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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Health Notes: Beef-Juices.

Edited by H. Laing Gordon, M.D.
Volume 11, 1900, pgs. 718-720

There is probably, with the exception of milk, no form of nourishment which is used so much in the sick-room as beef-juice in some form or another; and it is probable that there is no form of nourishment to which so much virtue is attributed, and which actually possesses so little--at least in the form of some of the leading beef-juices which are sold in druggists' shops in nice little bottles for high prices.

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Dr. Robert Hutchinson has recently pointed out that no raw beef-juice can really be regarded as an important aid to nutrition, for the simple reason that in order to produce a nutritive effect, at least five pints would be necessary for the invalid daily. Only very few people could digest such an amount in the twenty-four hours, and certainly only a Miss Kilmansegg could afford that amount of any of the patent preparations, even if the nausea and other ill-effects of taking an excessive quantity of these juices could be endured. "They can," says Dr. Hutchinson, "only be of some slight service in tiding over a crisis in which the administration of milk is for some reason or another impracticable." One must not be misled by the examples often adduced of persons who have lived for several days "on nothing but So-and-So's beef-juice." Everybody knows that, provided water be freely supplied, most persons are capable of living on nothing but their own tissues for a surprisingly long period. In most of these cases there can be little doubt that the patient's own fat deserves the credit of the survival, and not the beef-juice at all.

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Beef-juice, however, has its uses, especially for children, and may be usefully added to milk or other food when the occasion demands. It would appear that few persons are aware that it is a wicked extravagance to purchase any of the juices sold by chemists and grocers unless haste is the motive. A much better and fresher and altogether nicer beef-juice may be easily made at home. The best method is to take about two ounces of best beefsteak, chop it up into little squares, place it in the bottom of a marmalade jar, and then cover it with cold water; this is allowed to stand in a cool place for an hour or two, and is then squeezed and strained through muslin. A teaspoonful of a fluid extract prepared in this manner may be given to an infant when required or ordered, or may be added to the bottle if necessary; a little castor sugar improves the flavour if it is disliked.

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It is interesting to compare the value of some of the unknown preparations as estimated by determining the amount of "coagulable proteid" which they contain:--

(In 100 parts by volume.)
Puro beef-juice---29 per cent.
Bovinine---17 per cent.
Armour's beef-juice---5 per cent.
Wyeth's---5 per cent.
Bovril's---4 per cent.
Brand's---4 per cent.
Liquor Carnis---3.75 per cent.
Taurine---1 per cent.
Valentine's beef-juice---0'3 per cent
(Table by Hutchinson).

It will thus be seen that Puro stands far away at the head of the table, and Valentine, perhaps the best known and certainly one of the most expensive, is hopelessly in the rear. Puro is a recently-introduced German beef-juice; it has a by no means disagreeable flavour, and in this respect has an advantage over Bovinine, which is not pleasing to many palates. All of these preparations, when diluted for use, look very like blood, an objection which is overcome by administering them in a coloured glass.

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Dr. Hutchinson has drawn attention to the value of egg-white as a substitute for beef-juice; it is equal to, if not greater, than beef-juice as a nutriment. Take the white of one egg, add twice its volume of water, and stir into it a little Liebig dissolved in a teaspoonful of hot water, and there is ready about three ounces of a mixture equal to any beef-juice for the cost of about one penny.

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The conclusions to be drawn from Dr. Hutchinson's researches into this subject may be tabulated as follows:--

1. Raw beef-juice, prepared at home as directed above, is as good as any patent preparation for all ordinary purposes, and is in many ways superior--especially in price.

2. Puro is the most valuable of the patent preparations, judged by the contained amount of "coagulable proteid," and Valentine is the least valuable.

3. Egg-white, prepared as directed above, is an excellent substitute for beef-juice, and is practically just as nutritious.

4. The value of any beef-juice, patent or home-made, as food by itself is very small; it cannot be taken in sufficient quantity to supply the necessary "proteid" for the body.

It is not necessary to discuss here the occasions when beef-juices of any kind are useful; but we hope we have shown that a very little trouble supplies two preparations as useful as any patent juice, and about 20 or 24 times as cheap.

Proofread May 2011, LNL