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Ant. 17th. Another blister. Liq. Ant. Tart. P. coloc. i. o. n.—March 5th, So ill in the night that he required to be visited by the apothecary, who ordered his bowels, which were confined, to be opened, and so relieved him. Another blister.—Qth. Another blister.—lgth. Another blister.—21st. Discharged; says lie is better in every respect; had been in five weeks.
The 7th, Sth, and 9th cases present nearly similar, though on the whole less favorable, results \ |ind the practice was distinguished by its usual conciseness.
The hint, that tw6 persons to whom this room Mas recommended, and refused its benefits, are since dead, and that some of those whose cases have been detailed, might, probably, not now have been alive! is rather too abstruse a calculation to establish »uch data upon. It would ,be more instructive to know that all these cases were cured, and alive, and healthy, on the 1st of June, than tq hear conjectures of what might and what might not be.
After the failure of the cow-house scheme, and others of a similar nature, we are sorry to see a regular-bred physician imitating the Grahams, and Solomons, and Brodums of the day, by inventing the paltry name of winter cough, to alarm the credulous, to confide in his peculiar practice of curing it.
A cough may proceed from various causes, none of which are peculiar to winter or summer; and it is a doctrine, not discovered by Dr. B. but as old as Hippocrates, that variations of temperature are hurtful, and to be avoided in all pulmonic diseases; though it was reserved for Dr. Buxton to attempt to cure them by so doing. But even this doctrine is controverted by great experience, and not delusive but real success. Sydenham's cure for consumption was riding' on horseback, and Dr. Rush mentions, in his essays, where fatigue, constant exposure to vicissitudes, &c. cured several hopeless cases. It would be well that such plans were again resorted to, instead of the enervating, consuming, and miserable one of sitting by a German stove with all the horrors of a jail.
We would also recommend Dr. B. to revise his medicinal plan of treating catarrhal and consumptive diseases, as some better acquaintance with remedies more appropriate than antimonial wine and tincture of squills ma)? be acquired, and with a success which will far outstrip all the pretended virtues of a cruel and comfortless confinement, which can only perpetuate the ravages of the disease.
That such may be the effects of our remarks is the sole intention of our venturing to make them, and with a wish,
ANECDOTES, FACTS, EXTRACTS, ILLUSTRATIONS, QUERIES, SUGGESTIONS, &c.
RELATING TO THE
History or the Art of Medicine, and the Auxiliary Sciences.
Analysis of the Cerebral Mailer of Man, and some other Animals. By M. Vauquelin.
Sect. I.—History of the chemical labors hitherto undertaken on the cerebral matter.
ALTHOUGH the brain, in consequence of the functions which it is supposed to perform, ought to have early excited the curiosity of chemists, yet one is surprised to find but very little in their works concerning its chemical nature. Even the small number of experiments which have been undertaken, have not been pushed far enough to enable us to deduce any positive consequences. Hence the opinions formed respecting the composition of the brain are erroneous, or at least incomplete. It was therefore necessary to resume the subject from the commencement, and to employ that care and^ precision which the difficulty of the subject rendered necessary. I have undertaken this difficult task. I submit the results which I have obtained to the chemists. It is their province to judge how far I have succeeded.
Gurman first announced the long period during which the brain remains sound, in the cranium of dead bodies.
Burrhus compared this organ to an oil, and particularly to spermaceti.
Thouret, whose loss Medicine laments, in an excellent memoir on the dead bodies found in the burying-ground of the Innocents, considered the substance of the brain as a sort of soap.
* The author of this paper will observe that we have omitted some passages which he might think witty, but which, in our opinion, were more sarcastic than is consistent with professional courtesy, especially when directed by an anonymous writer against the practice of a physician of established reputation.—Editors,
Fourcroy, whom the Sciences likewise deplore, advanced an opinion respecting the nature of the cerebral matter different from that of ThoureU* He considered it as principally composed of albamen and of another matter, which he thought a peculiar substance. Though the experiments of Fourcroy leave several things imperfect, yet it will be seen, by comparing them with mine, that his account of the brain is by far the completest hitherto given, and that it approaches pretty closely to the truth.
Sect. II.—Treatment qf the brain with alcohol, or spirit of wine.
A portion of human brain, deprived of its envelopes, and reduced to a homogeneous pulp in a marble mortar by means of a wooden pestle, was mixed with about five times its weight of alcohol of 36" degrees. This mixture, left to macerate during 24 hours, was heated to the boiling temperature, and passed through the filter.
The alcohol had acquired a greenish color. It deposited on cooling,'a white matter, partly in flocks, and partly in plates.
Twelve hours after the cooling, the alcohol was filtered again. It still retained its green color. Water destroyed its transparency, and rendered it milky.
This alcohol, being evaporated till only one-eighth part of it remained, deposited, on cooling, an oily matter, yellowish and fluid, which sunk to the bottom of the vessel. The liquid itself continued yellowish.
We shall hereafter examine this oily matter, together with the liquor which accompanied it.
'The alcohol obtained by distillation was poured upon the cerebral matter, already once digested with alcohol, as has been already said.
After having boiled the mixture for a quarter of an hour, the alcohol was filtered while hot. It passed through the filter with a color approaching to blue, and deposited, on cooling, a white matter, as in the first operation, but less abundant. The alcohol, after having deposited this matter, still became milky when mixed with water. This alcohol, when distilled, passed without color; and the residue of the distillation, which amounted to about the 28th part of the liquid subjected to distillation, had lost its green color, and acquired a yellow color.
