Purpose.—The purpose of the home medicine chest should not be to displace the family physician, or to take out of his hands the work that legitimately belongs to him, but rather to afford a convenient and ready means for giving relief in cases of minor indisposition where the physician would in all likelihood not be summoned, and in severe ailments for giving temporary treatment while awaiting his arrival. The intelligent mother who is watchful for any departure from the normal in her children, can often, if suitable remedies of a simple nature be at hand, prevent the development of more serious maladies.

Convenience.—Moreover, even among adults, it is often a convenience and a safeguard to have available such medicines as they will be most likely to have occasion to use in emergencies or in the absence of medical aid. The small expenditure of money required to procure such an outfit will be amply repaid by the peace of mind and ease of body which it will give. Before entering upon a detailed consideration of the remedies which it is desirable to keep in stock, a few suggestions as to the handling of medicines in general will not be inappropriate.

1. How to Keep Medicines.—All medicines should be plainly labeled, with their names, doses and general directions for use written in ink. Unless for temporary use only, liquids should be kept in glass-stoppered bottles. Never should a bottle be used which has contained something else, unless it has been thoroughly cleansed and the old label either scraped off or sufficiently defaced to prevent recognition. It is unsafe to simply paste a new label on top of the old one unless this precaution is observed, for the new one may not adhere, but may fall off, and occasion liability to error.

All poisonous liquids should be in blue or other dark-colored bottles and should have some distinctive characteristic to the touch, as a rough surface. They should be plainly marked "Poison," with directions to follow in case of poisoning by an overdose or otherwise. They should also be placed in a less accessible part of the medicine chest or closet, so as to make it more difficult to obtain them.

2. How to Dispense Medicines.—Medicines should never be poured out and administered without first reading the label. No matter what degree of certainty may exist that the right medicine is being employed errors are liable to occur, and the most careful people may under some circumstances make mistakes. Accordingly the risk of these errors should be reduced to a minimum by a scrupulous regard for this rule, a failure to adhere to which may cause, as it often has, suffering and death. Again medicines should never be poured out into a cup or glass and allowed to stand, unless proper precautions are taken to prevent the contents of the vessel being mistaken for something else.

Pouring.—In pouring medicine from a bottle into a measuring glass the latter should be held perfectly straight, on a level with the eye, and the medicine slowly poured out from the side opposite the label, in order to prevent soiling the latter by drops running down the outside of the bottle.

Dropping.—In dropping medicines, if a dropper is not available, the lip of the bottle should be moistened by touching it in one spot with the stopper on which is a drop of the medicine. By so tilting the bottle that the moistened part of the lip rests against the side of the stopper at at an angle of about forty-five degrees, the liquid may be accurately and readily dropped out, if the hand is at all steady.

Measuring.—In measuring liquids in spoons, two teaspoonfuls equal one dessertspoonful, two dessertspoonfuls equal one tablespoonful, and four tablespoonfuls one wineglassful. The size of spoons, however, varies considerably, so that they are unreliable for accurate dosage.

Unless directions to the contrary are given it is always safer to dilute medicines freely. A little water added to a dose of medicine rarely diminishes its efficacy, whereas in its pure form it may often be too strong and may do harm.


Number of Remedies.—To be of practical value in the home the number of such remedies to be recommended for use among the untrained must necessarily not be large, nor their nature complex, but such as with ordinary care may be used without risk, and such as with ordinary intelligence may be employed in the most common of the simpler ailments. Accordingly, the following are suggested as fulfilling these conditions. Departure from this schedule may of course be made according as individual preference, experience, and the advice of the family physician may dictate.


1. Aromatic Spirit of Ammonia, two ounces of.—This is a diffusible stimulant acting quickly as a restorative in cases of fainting or heart failure. Its effect as a stimulant does not last a great while. It should be cautiously held to the nostrils for the patient to inhale, and as soon as he can swallow a half teaspoonful should be given, diluted with a wineglassful of water, care being taken not to cause choking by administering too rapidly. Children may take ten drops at a dose.

It is useful also for the relief of sick stomach and of headache dependent on disordered stomach. It may also be of benefit in coughs, after these have become loose, to aid in expectoration. For this purpose it should be taken every hour or two.

LABEL.—For faintness, dizziness, nausea and headache.

DOSE.—Adults, a half teaspoonful; children, ten drops, well diluted.

2. Whiskey, four ounces of.—As a stimulant this acts less quickly than the former, but its effect is of longer duration.


DOSE.—Adults, a tablespoonful; children, a half teaspoonful, in water.

3. Elixir of Valerianate of Ammonia, four ounces of.—This is useful for nervousness, hysterical attacks and nervous headache. A teaspoonful or two may be given every hour until relief is obtained, in a wineglassful of water.

LABEL.—For nervousness, and nervous headache.

