This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The only complete food afforded by the animal kingdom is the egg: containing, as it does, all the alimentary substances required for the support, and maintenance of animal life. For their plentiful store of varied sustenance Eggs, in the hands of the cook, and the doctor, may be well described as veritable "Treasure houses wherein lie, Locked by angels' alchemy, Milk and hair, and blood, and bone".
The early Christians took the egg as a symbol of their hope as to the body's resurrection. Broadly speaking, the domestic fowl's egg consists of yolk and white as edible parts, within the hard shell made up chiefly of carbonate of lime. When compared with moderately lean meat the egg contains two-thirds as much primary food (proteid), twice as much fatty substance, twice as much ash, and about an equal quantity of water. The proteid includes what chemists call nuclein, which affords phosphorus, as a nerve renovator, in organic combinations, some thereof being united to iron; but this is not in the Egg a source of uric acid, else eggs would be improper for gouty persons. Nevertheless, Dr. Haig (whose personal experiences are in several respects exceptional), maintains that Eggs do actually cause an increased excretion of uric acid. He says "1 gradually eliminated from my diet all articles which contained even the smallest quantity of egg, having obtained very distinct evidence that these, when taken every day, decidedly increased with me the excretion of uric acid." Dr. Hutchison supposes, "the white of Eggs to be unobjectionable food for growing boys, but the yolk, though nearly a complete form of food (except for starches, which may be readily superadded by bread and butter), comprises something akin to the uric acid in meat.
If it should be suspected that at any time the urine contains albumen, such as white of egg, then a simple bedside test which is sufficiently reliable may be easily employed. Four or five drops of the urine, as passed on first rising, should be put into a glass of clear hot water, when, if any albumen is present, it will be indicated by an opalescence. If the glass is held against a dark background, this opalescence will be very visible, and will be seen to spread through the water like a cloud of smoke. Phosphates in the urine will produce a similar appearance; but on adding a little white vinegar, or acetic acid, the cloud will then immediately disappear; not so, however, if albumen be its cause. An average fowl's egg contains about one hundred grains of proteid food: as much of this, together with fat, as five ounces of new milk, but minus the sugar of milk. It is also reckoned to be the equivalent of rather under an ounce and a half of fat meat. The raw egg is somewhat laxative. Egg white is a capital substitute for raw meat juice. It consists of dissolved proteid enclosed within many thousands of cells; when this egg white is beaten up the cell walls are ruptured, and the proteid food-matter escapes.
Some twelve per cent of egg albumin is present in the egg white, this being in no way inferior as regards nutritive value to the proteids of meat, save as lacking its vital force. One egg yields rather more than an ounce of white; and if to this be added twice its volume of cold water, and the whole quantity be then strained through muslin, there will be obtained three ounces of a clear solution containing as much proteid as an average specimen of commercial beef-juice".
All that then remains to be done is to stir into the same a little Liebig's extract dissolved in a teaspoonful, or so, of warm water.
Animal Albumin is thus to be got from the white of eggs; it may also be obtained from the serum (or thin liquid) of the blood, or from the juices of uncooked meat. Eighty-four dozen eggs produce from one to two gallons of the white, and this yields fourteen per cent of commercial albumin, while the blood of five oxen will supply about two pounds. The albumin is prepared for commercial purposes in a dry state. Dr. Carpenter showed that during hard work on the part of a labourer, a larger supply than usual of albuminoid food is necessary. In chronic Bright's disease, with passage of albumin from the kidneys in the urine, for the majority of cases the best food is that advised for gout, i.e., a diet only moderately rich in proteid, and that chiefly derived from vegetable sources, and from which diet soups, and all preparations containing the extractives of meat are excluded.
The Egg Yolk contains lecithin, which embodies natural phosphorus in its most assimilable form, and which will serve to admirably recruit exhausted nerve structures through their leading centres when lacking vital energy. A confection of this lecithin principle is prepared by chemists for the use of children. Apples likewise contain similar lecithin, as a phosphorated compound, such as exists naturally in nerve tissues, also in the blood, in fish sperm, and in certain of the cereals, as wheat and maize. When supplied in the yolk of eggs it stimulates the appetite, and leads quickly to an increase of bodily weight. The Medical Record tells passim that from the University of Chicago there has been issued a recipe for bringing about bodily bigness; and that the age of the race of giants is about to begin again. Henceforward there will be no pigmies, because of a wonderful food-substance which makes men and animals grow fast, and large. This new food is lecithin. Dr. Hatai has experimented with it on white rats, and by feeding them with such nutriment made them grow sixty per cent faster than they grow ordinarily, the same being done even under atmospheric conditions and general surroundings which were unfavourable. Scientists say that lecithin will have a similar effect on human beings.
The Professor named above finds that the growth induced thereby is normal, and embraces all parts, including bigness of heart, and of body, as well as of head. Furthermore distinct traces of arsenic are found by the chemist to be present in eggs.