CHARACTER OF EXCITANTS
Certain very marked characteristics distinguish the substances belonging to the group of excitants from all the other drugs described in the preceding pages. Their action, which extends to the brain and particularly to the cerebral cortex, is a purely exciting or stimulating one, which, even if highly concentrated and intense, produces these effects without calling forth serious symptoms of fatigue or inhibition of the functions. In consequence the mental functions are maintained at their initial level for a longer period, in spite of the natural tendency to fatigue which is the result of all labour continued for some time. The sense-activity of the brain is also augmented by the use of several of these substances and this results in a more vivid perception of mental impressions. The will finds the central nervous system more obedient to its orders even with respect to muscular activity, which, however, is not subjectively felt as a constraint produced by the drug. In this respect, the action of the excitants differs from that of other substances. The consciousness of the subject is in no way diminished, his physical and intellectual work is executed with absolute freedom, at any rate provided that he does not employ the drug in unreasonable doses. Such quantities damage the functions of the brain and the others that depend thereon, by their excessive activity and give rise to disturbances due to morbid excitation.
Nearly all the substances belonging to this series exercise also a stimulating action on the heart. This property is of great value in medicine as a means of increasing the output of this organ in certain cases of cardiac diseases.
The use of several of these excitants has become a habit among both civilized and uncivilized races. From pole to pole, mankind is addicted to their use without distinction of religion or social status. From the moment when tobacco excited the astonishment of the first explorers of America, a few centuries were enough for it to enslave the whole world.
The amount of excitants used throughout the world is much greater than the sum of all the other substances applied to similar purposes. At the present day they play a very important part in economic life. They have lost their former character as unimportant phenomena and have become substances of great importance for many hundreds of millions of people, even indispensable necessities of life. They close the vast circle of substances which act on the brain, and perhaps more than other drugs they propound problems for science with respect to the mechanism of their effects on the cerebral activity, the point of access of their influence and the fundamental difference which, though they are cerebral excitants like the rest, characterises their action. To the physiology of the brain and to psychology, they present problems towards the solution of which hardly a step has yet been taken. We can perceive the biological effects of their action, but in vain do we inquire how the effects are produced.
When St. Hidegarde, the abbess of Ruprechtsberg, near Bingen, spoke of camphor in the twelfth century or when Petrus Magrus mentioned it about the year 1000 in his "Ricettario" and on the basis of his own observations, the origin and therapeutic properties of this substance had already been known in the Far East since the sixth century.
It is not known whether camphor was used at that time, or later, with the sole object of experiencing agreeable sensations. The fact that it was sent as an extremely costly tribute from the people to kings and princes, and by them to their fellows, does not seem to prove that this was the case. Between 1342 and 1352 the Emperor of China presented Pope Benedict XII with camphor, cotton, and precious stones.
The use of camphor as an agreeable cerebral excitant began on a small scale in our times, probably because the results of self-administration of the drug which led to its repeated use became public, or perhaps because the use made of the substance in South America, as a preventive of fever and in cholera epidemics, had not been forgotten.
For about twenty years there have been in the upper classes of English society, male and female camphor-eaters who take the substance either in milk, alcohol, or in the form of pills, etc. The like habit of taking the drug may be observed in the United States and in Slovakia. Women assert that it freshens the complexion, but the real reason for its employment seems to be the desire to experience a certain degree of excitation and inebriety. But I consider a special disposition for the drug indispensable.
After ingestion of 1.2 gr. the following symptoms may be ascertained: an agreeable warmth of the skin with general excitation of the nerves, an impulse to move, a tickling of the skin, and a peculiar ecstatic mental excitation similar to inebriety. One addict declared that "he saw his destiny full of magnificent possibilities clearly and distinctly before his very eyes." This state continued for one and a half hours. After ingestion of 2.4 gr. an urgent desire to move appeared. All movements were greatly facilitated, and when walking the limbs were lifted far more than necessary. Intellectual work was rendered impossible. A flood of thoughts appeared, ideas chased each other with great rapidity without any one being analysed. The subject lost consciousness of his personality. After vomiting consciousness returned, although distraction, forgetfulness, and vacancy of mind remained. On awaking, the state of intoxication seemed to have been extraordinarily long and full of events of which the subject did not remember one. After three hours he was able to pull himself together and return to full consciousness, but the disorder of the brain was so powerful that unconsciousness and convulsive movements set in again after one hour. This lasted another half-hour, after which the patient gradually regained his full perceptive faculties and a normal condition of the muscles.
Loss of the sense of location and short gaps in the memory usually succeed the gastric irritations and convulsions due to the action of camphor habitually taken. The lost memories finally reappear, but in a very peculiar manner, so that, according to the statement of an addict, all affairs, events, and things he had forgotten seemed new, as if he had had no previous knowledge of them. And, even after having recognized all the members of his family, the objects in his room seemed very strange and new, as if they had just been given to him.
In Slovakia, states of convulsion similar to epilepsy are so frequent in consumers of camphor that in this region all local cases of similar fits are directly attributed to the drug. It may therefore be classified among the series of those essential oils which exercise a powerfully exciting action on the central nervous system. Though it is true that it has the property of temporarily disturbing the intellectual faculties, I think it improbable that in the sum of the effects of camphor a state of well-being or euphory occurs.
The craving of the betel-nut chewer' for his drug is hardly less strong than that of other drug-addicts for their respective intoxicants. With regard to the daily frequency and persistence with which betel is chewed, it even surpasses all other substances of the same kind. No product of the Far East is craved for with the same ardour as betel. The Siamese and Manilese would rather give up rice, the main support of their lives, than betel, which exercises a more imperative power on its habitués than does tobacco on smokers. To cease to chew betel is for a betel-chewer the same thing as dying. The greatest privations and sufferings of human life, insufficient or bad nourishment, hard work, rough weather, and illness lose their disagreeable character before the comforting action of betel. However, it is not only in the force of the desire which it inspires and the frequency with which it is used that betel surpasses the extent of the practice of chewing betel in the inhabited world, and the huge amounts consumed, give it a supreme position among all similar substances. Its use extends over 100° of longitude and about 20° of latitude. It can be found in nearly all countries between 68° and 178° east longitude, and between 12° south and 30° north latitude, over a territory of about eight million square kilometres comprising the huge area of the China Sea and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. From the Queen Charlotte Archipelago the use of betel extends west and north-west over a large part of the Pacific groups of islands, the Dutch East Indies, and from the Philippines it stretches to the banks of the Yang-Tse-Kiang, and from the east coast of Indochina, including all the islands of the Indian Ocean, to the Indus. At the present day the Indus is the western boundary of the use of betel, although there is no doubt that in ancient times it extended to the Euphrates and part of Arabia. In a south-eastern direction the Arafura Sea and the Torres Strait seem to form an impenetrable barrier.
Betel is consumed in the following countries and islands: The most southern point where it is a popular custom is the island of Reunion. It is also a local habit in Madagascar. In Zanzibar all sections of the population chew it, even women. Opposite Zanzibar, on the East African coast, for instance on the Tanga coast, the Swahili and Arabs prefer betel to tobacco; so also do the inhabitants of the island of Mafia, the most southerly of the islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago, and the people of Hadramaut. In Persia and Baluchistan its use is not extensive. Beyond the Indus it is consumed in large quantities. The real betel countries are the Konkan Coast, Kanara, the Malabar territory as far as Cape Comorin, Travancore, the Laccadive and the Maldive Islands, Ceylon, the Coromandel Coast, Assam, Bengal, Hindustan, the Punjab, the Himalaya states, the Andamans and Nicobars, Malacca, Burma, the Shan States, Siam, Cambodia, Cochin China, Annam, Tonkin, the south and southeast coast of China, especially Yun-nan, Kwang-si, Kwang-Tung and Che-Kiang, also Kainan, the Sonda Islands, for instance Timor, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Nias, Banka, Biliton, the Moluccas, the Banda Islands, Amboina, Buru, Ceram, Ternate, etc., the Philippines with the exception of the west coast of Palawan, Formosa, the Caroline Islands with the exception of Ponage, the Marianne Islands, New Guinea and the Louisiade Archipelago, the Hermit and Admiralty Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, New Ireland (New Mecklenburg), New Britain (New Pomerania), Heath Island, the Solomon Islands, Bougainville, etc., Duke of York Island (New Lauenburg), the Shortlands and Santa Cruz Islands, the island of Tukopia and the Fiji Islands. The New Hebrides and New Caledonia do not seem to use the drug. Betel is only chewed on the Banks Islands and to a small extent on the Marquesas Islands.
The number of betel-chewers I estimate at about 200 million. But it is not consumed to the same extent in all parts. Its use, for instance, is more intensive on the coast of Eastern India than in the interior. In the central districts of Sumatra it is less frequent, partly on account of the lack of lime. In the north of China, betel is considered a great luxury because the plant cannot be found growing wild.
The passion for the drug is common to all, both men and women, to every age and class: princes, priests, workmen, and slaves consume it. All religions participate, Christians, especially coloured missionaries, Mohammedans, Buddhists, Brahmans, Fetishists, and other sects. All races are addicted to the drug, Caucasians, Mongols, Malays, Papuans, Alfurus, etc. Some tribes are more immoderate in its use than others. It is stated, for instance, that the Malays and Burmese are more addicted to it than the Bengalese. Among the Dorese generally only the chiefs consume betel. It is said that they acquired this habit from the Tidorese. In all cases the abuse starts in infancy and ceases with death. In Burma there is a proverb illustrating the premature use of the drug, which says that no one can speak Burmese properly until he can chew betel. It is chewed at all times, at work and rest, sitting or standing, at home and on a visit. The craving of these people for the drug may be judged from the fact that love alone is capable of making a person cease chewing for a short time. Tagalese girls regard it a sign of the sincerity and violence of their lover's passion if he removes the betel from his mouth. It is said that the betel nut is even retained during sleep. The first thing the inhabitant of New Britain seizes on awaking is areca nut and betel pepper, and he continues to chew it until far into the night. The savage of south-east New Guinea values this delight as much as sleep and dancing.
Many Europeans have become addicted to the drug.
History and Mode of Chewing Betel
So widespread a custom can be explained only by the fact that it must have had a long history. Only a continual progress of the use of betel for hundreds of years can have resulted in so vast a distribution and the penetration of the habit into all social classes as is described on the preceding pages. Indeed its use has been traced back for more than two thousand years. About 340 B.C. Theophrastus described the areca palm, whose nuts are a component of the betel morsel. This palm is also mentioned in Sanscrit under the name of guvaka, and is referred to in Chinese texts about 150 B.C. as pinlang, a Malayan name which it still bears at the present day. The betel leaf, the second essential component of the betel morsel, is already described in the most ancient historic documents of Ceylon, in the Mahavamsa, which is written in the Pali language. It is there stated that in the year 504 B.C. a princess made a present of betel to her lover. During the combat between Duthagamini and the Malabars in the year 161 B.C., his enemies remarked on his lips that blood-red colour which is caused by the chewing of betel and spread the rumor that he had been wounded.
Reports dating from the first centuries of our era also enable us to conclude that betel was extensively used in India. The Arabs and Persians who reached Hindustan in the eighth and ninth centuries found this habit deeply rooted and made it known in their own countries. The use of betel in Persia, however, is much older. The Persian historian Ferishta writes that there were 30,000 shops for the sale of betel alone, in the capital town Kanyakubia during the reign of Khosru Parviz ( i.e. Chosroes II, A.D. 600). Masudi, who travelled through India in 916, describes the chewing of betel as a national custom which even those who voluntarily ascend the funeral pyre practised as a final comfort. Those who do not use betel, moreover, were socially isolated. He states that the areca nut was highly valued by the inhabitants of Mecca, Yemen, and the Hejaz, who substituted it for mastix. The famous travellers of the Middle Ages, Marco Polo for instance, who in the thirteenth century explored Central Asia, China, India, and Persia, or Ibn Batuta who travelled over the whole Mohammedan world in the fourteenth century, describe the growth of betel, how it climbs like a vine on supports of the palm-trunks. They describe how betel is used, together with the areca nut and lime, and the effects which follow. Later centuries have abundantly enriched and improved this first knowledge of the drug.
The typical betel morsel is composed of a piece of areca nut, the fruit of the palm tree areca catechu, in any state of maturity, a betel leaf, the leaf of piper (chavica) betle, and a certain amount of burnt lime. In some parts tobacco, gambir, or catechu are added, of which the last two contain tannin. In various countries differences may be ascertained in the manner in which the ingredients are introduced, their order, etc. The morsel is then eagerly pushed from one side of the mouth to the other, masticated, chewed, and pressed against or between the teeth in order to remove the juice, so that the substance frequently protrudes from between the lips.
The first apparent effect of this process of mastication is an abundant salivation. Some chewers spit out this first saliva and others swallow it, together with the subsequent excessive secretion of saliva and betel juice. In this way they chew and chew their hardest, and in the case of a hard nut, with a large expenditure of energy, until only a few ligneous fibers similar to tow remain, which are ejected, the red masses of juice being swallowed. Nevertheless, remnants of the nut can frequently be observed between the teeth.
The morsels are not always prepared extempore. On the Indian continent and in the Indian islands ready prepared morsels are kept at home or in the so-called betel bag. Small shops also display morsels of this kind for sale. In Manila the female members of the family prepare these quids (buyo) . In every living-room there is a small box containing the implements and ingredients necessary for this purpose. These buyo are chewed for approximately half an hour. In Siam, women and children are engaged with the removal of the thin outer bark of the fresh areca nut. Wives do this for their husbands, sisters for their brothers, and girls for their lovers. If the nut is very dry and fresh ones are not available, the Siamese prepare the betel quids as follows: They crush the nut in a vessel similar to a mortar, which is open on both sides. The lower opening tapers off, is narrower than the top, and is closed with a wooden stopper. The powder of the nut is triturated with the lime and the leaf, and pressed out of the narrow bottom of the vessel, from which the stopper is removed, in the form of a quid. The areca nut, betel leaf, and lime are also crushed, on the coast of New Guinea.
The betel leaf is consumed only in a fresh state, for old ones are without any action whatever. Light yellow leaves are preferred. Frequent moistening of the leaves keeps them fresh for a longer period. The betel leaves presented to visitors at the courts of Indian princes are gilded.
The quantity of the ingredients consumed daily naturally differs with the individual. The areca nut constitutes about three-quarters of the weight of the whole morsel, the rest being made up by the betel leaf and the lime. In Java one of the larger betel leaves or one and a half of the smaller leaves is used for one quid. Approximately 0.5 gr. of lime are added. In Siam the highest quantity consumed in one day is said to amount to fifty portions (k'ams) for an adult, equal to 12V2 nuts, and the lowest daily consumption amounts to approximately one-fourth of this quantity. Linschoten states that men and women consume 36 and more betel leaves a day. According to another report the daily average consumption in China is 24 leaves.
Of the lime, which generally is carefully kept in closed vessels, a piece the size of a pea or about 0.6 gr. is used. Sometimes more is added, up to a quarter of the weight of the morsel.
Effect of Betel-Chewing
Persons not accustomed to the chewing of betel experience a disagreeable, acrid, and burning taste, and a feeling of constriction in the throat after a very short period of mastication. Slight sores on the tongue and the throat also occur. As more betel is chewed, this at first almost intolerable sensation diminishes. Finally hardly anything of the kind is felt, and the sensations experienced are even agreeable. Bishop Heber himself declared that he quite understood why the habitués of betel liked its consumption. The perception of taste is not infrequently reduced for a short time, probably on account of the essential oil contained in the leaves, or perhaps the action of the lime. But even if it is possible for Europeans to become accustomed to the taste of betel, there is one circumstance which frequently prevents them from becoming addicted to the drug, and that is the excessive amount of saliva formed, which, especially at the beginning, obliges them to spit very frequently. This is all the more repugnant to Europeans because the saliva is yellowish-brown, brownish-red, or blood-red, according to the amount of lime used. This excessive salivation according to my own experiments has its origin in an irritation of the mouth by the ingredients of the areca nut. The colouration of the saliva is also due to the colouring matter of the nut which assumes the hues described under the influence of the alkaline lime. The usual threefold mixture, areca nut, betel leaf, and lime, furnishes a red-brown saliva, the fourfold, areca nut, betel leaf, gambir and catechu, and lime a saliva of more blood-red colour. The differences, however, are not great.
After the first effects of the excitation of the salivary glands and the irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth have passed off, a pleasant odour remains in the mouth. This has always been considered one of the charms of betel-chewing. The betel leaf alone does not give rise to this smell. The odour which it produces is aromatic, but not in the least agreeable. It is the areca nut alone to which this effect is due. My experiments proved that an odoriferous substance is formed by the action of the lime on the nut, which in minute quantities has an extremely agreeable flavour. The latter is very lasting if, for instance, a few drops of the concentrated solution in ether are brought in contact with the hands or clothes. In the mouth the same effect can be observed, but to a far less degree. I can well imagine that betel is chewed on account of this odour and agreeable taste. This opinion should not be objected to on the ground that many old and inveterate betel-chewers in Siam exhale an extremely unpleasant breath which, on account of its peculiarity, is called "betel smell." It is stated to be so intense that the windward side is preferred when speaking with such people. This pungent smell is caused by the decomposition of small pieces of the morsel stuck between the teeth if the latter are not cleaned. Nevertheless, such persons still experience the agreeable smell and taste developed by the betel quid, and continue to chew betel in spite of the putrefaction in their mouths, or perhaps even, at a later stage, on account of it. Moreover, Jagor never noticed a bad smell from the breath of betel-chewers, and stated that it would be desirable for this custom to exist in Europe also, where foul breath is a frequent evil, especially in older persons. In inveterate betel-chewers who do not keep themselves very clean, a crust, mainly consisting of calcium carbonate, is formed in the course of time on the teeth and gums. In the Admiralty Islands the formation of this "tooth-stone" is regarded as an attribute of the dignity of chief, for only the very rich are in a position to indulge so freely in chewing as to produce such quantities of "tooth-stone." When the mouth is closed these dental excrescense protrude from between the lips like the point of a black tongue. According to Vogel the vanity of these tribes enables them to tolerate this ornament, though the teeth become loose and of hardly any use for the mastication of solid food.
The chewing of betel, however, which is practised with such intensity by so many people, must have other results besides perfuming the breath. This is indeed the case, for it produces effects on the brain. The nature and intensity of this action seem to depend upon the species and degree of maturity of the nut and also on the greater or lesser habituation to betel. As a rule betel can be considered from this point of view as a mild excitant with narcotic and stimulating properties. The betel-chewer experiences a feeling of well-being. He is in a good humour and gay, he is very little if at all bored, and is, according to the statements of Burmese monks, inspired to self-reflection and to work if he has the disposition thereto. But all this is not more pronounced than the effects of tobacco taken in any of its various forms. The famous explorer Kaempfer stated that according to his personal experiences with betel it has a soothing effect and gives rise to an excellent humour on account of its slightly inebriating action on the brain. The assumption that a more powerful narcotic action is present is not correct. I consider the statement that the betel-chewing of the Singhalese has the same effects as opium very exaggerated. On the other hand, those who chew betel for the first time in the countries of its production seem to experience very characteristic cerebral effects. The degree of maturity of the substances used is probably a decisive factor in these cases. According to the statements of those who themselves experienced the effects of the drug, its results are similar to those of tobacco. Uneasiness, a stifling sensation, especially faintness, slight excitation, a kind of inebriety, outbreak of sweat, and occasionally torpor are the symptoms liable to occur. They are not of long duration, and after habituation is established they are said not to appear again.
The feeling of thirst and hunger is said to be appeased and the sexual impulses augmented by the chewing of betel. This last, however, is not correct.
