Jump to Navigation

We've moved! The new address is http://www.henriettes-herb.com - update your links and bookmarks!

The Eclectic Revolution.

Then it was that Professor John King, M. D., the discoverer of the first of the few worthy members of the class, wrote a crushing communication to the Worcester Journal of Medicine, June, 1855, pages 225-227, from which we extract as follows:

I now wish to call the attention of all classes of physicians to a most stupendous fraud which is being perpetrated upon them in relation to concentrated preparations, in which oils, oleo-resins, fluid extracts, etc., are triturated with finely powdered green leaves, or roots, or barks, perhaps of the crude articles of which they purport to be concentrations, as well as with rosin, carbonate of magnesia, etc. The resin of jalap, which can be obtained for two dollars a pound, is triturated with some inert agent, and sold for Jalapin at one dollar an ounce; and similar impositions.

I regret that I am compelled to thus definitely allude to these matters, but there is no help for it—the cause of Eclecticism, of truth, of justice, demands it. Already are the old-school physicians manifesting an interest in our concentrated remedies, and if we permit such trash to be foisted on them as pure agents, they will believe that Eclecticism is indeed quackery and humbug, and it will require years to overcome the effects of such a disgraceful blow. We have sufficient to do in contending for the truth and justice of our cause, without warring against the imposition of those who either directly or indirectly claim to be with us.

I am sorry to say some individuals have been found so far regardless of the good of the cause, and their own honor, as to have made strenuous efforts to introduce these agents to the profession by all the means in their power.

I shall make no comments on the subject; it speaks for itself with the voice of a stentor, and every honorable man, every true Eclectic, can not but feel its voice enkindling within his whole soul the strongest feelings of censure and indignation toward those who would thus deceive the profession in a matter so intimately connected with the health and lives of their fellow creatures.—John King, 1855.

Simultaneously with this attack of Dr. King, Professor Edwin S. Wayne, a talented pharmacist of Cincinnati, chemist of the renowned Ohio Medical College, contributed a four-page paper to the American Journal of Pharmacy, exposing the alkaloids, resinoids, and concentrations made by the American Chemical Institute, of New York.

To use the words of Professor Wayne:

An association, styled the American Chemical Institute, has recently been established in the city of New York, ostensibly for the purpose of manufacturing the concentrated remedies (resinoids and oleo-resins) so extensively used at present by the physicians of the Eclectic school, in their purity and in a scientific manner.

* * * *

I have examined in all eighteen specimens of the products of the American Chemical Institute, called resinoids and alkaloids, and have found but four specimens to be as represented; namely, jalapin, which is the true resin of jalap, powdered; podophyllin, the resin of the Podophyllum peltatum; Sanguinarin, from the Sanguinaria Canadensis; and Hydrastine 33 a crystallizable principle obtained from the Hydrastis Canadensis.—Am. Jour. Pharm., 1855, p. 388.

33 This is Berberine, see Bulletin No. 10, Lloyd Library publications, Drugs and Medicines of North America section, p. 66. Also Drugs and Medicines of North America, same page.

Observe that Professor Wayne refers to the Eclectic members of the list as being proper products, when used "in their purity and in a scientific manner," but his analyses showed that the commercial so-called resinoids and alkaloids were, with few exceptions, mixtures of inorganic bodies, such as magnesia, and traces of vegetable extractives.

In this connection it may be stated that while Professor Wayne primarily attacked the sophisticated compounds, he also, in a logical way, opposed the dogma of a single principle being capable of paralleling a plant as a whole, or even being competent to carry the qualities of a natural textural structure obtained therefrom. He also took pains to credit the Eclectic school with the authoritative work it had accomplished, a refreshing innovation seldom found in the literature of the dominant school of those days. We quote as follows:

To the physicians of the Eclectic school much credit is due for their efforts in investigating our indigenous materia medica, and through their efforts many substances have been brought into use. These, though of much value, may again fall into disuse, simply because these resins have been said to be their active principle, without any further examination, and when tried, found to be wanting, the manufacturers having thrown away the pearl and retained only the shell.

Professor Wayne then goes on to state facts indisputable, which Dr. King had for twenty years so faithfully observed in his advice and methods, to wit:

These resins have been claimed as an advance in pharmacy. For my part I can not perceive it. The fact that plants contain a resin is not new; neither is the use of them medicinally. It is an easy method of obtaining a something, to be called the active principle; and in most instances they will be found to contain but little, if any, of the medicinal value of the substances they may be obtained from, being far more inferior than a common extract, and much more expensive. . . .

