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November 24, 1923


JAMA. 1923;81(21):1791-1792. doi:10.1001/jama.1923.02650210057017

There is at present no comprehensive vantage point from which the phenomena of absorption from the mucous membranes and epithelial surfaces of the body can be surveyed. Attempts at generalization have rarely succeeded, because a uniform principle of function applicable to all the situations has not yet been discovered. A good illustration of the confusion confronting the student of absorption is afforded by the alimentary tract. The intestine is notably a region in which substances in solution can readily penetrate the lining membranes and thus finally enter the blood stream. Yet the gastric mucosa, existing in almost direct continuity with that of the lower reaches of the bowel, is demonstrably impervious not only to products of digestion but even to the universal solvent water. The nasopharyngeal surfaces also have varied absorptive capacities. The conjunctival membranes and the skin are in marked contrast with respect to their permeability to drugs. Such