Page images

Art. VII. 1. A Treatise on Diet, with a Viero lo establish, on practical

Grounds, a System of Rules, for the Prevention and Cure of the Diseases incident to a disordered State of the Digestive Functions. By J. A. Paris, M. D. F. R. S. Fellow of the Royal College of

Physicians, &c. &c. 8vo. London. 1826. 2. A Treatise on Indigestion and its Consequences, called Nervous and

Bilious Complaints ; with Observations on the Organic Diseases in which they sometimes terminate. By A. P. W. Philin, M.D.

F.R.S. &c. &c. 8vo. London. 3. An Essay on Morbid Sensibility of the Stomach and Bowels as the

procimate Cause and characteristic Condition of Indigestion, Ner. vous Irritability, Mental Despondency, Hypochondriasis, &c. &c.; to which are prefixed, Observations on the Diseases and Regimen of Invalids on their Return from hot and unhealthy Climates. By James Johnson, M.D. of the Royal College of Physicians, &c.

8vo. London. 4. Lectures on Digestion and Diet. By Charles Turner Thackrah,

Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of London ; of the

Societé de Medicine pratique de Paris, &c. 8vo. London. 5. A View of the Structure, Functions, and Disorders of the Stomach

and Alimentary Organs of the Human Body, with Physiological Observations and Remarks upon the Qualities and Effects of Food and Fermented Liquors. By Thomas Hare, F.L.S. &c. Fellow of

the Royal College of Surgeons in London. 8vo. London, 1825. 6. A Familiar Treatise on Disorders of the Stomach and Bowels,

Bilious and Nervous Affections : with an Attempt to correct many prevailing Errors in Diet, Exercise, &c. Being an Exposition of the most approved Means for the Improvement and Preserva. tion of Health. By George Shipman, Member of the Royal Col.

lege of Surgeons in London. 8vo. London, 1825. 7. A Letter on the Medical Employment of White Mustard Seed. By

a Member of the London College of Surgeons.' 8vo. London. 1826.

(Continued from page 113.) NATURE has ordained that all functions, the constant

performance of which is necessary to the maintenance of life, shall be directed by instinctive feelings that are out of the pale of volition. Accordingly, we find that the individual is impelled to the reception of sustenance by those sensations which are termed hunger and thirst; and the rationale of these impulses, or the immediate cause of the sensations, has from the earliest times been a subject of speculative inquiry. But the theory of them is still somewhat obscure. The mechanicat physiologists were disposed to refer the perception of hunger


es been

a somewhere the perce

to a sort of attrition of the stomach's sides, or to the action of the bile and other liquids on its internal surface. These crude notions have of course been very materially modified by more correct views with respect to those secretory processes and sentient impulses which are found peculiarly to belong to organized bodies; and which, to say the least, subordinate and modify, to an almost incalculable extent, the forms and changes of mere inanimate matter. But it is still conceived by some physiologists, that the sensation of hunger has especial reference to the influence exerted by the gastric secretion upon the internal surface of the stomach, and that this influence operates in some measure upon the principle of corrosion.

When? (says Dr. Wilson Philip,)' the gastric fluid has not a constant supply of fresh food to neutralize it, it is capable, as appears from what has been said, of corroding the stomach itself, after the vital principle of this organ is extinct; from which it appears probable, that the upcombined gastric fluid may produce some effect on the coats of the stomach during life ; and various facts would lead us to suppose that the sensation of hunger arises from the action of this fluid. A supposition which seems to be confirmed by the following experiment.

A person in good health was prevailed upon to abstain from eat. ing for more than twenty hours, and further to increase the appetite by more exercise than usual. At the end of this time he was hungry, but, instead of eating, excited vomiting by drinking warm water and irritating the fauces. The water returned mixed only with a ropy fluid, such as the gastric fluid is described to be by Spallanzani, or as I have myself obtained from the stomach of a crow. After this operation, not only all desire to eat was removed, but a degree of disgust was excited by seeing others eat. He, however, was prevailed upon to take a little milk and bread, which in a very short time ran into the acetous fermentation, indicated by flatulence and acid eructations.

Dr. Philip, however, by inferring from the result of this experiment, that the rationale of hunger is traceable solely to the irritation of gastric secretion, this secretion having nothing to act upon but the coats of the stomach, seems forgetful of the principle, that sensation and nervous impulse regulate animal functions to an extent which renders it exceedingly diffi. cult to lay down abstract positions as to what conditions of animal organization are requisite for the production of particular effects. Here, as in other cases, we must have recourse to the assumption of an unknown change in the nervous system.

It is a remarkable fact, that the keenest sense of hunger shall · be destroyed, or, at the least, totally suspended, by hearing of

news which causes mental emotion either of a pleasurable or

a painful kind; and eveu the accidental occurrence of circumstances which occasion constitutional derangement of other kinds, is capable of removing for a time the appetite for food. •Van Halmont, with a good appetite, going to dine

with a friend, received an injury which dislocated his ' ancle. His appetite immediately forsook him ; but, as soon as • the bone was replaced, his hunger returned. It is well remarked by the physiologist from whom we borrow this anecdote (Thackrah), that the suspension of appetite was not, in • this case, altogether and exclusively the effect of bodily • impression; for the pain continued some time after the ope* ration, consequently when the appetite was fully re-esta•blished. Deep thought,' he adds, suspends the operation • of hunger. The story of Sir Isaac Newton's dinner is well • known." And Cervantes, we may add, evinces his observation on the connection of physical with mental conditions, when he presents us so lively a picture of the inconvenience so often sustained by poor Panza, from his master's abstractions of mind occasioning a forgetfulness of the stomach's demands.