And to the pharmaceutists engaged in the manufacture of concentrated remedies, I would recommend that they make an analysis, and have the results tried, before they decide that the resin is the active principle, and cry "Eureka, I have found it!"

It is well now to summarize the results of the second analyses by Professor Wayne, which can be succinctly stated as follows (College Journal, 1856, pp. 23, 24, 25):

Lobelin.—Forty-four per cent insoluble in water and alcohol, more than half of which was magnesia.
Hydrastin.—Largely sodium chloride.
Veratrin.—Much potassium sulphate.
Senecin.—Much magnesia.
Stillingia.—Much magnesia.
Asclepin.—Much magnesia.
Gelsemin.—Much magnesia.
Cypripedin.—Much sodium chloride.
Prunin.—Much sodium chloride.
Stillingin.—Much magnesia.
Phytolaccin.—Much sodium chloride.
Myricin.—Much sodium chloride.
Helonin.—Much sodium chloride.
Podophyllin.—Much sodium chloride.
Alnuin.—Much ferrous sulphate.
Geranin.—Magnesia.

These attacks and criticisms all emanated from Cincinnati, the headquarters of Eclecticism, and were fathered both by Professor Wayne, the most conspicuous chemist in the Cincinnati Allopathic School, and by Dr. John King, the foremost authority in Eclecticism, as well as by other earnest Eclectics. Such criticisms could not well be neglected, consequently Grover Coe, of the American Chemical Institute, in the Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, February, 1856, pp. 92 to 96 inclusive, attacked Wayne personally. Because of the opportunity afforded, and the necessity for defense, it is to be regretted that, instead of the tirade of abuse, a statement of fact, and a few much needed suggestions concerning plant products were not made. In the same journal, pages 123 to 126, under the title, "Macrotin," Coe also attacks Dr. King in a like personal manner.

But in one direction, (while not accounting for the products found by Wayne), Dr. Coe strikes an as yet too long neglected fact concerning organic structures; namely, the important part played by combined inorganics. He aptly refers to the sulphur in certain plants, and had he developed this idea in the direction of other inorganics, instead of marring his paper by the personal abuse given Professor Wayne, he would have scored heavily in the controversy. His point, blemished though it be by personalities, may be reproduced as follows:

In this branch of study is included a thorough cognizance of the constituents of all organisms, and as far as our knowledge extends, the manner in which their constituents are combined to form the various organs of plants. It is necessary that the tyro should be taught that sulphur is an invariable constituent of certain plastic organic matter, and that unless this sulphur is contained therein, this matter can not really exist—can not be produced even by the wondrous fabricating power of the vegetable which forms it.

This fact happens to be entirely unknown to Mr. Wayne, or else, if he is cognizant of it, he hides it from the reader by his characteristic ambiguity of expression. That portion of his article, for instance, relating to Veratrin, presents a fair sample of the ignorance alluded to, or else of his obscurity of diction. This "analysis" indicates a ludicrous example of what stupid deduction can effect, when not guided by scientific learning. Not aware that all the plants of the hellebores, and likewise those of the mustard species, contain especially a large amount of sulphur.—DR. GROVER COE, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1856, P. 93.

In 1855 appeared the work of Grover Coe, "Positive Medical Agents," a pretentious book of 304 pages, devoted entirely to the marvelous claims of the alkaloids and resinoids manufactured by the American Chemical Institute. Simultaneously, the author contributed many articles of like import to current medical literature. The war of the alkaloids and resinoids was now at its height. In the College Journal, Cincinnati, 1856, (pp. 45-48), Professor Wayne again attacked the entire class of these substances, and also the principle of considering the resinous precipitates as plant representatives. He showed that resins and alkaloids may or may not be characteristic of the qualities of the drug from which they are derived, and again attacked in a logical way the dogma of a single principle paralleling the plant as a whole. In the same issue of the journal, (PP. 48, 49), came a reply from Mr. Merrell, disclaiming that Wayne's article referred to his products,34 from which we quote, as follows:

So far as our establishment is concerned, or that of others of the more respectable manufacturers of these medicines, the above article has no application.