It is of the utmost importance to know whether the permanent use of mixtures containing betel has consequences injurious to the organism similar to those produced by the majority of other narcotics. I myself believe that the harmlessness of betel may be confirmed, even in cases of excessive use. From a toxicological point of view the objections which can be made to its use are less serious than, for instance, those against alcohol and tobacco. Taken as a whole, the ill consequences of betel are relatively so trifling that we might wish that the devotees of other substances of the same kind experienced as little inconvenience. Naturally all such addictions have one thing in common; after the habit has been established to the habitués are slaves to their passion. Habit leads to necessity and necessity to constraint. Every constraint reduces individual liberty, especially if it is exercised on organic life, for it soon leads to the imperative craving of certain cellular groups for a repetition of the agreeable excitation. From this point of view the consumption of betel must indeed be regarded as an evil. It must also be taken into consideration that if chewers of betel abstain from its use for some reason or other, withdrawal symptoms set in which are different in nature and intensity from those called forth by the deprivation of other narcotics. General fatigue, exhaustion, and weakness occur because the digestive organs are not stimulated by the drug. An unpleasant taste occurs in the mouth and the breath is foul. Other organic disorders due to weakness are liable to show themselves.
These advantages lose in importance if they are compared with the agreeable sensations due to betel and the resistance against injurious climatic influences which this substance gives to its users. Thanks to an inexplicable instinct the natives of the Far East discovered the action of this tonic agent as a means of protection against the ill effects of their food. With the exception of bread-fruit and some species of leguminous plants, their food contains hardly any nitrogen. An excess of acid decomposition products of this over-uniform food is very liable to formation in the stomach. The alkaline juice of the betel morsel neutralizes this acidity and acts as an astringent, hardening the mucous membranes of the stomach. We can adhere without question to the opinion that no medical prescription is apt to attain the desired result better than betel. All who have investigated the conditions of life in tropical countries have come to the conclusion that the moderate chewing of betel only promotes health, especially when considered in relation to the primitive and miserable food of the Indians and the frequently terrible climatic conditions. The fact that most Europeans abstain from betel without injury to their health proves nothing, for their food is quite different and they take sufficient alcoholic excitants. Nevertheless, many of them suffer from various disorders of the digestive organs, general weakness, prostration, and dysentery, which would probably not occur if betel were used.
To which element of the betel morsel is the exciting action on the nervous system? The answer to this question is easily given. It is for the main part the areca nut which contains a substance which is active in this direction, the oily, volatile arecoline.
By experimentation on animals it has been ascertained that this substance produces states of excitation of the central nervous system, for instance an increase of the excitability of the reflexes and eventually convulsions succeeded by paralysis. The mucous membranes are also irritated (salivation, liquid stools). Respiration is more frequent and the work of the heart diminished. The action on the nervous system is not always the same, and many differences depending on individual or general disposition can be ascertained. Dogs, for instance, after ingestion of areca nut exhibit a state of extreme excitation; frogs, on the other hand, symptoms of depression. The quality of the nut also seems to be of importance. In man it has been observed that after the consumption of a certain species of nuts, especially when not quite ripe, a state of vertigo appears which is similar to that experienced under the influence of wine. The condition produced by nuts of this kind has in Siam its own name, San Makh.2 I have, however, already stated that old nuts frequently give rise to cerebral symptoms. Without a doubt this modification in the action is due to the proportion of arecoline content in the nut.
The essential oil in the betel leaf produces, according to my experiments on animals, a primary excitation followed by a kind of inebriety. It plays a secondary part in the action of the betel morsel on the nerves. We must also take into consideration that the more alkaline the lime, the more will the arecoline alkaloid be liberated from the areca nut, i.e. in proportion to the calcium hydrate content of the lime employed.
My friend G. Schweinfurth wrote to me as follows: "When during my travels in Yemen I saw the high, many-storied houses of the mountain villages late at night brilliantly illuminated, and their windows shining in the darkness, I enquired what the inhabitants did at that time of the night. I was told that 'friends and acquaintances meet and sit for hours round the brazier drinking their coffee prepared from the husks' and chew their indispensable kat, which keeps them awake and promotes friendly intercourse."'
The kat-eater is happy when he hears everyone talk in turn and tries to contribute to this social entertainment. In this way the hours pass in a rapid and agreeable manner. Kat produces joyous excitation and gaiety. Desire for sleep is banished, energy is revived during the hot hours of the day, and the feeling of hunger on long marches is dispersed. Messengers and warriors use kat because it makes the ingestion of food unnecessary for several days.
The above-described effects, which remind one of those of caffeine plants, are due to the mastication of the young buds and the fresh leaves of catha edulis (celastrus edulis) , a large shrub which can be grown to the size of a tree. It is only cultivated for consumption in the cool valleys situated at a height of 900 to 1,200 metres in north-east Africa and south-west Arabia and Abyssinia. It is cultivated to a great extent in Harar, Tigre, Shoa, Kafa, Yemen, etc. The northern limit of occurrence of kat is approximately 18° north latitude. It may be found in a wild state up to about 30° south latitude in Natal and Pondoland. The spread of Islam in the Galla countries has led to an increase of the consumption of kat, but not to its cultivation.
Kat (caro, khat among the Amhara, eat or jimma among the Oromo) was employed in Yemen even before coffee. The mode of application has not changed. The fresh green points of the leaves, and the shoots of the leaves and stems are eaten, and it is only in Arabia that an infusion of the plant is prepared. The passion for the drug is so great that even material sacrifices are made in order to indulge in it. There are epicures in Hodeida, Mocha, and Aden who spend two dollars a day on kat. An explorer reported that the Sheikh Hassan of Yemen consumed more than 100 francs worth of kat per day because he was accustomed to have many distinguished visitors. There is a special kat market in Aden, where many people from Yemen live as workmen, merchants, etc. The plant does not grown on the plain, and express messengers have to bring it during the night in bundles from the mountains to the market. Forty branches are tied together in a bundle and inserted into a sheath which is carefully prepared from banana-leaves or palm-leaves in order to keep the material fresh during the long horse ride to market. In some places, for instance in Harar, the consumption of kat is intimately connected with the observance of prayers. The Harari, the Mohammedan Oromo, the Kafficho, the Galla, etc., are also addicted to kat. The plant is also consumed in Eyssaland and is imported from Harar and Arabia. The chewing of kat is quite unknown in Hedjaz and in Jeddah.
The active element of kat is stated to be an alkaloid which occurs in quantities varying from 0.07 per cent to 0.12 per cent in the best plants. Certain analogies with several medicinal plants have led me to the conclusion that the essential oil or resin, similar to cinnamic esters, which is also contained in the plant takes part in the peculiar exciting action.
Kat, like all other powerful substances when excessively abused, inevitably gives rise to more or less serious consequences. Those organic functions which are incessantly subjected to the influence of the drug finally flag or are diverted into another channel of activity. And kat is indeed excessively employed by high and low. The kat-eater is seized with a restlessness which robs him of sleep. The excited cerebral hemispheres do not return to their normal state of repose, and in consequence the functions of the peripheral organs, especially those of the heart, suffer to such a degree that serious cardiac affections have been ascertained in a great number of kat-eaters. The disorders of the nervous system in many cases also give rise to troubles of general metabolism partly due to the chronic loss of appetite from the consumption of kat.
Schweinfurth told me that in no part of the Mohammedan East had he seen so many bachelors as in Yemen. In other countries of Islam this state is regarded as shameful. In Yemen it was openly stated that inveterate eaters of kat were indifferent to sexual excitation and desire, and did not marry at all, or for economic reasons waited until they had saved enough money. The loss of libido sexualis has been also observed in other inhabitants of these countries.
Mohammedan casuists have frequently discussed the question whether the consumption of kat is contrary to the law of the Koran which prohibits the use of wine and everything that inebriates. Even had they come to the conclusion that kat belongs to those substances, no kat-eater would have renounced his passion.
The use of kat has become a permanent custom. Originating in Abyssinia, where it was mentioned for the first time in the year 1332, the plant penetrated into Yemen and other parts. There is no doubt that kat was consumed a long time before the date indicated, and will continue to be used in the future, for excitants of the brain defy the lapse of time.
In the case of all substances with agreeable effects on the brain we are presented with the same problem: In what mysterious way or with the aid of what instinct has man been able to select from the immense vegetable world the plant most suitable and desirable for his purposes? Is it pure chance which led him to the discovery of a substance which he did not look for but which experience alone taught him to consider very precious? We may assume that in prehistoric times someone accidentally swallowed the milky juice of the poppy, fell asleep, and subsequently passed on the knowledge of the action of opium, or that an inhabitant of Kamchatka ate an agaric in order to vary the monotony of his food, experienced hallucinations and visions, and induced others to use it also, or that a North American Indian consumed an anhalonium lewinii out of curiosity. In every one of these cases we have a single vegetable product with a chemical structure and action appertaining only to this one plant, and possessed by no other natural product.
When, however, following this line of research and deliberation, we arrive at plants which owe their exciting effects on the brain to their content of caffeine or similar purine derivatives, all these suppositions and assumptions become void and meaningless. For we are confronted by the fact that man has discovered morphologically quite different plants in three of the largest continents of the world, America, Africa, and Asia, which all combine the sole and all-important feature, a content of caffeine. These plants not only play a considerable part in the organic life of the individual, but have reached a stage of capital importance for whole races and for all the world, owing to the important production and exchange of goods to which they give rise. By what long and mysterious path has man all over the world reached the same final result? How did it happen that the Arab of Yemen or of Arabia Felix not only discovered the coffee bean, but also its exciting properties, and learnt and taught others how to prepare it? By what means did the inhabitants of the Sudan gain their knowledge of the effects of the kola nut, which also contains caffeine? How did it come about that the inhabitants of the Far East highly valued the tea plant and learnt its proper preparation in order to obtain a caffeine beverage? How did the South Americans of Brazil and Paraguay, out of the thousands of equatorial and subequatorial plants, recognize a species of ilex as the vegetable product suited to supply a beverage which owes its cerebral effects to its caffeine content? And why does the Indian of the Amazon employ paullinia sorbilis on account of the caffeine contained therein?
The inconceivable has proved true: though man did not consciously search for the substance, and though experimental investigation was out of the question, he discovered the best possible plant, both in the Arabian Peninsula and in the wild and unexplored Matto Grosso, up to the Parana. He found it in the fever-stricken virgin forests of the Amazon and in the basin of the great Niger. We shall easily understand that Orientals especially see some mystery in this unconscious discovery, and frequently give it a mythical origin. Fables of this kind at least cast over the insoluble problem the charm of poetic illusion, whereas prosaic reality and science must respond with a brutal "We do not know" to the important question of the origin of the mysterious coincidences revealed by the use of substances containing caffeine throughout the whole world.
We know in fact that man has attached himself tenaciously to the caffeine plants and their derivatives and daily satisfies the desire they have inspired in him. And this for good reasons. An abyss separates the properties and action of these plants from those of the other substances described in this work. Consciousness is not obscured by a veil of dimness or darkness, the individual is not degraded by the destruction of his free will to animal instincts, and the soul and mental powers are not excited to the inward perception of phantasms. The caffeine plants exercise an exciting action on the brain without giving rise to any mentally or physically painful impressions. All these facts assign a particular place to these substances.
History of its Use
The conquest of the world by coffee must have taken place with a prodigious rapidity if what an Arabic manuscript in the National Library in Paris records be true. The Sheikh Abd-al-Kader ben Mohamed states in the sixteenth century that coffee was not in general use in Yemen as a popular beverage before the middle of the fifteenth century. If this be so, four and a half centuries have sufficed to extend its use over the whole world!
According to Abd-al-Kader ben Mohamed there lived in Aden a Mufti, Jemal-ed-din Dhabhani, who on a journey to the west coast of the Red Sea became acquainted with the use of coffee and its medicinal application. He made it known in his home country, and pilgrims brought it to Mecca and the rest of Arabia. This statement may be believed without altering our view that coffee had been known for a long time to the Arabs or the Persians as a substance endowed with marvellous properties, and was presented by the Archangel Gabriel to Mohammed when he was sick. It was even known to ease the brain and to prevent sleep. The discovery of these effects very early became the subject of many legends.
According to the Maronite Faustus Nairo, the prior of a Mohammedan convent was told by his shepherds that goats who had eaten the beans of the coffee plant remained awake and jumped and gambolled about at night. This gave him the idea of preparing a beverage for himself and his dervishes in order to keep awake during the long night prayers in the Mosque. The beverage was called kahweh, i.e. that which stimulates or suppresses the appetite for food. In this way it was attempted, not for the first time, to explain the initial discovery of the effects by an accidental occurrence at some remote period in Arabia.
Did the great Arab physician Avicenna in the year 1000 refer to coffee as bunc or bunco? Did Rhazes mention it 100 years earlier? By the Amhara in Abyssinia at the present day an infusion of coffee is called buno or bun, and the ()room() call it safira buno. The fact that the Crusaders did not mention the use of coffee need not be taken into consideration. They had other things to do, such as massacring Jews, Greeks and Turks, and bathing in blood after the fall of Jerusalem. Besides, they did not penetrate into what if only for this reason is well called "Arabia Felix." They did not even reach Abyssinia, where coffee was employed at a very early date. The Arabs frequently pointed out that they had obtained coffee from that country. I believe that the use of such substances remains a local custom for some time before it spreads. This must have been especially the case in ancient times when a continuous connection between countries difficult of access existed hardly or not at all. In the year 1511 the Egyptian Sultan appointed a new governor of Mecca. The latter did not know of coffee, and was highly displeased when one day he saw some dervishes sitting in a corner of the mosque drinking it in order to be able to carry out the ascetic exercises of the night without falling asleep. He drove them away and called a meeting of theologians, jurists, and notables of the town in order to discuss whether coffee is an inebriant. They disputed for a long time. One of those present made the whole assembly burst out laughing by stating that coffee was similar in its action to wine. He proved by this statement that he had drunk wine against the law of the Koran, and was condemned to a certain number of strokes on the soles of his feet as prescribed for this infringement of the law. As the assembly could not come to a decision they had recourse to two physicians, who stated that coffee was injurious and was apt to give rise to actions which were improper for a Mohammedan. The meeting condemned it, prohibited its sale, and burnt all they could find. Those convicted of having drunk coffee were led through the town mounted on a donkey. This prohibition, however, was soon abolished, for the Sultan of Cairo was an avid coffee-drinker and his wise counsellors declared it admissible and harmless. Twenty years later, after the use of coffee had become very popular in Cairo, a new campaign was inaugurated against it, and it was declared that a coffee-drinker could not be a good Mohammedan. The excitement which these sermons caused gave rise to the devastation of coffee-shops, etc. The religious leaders repeatedly tried in later times to raise an agitation against coffee. But all opposition finally succumbed, and a Turkish law even decided that the refusal of a husband to give his wife coffee is a legal ground for divorce. Coffee had been victorious. Its road free from obstacles, it was enabled to march forward and conquer the countries of the world, which indeed it did.
The physician Rauwolf4 of Augsburg on his journeys in Asia Minor, Syria, and Persia in the years 1573 to 1578 found that coffee was used there by the entire population as if it were an ancient custom. Indeed the first coffee-house in Constantinople had been established in the reign of Suleiman in 1551. Rauwolf states:
Among other things they possess a beverage which they value highly, called chaube. It is as black as ink, and very useful in various diseases, especially those of the stomach. They usually take it in the morning in public without fear of being seen. They drink it from small earthen or porcelain cups, as hot as they can bear it. They frequently lift these vessels to their lips and take small sips, and then pass them round in the order in which they are sitting. They prepare the beverage from water and a fruit which the natives call bunnu. This somewhat resembles the laurel berry in size and colour. This beverage is very much in use, and for this reason a large number of merchants may be seen in the bazaars selling the fruits or the beverage.
The coffee beverage had already by this time vanquished Asia Minor and Egypt and supplanted other products. The Turkish poet Belighi5expresses this as follows.
In Damascus, Aleppo and in the residence of Cairo It has gone round with a great Hallo!
The coffee-bean, the scent of ambrosia!
Then it entered the seraglio and the air of the Bosphorus, Seducing Doctors, Cadis and the Koran
To sects and martyrdom!—and now
It has triumphed! It supplanted
In this happy hour, in the Moslem empire,
Wine which until then was consumed!
Europe was soon numbered among the patrons of coffee.
Coffee reached Paris in 1643, and in 1690 there were already 250 coffee-houses. In the reign of Louis XV 600 had been established, and in 1782 there were 1,800. In 1702, there was in that city a luxuriously installed cafe with tapestries, large mirrors on the walls, crystal chandeliers, and marble tables where coffee as well as tea and chocolate were served. This luxury contributed much to the extension of the use of coffee to all classes of society. Nevertheless, it was opposed on many hands. In her famous letters to her daughter, Madame de Grignan, Madame de Sevigne frequently points out the varying opinions of coffee held by herself and others on account of the different reports of medical men, etc., on the subject. And what was not said about its effects! In 1697 it was recommended in a Paris medical dissertation. In 1715 it was proved in the same city that it shortens life. In 1716 its property of facilitating intellectual work was praised, and in 1718 the fact that it does not produce apoplexy. At a later date it was stated to cause inflammation of the liver and spleen and renal colic, to have ruined the stomach of the minister Colbert, etc. It is remarkable that a physician at that period had already noticed the action of coffee on the circulation of the blood and the evil effects it is liable to produce when abused at night in order to keep awake for work. At the beginning of the eighteenth century coffee had penetrated into the life of many peoples and cities, though sometimes not without difficulty. The opposition to coffee commenced in the year 1511, but only here and there was it of long duration, and never so in Germany where several small potentates, not content with prohibiting coffee, even offered a reward to the informer. One of these, the Prince of Waldeck by the grace of God, paid ten thalers to anyone who should denounce a coffee-drinker. Even laundrywomen and ironers were rewarded if they laid information against their employers from whom they had obtained coffee. Several punishments were introduced against sellers of coffee in the small towns and in the country. Men of note were allowed to buy coffee in the capital cities. In 1777 the Prince-Bishop Wilhelm of Paderborn declared that the drinking of coffee was a privilege of the aristocracy, the clergy, and the high officials. It was strictly prohibited to the middle classes and the peasants. Drinkers of coffee in Germany were even threatened with caning. As the use of coffee increased in Prussia King Frederick II imposed a high tax on it. The people must again become accustomed to drinking beer on which "His Royal Majesty himself' had, according to the edict, been brought up. In his opinion this was far healthier than coffee. In a comedy by Kotzebue, a husband praises the economy of his young wife in the following words: "Have I not given up coffee? Have I not sighed in the morning when drinking my beer, because, as Hufeland says, our forefathers derived much benefit from it?"
However, substances which act on the brain mock at all obstacles which oppose their extension. Their attraction grows slowly, silently, but surely. Finally, even the authors of legal restrictions themselves become an easy prey to the fascination of these excitants. Coffee has fulfilled its destiny, and it may be that countless souls who enjoyed its influence on this earth yearn for it in the world to come.
Cultivation and Use
The cultivation of coffee rapidly spread over tropical and subtropical countries. In the middle of the eighteenth century the Franciscan friar Villaso planted some coffee-plants in the garden of the San Antonio convent in Rio de Janeiro, and from there Jesuits and Capuchins brought it to the missions of Sao Paolo. At the beginning of this century the export from Brazilian ports alone amounted to 12 to 14 millions sacks of coffee, containing 60 kilos per sack. The State of Sao Paolo, together with Minas Gerdes, produces more than double the quantity raised in the other coffee-growing countries—Africa, India, the Dutch East Indies, Central America, Venezuela, and the Antilles. The consumption of coffee varies in different countries and periods. Table 8 shows the amount of coffee consumed by a number of countries in 1912.
