Page images
PDF
EPUB

curing phthisis, by exciting an increased action of the pulmonary vessels, and so augmenting the energies of the absorbents as to bring about solution and absorption of tuberculous deposits. Such an influence this remedy is well known to exercise in dispersing external enlarged scrofulous glands; and as Dr. Cumin truly observes, all that we know of the action of the absorbents in the lungs leads us to believe that they are capable of removing tubercle; and that such an operation, to a certain extent, does really take place, is proved by the changes which that substance undergoes in its progress to the cretaceous transformation. If tuberculous masses of long standing are thus changed, what reason is there to doubt that the soft curdy matter of which they are at first composed is often absorbed and carried back into the circulation, to be converted into some less noxious constituent, or altogether expelled from the system? I have also frequently known iodine to cicatrize excavations in the lungs, co-existing with tubercles, by which process of contraction the cavities become healed, and are prevented from making further progress or causing inconvenience. Many physicians of high standing in the profession, including Drs. Morton (Philadelphia), Thompson, Wilson, Gardner, Burton, Ryan, Baron, Smythe, Davidson, &c., have borne the most ample testimony as to the correctness of these important and consoling facts, and consider, with myself, that iodine, if not a specific in consumption, appears in many cases as very nearly approaching to it.

When iodine is administered by the stomach, it not only reaches the lungs in an uncertain and modified form, but very frequently produces great derangement in the system, causing pain in the eyes, profuse serous discharge from the nostrils, severe frontal headache, and oedematous swelling of the eyelids. This mischief is chiefly induced by the irritating effects of the iodine upon the digestive organs; and I think it should ever be borne in mind by the practitioner, that, in pulmonary and other exhausting diseases, the medicine (more

especially in chronic cases, when they are long continued), as well as the food, should be easily digestible; and when they are not, they should never be employed without the greatest caution and circumspection. All these objections are obviated by the inhalation of iodine, by which method the lungs are directly acted upon, while the stomach is not in the slightest degree affected, and is left open for the administration of such nourishing food, tonics, and other means, as are calculated to subdue that general constitutional derangement and debility which always more or less attend diseases of the respiratory organs.

But, however extensive the application of iodine may be, it must be remembered that it requires, as does every other active remedy, whether administered by deglutition or inhalation, to be materially modified by the peculiarities of individuals, and the circumstances which may take place during its employment. A heedless perseverance in any medicament, if not judiciously administered, will often create more mischief, and produce more suffering, than the disease which has been attempted to be relieved; hence the absurdity of supposing that any nostrum whatsoever can prove a cure for every species of a particular complaint, much less for the variety of forms of disease in general. The symptoms of pulmonary and other affections are too numerous and too dissimilar in their nature, to admit of the use of any universal remedy, for every particular case is so much modified by age, sex, habit of life, climate, food, and a variety of other causes, that its treatment cannot be made a matter of prescription; every case becomes in reality a study in itself, and the skill of the practitioner can only be fully displayed by adapting his treatment to the varying condition and constitution of his patient.

Some medical men, it is true, have reported unfavourably of the inhalation of iodine, but I have generally discovered that the cases in which it had been adopted were of such a character that the disease had already caused complete dis

[ocr errors]

organization of the lungs, or that the remedies had not been administered in the proper quantities, and with sufficient caution and perseverance. It is also very true, as a warm advocate of inhalation observes, "the physician should be regarded as standing in the same relation to this practice that the student does to the principles of medicine. He knows nothing about it from previous education or experience, and requires to be not only taught the principles, but permitted to observe the practice, before he can become in any degree able to judge of its importance, or to employ it with success.' The instances, however, in which any trials have been made. in this country, are "few and far between;" indeed, it may be asserted, although all the members of the profession must approve of the principles on which the system of inhalation. is founded, that scarcely one practitioner in a hundred has employed it as a remedial agent; and this strange apathy has been exhibited, it must be remembered, in the treatment of those diseases declared as incurable under the old routine of practice!

