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March 23, 1901


JAMA. 1901;XXXVI(12):820. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.02470120044011

When sublimed sulphur—"flour, or flowers, of sulphur"—is added to urine containing bile, the sulphur immediately falls to the bottom of the tube. In the absence of bile the sulphur remains on the surface of the urine, sinking but partially or very slowly, if at all. This is Haycraft's reaction for biliary acids. This simple method, known to Eichhorst in 1887 and mentioned in the Physiology of Langlois and de Varigny in 1893, seems to have fallen into complete oblivion. The original publication of Haycraft, an English chemist, has been searched for in vain by Frenkel and Cluzet who, attracted by the interesting physical problems involved in the reaction and by its practical value, have studied the phenomenon both clinically and experimentally.1 They find that Haycraft's reaction for biliary acids is an extremely simple method for determining the presence of bile in the urine and in certain other organic liquids.