Regarding respiration and the so-called
"animal heat." An historical sketch

de Micheli A.
Instituto Nacional de Cardiologia Ignacio Chavez,
Rev Invest Clin. 2001 Sep-Oct;53(5):462-7.


According to Aristotle and Galen, the essential function of the respiration phenomenon was to cool the blood. Towards the middle of the XVI Century, Miguel Servet suggested, in his treatise Christianismi restitutio..., that the inspired air could have other functions besides cooling the blood. Later, Joseph Black thought that respiration was a combustion. In the light of the advances in chemistry achieved in the XVII Century, the English scientist Adair Crawford and the French chemist Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier conceived, in the second half of that century, the first general and quantitative theories on the origin of animal heat. Both these authors had the conviction that the "inflammable element", which will be called oxygen, was not formed in the pulmonary territory, but could be absorbed by the blood. Oxygen, foreseen by Mayow at the end of XVII Century, was discovered by Joseph Priestley in 1774. Lavoisier gave the name of oxygen to this gas and firmly established that the respiration phenomenon consists essentially in a process of combustion. The mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange, native of Turin, suggested that animal heat originates in all breathing tissues. This phenomenon was verified and described in detail by the biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani, professor at the University of Pavia. Dissemination, in the scientific world, of the new chemical nomenclature and of the respiratory theory, closely related to it, was based fundamentally on the works "Methode de nomenclature chimique..." (1787) and "Traite elementaire de chimie..." (1789). During the XIX Century, studies on the phenomenon of animal respiration continued and fundamental discoveries in this subject were attained, such as conversion of hemoglobin to oxyhemoglobin once oxygen had been fixed. Now it is possible to study the regulating mechanisms of the energetic metabolism of the myocardium in vivo, which allows decisive interventions in certain cardiopathies, such as in acute ischemic cardiopathy.
Joseph Black
Joseph Priestley
Antoine Lavoisier
Karl William Scheele
Anaesthesia and anaesthetics
Anaesthesia/16th October 1846
Obstetric chloroform anaesthesia
First use of anaesthetics in different countries

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The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World