Friday, July 7, 2017

1898: Hollopeter's remedies for hay fever

By the late 19th century there was an increase in the number of patients calling their physician with complaints like, "I feel miserable. My face, throat and eyes feel like I want to scratch the heck out of them.  I feel like I'm going to explode.  I will do anything to feel better."

So physicians eager to help such "desperate" patients were willing to try just about anything in their pharmacopoeia, according to W.C. Hollopeter's 1898 book "Hay fever and it's successful treatment."  Some of the things tried were: (1, page 101);
  • Antiseptics: Substance that prevents growth of microorganizms
  • Antispasmotics:  Substances that relieves spasms, such as bronchospasms (i.e. atropine)
  • Escharotics: Substances that causes scabs or burns on the skin
  • Astrigents:  Shrinks body tissues
Dr. William Hollopeter says he himself tried everything under the sun. Then, finally, "during the last ten years I have had under my care over 200 well marked cases of hay fever, of which I possess, in nearly all, complete histories, and I have not failed to relieve a single patient who has persisted in the treatment."

The following is the treatment regimen that worked for him, and that he recommends to his faithful readers:

A.  Simple Local Treatment:

1.  Removal from the source of irritation:  The more wealthy among us have the luxury of vacationing to an area that is not conducive to causing hay fever.  This is the same remedy that pretty much every other physician has recommended since John Bostock made light of the ailment in his 1819 lectures.  This has been proven to be the best prophylactic means available at this time, although not always practical for sufferers who do not have the finances and, or, cannot leave their work. (1, page 105) Morril Wyman notes that the only true "unfailing remedy" for hay fever is removal of the source, or removal of the person from the source -- i.e., vacationing to the mountainous regions, or the sea shore, or an island, etc. (2, page 160-1)

2.  Daily Sterilization:  It was a technique established by Joseph Lister that entails antiseptics or surgical cleanliness to cleanse out the nose and throat.  By doing this daily, this will allow the person to live a normal life, even when surrounded by exciting causes such as dust or blooming flowers without fear of having symptoms. This will wipe out any and all offending matter that harbors in these passages. (1, page 102-5)  (Read more about this in my post to be published 11/22/13)

3.  Stay indoors during season:  Morell Mackenzie recommends for those who cannot "flee to the mountains or the mid ocean they should remain indoors." (1, page 105)

4.  Nose Plugs when go outdoors:  Again, Mackenzie recommends that when you have to go outside during hay fever season that you plug your nose with cotton wool and wear "spectacles with large frames.".  This will keep exciting causes (pollen, dust, etc.) from entering the air passages and eyes. (1, page 105)  Many patients had been employing this technique, or something similar, for years.

5.  Identify anything that might irritate nasal mucosa:  This would include things that might make the mucosa hyper-responsive to exciting factors by causing a "permanent turgescence (swelling) of the whole nasal chamber," such as: (1, page 106)
  • Germs
  • Polypi 
  • Deviated Septums 
  • Hypertrophies (enlarged tissue)
  • Chronic rhinitis (nasal infection)
  • Any other marked defects
These irritations also make it easy for irritating matter and germs to become trapped inside the nasal passages, and they make sterilization "difficult if not impossible. So they must be remedied as best as possible, and weakens the normal resistence of the mucus membrane, thus inviting periodic infection." (1, page 106)

Removal of polypi, hypertrophies and deviated septums cause too much pain and inflammation for the patient, so he simply recommended daily sterilization and nasal washes as noted in this post. (see above link)  Treatment may take a while, although over time the hay fever should be resolved. (1, page 106)

  1. Hollopeter, William Clarence, "Hay-fever and its successful treatment," 1898, Philadelphia, P. Blakiston's Son and Co.
  2. Wyman, Morill, "Summer Catarrh," 1876 (first edition was published in 1872), New York, Hurd and Houghton

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