By DR. W. A. DEWEY.
ASPIRIN is the trade name for Acetyl salicylic acid. It was patented in the United States in 1900. The patent has expired, and since its expiration the advertisements of the Bayer firm who manufacture it say that only their aspirin is genuine. If aspirin is simply a form of the acid, any chemist can prepare it.
What do we find in the Bayer advertisements which, it should be noted, are addressed not to the medical profession, but always to the laity? We find in the advertisements the claim that it is a remedy for headache, toothache, earache, neuralgia, rheumatism, neuritis, lumbago, joint pains, pains in general and also for colds. These comprehensive claims remind one of the claims made by the makers of proprietory medicines of every kind. Any one remedy which is said to relieve all these conditions, irrespective of their causes, may be branded at once as a dangerous nostrum.
What is the action of Aspirin and how does it work? A thorough study of all the works on pharmacology fails to reveal any knowledge of its curative action in any disease, beyond that which appears in the advertisements of the substance written by the manufacturers. Shoemaker, Cuthbert, Bastedo, Cushny and subsequent writers give nothing. It is only in Germany that we find reckless statements and exaggerated claims of its action and safety, such as absence of cardiac depression. The Journal of the American Medical Association in 1911 said, “Aspirin should be listed as one of the dangerous drugs.” We find nothing in scientific medical literature favouring its use.
It is, moreover, poisonous and people have been poisoned by it. In one case it produced vomiting, weak and irregular heart action, haemorrhages from the bowels, unconsciousness and death. In my own practice a case of cancer was produced wholly by the Aspirin habit. It was in a young woman of thirty who took it continually for headache. It produces a mental condition similar to that caused by the morphine habit. The British Medical Journal said that it “produces violent palpitation of the heart, deficient respiration, weakness approaching unconsciousness, pointing to syncope, etc.”.
No greater case against the safety of Aspirin is found than the record of the influenza epidemic of 1918. Much of its mortality was due to the indiscriminate use of Aspirin. We found, in cases coming to us after having taken it, that it not only poisoned the heart and injured the circulation but, what was more serious and important, that it poisoned the blood itself and stupefied the mind.
Aspirin has been used particularly freely by both medical men and laymen in treating influenza. In 1918 occurred the worst influenza epidemic known. Quinine and Aspirin were recklessly given by orthodox doctors, but not by conscientious homoeopaths who do not treat people for the name of their disease with “a specific,” but who treat patients according to the symptoms which appear in the sick individual. Some eminent homoeopathic physicians have reported as follows:.
“In a plant of 8,000 workers we had only one death. The patients were not drugged to death. Gelsemium was practically the only remedy used. We used no Aspirin and no vaccines.”– Frank Wieland, M.D., Chicago.
“Absence of the customary drugging was also an element of the remarkable success in this plant.”–Burton Haseltine, M.D., Chicago.
“There is one drug which directly or indirectly was the cause of the loss of more lives than was influenza itself. You all know that drug. It claims to be Salicylic acid. Aspirins history has been printed. To-day you dont know what the sedative action of Salicylic acid is. It did harm in two ways. Its indirect action come through the fact that Aspirin was taken until prostration resulted and the patient developed pneumonia.”–Frank L. Newton, M.D., Somerville, Mass.
“I did not lose a single case of influenza; my death rate in the pneumonias was 2.1 per cent. The salicylates, including Aspirin and Quinine, were almost the sole standbys of the old school and it was a common thing to hear them speaking of losing 60 per cent of their pneumonias.”– Dudley A. Williams, M.D., Providence R.I.
“Three hundred and fifty cases and lost one, a neglected pneumonia that came to me after she had taken one hundred grains of Aspirin in twenty-four hours.”–Cora Smith King, M.D., Washington, D.C.
Dean W. A. Pearson of Philadelphia collected 26,795 cases of influenza treated by homoeopathic physicians with a mortality of 1.05 per cent., while the average old school mortality was 30 per cent.
“My low death rate at Camp Lee was due entirely to the fact that I avoided the use of Aspirin absolutely. I was complimented by the chief medical officer as having the lowest death rate in the hospital. After the medical chief had noted the effect of Aspirin on the blood and the results which I was having in using Homoeopathy, he discouraged the use of Aspirin and the death rate came down very rapidly after that ruling.”– Carleton A. Harkness, M.D., Chicago.