Taxes on coffee and severe economic conditions have greatly reduced the import and consumption of the beverage in Germany. However, the curve is rising again, although the use of tea and cocoa continues to increase annually. The very instructive Table 9 not only illustrates the increase and decrease of the use of coffee but also gives information as to the countries of origin.
The absolute coercion which is imposed on the Americans of the United States by the Prohibition Act with respect to alcohol has necessarily had the result of greatly increasing the use of other excitants and also narcotics. The enormous abuse of the latter seems to be totally ignored by the abstainers in America. Morphinists and cocainists are continually growing in numbers. The consumption of coffee has also developed in an undreamt-of manner. In 1919 421 million kilos were consumed and in 1920 as many as 616 million kilos. The consumption therefore increased from 4 to 9 kilos per head per year, and is approaching the threshold of abuse.
Coffee is employed over the whole world. A few bodies prohibit its use, for instance the Sentissi, an important sect in the Lybian desert and the Oasis of Ammon, founded in the eighteenth century by Sidi Mohammed ben ali es-Sentissi. They also refrain from smoking. Tea is allowed them, and they sweeten it with cane-sugar, because crystallized sugar is unclean, having been refined with the bones of animals (animal charcoal) killed by unbelievers.6 The nomadic tribes of Syria, however, drink freshly roasted coffee which they import from Yemen. They do not add sugar, but spice it with cardamon.
Effects of Coffee
O coffee, thou dost disperse cares and sorrows, thou art the drink of the friends of God, thou givest health to those who labour to obtain wisdom. Only the reasonable man, he who drinks coffee, knows the truth. Coffee is our gold; where it is offered us we enjoy the company of the best people. God grant that the obstinate despisers of the beverage may never taste its pleasures.
This inspired hymn of coffee was written for posterity by an enthusiastic lover of the beverage, the Sheikh Abd al-Kader, 400 years ago. Another poet sings of coffee as the destroyer of care and sorrow, as the water with which solicitude is washed away, the fire which consumes it.' These exaggerated glorifications from the Orient and the more cautious praise of poets of Western countries at a later period are opposed by bitter criticisms of coffee, just as one-sided as the commendations. At the end of the seventeenth century, for instance, the famous naturalist Redi8 concludes a dithyramb in praise of Tuscan wine by a sharp censure of the coffee-drinker. He would rather drink poison than a glass of the bitter and injurious coffee, which was invented by the Betides and given to Proserpine by the Furies, and which now, black as night in colour, has become the favourite beverage of the injudicious Arabs and Janizzaries:
Beverei prima it veleno,
Che un bicchier, the fosse pieno
Dell' amaro, e reo Caffe:
Cola tra gli Arabi,
E tra i Gianizzeri,
Liquor si ostico.
Si nero, e torbido.
Gli schiavi ingollino.
Giu nel Tartaro,
Giu nell' Erebo,
L' empie Belidi l'inventarono,
E Tesifone, e l'altre Furie
A Proserpina it ministrarono;
E se in Asia it Musulmanno
Se to cionca a precipizio,
Mostra aver poco giudizic
He repudiated these verses, however, towards the end of his life, and confessed to having become a coffee-drinker, who in the morning, instead of eating, drank one or two cups of the beneficial beverage "che mi toglie la sete, mi conforta to stomaco, e mi fa altri beni."
The same conversion overtook others, among them Frederick II. What, then, is the truth?
Certainly not the statements sometimes made by persons ignorant of toxicology:9 "The brotherhood of tea- and coffee-drinkers is subjected to the tyranny of a passion which is just as blameworthy as that of the drinkers of wine and spirits." From a scientific and practical point of view nothing is more erroneous than this, for it shows a false conception of the fundamental differences in the action of the two groups of substances. But who is there nowadays who does not consider himself in a position to give an opinion on purely toxicological problems! The habitual drinking of infusions of caffeine plants cannot be called blameworthy, for it does not in any way disturb the personality of the individual. Coffee exercises a stimulating action on the brain which results in an increased activity, whereas spirits habitually taken chemically modify the brain, as I have already pointed out. Alcohol in excess, being a morbific factor for the cerebral chemistry, imposes on the organism among other things the supplementary duty of repairing the trouble as long as it is capable of doing so. Caffeine beverages do not cause the drinker to deteriorate either physically or mentally. Even in cases where evident abuse of the beverage has taken place, the functional disorders are with a few exceptions soon adjusted.
I pointed out long ago the symptoms apt to appear after abuse of this kind.10 These are an excessive state of brain-excitation which becomes manifest by a remarkable loquacity sometimes accompanied by accelerated association of ideas. This state occurs not infrequently at coffee-parties where gossip runs apace among the females. It may also be observed in coffee-house politicians who drink cup after cup of black coffee and by this abuse are inspired to profound wisdom on all earthly events.
Other symptoms are not lacking in those countries where alcohol is restricted and cafés have been established as a kind of compensation. Such consequences, as I have stated earlier, may, of course, take on an unpleasant character. The persons, for instance, who are regular customers of these establishments and drink coffee in excessive quantities also involuntarily consume any substances with which the beverage has been adulterated. These latter probably play a part in the occasional appearance of functional disorders. But it is not necessary to draw attention to the fact that the daily consumption of very large amounts of concentrated infusions even of pure coffee over a long period must occasionally give rise to more or less evil consequences. These are not only due to the aromatic substances formed during the roasting process, such as caffeol, pyridin, furfurol, furfuraldehyde, mono-and trimethylamin, etc., but also to caffeine itself. Gastric disorders, headaches, a state of nervous excitation with insomnia or restlessness by which the heart is sometimes affected may occur. Less frequently a state of general weakness accompanied by depression or trembling of the muscles may be ascertained. I have observed as rather unusual symptoms diplopia or weakness of sight, tinnitus aurium, agina pectoris, dyspnoea, pains in the testicles, and prostatitis.
It has frequently been stated that the drinking of coffee diminishes sexual excitability and gives rise to sterility. Though this is a mere fable, it was believed in former times. Olearius says in the account of his travels that the Persians drink "the hot, black water Chawae" whose property it is "to sterilise nature and extinguish carnal desires." A Sultan was so greatly attracted by coffee that he became tired of his wife. The latter one day saw a stallion being castrated and declared that it would be better to give the animal coffee, as then it would be in the same state as her husband. The Princess Palatine Elizabeth Charlotte (Liselotte) of Orleans, the mother of the dissipated Regent Philip II, wrote to her sisters: "Coffee is not so necessary for Protestant ministers as for Catholic priests, who are not allowed to marry and must remain chaste . . . I am surprised that so many people like coffee, for it has a bitter and bad taste. I think it tastes exactly like foul breath."
Nansen has pointed out the consequences of the abuse of coffee among the inhabitants of Greenland. They drink the beverage in a very strong state, and seldom less than two cups at a time four or five times a day. This in their own opinion is why they suffer from vertigo and are unable to hold themselves straight up in their kayaks. In order to avoid this the young men take only a little coffee or none at all.
Caffeine, which is present in coffee up to 2.5 per cent, is the principal agent which gives rise to symptoms of this kind. This has been proved by the observation of patients who consumed excessive doses of medicinally applied caffeine. The condition of cerebral excitation may increase until delirium appears. If caffeine is consumed in spirits, the evil consequences of alcohol already described are augmented. It can be stated with certainty that large quantities of caffeine are exported to America for this purpose.
Professional occupation with coffee, for instance, that of a coffee-maker who prepares and serves the beverage himself, is liable to give rise to a state of chronic excitation, for instance, in the form of delirium, vertigo, trembling, and even convulsions. This was observed in a man who had been a coffee-maker for forty years. The manageress of a coffee shop had gradually become accustomed to consume 40 coffee beans a day in order to judge the relative merits of different sorts of coffee. After four years attacks of convulsion with loss of consciousness set in. Very little is known of the consequences which the consumption of coffee-beans is liable to produce. It is practised by the Galla, who roast the powdered coffee with butter and eat it or chew the beans raw. In Unyoro and Uganda the beans are consumed whole.
The personal disposition plays a very important part in the manifestation of the undesirable effects of coffee. The evil properties which many persons attribute to coffee and other substances containing caffeine are nothing else but the consequence of their own constitution, or innate or acquired idiosyncrasies which evoke in them abnormal reactions. If persons suffer from symptoms of acute stupor after smelling odoriferous plants such as violets, roses, lilies, etc., this is not the fault of the plant, but the cause must be sought in the individuals themselves. The odour of the rotting apples which Schiller kept in the drawer of his desk caused Goethe, who sat at the desk in its owner's absence, to suffer from a state of depression with loss of consciousness. In this case it was not the properties of the apples which gave rise to this phenomenon but the particular sensibility of Goethe. If strawberries, raspberries, cinnamon, oranges, crabs, or fresh pork cause cutaneous eruptions, sickness with vomiting, or attacks of asthma to appear in some persons, the foodstuffs in question cannot be considered responsible. I was the first to describe these individual states of increased sensitivity," and thus gave occasion to many expositions on the same subject. A hypersensitivity to coffee, which may be the expression of a kind of cellular weakness, may occur in some person and characterizes the individual and not the coffee. When Goethe observed of himself that the heavy beer of Merseburg obscured his ideas and that coffee, especially when taken with milk after meals, gave rise in him to a peculiarly sad humour, paralysed his intestines and seemed to suspend their functions, which caused him great anxiety, then the reason for these particular phenomena must be sought in Goethe himself.
Objections cannot be raised to the use of coffee on account of the phenomena described on the preceding pages. The evil consequences which its abusive employment in the form of the bean, the pulp of the beans, or the husks, which latter are used for the preparation of an infusion (kisher) in Yemen and the Galla country, are exceptions which in no way justify a deprecatory opinion of the use of coffee as a stimulant. It exercises a gently stimulating influence on the brain, and in this way the propensity to sleep is diminished. Mental capacity and perhaps also the imagination are agreeably augmented. Coffee inhibits the appearance of fatigue, or at least makes it less perceptible, and in this way tends to increase the capacity for work and the general activity without exerting any violent force on the cerebral centres. In the same gentle manner the activity of the heart in healthy persons is augmented. As soon as these effects become evident a feeling of general depression and weakness may be dispersed and the working capacity of the muscles stimulated for a certain time. This state is not succeeded by a subjective feeling of subsequent fatigue. It is an open question whether the process of metabolism is modified in any direction, as some have stated. The personal experience of millions of coffee-drinkers in all parts of the world testifies to the stimulating action described. The manifestations of the latter are known, but its ultimate causes, as is the case with so many phenomena in this field, remain undiscovered.
In the year 519, Darma, the third son of the Indian king Kosyuvo, landed in China. He was an apostle of the religion which the Indian sage Sakya had founded and spread throughout the Far East. He lived constantly under the open sky, mortified his flesh, and tamed his passions. His food consisted of leaves, and he sought the most profound degree of sanctity by staying awake all night in uninterrupted meditation on the Divine Being. After many years it happened that, worn out with fatigue from his long mortifications, he was overcome by sleep. On waking he felt so full of remorse for having broken his vow that, resolving to prevent forever a repetition of this weakness, he cut off both his eyelids, the instruments of his sin, and cast them away in abhorrence. On the following day, when he came back to the place of his pious suffering, he found that a plant had miraculously sprung forth from the spot where his eyelids had fallen. It was the tea-plant. He ate the leaves, and soon experienced a feeling of joy and gladness, and was able to plunge into the contemplation of the Divine Being with renewed activity and vigour. He explained the effects of the leaves of tea and their mode of consumption to his disciples, and the fame of the plant soon spread and became generally known.
This Chinese fable seeks to explain by a miracle how man became acquainted with the stimulating properties of the tea-plant, which, like coffee, contains caffeine. In this case, as in many others of the same kind, man instinctively feels it impossible to find the origin of the first recognition of the effects of the plant, and has shrouded the events of the past in the veil of a myth. In reality tea must have been known at an extremely early age. Near Urga in Mongolia vestiges of prehistoric man several thousand years old, the bones of hitherto unknown animals, and in one of the tombs tea and cereal have been discovered.
It was not till the end of the sixteenth century that the rest of the world became acquainted with the properties of tea, although it has been extensively employed in China since the fifth century, if not earlier. It is difficult to say whether the knowledge of tea originated in China or whether it came from India, especially from Assam. Towards the end of the eighth century, in the time of the Tang dynasty, taxes on tea were first imposed. At the beginning of the ninth century it reached Japan. In the meantime, before penetrating into Europe it must have continued its triumphant march towards Tibet and Mongolia, and thence in a westerly and easterly direction. In these parts it became known as a stimulating beverage to explorers of the Far East such as Ramusio, Ludovico Almeida, etc. In 1636 tea was drunk in Paris, and in 1646 the East India Company sent 90 gr. of it to King Charles II of England. Some time later one kilo was sold for £3 sterling. In 1636 the first advertisement of tea appeared in the Mercurius Politicus as follows:
"The excellent Chinese beverage, recommended by all doctors, which the Chinese call teha and other nations tay or the is on sale in the Café of the Sultana near the Royal Exchange."
Shortly afterwards tea was praised in Latin verses and found its highest eulogy in a book by a Berlin author: "A cup of tea is a medium for ensuring health and long life." The Dutch doctor, Bontekoe, who later became the physician of the Prince Elector of Brandenburg, prescribed 100 to 200 cups a day. He himself drank tea day and night.
We here see a repetition of the conflict between praise and condemnation in the case of tea like that found in the history of other excitants. Neither science nor experience can approve its condemnation. Besides the xanthine-complex caffeine, which is contained up to 4.5 per cent, tea contains another xanthine, theophylline (theocin), which is a dimethylxanthine. Both substances act synergetically, but the latter, according to the observation of patients who have taken it medicinally, is considerably more powerful. These circumstances were instinctively taken into consideration long before the composition of tea was known, by using far fewer tea leaves per cup than, for instance, coffee beans. There is no doubt that the abusive application of concentrated infusions of tea is liable to call forth physical disorders of a general nature in persons susceptible to its action, if only on account of the theophylline which, medicinally applied, is apt to give rise to symptoms of convulsions. These are said to appear if more than 5 cups of a concentrated infusion of tea are consumed daily. A man who from youth had become accustomed to drinking exaggerated quantities of tea and had reached a daily consumption of 30 cups suffered from symptoms of anaemia, suffocation, and hallucinations. Men have been known to drink 2 to 13 litres of tea daily, equaling 240 gr. of the leaves. Facts of this kind are just as unsuitable a basis for judging the good or bad properties of tea as are, for instance, the consequences of daily excessive consumption of sodium bicarbonate or artificial fruit-acid lemonades for a judgment of their properties. Even kitchen salt is toxic in certain large doses.
The consequences which excessive amounts of tea are liable to produce may be ascertained in the Far East and in America where professional tea-tasters compare the value of the different kinds of tea by tasting infusions of it frequently two hundred times a day. Disorders of the gastric and intestinal functions, paleness or yellowness of the skin occur, and especially troubles of the nervous system: headache, hypochondria, weakness of memory, disturbances of the sight, and, it is said, also atrophy of the liver. It even appears that the abuse of tea by other persons is liable to give rise to hepatic disorders. Animal experiments have proved that the consequences of tea-poisoning frequently include modification of the liver and acute nephritis.
The consumption of large quantities of tea-leaves, which was once observed, also belongs to this group of aberrations. Half a pound of tea was consumed, giving rise to serious delirium.
A disagreeable state of excitation is also caused by the abuse which was and may still be customary in England of smoking cigarettes said to contain Haysan-tea. This abuse is principally practised by women, and one of these, a well-known novel-writer, smoked 20 to 30 such cigarettes daily during her work. Under these conditions one-quarter to three quarters of the caffeine originally contained in the tea, which is approximately 2 per cent, passes into the smoke, and is apt to reach the lungs. The consequences are trembling, general restlessness, palpitation of the heart, etc.
Setting aside these abusive applications of tea, there is hardly anything to be said against the habitual drinking of tea in moderation, even less than against coffee. Someone once stated that the drinking of strong coffee "certainly" promotes arteriosclerosis. This is "certainly" just as false as the report that swellings of the lymphatic glands, menstruation troubles, leucorrhoea, and diabetes are liable to occur. Excluding exaggerated doses and hypersensitive individuals it is true, on the contrary, that tea not only, like coffee, stimulates the digestion of amylaceous substances, and reinforces the absorption of gastric peptones and the casein of milk and cream, but also agreeably excites the central nervous system, which maintains or even slightly raises the normal degree of cerebral activity without resulting in a subjective impression of compulsion, i.e. an activity which cannot be mastered by the individual. These favourable effects are called forth even in cases where under normal circumstances fatigue would have diminished the active capacity. Besides giving rise to a certain kind of euphory, tea promotes the faculty of judgment and facilitates intellectual work, the maximum being reached after about forty minutes. Approximately 10 gr. of Pekoe tea increase the output of mental and muscular work by 10 per cent.
Animals also respond to tea by a state of excitation. On his expedition in Tibet, McGovern saw an ostler give a large vessel of strong tea to the weary horses. This method is in general use in such cases in Sikkim. The horses eagerly drink the tea and become nimble and active. A mule became so excited that it tried to run away and gambolled about like a young colt. The use of tea does not give rise to an imperative craving for its application or for an increase of the dose, as is the case with narcotics. Nevertheless such cases have been recorded in persons who exhibited other aberrations of cerebral life with respect to morbid desires.
The stimulating virtues of tea have in some countries, for instance England, introduced it into palace and cottage: "The cup that cheers but not inebriates."
And in Germany Uhland sang:
Ihr Saiten tonet sanft and leise, Vom leichten Finger kaum geregt! Ihr tonet zu des Zartsten Preise, Des Zartsten, was die Erde hegt. In Indiens mythischem Gebiete, Wo Fruhling ewig rich ernent, 0 Tee, du selber eine Mythe, Verlebst du deine Bliitenzeit."
Persons who are quite ignorant of the physiology of the human body know of tea and make use of its functional stimulation especially in order to augment physical and motor energy. The inhabitants of Tibet have no measure of time for short distances except the cup of tea. A member of the Mount Everest expedition asked a young peasant how far it was to the next village. He answered: "Three cups of tea." It was ascertained that three cups of tea is equal to 8 kilometres. This is, therefore, a measure of its stimulating and operative action. Tea would seem to be for the Tibetans the prime necessity of existence, and their main object of life to consist in obtaining as much as possible of the beverage. The Mongols are similar in this respect. They are also addicted to tea in the form of "tea-tiles," which are obtained by compression of tea-waste or of leaves of inferior quality and which in some cases serve as money. In order to give a proper consistency to these tiles it is said that they are kneaded together with a small amount of yak dung. A little piece is broken off and boiled in water, and after a certain time a lump of butter or suet is added to the resulting beverage. All tribes of this country come to Ta-tsien-lu (Gate of Tibet), the largest commercial center in the whole of Tibet, in order to load this tea on to thousands of yaks which transport it over snow and ice, through storms and the scorching heat of the sun, over passes and steppes to Lhasa, the seat of the Dalai Lama, and to Ladakh in Kashmir. Five million kilos are said to be transported in this way every year.
All the nomadic peoples of north-eastern Asia, the Tungus, Kamchadales, and Yakuts, love tea-drinking no less than the peoples of Central Asia, the Chinese, the Russians, and the English.
The large amounts consumed are furnished by extensive tea-plantations in the Far East which stretch from China to the Malay Archipelago and from the Chinese boundary to Ceylon. Although the export of tea to the various countries of the world fluctuates to a certain extent, the average annual amount consumed by the tea-drinking peoples is very nearly the same.
Table 10 shows the average quantity of tea consumed per head annually.13
Table 11 shows the fluctuations of the import of tea into Germany during the last few years. I am indebted to the German Statistical Bureau (Statistischen Reichsamt) for this information.
