Title: Experiments and Observations on the Gastric ...
Publication Date: 1833
Edition: 1st Edition
(MEDICINE). Beaumont, William. Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion. Plattsburgh [N.Y.]: Printed by F. P. Allen, 1833. 8vo. 280 p. 3 woodcut illustrations. Original tan paper- covered boards, purple-brown linen spine. Rebacked, retaining 95% of the original spine but largely obscuring the original printed paper spine label. Gathering 2L browned, as always, the usual scattered foxing, else a very good copy of a fragile book. First edition of perhaps the greatest American contribution to medical science. Alexis St. Martin, a French Canadian trapper, had sustained a severe gunshot wound of the abdomen. To keep the stomach's contents from spilling out, Beaumont initially capped it over with compresses. But as healing progressed, the stomach lining hypertrophied and grew some extra thickness at the opening, so that, by pouting outwards, or prolapsing, it acted as a partial stopper (as shown in the detail of plate III). The remainder of the closure was maintained by the natural muscular elasticity of the stomach walls. As a result, the stomach opening could be manipulated, the pouting-out mucosa compressed or moved aside or pushed inwards, and, for the first time in medical history, Beaumont could actually observe the processes of human digestion. In several years of studying St. Martin, Beaumont established the chemical nature of digestion, recorded the comparative rates of dissolution of foods, and noted the effects of emotions on gastric secretion. All of these observations were the basis of Pavlov's experiments a century later. Beaumont had his studies printed by a country printer in Plattsburgh, New York, a town where he had once practiced medicine. The book was neither elegant nor well-bound, and copies that have survived in good condition are rare. Grolier American One Hundred, 38 ("a book that pushed back the frontier of the mind"?preface); Grolier, Medicine, 61; Howes B-291 ("Most important American contribution to medical science"); Wellcome II p. 123; Garrison-Morton 989; Grolier/Horblit 10; Dibner, Heralds of Science, 130; Norman 152; Cordasco 30-0056. Bookseller Inventory # 8802
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