Chapter 28 - Medicinals A - Z

28.1 A

Medicine is divided into three classes ANIMAL, VEGETABLE and MINERAL of which the "Vegetable Kingdom" furnishes by far the most and best. We give in the following chapters over 700 VARIETIES of HERBS, PLANTS AND ROOTS How and where to gather them: their compound and use for home treatment.

Acetic Acid. This is a clear liquid, without color, and has a strong, sour taste, and an agreeable smell. When held to the nose, its fine, pungent odor often relieves headache. A piece of cambric wetted with it and applied to the skin, excites heat and redness, and, very soon, a blister, for which this acid may be substituted in inflammatory sore throat, and other cases requiring speedy action. Applied to corns and warts, with a camel's hair brush, it destroys them.

Citric Acid. This acid is extracted from lemon or lime juice; it is also present in the cranberry, currant, strawberry, raspberry, tamarind, and is very abundant in the red elderberry. It is refrigerant and antiseptic, and is chiefly employed as a substitute for lemonade. Nine and a half drams of the crystals, two drops of oil of lemon, and one pint of water, answers a good purpose in place of lemon juice.

Diluted Nitric Acid. This, in the undiluted state, passes under the name of aqua fortis! It is tonic and antiseptic. Largely diluted with water, it forms a good drink in fevers, especially typhus. Taken in large doses, it is a powerful poison. One half dram of this preparation, thirteen ounces of soft water, and one ounce of simple syrup, make a good drink in fevers, of which half a wineglassful is a dose. Excellent in cases of whooping cough. Use with care.

Nitro Muriatic Acid. This acid, when properly diluted, has a tonic and stimulant influence. It is much used as a foot bath in affections of the liver, and in deficient secretions of the bile.

Diluted Hydrochloric Acid. This is known by the name of diluted muriatic acid. It is tonic, antiseptic, and diuretic, and is used in typhus, eruptions of the skin, and with other articles, as a gargle in inflammatory and putrid sore throats. Dose, from five to twenty drops, in a wineglassful of water. It is given in scarlet and typhoid fevers, about ten drops being put into a bowl of barley water or gruel.

Diluted Hydrocyanic Acid. This is commonly known by the name of prussic acid. It is sedative and antispasmodic, and is useful in spasmodic coughs, asthma, whooping cough, nervous affections, hiccough, palpitation of the heart, irritable stomach, and dyspepsia. Dose, from two to five drops, in a glass of water or tea of Peruvian bark. It is an active poison, and should only be taken when prescribed by a physician.

Diluted Sulphuric Acid. This acid known by the name of diluted oil of vitriol, is tonic, antiseptic, refrigerant, and astringent. It is useful in dyspepsia, diabetes, menorrhagia, haemoptysis, eruptions of the skin, hectic, and diarrhea. It is often given with some bitter infusions, as cascarilla, colombo, Peruvian bark, or quassia. The aromatic sulphuric acid is often used in place of it, being sometimes considered more grateful to the taste. Dose of each, from five to ten drops.

Tannic Acid. This is an astringent preparation, and passes under the name of tannin. It is prepared from galls. It is used in diarrhea, dysentery, passive hemorrhages, and diabetes. Dose of the powder, from one to three grains.

Tartaric Acid. This is refrigerant and antiseptic, and is used in inflammatory affections, fevers and scurvy. It is much used in preparing what is called lemon syrup, and forms an agreeable and healthful drink.

Alcohol. Alcohol is the result of the fermentation of the juices of many vegetables. It is the intoxicating constituent in whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, wines, porter, ale, beer, and cider. Its principal use in medicine is in the preparation of tinctures, essences, and extracts. One part of pure alcohol to one part of water forms the diluted alcohol of the shops.

