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Effect of alcohol on membranes.

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The first areas affected by alcohol are those parts of the body extensions that anatomists call membranes.” The skin is a membranous envelope. Through the entire surface of the digestive tract, from the lips downward, and through the bronchial passages to their most delicate branches, there are mucous membranes. The lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys are all folded into delicate membranes that can be easily peeled away from these parts. If you pick up a part of a bone, you will find it easy to peel a membranous sheath or covering from it; if you examine a joint, you will find that the head and fossa are lined with membranes. The entire intestine is wrapped in a fine membrane called the peritoneum. All the muscles are wrapped in membranes, and the fascia, or muscle bundles and fibers, of the muscles have their membranous sheaths. The brain and spinal cord are wrapped in three membranes; one layer, closest to itself, is a purely vascular structure, a network of blood vessels; another layer is a thin plasma structure; and the third layer is a solid fibrous structure. The eye is a structure composed of colloidal fluid and membranes and nothing else. To complete the description, the tiny structures of the vital organs are made up of membrane substances.”

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These membranes are the body’s filters.” Without them, there could be no structure building, no tissue solidification, and no organic mechanisms. They are passive in themselves, but divide all the structures into their respective positions and adaptations.

The deterioration of the membrane.

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To make perfectly clear to you the action and use of these membranous swellings, and the way in which alcohol deteriorates them and prevents them from working, we quote again from Dr. Richardson.

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“The animal gets the food and drink it needs from the plant world and from the earth to sustain its existence and movement. It needs colloidal food for its muscles, combustible food for its movements, water for the solutions of its parts, and salt for its construction and other physical purposes. All of these must be arranged in the body, and they are arranged by means of membranous envelopes. Nothing can pass through these membranes that is not temporarily in aqueous solution, such as water or soluble salts. Water can pass freely through them, and salts can pass freely through them, but the structural substance of the colloidal active part cannot; it is retained in it until it is chemically broken down into soluble types of matter. When we take a portion of animal flesh as food, during digestion it is first broken down into soluble liquids before it can be absorbed; in the blood it is broken down into a colloidal state. In the solid, it forms a new structure within the membrane, and when it has done its work, it is again digested, if I may say so, into a crystalline soluble substance, ready to be carried away and replaced by a new substance, which is then dialyzed or passes through the membrane into the blood and is disposed of in the excrement.

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“See, then, what an important role these membrane structures play in the life of animals. All the silent work of building the body depends on their integrity. If these membranes become too porous and allow the colloidal fluid in the blood to escape, for example, the body will die in this case; just as it would if it were to bleed slowly to death. Conversely, if they become coagulated or thickened, or covered with foreign substances, then they cannot allow natural fluids to pass through them. They cannot be dialyzed, with the result that the fluid accumulates in the closed cavity, or that the substance encased within the membrane contracts, or that the membrane, which should be free to lubricate and keep separate the surfaces, dries out. In old age, we see the effects of naturally induced membrane changes; we see fixed joints, atrophied and weak muscles, dull eyes, deaf ears, and debilitated nerve function.

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“At first glance, I might immediately stray from the subject of the secondary effects of alcohol. This is not the case. I am leading directly to it. On all these membranous structures, alcohol exerts a direct metabolic effect. It produces in them a thickening, contraction and inactivity that reduces their functional capacity. In order for them to work quickly and equally, they need to be saturated with water at all times. If, when in contact with them, any agent deprives them of water, their work is disturbed; they no longer properly separate the salt components; and, if the evil thus begun is allowed to continue, they contract the substance they contain, in whatever organ it is located, and cause it to coagulate.

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“In short, under the prolonged influence of alcohol, those changes which take place in the blood cells extend to other organic parts, and plunge them into a structural deterioration, which is always dangerous, and often ultimately fatal.”