” I attended over one hundred cases without any fatalities. I never deviated from the homoeopathic remedy. I never gave Aspirin. One case that was loaded with Aspirin before I saw him, referred to me from an old school physician, died. This epidemic should encourage us to renewed, faith in Homoeopathy.”– G. H. Wright, M.D., Forest Glen, Md.
“Homoeopathy saved patients with influenza and pneumonia. Ill luck always followed the coal tar derivatives, Aspirin especially.”– W. H. Hanchett, M.D., Omaha, Neb.
“I treated 455 cases of influenza and twenty-six cases of pneumonia with no deaths. Remedies: Gelsemium, Bryonia, Apis, etc.”– T. g. Barnhill, M.D., Findlay, Ohio.
“My records show 750 cases of influenza with one death. Gelsemium, Bryonia and Eupatorium were the remedies chiefly used.”– F. A. Swartwout, M.D., Washington, D.C.
“The more Aspirin, Codein, Dobells solution and other extra- homoeopathic remedies used the slower the recovery.”–James W. Ward, M.D., San Francisco.
“The mortality rate in a camp was for pneumonia 25.8 per cent. The lieutenant in charge was persuaded to discontinue Aspirin, Digitalis and Quinine and the mortality dropped speedily to 15 per cent with no medicine whatever. This was in one ward. Whereupon it was ordered in other wards and the mortality dropped to 15 per cent with no medicine.– W.A. Pearson, M.D., Philadelphia.
“I treated 618 cases and had five deaths. Three of the latter had had allopathic treatment.– R. S. Faris, M.D., Richmond., Va.
“A physician in a Pittsburgh hospital asked a nurse if she knew anything better than what he was doing, because he was losing many cases. Yes, Doctor, stop Aspirin and go down to a homoeopathic pharmacy, and get homoeopathic remedies. The Doctor replied: But that is Homoeopathy. I know it, but the homoeopathic doctors for whom I have nursed have not lost a single case.”–W.F. Edmundson, M.D., Pittsburgh.
“It is a rare thing for pneumonia to develop if a good homoeopathic physician is calling during the first twenty-four hours of an attack of influenza. An appalling death rate comes from the baneful results of large doses of Aspirin, salicylates and opium preparations.”–A. H. Grimmer, M.D., Chicago.
“Murphy, of Lansing, Michigan, treated 325 cases of influenza in a camp where the mortality had been 20 per cent, while the mortality under his homoeopathic treatment was less than 3 per cent.”–W. H. Wilson, M.D., Chicago.
“I have treated 1,000 cases of influenza. I have the records to show my work. I have had no losses. Please give all credit to Homoeopathy and none to the Scotch-Irish-American !”–T. A. McCann, M.D., Dayton, Ohio.
One of the principal druggists of Montreal told Dr. T. A. McCann that they had lost 900 patients from influenza. Being asked what drug they used most he replied that Aspirin was used more than all other drugs combined. The directions were to take a 5-grain tablet every three hours, but more took 10 grains every three hours. Comment is unnecessary.
“Aspirin and the other coal tar products are condemned as causing great numbers of unnecessary deaths. The omnipresent Aspirin is the most pernicious drug of all. It beguiles by its quick action of relief of pain, a relief which is but meritorious. In several cases Aspirin weakened the heart, depressed the vital forces, increased the mortality in mild cases and made convalescence slower. In all cases it masks the symptoms and renders immeasurably more difficult the selection of the curative remedy. Apparently Aspirin bears no curative relation to any disease and it ought to be prohibited.”–Guy Beckley Stearns, M.D., New York.
“All of the people under my care who died of influenza had of their own accord taken Aspirin before I saw them.” –W. P. Best, M.D.,.
“There may be some hearts that can withstand Aspirin; there may be some hearts that can withstand influenza; but there are no hearts that can withstand both Aspirin and influenza.”– Dr. Taylor, Philadelphia.
“During the flu period almost every victim got his Aspirin. Almost everybody believed in it because it relieved his distress and couldnt do him any harm. The result was that thousands died who might have lived had they been willing to bear discomfort for a little while. They died like flies around a plate of poison although science did all that could be done to save them”.