34 Professor Wayne's letter having been sent Mr. Merrell, in order that his reply might appear simultaneously with the attack.

November, 1855, Dr. R. S. Newton, the editor of the Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, and co-editor with Dr. John King of the American Dispensatory, issued the following call for information:

Messrs. W. S. Merrell & Co., F. D. Hill & Co., and T. C. Thorp, Cincinnati, and B. Keith & Co., New York.

GENTS—As our readers are continually soliciting information from us on the subject of Organic Chemistry, or the Chemistry of Plants, and believing that you possess knowledge that would be of interest to the profession, we solicit from you a statement of the chemical principles of some of the leading articles which you prepare, such as Podophyllin, Leptandrin, Hydrastin, Jalapin, Gelsemin, Macrotin, Hyoscyamin, etc.

Very respectfully,
R. S. NEWTON, M. D.

To this only B. Keith & Co., the founders and owners of the American Chemical Institute, replied, (Eclectic Medical Journal, 1856, pp. 18, 19), defining their products as best they could, but in it all neglecting to refer to the charges of Wayne and King concerning the great amount of foreign bodies found in their products. 35 From the article we select as follows:

35 Let us repeat that in this direction was lost a mighty opportunity. The microscope and the telescope of therapeutic inquiry has been too long and too exclusively turned on the organic side of plant life. The part that inorganics play in molecular structures is in our opinion very important and sadly neglected by investigators. In our opinion, the structural influence of the mineral and earthy bodies is yet to be shown of importance in many directions where chemists are hopelessly puzzled, but yet are in countless repetition excluding the inorganics.

Many of the articles do not contain all of the active principles of the plant from which they are derived. For instance, the jalapin, as it is generally prepared, is a resinoid, although the jalap plant contains three principles; viz., a resinoid, a neutral principle, and an alkaloid principle. . . . The neutral and alkaloid principles do not contain the irritating properties that are to be found in the resinoid. . . . By the term neutral principle, we designate a preparation which we have devoted a considerable time to perfect. There are a number of plants which possess the active alkaloid in considerable quantity, but so inseparably associated with the extractive and coloring matter of the plant, that so far we have been unable to separate them. We have almost exhausted the resources of chemistry in the endeavor to separate and to purify the alkaloids of these plants, but without avail. For the present, we put up these alkaloids in their instinct combinations with the extractive and coloring matters under the general designation of alkaloid principles. The latter two matters, however, must exist in very small quantities, if we are to judge from the great activity displayed by the entire preparation as we put it up. . . . By the designation of alkaloid, we mean that principle which has been recognized by chemists as susceptible of combination with acids to form salts. It is undoubtedly true that some of the most active preparations of the vegetable kingdom reside in these alkaloids, but by the expression we would not by any means assert that all the active principles of the plant reside in the alkaloids, for it will be directly seen that the resinoids and resins possess especial active properties. par

Under the designation resinoid, we have put up those principles which are insoluble in water. Here we have, combined with a very active principle of the plant, the wax and the fat. The latter, however, exists in small quantity, if we are to derive our conclusion from the activity of the preparation.

By the term resin, we mean those principles which are insoluble in water. The effects of resins, it is perceived, are entirely different from those of resinoids, the alkaloid principles, or the alkaloids proper.

Then follows Keith's certified list, in which, by means of such terms, as rd., res., etc., an attempt is made to establish their several constituents: 36

36 This list is of further interest in that it is the most complete of the lists of alkaloids, etc., issued to that date. For historical completeness, it is inserted, verbatim.

LIST OF ARTICLES.

EXPLANATION.—rd., resinoid; res., resin; n. p., neutral principle; alk. p., alkaloid principle; alk., alkaloid.