The various peoples of the world prefer different caffeine beverages, but coffee and tea alone are really competitors. There are constant national preferences with respect to the latter. These preferences, the relatively high price, or the difficulty of obtaining the substances have given rise to the use of many substitutes. For coffee preparations of chicory, rye and especially barley, roasted pig-nuts, the seeds of the carnauba palm, acorns, figs, the seeds of cassia occidentalis known by the name of Fedegozo-Para-coffee, Mogdad coffee, or nigger-coffee, the seeds of hibiscus sabdariffa used by the people of Emin Pasha, the seeds of gymnocladus dioeca (Kentucky coffee), lupins, etc., are used. The number of plants used as substitutes for genuine tea is extremely large. I am aware of some two hundred, among them the following: vaccinium uliginosum (Batum tea), vaccinium myrtillus (Caucasian tea), angroecum fragrans (Faham tea, Bourbon tea), cyclopia genistoides (Cape or Bush tea), which contains just as little caffeine as the nigger-coffee cited above, ledum latifolium (Labrador or James tea), ledum palustre, gaultheria procumbens (Mountain tea or Canadian tea), ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea), chenopodium ambrosioides (Mexico tea), monarda didyma (Oswego or Pennsylvania tea), capraria biflora (West Indian tea), alstonia theceformis (Bogota tea), stachytarpheta (Brazilian tea), erva cidreira , psoralea glandulosa (Jesuits' tea), helichrysum serpyllifolium (Hottentot tea), epilobium hirsutum (Kapporia tea, Copnic tea, Iwan tea), lithospermum officinale (Bohemian or Croatian tea), salvia officinalis, various Veronicas, Verbascum, rubus arcticus, dryas octopetala, saxifraga crassifolia, lepidium ruderale (Homeriana tea), the nettle plant in Tibet, etc.
All these plants and many others used as substitutes for tea have nothing in common with that substance. In the most favourable case they contain some essential oil which is far from possessing the properties which act on the brain like the purine compounds caffeine, theobromine, etc. Their value may be likened to that of a wooden leg in comparison with a healthy leg.
I look upon coffee, tea, or other stimulating substances from which the active principles have been chemically removed in the same light. They are castrated products which have lost their capability of creating energy.
THE KOLA NUT
History, Origin, Distribution
The population of the vast territory of the Sudan between the Atlantic Ocean and the source of the Nile crave for a substance which supplies them in everyday life with a slight feeling of stimulation and temporarily augments physical capacity. The kola nut is the drug which satisfies these desires. Its stimulating effects on physical activity have endowed it with a considerable market value, and have not prevented it from penetrating far into the north across the Sahara up to Fezzan. Mohammedans, "pagans," and others love the kola nut and make great sacrifices in order to procure it.
This nut plays an important part in the social life and commercial relations of these peoples. Much trouble is taken in order to obtain the drug. The Haussa, for instance, organize long caravan-journeys for this purpose to the country of the Ashanti, and their arrival is an important event for the latter. Those who have no money to buy the drug beg. Rich people ingratiate themselves by distributing nuts or pieces of nuts. The inhabitant of Kano in northern Nigeria does not hesitate to sell his horse or his best slave, his two most important possessions, in order to enjoy his favourite pastime. Indeed, it is not rare for a poor man to seize an already half-masticated piece of another person's nut and to continue chewing it.
The physical effects of kola must evidently be very considerable, or it would not be so highly esteemed. The habit of chewing it cannot alone be regarded as sufficient explanation. That is why the first discovery of kola, as in many other cases of a similar kind, has been explained by a divine legend:
One day when the Creator was on earth observing the sons of men and busy among them, he put aside a piece of the kola nut which he was chewing and forgot to take it with him when he went away again. A man saw this and seized the dainty morsel. His wife tried to prevent him from tasting the food of God. The man, however, placed it in his mouth and found that it tasted good. While he was still chewing the Creator returned, sought the forgotten piece of kola, and saw how the man tried to swallow it. He quickly grasped at his throat and forced him to return the fruit. Since that time there can be seen in the throat of man the 'Adam's apple,' the trace of the pressure of the fingers of God.
If, leaving the intervention of the Creator out of the question, we seek the epoch in which the first knowledge of this vegetable product was obtained, we encounter the first reports of the fruit in the writings of El Ghafeky, a learned Spanish physician, who lived in the twelfth century, and those of the botanist, Ebn El-Baithar, who lived in the thirteenth. The former's description of the fruit may apply to the kola-tree, but his characterization of the seeds does not agree so well.14 We do not come across the name kola until the latter part of the sixteenth century, when it is mentioned by travellers and explorers, for instance Carolus Clusius, Duarte Barbos, Dapper, etc.
The tree which furnishes the kola nut is sterculia or cola acuminata." It is about 15 to 20 metres in height and has a straight smooth trunk. Each female blossom has five carpels which after fecundation become follicles arranged star-fashion. Each follicle may reach 15 cm. in length and contains up to eight seeds which are approximately 4 cm. in length and 3 cm. thick, similar to horse chestnuts, light or dark red in colour and emitting an odour similar to freshly-cut Marechal Niel roses. These seeds are the kola nuts. There are also spurious kola nuts which are white and very bitter and originate from a tree called garcinia cola. These latter do not contain an alkaloid like the genuine kola nuts. Many other seeds similar to kola nuts, but inactive, have appeared on the market, and probably also in preparations of kola, such as the seeds of cola supfiana (Avatimeko kola nut), dimorphandra mora (West Indian kola nut), pentedesma butyracea, etc.
The genuine kola nut has various names: Goro, Guru, Ombene, Nangue, Biche, Makatso, Gonja, etc. The tree which produces them grows wild and is also cultivated on the west coast of Africa from Sierra Leone and Liberia up to the lower part of the Congo and Guinea, from 10° north latitude to 5° south latitude, most frequently out of the reach of the ocean winds, and in a wild state mainly in Futa Jallon, on the banks of the Rio Nunez, and in Ashantiland. It occurs in the interior as far as the mountain ridge to the south of the Mandingo territories. It does not grow on the Mandigo Plain. In the hinterland of Lagos, for instance near Ikere, there are even kola forests. The cultivation of the tree has been brought to a state of perfection by the natives. It grows in the south of Benue in Adamawa and the nuts are brought to Bornu. The plant also occurs in Monbuttuland and farther to the north in a wild state.
The kola-tree has been transported from Africa to India, the Seychelles, Ceylon, Damaraland, Dominica, Mauritius, Sydney, Zanzibar, Guadeloupe, Cayenne, and Cochin China. After nine or ten years one tree supplies approximately 30 kg. of dry nuts.
In this immense zone of Africa the kola nut is utilized in some places, by the Monbutto and the Niam-Niam for example, only occasionally, and in Wadai it was only used by the king, who obtained it from Bornu. The kola nut is known to the Arabs as "Sudan coffee," and it is also highly valued by the non-Arabic inhabitants of Africa, such as the Ashantis, the Wute in the Cameroons, the negroes of the Congo, and the tribes in the neighbourhood of and to the west of Albert-Edward-Nyanza. Many men are engaged in the commerce and transport of this relatively precious substance. From the coast of West Africa, from Futa Jallon, Sankaran, Kuranko, between the rivers Rio Grande in Portuguese Guinea and St. Paul in Liberia, the nuts were formerly transported (and it is not likely that great changes have taken place in the meantime) in basket-loads of 3,500 nuts on the heads of male and female slaves to the markets of Kankan, Time, Tengrela, Maninian, and Sambatiguilla, by Mandingo merchants mainly in exchange for salt. Farther to the south there are also markets in Odienne, Kani, Siana, and Sakhala, where the kola agents, the Mande-Diula, fix the prices. There they are exchanged for cotton and salt (the latter coming from the north of the Sahara, i.e. Timbuctu and Arawan) by merchants from Segu and Jenne. The cotton which serves as an object of exchange is produced by the Bambara, who inhabit the territory between the upper Senegal and the Niger. After marches which frequently last for months, the nuts, which often have to be repacked, are transported on the Niger to Timbuctu. The nuts of the Ashanti country and the Mohammedan state of Salaga, which is a kind of commercial metropolis, are also bartered in the north. Mossi and Haussa merchants transport the nuts to Sinder, Timbuctu, etc., or to Sokoto, Katsena, Kano, and Bomu, from whence they are delivered via Kuka on Lake Chad in a northern direction and also by way of the desert and in the south-east via Shari to Bagirmi. Kola nut bearers also take other routes to the south and the east through Nigeria and the Cameroons in the direction of the Congo, through forests, over rivers and mountains, to enable the population to make use of the drug. From Sierra Leone whole deck-loads of nuts with Mandingos as deck-passengers go by boat to the ports of Senegambia.
The kola nut of Sakala is the largest and most expensive known. It is delivered for the greater part to Jenne and Timbuctu. The nuts from Khani, Siana, and Toute are of middle size, and are especially in demand when of a red colour. A very small red nut, the kola from Maninian, can be bought in Jenne and Tiomakandugu. These nuts, like every eagerly desired substance which modifies cerebral activity, are fairly expensive. Everything, even slaves, can be bought with nuts. At times one nut costs in Gorea three to five pence; on the banks of the Niger four shillings had to be paid for one nut, and if money were short a slave could be bought for a few nuts. If the kola nut were exclusively used as a means to supply energy or pleasurable sensations it would not attain such high prices. It is, however, like the betel nut, so important a symbol in the various events of everyday life that the demand for it and its consumption are considerably increased. A proposal of marriage is accompanied by a gift of white kola; a refusal by red nuts. Kola must not be lacking from the dowry. Oaths are sworn on the kola nut, friendships or hostilities are symbolized by kola and some nuts are even buried with the dead.
Effects of Kola
As a rule pieces of the fresh nut are chewed. The taste is at first bitter and afterwards sweet. The powder of the dried nut is also consumed and occasionally, e.g. by the Bagunda, the Banalya, and on the banks of the Lulua and the Aruwimi, a beverage is prepared from the dried nuts which is imbibed with the aid of a reed-cane. The effects are very similar to those of other substances which contain caffeine. In this case sleep is dispensed thanks to the excitation of the brain due to kola. The feeling of hunger does not appear in its habitual strength after consumption of kola and, if felt beforehand, is thereby considerably diminished. These statements are not only the result of experiences in Africa but also of observations during strenuous Alpine tours in Europe. An increase of muscular energy and resistance without a feeling of fatigue is even more marked. Physical strength is augmented without the intervention of the will. During long marches or difficult climbs in the mountains it is most evident that movement is facilitated and that the increased output of the muscles, even if it is hot, is not accompanied by exhaustion. These effects have been very frequently experienced not only under the influence of the pure drug but also after consumption of kola biscuits or other preparations from it.
Experiments carried out on horses which were fed solely on kola during their labours proved that the output of work increased. Thorough investigations of general metabolism in animals and in man have revealed the fact that the combustion of carbohydrates and fat is augmented under the influence of kola, but that of nitrogenous substances, both urea and the nitrogenous bodies in general, and of phosphates is very markedly reduced. Consequently the kola nut may be regarded as an economizer of the orgnaism not only with respect to the muscular but also to the nervous system.
It has repeatedly been stated that kola, like other caffeine substances, acts as a stimulant in the sexual sphere. According to the opinion of the inhabitants of Africa it has an aphrodisiac effect on men and promotes conception in women. In this general form this supposition is not correct; it may be, however, that kola acts in some individual cases in the manner indicated.
Personal disposition naturally exercises a great influence on the effects of kola, especially if it is taken in large quantities, as in every case where the chemical properties of a substance react on the chemistry of the organism. It may happen, as I have heard from the experience of Count Goetzen himself, that a state of general weakness and prostration sets in. In the case of another, a vigorous and strong man, serious cephalic congestion, trembling and insomnia appeared a few hours after ingestion of two fresh nuts.
Exhaustive research work has been carried out in order to ascertain whether caffeine is the only active principle in kola or whether other substances contained in the nut are also of biological importance. Comparative investigations of the metabolism in animals seem to prove that powdered kola nut has a more powerful effect than a corresponding quantity of pure caffeine.
There is no doubt that the kola nut is chemically more complex than the other vegetable products which contain caffeine. An essential oil with a strong aromatic taste is very probably also active in producing the effects described. Women who were engaged in the work of cutting up the nuts into small pieces at first became very excited and then suffered from insomnia through the action of the odour of the essential oil. However it is caffeine which endows kola with its characteristic action. It is contained in the drug up to 2 per cent. It may be that the theobromine which occurs to a slight extent in the nut is also active as an excitant. It has not been ascertained in spite of many experiments whether other substances co-operate with the caffeine. In fresh kola nuts there is a crystalline phenolic principle belonging to the group of tannins, kolatin,16 which is present from 0.3 to 0.4 per cent in unstable combination with the caffeine. Hot water dissociates the complex. Under certain circumstances kolatin can be oxidized into insoluble kola-red. In nuts which are dried in the usual manner the kolatin disappears, but it can be preserved by sterilization. The dark colour which appears during the process of exsiccation of the nuts is due to the decomposition of an oxydase which is present in the nut.
The conclusion at which we arrive after taking the chemical results into consideration is that from a pharmacological point of view the opinion which ascribes the principal part in the action of kola to caffeine should not be altered, even if further research should throw light on the interdependence of the various components of the nut and even if the crystallized kolatin is considered to be active. For this reason neither kola-red and the other substances cited above nor the enzymes, including kola-lipase, are of importance in the total effect. It is said that there exists a kind of antagonism between kolatin and caffeine whereby the former produes no increase of muscular work and no cerebral excitation. Even if this were true, caffeine would maintain its qualitatively and quantitatively predominant position in the action of kola, as may be ascertained in animals and man after the ingestion of the fresh nut. I myself have been able to make these observations with the fresh nuts which I have frequently obtained from Georg Schwinfurth.
ILEX PARAGUAYENSIS: MATE.
About one hundred years ago Aime Bonpland, the great naturalist and philanthropist, the friend and travelling-companion of Alexander von Humboldt, set out on a new expedition. Loaded with honours and highly esteemed by Napoleon and the Empress Josephine, he left France after the fall of the Empire and the death of the Empress, whose disease he had as a medical man correctly diagnosed. The greatest honours offered to him were not able to hold him back. After having worked for some time in Buenos Aires he continued his explorations, reaching Parana and the ancient Jesuit missions in the disputed territory between Paraguay and the Argentine. He wrote to the dictator Francia that he intended devoting himself to the cultivation of maté with the aid of Indians whom he had enrolled. The suspicious and inexorably cruel dictator had him and his family attacked by night. Bonpland himself was wounded and carried off in chains. He spent nearly ten years in prison and earned his livelihood by the preparation of pharmaceutical products. But even during this period of utter poverty he devoted himself as a physician to the well-being of the sick. In spite of all the efforts of the French Government and of the Emperor Dom Pedro I, he was not set free until 1830, and died at the age of eighty on his ranch in Uruguay. He had established a large maté plantation in Candelaria.
These distant events are recalled when we attempt to describe maté, a caffeine plant which is extensively employed by all social classes in a large section of humanity amounting to approximately 15 million people in the south of Brazil, the La Plata States, Chile, Bolivia, part of Peru, and the Argentine.
In the virgin forests of Paraguay, which are as large as whole European kingdoms, from the savage Matto Grosso, still in a primeval state, to the basin of the immense Parana with its numerous tributary streams, there still exist immense forests of Ilex paraguayensis, an evergreen tree occurring invarious forms. This territory extends from 18° to 30° south latitude at a height of approximately 500 metres above sea-level in the Brazilian states of Parana, Santa Caterina, and Rio Grande do Sul, as well as over some parts of the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerdes. The tree reaches a height of 4 to 8 or even 12 metres. It is called simply yerba, or in Brazil maté, herva maté, congonha; in the Argentine yerba maté, congoin, and in Paraguay caaguaza. The leaves and young branches are used for an infusion similar to tea. Indians and half-castes scour the forests, where they erect huts covered with palm-leaves or straw and level a part of the earth for the drying of the leaves. They cut off with their large knives the tops of the branches with the leaves. The material is partly dried, and in order to prevent it from turning black it is passed through flames and then dried on trellis-work over an open fire for three to four days. It is then reduced to small pieces with wooden clubs or crushed to a crude powder in the forest. In larger works a cylinder fitted with teeth is rolled over the maté on the barn floor with the aid of a horse and a kind of capstan; the maté is then reduced to a fine powder in stamping mills.
Various kinds of preparations of maté are to be found in commerce; the young leaves which are dried in the sun and soon lose their aroma (caa-kuy), elder leaves which have been carefully separated from the branches (caa-mirim), and the product prepared from the leaves and the stems (caa-guaza). The caffeine content of the unroasted leaves reaches 1.7 per cent and the torrefied product 0.6 per cent. Maté moreover contains a small amount of essential oil and a tannin which is identical with caffeo-tannic acid.17
It is probable that maté was prepared in ancient times in a still simpler manner. The origin of its use is quite unknown; it is buried with the ancestors of the peoples of that part of the world. Our ignorance of its history is as great as in the case of most of the other substances described in this work. It is surprising that here also an analogy exists between the primitive preparation of maté and that of coffee-beans and tea-leaves. In the case of all three plants a kind of torrefaction process is carried out which serves as a preservative and at the same time develops the aroma. When the Europeans arrived in America they not only discovered the method of preparation of maté but also its employment as a means of exchange between the Indians.
At the present day the Gaucho in the Pampa, the Caboclo in the virgin forest, the solitary horseman and the inhabitant of the city drink the infusion of the prepared leaves with the same relish. In the Argentine the annual consumption per head of the inhabitants amounts to approximately 6 kilos, whereas only 1 kilo of tea and 250 gr. of coffee are consumed. Uruguay imports 6 million kilos annually, mainly from Brazil. This quantity is said to correspond to 10 kilos per head of the inhabitants per annum.
Mate is drunk several times a day. A hollow gourd as large as a man's fist, in the form of a bottle, serves as a receptable, which among the rich is decorated with gold or silver. Two spoonfuls of maté are placed in this cup and moistened with a little cold water. Two or three minutes later boiling water is added. After approximately the same lapse of time the beverage is ready to be taken. For this purpose a pipe made of precious metal or of tin or a vegetable fibre, to the lower extremity of which a small spherical sieve is attached, is plunged into the beverage. The liquid is sucked in by means of this "bombilla." The drink has a peculiar aroma to which one soon becomes accustomed and an agreeable and mild taste.
Its action differs only slightly from that of the other caffeine beverages. Besides diminishing the feeling of thirst on long marches or when the heat of the sun renders it intolerable, it acts as a tonic for the nerves without any disagreeable by-effects and without suppressing the desire to sleep. Physical energy is also augmented. The working capacity of the muscles is considerably increased without giving rise to an impression of compulsion. A stimulation of the renal functions is, moreover, a constant property of all substances containing purines.
Mate as a beverage has no disagreeable by-effects. It has nevertheless been stated by a person who probably had a very weak stomach that large doses gave rise to nausea, sleepiness and feebleness in the legs. But there are certainly not many members of the human race who are so sensitive.
In 1562 Captain Laudonniere, who was exploring the coast of Florida at the request of Admiral Coligny and with the approval of King Charles IX of France in order to find a new home for the French Protestants, discovered that the natives consumed a beverage which they called cassine. Shortly before this time the Conquistadores Narvaez and Cabeza de Vaca had made the same discovery. Laudonniere was presented with some basketfuls of the plant with which this beverage was prepared. The plant served as a commodity of exchange among the Indians of the western parts. Who can tell how long the drug had been in use before Europeans set foot in the country? Perhaps it was employed even in prehistoric days at a time when man had recourse to any vegetable in order to vary the primitive conditions of his existence. The properties of plants were not ascertained by divination, but by experiment. Thousands must have met their death in the course of these experiments before others learnt how to distinguish between the useful and the useless, the harmful and the harmless.
