By Charles Curtis, M.D.
It was some years ago, during an epidemic of diphtheria, and before the days of the much-used antitoxine, that all the physicians in the city were putting forth their best efforts to cure the many patients falling to their care. Nearly all of the children in the city, and many of the adults, were sick with this disease. In conversation with the doctors I learned that only a small number were using the same medicines. The death list was large, and we did not seem to be doing much toward curing our patients.
Twenty-five years ago, as we look back at it now, but little seemed to be known about treating diphtheria. I supplied myself with all that was written on the subject which was of any value, and studied it thoroughly. I consulted my materia medica often and supplied myself with all the remedies of known value, but still the results were not entirely satisfactory. I then added alcohol to my list of remedies, and in this I soon found that I had a sheet-anchor. It was an heroic measure, but something more had to be done. A lady of about twenty years of age was extremely sick. I was giving her an ounce of whiskey every hour along with Cyanide fourth in alternation, with Baptisia tincture every hour, but this did not stay the on-march of the disease. She was now given an ounce of alcohol mixed with an ounce of water every hour for twelve hours. A change for the better was then noticeable, and we went back to the whiskey. The improvement continued and my patient made a good recovery. From that time forward I have never omitted to use whiskey and alcohol in the treatment of diphtheria, no matter what the age of the patient. I have found that mercurius cyanide the fourth to the sixth in alternation with Baptisia tincture, twenty drops in half a glass of water, were the remedies most called for and from which I get the best results. Although antitoxine is lauded to the skies by many, and I think in some cases has done good, yet the after-effects in many cases have been very unpleasant. I believe that alcohol is a valuable antitoxine in diphtheria, and that no bad results follow its use and, therefore, I adhere to it and have never yet used the so-called antitoxine of the present day.
In the strides which are being made to cure disease, it is well to investigate, and then when we find a remedy which sometimes kills, although it may be very easily applied, we should handle it, if at all, with great caution, I would rather use something which will not kill or cripple for life.