Caustics are chemical agents which produce disease through their power to destroy tissue.

As followers of my medical philosophy will use no drugs, they will not be interested in drugs, either of high or low degree.

The action of a caustic is that of causing necrosis or gangrene of the flesh that comes in contact with it. After the flesh is killed, the process of sloughing takes place. This process means that under the dead tissue the living is carrying on the work of separating the living tissue from the dead. The dead undergoes suppuration--disintegration--dissolves, and runs away as pus. Enough serum of the blood is carried to the borderland of the injury to neutralize and wash away the poison of putrefaction.

The normal chemical state of the fluids of the body is alkaline, while that of decaying tissues is acid. To prevent the acid--the septic--fluid of decaying tissue from being absorbed or taken into the body, where it would set up septicemia--blood poisoning--the living tissue that is in proximity to the sloughing tissue is infiltrated--saturated--to overflowing with the alkaline serum of the blood. This accounts for the great amount of fluid and pus seen in all suppurating processes. Pus is laudable when alkaline. Pure vaccine--if there is any--is dried laudable pus, and is inert.

If a wound is closed and the discharge has no outlet, the pus becomes ichoroid--septic--poisonous, sets up blood poisoning when forced absorption takes place, and death follows from blood poisoning. Septicemia is the professional term for pus poisoning.

It is said that the skin resists the action of caustics by throwing out a secretion which furnishes chemical elements that join the caustic elements to make an insoluble compound. Nature is busy meeting and destroying the influence of enemies of health and life. In this work help is needed, and the physician should be able to read the language of nature and assist her in her efforts to keep a rational and sane balance. On account of misunderstandings or lack of interpretation of systemic needs, the physician is often enlisted with the body's foes, and is tearing down rather than building up or defending the body.

Caustics are divided into coagulating and liquefying.

Coagulating caustics are those known as metallic salts, the various acids, etc. Nitrate of silver, nitric acid, nitrate of mercury, zinc chloride, and the actual cautery (white-hot) are a few that may be listed with these chemicals. These are so powerful that they kill the skin at the instant of contact.

Acids may be neutralized at once if plenty of water is handy; for water dissolves the acid and dilutes it into a harmless solution. The leading acids are: nitric, hydrochloric, sulphuric, and chromic.

Nitric acid produces a yellow eschar; sulphuric causes a black eschar.

Liquefying caustics are potash, soda, and ammonia.

The scars following the sloughing caused by caustics are often severe, causing contractions and disfigurements.