Monday, July 3, 2017

1898: Interesting remedy for hay fever

One of the first doctors to recommend nasal rinses, or nasal washes, was Dr. William Hollopeter in his 1898 book "Hay-fever and its successful treatment." He believed that by washing the nasal passages you'd also be washing out the exciting factors that might contribute to hay fever or other diseases.

Hollopeter said he conducted a study of the sputum of children waiting treatment for hay fever, and he found the bacteria of: (1, page 103)
  • Diphtheria
  • Scarlet fever
  • Measles 
  • Whooping Cough
  • Tuberculosis
So he concluded that while these children showed "no constitutional indication of the disease whatever," the following bacteria, or some other substance (such as dust or pollen) may be in the sputum to cause hay fever. So a rational treatment here was washing the nasal passages. (1, page 103)

He said that in order for a disease to occur, some weakness has to occur within the body, such as a decrease in vitality or resistance. So, an "overwhelming exposure" to an "unhygienic environment" would result in hay fever or some other disease.

Hollopeter said:(1, page 104):
Conceded that an external irritant is necessary to cause the disease, to prevent or cure it we must either prevent the irritant from reaching the points of exposure, fortify these vulnerable spots, or remove or render inert the irritant when already lodged. In hay-fever the vulnerable spot is undoubtedly somewhere within the nasopharynx (nose and throat). It is now conceded that the nose and throat are entrances for the bacteria of many infectious diseases; and I feel sure that as I have limited the extension of house-epidemics of scarlet fever, diphtheria, whooping-cough, and measles by a carefully conducted antiseptic toilet of the nose and throat, in the same manner I have prevented the dreaded paroxysms in cases of hay-fever.
So it is for this reason the he tried a daily sterilization of his hay fever patients, and, lo and behold, it was successful. The idea behind daily sterilization is this: (1, page 103)
By a daily sterilization of the nares and postnasal spaces the victims of hay-fever may remain in the city attending to their usual duties, surrounded by dust, or in the country amid blooming flowers, without any fear of the distressing symptoms—a consummation devoutly to be wished for by the great army of hay-fever sufferers.
Therefore, he recommended the following daily treatment:
  1. Cleansing the nasopharynx with a hand ball atomizer containing a warm solution of boric acid (10 grains to an ounce of water) or Dorbell's solution. Afterwords, wipe the mucous membrane and apply menthol and liquid cosmolin freely to the parts (this would have to be done by the doctor) (1, page 107)
  2. Removal of hypertrophy or polypi he no longer recommended because it causes pain and increased inflammation. He therefore recommended Debell's solution applied first with a hand ball atomizer and then with a curved aluminum applicator or Harrison Allen's cotton carrier. Very carefully swab the whole nasopharynx . Dry membranes with clean cotton, followed by free use of blandine comp. (a solution of menthol in albolene). 
  3. Surgery only when absolutely necessary, and always followed by 1 and 2 above
When I first stumbled upon this remedy in this book, I thought it sounded very interesting and odd. However, upon further review, it was't far removed from the nasal washes I was forced to endure daily when I was a kid, and what is still recommended to this day for many sufferers of nasal rhinitis.  

So, he said:  "I believe that acute infective disease, particularly in children, may be prevented by most thorough and repeated sterilization of the nasopharynx, and just as house epidemics are never excusable evils so I claim the same to be true of hay fever." (1, page 106)

Here is a recipe for making a nasal rinse.

Dobell's Solution:
  •   R. Sodii bicarb
  •   Sodii boratis
  •   Acidi carbolici
  •   Glycerini
  •   Aqua? rosae, 25 per cent
  •   SlG.—Teaspoonful to one ounce of warm water.

If you are so inclined, try it and let us know if it works.
References:  
  1. Hollopeter, William Clarence, "Hay-fever and its successful treatment," 1898, Philadelphia, P. Blakiston's Son and Co.

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