Book V.




Importance of Drugs.—Drugs have to-day a very wide and important claim to our attention from the fact of their wide application. Those in more common use should be understood by the laity, while a knowledge of the rarer drugs should be close at hand, should we wish to learn of them. Drugs are our friends, but, like friends, must be properly and carefully used; in cases where not so used they prove a detriment rather than a benefit.

All Nature Assists.—For purposes of healing nature gives her vital forces in the form of plants and animals. Those forms of nature without life lend their aid, and thus some very important remedies come from the mineral kingdom.

Divisions of the Subject.—Our subject is therefore divided into parts depending upon the source. Part I deals with drugs from the inorganic kingdom; Part II treats of drugs derived from the organic kingdom, and Part III shall be devoted to animal juices and extracts. These latter are among the newer remedies and, though strictly speaking, they are of organic origin, they are especially prepared in or from the animal body. The application of the drugs shall be given. Formulae are not given, but such as are in common use will be found carefully and fully written under "Medicinal Prescriptions," "Home Administration of Medicines," and elsewhere.

The first in alphabetical order of the INORGANIC MATERIALS is:

ALUM (Alumen).

Definition.—A double sulphate of potassium and aluminium.

Property.—It may cause vomiting. Locally it checks bleeding.

Use.—It acts as a styptic, astringent and emetic.

Manner of Using.—As an emetic a teaspoonful is the dose for a child and a tablespoonful for an adult, and it should be given in syrup. A lotion of alum and whisky is very useful in the prevention of bed-sores.

AMMONIUM (Ammonium).

Definition.—The salts are derived from the gas, ammonia.

Property.—It stimulates the heart. Weak solutions excite the flow of gastric juice. It is an antagonist to acids.

Use.—It may be used in cases of fainting or in cases of heart failure. Weak solutions are used as a sub-acid.

Manner of Using.—The aromatic spirits may be used in water, a teaspoonful as a dose. It should be remembered that this affords but temporary relief. Locally the liniment is useful.

ARSENIC (Acidum Arsenosum).

Definition.—Occurs as a white powder or in dense masses of crystals.

Property.—It serves as a stimulant to the nervous system, and in small doses improves the appetite and digestion.

Use.—Its properties indicate its use. Its stimulant effect upon the nervous system is made use of in the treatment of St. Vitus' dance. Preparations are used locally.

Manner of Using.—The common form used internally is called Fowler's solution, which is used in doses as high as ten drops. For local use a concentrated preparation is employed. In all cases arsenic is to be used with extreme caution, as it is very apt to produce symptoms of poisoning.

BISMUTH (Bismuthi Subnitras).

Definition.—A heavy white powder.

Property.—It has a soothing influence on the gastro-intestinal or digestive tract. Locally applied it is sedative and exsiccant; that is to say, it dries up excretions.

Use.—In cases of diarrhoea large doses are employed for the astringent effect. Locally it is employed in the treatment of burns and in skin diseases, where there is secretion to dry up.

Manner of Using.—It may be taken as a powder or in mucilage of acacia.

BORIC ACID (Acidum Boricum).

Definition.—It appears as colorless, transparent six-sided plates.

Property.—The influence of boric acid is sedative and destructive to low forms of organized life.

Use.—As a sedative and antiseptic.

Manner of Using.—Internally it is given in the form of a powder. For external application a lotion is prepared by dissolving the acid in water.

CALCIUM (Calcium).

Definition.—A metallic substance, the oxide of which constitutes lime. Chalk is scientifically called the carbonate of calcium.

Property.—Some preparations are sedative, others are sedative and astringent. Lime water and chalk are astringent and alkaline.

Use.—Either freshly slacked lime or, better, chlorinated lime may be used as a disinfectant. Carron oil consists of linseed oil and lime water, and is useful in the treatment of burns. Prepared chalk on account of its soothing and astringent effects makes a very useful tooth powder.

Manner of Using.—For internal use lime may be given in the form of a syrup where its assimilation is desired. Lime water may be used as a spray, or it may be taken internally. Added to milk it prevents curdling.

CHLORINE (Chlorum).

Definition.—A gaseous element of a greenish color and strong suffocating odor.

Property.—Chlorine has the property of destroying the various forms of bacteria.

Use.—Chlorine is generated in the sick room and used in its free state as a disinfectant. For commodes, for bed-pans, or for internal administration a solution of chlorinated soda is employed.

Manner of Using.—Chlorine is to-day but little used internally, its principal use being external, and depending upon its power to kill germs.

COPPER (Cuprum).

Definition.—A metallic substance used to a slight extent in medicine, more widely in the arts.

Property.—Copper is astringent and caustic.

