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Beer A

beers, hops, berries, varieties, belladonna and symptoms

BEER. --A beverage properly prepared by a process of fermentation from water, hops, yeast, and malted barley. In some beers malted wheat is used ; from others, hops are omitted ; and still in others (as in Bohe mian beers) a greater proportion of hops than malt is employed. While none of these varieties of beer can be considered really harmful, it is certainly a disadvantage when, instead Of hops and malt, the brewer employs tansy, picric acid, glycerine, quassia, sugar, syrup, etc., as substitutes for the essen tial ingredients. In Germany the superior quality of the Bavarian beers is due to the stringent regulations which have long been in force as to the purity of the ingredients, and for this reason these beers are among the most highly prized in the market. The nutrient value of even these varieties is very slight, however, a quart being scarcely the equivalent in food value of a single slice of bread. It is a great mistake, therefore, to look upon beer as a food ; nor should one delude oneself with the idea that several glasses of beer daily may be taken without detriment.

The ordinary varieties of beer have the following composition : The ingestion of a quart of beer, therefore, means the absorption by the system of about 3o grams of absolute alcohol ; the same quantity of whisky would contain approximately about 40o to 500 grams. The difference be tween a whisky drinker and a habitual beer drinker is not a very great one ; and the liability to injure the health by such habits is a serious one (see ALCOHOLISM). By the process of Pasteurising, the temperature of the beer is raised to 70° C. (158° F.), which destroys the organisms of fermenta tion and renders it possible to transport beers a great distance. An increased quantity of alcohol need therefore not be added for this purpose. Beer should be stored for a considerable period and be mature and clear, new beer being more apt to cause intestinal catarrh. Beer which has been allowed to ferment beyond the normal degree, the so-called " weiss bier," contains so much carbonic-acid gas that harmful results from its use may follow ; and it should therefore be taken in moderation for a twofold reason.

BELLADONNA-POISONING.—The blackish-red, cherry-like berries of the deadly nightshade (Plate XXIII. Fig. 7) have a sweet taste, but instead of one large seed they have many small seeds. They may be eaten by accident, having been mistaken for huckleberries and mixed with them. Children have been poisoned from eating only three or four berries. Nausea and vomiting generally occur directly after swallowing the berries. This is followed by a burning sensation in the back of the mouth, dryness of the throat, and difficulty in swallowing. The most important symptoms are : dilatation of the pupils, impaired vision bordering on total blindness, scarlet colour of the face and body, and agitation. The patient swings his arms violently, bites, laughs, screams, and whistles. At times there is no agitation, but in its stead profound unconsciousness, resembling a fainting spell. Emetics, ice poultices on the head, and enemas of vinegar may be given until the arrival of the physician.

Occasionally the medicinal preparations of belladonna are taken by accident. The symptoms are as described, and the remedies employed the same. As belladonna causes a loss of sensation in mucous membranes, it is better to wash out the stomach than to wait for an emetic to act. A soft rubber tube is all that is necessary to do this. Tablets containing atropine, the poisonous alkaloid of belladonna, are very widely used for colds in the head ; and poisoning from them occurs very frequently. The symptoms and treatment of poisoning by these tablets are as already outlined. Hot coffee is a useful stimulant to be given while waiting for further medical aid.