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November 6, 1926


JAMA. 1926;87(19):1562. doi:10.1001/jama.1926.02680190038015

During the World War, astounding reports were circulated regarding the promotion of muscular activity and the prevention of fatigue in both man and animals through the administration of a simple inorganic substance, sodium phosphate. Several circumstances served to lend credence to these reports. They emanated from physiologists of repute, so that the alleged results could scarcely be attributed to charlatanry or quackery; and there were contemporaneous scientific evidences of the actual participation of phosphoric acid in the working metabolism of muscle. For nearly half a century the searchers for the "fatigue products" of the contractile tissues have crossed the trails of three chemical substances—carbon dioxide, lactic acid and phosphates— that seemed to be concerned in some way with the reactions taking place when a muscle works. How the contractions actually are produced still remains a physiologic mystery. In a perfectly resting muscle, lactic acid is present in traces at most;