Use.—Its use is dependent upon its properties, it being an astringent and caustic. Copper is sometimes added to pickles to make them. of a bright green color. This fraud can be detected by placing a piece of steel or the blade of a knife in the liquor; if it contains copper there will be a deposit of metallic copper upon the steel in a few minutes. The amount of copper present would not be sufficient to cause symptoms of poisoning. A far more dangerous source is the pigment found in wall-paper made of copper arsenite, which is very poisonous. This imparts to the wall paper its green color.

Manner of Using.—Copper should always be used with caution, and never without the advice or direction of a physician. When used internally a salt known as the sulphate is used. Externally its caustic action is effected.

GOLD (Aurum).

Definition.—A well-known precious metal. On account of its high place among the metals gold was supposed to have some special value in medicine. As a matter of fact it is but little employed.

Property.—Its chief property is to stimulate the glands of the stomach and liver. It acts also upon the kidneys, increasing the flow of urine.

Use.—It is used for its general stimulary effect on the system and for its stimulant effect on the liver and stomach in particular.

Manner of Using.—The preparation used is an orange-colored powder made of equal parts of sodium chloride or common table-salt and gold chloride. The dose for internal administration is minute.

HYDROCHLORIC ACID (Acidum Hydrochloricum).

Definition.—A metallic acid sometimes called muriatic acid or spirit of salt.

Property.—Dilute hydrochloric acid excites or stimulates the flow of secretions of the digestive tract and thus promotes appetite and digestion.

Use.—In dyspepsia due to insufficient amount of hydrochloric acid, the dilute acid is of value.

Manner of Using.—The dilute acid is used in drop doses freely diluted with water.

SODIUM (Sodium).

Definition.—A metallic substance not used in medicine except in combination.

Property.—One of the preparations or combinations sodium chloride is known to all as table salt, and plays an important part in digestion. Sodium sulphate is known as Glauber's salt and is a bad tasting and harsh cathartic. Some of the preparations, as the salicylate, reduce the alkalinity of the blood.

Use.—Table salt may be used in doses of a half to one tablespoonful as an emetic. The salicylates are used in rheumatism, and the preparation known as Glauber's salt is cathartic in its action. Sodium bicarbonate in powder or solution is applied to burned or scalded surfaces and quickly relieves pain.

Manner of Using.—Locally either the bicarbonate or its solution may be applied. Borax, which is the borate of sodium, is antiseptic in action. The other preparations mentioned above are taken internally.

IRON (Ferrum).

Definition.—The most useful, widely distributed and abundant of all the metals.

Property.—Being a normal or natural element of the blood, iron and its preparations have the property of building up the blood and tissue wornout by disease. Iron has also a tonic effect on the nerves.

Use.—In cases of anemia or lack of blood the various preparations of iron are employed to replace the loss. In convalescence from disease iron is of distinct value when given in small doses over a long period.

Manner of Using.—Locally the tincture of the chloride is astringent. Care must be taken whenever iron or its preparations are used locally about the throat or taken internally in liquid form that they do not come in contact with the teeth. Internally iron may be given in pill form or as a solution.


Definition.—A metallic substance, four preparations of which are used generally in medicine.

Property.—Magnesia being an alkaline substance is antagonistic to acids. It is also laxative.

Use.—The laxative property is marked in the oxide of magnesia and in the sulphate of magnesia or epsom salt. The citrate is laxative. The oxide is a useful antacid.

Manner of Using.—The sulphate or epsom salt is readily soluble in water. A teaspoonful is sufficient for most people as a purgative, though a tablespoonful would do no harm. Magnesia can be used in doses as high as a teaspoonful to two teaspoonfuls for an adult. For young children the dose is ten to twenty grains. The citrate of magnesium is a pleasant purgative in liquor form,

MANGANESE (Manganum).

Definition.—A metallic substance, two preparations of which, the dioxide and the sulphate, are used in medicine.

Use.—Manganese is used in the same cases as iron.

MERCURY (Hydrargyrum).

Definition.—A heavy fluid, with a silvery lustre and free from odor or taste.

Property.—Mercury in small quantities acts as a tonic, improving the condition of the blood. It is sometimes called an alterative from the fact that it alters or changes the state of the system.

Use.—Its use is that of a tonic, but should always be used advisedly. The preparation called corrosive sublimate, which is the bichloride of mercury, has no equal as an antiseptic. Calomel and blue mass are valuable as laxatives.

Under the name quicksilver we recognize the mercury used in the arts, as to manufacture thermometers and mirrors.

Manner of Using.—Corrosive sublimate should be used only externally without a physician and with great caution, as it is very poisonous. Blue mass pill may be given as high as five grains. Calomel is best taken in small amounts, but this, too, should be used with caution.