DOSE.—Adults, a teaspoonful; children, ten drops, in water.

4. Syrup of Ipecac, two ounces of.—This is a safe and efficient emetic when it is desired to empty the stomach of undigested food or to relieve an attack of spasmodic croup. For a child a teaspoonful should be given, to be repeated if necessary in a half hour. Vomiting usually occurs in about twenty minutes without previous nausea and without warning. In dry, harsh coughs, from five to fifteen drops every two hours, aids in loosening the cough and aiding expectoration.

LABEL.—As an emetic.

DOSE.—A tablespoonful for an adult; a teaspoonful for a child. As an expectorant, thirty drops for an adult; ten drops for a child.

5. Sweet Spirit of Nitre, one ounce of.—For the relief of slight fever, and to promote the action of the skin and kidneys, this remedy has long been popular in domestic use. It should, however, not be kept a great while as age causes it to deteriorate. An adult may take a half to one teaspoonful in a wineglassful of water and a child from five to ten drops in a teaspoonful of water.

LABEL.—For fever.

DOSE.—Adults, a half teaspoonful; children, five drops.

6. Essence of Ginger, four ounces of.—This is serviceable for flatulence and colic. A tablespoonful for an adult or from fifteen to thirty drops for a child; should be taken freely diluted with hot water, and may be repeated in a half hour if necessary.

LABEL.—For colic and flatulence.

DOSE.—Adults, a tablespoonful; children, fifteen to thirty drops, well diluted.

7. Paregoric, two ounces of.—Its most frequent use is for the relief of pain. As it contains opium its use for infants and children should be guarded, and usually only under the supervision of a medical attendant. Nevertheless a few, small doses may be given with safety in such ailments as colic and in diarrhoea, after any undigested substances have been gotten rid of by a number of movements. It is of special benefit in diarrhoea accompanied by pain. An adult may take a teaspoonful in a little water every two hours, a child ten drops or an infant two drops. A dose at the very beginning of a cold will often check it. An irritating cough is also often relieved by moderate doses of fifteen or twenty drops every two hours.

LABEL.—For pain and diarrhoea.

DOSE.—Adults, a teaspoonful; children, ten drops.

8. Laudanum, four ounces of.—As this contains a much larger proportion of opium than paregoric, still greater care should be observed in its employment, and whenever it is possible to use the milder preparation, as is usually the case for internal administration, this should be done. Laudanum is, however, invaluable, locally applied, in painful injuries, as bruises, sprains, etc. Equal parts of laudanum and water are useful for this purpose. The dose internally for adults is from ten to twenty drops, and for children two or three drops. It should not be used for infants without the direction of a physician.


DOSE.—Adults, fifteen drops for pain; antidote, produce vomiting by a teaspoonful of mustard in a cup of warm water. Give hot coffee internally and by injection.

9. Alcohol, eight ounces of.—This is useful as an evaporating lotion in headache and sprains, either pure or diluted with an equal amount of water. Sponging the surface of the body frequently with alcohol and water, in fevers, helps to reduce the temperature and adds to the comfort of the patient. In all cases where the patient is confined to bed for any length of time alcohol added to the bath is useful to aid in cleansing the surface and in preventing the patient from taking cold.

10. Peroxide of Hydrogen, four ounces of.—This is used as a disinfectant for open wounds. Being non-poisonous it is specially well adapted for use by non-professional hands. When it comes in contact with blood or pus active effervescence takes place. In sore throat, diphtheria, etc., it is valuable, diluted with an equal amount of water, as a gargle. It should be kept tightly corked.

11. Camphorated Soap Liniment, or Chloroform Liniment, four ounces of.—Useful in sprains, muscular soreness, rheumatic affections of the muscles, and as a counter-irritant to the chest in cases of bronchitis.


The use of compressed tablets has become so universal that a list of convenient remedies in this form is given. They economize space, are inexpensive and often more agreeable to take than liquid medicines. They are conveniently kept in wide-mouthed bottles, each containing an ounce, and provided with screw caps.

1. Sub-Nitrate of Bismuth, fifty tablets of, each containing three grains.—This is a non-poisonous and efficient remedy for nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. As it is tasteless it is easily administered to children, mixed with a few drops of water after crushing it. The dose may be repeated every hour even to young children.

2. Chalk Mixture, fifty tablets of.—These are so made that each tablet when crushed and mixed with water represents a teaspoonful of chalk mixture. In diarrhoea, especially of children and infants, this makes an efficient remedy, aiding in the correction of an acid condition of the intestinal discharges. The dose may be repeated every two hours.

3. Lime-Water, one hundred or more tablets of.—These are made so that each when dissolved in a teaspoonful of water shall represent a teaspoonful of lime-water, and are used in sick stomach. Added to milk, in the proportion of one or two tablespoonfuls of the prepared lime-water to a half tumblerful of milk, the "biliousness" of which many people complain when taking milk is usually obviated.

