Wednesday, December 23, 2015

1654: Bennet describes the inhaler

The Bennett Inhaler (3)
While the inhaler wasn't invented until the 19th century by Dr. Stern and Dr. Mudge, Dr. Christopher Bennett (1617-1655) was the first to draw up an illustration of an inhaler for the medical community in his 1654 book "Theatri Tabidorum."

His "inhaler" was essentially the first known method of inhaling medicine aside from primitive methods such as inhaling steam from a teapot or smoke from a pipe.  (1, page 173)

Bennett was an English physician who had tuberculosis, and might have invented this device to benefit himself, although he must have thought it would also benefit his patients who suffered from the disease. (2, page 530)

According to the 2011 book "Controlled Pulmonary Drug Delivery:
(Bennnet) gave us four woodcut drawings of an inhalation device, with measurements enabling the reader to have their own inhaler made. The treatment was balsam. There is no evidence that Bennett's inhaler was ever manufactured. Bennett succumbed to tuberculosis the following year." (2, page 530)
He was only 38 when he died.  (3)  Perhaps had he lived the inhaler would have been of greater significance to our history of respiratory therapy, lung diseases, and inhalers.

References:
  1. Korting, Monika Schafer, editor, "Drug Delivery," 2010, Germany, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
  2. Smyth, Hugh D.C, Anthony J. Hickey, "Controlled Pulmonary Drug Delivery," 2011, Springer, New York Dordrecht Heidelberg London
  3. Sanders, Mark, "Bennett's Inhaler,"  http://www.inhalatorium.com/page162.html, the picture is also compliments of Sanders.  
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