This residue exhibited two sorts of liquors: one of which had the aspect of an oil, and occupied the bottom of the vessel; the other, less colored, resembled a solution of gum.
We defer the examination of these two liquids till we come to describe those which were obtained by the first operation, because we suspect them to be of the same nature.
The white matter deposited by alcohol in the first operation, and that which the same liquid allowed to deposite in the second operation, had a pasty consistence, a greasy and glutinous feel, a brilliant and satiny appearance.
* Annates de Chimie, vol. xvi.
The last portion was whiter and more solid; but being melted, it was changed, like the first, upon being brought near the flame of a candle.
These substances, when dried upon filtering paper, rendered it transparent, and stained it as an oil would have done.
The matter, which had been retained in solution by the alcohol, aud which had been separated by the distillation of this liquid, had a yellow color, aud was of the consistence of a paste, and adhesive. When dried, it dissolved again in boiling alcohol; but before entering into combination with the liquid, it melted at the bottom of the vessel, and assumed the appearance of an oil. The alcoholic solution deposites, on cooling, two matters, which probably differ from each other in the aspect only: the one, which precipitates first, attaches itself to the sides of the vessel under the form of a yellow, thick, tenaceous fat; the other remains suspended in the liquor, under the form of scales, white and brilliant, like boracic acid.
Sect. III.—Desiccation of the brain.
Nine ounces, one gros (about 292 grammes, or 4312 grains troy, er very nearly three quarters of a troy pound), of cerebral matter, when dried over the water-batb, were reduced to two ounces, or nearly to a fifth part of their original weight; but the desiccation was not complete. These two ounces of matter, burnt in a platinum crucible, decrepitated and melted, and produced a smoke, which had the odor of an empyreumatic oil. This oil, in burning, gave a yellowish white and very large flame, and deposited a great deal of lamp-black. Then the odor of the empyreumatic oil became imperceptible. As soon as the flame ceased, the crucible was withdrawn from the fire. The charcoal which it contained weighed 5tv grammes (1 gros, 25 grains; or 787 grains troy). It was reduced to powder, and exposed again to heat in a platinum crucible. Though exposed to a violent heat, it did not appear to burn; but softened, assuming a pasty form.
After having been exposed for an hour to a white heat, its weight was still 4-6"8 grammes (72 J grains troy); so that it had only lost 38 hundred parts of a gramme, which demonstrates a very difficult combustion in this charcoal.
Being washed with boiling water, and dried, it now weighed only 2-36 grammes (36";5 grains troy). Hence it had lost 2*32 grammes.
The solution strongly reddened the tincture of litmus; and the precipitate which lime-water formed in it was re-dissolved, till the excess of acid was saturated.
The same charcoal, exposed to heat a second time, burnt with a slight flame of phosphorus; but after a certain interval it softened as before, and assumed the form of a paste. It was washed a second time, and the water became acid, as before. These processes^ were repeated in the same manner till the whole of the charcoal was consumed.
The water employed in washing the charcoal being evaporated, yielded a white deposite, with a tint of blue, and a pasty consistence.
No. 173. 1 This This deposile, being separated from the liquor by the filter, melted very readily into a transparent glass. The same deposite reduced to powder," and mixed with diluted sulphuric acid, furnished sulphate of .lime, but in a quantity which did not correspond with that of the matter employed.
Ammonia being mixed with a small portion of the liquid from which the above-mentioned deposite had been separated, occasioned only a very slight precipitation. Caustic potash, on the contrary, occasioned a very plentiful one. This last precipitate was chiefly magnesia, while the deposite formed spontaneously in'the liquor was phosphate of lime.
As every thing seemed to show that the acidity of the liquor mentioned above was due to phosphoric acid, lime-water was mixed with it till no farther precipitation took place. This last precipitate being washed, was dissolved in muriatic acid, and the lime precipitated from it by means of oxalate of ammonia. The liquor of this last experiment was treated with caustic potash; but no precipitate took place while it remained cold. A boiling heat being employed, a flocky precipitate was obtained, which possessed the properties of magnesia.
The liquor precipitated by lime-water, as mentioned above, was evaporated in an open vessel, that the excess of lime might fall down. After filtration this liquid had a yellowish color, a caustic taste, and precipitated abundantly muriate of platinum yellow. This liquor, when concentrated, was left in the open air, that it might crystallize, and that it might be seen whether it contained soda; but all the experiments to which it was subjected demonstrated that it was only potash partly saturated with carbonic acid.
These experiments on the combustion of the brain prove that the salts contained in that organ are phosphates of lime, of magnesia, and of potash.
The matter of the brain, after having been repeatedly boiled in alcohol, being burnt in a platinum crucible, exhibited almost the same phenomena as the brain in its natural state; that is to say, it decrepitated and flamed, but emitted less smoke; and its charcoal being calcined, did not soften, and gave no signs of acidity. This proves that the constituents which produced this effect in the entire brain were removed by the alcohol. We shall see hereafter what these constituents are.
Sect. IV.—Examination of the fatty matter of the brain which is
deposited during the cooling of the alcohol in which brain has
We have already described the principal physical characters of this substance: we have said that it was white and solid, but soft, and of a pitchy consistence; that it liad a brilliant and satin-like aspect; and that it stained paper in the same manner as oils do. We shall now examine its chemical nature and composition.
1. Wnen exposed to heat it melts, but it does not become so fluid as tallow does, and assumes a brown color at a temperature at which common fat is not altered. * 3 2. It