4. Pepsin, fifty tablets of, each containing five grains.—These are used for indigestion, one being given at each meal time. In the diarrhoea of infants, which is caused by a failure to properly digest their food, this is often markedly beneficial.

5. Bromide of Soda, fifty tablets of, each containing five grains.—In headache and sleeplessness from nervous conditions and overfatigue, one of these may be taken every two hours, a child taking half that amount.

6. Brown Mixture, fifty tablets of.—These are made to represent a teaspoonful of the liquid medicine. For coughs of a bronchial character a tablet may be taken every two hours.

7. Sulphate of Quinine, fifty tablets of, each containing two grains.— In malarial conditions one may be taken every three or four hours. As a general tonic one three times a day will be useful. At the beginning of a cold ten grains will often check its progress.


Seidlitz Powders, Twelve.—1. Each dose consists of two powders Wrapped in papers of different colors, to distinguish them. One powder of each color is dissolved in a third of a glass of water, separately, the two solutions are mixed and taken while effervescing.

Cases of acute indigestion and acute constipation, and of headache dependent on these conditions, are often promptly relieved by their administration.

Chlorinated Lime.—2. One-half pound of chlorinated lime, commonly known as chloride of lime, in a hermetically sealed package. This is for disinfecting purposes, a solution of it being used in the strength of one to twenty parts, for pouring down the drain-pipes and into the utensils used for receiving the discharges of the patient. If economy of space is not an object a quart bottle of Platt's chlorides or of electrozone will be found more convenient.

Ground Mustard.—3. One-quarter pound can of ground mustard. This is useful as an emetic, from one to four teaspoonfuls being stirred into a pint of warm water. Externally, as a counter irritant, it is employed in the form of poultices, either pure or mixed with two or three parts of flour, to which may advantageously be added the white of an egg. Cases in which there is an excess of blood in the head, usually producing headache, are benefited by a foot-bath, into which a tablespoonful of mustard has been stirred.

Bicarbonate of Soda.—4. Two ounces of bicarbonate of soda. In some forms of indigestion, a pinch of soda taken before meals will be of assistance, whereas other cases are more benefited by taking it after meals. In cases of burns where the skin is not broken, soda applied after moistening the surface often affords relief to the pain. The same may be said of the stings of bees and insects. When the urine is acid, as is often the case in rheumatism, and when there is an irritable bladder, a good-sized pinch of soda in a little water taken every hour will aid in restoring the normal condition.

Chlorate of Potash.—5. Two ounces of chlorate of potash. A saturated solution of this in water is of value as a gargle in sore throat and sore mouth.

Boric Acid.—6. Two ounces of powdered boric acid. This has mild antiseptic properties and is good to dust on open wounds, abrasions, and so forth. A teaspoonful in a cup of boiled water, first mixing it into a paste, before adding the entire bulk of water, is beneficial in mild cases of sore eyes, if dropped into them.

Vaseline.—7. Two ounces of carbolized vaseline. This is also a good antiseptic dressing. In burns and open wounds it is healing and soothing.

Zinc Ointment.—8. Two ounces of benzoinated oxide of zinc ointment. This is soothing and healing, though less antiseptic than the former. In many of the milder forms of skin diseases and as a dressing for open wounds when the healing process is nearly completed this may be used.

Toothache Plasters.—9. One box of toothache plasters. These are small plasters containing red pepper and other ingredients, which are applied to the gum of the aching tooth and often with marked relief.

Implements.—In addition to the drugs and remedies above enumerated there are a number of appliances which should be in every medicine chest, the. mere mention of which will in most instances be all that is required:

One pair of sharp scissors about four and a half inches long.

One glass piston syringe, preferably with soft rubber tip, to contain about two teaspoonfuls.

One medicine dropper.

One roll of prepared lint for dressings.

One-quarter pound absorbent cotton.

Six roller bandages, each three inches wide and five yards long, in aseptic packages, obtainable at supply stores for physicians' instruments, or at drug stores.

One graduated medicine glass, marked to indicate teaspoonful, dessertspoonful, tablespoonful and wineglassful.

One box prepared mustard plasters.

One spool adhesive plaster one or two inches wide. Johnson and Johnson's Z. O. plaster is at this writing the best manufactured. To be used only on perfectly clean, dry surface.

One fountain syringe.

One hot-water bag.

One clinical thermometer, self registering.

One bundle of yucca wood, a material for splints. This is prepared in thin strips three and a half by eighteen inches, is a porous light wood, which, when moistened, can be made to conform to any shape desired, and when allowed to dry will retain that shape.

One alcohol lamp or one appliance to rest over the gas fixture for heating liquids.