Almonds. The Amygdalus communis, or almond tree, grows in the south of Europe and Asia, and yields the sweet and bitter almond. The oil of the sweet almond is used as a demulcent, in coughs, etc. A dose is a teaspoonful. The oil of the bitter almond is poisonous, and is occasionally used as a valuable sedative. Its taste is like that of a peach kernel. Dose, one quarter of a drop. It owes its poisonous properties to hydrocyanic acid. Cakes, etc., are sometimes flavored with an essence prepared from it. Do not confound the sweet with the bitter.

Aloes. This is the hardened juice of the leaves of several species of the aloe tree, in North and South Africa, in the south of Europe, and in the island of Socotra. Aloes is purgative, acting chiefly upon the rectum, or lower bowel, in which it frequently produces irritation, and is apt to aggravate and induce piles. It is much used to excite the flow of the menses, and should never be given to women during pregnancy. It produces griping of the bowels, which may be diminished by combining it with carbonate of potash. Alum (Alumen). The chemical name of this is sulphate of alumina and potassa. In ordinary doses, alum is astringent and antispasmodic. In large doses, it is purgative and emetic, and is used both externally and internally. It is often used in solution as a gargle in sore throat, and falling down of the uvula, and as an injection in leucorrhea. In doses of twenty or thirty grains, it acts as a purgative, and used in this way is useful in painter's colic. When exposed to heat in a vessel till it ceases to boil, it becomes dry, and is then called burnt alum, which, when pulverized, is applied with advantage to canker spots in the mouth, and to proud flesh.

American Hellebore ( Veratrum Viride). This plant grows in many parts of the United States, usually in swamps, wet meadows. and on the banks of mountain streamlets. The root is the part used. It is slightly acrid, alterative in a marked degree, very decidedly and actively expectorant and diaphoretic, and it is an excellent nervine, though not narcotic. But its most marked and valuable quality that in which it has no rival is its sedative action upon the circulation. In suitable doses, it can be relied upon to bring the pulse down from a hundred and fifty beats in a minute to forty, or even to thirty. In fevers, therefore, in some diseases of the heart, in acute rheumatism, and in many other conditions which involve an excited state of the circulation, it is an article of exceedingly great value, because it is always reliable. Use under physician's directions only. Preparations. Veratum is used chiefly in the form of tincture, six ounces to the pint of diluted alcohol, or of fluid extract. The dose of each of these preparations, for a grown person, is two or three drops every hour or two, in a little sweetened water, and gradually increased, if necessary, till the pulse comes down to sixty or seventy. If taken in so large a dose as to produce vomiting, or too much depression, a dose of morphine or laudanum in a little brandy or ginger, is a complete antidote. Veratrin, the active principle of veratum, is also used, in doses of one fourth to one third of a grain.

American lpecacuanha (Euphorbia Ipecac). This plant is perennial and grows in sandy soils in the Middle and Southern States. When cut or broken it gives out a milky juice. The root is the medicinal part. It is emetic, cathartic, and diaphoretic. Dose, as a cathartic, eight or ten grains; as a diaphoretic, three or four grains, every three or four hours.

American Ivy (Ampelopsis Quinguefolia). This vine grows in all parts of the United States. It is known by the names of false grape and wild woodbine. It is alterative, tonic, astringent, and expectorant. Used in scrofula and syphilis. Water of Ammonia (Liquor Ammonim). This preparation, called hartshorn, or spirits of hartshorn, is formed by the union of water with ammonia gas. It has a powerful ammoniacal odor, and an alkaline, caustic taste. Taken internally it is stimulant, sudorific, and antacid, and applied externally, it is rubefacient. It stimulates particularly the heart and arteries, without very much exciting the brain. It is an excellent remedy in heartburn, and for sick headache dependent on sourness of the stomach. A dose is from ten to twenty drops, largely diluted with water. United with oils, or with alcohol in about equal proportions, and applied externally, it reddens the Skin, and, if the cloth wet with it be covered with oiled silk or with flannel, to prevent evaporation, it will sometimes quickly raise a blister. In cases of fainting, it is frequently applied to the nostrils, to excite the brain, and rouse the system. Aromatic spirit of ammonia is a better preparation.

