Tag Archives: smelling salts

Coming to one’s senses

Being a relatively healthy individual (touch wood, of course) I’m no pundit on medicines and how they work, but I have recently developed an interest in the phenomenon of the unconscious and deep sleep state.

One doesn’t hear too often these days of delicate young ladies fainting and swooning like they did in the early 19th century, although I must admit that this does still seem to happen occasionally at rock concerts.  I rather suspect that we have evolved into a much more robust species due in all likelihood to emancipation and women’s lib.  I can’t imagine that it would have done the image of those tough suffragettes much good if they had been caught swooning whilst tied to their lamp-posts.

We could probably even trace our evolution back to the fearless girls of the sixties who burnt their bras.  They couldn’t possibly afford to swoon or faint into crumpled heaps when going braless – it could have lead to all sorts of fondling and abuse whilst they were non-compos mentis.

Looking at the solutions they used to bring the ladies of yesteryear out of their faints, one often reads of the much-used sal volatile, salt of hartshorn or smelling salts being waved under their noses.  These were highly effective due to the pungent ammonia content of the salts which was initially derived from the antlers of male deer (harts) before being produced synthetically in laboratories.

But before I give women a bad name for being wimps, let us not forget that smelling salts were (and still are) also used to revive robust athletes and sportsmen who lose consciousness when injured on the field or in the arena.  Big hulking boxers, knocked unconscious by their opponents, are brought around by the wonders of white crystalline salts of ammonium carbonate.

How these smelling salts work is by releasing ammonia gas which, when inhaled, irritates the mucous membranes of the nose and lungs, causing the patient to breathe faster and revive.  Perfume is sometimes added to the solution to improve the smell of the salts.   These days, in some medical circles, the chemicals in smelling salts are deemed to be potentially harmful and they are therefore considered dangerous.  Ammonia should only be used in small quantities in well-ventilated rooms as their fumes can be quite toxic in large amounts.

I know that great care has to be taken with animals that are anaesthetized for operations as their little bodies are not able to take the slightest overdose when putting them under.  In my research I haven’t come across any methods for bringing animals back to consciousness, although I heard a joke once describing how a cat was passed slowly past the nose of an unconscious dog to see if there was any reaction, with the owner being sent an horrendous bill later for the ‘cat scan’.

If no equivalent of smelling salts is available yet for reviving animals, then perhaps I can be of help as I seem to have stumbled upon a fail-proof remedy capable of bringing even the most comatose cat out of its slumbering state.  They say there’s none so deaf as those who will not hear and my cat is living proof of this maxim.  When he is curled up asleep on his favourite chair, with his nose buried deeply into his folded paws, no amount of calling or coaxing will get him to lift up his head in acknowledgment.  Even his ears remain motionless, making one wonder if he’s gone deaf whilst lying there or worse still, died in his sleep.

My version of smelling salts is so potent that even if my cat is fast asleep in another room, or outside in the garden, one sniff of my miracle remedy will have him wide awake and clamouring to be with me.  I aught to patent my discovery for the commercial potential is vast, but as I’m in a philanthropic mood and generally have a warm fuzzy feeling towards fellow cat-lovers, I will disclose my well-kept secret for nothing.  Dried Wors (sausage).

This will probably come as a shock to those die-hard rugby supporters who consider dried wors only as essential fare for watching a game, but this incredible sausage definitely has all the properties required to revive cats instantly.  Not only is it harmless when taken in small doses, but one gets to share it with one’s feline friend, thus bonding the relationship even further.

We all know that drugs are tested on animals prior to being unleashed on humans, and, at the risk of having the bunny huggers and green people lynching me for having tested this wonder reviver on my cat, I highly recommend that the smell of the humble dried sausage be replicated in the laboratory and given to the world as the safe replacement for smelling salts.  Whilst at present the smell of dried wors is unknown to a large population of the world, I can vouch that it would waken even the most comatose South African.  I must warn you though, for folks who have left the country for pastures green, it could probably have some unpleasant side effects, like homesickness and depression.