This is probably the way in which the stimulating properties of ilex cassine (ilex vomitoria, i. dahoon, i. religiosa, yaupon, yopon) were discovered. It is a shrub or small tree 3 to 6 metres in height which grows in a wild state, especially in the woody coastal regions of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and it also occurs near the lower course of the Mississippi, in Texas, and near the Colorado valley.
The Indians of the above-named territories used to employ the plant far more extensively than, for instance, the Creek Indians do at the present day when celebrating religious festivals. The leaves and young branches are used in a fresh state or dried and roasted in flat receptacles for the preparation of the beverage. The sharp and bitter "black drink" is taken during two or three days in assemblies from which women and children are excluded. Repeated vomiting is the result. The Indians alternately drink and vomit until the body is "cleansed" and they feel fit for new enterprises. These effects are accompanied by irritations of the intestines and the kidneys.'8
In addition to an essential oil, caffeine from 0.3 to 1.6 per cent and a tannic acid have been ascertained in the leaves. There is so much caffeine in the plant that it has recently been recommended for the extraction of the drug. In all likelihood such large quantities of concentrated infusions of the plant are imbibed that the exciting action of the alkaloid becomes manifest not only in the brian but also in other organs depending upon its action, for instance, the kidneys, in a very marked form. It is stated, moreover, that substances are added which irritate the gastric mucus to such an extent that vomiting is produced, to which the Indians attribute a special significance.
The most important active element in ilex cassine is caffeine.
According to the observations of Karsten a hitherto unknown species of Ilex is used by the Jibaros and Canelos Indians as an aqueous infusion and as a mouth-wash under the name of guayusa. The leaves of the guayusa-tree, which grows everywhere in eastern Ecuador, supply an aromatic beverage which is prepared only by the men but is drunk by the women also. Concentrated infusion gives rise to vomiting as in the case of ilex cassine. This cleansing of the stomach seems to be greatly desired. Guayusa is also considered a magic beverage which strengthens the body for hunting expeditions.
Our attention is again drawn to the insoluble riddle of the first discovery of the properties of a substance in the case of Pasta Guarana. How did the savage tribes scattered in the basin of the Amazon, of the Madeira and the Tapajoz, or above the equator between the Magdalena and the Orinoco discover one day long ago that a plant of the Sapindaceae family could be consumed as a tonic agent on account of its caffeine content? How was the dry, husk-like and in no way remarkable fruit of that climbing creeper, paullinia sorbilis (paullinia cupana) distinguished with respect to its caffeine content from the fruits of all the other numerous species of paullinia that grow in those parts? Perhaps an inhabitant of the forests, weary and dying of hunger after an unsuccessful hunting expedition, had recourse to the seeds, chewed them, and soon experienced a feeling of comfort, refreshment, and lessened hunger. These are questions which will never be answered.
At the present time, as in days of yore, the Mattes and Munduruktis of the lower and middle Tapajoz collect in October the completely ripe dark-brown seeds which are contained in pear-like capsules terminating in a short point. They scrape or grind them and knead the resulting powder on heated slabs with water to a paste. After adding a few whole seeds the substance is rolled into cylinders approximately 12 to 30 cm. long and up to 5 cm. thick, which if dried in smoke keep for many years. Amylaceous substances are regularly added to this plastic mass, such as mandioca starch and cocoa powder. This is the origin of Guarana Pastel' with the aid of which the Indians prepare a beverage, aqua branca, i.e. white water, which is an article of export to Bolivia, Matto Grosso, etc. The canoes which in spite of the numerous cataracts and rapids come from Matto Grosso down the Arinos and Tapajoz loaded with ipecacuanha and hides take in at Santarem on the Amazon, which is an imoprtant commercial centre for the traffic in guarana, a valuable return freight of guarana lumps. In the same way the large boats on the Madeira always transport a certain quantity of the drug to Bolivia, for in Cuyaba as well as in Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Cochabamba there are many persons who cannot live without guarana, and would rather fast than forbear drinking the beverage. In these parts the price of guarana is approximately ten times as high as it is in the countries of origin inhabited by the Mau& and the Mundurulais. Many Bolivians take the beverage soon after sunrise immediately on awakening and cannot carry out their day's work without it. The tribes occupied with its preparation do not consume it to a considerable extent.
Guarana paste is as hard as stone, as brown as chocolate, and has a slightly bitter taste. In the preparation of the beverage it is scraped as fine as possible with a grater or the hard palate of a fish, the pirarucu (sudis gigas). Sugar is then added and one teaspoonful of the powder is drunk cold, with a glass of water. Its taste reminded me of almonds or cocoa. According to the observations of Crevaux, the Piapoko, who inhabit the territory between the Magdalena and the Orinoco, scrape the quarter of an unripe fruite approximately 12 mm. long, called cupanna, and drink it with water.
As the seeds contain 4 to 5 per cent caffeine, and the guarana paste may contain the same amount, it will be understood that a beverage with exciting properties prepared from this drug will be highly appreciated and eagerly desired. Naturally, it is occasionally applied to abuse, and the symptoms of increased nervous excitability which arise are the same as in the case of coffee and tea.
In 1528, Hernando Cortez returned to Spain bringing as a result of his expedition the news of the conquest of Mexico and the knowledge of cocoa and its use. The importance which he himself attributed to the plant is clearly shown in a letter to the Emperor Charles V, in which he describes the plantations of the fruit-supplying tree: "On the lands of one farm two thousand trees have been planted; the fruits are similar to almonds and are sold in a powdered state."
How long have the Mexicans utilized the seeds for general consumption? The answer is "always," in the same sense and to the same extent as in all other substances of this kind. The Spaniards found the beans in use as small coin in commercial traffic in Mexico, rates and taxes were paid with theobroma seeds. The whole population consumed the preparation habitually. Fifty vessels of aromatic chocolate were prepared daily for the Emperor Montezuma. It had a consistency similar to honey, was served in golden goblets, and eaten with spoons of gold or decorated tortoise-shell. Chocolate early found its way from Mexico to Spain in the form of tablets or slabs and soon became popular. It did not reach other countries till many years later. In Flanders and Italy it did not appear before 1606. Antonio Colmenero reported in 1631, that the number of cocoa-users in these countries was very considerable. The complicated Mexican mode of preparing the beverage, which he described, was soon simplified, and only sugar or honey, vanilla, and cinnamon was added to the cocoa. In the year 1650, chocolate was introduced into France and England.
Its triumphant conquest of the rest of the world soon took place, but not without its meeting exaggerated praise and censure. Some considered the beverage as a vital necessity:
Ambrosia est Superum potus, cocolata virorum:
Haec hominum vitam protrahit, ilia deum.
The beverage of the Gods was Ambrosia; that of man is chocolate. Both increase the length of life in a prodigious manner.
A poet once went thus far in his eulogy, and Linnaeus called the tree which supplies the cocoa bean theobroma cacao, i.e. cocoa, the food of the gods. On the other hand, Benzoni at the end of the sixteenth century thought chocolate more fit for pigs than for men, and the great botanist Lecluse was of the same opinion: Porcorum eaverius colluvies quam hominum potio. It is not possible to discuss questions of individual taste. The opinion of some persons does not prevent a substance like cocoa from exercising its attractive powers on human appreciation and desire. The consumption of chocolate only diminished in the time of Federick II because criminals used it as a vehicle of poison. Apart from this, the use of cocoa has increased considerably during recent centuries, especially in the last few decades. Its progress is more rapid than that of tea or coffee. Whereas the consumption of tea in Germany has increased three and a half times in the last thirty years, that of cocoa increased twelve times up to 1914. In 1908, 0.52 kilogramme, and in 1912 0.81 kilogrammes of cocoa was imported per head of the population.
While in days of old cocoa was the favourite beverage of the Spanish-American peoples only, from Mexico to Chile, without excepting those who prepare excellent coffee, e.g. the inhabitants of Guatemala and Costa Rica, it is at the present day increasingly appreciated in other countries. Nevertheless it is consumed to the greatest extent by the Spaniards and Portuguese, whose consumption equals 1 kilogramme per head of the population.
Theobroma cacao is a tree 6 to 12 metres in height; it originates in the hot parts of America (Mexico, Guatemala, Guiana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, etc.), and is cultivated in Asia (Java, the Philippines, etc.), in Africa (Togo, Cameroon, East Africa, Bourbon), and in the Greater and Lesser Antilles. It produces seeds in the form of beans of a bitter taste which are either left to a kind of fermentation in pits in the earth for a few days or are dried in the sun and then worked up.
The components of the raw and peeled beans are mainly characterized by 2 per cent theobromine, fatty matter more than 50 per cent, starch up to 15 per cent, and a total amount of nitrogen of 16 per cent.
Before human consumption the seeds are subjected to several processes, such as roasting with supercharged steam at a temperature of 130°C in order to remove the fatty matter. Nevertheless cocoa powder generally still contains about 13 to 38 per cent fat. Foreign substances are largely added to the commercial varieties, but the ordinary composition of cocoa indicates its nourishing qualities.
May cocoa be regarded as having other properties than those of a valuable foodstuff? Its theobromine is accompanied by small quantities of caffeine. Theobromine is dimethylxanthine, caffeine is trimethylxanthine. Both belong to the group of purines, several of which are products of the chemical processes of the human organism. According to my interpretation these purines (whether methylated or not) are not only produts but also active substances. I think they are excitants for certain functions of the organism, among others those of the ductless glands, even if they are only produced in minute quantities in the body. The stimulating effects of cocoa increase with its theobromine content. The stimulating action of theobromine is doubtless far inferior to that of caffeine, but it exists, although less evident than that of the latter. Individual differences in the energy of the effects may naturally be ascertained not only after ingestion of theobromine but also after consumption of cocoa. There are extremely sensitive persons who experience cardiac and visual disturbances, as well as gastric disorders, even after the consumption of chocolate.
The stimulating effects of cocoa have been proved by direct experiment with a daily consumption fo 25 to 30 gr. Single doses of 25 gr. also gave rise to disagreeable toxic symptoms such as trembling, headaches, acceleration of the pulse, etc. In isolated cases these deviations from the normal effects have been observed after consumption of chocolate. It cannot be ascertained to what extent foreign additions to the cocoa substance are responsible for these effects.
Historical and General Information
There are many ways of classifying and distinguishing the peoples of the world. They might be enumerated according to profession, rank, belief, nationality, political opinion, temperament, physical and mental qualities, and so on. The use of tobacco, however, permits us to reduce these categories to two: smokers and non-smokers. More than that, this classification has a practical importance in everyday life. Those who want to indulge in the habit of smoking must travel in separate compartments. There are smoking and nonsmoking compartments. The smoker is obliged to refrain from his desire when entering a place where an atmosphere of dignity reigns: one does not smoke in church, or in the law-courts, nor when entering the houses of people one does not know very well.
It is not tobacco as such but the mode of its application which has placed this substance in a class by itself. For the discreet, snuffing or chewing of tobacco is not in the least subject to social restrictions, though it is just as much a form of nicotinism as smoking. In former times, however, the smoking of tobacco in public, even where the sanctity of the locality or respect of persons did not arise, was considered an infringement of social morality and even punished. In Prussia the prohibition of smoking in the street was not abolished till the year 1848.
The use of tobacco has been subjected to the common lot of all similar substances. Hated and beloved by man, its destiny was ruled by the changes of the ages and the progress of civilization. These vicissitudes were perhaps more marked in the case of tobacco than in that of the other substances. At the present day its irresistible penetration among the habits of both the primitive and highly civilized peoples of the earth is continually increasing, and can only be compared to that of alcohol; it even surpasses the latter, since the religious motives which in the Orient excluded alcohol as an intoxicating substance do not apply.
On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus dropped anchor at Guanahani, one of the Bahama Islands. On October 29 he drew near Cuba and on November 2 he sent two Spaniards on an expedition from which they returned on November 6. They reported that they had met many men and women who held in their hands a piece of burning charcoal which they maintained with the aid of odoriferous herbs. These consisted of dry herbs wrapped up in a large dry leaf; they were like the small muskets with which Spanish children play at Whitsun. They were lighted at one end and the people sucked at the other and drank the smoke, as it were, by inhaling it. This rendered them somnolent and intoxicated, but apparently inhibited the experience of fatigue. The people call these kinds of muskets "tabacos." De las Casas, the Bishop of Chiapas, who published the letters of Columbus in which this description is contained, states: "I know of Spaniards who imitate this custom, and when I reprimanded the savage practice, they answered that it was not in their power to refrain from indulging in the habit. Although the Spaniards were extremely surprised by this peculiar custom, on experimenting with it themselves they soon obtained such pleasure that they began to imitate the savage example." In this way one of the most powerful motives which influence man and human events, the instinct of imitation, vindicated itself. Very soon detailed descriptions of the various means of tobacco-smoking were forthcoming. Only four years later the hermit Romano Pane, whom Columbus after his second voyage left on Hispaniola (Haiti) in order to convert the natives, and who learnt their language and customs, described the habit of inhaling the fumes with the aid of a forked pipe which was inserted into the nostrils and held over the smoking tobacco which was glowing on charcoal. He also described the properties of this smoke, which intoxicated the smokers and rendered him sleepy. Other documents of this period tell us that those who were under the influence of tobacco-smoke regarded their sensations and dreams as supernatural and therefore considered the plant sacred. We may, however, state at once that in the mode of smoking above indicated the narcotic effects accompanied by diminished consciousness are mainly due to the carbon monoxide of the burning charcoal which is inhaled together with the tobacco fumes.
Heavy work in the mines, famine, and the cruelty of the Spaniards reduced the number of Indians, which was estimated at three million, in a few decades to 20,000. The abominable import of negroes from Africa commenced at this time. The Christian Genoese were responsible for it. Pope Leo X declared it permissible because the negroes, not being Christians, were not suited to be at liberty, and the knowledge of the Gospel compensated them for their loss of freedom. These negroes soon became accustomed to tobacco and, according to the observations of Oviedo y Valdes in 1513, cultivated the plant on their masters' plantations.
Bishop de las Casas, who protested against this kidnapping and the other misdeeds of the Christians, experienced the same impressions as Columbus on seeing the Indians smoking. The use of tobacco (petuna) was known in all the islands of the Antilles and the neighboring continent at the time of Columbus' voyages. The Aztecs and Toltecs in Mexico smoked tobacco in pipes finely painted and gilt or made of burnt clay. The herb, which was consecrated to the goddess Cihuacoatl, was called ye (yet!). In the years 1512 to 1535 this custom was also practised in Central America, Yucatan, Darien, Panama, and Brazil, but not by all the tribes. It was unknown on the banks of the La Plata, in Prana and Paraguay, and in the countries of the west coast, Quito, Peru, and Chile. In 1512, at the time when Ponce de Leon discovered Florida, Indians and in 1535 Canadians, were observed to be addicted to smoking tobacco (upawoc).
Excavations made during the last century in several of the United States of America which have revealed tobacco pipes, seem to prove that the use of tobacco also extended to other parts of America. This is not surprising, for commerce and trade between one people and another and migration of whole races has taken place as long as mankind has existed. The final result has been the extension of the use of tobacco to the most distant parts of the world, and there is no language, however poor in words it may be, without an expression for tobacco, just as there exist everywhere words for bread, water, and death.
The whole of Asia from the coast of the Mediterranean to the Polar Sea and eastward to the Pacific Ocean, with its world of islands, extending beyond the Torres Straits to Australia, represents an enormous territory where tobacco is smoked, and occasionally snuffed or chewed, frequently with such avidity that we arrive at the conclusion that the nicotine habit is an integral part of the lives of the inhabitants. In the south of Nias the first greeting is usually: "Faniso Toca' !" "Faniso saki e," i.e. "Tobacco, sir, strong tobacco," and then: "We die, sir, if we have no tobacco."
Tobacco is also very extensively employed over the whole of America, from the boundary of the Polar Sea, including Greenland, to Tierra del Fuego, and in Europe it is also used to a great extent; likewise in Africa from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Cape of Good Hope and from the western to the eastern coast. Primitive races and highly refined Europeans are equally prone to its use; just as are the Wawira, the Pygmy tribes of the majestic forests of Africa, the primitive Bushman of the vast Kalahari desert, the man whose country is the sun-parched plains of the Sahara, the Eskimo, who is indifferent to eternal snow, frost, and icy tempests because his physical organism represents the finest example of teleological adaptation, or the South Sea islander who lives in the tropical splendor and primitive superabundance of the fertility of nature.
On the other hand the number of tobaccophobes, those who oppose tobacco in Europe and other countries, is hardly worth mentioning. The Parsis for instance, who look upon fire as the Almighty and the universal purifying element, refrain for this reason from profaning it by smoking. The Sikhs in India, the religious sect of the Semeskes in the valley of Chikoi on the way from Kyashta to Urga, the Modammedan Tungus or the Russian sect of the Kirshaks, who live in the Altai between Southern Siberia and Mongolia and, although drinkers of spirits, have renounced tobacco, the monks in the cloisters of Central Korea, strictly observant Moors, the Rif people who only snuff, all these refrain from smoking tobacco. Some Abyssinian Christians seek to distinguish themselves from Mohammedans by renouncing tobacco, and among some tribes of the Sinai Peninsula trading in and possession of tobacco are said to be severely punished. The Sentissi of the Libyan desert, the inhabitants of some islands of the Pacific Ocean, for instance the Purdy Island near the Admiralty Islands, and the natives of New Hanover do not smoke. Nevertheless, the descendants of all these tribes and sects will one day make the close acquaintance of tobacco in the form of smoke or powder as an excitant for their mucous membrane. Without taking these relatively unimportant exceptions into consideration it will be found that tobacco is used over the whole world, whether man is at work or at rest, during his daily struggle for the means of existence or when peacefully enjoying his leisure. It is also employed by the Indians of South America, the Jibaros and others, during the performance of certain religious ceremonies. These Indians, according to the reports of Karsten, also smoke for pleasure, but use only imported tobacco, whereas that cultivated by themselves is reserved for religious purposes in order to accentuate the magic powers of the body, to increase its resistance against evil spirits, and as a narcotic for the production of dreams.
Its Modes of Employment
The different modes of utilizing tobacco have not changed since Europeans began to know of the drug. This is especially the case with regard to the snuffing and smoking of tobacco, two methods of application which for a long time developed on parallel lines. In the year 1558, when tobacco was introduced into Portugal, the powdered leaf was stuffed into the nose. then, after Jean Nicot, the French ambassador at the Portuguese Court in 1560, had sent some seeds of the plant which he had cultivated himself to Catherine de' Medici in France, snuffing was the first mode of application and Herba Nicotiana was cultivated for the first time in the latter country. The Queen became patroness of the plant, which was at that time called Herba Medicea or Herba Catherinea. The poet and historian Buchanan directed a bitter epigram against this appelation. He said that this name would cause tobacco to lose all its good properties and transform them into poison, for Catherine was the scum, the pestilence, and the Medea of her century:
At Medice Catharina icoteapita luesque suorum Medea seculi sui
Ambitione ardens, Medicaeae nomine plantam Nicotianam adulterat.
