COD-LIVER OIL.—A complex oil obtained from the fresh or partly decomposed liver of the codfish. The oil is light to clark-red in colour, has a mild, fishy taste, and contains, in addition to various fats and their acids, small quantities of iodine. It also contains iodine compounds in com bination with fats or proteids, or both. It is probable that the value of cod-liver oil is due to the fact that it represents a food which is readily assimilated, and which may contribute very materially to improve the state of nutrition in all wasting diseases of adults as well as of children, such as scrofula, tuberculosis, chlorosis, and anaemia, rickets, and diabetes mellitus. It should never be administered when the digestion is impaired. The most suitable time in the day to administer the oil is one or two hours after supper.
or between the meals of the day. In summer it is at times wise to omit its 'use entirely, especially when fresh cream can be obtained ; nor should it he given to children under six months of age, or to individuals with intestinal disease. To children it should be given at first in doses of a teaspoonful, gradually increased to four ; and to adults in doses of a tablespoonful, likewise increased gradually to four times that amount. Many cod-liver oil emulsions are more palatable than the pure oil. Their chief disadvantage is their comparatively high cost.
COFFEE.—The seeds of the coffee-tree (Coffea Arabica), two of which are contained in each cherry-like berry of the tree. From its home in Abyssinia and Arabia coffee has been introduced into the temperate and frigid zones, and has there become indispensable. Chemical analysis of the coffee-beans has shown them to contain, in the dry but unroasted state, ro per cent. of water, 12 per cent. of nitrogen, 0'93 per cent. of caffeine, per cent. of tannin, 12 per cent. of fat, and 12 per cent. of sugar. Roasting does not modify the amount of caffeine, nitrogen, or fat. The amount of sugar, however, is diminished to r per cent., and the amount of tannin increased. Aromatic oils are set free, contributing to the aroma of the coffee. Sugar assists in the formation of the caramel of the roasted bean. The roasting must be done uniformly, should not last too long, and the sub sequent cooling must be a rapid and not a gradual one. Roasted coffee
should be kept dry. When preparing the beverage, contact of the ground coffee with metal should be avoided, and only actually boiling water should be used in making the decoction, which should not be allowed to boil a second time.
The stimulating effect which coffee exerts on the nervous system is the reason for its widespread use and abuse. Coffee may be the enemy as well as the friend of man. As its abuse banishes sleep and causes restless nights, so it may also give rise to severe conditions of irritation of the nervous system, and through it affect the heart. Nor is it of secondary importance from the standpoint of digestion. For it is questionable whether even small quantities are beneficial to digestion ; and it is certain that the latter is partly or entirely interrupted by the indulgence in large quantities of coffee. Patients suffering from gout, in whom the stomach is generally also affected, had better forego the use of coffee. I f the sensation of indolence following a plentiful meal appears to be lessened by a cup of coffee, this is not due to accelerated digestion, but to the stimulation exerted upon the brain. Many coffee substitutes are expensive, and furnish neither stimulation nor nutrition. The best substitute for coffee for the poor is a plate of hot soup.
COLCHICUM.—The root and seeds of Co/claicnama airiuntiude, or meadow saffron, a bulbous plant native to Europe. The active principle is an alka loid called co/chichie. Locally, colchicum is an active irritant ; and if taken in an overdose it may cause symptoms of violent inflammation of the stomach and intestines, which may prove fatal. There is intense abdominal pain, salivation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhcea, often accompanied by much straining and the passage of blood-streaked mucus. There may be giddiness, delirium, and collapse, or the patient may remain entirely con scious. In case of poisoning the stomach should be emptied if possible, and tannic acid given. The services of a physician are, of course, required. Colchicum is used principally in gout, and is very helpful in this condition. It is often combined with iodide of potash for use in chronic rheumatism. The wine of the seed is given in doses of half a teaspoonful.