Powders. Obtained From.
Alnuin, res., rd., n. p. Alnus Serrulata.
Apocynin, rd., res., n. p. Apocynum Androsaem.
Asclepin, rd., n. p. Asclepias Tuberosa.
Caulophyllin, n. p. Caulophyllum Thalic.
Cornin, rd., n. p. Cornus Florida.
Cypripedin, rd., n. p. Cypripedium Pubes.
Chelonin, n. p. Chelone Glabra.
Eupatorin, rd., n. p., alk. Eupatorium purpur. (From Eupatorium purpureum.)
Eupatorim, rd., n. p., alk. Eupatorium Perfolia. (From Eupatorium perfoliatum.)
Gelsemin, rd., res., n. p., alk. Gelsemium Semper.
Geranin, rd. and tannin. Geranium Mac.
Helonin, n. p. Helonias Dioica.
Hydrastin, rd., res., n. p., alk. Hydrastis Canadensis.
Hyoscyamin, rd., res., alk. Hyoscyamus Niger.
Irisin, rd., n. p., alk. p. Iris Versicolor.
Jalapin, rd. Ipomoea Jalapa.
Leptandrin, rd., res., n. p., alk. Leptandra Virgin.
Lobelin, rd., n. p, alk. Lobelia Inflata.
Lupulin, res., rd., alk. p. Humulus Lupulus.
Macrotin, rd., n. p., alk. p. Macrotys Racemosa.
Myricin, rd. and tannin. Myrica Cerifera.
Prunin, rd., n. p., alk. p. Prunus Virginiana.
Podophyllin, rd., n. p., alk. p. Podophyllum Peltatum.
Phytolaccin, rd., n. p. Phytolacca Decandra.
Rhusin, rd., res. Rhus Glabra.
Rumin, rd., n. p. Rumex Crispus.
Sanguinarin, rd., n. p., alk. Sanguinaria canad.
Scutellarin, rd., res., n. p. Scutellaria Laterifolia.
Senecin, rd., n. p. Senecio Gracillis.
Stillingin, oil, rd., n. p., alk. p. Stillingia Sylvatica.
Veratrin, res., rd., n. p., alk. Veratrum Viride.
Viburnin, rd., res., alk. Viburnum Opulus.
Xanthoxylin, rd., n. p. Xanthoxylum Fraxin.

From this date the controversy became vicious and personal, Eclectic and other medical literature being burdened with bitter discussions. Manufacturers of these products increased in number, and in a spirit of rivalry indiscreetly expanded their lists until the number of items included among the concentrations far exceeded reason, if proximate plant constituents, as intended by their originators, formed the basis. Under such influences the crusade of disfavor continued with repeated attacks, chiefly now from within the school to which they owed their origin. Of such, the following, from the conspicuous Eclectic authority, Professor John M. Scudder, M. D., is an example:

In 1855 much of Eclectic medicine was an unmitigated humbug. That was the day of the so-called concentrated medicines, and anything having a termination in "in" was lauded to the skies. It was claimed that these resinoids were the active principles of the plants, and as they would replace the old drugging with crude remedies and teas, they must prove a great boon. But they did not give success, and finally, after trying them for awhile, the practitioner would go back to the crude articles and old syrups and teas with success, or he would settle down to podophyllin catharsis and quinine.—Editorial by John M. Scudder, M. D., Eclectic Medical Journal, March, 1870.

To this may be added such expressions as the following, from a series of articles titled "Pharmaceutical Chemistry," 1875, in which the present writer thus refers to the substances under discussion:

I have commenced this series of articles with the opinion that unless we go over and examine into the peculiarities of the complex elementary bodies that constitute medicinally the bone and sinew of our crude plants, many of us will in no wise be in circumstances either to understand clearly the nature of the pharmaceuticals themselves, as they are, or the nature of the pharmaceuticals as they should be. . . . Again I desire particularly not to have the term alkaloid, as used by me, confounded and connected with a certain line of stuffs called indiscriminately by the several names of resinoids, concentrated medicines, and alkaloids, for never, under any circumstances, do I even refer to these nostrums as medicines.—John Uri Lloyd, Eclectic Medical Journal, May, 1875.

Finally, with a few exceptions, such as the Resin of Podophyllum and the alkaloidal salts of hydrastis and sanguinaria, came the utter neglect of these products by the Eclectic profession in behalf of the kindlier system of medication and the more rational ideas of therapeutics that came in the advent of Dr. John M. Scudder. The few items now employed are used in very small doses, in specific directions and the dosage, as a rule, is constantly decreasing. But their commercial importance did not greatly suffer by the loss of the Eclectic patronage, for about the date of their discrediting in Eclecticism, they passed into the hands of pill makers and proprietary formula compounders, and the physicians who believed in heroic dosage. But even with these people only a few items have now any standing whatever, although it can not be denied that these few are most heroically and extensively prescribed and in proprietary physic most freely swallowed.