This queen also caused her sons, Francois II and Charles IX, when ill, to apply tobacco snuff as a medicinal remedy for headaches.2° The "Tabac a priser," the "Panacee Catherinaire" naturally became very popular at the Court of the Queen, both among the rich and very soon also among the people, and was employed against all kinds or real or imaginary diseases as well as to excite the nerves. At first it was a mere fashion, but afterwards became a fixed habit. At a later date Spanish sailors and soldiers spread the use of tobacco over other parts of the world. In the sixteenth century the Spanish priests had grown so accustomed to smoking and snuff-taking that they did not even refrain from indulging in this habit during Mass or when celebrating Communion. The dean and chapter of Seville therefore approached Pope Urban VIII, who in order to inhibit this scandalous abuse excommunicated those who smoked or snuffed tobacco (Espagnol, Spaniol) in the churches of Spain. This was the same Pope who in his leisure hours made bouquets and presented them to ladies of Rome. In 1650 Pope Innocent X issued an equally menacing edict against snuff-taking in the church of St. Peter in Rome, which was soiled thereby. In spite of all this, snuff-taking was continued to the verge of a mania.
The snuff-box, the tabatiere, was an integral part of the costume of gentlemen from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. It became an object of luxury. Made of porcelain, silver or gold, and decorated with precious stones, art gave it various forms which were in great demand. The English statesman Petersham had a different snuffbox for every day of the year, and was very angry if his valet did not give him the right one for the day in question. In the English Budget of 1822 the sum of £22,500 sterling is mentioned among the State expenses, this amount being spent by the British monarch on snuffboxes which were dedicated to the noses of foreign ambassadors. Frederick II transformed his waistcoat pockets into snuff-boxes, and Napoleon, who was a very ardent snuff-taker, scattered large quantities of tobacco on his clothes. When during a sitting of his council he became nervous and found the regard of a high dignitary resting on him, he stretched out his arm and made a sign with his thumb and forefinger. The person in question then hurried to hand him his tabatiere. The emporer played with it, scattered its contents over the table, and at last thoughtlessly placed it in his pocket. Occasionally several disappeared into his pocket in this manner. After the termination of the meeting, the Emperor, or Josephine, found them and sent them back to their owners. Frequently, however, they were exchanged, so that, for instance, instead of a wooden snuff-box, one made of gold studded with diamonds was returned. In order perhaps to avoid the loss of a souvenir the counsellors used snuff-boxes of cardboard or other material of little value.
In the course of the last century snuff-taking has lost many followers in Europe, but in other parts of the world the habit is still indulged in, for instance in the Caucasus by the Chewsuri women, in Turkey (Burmotu tobacco, Burmut), by the Afghans, Mongols, Tibetans, in Chinese Turkestan—every Shantu has his small gourd with tobacco hanging from his waist-band from which he takes a pinch from time to time—and ardently by the inhabitants of East Greenland and to a considerable extent by the women of the west coast.
In Africa this mode of application of tobacco is in vogue in many parts. The following will serve to prove this statement: In Nubia and Abyssinia the Somali and Danakils take snuff, frequently adding alkaline charcoal or an alkaline sodium salt (Soda, Atron, Magadi) to their tobacco. The latter tribe are also stated to add saltpetre to the snuff. The °roma have small pouches for snuff (nuschtitk) which is a mixture of tobacco and ashes. This particular custom exists also in Angola. It is especially remarkable because in this mode of utilizing tobacco, as in that of coca and betel, the people's instinct discovered the right way of augmenting the action of the drug, namely the use of an alkaline substance which sets free the active principle, in this case nicotine. Many African tribes smoke, take snuff, and also chew tobacco, for instance, the Wafiome, Wambugwe, and Warundi. The last-named, after having taken snuff, generally pinch their noses in the gap of a half-split piece of wood in order to prolong the effects. The Washashi and other peoples near the Victoria Nyanza, the Wakuafi, Wangori, Wataturi, Wapokomo, the Turkana of Lake Rudolf, the Nilotic tribes, all make use of tobacco. The negroes of the Congo and the Cameroons add to their imported Kentucky tobacco a third part of the alkaline ash of the shell of a pisang which has been roasted and reduced to a fine powder. The Munchis in the territory of the Agara smoke out of large clay pipes which pass from hand to hand during a meeting. Detzner observed others incessantly pouring the finely powdered tobacco out of leather pouches on the palms of their hands in order to stimulate their imagination by the sight of large doses. In the highlands of Angola tobacco is mainly smoked by the women. The men pass the pipe from mouth to mouth after having taken a few whiffs. They also take snuff in the form of finely powdered "ball-tobacco." The latter is prepared by pressing the fresh leaves between the hands and forming them into balls, which are then dried. This tobacco has a very marked exciting action. The Vey in Liberia, the Barotse, etc., also use tobacco, and in Morocco tobacco for snuffing is in great demand.
The Inglete Indians on the banks of the Yukon (Alaska) smoke tobacco, and also inhale it powdered from a box in their noses with the aid of a wooden pipe.
The Bonis in Guiana practice the peculiar custom of inhaling a concentrated extract of tobacco through the nose. The Uitotos on the banks of the Yapura blow powdered tobacco into their own noses, or those of others, with the aid of tubes made of bone in the form of a cross. The tobacco is in the cavity of the tube and the end of the tube held by one in his mouth leads into the nose of the other.
The Jibaros and many other tribes of Ecuador smoke tobacco on festive occasions, and also take it through the nose in the form of an infusion or an extract prepared with saliva. The women imbibe it. Such tobacco fluids are employed not only on special occasions but also on ordinary days. The Jibaro washes his mouth very early in the morning with an infusion of ilex; he then boils some tobacco leaves, pours the decoction into the hollow of his hand, and repeatedly sucks the liquid up through the nose and lets it run off again through the mouth. By these means the head is said to be kept clear, the organism influenced favourably, and headaches and catarrhs avoided.
There are various forms and modes of application of chewing-tobacco. English sailors in the middle of the seventeenth century were much addicted to its use. Admiral Monk, later Duke of Albemarle, who restored the English royal house, was a passionate tobacco-chewer. This form of the application of tobacco still obtains to some extent at the present day, but only in some classes of the population.
When tobacco is chewed or snuffed the active principles are extracted by the mucous membranes, in the one case of the nose and in the other of the mouth. The extracted nicotine-containing juice is absorbed in the nose and passes thence into the lymph canals. When tobacco is chewed the extract swallowed is absorbed by the mucous membranes of the stomach. In Europe waste tobacco useless for smoking is employed for the preparation of snuff and chewing-tobacco. Other waste substances are also added to snuff and the whole product is frequently impregnated with a tobacco-juice which is not always harmless. In other parts of the world chewing-tobacco is prepared in a far more simple manner. The Hova in Madagascar introduces powdered tobacco with an adroit movement of his hand between his lower lip and his teeth and chews it in this manner. The inhabitants of the interior use sauced leaves, i.e. leaves which have been soaked in tobacco juice, for the same purpose. The Somali chew or eat tobacco-leaves or small balls of tobacco and ashes. The North-Western Galla leave the tobacco-leaves to ferment, boil them, remove the juice by pressure and form the substance into bread-like lumps weighing 45 to 90 grammes. Occasionally cowdung is added. In Harar and South Arabia the women also chew tobacco. The Vey, the Golah, and the Pessy in Liberia triturate the tobacco with soap and the ashes of banana skins in small mortars. The mixture is preserved in sheep or goat horns with closed lids, an instinctively judicious precaution to prevent the evapouration of the nicotine. A small spoonful of this mixture is then cautiously inserted under the tongue.
The chewing of tobacco is also to be found in other parts of Africa, for instance in Tripoli, in the interior of Togo, etc. The same is also the case in Eastern Asia, for instance in the Malay Archipelago, by the Dyaks, the Alfuru, who also smoke, in the Malay Peninsula, etc. South American tribes also indulge in the chewing of tobacco. Koch-Grunberg, for example, states that a Waika kept a thick roll of tobacco between his lower lip and his teeth and chewed it so thoroughly that the brown juice flowed down from both corners of this mouth. After some time he removed the roll of tobacco and pushed it into the mouth of a friend sitting next to him.
Chimp is a paste made of tobacco-juice which is inspissated by boiling to the consistency of tar and to which ashes or soda, or occasionally opium, is added. This preparation is taken in doses of the size of a pea by the men and women of Venezuela, the provinces of Maracaibo, Trujillo, etc. The people state that it banishes hunger, stimulates and soothes the spirits, and gives solace in all cases of physical and mental distress. A very considerable adaptation of the organism must have taken place to permit the absorption of this powerful nicotine preparation which is taken frequently and in relatively strong doses. In the course of an experiment where a person retained a dose of the substance for ten minutes in his mouth a heaviness in the head was experienced and the weakness of the legs became so marked that he was hardly able to walk. The Arekunas in British Guiana prepare chewing-tobacco from fresh leaves which are cut into small pieces and black earth which is rich in saltpetre, and the Greenlanders mix their tobacco with the remnants in their pipes for the same purpose.
There are two other variants of the habit, which consist of licking and drinking tobacco.
The Uitotos and Miranyas, who inhabit the territory between the Caqueta and the Putumayo, boil tobacco-leaves with water to a mass of syrupy consistency which, when wrapped in leaves, can be preserved and sent away. In the evening the men meet and sit together chewing coca. If an important matter has to be attended to, such as an expedition for war or hunting, everyone dips his fore- and middle fingers into the pot of tobacco syrup and licks it from them. This licking of tobacco corresponds to an oath.
The Jibaros drink tobacco-water, or an extract prepared with saliva, as a dream-producing narcotic. They retire into the forests in order to enter into communication with their ancestors in the Rancho specially reserved for this purpose. They remain there up to eight days and return in an emaciated and fatigued state, for they eat nothing save a roasted banana daily, but they are happy and content if the dreams are favourable. The medicine men of the Taulipang and other South American tribes evoke in themselves a hallucinatory and visionary intoxication by the excessive smoking of strong tobacco and especially by drinking strong tobacco-juice. In this state the soul is separated from the body, according to the belief of the Indians, and after the return to normal conscoiusness the impression remains that what has been experienced is real.
Many pages might be covered in this way with descriptions of the different means which various peoples of the earth employ when making use of tobacco. It would also be ascertained that without knowledge of the chemistry of tobacco man has invented all kinds of preventive measures, frequently effective, against the absorption of the combustion products of the smoke. In order to prevent them from reaching the mouth, for instance, he has made the smoke pass through a layer of water, or more primitively, as has been observed in Makaraka, the smoker placed a small wisp of finely divided fibres into his mouth through which he inhaled the smoke. Tribes in the territory of the White Nile suck the smoke through spherical or pear-like gourds which are full of the fibres of hibiscus, which is similar to hemp.
Along the south-east coast of New Guinea from the Torres Straits to the East Cape the inhabitants smoke at social meetings with the aid of the "Baubau", a tube 11/2 metres long which is open at one end and has a small aperture at the other. A bag or cone made of the leaf of a tree and filled with tobacco is ignited and inserted into the small opening. The chief smoker sucks the tube full of smoke, which his neighbours one after the other inhale in their turn until no smoke is left in the tube. The chief smoker sets to work again until all present, children included, are satisfied.
The natives of the Bismarck Archipelago, for instance in New Pomerania, prepare their own large cigars. They hold them in their fists, and after having blown through them several times, inhale the smoke into the lungs.
The Maoris of New Zealand, both men and women, smoke, and if the child which is carried by its mother on her back cries too loudly, the pipe is pushed into its mouth.
In Liberia women and children open the mouth as wide as possible so that tobacco smoke may be blown into it.
At the "festival of the men" of the Jibaros, on the banks of the Rio Pasteza, the youth who is about to become an adult is prepared for the ceremony by fasting. Cigar-smoke is then blown into his mouth with the aid of a tube by the master of ceremonies. The fumes of a whole cigar are thus swallowed by the novice and pass into his stomach. This process is repeated from six to eight times on both days of the festival and exercises a very powerful influence on the young man, the more so because tobacco juice is also served. Narcosis sets in, and in this state he sees spirits which prophesy his future and endow him with strength, knowledge, and happiness. In some tribes the master of ceremonies places the burning end of the cigar in his mouth and the other in the mouth of the novice, and blows the smoke, which is then swallowed by the latter.
The inhabitants of the islands of the Torres Straits, those of the western part of New Guinea, and the Sakai already smoked leaves similar to tobacco before becoming acquainted with Europeans. A plant similar to tobacco was smoked by the Tlinkit before they were discovered, and Lieutenant Whidbey, of Vancouver, observed tobacco plantations in the Chatham Straits. It is very probable that the leaves of nicotiana suaveolens were smoked in New Holland before Europeans arrived there.
The "normal" manner of smoking a pipe, a cigar, or a cigarette also offers many variations, from the typical ejection of the smoke from the mouth to the ingenious methods which modern cigarette smokers, adult and juvenile, have invented. One emits the inhaled smoke after some time from his nose, another, the "lung-smoker," inhales it, like the Indian of the Rocky Mountains, far into the respiratory organs and gives it off in the form of a large cloud, a third swallows the smoke and ejects it unexpectedly at an opportune moment. These artists in smoking do not dream that very frequently these pretty tricks have harmful results to which they may one day fall victims.
Women and children also participate in smoking to a great extent, not only as in former times those of primitive and distant countries, but also those living in civilized environments. The older women of Bogota in Columbia are not satisfied with smoking cigarettes like ladies of the social standing, but also take cigars, and in order to increase the pleasure frequently insert the burning end into their mouths. In Paraguay mothers insert the cigar into the mouth of their infants, and the children of the Buryats at the southern end of the Lake Baikal, even when hardly able to stand on their feet, smoke tobacco mixed with the bark of trees. The men, women and children of the Manguns on the banks of the lower Amur, of the Ostyaks, Samoyeds, and other tribes of north-eastern Asia, are passionately addicted to smoking. The smoke of an abominable tobacco, Machorka, is swallowed by the Ostyaks and then ejected again. The same is found in the Indian Islands, for instance the Nicobars, Philippines, Solomons, etc., where the children already smoke shortly after having been weaned. This is also the case with the Australian aborigines.
This craving for tobacco which the women of countries far from civilization in Asia, Melanesia, Polynesia, Africa, and America exhibit and satisfy—only a few tribes forbid the habit to women—has invaded the female sex in countries where the modern spirit, the spirit of to-day, the spirit of emancipation from ancient prejudices reigns. It is not a question of some old peasant woman inserting an old and dirty pipe inherited from her deceased husband into her toothless mouth, but of the mainly juvenile female flower of the nation, the "Emancipata fumans vulgaris," who should bear fruit in time to come, but frequently fails to do so because the foolish consumption of cigarettes has impregnated the sexual organs with smoke and nicotine and keeps them in a state of irritation and inflammation. Such women as homely vestals should nourish a fire of quite another sort, for their mouth is ordained for other things than to be transformed into a smoking chimney and to smell of tobacco juice.
The Conquest of Mankind by Tobacco
After the introduction of tobacco into Europe and the spread of the knowledge of its properties the increasing demand for the drug was soon in greater part met by European cultivation of the plant. The quantities imported into Europe by Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English sailors in the middle of the sixteenth century were but small. At the time when Walter Raleigh in 1586 brought tobacco from Virginia to England there were in Portugal whole plantations, the seeds probably having been obtained from Yucatan. Tobacco was also grown in some parts of Germany, in Suhl even in 1559; but it was not before the time of the Thirty Years' War that its cultivation was of any importance. At the beginning it was only used for horticultural or purely medicinal purposes, but it soon became a factor of economic importance on account of the increasing consumption of tobacco as a stimulant. Only two of the forty-one species of Nicotiana, nicotiana tabacum and nicotiana rustica, are cultivated for this purpose at the present day. In all temperate and subtropical climates there are plantations of these two species and the consumption of them is enormous. Statistics, however, can only be given for civilized countries. It is impossible to estimate the amounts consumed by the producers from the depths of the virgin forest to the unknown tobacco-fields of distant lands.
The following countries consume between 2 to 3 kg. annually per head of population on a decreasing scale: Holland, the United States, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria-Hungary, less than 2 kg. in Germany, Australia, Scandinavia, Russia, France, Italy, Spain, etc.
Many obstacles were met with before the plantations necessary to meet the increasing demand could be started and before tobacco was able to conclude its conquest of the world. Very early the always unwise restrictions of Governments became manifest which frequently made use of barbaric methods at a time before tobacco was recognized as a substance of high economic and financial value for collecting taxes.
In all ages all artificial desires have from time to time been opposed by the severity of the law. The use of tobacco also had mighty enemies animated by reasons of sentiment, political economy, and religious scruples, but they nevertheless failed in their aim of preventing the consumption of tobacco. I have already described the manner in which the Pope proceeded by interdictions and punishments against tobacco-users in the churches of Spain and Rome. It was of no avail, for in 1725 the Pope had to capitulate to the weed. Benedict XIII, who himself liked to take snuff, annulled all edicts which had hitherto been issued against the "dry drunkenness," as it was called in Germany, in order to avoid the scandalous spectacle of dignitaries of the Church hastening out in order to take a few clandestine whiffs in some corner away from spying eyes.
In Germany also there were many prohibitions. In Luneburg in 1691 the death penalty was still in force against smoking, "the abominable habit of drinking tobacco." In Saxony it was forbidden to smoke in the street and in stage-coaches, and by an edict of 1723 in Berlin also. In the eighteenth century an edict was issued in Saxe-Gotha in terms of paternal solicitude as follows: "In view of the fact that many persons make use of tobacco in an inopportune and exaggerated manner, which is very harmful, parents should prohibit its use in their families to prevent them from coming to harm. A person excessively addicted to this evil should be reprimanded like any other drunkard or handed over to the authorities for severe punishment. Likewise tobacco must not be sold on credit or be the object of debts, and those who sell it on credit will be severely punished."
In Transylvania and Hungary in 1689, a fine of 300 florins was imposed for the offence of smoking, and in the former country the cultivation of tobacco was punished by the confiscation of the fortune of the offender. In Switzerland, especially in Berne, the smoking of tobacco was regarded as a grave criminal offence in 1660, and in 1849 a law was promulgated in Canton Valais which punished smoking by youths under twenty years of age with a fine or in case of repetition of the offence with imprisonment. Towards the end of the nineteenth century this legislation was formally renewed, with the result that the lower official of the State pointed out its uselessness on account of the popularity of tobacco. In Holland the passion for smoking had increased to such an extent that the students indulged in it to excess, in spite of the abjurations of the faculty of medicine, which condemned tobacco because it "blackened the brain." This is a fine example of the many stupid but amusing professorial dicta, about which a book might well be written. The students while away their time in "tobacco houses." At that period children might be seen at table with pipes in their mouths. In England in 1603 James I wrote his "Misocapnus" (the tobacco-hater), in which he attributes all evils to tobacco. Very soon, however, he imposed a tax on tobacco, as did Charles I, and proved in this way that he was a good financier. In 1652 the cultivation of tobacco in England was prohibited for the benefit of the American colonies. In Sweden smoking was prohibited by Gustav III, the king who confessed that he hated nothing on earth more than tobacco and the German language!
In Turkey tobacco first became known in 1605, and in 1642 it was taken as snuff. The clergy protested because it violated the laws of the Koran. The nose of the tobacco-user was pierced, the stem of a pipe passed through the hole, and he was ridden through the street on a donkey. Murad (Amurath) IV in 1620 punished the smoking of tobacco with the death-penalty, to be immediately carried out in one of the ancient forms agreeable to God. Mohammed IV permitted it once more. In Persia the smoking of tobacco was in old times punished by death, and in Russia the Tzar Michael Fedorovitch had done to death everyone of his beloved subjects on whom tobacco was found, or who dealt in it or drank, i.e. smoked it. Their possessions were sold and the amount realized forfeited to the Imperial Treasury. Castigation was sometimes applied, and also the ingenious method of cutting off the nose, which was practised in Persia and Abyssinia. The Tzar Alexei Mikhailovitch had everyone on whom tobacco was found tortured until he disclosed the source from which he had obtained it.
The Mexican State of Tabasco quite recently put an Act into force by which everyone who smoked in public was liable to a special tax. Public smoking is placed on a level with public drunkenness.