Another proof thạt hunger is not altogether referrible to, or at least that it is not absolutely explained by, the action of the gastric juice upon the coats of the einpty organ, may be taken from the fact, that certain mechanical changes in its condition will much modify the feeling of appetite. External compression, as by a tight girdle, will mitigate the pains of hunger; and this fact would seem to assist us in making a step or two on the ground of explanation beyond that of assuming a mere nervous change. Pain,' says a modern Author, is often

nothing more than the manifestation of the difficulty and labour ' with which an organ performs its accustomed and salutary 'exercise;' and the uneasy sensations connected with appetite, it is very fair upon this principle to suppose, are greatly dependent upon the tine tibres which compose the muscular portion of the stomach, falling into those aberrations that are allied to spasm, from want of the due excitement of food preventive of this state. And here 'we may remark, by the way, on the curious fact,' that what we deem a correct theory, often carries us but very little further towards the rationale than . one of a looser or less precise kind. The condition which we are now supposing, as in part at least explanatory of the cravings of hunger, may be considered as slightly analogous to the exploded notion of the rubbing together of the stomach's coats; but after all, it must be admitted, that the desire for food has not hitherto received an explanation which can be considered as in every respect satisfactory. "The sensation also of thirst must, we fear, in our present

state of physiological knowledge, be admitted to be of somewhat obscure origin. This sensation,' says Dr. Paris, appears to

reside in the throat and fauces, as that of hunger does in the 'stomach; and yet the intensity of this feeling does not bear • any relation to the dryness of these parts; for in some cases, • where the tongue, to its very root, is covered with a thick ** and dry crust, there is little thirst; while, on the other hand, ** it is frequently intolerable at the very time the mouth is

surcharged with a preternatural quantity of saliva. Like ! hunger, I apprehend, it must be referred to a particular con? dition of the nerves. The desire for drinking after long ** speaking, is analogous to thirst, but must not be confounded '* with it. The influence of salted meat in exciting this sensa• tion, is not well understood.'

Thirst,' says Majendie, is an internal sensation, an instinctive feeling; it belongs essentially to the organization, ' and admits of no explanation. That the feeling of dryness

or thirst is not in all cases attributable to a deficiency of * moisture about the parts which seem to be its more immediate residence, may be inferred from the fact, that the sensation is often much relieved by measures which do not at all imply any addition of moisture to the mouth and throat. In long voyages, when fresh water fails, sailors are sometimes in the practice of taking off their shirts, dipping them in the sea, and then again putting them on wet, by which practice they much mitigate the pain of thirst; and in this case it is supposed, (some will tell you, indeed, it is absolutely proved,) that no fluid enters into any part of the system by the absorbents of the surface, but that the alleviation of urgent thirst which the process procures, is referrible to a sympathy between the skin and the parts which are especially the seat of the sensation. There are also some species of thirst which would, in the terminology of certain medical speculatists, be called asthenic, which are susceptible of more speedy and effectual relief by particular kinds of stimulants, than by even the repetition of large libations.

Hunger and thirst have been declared by Abernethy to be naturally incompatible sensations; such is also the statement of Dr. Paris. •These sensations,' says the latter Writer, .ap• pear to be incompatible with each other. When the stomach • requires food, there is no inclination to drink : and when • thirst rages, the very idea of solid aliment disgusts us. So, • again, those circumstances which tend to destroy appetite, · may excite thirst, such as passions of the mind, &c. And on these incompatibilities, which, by the way, have been assumed too hastily, inferences have been likewise too largely

adduced against the propriety of eating and drinking at the same time, or rather in immediate succession. But of this * more hereafter.

We now proceed in our disquisition to the practical points which it involves ; and the following, among other questions, present themselves as replete with interest : What is the natural food of man? What is his best mode of living, in a state of refinement or deviation from the mere dictates of nature ? Are

there any facts which prove the necessity of varying the kind . and quantity of food according to the particular part of the globe which the individual inhabits ? What is the amount and quality of aliment fitted for an English stomach in the English climate? Is it right or salutary that drink should be taken with the solid aliment of which the meal is mainly composed ? What - kind of drink is the most salutary, or the least noxious? Hav. ing replied to these and other propositions, with as much amplitude as the nature and limits of the present paper will allow, we shall then have to discuss the subject of impaired digestion,- to investigate the particulars by which it is constituted, -and to point out the most efficient modes of prevention and remedy,

It would seem to be in the nature of man, to doubt and dispute on all subjects which are not susceptible of absolute demonstration; and hence, we find it still an .unsettled point, whether our species has been destined by nature to an herbivorous or an animal sustenance. Both medical and moral objections have been urged by some writers of no mean understanding, against the practice that has so universally obtained, of making the existence of inferior animals subservient to the supply of our own appetites and wants : and one of the Authors now before us, has taken the pains of replying seriatim to the positions of a certain personage, whose feelings (risum teneatis?) are of so squeamish a cast as to cause him to feel repugnance at the idea of following the crowd of cruel carnivori, and sustaining his own at the expense of animal existence. Because,' he says, • being mortal himself, and holding his life on the same uncer• tain and precarious tenor as all other sensitive beings, he • does not feel himself justified by any supposed superiority or • inequality of condition, in destroying the vital enjoyments of * any other mortal except in defence of his own life.''

But before our Pythagorean Knight had put forth this and other arguments against the sinful, and immoral, and inhuman practice of satiating the calls of nature by a supply of food from the world of animation, he ought to have recollected, or to have known, that he cannot eat an apple, or quaff a draught from the most limpid stream, but at the expense of those sensitive ex.

« PreviousContinue »