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  • A. Better Understand human anatomy
    B. Learn how body functions, such as digestion, occur
    C. Manufacture disinfectants
    D. Develop surgical techniques

    18th century. That’s the 1700’s. That’s when Lavoisier was just getting cranked up discovering oxygen. The atomic theory hadn’t been invented yet, nor had the periodic table come on the scene. In the 17th century chemistry was in its infancy, and so was medicine for that matter. The answer to your question, though has to do with the chemistry of acids and digestion. Consider this:

    "In review: Paracelsus in the 16th century paved the
    way for the discovery in the 17th century of acid
    digestion in the stomach by Helmont. In the 18th
    century, Reaumur reported gastric juice was acid to
    taste; John Hunter (1728-1793), England’s eminent
    surgeon and scientist, believed acid appeared only after
    death, and when present in life was due to sugar
    decomposition’4; Bassiano Carminati found (1785)
    gastric juice acid in an animal when fed, but not when
    starved; and John Richardson Young (1782-1804),
    at the University of Pennsylvania, reported in his
    graduation thesis that he had found gastric juice acid,
    which he thought was phosphoric acid, and that gastric
    digestion occurred only in the presence of acid.’

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2625608/pdf/jnma00926-0133.pdf

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