells, Bart., M.D., F.R.S.
“Alcohol is not a food in the proper acceptation of the word, it is a sedative.”—Sir Jas. Barr, M.D., Alcohol as a Therapeutic Agent.
So far as our present knowledge goes, substances we use as food act in several ways, viz.
(1)  In the providing of energy for muscular and mental work.
(2)  In the maintenance of the heat of the body.
(3)  In the building up of the tissues.
(4)  In the saving of waste of the tissues.
Moreover, a food must do no harm either to any organ or to the system as a whole, when taken in moderate but repeated quantities.
Definition of a Food
A food may be defined as :Any substance which, when absorbed into the blood, will nourish, repair waste, and furnish force and heat to the body without causing injury to any of its parts, or loss of functional activity.
Chemically, it has been sought to define a food­stuff as something that is oxidised in the body, i.e. burnt up and disintegrated so that it is split up into component parts. This, however, cannot be accepted as a proper definition of a food­ stuff, because in addition to a capacity for being oxidised, a genuine food­stuff must be something that is of use to the economy in one of the four ways above stated, and it does not follow, because a substance is oxidised in the living tissues, that the results of such oxidation are of use to the body : on the contrary, many poisons are so oxidised. For instance, morphia and phosphorus are oxidised as far as possible by the tissues, the body striving to get rid of such poisons by the method of oxidation, just as in daily life we get rid of noxious materials by burning them on a rubbish heap.
We desire, therefore, to make it clear that the fact of a 171
172           ALCOHOL AND THE HUMAN BODY chap.
substance being burnt up in the body does not in the least entitle it to be called a “ food.”
All materials taken into the mouth may be classified under two headings :—
(1)   Substances which are truly dietetic, i.e. which enter
into the composition of the normal chemistry of the human organism.
(2)   Substances which are non-dietetic, i.e. which do not
enter into this normal composition.
From the point of view of dietetic use these latter materials have no value ; on the contrary, their presence in the body tends to set up certain modifications in its chemistry, and thus to disturb the normal activity of the organs in a way that is undesirable. These substances have, of course, to be dealt with by the tissues in some way or other, being generally oxidised so that they may be got rid of, this oxidation causing needless wear and tear to the tissues.
If now alcohol be examined according to the principles underlying the properties of a true food, we shall be able to assess its claim to be regarded either as a dietetic or non-dietetic substance.
1.   Provision of Bodily Energy.Alcohol has never been shown to produce energy for muscular work ; in fact, the exact opposite is proven (see Chap. V. Part III. p. 96).
2.   Provision of Bodily Heat.—It is sometimes asserted that because a certain amount of alcohol is oxidised in the organism it must therefore contribute to the warmth of the body. No doubt by its oxidation alcohol does contribute a very small amount to the body-heat, but the value of this is far outbalanced by the fact that alcohol causes a marked dissipation and loss of heat both by the skin (see Chap. VII.) and indirectly through its action on the nervous system.
But even if the heat which results from the combustion of alcohol were not thus more than neutralised, it would still be both foolish and extravagant to use as a fuel or source of heat anything which so markedly interferes with the well-being of the protoplasm of the body as a whole. As the Lancet points out with scientific eloquence :—
“Sea-water mav be used in the boiler of a steam-engine, and the steam from its evaporation will transmit the energy of the fuel to the revolving
wheels, but its corrosive action on the steel forbids its use except in emergencies.1
3.   The Building up of the Tissues.—Ordinary food­stuffs, such as milk, bread, and meat, furnish the body with materials which, besides supplying storage capital, repair the daily wear and tear of the tissues, and may be regarded as genuine building materials.
Now alcohol does not possess this power of repairing tissue. Even ale,2 although it contains sugar, has really practically no value as a nutritive or building material. Liebig, the renowned chemist, pointed out that the value of alcohol as a tissue-building food was negligible.
When people put on weight as a consequence of taking alcoholic drinks, this increase is due to increase of fat and to delayed metabolism (see Chap. XIV.), rather than to any value inherent in alcohol as a tissue builder.
The popular belief that alcohol acts like a food is due to the fact that it allays the sensation of hunger. But it does this, not by acting as a food, but by its narcotic and soothing action on the brain, an action which is delusive and naturally to be avoided when the support of good food is really required by the body (see also Chap. V.).
4.  Prevention of Tissue Waste.The problem as to whether alcohol may be regarded as saving the waste of the tissues has been frequently investigated ; and, as the methods of science have improved, the experiments of Binz (1888), often quoted in favour of the value of alcohol in saving tissue waste, have been disproved. For instance, Romeyn, when he gave to starving individuals large doses of alcohol, observed on no occasion any diminution in the elimination of nitrogen (i.e. in the saving in tissue waste), but, on the contrary, in some cases there was a very decided increase. This means that the body waste was not saved but increased by alcohol.
In fact, it is strongly insisted on by those who have collated recent observations on this point that in tissues unaccustomed to the presence of alcohol its administration is almost invariably followed, for a short period at any rate, by increased nitrogenous waste.
1  Lancet, Oct. 22, 1904.
2  1 pint Bass’s pale ale contains 8284 grains of Water, 449 of Alcohol, 400 of Dextrine or gum (Sugar) ; Albumens—a few grains only. London porter, often asserted to be “nourishing,” really contains less solids even than ale.
174           ALCOHOL AND THE HUMAN BODY chap. ix
We still need more knowledge on this difficult point ; but the evidence as it stands shows that the taking of alcohol has no tendency to save tissue waste.
Chittenden endorses this position ; and Muira, in a careful set of experiments on himself, came to the conclusion that alcohol had not any function as “ albumin-saving,” but, on the contrary, leads to increased nitrogenous waste.
This is ascribed to its direct poisonous action upon the tissues, for so soon as the alcohol is stopped the nitrogenous waste rapidly diminishes.
In small doses, and with the patient at rest and not taking food, there is some evidence to show that in certain cases tissue change is delayed by alcohol, but this can hardly be applied to ordinary active life, when food is being taken regularly.
To sum up, it is plain that alcohol cannot from any of these four points of view be regarded asa “ food,”
The truth is that the physiological effects of real food­stuffs on the one hand, and alcohol on the other, are totally different. Fats, carbohydrates and nitrogenous food after mastication, at once begin to be digested and assimilated, and to fulfil the true functions of a “ food,” by maintaining the natural temperature, pulse-rate, and tissue repair of the body without any disturbance of its mental and physical functions and activities. Alcohol, on the other hand, pursues a very different course. It is absorbed by the stomach unaltered by the digestive processes ; circulating in the blood in its original form, it at once interferes with the ordinary activity of the brain and other organs, and by its anæsthetic action hampers our mental and physical activities. It further interferes with the metabolism (i.e. the living chemical processes) of the body, in such a marked manner that we have been obliged to set apart for this portion of the subject Chapter XIII., to which the reader is referred for the completion of this discussion.
Meanwhile it will be agreed that it is unscientific to describe as a “ food ” any drug like alcohol, which so entirely fails to fulfil the functions of a food­stuff, or to come up to the standard of what we expect and obtain from genuine food, i.e. something which, while being wholly innocuous in its effects on the body, is also able to afford ample means of work production and of tissue growth.

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