M. Duclaux, in a note recently published in the Annales of the Institut Pasteur (November 25th, 1902), discussed a series of experiments made in America by Attwater and Benedict on the nutritive value of alcohol, and expressed his concurrence in the conclusion arrived at by these authors that the saccharine or farinaceous elements in a normal diet could be replaced by an isodynamic weight of alcohol without perceptible effect. In the French scientific world, where extreme anti-alcoholic views have been dominant, M. Duclaux's paper appears to have caused something of a sensation, and his conclusions have been attacked energetically in the medical and even in the lay Press. In the present article M. Triboulet criticises them in vigorous terms, pointing out that they are in contradiction to the results of the large majority of other observers, notably with the recent researches of Chauveau (C. R. de l'Acad. des Sciences, January 21st, 1901), as regards the effect of an alcoholic diet on the quality and quantity of muscular work; and further that even those who, like Gley (C. R. du VIIe Congr. Internat. Antialcoolique, 1899, tome ii), admit that alcohol is a food, are agreed that the organism only tolerates it in very feeble doses. Moreover the American experiments did not last over more than three or four days, which would be far too short a time to allow conclusions to be drawn as to the ultimate effect of the diet. Finally, Triboulet urges that in such a question it is impossible to separate the abstractly scientific aspect from the practical aspect with which the physician has to do; and that the last word should rest not with the chemist who finds alcohol to be a food, but with the clinical observer who can show that it is also a poison. Even, however, from the purely medical side there appears to be some divergence of opinion, for Boix, in a paper published in the Arch. gén. de médicine (January 6th, 1903), endorses Duclaux's views from clinical experience.
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