Accommodation of Medicines and Appliances.—A small cabinet, or a shelf in a closet, or preferably a wooden box, should be provided. If the latter the articles described under implements should be kept in a tray or drawer about four inches deep, the smaller appliances being in a separate section or box.

The medicines should be below the tray, the liquids in one section, the solids in another.

A box about twelve by eighteen inches, inside measurement, and ten inches high will accommodate all the articles described. It should be provided with lock and key, but the latter should be attached to the handle of the chest or be in such an accessible place that it will not be mislaid.


A detailed explanation of the diseases which the remedies spoken of are applicable to, has been given under each of their separate headings. For convenience of reference, however, these diseases are tabulated below, with the appropriate remedies for treating them:

Bladder, Irritable.—Bicarbonate of soda; sweet spirit of nitre.

Bruises.—Laudanum and hot water; camphorated soap liniment.

Burns.—Bicarbonate of soda; carbolized vaseline; ointment of benzoinated oxide of zinc.

Colds.—Sweet spirit of nitre and paregoric, a half-teaspoonful of each for an adult, or sulphate of quinine eight or ten grains to check; carbolized vaseline to inner surface of nostrils; if well developed inhale vapor of boiling water in which is a teaspoonful of paregoric.

Colic.—Essence of ginger; paregoric; hot water bag.

Constipation.—Seidlitz powder; enema.

Convulsions.—Mustard bath; enema of warm water and soap suds; follow by tablets of bromide of potash.

Cough.—Tablets of "Brown Mixture;" syrup of ipecac; aromatic spirit of ammonia; paregoric.

Cramps.—Essence of ginger; paregoric; laudanum; hot water bag; mustard poultices or plasters.

Croup.—Syrup of ipecac; hot mustard bath.

Cuts.—Peroxide of hydrogen; adhesive plaster.

Diarrhoea.—Tablets of chalk mixture, of subnitrate of bismuth, or of pepsin; paregoric; laudanum.

Dysentery.—See Diarrhoea; also give small doses of syrup of ipecac.

Dyspepsia.—Bicarbonate of soda; seidlitz powder; tablets of pepsin.

Earache.—Hot water bag; one or two drops of laudanum on a pledget of cotton inserted in ear.

Fainting.—Aromatic spirits of ammonia; whiskey; keep head low, have clothing around neck and waist loose, and give plenty of fresh air. Sprinkle face with cold water.

Fever.—Ascertain temperature by clinical thermometer. 98-1/2 degrees is normal; 99 degrees to 101 degrees is slight fever; above this is marked fever. Use sweet spirits of nitre; if due to error in diet give seidlitz powder; in prolonged fevers bathe with alcohol and water.

Flatulence.—Essence of ginger; elixir of valerianate of ammonia; bicarbonate of soda; tablets of pepsin.

Headache.—Seidlitz powder; tablets of bromide of potash; aromatic spirits of ammonia; elixir of valerianate of ammonia; alcohol locally.

Heart-Failure.—Aromatic spirits of ammonia; whiskey; hot water bag and mustard plasters to extremities; if they are cold treat as in fainting.

Hysteria.—Elixir of valerianate of ammonia.

Kidneys.—To promote action of—sweet spirits of nitre.

Malaria.—Tablets of sulphate of quinine, preceded by small doses of syrup of ipecac to stimulate liver, and by seidlitz powder as a laxative.

Nausea.—See Sick Stomach.

Nervousness.—Elixir of valerianate of ammonia; tablets of bromide of potash.

Poisoning.—Emetic of mustard and warm water or of syrup of ipecac; if extremities are cold, apply mustard plasters and hot water bag.

Rheumatism.—Bicarbonate of soda; camphorated soap liniment and hot water bag in muscular form.

Scalds.—See Burns.

Sick Stomach.—Tablets of lime-water; tablets of subnitrate of bismuth; aromatic spirits of ammonia.

Skin Diseases.—Ointment of benzoinated oxide of zinc; carbolized vaseline; boric acid.

Sleeplessness.—Tablets of bromide of potash; elixir of valerianate of ammonia.

Sprains.—Hot water locally; laudanum and water; later camphorated soap liniment.

Sore Eyes.—Boric acid.

Sore Mouth.—Boric acid; chlorate of potash; peroxide of hydrogen.

Sore Throat.—See Sore Mouth.

Stings and Bites of Bees and Insects.—Local use of bicarbonate of soda, of aromatic spirit of ammonia and of laudanum.

Tonic.—Tablets of sulphate of quinine.

Toothache.—Toothache plasters; a drop of laudanum on a pledget of cotton inserted loosely into cavity if one exists; hot water bag to face.

Vomiting.—See Sick Stomach.

Vomiting—to Produce.—Emetic of mustard and warm water, or of syrup of ipecac.

Wounds.—Peroxide of hydrogen; boric acid; carbolized vaseline.

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