Next in importance to inhalations of Iodine, are those of CHLORINE.

In the year 1804, it was noticed that workmen employed in bleaching-manufactories, who were constantly breathing chlorine, enjoyed an almost perfect immunity from disease of the respiratory organs, and also from epidemic fevers, and lived to a great age. It was likewise observed by M. Gannal, an eminent French pharmacien, that, in many instances, persons who had suffered under formidable complaints of the larynx and air-passages, and had afterwards been occupied in these manufactories, were quickly and permanently restored to health.

In consequence of these interesting and important facts, M. Gannal was induced to construct an apparatus from which consumptive, asthmatic, and other patients suffering under complaints of the organs of respiration, might inhale the chlorine in a diluted state. This mode of treatment was

attended with the most marked success, and at length attracted the attention of Dr. Cottereau, the distinguished physician of Paris, who introduced the remedy to the notice of the profession in the year 1824, through the medium of the Journal Hebdomadaire,' and in the Archiv. Gén. de Médecine.'

6

In the above medical journals many cases of tubercular consumption of the most inveterate form were indisputably proved by this eminent and accomplished physician to have been perfectly cured by chlorine. After adducing several instances of rapid recovery, in cases where the stethoscopic and general observations were indicative of confirmed consumption, Dr. Cottereau remarks: "These examples incontrovertibly deserve to be placed in the first rank of those which have been collected for some years regarding the efficacy of the inhalation of gaseous chlorine in pulmonary consumption. Indeed the hereditary disposition, the conformation, the nature and succession of the symptoms, all concurred to prove the existence of the disease." In one instance of recovery from extensive pulmonary disease, where the patient died some years afterwards from a totally different complaint (imflammation of the bowels), Dr. Cottereau observes, that, upon making a post-mortem along with Drs. Parmentier and Caignon, the lung which had been diseased was examined, and found to be perfectly healed, and to be composed of a hard, compact, fibrous tissue, of a slate colour, marbled with white and grey, impermeable to air, and not traversed by any subdivision of bronchi. The rest of the lungs was quite free from disease.

This case afforded the most positive evidence of the cure of the pulmonary disease: a cure, the progress of which was traced from day to day, and of which all the perceptible phenomena were noted with the most scrupulous care, and which can no longer be doubted when we find indications of the lesions traced on dissection. "WE THUS SEE," Dr. Cottereau adds, "THAT CONSUMPTION HAS EXISTED, AND, AFTER

HAVING CONDUCTED THE PATIENT TO THE VERGE OF THE TOMB, HAS BEEN COMBATED WITH SUCCESS."

Many other medical men, at home and abroad, have also deposed to the efficacy of the inhalation of chlorine in diseases affecting the lungs, larynx, trachea, and bronchi, and I have no hesitation in adding my own full and confident testimony that chlorine, used in the method in which I employ it, is capable of removing tuberculous deposits in the incipient stages of consumption, and of curing the latter or more advanced stages, so long as it is evident that a large portion of the lungs is in a sound state, and that the condensation within the excavations and the tubercles has not become completely impervious.

Chlorine, as well as iodine, must be employed with due discretion and judgment: but when used under practised hands, it is perfectly free from the slightest risk, unpleasant sensation, or inconvenience, and its beneficial effects are generally very quickly experienced. I usually add to inhalations of both chlorine and iodine a sedative, which greatly assists their beneficial operation, by subduing the irritation of the mucous membrane of the air-passages, and lessening that general excitement of the system which usually accompanies pulmonary affections.

But, in order to prevent any misconception on the matter, I deem it expedient in this place explicitly to state that, conscious, to quote the language of Horace,

"Alteris sic

Altera poscit opem res, et conjurat amice,”

although I am no advocate for drenching the system with powerful and uncertain medicines, I do not entirely discard those in general use, many of which, with due caution and circumspection, may be occasionally employed as auxiliaries to inhalation,-regard being paid to the varied symptoms and constitution of the patient, with the greatest benefit. I say caution, for it is indubitable that many medicines which

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »