Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Favorite prescriptions?

Picking up Horace Green's 1872 publication, Selections from favorite prescriptions of living American practitioners (2nd edition), we find the following advice:
During the last two years, intermittent fevers have occurred more frequently, in some parts of this city [New York] and in the vicinity of the city, than for many previous years. In some of these cases, where the disease has proved obstinate, not yielding to large doses of Quinine, long continued, we have found it to be promptly arrested by the administration of a teaspoonful of the following mixture, twice or thrice a day--the last dose being administered a short time before the period of the anticipated paroxysm:
  1. Quiniae disulph. ... 3 j.
  2. Liquor. potassae arsenitis ... f.3 ij.
  3. Acidi sulph aromat. ... f.3 j.
  4. Tinct. cinch. co.
  5. Syr. zingib. ... aa.f. 3 ij.
When the preparations of Arsenic are employed, it is safest to give the medicine after a meal. When thus exhibited, larger, or more effectual doses may be given with more safety, than when taken fasting. Should, however, gastric irritation arise, under its use, or swelling and stiffness of the eyelids occur, the medicine should be immediately discontinued. [emphasis added]
Yes, "immediately discontinued," because if not, more things might be "promptly arrested," like breathing.

At least the title of the book does point out that these are the favorite prescriptions of physicians, not patients!

For more wacky medicines, check out some of the pharmaceutical preparations in the Medical Museum Collection on the Digital Resources Library. You can also read through some of the alternative takes on various herbs and other remedies in digital texts from the historical collections at the National College of Natural Medicine, our virtual and physical neighbors here in Portland (and the DRL).

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