Page images
PDF
EPUB

255 of the same work he gives a diagram and description of the whole apparatus that he employs in his experiments. It would be useless to attempt any description of these here without the aid of diagrams, and I have already lingered too long on this part of the subject. We may now reasonably hope that, with the aid of these improved methods and apparatus, Dr. Fox and other sagacious and accurate observers will ultimately succeed in rescuing this much vexed subject of ozone from its present unfortunate position as one of the opprobria chemia.

At present, regarding the subject from a medical point of view, it must be confessed that even after the labours of such men as Berzelius, Schonbein, De la Rive, Fremy, Williamson, Baumert, Andrews, Tait, Soret, Faraday, Houzeau, Scoutetten, and numerous others, extending over a period of nearly thirty years, we can say but very little which is either definite or positive.

The relation between ozone and cholera epidemics is as yet undetermined. In London, during the epidemic of 1854, Glaisher found the normal amount of ozone in districts where deaths from cholera were numerous, and no ozone whatever in districts where not a single death occurred from this disease. The observations of Seitz, at Munich, during the same year are in harmony with those of Glaisher. Similarly, Dr. Day, of Geelong, found an abundant ozonic reaction around the houses of cholera patients. In the United States, during 1851, Peter was unable to trace any connection between the absence or presence of ozone and the prevalence of cholera, and in this negative opinion he is supported by E. Boeckel, of Strasburg, Strambio of Milan, and one set of observations by Simonin of Nancy. Moreover, Fournet maintained that in Lyons, the " city without ozone," cholera is not more frequent or severe than elsewhere, and the negative view is further supported by Petenkofer and Schifferdecker. Dr. Moxon thinks that the prevalence of simple diarrhoea is increased by the preponderance of ozone. On the other hand, the observations of Smallwood in Canada; those of Cook in Bombay, extending from 1863 to 1865; those of Moffat at Newcastle in 1863, and throughout England and Wales in 1866, and those of Simonin at Nancy in 1855, all favour the supposition that the times of the appearance and prevalence of cholera coincide with those of the absence or deficiency of ozone. Billard, of Corbigny, thinks that the diminution of ozone is the first cause of a chloera epidemic. The views of these observers are further supported by experiments at Berne, Marseilles, and Berlin. I have endeavoured to sum up the evidence on both sides as fairly as I can, but who shall decide when such doctors disagree?

Next, as regards catarrhal affections. Schonbein has demonstrated that catarrh can be set up in animals by forcing them to breathe air largely impregnated with ozone, and Mr. Blackley has observed a condition closely resembling hay-fever to be thus produced. At the same time, the amount of ozone present in the atmosphere is, even when at its maximum, wholly insufficient to give rise to any such morbid states in a previously healthy subject, while it is, of course, amply abundant to cure any existing disease to which it is homoeopathic. Accordingly, we learn from the results of observations by Seitz at Munich that the number of cases of catarrh decreases in proportion as the amount of atmospheric ozone increases. The observations of Seitz are corroborated by those of Dr. W. W. Ireland, at Umballa, and Mr. Harris at Worthing. It is true that Heidenreich, E. Boeckel, and Spengler hold a diametrically opposite opinion, and affirm that the period of a catarrhal epidemic is coincident with that of an excess of atmospheric ozone; while Faber, Wunderlich, Schifferdecker, T. Boeckel and others deny that any connection whatever exists between these periods. But it must be remembered that many influences contribute to the production of ozone, and that these influences act in different proportions in different places. Among the most powerful and widely distributed of these agencies are cold and damp, and since the maximum of atmospheric ozone is on all sides admitted to be wholly insufficient to produce catarrh, it is only reasonable to assign the comtemporaneity of periods of high ozonic reaction and catarrhal epidemics to the influence of cold and damp in pro

ducing both, while, from the premisses, it is absolutely impossible that the latter should be caused by the former; we ought rather to say both have a common origin. We may, therefore, fairly suppose that at Munich, Umballa, and Worthing, other ozone-producing agents have a more influential share than cold and damp in the generation of ozone, when compared with the part they take in some other localities, and hence may justly claim the observations of Seitz, Ireland, and Harris, as illustrations of the homoeopathic law; at least the discrepant results of Heidenreich and others are manifestly no refutation of it, while a negative conclusion, such as that of Faber and others, is proverbially difficult of proof, and from its antagonism to that of both the other sets of observers is primd facie at any rate likely to be unsound. The observations of Seitz, Ireland, and Harris, regarding this seem to be illustrative not only of the truth of the homoeopathic law, but also of the fact that quantities of a therapeutic agent the effects of which are inappreciable in health may still prove curative in disease when administered according to the law of similars. In the catarrhal stage of phthisis a residence at the seaside (where ozone abounds) is often beneficial—probably another illustration of homoeopathy, and certainly tending to confirm the former.

