It has been observed by Professor Johnstone in his "Chemistry of Common Life,"that every race above the condition of brutes use stimulants in some form. A lc o holi c b e vera ge s in the form of wines, b eer, nnd malt l iq u o rs ; c offe e a n d te a, an d opi u m mixtures are in com mo n use. Some of th e se stimulants arc Iiarm-less, and some are even bencficial, when taken in moderation ; but all of them are dange!"Ous when taken in excess. It w o u l d be well for po or human nature if th e most mild and safe stimulants only \Vcre taken; but al tho ugh dreadful consequences are known to result from an immoderate pa r 11 cipa tion in ardent spirits and 0 pi a t es, yet t h e re are tho usan ds, and many of these are well educated and highly intellectual persons, who re ck 1 essly i n d u lg e i n thei r u se. Th e h i s to rian, Al 1 i s on, has stated that drunkenness is the vice of cold climates, and in this opinion he may be correct ; but warm cli-m ates have their vices al so from the immoderate use of stimulants all of which are injurious. The Chinese indulges in his opium, and his ^ waking dreams" become luxuriant with fantastic scenery and incidents. The Hin doo takes his In di an Iiemp extract, and at once the chirp of a cricket sounds liko the crack of a rifle cannon ; the fal 1 i ng of a stream of water appears 1 ike a s how e r of rainbows ; minutes seem like ye ars, and t h e whole senses become fearfully and di s torte dly active. A new stimulant has been recently coming into p ern i cio u s prevalence a m on g the artists and lite rary men of Fran ce. This is absinthine, th e b i tter pri n c i pl e of wor mwoo d. which is sol ubl e in alcoholic liquors, and is said to be very faiscinating in its influence upon those engaged in e x h a u s ti n g m e nta l purs ui t s. L ike opi u m, it i m par t s a tem porary stimulus to the brain, but its aftei' effects are of a very prostrating nature. Several distinguished men in France are said to have fal l en victims to i ts use, and the high est medical authorities in thit country have denounced it, and yet its consumption is rapidly on the increase. We h o pe it m a y ? never come i n to use as a stim ul an t am on g our people. It has been assert.ed by some writers that the sensations and instincts are guides that should be follow ed. Without qualification this is dangerous t e achi n g. As rega rd s s t i m ulnn ts, the sensations are fre qu e ntly of the most delusive c h ai-ac t e r. Science il]) i t s very highest sense tea ches ns that the cravings of the appetite for stimulants in human beings should, in general, be resisted, not followed. Reason should control th e sensations by g u i di ng the will to resist th e c rav ings of t h e a p pe ti te for many things. The pract.ic e of o p i u m eating is bec om i n g more prevalent in America ; but as sc ie n c e an d e x pe ri e n ce teach us t h at the use of t his drug is a d a n gero us v ice, an y c rav i n g for such a stimulant should be rsisted. We hope that indulgence in the new French drug, absinthine, will n o t be added to the grow ing and d a n gero us evil of 0 pi u m eating. Th os e who are forewarned against it, a re armed to res i s t it. Its u se for a short pe ri o d- is very fasci nati ng, but he who persists in it ultimately b eco m es a d riv e 11 e r and a mental paralytic.
This article was originally published with the title "Stimulants-Absinthe" in Scientific American 3, 24new, 377 (December 1860)