Selected writings of John M. Scudder.
Professor Scudder once said that he would be satisfied to rest his claims to remembrance on the fact that he tried to make medicines pleasant, especially for children. Nasty mixtures, infusions and decoctions, nauseous syrups and spirituous potions he would wholly discard. The pleasantest and most effective and most readily assimilated medicines, he maintained, were the percolated tinctures administered in small and potent doses in water. The custom is now almost uniformly adopted by Eclectic physicians.—Ed. Gleaner.
PLEASANT MEDICINES.—The great desideratum in the practice of medicine is pleasant remedies. In the olden times, and with many now, medicine adds to the sufferings of the sick, and they dread more the unpleasantness of the doctors prescriptions than they do the disease.
In looking over our Materia Medicas and Dispensatories, it would seem that our object has been to make the concoctions as nauseous as possible. In extemporaneous prescriptions it is the same, the combination of remedies, and the vehicle, combine to make the mixture unpleasant.
It has been thought that sugar or syrup would cover up the unpleasantness of medicine, and hence it is most commonly used. The fact is, however, that with the majority of the sick the sweet is unpleasant, and nothing could be more objectionable than a nauseous sweet. The doctor doesn't take his own medicines, and hence he does not know how objectionable they are, and he continues giving these unpleasant mixtures year after year, to the detriment of his patient, and his own pocket.
Let us first get rid of the idea that medicine should be and can be disguised. It never had one atom of truth in it, and a very little experimentation will determine its falsity. Take anything that is unpleasant, and the more you disguise it the worse it is. Some medicines are very objectionable in their taste, but they are less disgusting to the patient alone, than when mixed with syrup or other vehicle.
The best form of vegetable remedies is a simple tincture by percolation: the best form for all remedies, if possible, is the fluid form. It is not only the best as regards the medicinal action of the remedy, but is also the pleasantest as well.
The best vehicle for the administration of a remedy is water, and it also is the pleasantest. But few remedies are intended to exert a local influence upon the mucous coat of the stomach. All others must first gain entrance to the circulation before their curative action can be obtained. To get into the blood by osmose, it is necessary that the agent be in solution, and of less specific gravity than the blood. If you do not have your remedy in solution before its administration, its getting into the circulation will depend upon the stomach supplying the necessary amount of fluid and effecting the solution.
To the sick there are but few of our remedies objectionable, if they are properly prepared with alcohol and given with water. The dose of properly prepared remedies is quite small, so that, added to fresh water in such proportion that the dose will be a tea-spoonful, it is much diluted. Even if the taste is objectionable, there is evidence of cleanliness, and nothing to disgust. . . .
But it is in the treatment of children that unpleasant medicine is most objectionable. It is not pleasant to see the little ones start with distrust when the doctor makes his appearance, nor to be obliged to force medicine upon a child. We get along much better if we have the confidence of the children, and it is certainly much pleasanter.
I always prepare the medicine before my little patients. They see the water is fresh, their medicine looks clean and nice, whilst its quantity is small, and the mixture does not look objectionable. They taste it when asked, taking the first dose from the doctor, and give their opinion decidedly that it is good, (or at least not bad), and after this they take it kindly as the hour comes around. —SCUDDER, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1871.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.