242. Headache Powders. The stress and strain of modern life has opened wide the door to a multitude of bodily ills, among which may be mentioned headache. Work must be done and business attended to, and the average sufferer does not take time from his vocation to investigate the cause of the headache, but unthinkingly grasps at any remedy which will remove the immediate pain, and utterly disregards later injury. The relief afforded by most headache mixtures is due to the presence of antipyrin or acetanilid, and it has been shown conclusively that these drugs weaken heart action, diminish circulation, reduce the number of red corpuscles in the blood, and bring on a condition of chronic anemia. Pallid cheeks and blue lips are visible evidence of the too frequent use of headache powders.
The labels required by law are often deceptive and convey no adequate idea of the amount of drug consumed; for example, 240 grains of acetanilid to an ounce seems a small quantity of drug for a powder, but when one considers that there are only 480 grains in an ounce, it will be seen that each powder is one half acetanilid.
Powders taken in small quantities and at rare intervals are apparently harmless; but they never remove the cause of the trouble, and hence the discomfort soon returns with renewed force. Ordinarily, hygienic living will eliminate the source of the trouble, but if it does not, a physician should be consulted and medicine should be procured from him which will restore the deranged system to its normal healthy condition.
243. Other Deceptions. Nearly all patent medicines contain some alcohol, and in many, the quantity of alcohol is far in excess of that found in the strongest wines. Tonics and bitters advertised as a cure for spring fever and a worn-out system are scarcely more than cheap cocktails, as one writer has derisively called them, and the amount of alcohol in some widely advertised patent remedies is alarmingly large and almost equal to that of strong whisky.
[Illustration: FIG. 161.—Diagram showing the amount of alcohol in some alcoholic drinks and in one much used patent medicine.]
Some conscientious persons who would not touch beer, wine, whisky, or any other intoxicating drink consume patent remedies containing large quantities of alcohol and thus unintentionally expose themselves to mental and physical danger. In all cases of bodily disorder, the only safe course is to consult a physician who has devoted himself to the study of the body and the methods by which a disordered system may be restored to health.
NITROGEN AND ITS RELATION TO PLANTS
244. Nitrogen. A substance which plays an important part in animal and plant life is nitrogen. Soil and the fertilizers which enrich it, the plants which grow on it, and the animals which feed on these, all contain nitrogen or nitrogenous compounds. The atmosphere, which we ordinarily think of as a storehouse of oxygen, contains far more nitrogen than oxygen, since four fifths of its whole weight is made up of this element.