There must have been some reason for these rigorous prohibitions, which were not merely of a political or private nature. For in the case of tobacco the State taxed the drug in its own interest far earlier and to a greater degree than in that of any other substance of the same kind. On the other hand, the smoker spends less on the consumption of tobacco than, for instance, on alcoholic beverages, or other private amusements. State duties on tobacco were imposed at a very early date. James I, the tobaccophobe, already levied a tax of 6s. 10d. on every hundredweight, and in France, where smoking became popular in the reign of Louis XIII, the pound was taxed 30 sous. Following the example of England, where in the reign of Charles I, in order to restore the finances, the colonial planters were forced to sell tobacco to the Government at a fixed price, other countries also imposed heavy duties, for instance Portugal in 1664, Austria in 1670, France in 1674, etc. When in Russia death-penalties and mutilations proved of no avail the Tzar Peter the Great sold to England a licence to import tobacco into Russia for £15,000 sterling.
Humboldt states that in the province of Cumana in Venezuela the cultivation of tobacco was, after the imposition of State control in 1779, mainly confined to a small district. In Mexico this was also the case in Orizaba and Cordova. The whole crop had to be sold to the State. It was for this reason that in order to avoid fraudulent trading, the plantations were limited to one territory. Surveyors scoured the country and destroyed every plantation outside the prescribed limits. They also brought an action against every poor Indian who took the risk of smoking a cigar the tobacco of which he had grown in his own garden and which had not passed through the hands of the Government.
Taxes on tobacco have continued until the present day to be an important source of revenue for many countries. At the beginning of this century France derived from its tobacco monopoly a clear profit of over 323 million francs, and the import duty on the raw and finished product in other countries without a monopoly reaches very large sums.
Its Good and Evil Effects
Now that we have described the motives which have created friends and enemies of tobacco and abstainers from its use during the course of the centuries, it only remains for us to consider the medical reasons for and against smoking. Why does man smoke, chew, and snuff tobacco? The description of de las Casas, previously quoted, of the habituation of the Spaniards to the smoking habit which they saw practised by the Indians and could not refrain from imitating, closes with the following words: "I do not know what benefit they derive from it." Others answer this question at a later date. Moliere makes Sganarelle say of snuff in the Festin de Pierre: "It not only refreshes and cleanses the brain, but also leads the soul to virtue and teaches honesty. Tobacco calls forth the desire for honour and virtue in all who make use of it. Aristotle and all philosophers may say what they like, there is nothing like tobacco. It is the habit of the best people, and those who live without tobacco are not worth keeping alive." Such intemperate language may be excused in the case of a layman, especially as it may be partly ironical, but the Dutch physician, Bontekoe, who lived at about the same time as Moliere, used similar words of praise: "Nothing is more necessary and beneficial to life and health than the smoke of tobacco. It gladdens the heart in solitude and relieves a sedentary life of all discomforts." The plant is described by others as an ornament to the earth, a present from Olympus, deserving for good reasons the praise of all the world.
Planta beata! decus terrarum, munus Olympi, . . . vix sanior herba Extitit et meritos jam nunc gratantur honores Africa gens, Asiaque ingens, Europaeaque nostra.
Many pages might be covered with verses alone, the product of the enthusiasm of snuff-taking or smoking poets of the last two centuries. But others poured many drops of gall into this sparkling wine. Moliere on account of his eulogy of tobacco was violently abused by Cohausen in the now famous book, Satyrical Thoughts of the Pica nasi or the Longings of the Concupiscent Nose, i.e. the Abuse and the Injurious Effects of Taking Snuff, in which Moliere is called a clown and rouge. "Tobacco is a great God in Brazil, and was cultivated and born in Virginia. He is a king in the vegetable realm and is sovereign of all parts of the world. All over the world the smoking lips of all nations sing his praises, thousands of hands are occupied in making pipes and snuff-boxes for his service; and not less numerous noses, his slaves, pay tribute in the face of the whole world. He is a hero who extends his power over the male sex and has in a hitherto unknown manner established an influence among women. I do not know whether he is the father or the stepfather of health. He is clandestinely allied with disease or triumphs over it. He is a true companion both of idleness and business, a courtier of princes and a comrade of the peasants in the sheepfold, a helper of the armies in the field and of the muses in the study." The author becomes very angry indeed when speaking of the snuff-taking peasants: "Even fellows behind the plough cannot abstain from inhaling the cherished plant with their flat noses. They love to scratch and besmirch their hairy nostrils with this stuff, and noses which hitherto were used only to the odour of cart-grease now smell 'Spanish.' The evil effects of snuff-taking are described: "The sense of smell has in many cases been weakened by the abuse of snuff, and very frequently lost altogether. This evil habit has caused the loss of eyesight, and many have become deaf. It is especially injurious to the brain as well as to the chest, the windpipe and the lungs."
In 1627 the French historian Sorel briefly and concisely calls tobacco the dessert of the devil. At an early date tobacco was accused of being a disturber of the health of the people in England, and in 1585 the historian Camden wrote: "At that time [i.e. in the reign of Queen Elizabeth] the people began to smoke out of pipes very frequently, and expended therein large sums of money; so that the impression was soon gained that the bodies of the English had degenerated to the state of barbarians."
Extremely numerous complaints have been put forward from those times to the present day with respect to the injurious effects of tobacco. These effects must be studied from a critical and a clinical point of view.
The activity of no other substance described in this book is subjected in such a degree as that of tobacco to modifying influences, the result of the varying composition of the product and its transformation during application. It may indeed be stated that the series of substances from opium to the stimulating purines must as a whole be regarded as nearly constant in their composition and their greater or lesser activity remains within narrow limits. On the other hand the active content in tobacco varies very much and the effects of these variations do not fail to become apparent even when individual resistance is left out of consideration. Moreover, tobacco as soon as it is being smoked ceases to be tobacco in the botanical and chemical sense of the word. It emits with a part of the active substances originally present a number of gaseous products which also play an important part. It will readily be understood that the production of these extremely various substances varies with the individual manner of smoking, and that they are all apt to be introduced into the organism and to give rise to more or less acute toxic symptoms, or gradually call forth effects differing in strength and form. We need only consider the differing aspects of some of the usual forms of tobacco-smoking. There is the short pipe, the pipe with a long stem and a cleansing tube, the very long student's pipe, the oriental water-pipe which absorbs the products of condensation of the smoke, the cigar, and the cigarette. Without any detailed chemical explanation it will easily be understood that the final biological consequences are influenced by these different circumstances under which the smoke is produced. The following substances are in this manner apt to affect the human organism: nicotine, nicoteine, nicotimine, nicotelline, the recently discovered nicotoine, and isonicotoine, a nitrogen-free acid oil with isovalerianic acid, products of the salt or aromatic caustic of the tobacco with unknown content, pyridin bases, prussic acid, and carbon monoxide. Even this list does not exhaust the number of substances produced by the combustion of tobacco. The extremely various forms of nicotinism are influenced by all kinds of conditional and determining factors. Apart from individual susceptibility, the manner of smoking is the most important of these. It is the latter which causes the mucous membranes of the respiratory organs to absorb more or less of the active substances.
In my own view cigarette-smoking is the most dangerous manner of utilizing tobacco.
The decisive factor in the effects of tobacco, desired or undesired, is nicotine, which is contained to the extent of from 2 to over 7 per cent, according to the kind of tobacco, and it matters little whether it passes directly into the organism or whether it is smoked. Four to five milligrammes of this alkaloid are contained and become active in the average cigarette or cigar. The "smoke-swallowers," for instance, the Koryaks of Eastern Asia, the Yakuts, the Motus of New Guinea, or the Papuans from Milne Bay to Teste Island with their kira, and others, exhibit acute symptoms of intoxication such as perspiration, dyspnoea, coughing, etc., on account of the large amount of smoke ingested. Among the Chukches total intoxication with collapse, etc., has been observed after deglutition of 6-7 whiffs of tobacco. Whymper saw the same occur among the Malemutts near Norton Sound in Alaska, and we have all seen this for ourselves in certain smokers.
The carbon monoxide contained in smoke probably plays an important part in the production of these effects, for 1 gr. of cigar or pipe tobacco furnishes more than 70 cc. of this gas. The noxious action is augmented if in addition to tobacco other substances are smoked which are liable to give off carbon monoxide, such as hair ( among the Samoyeds), wooden scrapings and aspen-bark (among the Yakuts), straw and wood (Burma), willow bark (Malemutts), or if, as in Angola and Liberia when tobacco is lacking, charcoal alone is smoked. The Bari in the Equatorial Province, the A-Sencle, and the Nuer smoke tobacco and charcoal in the same manner. In South America the tobacco is formed into cigars with the aid of fibres, e.g. of curatari guayensis or lecitys ollaria. There are many other specialties in the chemical constitution of tobacco or its smoke which are apt to render its use disagreeable, whether at once or after a lapse of time.
Abstracting from cases where tobacco is smoked to excess or in an injurious manner, a series of agreeable effects remain which have more or less consciously attracted mankind to its use. It must be pointed out that the attraction of tobacco is not exercised with that vigour and inexorable constraint which we have remarked in the case of the narcotic substances described in this work. If the use of tobacco has to be stopped for medical or other reasons, no suffering of the body or morbid desire for the drug appears. The consumption of tobacco is an enjoyment which man is free to renounce, and when he indulges in it he experiences its benevolent effects on his spiritual life.
Smoking does not call forth an exultation of internal well-being as does the use of wine, but it adjusts the working condition of the mind and the disposition of many mentally active persons to a kind of serenity or "quietism" during which the activity of thought is in no way disturbed, and from a physical point of view a certain calmness of movement occurs. In his letters written during his travels in Turkey, Moltke remarked that the tobacco-pipe was the magic wand which changed the Turk from one of the most turbulent of men into a lover of peace. Although the action of tobacco in most cases consists in banishing vacancy of mind and boredom, so that the layman has the impression of a slight narcosis, it is nevertheless a mild excitation. The latter dominates or substitutes other normal or natural states of excitation of the cerebral centres and directs them into other channels so that the final impression is one of self-forgetfulness without any irritation of the brain.
The smoking of cigarettes is somewhat different in its action and employment from that of the pipe or the cigar, which is the modern symbol of confidence and intimacy. The smoking of cigarettes is very extensively practised at present. It was during the Crimean war that French and English officers learnt this convenient mode of smoking from their Turkish allies. The fashion soon spread over the whole world, and is practised especially by the young to such a degree that the results of this excess have given rise to anxiety in medical circles. In England an Act was recently passed which prohibits smoking by persons under the age of sixteen, orders the guardians of the law to prosecute offenders, and forbids the sale of tobacco and cigarettes to persons under this age. In Norway a similar law has been put into force, and the State of Arkansas has taken more severe measures still. These are actuated by the best intentions, but unfortunately are without success.
As George Forster pointed out more than a hundred years ago in his treatise on "sweet-stuffs," young people are generally inspired by vanity to appear like grown-ups, and to this end make use of these substances. The youthful imitator experiences none of these sensations which appeal to the adult smoker. His mental activity, limited in depth and breadth, does not need a chemical impulse to put its total output at his disposal. It is not possible for irritants or stimulants to call forth more than is actually there; they cannot give rise to something which can only be the product of a further natural development. If in spite of this an artificial irritant of this kind habitually exercises its influence for some time it will, even in the case of a good constitution, result in material modifications not only of the brain but also of the organic functions dominated thereby if the use of the drug is not stopped in time. Only interesting lessons on human physiology in the schools will avail against the cigarette-mania among juveniles. This kind of instruction is certain to be very beneficial to the race, far more than the development of "physical culture" which is so much in vogue at the present day.
There is no hope for the inveterate cigarette-smoker. Not even the prospect of premature death serves to bring about a lessening of the passion, even if the organism has given warning in this respect. I have frequently made this observation in many cases where I have been consulted. Volenti non fit injuria! Such foolish folk, who would rather die of nicotinism than curb their passion for smoking, are also subject to predestination. Their ashes supply them with the final object of their desires.
Physical Disturbances Due to Tobacco
Even though less than 70 per cent of the nicotine were to pass into. the smoke, this amount together with the other substances rich in energy which pass into the lymph-canals represents a sum of active principles whose absorption by the organism cannot be ignored if smoking is indulged in to excess. The innate regulating forces concealed in the organism of which man is unaware, and which are a part of his total vital energy, are always ready to compensate or repair disorders due to internal or external injuries. But if these latter are incessantly repeated the compensating force has to be at work at all times in the organism. Naturally traces of this overwork are apt to occur, similar to functional callosities or scars, but the organs in question are able for a long time to preserve the external appearance of physiological and functional health.
As I have stated in the preceding pages, it has been sought to explain these inexplicable processes by another obscure expression, that of "habituation," which many experiences of daily life have made a current term. In the same way the fact that in some cases the compensation of the initial effects due to an injurious factor does not occur by the words "idiosyncrasy," "increased insensibility," and "intolerance." The action of nicotine especially, more than that of all the other substances previously studied, gives rise to two series of contradictory phenomena. Animals subjected to the repeated action of nicotine exhibit a state of habituation to the poison after a greater or lesser lapse of time. This habituation to the drug takes place very slowly in the case of young animals, which on the whole tolerate the substance to a lesser degree. There are also, however, series of experiments where habituation was completely lacking. After 10 to 100 injections of nicotine the reactions were the same as after the initial doses, both in nature and intensity. In animal cases of immunity towards certain modifications of a material order can also be ascertained, as for instance lesions of the aorta.
It is a well-known fact that the toleration of nicotine may reach a very great degree, although its intoxicating power is fifteen times as great as that of coniine, the active principle of hemlock. It is therefore not necessary to cite particular examples. It is also well known that inveterate smokers are not exempt from the symptoms of acute intoxication if they overpass the limit of toleration. It is, moreover, common knowledge that the use of tobacco for smoking and chewing does not necessitate a progressive increase of the dose as in the case in other toxic substances and that the symptoms due to withdrawal of tobacco, if they occur at all, are easily overcome. These latter consist of an extreme feeling of discomfort and eventually bad humour and dejection. It is very exceptionally that graver symptoms occur. There are very many experiences of everyday life which apprise us of the intoleration of tobacco, especially by juveniles. It is stated that the Arabs are not able to smoke our tobacco at all, because a few whiffs give rise to vertigo and headaches. Nervous people and those suffering from heart and vascular diseases and digestive troubles also exhibit a diminished resistance to tobacco.
The consequences of the abuse of tobacco are more numerous and various than in the case of any similar substance. There is no organ whose function may not suffer, and no functional disorder whose origin is not recognized as a manifestation of nicotinism. The statements of ignorant persons that a very advanced age can be reached in spite of smoking are true, but it is just as true that old age is not reached as a result of excessive smoking. And if when regarding the toxicosis of tobacco not death but disease only is taken into consideration, every attempt to acquit tobacco fails before the inexorable facts to the contrary. For there are hardly any chapters of pathology which are not connected in some way with the abuse of tobacco. Observations have been made of the inhibition of physical and intellectual development in the case of 187 students who smoked. It seems to me that, even if the importance attached to these investigations were not decisive, the whole manner of the action of tobacco-smoke and the substances contained therein is liable to be effective in this way, for instance with respect to the capacity of the lungs. It has repeatedly been observed that an increase of the excretion of sugar in the urine follows from smoking. It cannot be doubted at the present day that an alteration of a pathological kind in the walls of the vessels appears as a result of excessive consumption of tobacco, and this has also been proved in animals subjected to chronic nicotine poisoning. Aneurysmal dilatations, roughness, and calcareous incrustations on the large arteries have been ascertained. The muscular fibres of the middle artery are subjected to necrotic modifications, the cells of the muscles are replaced by calcareous deposits. The vessels become friable, and other parts of the arterial system, such as for instance the crural artery, also suffer from necrosis.
The heart is affected to a specially grave degree in both old and young, but particularly in persons between forty and fifty years of age who are passionate smokers. They suffer from intense palpitations which vary according to the degree of the intoxication from a harmless irregularity without consequences to cardiac delirium, the latter, however, being very rare. Tachycardia at the beginning occurs especially at night. Nevertheless Egyptian cigarettes are said to reduce the frequency of the pulse. Disagreeable and even painful sensations in the region of the heart, a sense of oppression in the chest, more rarely typical attacks of angina pectoris with loss of consciousness, the nicotinic origin of which has lately been contested, are also apt to set in. It must at present remain an open question whether anatomical alterations of the vagus nerve are present in these cases, as animal experiments seem to have proved. Gradually cardiac dilatation and hypertrophy are also liable to result. Total abstinence from tobacco frequently removes the cardiac symptoms. In some cases the acceleration of the pulse with irregularity remains.
Asthmatic disturbances and a modification of the respiratory type frequently in the form of sigh-like inspirations occurring at intervals are independent of the former symptoms. Spitting blood is rare. The visual disturbances which may set in are very numerous," for instance inequality of the pupils, reduction of the central acuity of vision, colour-blindness in the middle of the field of vision, retrobulbar neuritis, and blindness. These symptoms disappear after several months if the use of tobacco is suppressed, but may leave traces, or, as was observed in the case of a chewer of tobacco, remain as total blindness. The latter also occurred in a man who smoked over 30 cigars a day.
The effects of tobacco on the nervous system are also extremely various. It is stated that non-smokers in higher schools make greater progress than those who smoke. Children up to fifteen years of age who smoked were less intelligent, lazier and exhibited an inclination for alcoholic beverages. Adult smokers to excess frequently suffer from a feeling of oppression in the head, vertigo, insomnia, aversion to work, abnormal temper, mental irritability, and also neuralgias in numerous branches of the nerves, troubles of motility such as muscular trembling, weakness of the sphincters, and cramps.
It has frequently been alleged that the chewing of tobacco in the form of roll tobacco or snuff in the northern parts of the world is the cause of mental diseases. In some parts amounts of 20-27 gr. per day are consumed. Disorders of this kind are stated to be rare in smokers of tobacco. These morbid mental states are said to begin with a premonitory state of about three months' duration, principally characterized by depression, anguish, and insomnia. Hallucinations, illusions, and suicidal intentions, at a later period alternative states of excitation and depression, follow. It is said that no cure is possible in serious cases after five to six months. Some time ago I already expressed my doubts as to the foundation of a precise description of nicotine psychosis" and I still maintain the same opinion. A medium exists between these two adverse opinions to the effect that tobacco is liable to give rise to mental diseases including epilepsy and neurasthenia in psychopathic persons.
Other symptoms of nicotinism have occasionally been mentioned, such as motor aphasia for several hours, and also amnesia. Auditory disorders are certainly caused thereby. It is with good reason that states of congestion of the middle ear tract with symptoms of tinnitus aurium and other local noises and deafness of both ears have been attributed to the abuse of tobacco.
It is certain also that occasionally a reduction and even the disappearance of sexual generative power takes place. Women who smoke frequently suffer from troubles of menstruation and other grave affections of the sexual apparatus. Granular pharyngeal disorders and inflammations frequently accompanied by leucoplacia, disorder of the digestive functions especially on account of swallowing the "tobacco-saliva," intestinal catarrhs, atrophic inflammations of the nose, and in the case of cigarette smokers who exhale through the nose, of the trachea also, and even diseases of the pancreas must be counted among the consequences of nicotine.
Substitutes for Tobacco
Many proposals have been made for withdrawing the venom from tobacco. The simplest idea of denicotinizing the leaves has been realized in quite a number of processes. Castrated tobacco has been prepared in this way, as with other similar substances. Some people smoke cigars without nicotine. If they find pleasure in doing so they are thought to be congratulated, although the impression persists that this is not the case. Moreover, toxic effects from nicotine-free tobacco have recently been described.
