Within the last ten years, the North American continent has contributed two of the greatest discoveries to medical science since the time of Pasteur. Pasteur made what was probably the greatest discovery ever made in medicinethe existence of germs and their role in the causation of disease.
Infectious diseases are, however, largely diseases of youth. The forms of disease which affect people in middle age are degenerations of the tissues. In the treatment of most of these diseases, we are at present almost powerless. For two of them, however, we now have definite and effective means of attack. Those two are diabetes and pernicious anemia. Their conquests constitute the two discoveries mentioned above.
The treatment of pernicious anemia by liver diet is the discovery of two Boston physicians, a triumph of which the United States may well be proud. These two gentlemen, Drs. Minot and Murphyand with them should be named Dr. G. H. Whipple, who did the foundation experimental work have contributed more to civilization than all the presidents of the United States put together, and all the senators and supreme court justices who ever lived, thrown in for good measure.
Since the treatment of the disease is now so satisfactory, it is well to Iet people know the symptoms and signs of the disease, because many people have it, especially in the early stages, without being aware of it.
First, as to age incidence. Almost without exception it is a disease of middle life. Fifty is probably the exact age at which it is commonest. It rarely occurs before 40 or over 70.
A middle-aged person then may suspect pernicious anemia with any of the following signs: (1) a sore tonguethat is a curiously regular symptom of the disease; (2) inability to walk readily in the dark or to stand with the eyes closed without swaying; (3) a peculiar yellow tinge to the skin coming on over a period of a few weeks; (4) digestive disturbances of slight severity and slow onset particularly loss of appetite and mild diarrhea.
The treatment by liver is to eat about half a pound of liver a day. It must be kept up for life. If liver is not relished or its daily consumption becomes monotonous, the patient may prefer to take liver extract, which is a crystalline substance of somewhat salty, but pleasant, taste. Another substance used is called “ventriculin,” made from the stomach wall, and equally as good as liver extract.
For such patients, a little book called “Living the Liver Diet,” by a physician, Dr. Elmer A. Miner, who is compelled himself to live it, may be . recommended. (Published by C. V. Mosby Company, St. Louis.)