In 1909 Dr William Lloyd published a brief essay on asthma in the British Medical Journal. According to Dr Lloyd asthma was “essentially a nervous disease”, caused by nasal irritation and involuntary spasms of the bronchial muscles. Contrary to popular opinion, he wrote, asthma could be easily treated. An attack could be subdued with a dose of ipecacuanha powder, a plant extract that causes vomiting. Some of Dr Lloyd’s other suggested treatments were less creative:
“The use of pipe tobacco smoking acts admirably in some patients… One of the commonest and most effective remedies is coffee. It acts better if given very hot and strong and without sugar and milk. Alcohol, chloroform and cocaine are remedies of value [for] checking an attack, however severe.”
Dr Lloyd continued to write on asthma, hay fever and other respiratory conditions until the 1930s. In 1925 his practice was flooded with patients after the Daily Mail claimed that Dr Lloyd had discovered a permanent cure for hay fever. The British Medical Association deemed this to be advertising, a practice against its charter, so Lloyd’s name was temporarily removed from the register. His hay fever ‘cure’ was also discredited.