Other methods consist of breaking the habit by creating a loathing for tobacco-smoke, for instance by gargling with 0.25 per cent solution of silver nitrate. This was suggested by a probably not quite normal medical man, and the smoker after a short time is apt to suffer from a bluish-black complexion.
The peoples of those countries where tobacco cannot be obtained in sufficient quantities have adopted other measures and smoke different plants. I have already mentioned some of these. The people of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul use the wood of aristolochia triangularis and galeata, and in parts of Brazil the dried leaves of anthurium oxycarpum; the Washamba employ the powdered leaves of carica papaya and the Hottentots those of leonotis Leonurus. In Mexico the stigmas and the wool of the common maize are smoked. In different parts of America the leaves and bark of the vaccineum stamineum, the bark of calix purpurea, cornus stolonifera, arctostaphylos glauca, kalmia latifolia, and chimaphila umbellata are used instead of tobacco. The Cholos Indians occasionally smoke the leaves and wood of a solanace, cestrum parqui (palguin) which occurs in Chile and the south of Brazil, and in other parts of the country caltha palustris, arbutus uva ursi , ply gonum orientale, and similar plants are utilized, not forgetting the cane which juveniles set alight and "smoke."
Several substances are also employed as substitutes for snuff, for instance the leaves of anthurium oxycarpum which when dried smell like vanilla, and other irritating powders, including the sneezing powder "Schneeberger Tobacco," which contains besides sweet marjoram, melilotus, and lavender, the root of hellebore. The Akkawai in Guiana chew the leaves of species of lacis which have been roasted over an open fire.
The natives of the Besoeki district of Java add the leaves and the stem of a certain ash-tree to their tobacco. It is stated that the smoke which is produced can in no way be distinguished from that of glowing opium. If this mixture is smoked an agreeable state is experienced as in opium-smoking, but the state of depression to which the latter gives rise is entirely absent. If this addiction to the tobacco really consists of the leaves of a species of ash-tree, then the effects stated above do not in the least agree with the results of previous experience of this plant.
The use of tobacco, which has made its way thanks to the spirit of imitation as well as to its peculiar effects, has vanquished humanity and will continue to reign until the end of the world.
Tobacco has surpassed the limits of a medical plant. It has penetrated far into the world and among mankind, escaping from the apothecaries, whence it had been banished, in spite of the penalties inflicted on its addicts.
"Defendons a toute personne de vendre du tabac sinon aux apothicaires et par ordonnance de medecin a peine de quatre-vingts livres parisis d'amende."
These were the words of a police regulation of 1635. The cornucopia of the law has provided us also with an ordinance containing regulations for the sale of tobacco to juveniles. Paragraph 340 of the projected German penal code (1925 ) is as follows:
Whosoever supplies tobacco containing nicotine to a person under the age of sixteen for his or her own use in the absence of a person in charge of his or her education or a representative of the latter shall be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine.
In my opinion smoking by juveniles, at least for the greater part of them, is most obnoxious to the organism. A paragraph of the penal code will not be able to inhibit the abuse of tobacco, especially if it be not adequately framed. The person who supplies the tobacco without authority is punished. But if it is the father or guardian who gives a cigarette to a fifteen-year-old boy, he is not liable to a penalty, although the deed and the aim of the punishment are the same. It seems to me that "the person in charge of education" should be liable to punishment for the reasons given above. And moreover, is the smoking of denicotinized tobacco absolutely harmless? This cannot be proved, as I have already pointed out.
Abstinence from tobacco as a result of a subjective point of view must be allowed for, like every other negative passion, such as hatred of women, abstinence from alcohol, etc. But this applies to the individual only. If the state of mankind must be improved, there are really more important tasks to accomplish, such as the improvement of conditions of work which are liable to shorten the lives of thousands of men. It is really immaterial to know whether the smoking of a cigar or cigarette did or did not give rise to agreeable sensations in the case of, let us say, Goethe, Tolstoy, or a motor-car manufacturer, but it is of the greatest importance to decide whether abstainers are justified in interdicting the temperate use of tobacco to others. No one, however, is in a position to penetrate into the complexity of the individual life of his neighbour with its all-important actions and reactions, and individual aversion to any agreeable sensation does not give a man the right to measure his neighbour's peck by his own bushel. Neither violence, mockery, nor contempt have been able to rob the reasonable consumption of tobacco of the halo with which it is surrounded. And it is worthy of general esteem if foolish men do not by abuse transform it into poison.
The Ottomacs of the Upper Orinoco, the Guahibos, the Paravilhanos, the tribes of the lower Amazon, the Muras, Mauhes, and the Amaguas and the Ticunas on the banks of the upper reaches of the Amazon at times employ the powder of the Parica (cohobba, niopo) in a manner similar to tobacco, as snuff. It is prepared from the seeds of a leguminous plant of the botanical order Mimoseae, not, as was formerly believed an inga, but, as is now certain, the acacia niopo (piptadenia peregrina). The seeds are dried in the sun, crushed in wooden mortars and preserved in bamboo tubes. The Paravilhanos and Ottomacs sometimes also subject the material to a process of fermentation before crushing. Humboldt states that the substance is also kneaded with manioc flour and burnt chalk prepared from shells and the whole mass dried over the fire. The resulting small cakes are powdered when required.
These tribes celebrate every year at harvest-time a festival lasting several days which has a partly religious character, and includes the consumption of enormous quantities of liquor. The Brazilians call this festival Quarantena. They imbibe large amounts of caysiima and cashiri, fermented beverages which give rise to heavy drunkenness, or cashasa, i.e. rum, if this is obtainable. After a short time they are in a state of semi-inebriety, and then begin to take Parica snuff. With this end in view they assemble in pairs, everyone with a tube containing Parica in his hand, and after having performed some incomprehensible and doubtless religious mummeries everyone blows the contents of his tube with all his strength into the nostrils of his partner.
The effects produced in these generally dull and silent people are extraordinary. They become very garrulous, and sing, scream, and jump about in wild excitement. After calming down they go on drinking again, and in this way a state of excitation alternates for days on end with one of depression.
The Mauhes and probably other tribes use Parcia medicinally as a prophylactic against fever which reigns during the intermediate months between the dry and rainy seasons. When a dose is to be applied a small amount of the hard substance is rubbed to a powder in a flat bowl and inhaled into the nostrils with the aid of the stalks of two vulture-feathers tied together with cotton. Other appliances in the form of a Y are also employed in order to inhale the substance into both nostrils simultaneously, thus giving rise to the effects described above.
I believe the effects of Parica to consist mainly in a violent irritation of the mucous membrane of the nose, calling forth acute sensations of burning or pain therein. It must be regarded as improbable that there are active principles capable of affecting the brain in the genus of plants in question. There are, however, on the other hand leguminous plants which contain in their seeds or other parts saponins capable of irritating the tissues and destroying the cells, and for this reason may serve medicinally for the destruction of intestinal worms. The irritating action of the albumen which is peculiar to leguminous seeds cannot be taken into consideration, because this does not set in until after the lapse of several hours.
Habituation to arsenic may take place to considerable degree. In the treatment of patients who need arsenic the possibility of this habituation not only makes possible the toleration of the large doses but finally renders them indispensable. In cases of psoriasis 10 gr. of arsenious acid may be taken during a certain time. This habituation also creates arsenic-eaters. The necessary condition for the ultimate toleration of very large doses is a very gradual increase in the quantities administered. Toleration can only be acquired for the last dose with a minute addition. Abrupt augmentation of the doses may, as I have ascertained, be fatal, and is accompanied by the usual symptoms of arsenical poisoning. Arsenic-eaters are in this way able to take 0.5 gr. of arsenic, or even more, and equivalent amounts of the arsenic-sulphur compound orpiment in single doses. The statement that the habitual consumption of arsenic does not make a gradual increase of the doses necessary is founded on error. Some individuals probably seek to confine the doses within certain limits or adhere to fixed doses for some time, but it is very rare for arsenic-eaters really to confess the real amount they consume.
In Germany, Austria, France, and England there are many persons who indulge in the use of arsenic. Sometimes they began taking the drug out of curiosity, sometimes after having read some book on the subject, or more frequently out of pure imitation, the cause of so many absurd actions in the world. It is taken in the belief that arsenic supplies them with a healthier appearance, as well as strength," physical capacity, and endurance, which will protect them against infectious diseases. It is also taken permanently to promote sexual excitability.
It may be that arsenic-eaters copied the example of horse-dealers. Already in the sixteenth century these latter employed arsenic in order to feed worn-out horses more easily and to get them into better condition. These results, however, were not of long duration, for the horses soon became emaciated again. Even at the present day horses are not seldom doped in this manner. In the north and north-west of Styria, in the Tyrol and in Salzburg the arsenic-eaters are mainly young and old woodcutters, foresters, ostlers, etc., but also intelligent and arduous young men. This state of affairs is by no means new. I find that in 1750 a student from Halle was stated to have "intentionally accustomed himself to arsenic, which he consumed together with bacon, beginning with very small quantities. He was finally able to stand a considerable amount." In 1780 it was reported that a Tyrolese miner ate a morsel of arsenic every day in order to prolong life. The Styrian arsenic-eaters generally take the substance every week or fortnight, sometimes every second day or even daily. They begin with the "Hidrach" dose, which is the size of a millet seed, and gradually increase it to doses of the size of a pea, approximately equal to 0.1 to 0.4 gr., which they take in spirits or spread on bread or bacon. Orpiment is occasionally employed instead of arsenious acid. In some parts of Styria the consumption of arsenic is suspended during the new moon and begins again with the waxing moon in relatively small doses which are gradually increased once more to the full dose. Some refrain from drinking and eating meat or fat after having taken arsenic. The arsenic-habitues believe that it facilitates breathing during climbing. The consumption of arsenic is kept secret, especially by the female sex.
There are also male and female arsenic-eaters in the south of the United States of America, the so-called Dippers, who begin with 0.015 gr. ( ! ) in a cup of coffee and gradually increase the doses to 0.24 gr. even twice a day. The initial difficulties such as the disagreeable eructations, together with the smell of garlic, nausea, and a feeling of heaviness in the head are easily overcome. It is stated that advanced Dippers are liable to die suddenly from slight causes, especially after the rapid withdrawal of the drug. A sudden increase is also liable to cause a serious and even fatal intoxication in arsenicists.
It is stated that snake-charmers in Persia regularly take arsenic in order to protect themselves against poisoning.
Arsenic is, however, also taken in Europe to a great extent by women and girls in certain boarding-schools where it is added to the food under the supervision of medical men. If in this case the substance is taken unconsciously and habituation and a certain craving of the cells for the irritation sets in, there are others who make use of the substance intentionally and consciously. Many ladies, including actresses, do this just as do the servants of Venus vulgivaga. A fresh complexion, a round form, smooth skin, and shining hair are attractions which lead to the use of arsenic. Hetmras who seek in this way to renew their faded charms at least justify their action by the necessity of their occupation. But when young girls take arsenic out of vainglorious imitation, and even forge medical prescriptions to obtain Fowler's solution, this certainly increasing evil should by all means be stopped. Mineral waters containing arsenic such as those of Roncegno or Levico are also consumed habitually instead of Fowler's solution.
The average daily quantity of arsenious acid which passes through the body of arsenic-eaters according to the analysis of the urine amounts to approximately 30 milligrammes, i.e. six times as much as the dose taken therapeutically. The quantities in the body, hair, marrow, etc., which sometimes becomes soluble cannot be ascertained.
It has been stated that the therapeutic application of arsenic does not develop a chronic desire for the drug because of the absence of any agreeable sensations. This is correct with respect to sufferers from skin diseases or other patients who are generally treated with such large doses in a relatively short time that their further application over a longer period would give rise to disagreeable symptoms of such a kind as to discourage all intention of continuing the drug if such nwere present. There are, however, cases where patients after having been cured continued to take arsenic not on account of any exciting or narcotic effects but because the prolonged use had given rise to a certain degree of habituation and they hoped to obtain the physical and aesthetic advantages mentioned above.
Habituation occurs through the adaptation of the cells, which expend both their normal and reserve energy. The fluids of the tissues do not play a part, and it is childish to assume the formation of "immunizing substances," i.e. antitoxins against arsenic, created by the organism. Medicine is so fertile in the production of absurd ideas that this is not surprising. Formerly the hypothesis was framed that the solid form in which arsenious acid is consumed excludes, or at least considerably diminishes, the possibility of intoxication because a large part of the arsenic is not resorbed and leaves the body with the faeces. It is, however, possible to become accustomed to the easily resorbable solution of the potassium salt of arsenious acid if the doses are gradually increased. Another assumption that relative immunity against arsenic is founded on a reduction or suspension of the resorption in the bowels is quite erroneous, as can be proved simply by the analysis of the urine of arsenic-eaters. The prolonged medicinal application of "Asiatic Pills," for example 3.9 gr. of arsenious acid in three months, gives rise to serious symptoms of intoxication, and on the other hand the intravenous administration of Fowler's solution even in large doses is tolerated without inconvenience.
Animals can also be habituated to tolerate large doses of arsenic. In the case of a horse the initial dose consisted of 0.36 gr. which was increased to a daily dose of 7.3 gr. within twenty-three days. The total amount the horse received was 40.46 gr. At the beginning of this treatment the animal exhibited signs of extreme vivacity and even excitation; finally diarrhoea supervened.
The most important and essential question is to ascertain whether a substance of this kind is injurious or harmless. Arsenic has recently found many defenders who had observed the good health, longevity, and flourishing appearance of a number of arsenic-eaters, and came to the conclusion that the prolonged medicinal application of arsenious acid is not accompanied by any injurious by-effects. There is no doubt that many healthy eaters of arsenic for a long time feel extremely well and that many persons who on account of some disease have taken arsenic over a long period support it without inconvenience. It is reported that a man suffering from consumption took arsenic even in doses of 0.1 to 0.3 gr. which he ingested and partly smoked with tobacco for six to eight weeks without any by-effects. Nevertheless this depends upon individual sensitiveness. There are also arsenic-eaters who after a short time suffer from the same complaints as a person who unconsciously absorbs arsenic contained in wallpaper or objects of daily use. Disorders of the functions set in, which become very serious and make immediate suppression of the drug necessary. A man had consumed sodium arsenite in solution in doses of approximately 1 gr. a month for over twenty years. In the course of time gastric and intestinal disorders occurred accompanied by disturbances of the nervous system which were similar to tabes. The colour of the skin changed to a dirty grey, as is not rare in such cases. Nevertheless I consider the fact that the individuals are and remain slaves to their passion as the principal objection to chronic arsenism.
The attempt to break oneself of this drug gives rise to disagreeable withdrawal symptoms of abstinence, such as occur with morphinism, alcoholism, and similar vices. Especially violent gastric pains, diarrhoea, and a state of collapse set in. The intensity of these symptoms depends upon the duration of the use of the drug and individual circumstances. An arsenic-eater who took 0.42 gr. of arsenious acid every four to eight days and was kept well under observation suffered from stiffness in the legs with general fatigue and craving for arsenic if he remained abstinent for longer than a fortnight. The case of the manager of an arsenic factory clearly shows that withdrawal is apt to be fatal. He had begun with 0.18 gr., and after many years had reached single doses of 1.38 gr. of arsenious acid in a coarse powder. When trying to break this habit he died "of apoplexy."
It is not always possible to ascertain the reasons which induce man to the habitual consumption of chemical substances of various kinds. Metallic mercury has neither inebriating nor stimulating properties, but it is nevertheless, as I reported some time ago," taken in increasing doses of from 5 to 30 gr. at a time by Lithuanians in the district of Memel. It is stated that boys between the ages of fourteen and sixteen start with 5 gr. The metal which has passed through the bowels is again collected in a receptacle after a due time. If the mercury is dispersed in the intestines in minute particles its vapours are liable to exercise mercurial effects. If on the other hand it passes through the intestines in a fluid mass large quantities do no harm. The Prince-Elector George of Brandenburg, who on his wedding-eve had drunk a great amount of alcohol and was therefore not conscious of his actions, emptied in a fit of thirst a whole bottle of mercury. The mercury ran through his intestines without doing him any harm whatever.
Even if the innocuousness of mercury may be understood on physical grounds, the reports of the habitual use of sublimate are incomprehensible. When the sensibility of Turkish opium-smokers to opium diminishes, and no kind of opium can be procured which supplies the desired effects, they have recourse to sublimate. They begin with 0.05 gr. (!) and gradually increase the dose so that this substance mixed with opium fully gives the expected results. Some individuals are said to have reached in this way doses of 2 gr. per day. They state that sublimate by itself is able to produce an intense feeling of well-being, but that it is especially remarkable for its capacity to sustain the narcotic effects of opium. Those who have accustomed themselves to this mercury compound combined with opium are said to take it also without opium, thereby experiencing no inconvenience. A man is said to have been observed to take a mixture of 1.2 gr. of sublimate and 3.5 gr. of opium, swallow it with apparent delight, and remain well. Sublimate is also said to be consumed habitually without opium in Peru and Bolivia in doses which must from our point of view be considered as toxic.
These reports must be doubted until more ample information is forthcoming, for it is inconceivable that sublimate should not at least exercise a local corrosive action on the intestines and in consequence rapidly prove injurious.
The chemical agents described in the preceding pages are world-wide in the good and evil results they produce. There is no doubt that a great part of these beneficial results are derived from the stimulating properties of an important group of the substances dealt with in this work which are manifested in various forms and differ in the mechanism of their effects.
The natural and internal impulses need to be artificially reinforced in the loud, harsh, and strenuous world of the present day in order to maintain biological energy at the normal standard necessary for the working of the vital functions.
The exciting or stimulating substances with which the outer world supplies us, and which have an effect on the nervous system in the manner described above, may originate from various sources. Some of them are utilized by man unconsciously, for instance in the form of the essential oils contained in the spices and vegetables which he consumes as food. It is very probable that in those cases where substances of this kind surpass the limits of toleration, become effective on a but slightly resisting organism, or are employed to excess and call forth disorders of the functions of the brain or other organs, an organic compensation will be easily established, because the use of these substances does not give rise to an eager craving for an increase of the doses, and because complete withdrawal does not occasion any disturbances.
This is not only valid for the substances of the caffeine series, but also for numerous products which are habitually chewed in many countries of the world. The greater part of them contain terpenes and are absolutely harmless. In New Zealand, for instance, the resin of the kauri pine or of a species of pittosporum is chewed, in the United States spruce gum, the resin of pinus canadensis, is masticated. The Tlinkit Indians use the resin of pines, the inhabitants of Siberia masticate a resinous product obtained from the bark of the larch, the Galla and Amhara incense, the Patagonians maki, a gum-resin derived from the "incense-bush," the Arabs mastix; in the United States of America and in other parts of the world the well-known chewing gum (chicle gum), the gum-resin of achras sapota, which is cultivated in the territory of Tuxpan in Mexico and also in Yucatan, is consumed in millions of kilogrammes. There are many other substances of a similar kind.
Narcotic substances are habitually used throughout the world to the same extent as the various kinds of stimulants, and their evil results are universal when they succeed in breaking down man's willpower with demoniacal force. The number of the unfortunate victims is increasing, and their ruin, even though there are thousands of them, is hardly of any importance compared with the cosmic process. But the fatalist who is free from hypersentimental altruism cannot shut his eyes to the fact that if the abuse of narcotic substances continues to increase at the same rate as during the last fifty years it would represent a calamity which in its consequences would concern in some way or other every one of us.
More knowledge, and especially more practical experience, seems to me indispensable in order to cope with the growing evil. Other forces than those of the police must be recruited in order to win the campaign on the one hand against the unscrupulous covetousness of merchants who are able so far to sell the worst narcotic pharmaceutical specialties and on the other against the means of satisfying the cravings of passionate drug-addicts. I have given many suggestions in this book, which is the product of the practical experience of a lifetime.