Carbonate of Ammonia. This is a white, moderately hard, crystalline salt, having a pungent, ammoniacal smell, and a sharp, penetrating taste. When exposed to the air, it loses some of its ammonia, becomes a bicarbonate, and falls to powder. It is stimulant, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, powerfully antacid, and, in large doses, emetic. Internally, it is more often used than water of ammonia, and for similar purposes. Coarsely bruised, and scented with oil of lavender, it constitutes the common smelling salts, so much used in fainting and hysterics. For internal use, the dose is from five to ten grains, taken in the form of pills, every two, three or four hours.

Muriate of Ammonia (Sal Ammoniac.) This, also called hydrochlorate of ammonia, is a white, translucent, tough, fibrous salt, in large cakes, about two inches thick, convex on one side, and concave on the other. It has a saline, pungent taste, but no smell, dissolves in one part of boiling water, and three parts of cold. Taken internally, it is stimulant and alterative. It is a valuable remedy in chronic bronchitis, pleurisy, and inflammation of the serous and mucous membranes generally. But it must only be used after the first violence of these inflammations has abated. Pulverized, and placed over a spirit lamp in a tin cup, the fumes which arise when it sublimes may be inhaled five or ten minutes, once or twice a day, with great advantage in chronic bronchitis, and in chronic inflammations generally of the air passages. A solution composed of one ounce of the salt dissolved in nine fluid ounces of water and one of alcohol, may be used as a wash for bruises, indolent tumors, and ulcers.

Solution of Acetate of Ammonia (Liquor Ammonim Acetatis). This is known by the common name of spirit of Mindererus. The taste is saline, and is like that of a mixture of nitre and sugar. It is a valuable diaphoretic, and is much employed, alone or mixed with sweet spirit of nitre, two parts to one, in fevers and inflammations. It is a valuable external application in mumps, applied hot upon a piece of flannel. One half ounce mixed with seven ounces of rosewater and two drams of laudanum, forms a valuable wash for the eyes in chronic ophthalmia. The dose is from two to three drams mixed with sweetened water, every two or three hours.

Aromatic Spirit of Ammonia (Spiritus Ammonice Aromaticus). Taken internally, this answers the same purpose as other preparations of ammonia, and is much used on account of it agreeable taste and smell. It is valuable as an antacid in sick headache. Dose, from twenty to thirty drops, sufficiently diluted with water.

Anise (Pimpinella Anisum). This is a perennial plant, and grows in Egypt. Its fruit is called anise seed. It is aromatic and carminative. It is much used to allay nausea, flatulency, and colic, particularly in children. It is frequently added to other medicines to make them more agreeable, and to lessen the griping effects of physic. The oil extracted from the seeds, dissolved in alcohol, an ounce of the former to a pint of the latter, forms what is called the essence of anise. Dose of the essence, from thirty drops to a dram in sweetened water. Anise forms a very valuable addition to cough preparations.

Arnica (Arnica Montana.) This is a perennial plant, growing in moist, shady places in Siberia, etc. It is often called leopard's bane. It is much used externally as a stimulating application to bruises, local inflammation, etc. Preparations. It is chiefly used in the form of tincture, or fluid extract. Dose, ten to thirty drops. Half an ounce of tincture, five and a half ounces of boiling vinegar, and two drams of carbonate of ammonia, used warm, make in some cases a valuable fomentation. It is one of the leading homeopathic remedies.

Arrowroot. This is prepared from the Maranta arundinacea, a plant of the West Indies. It is chiefly used in forming dietetic preparations, and belongs to the first or saccharine, group of food articles.

Assafoetida. This is the hardened juice from the root of a Persian plant. It is stimulant, antispasmodic, and expectorant, and is much used in nervous complaints. A dose of the powder is from five to ten grains, and of the tincture, made by macerating two ounces in a pint of diluted alcohol, from thirty to sixty drops.

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