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as proof positive, equivalent to actual demonstration, that the remedy was the very thing needful. The previous unpleasant symptoms are then attributed to the presence of bile in the stomach; and when they recur, as they often do, the medicine is repeated. The theory and practice in such cases are equally erroneous, and are followed by disagreeable consequences; but the truth may be explained in few words, and most easily comprehended. The lower orifice of the stomach, that which opens into the upper portion of the intestine, and the orifice of the duct, which conveys the bile into the same portion of intestine, are but a few inches distant from each other. In vomiting, the peristaltic action of the stomach is inverted, the motion being from below upward: and sometimes this inverted order of action is communicated to the whole length of the alimentary canal. In less severe cases, however, this action is only communicated to that part of the intestine more immediately connected with the stomachthat part into which the biliary duct enters and deposites its contents. When, therefore, this portion of the bowel acts in sympathy with the stomach, whatever quantity of bile is poured in it must be evacuated upward instead of downward. And further, the action of vomiting, if it does not actually increase the secretion of bile, nevertheless assists in discharging it from the liver and gall-bladder. And thus its flow is, temporarily, greatly augmented; and being evacuated by the mouth, confirms the previous
predictions of those who knew no better, that bile had accumulated in the stomach which it was necessary to dislodge.
In persons of plethoric, or full habit, there is great danger in the administration of emetics. Individuals of this description are generally of the sanguine temperament, prone to hemorrhages and inflammatory diseases; and as the violent spasmodic actions in the efforts to vomit cause a determination of blood to some organ, the rupture of a blood vessel may be produced, or the engorgement may continue after the vomiting has ceased, and terminate in a more or less active inflammation. Apoplexy is thus caused, blood being effused into the substance of the brain by the rupture of a vessel; and from this cause have occurred alarming bleedings from the lungs, stomach, and other of the viscera. Besides the vomiting caused by articles of this class, there is yet another effect upon the bowels, and that is, their operation as cathartics. And when there is a pre-disposition of the bowels to be easily affected, there is often induced a diarrhoea and diseased condition of the intestines that is not easily subdued.
Dr. Crichton and Mayer observed an extraordinary effect of tartar emetic in a girl, aged fourteen, who had taken ten grains within a fortnight.* Some days after this remedy had been discontinued, a pustular eruption
*British Ann. Med., from Medico Pract. Abhand. B. I.
appeared, exceedingly like the exanthem breaking out after the external application of tartarized antimony. In three individuals who, during their complaints, had had a strong tartar emetic ointment rubbed on the abdomen, small pock-like pustles were found on the internal surface of the peritonaeum after death.
To this class belong all the multitudinous forms of "bitter," "bracing medicines," "stomach bitters," tonic pills, "strengthening medicines," life elixir, elixir vitæ, and a great many more of gentle names, which are palmed upon the community as cures for dispepsy, and other ail
Tonics, when they produce their legitimate effect, cause a tendency to an inflammatory diathesis, or in other words, they induce that state of the system in which inflammation is excited with more than ordinary facility. And in those habits where the inflammatory diathesis already prevails, or where there is some local chronic affection, tonics cannot be administered to any extent with impunity. Therefore, in diseases of the digestive organs, and in all cases of stomach affections where this inflammatory tendency exists, medicines of this class are decidedly injurious; and coming directly in contact with the mucous membrane when the stomach is diseased, the mischief is thus decidedly increased. Unlike active stimulants, which may only temporarily aggravate the disease,
tonics fasten it more firmly where it is already seated, and are followed by a long sequel of suffering.
There seems to be a universal disposition of many to decry and most foully slander all medicines obtained from minerals, while they labour under the erroneous impression that medicine obtained from herbs is less injurious.
I have heard people say, I take the vegetable pill! With the word vegetable, says Dr. Ticknor, are associated many delicious articles of food; and when we are told of a vegetable pill, the idea, perhaps, insensibly oecurs, that it is something eatable:-vegetables are nutritious-they are wholesome articles of food: every body eats them—we eat them every day - these are vegetable pills—no mineral here, no poison—they can't hurt you !(?) because they are vegetable. This is the language and logic of empiricism; and with those who are not at the trouble of thinking for themselves who close their eyes and swallow whatever is thrust into their mouth,—it is believed with the greatest sincerity. Let the pill be what it may, whether it be the most active acrid, irritating poison, so it only be called "vegetable!" no further questions are asked, and nothing more is desired. We will, however, state here, for general information, that nothing of the mineral kingdom possesses any thing of the activity or power that vegetables do-that while minerals require hours, or perhaps days, to produce fatal effects, vegetables
will cause the same result in a far less space of time, o even in a few minutes.
Every mineral possesses great medicinal powers, if properly prepared, and used in minute doses: such as arsenic, mercury, copper,* tin, lead, iron, gold, silver, etc. It is not the fault of the remedy, that it injures; but the error consists in the application. When a small dose of an active drug may be beneficial, a large quantity may, under certain circumstances, act as a poison.
Mercury, with a large class of the public, has fallen into disrepute. They would rather intrust themselves into the hands of quacks, with the delusive hope that they use no mercury. But this is a gross mistake. Mercury is an excellent remedy. I should not like to be a physician without it. Who has not experienced its beneficial effects in glandular swellings, inflammation. of the brain, mesenteritis, etc.
"If medicines have been misapplied, it would be the dictates of true wisdom to learn a lesson from error, and profit from misfortune rather than condemn the thing for a fault which justly belongs to the hand that administered, or the head that prescribed it. The abuse of mercury is well marked by distinguished men, which may here find a place..
*On my arrival in the city of Louisville, a negro woman subject to fits twenty-five years, was entrusted to my care. I succeeded in curing her in about six weeks, principally by two homoeopathic remedies, copper and belladonna,,of each a millionth part of a grain.