The commercial tincture has been so variable in strength that much harm has resulted from its use. In some cases the harm has been direct from over doses, in others, indirect from depending upon a feeble or worthless remedy. Before the war, we had a very crude tincture prepared from the green root, with proof spirits (whisky ?), containing about as much of the medicinal properties as could be held by such spirit. During the war, there being difficulty in obtaining a supply of the root, and greater difficulty in having it shipped green, the tincture in the market gradually deteriorated until it was worthless. Even yet it has not regained its medicinal properties with many druggers.
We have thought that a good tincture could only he made from the fresh root. But some who have employed the dried root (not old), claim that it makes fully as reliable a tincture. Dr. Locke, of Newport, prepares his tincture from the dried root, and claims that it is more reliable than any he can buy.
It is not worth while to give a formula for the preparation of a tincture, as it will be purchased by a great majority of our readers. That which bears the label of "Specific Medicine" will be found very strong. Dose from gtt. j. to gtts. vj.
Gelseminum exerts a specific influence upon the brain, and to a less extent upon the spinal center and sympathetic. It relieves irritation and determination of blood, and the disordered innervation that flows from it. Probably there is no remedy in the Materia Medica that is more direct and certain in its action. Given, a case of irritation and determination of blood to the brain, marked by flushed face, bright eyes, contracted pupils, restlessness and irritability, we prescribe Gelseminum with certainty. This being a common complication in diseases of childhood, it is especially the child's remedy.
Acting in this direction, it lessens the frequency of the heart's action, and removes obstruction to the free flow of blood—a sedative. It also increases secretion in the same way,
I do not think the Gelseminum exerts any important influence, other than through this action upon the nervous system. But, as will be observed, this is a very important action.
It is contra-indicated where the circulation is feeble, and there is tendency to congestion. Especially if there is a feeble circulation in the nerve centers. We never give it if the eyes are dull, pupils dilated, and the countenance expressionless. In such cases, it may prove fatal in quite moderate doses. A number of these cases are on record, three or four in which death was produced by as small a dose as gtts. xxx. of a common tincture.
It has one other specific action, which is worthy of mention. It is the remedy in dysuria from stricture, and will rarely fail in enabling the patient to pass urine in from four to eight hours.
Specific Medication and Specific Medicines, 1870, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.