NITRIC ACID (Acidum Nitricum).

Definition.—One of the metallic acids occurring as a colorless, fuming liquid.

Property.—Locally the application of nitric-acid is followed by destruction of tissue. Taken internally it is an astringent.

Use.—The local effects are made use of in the employment of the acid as an escharotic. Internally it is used where astringent results are desired, as in diarrhoea.

Manner of Using.—The strong acid is used locally, but for internal use only small quantities are used and very well diluted.

OXYGEN (Oxygen).

Definition.—A gaseous element forming one-fifth of the atmosphere. Use.—Being a vital part of the air we breathe it is used in diseases of the heart and lungs associated with great difficulty in breathing.

Manner of Using.—It is usually kept in tight cylinders ready for use. It is used by inhalation.

PHOSPHORUS (Phosphorus).

Definition.—A yellow wax-like substance obtained from bones. It has the odor of garlic.

Property.—Phosphorus acts upon the nervous system and upon the bones.

Use.—In disease of the bones, dependent upon defective nutrition, phosphorus is of great value. In those nervous diseases dependent upon nerve exhaustion, rather than organic disease, phosphorus is employed with benefit.

Manner of Using.—Phosphorus is given in the form of pills or as a liquid preparation. Poisonous effects quickly follow an over-dose.

SILVER (Argentum).

Definition.—Another of the precious metals. It is much more extensively used than the metal with which it is so often associated.

Property.—The preparation of silver that is most often used and the only one to be considered in this work is the nitrate of silver, or, as it is called, lunar caustic.

Locally and internally lunar caustic is astringent in its properties. The mark made externally is white, but this subsequently becomes black on exposure to light. Solutions of this substance behave in the same manner.

Use.—Locally the astringent or even caustic property of the drug are made use of in the destruction of exuberant granulations forming what is commonly called proud flesh. A solution of thirty grains to a pint of water painted on the finger will absorb a felon. Internally also the drug is used for its astringent action on the gastro-intestinal tract.

Manner of Using.—Internally minute doses are used. For external applications solutions are employed and are made of varying strength, depending upon the particular need.

SODIUM (Sodium).

Definition.—This element is not used by itself in medicine, but certain of its salts are well known and widely employed.

Property.—Sodium hydrate or caustic soda, as its name implies, is a caustic. Bicarbonate of soda is a sedative when used externally. Internally it is antagonistic to acids, hence is said to be antacid. Borax or sodium-borate is used internally, but is liable to disturb the stomach. It is sedative in its action. Sodium chloride or table-salt is an important part of our food. Sodium phosphate is mildly purgative in its action. Sodium sulphate or Glauber's salt is a powerful purgative.

Use.—Bicarbonate of soda is much used in dyspepsia. When given a few hours before meals it stimulates the flow of gastric juice. When given an hour or so after meals it serves to neutralize fatty acids which are products of faulty digestion. Sodium chloride in solution is much used to-day injected in the bowel or under the skin.

Manner of Using.—All the salts are soluble and should be taken internally in solution, in doses to meet the requirements of each case.

SULPHUR (Sulphur).

Definition.—A lemon yellow-colored substance, brittle, tasteless and without odor. It is found native in Sicily and Iceland in the neighborhood of extinct volcanoes.

Property.—Locally applied, sulphur is a stimulant to the skin and a parasiticide. Internally it acts favorably, so changing the nutrition of the person that it is called an alterative. This drug has long been famed as a medicine needed by the young in the spring time.

Use.—The preparation known as compound licorice powder is a mild laxative. In cases of disordered nutrition sulphur oftentimes acts most favorably. The fact that sulphur is absorbed into the blood from the small intestine is shown by the effect upon silver coins or jewelry work by persons taking it. This effect is to darken these articles. The effect or results is a beneficial one upon the blood, hence in cases where the blood is deranged or below par, sulphur is useful. In the various forms of skin disease, dependent upon parasites, sulphur is useful from the fact of its power or ability to destroy the parasite and stimulate the skin.

Manner of Using.—Internally sulphur is taken in solution. It may be taken in syrup or molasses. For external use it is best applied in ointment.

SULPHURIC ACID (Acidum Sulphuricum).

Definition.—A heavy oily liquid without odor, but with a strongly acid taste. It is sometimes called oil of vitriol.

Property.—Sulphuric acid is astringent and antiseptic when taken internally. Locally it acts as an escharotic.

Use.—Its properties indicate its use. It is an escharotic, internal antiseptic, astringent and tonic.

Manner of Using.—Sulphuric acid should be used well diluted and always advisedly taken.

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