The fact that air impregnated with less than 3,55g,B55 of its bulk of ozone purifies its own volume of air loaded with the effluvia of four ounces of highly putrid meat demonstrates the strongly disinfectant power of ozone in all cases where infection depends on decomposing organic matter; while the circumstance that air containing only t,5o5,goo °f ^s own bulk of ozone possesses a distinct ozonic smell may stagger those who deride so-called infinitesimal doses.

Contrariety between the actions of large and small doses is well exemplified by the fact, that while a country air with a fair proportion of ozone is favorable to vegetation, air strongly impregnated with ozone retards the growth of plants.

There is no conclusive evidence to show that ozone destroys marsh miasm, or has any relation whatever to malarial diseases. This question is still sub judice.

Ozone is said to have been in excess during some diphtheria and smallpox epidemics, and while certain skindiseases prevailed, while a deficiency has been noted during epidemics of continued and relapsing fever, scarlatina, typhus and measles. It is also said to have been deficient in places where the cattle plague raged with peculiar severity, and likewise just before the occurrence of the potato disease at Culloden. These two latter statements require confirmation.

Peroxide of hydrogen, or the "antozone " of Schonbein, as we are all aware, was some years since proposed as a remedy for diabetes when administered in ethereal solution; but the early hopes it raised have not been realised, and Dr. Tanner finds it impossible to administer the remedy during any great length of time on account of the violent sickness it occasions. It is difficult to see how it could act otherwise than as a mere palliative in this disease, or rather could do anything more than disguise or conceal its most characteristic symptom by artificially burning away the sugar before the same finds its way into the urine. No relation has yet been shown to exist between the symptoms of diabetes and those produced by peroxide of hydrogen (Schonbein's "antozone)."

I subjoin in conclusion a list of the questions to which Dr. Fox hopes that our improved methods of ozonometry may one day enable ourselves or our descendants to furnish satisfactory answers:

1. What are all the sources of atmospheric ozone?

2. How, and under what circumstances, is it formed?

3. What is its precise action on animals and plants?

4. Has an excess or deficiency of ozone any effect upon the public health?

5. If so, what is the nature of that influence?

6. What connection has the amount of ozone with the presence of epidemics?

7. Does ozone oxidize only one or all the organic atmospheric impurities?

At present I fear we can only reply to all these interrogations with the dying words of Goethe and the prayer of Ajax.

ON THE ACTION OF IRON.

By Robert T. Cooper, M.D., T.C.D *

It has always appeared to me that we confine our provings to an unnecessary extent to the healthy, and that in doing so we have practically impeded the progress of medicine, for although it is quite true that we cannot turn our patients into provers we can yet watch with great advantage the way in which drugs affect them, and, by observing care, can in this way learn a great deal of pure drug action. Aggravations will occur, however minute our doses may be, and a little patient inquiry is all that in many cases is required to determine whether these aggravations are pure or not. According to my experience the range of action of each drug can be divided into departments which have certain index lines or characteristic symptoms leading to them; and knowing the one the other can be the more readily committed to memory. Thus, taking chloro-anffimia as a department in the action of iron, the true specific indications for the Iron will be the symptoms of this affection; or, again, supposing, as we intend to show this evening, that Iron produces irritability of fibre marked by painlessness, we have only to discover the symptoms of this irritability to arrive at characteristic indications for Iron, and, by the one, to fix the other in

* This paper, originally intended to be read at an evening meeting of the British HomcBopathic Society, is published in its present form, as it was found impossible to compress the matter of it within a compass sufficiently narrow to admit of after discussion.

« PreviousContinue »