Phosphorus Depravation.


A patient was brought to me at one time for treatment, the results of which treatment should be placed on record. The patient, a girl, ten and one-half years old, had suffered, I was told, from scarlet fever and diphtheria two years before. As a result of this the tonsils were gone entirely, and the diphtheritic paralysis still existed, permitting fluids to escape through the nostrils.

In addition, there were the following conditions, which may or may not have been sequelae, more or less remote, of the above-named diseases. There was progressive muscular atrophy of the extremities, with consequent paralysis. The child naturally bright, had gradually failed intellectually until she was approaching idiocy. This was particularly noticeable in her speech and conversation. Besides these symptoms there had been decay of her second set of teeth—her permanent set—until every tooth was destroyed. The child was literally as toothless as if in her second childhood.

The usual methods for treating paralysis made not the least impression upon the condition. After expending much thought upon the case I concluded there was a general absence of phosphorus in the system. There were so many strong evidences of this that I decided to act upon that conjecture and to supply the phosphorus direct.

I prepared an emulsion in the proportion of three-fourths of a grain of phosphorus to four ounces of the oil of sweet almonds; a half teaspoonful to be taken four times a day. This would approximate the 1/80 of a grain at a dose; as medicine is usually given it would be nearer 1/90 If there was gastric disturbance, they were to discontinue giving the medicine and report to me.

In five weeks there was a marked improvement in the condition of the patient. The wasting had ceased, and there was increased muscular development. The paralysis was in every way lessened. The patient, before helpless, was now able to walk about some, and help herself very considerably. There was a very apparent improvement also in the mental condition. This was in January. I did not see the child again until the fourth of July following, when I found her completely restored to health. She could romp and play as lively as other girls; all symptoms of paralysis were gone; she was intellectually bright. But, mirabile dictu, the most remarkable effect of the improvement was a complete set of new teeth—her third set. The results then more than confirmed my diagnosis that nerve tissue, muscular tissue and bone tissue, throughout the system, needed phosphorus.

Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.