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JAMA 100 Years Ago
November 17, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(19):2411. doi:10.1001/jama.292.19.2411-a

According to a London cable dispatch, the use of essence or strong tincture of ginger as a stimulant is becoming dangerously popular among society people in Great Britain. In some cases very large quantities are said to be used, even as much as a pint daily. The fact that ginger is a well-known domestic remedy is very likely the starting point of its usage in cases of mental and social strain accompanied with gastric disturbances, but the habit becomes a cumulative one and fully as dangerous as the cocain, morphin and other drug habits which it is often desired to avoid. This constitutes a special danger; the subjects at first consider that they are taking a harmless remedy, which they have known as such from childhood days. The fact that essence of ginger is often nearly of full alcoholic strength renders the drug excessively dangerous, and the further fact that it may be obtained from druggists or grocers by anyone at any time is an additional special peril. The consequences of the ginger habit, beside those from the alcoholic contents, are generally aggravated gastric disturbance and general systemic disorder. The habit is said to be more common among women than men, but accurate statistics are hard to obtain. We have not yet heard of the vice as a common one in this country, but it probably exists, and the reported cases of wood-alcohol poison from the use of essence of ginger indicate a still more insidious peril of the habitual use of the drug. It is well to be warned on these points, and to be on the lookout for possible concealed habits that may be both individual and social dangers.

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