Editor Ellingwood's Therapeutist:
I do not remember to have seen in any number of the THERAPEUTIST mention of the antidotal influence of alcohol in the treatment of carbolic acid poisoning. I did find there mention of the influence of vinegar in these cases. I am inclined to think that there is enough alcohol in the vinegar usually, to bring about the beneficial effects.
I had an experience with the use of alcohol which I will never forget. While I was yet a student in college, a cousin took a large mouthful of carbolic acid, thinking it was a cough syrup which she was taking at that time. Immediately she spat it out, called me in great alarm, and said "I have taken carbolic acid." She had not swallowed any of it.
It was only about two weeks before that I had heard one of the professors mention alcohol as an antidote to carbolic acid. I recalled this immediately. I said I have no alcohol at hand. She immediately ran and brought me a pint which she had bought to use after washing her hair. I had her take some of the alcohol full strength and hold it in her mouth and gargle it thoroughly in her throat. It was certainly astonishing how quickly this brought the blood back to the surface and restored the normal appearance of the mucous membranes. In fact it was almost immediately that the shriveled, white, lifeless looking membranes were restored to the appearance of perfect health. There was some soreness of the mouth for about a week, but there were no serious effects whatever.
It seems to me that if every doctor would make this fact known to his patients and urge them to keep this simple remedy on hand for emergencies, there would be fewer deaths from carbolic acid poisoning.
Wm. F. HORMANN, M. D., Chicago.
Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.