Wednesday, December 28, 2016

1870: The Eclectic Inhaler

The Eclectic Inhaler (3, page 181)
Along with the Nelson inhaler, there were various other inhalers supplied by the S. Maw and Son allowing people to inhale medicated vapors.  One such inhaler was the Eclectic Inhaler.

It was long recognized by the medical profession that the inhalation of moist air would benefit people with breathing difficulty, but also the inhalation of medication inhaled with the moist air.  The eclectic inhaler was another such inhaler device that allowed for the inhalation of medicated steam.   (1, page 64)

Dr. Morell Mackenzie directed the production of the inhaler and recommended its use in his 1865 book "Use of the laryngoscope in diseases of the nose and throat" and an 1881 book he edited "The Pharmacopoeia of the Hospital for Diseases of the Throat and Chest."

Figure 2 -- Diagram of Eclectic Inhaler (1, page 64)
In the Pharmacopoeia he described the simplicity as to how the product worked (refer to figure 2).

a.  An open vase that contains the boiling water and the medicine.  It is shown in figure 2 A filled to the black line, which is about a pint of water.  Above the black line is a space for moist hot air. (1, pages 65-66)

b.  A lid resembling an inverted tumbler.  When the patient inhales air is drawn in from holes in the lid, over the surface of the hot water, and up an opening to the mouthpiece, as you can see by the course of the arrows.  An opening in the lid allows for the insertion of a thermometer to make sure the water is the desired temperature. (1, pages 65-66)

c.  This is a stand on which the vase rests.  It is made hollow with an opening to allow easy insertion of a heated lamp.  (1, pages 65-66)

Using it was as easy as removing the lid, pouring in boiling water to the black line, adding cold water to make the water an ideal temperature for inhalation, pouring off excess water until it reaches black line again, adding volatile medicine, replacing the lid, placing a heated lamp into an opening under the vase, inhaling the medicated water. (1, page 66)

For treatments lasting longer than six minutes, a spirit lamp may be used in place of the heated lamp.  (1, page 66)

When used properly, a bubbling noise will be heard while inhaling.  The benefits of inhaling the medicated vapor should be soon received.  (1, page 66)

As an additional warning, the authors of the encyclopedia add:
Inhalations should, as a rule, be used before meals, and not more than six inspirations should be taken in a minute. In order to avoid catching cold, the patient should not go out of doors for half an hour after inhaling. (1, page 67)
The product was distributed by S. Maw and Son, the same distributors of the Improved Nelson Inhaler and the Earthenware Inhaler. The company paid for a full page ad in the December 24, 1870, edition of the British Medical Journal in which it advertised all three products

Included as part of that ad was a description of the eclectic inhaler, which was described and recommended by Dr. Morell Mackenzie in his 1871 book "Laryngoscope."
BULLOCK AND REYNOLDS' ECLECTIC INHALER AS RECOMMENDED BY DR. MORRELL MACKENZIE Physician for the hospital for Disease of the Throat; and assistant physician to the London Hospital... This apparatus can be used for all medicated vapours, and may be employed from all positions of the patient. It requires no effort on inspiration, insures the thorough medication, of the vapour, and accurately maintains the temperature desired... S. MAW, SON, AND THOMPSON... (2, see ads between pages 673 and 673)
The ad further noted an additional charge for thermometer, heated lamp, and spirit lamp.

There was also a brief review of the Eclectic Inhaler in the July 16, 1870 edition of the British Medical Journal:  
INVENTIONS, &c., IN MEDICINE, SURGERY, DIETETICS, AND THE ALLIED SCIENCES... A NEW INHALER... Messes. Maw & Son have supplied us with a description of Dr. Morrell Mackenzie's new "Eclectic Inhaler." It is believed that this apparatus combines, in a manner hitherto unattained, the qualities necessary for a perfect inhaler. It holds a considerable quantity of water, and has a large chamber for mixed air and medicated vapour; it can be kept at a nearly uniform temperature for a considerable time; it's use requires but little effort on the part of the patient, and it may be employed either in the sitting or incumbent posture... The inhaler will probably be exhibited at the annual meeting of the Association, when members will, no doubt, be able to inspect it. (2, page 67)
It was a good inhaler for its time, and if you were a patient of Dr. Morell Mackenzie, chances are it was the inhaler he recommended to treat your difficult breathing.

  1. Mackenzie, Morell, editor, "The Pharmacopoeia of the Hospital for Diseases of the Throat and Chest," 4th edition, 1881, Philadelphia, Plesley Blakiston
  2. Hart, Ernest, editor, "Maw's double valved earthenware inhaler," British Medical JournalThe Journal of the British Medical Association, volume II, July-December, 1870, (December 24, page 672 of this publication)
  3. Sanders, Mark, "," Eclectic Inhaler, page 181, 
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1 comment:

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