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William Beaumont

Geboren am 21. November 1785 in Lebanon (Connecticut), starb er den 25. April 1853 in New York. (Sein Leben hat Jesse S. Meyer [London 1912] beschrieben.) Grundlegend wurden folgende zwei Arbeiten: 1. The case of Alexis San Martin, who was wounded in the stomach by a load of duck shot, with experiences. American medical recorder vol. VIII. Philadelphia 1825, Seite 14, 840, weiteres IX, Seite 94–97, und 2. Experiments and observations on the gastric juice and the physiology of digestion ... Plattsburg 1833, Edinburg 1838 (ed. by. Andrew Combe). Diese Arbeit, die einen Markstein in der Geschichte der experimentellen Physiologie bildet, erschien bereits (Leipzig) 1834 in deutscher Übersetzung von B. Luden. Diese Untersuchungen an dem kanadischen Jäger Alexander San Martin, der infolge einer Schußwunde an einer Magenfistel litt, sind die ersten für die Erkenntnis der Sekretionserscheinungen des Magens wirklich fruchtbringenden Untersuchungen gewesen. Darüber orientiert der folgende Brief Beaumonts vom 17. April 1833 an den Chemiker Jacob Berzelius:


United States of America,
City of New York, 17th April, 1833.

Prof. Jacob Berzelius,

Stockholm, Sweden.

Sir: I do myself the honour, at the suggestion of your worthy and scientific friend and correspondent, Prof. Silliman, of transmitting for your consideration the accompanying papers and a quantity of pure gastric juice taken from the Stomach of a man in perfect health and vigor, and doubt not the importance of the subject and the interest it may excite will be sufficient apology for thus obtruding upon your notice. Prof. Silliman's communication will suggest to you the general nature and importance of the subject.

From the accompanying number of the Medical Recorder, Page 14th and sequel, you may learn the origin and early history of the case, and in the following pages of this sheet I shall endeavour to give you a concise view of what has been – seen and done by way of experiments and observation on the Gastric fluid and functions of Digestion ... (Describes the accident and the nature of the wound.)

The Gastric juice J sent you is also extracted this way through an appropriate caoutchouc tube; not in free and abundant quantities, but by slow destillations from the very minute papillae of the surface of the villous membrane – requiring much time, patience and address to obtain it in small quantity. Not more than 1 ½ or 2 oz. can be extracted after lasting for any period, and even this quantity requires 25, 30, or more minutes for its extraction. Numerous experiments and observations have been made in this case within the last two or three years upon the process of digestion and the chymefication of different kinds of aliments, both in the Stomach and out of it. The relative solubility in this Gastric fluid of many kinds of alimentary substances, both animal and vegetable, have been fairly tested, the comparative time and different facility of chymefication ascertained, and the natural and varying temperature of the system determined by accurate observations of the Thermometer, placed in the cavity of the Stomach, during abstinence and repletion. Various kinds of alimentary substances have been submitted to the action of this fluid, and it is found capable of completely dissolving them all, out of the stomach, when contained in a glass phial and placed upon a sand bath of the temperature of the Stomach – 100 Fahr. Even solid bone, cartilage, tendon down to the softest textured aliments are completely chymefied and dissolved when submitted to the Gastric juice in bottles and kept agitated in a temperature equal to the natural warmth of the stomach; varying however, in rapidity and perfection in proportion to the healthmote fullness of the secretion, purity of the gastric fluid, and the solidity, quality and peculiar nature of the aliment. Thus artificial chymefication of many kinds of food in this peculiar fluid has been fairly demonstrated its powerfully solvent and antiseptic properties clearly ascertained and proven. But its accurate chemical analysis has not yet been accomplished, though several quantities have been submitted to some of the most eminent practical chemists of the United States. None have yet been able to obtain complete and satisfactory results. – Profr. Robley Dunglison, of the University of Virginia, is the only one who has fairly approximated or made returns of anything useful and important on this subject. Profr. Silliman has now, for the first time, a quantity under examination, from the investigation of which highly important results are anticipated.

For the 5 or 6 month last past I have been prosecuting a series of experiments and observations on the subject of Digestion by this Gastric fluid under the patronage of the Medical Departements of the Government, the results of which are now preparing, and will probably be published in the course of the ensuming autumn or winter, or so soon as an accurate and satisfactory analysis of this fluid, if it be practicable, can be obtained.

Should the subject be worthy of your notice, and the accompanying fluids and documents merit your attention, and you be so happy as to succeed in obtaining satisfactory analysis of it, I do most earnestly and respectfully desire and shall be greatly obliged to you to communicate the results of your investigations, soon as convenient, either to Profr. Silliman, at New Haven, Ct., or to me, in the City of New York, by doing which you will doubtless confer a signal benefit on the American Medical public, greatly promote the cause of science, and confer honour and enduring obligation upon.

Your most respectful and obedient servant,
Wm. Beaumont.

P. S. The man will continue with me. Should more of the fluid be required to complete the investigation and analysis, it will be rapidly transmitted upon the earliest indication from you. Any suggestion you may please to make will be happily recd. and attended to.


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