The English Euonymin Craze.—A quarter of a century after the resinoids of America received their deathblow at the hands of the Eclectics, a peculiar craze for Euonymin struck England. The American manufacturers' lists quote two colors of the drug (see page 51), one green and the other brown. These two forms came into English demand, and owing largely to their exploitation by the celebrated Dr. Richardson, of London, so great was the "Euonymin" craze in that country that within a brief period American resinoid makers were overwhelmed with orders. 37 The root, root-bark, shrub, and the shrub-bark supplies of the crude drug employed for their manipulation became exhausted, whilst the price of all forms of the crude drug doubled and trebled. We know of single orders from London for one thousand pounds, each color of Euonymin, quick delivery. From 1885 to 1890 the English Euonymin craze was at its height, and during those years the English pharmaceutical and medical press teemed with articles concerning the wonderful remedy! The various Euonymins were examined for ash, and the old question of inorganic admixture was naturally revived, especially with the green-colored drug, where aluminum hydroxide is likely to be employed to precipitate the chlorophyl-bearing structures and associated materials from the evaporated alcohol extract, said hydroxide contaminating the product. (See Note C). It was even reported that one lot of Euonymin contained much barium carbonate, a statement difficult to accept!

37 Dr. Richardson is noted also as having "discovered" the value of the old Eclectic remedy, Gelsemium, long after it was established and in great use in that school. But he added nothing new to its therapeutic applications.

Numerous were the questionings and explanations naturally asked and offered, but in it all no one apparently thought to refer to Eclectic literature of the past, where, half a century before, the whole subject of the alkaloids, resins, resinoids, and concentrations, in all its phases, had been discussed in detail, and thrashed out to a finish. So it was that history unnecessarily (as is too often the case with people who read only their own literature) repeated itself, events in England, but on a smaller scale, following in nearly the track of the old alkaloidal-resinoidal-concentration epoch in America.

As abruptly as it began did the English concentration fad terminate, leaving but a few energetic resinoids, such as King's Resin of Podophyllum (representative of the class), still used in England, as it is both used as well as abused to-day, in all parts of the civilized world, as is shown in current pharmaceutical and therapeutical literature. (See Lloyd Brothers' Drug Treatise No. XX.)

The Lesson.—Comes now the lesson taught by the half century of turmoil in and among the alkaloids, resins, resinoids, and oleoresins. Shattered ambitions, blasted hopes, disappointments generally, have their uses. The resinoid craze is not an exception, for it has already served several purposes, one being the establishing of the fact that in only a few North American drugs are found either alkaloids or resins of great individual merit, another being the dispelling of the illusion that a fragment can parallel the whole, if the whole be intelligently comprehended. Eclectic physicians learned from an experience not easily forgotten the lesson that

Dried Fragments of Drugs are not Representatives of Drugs.—An experience of more than three decades, commencing in a craze for energetic, or even poisonous, proximate principles, had, as already related, taught Eclectic physicians to their own satisfaction that a toxic constituent or a mixture of the separated dried products broken out of a drug by chemical means or created from drugs by the chemist's art, useful though each might be in its own sphere, did not typify or parallel the therapeutic qualities of the whole drug. They had learned by bitter experience that a poisonous fragment or ultimate, broken out of or created from a plant by chemistry, did not represent the therapeutic qualities of the structure from which it was derived. The once prevailing hope that a single, dominating constituent, or ultimate, or a definite substance present in, or obtained from a drug, could be taken to standardize the desirable therapeutic qualities of the combined medicinal parts of a plant complexity, also passed away. In the latter days of King and Newton, and in the coming prime of Scudder's efforts, heroic doses of shock-producing remedies became exceptions in the practice of Eclectics. The administration of violent ultimates and large doses to shock the system, even as regards active cathartics (now most discreetly used, when used at all, in Eclectic medication), gave way to kindlier methods. The doctrine of humanity to the disease-weakened sufferer, not brutality to the helpless, once more revived and became not merely ideals in theory, but logical facts in a successful practice. The original Eclectic motto, "Vires Vitales Sustinete" (Sustain the vital forces), so often lost to view by some people involved in the fallacy of the nineteenth century alkaloidal-resinoidal ultimates, became, as in the days of the fathers, a legitimate Eclectic watchword. By a final, natural evolution the school, after facing disaster, passed safely through the crisis of the alkaloidal-resinoidal craze of the sixties in the century that has passed.

The Present.—At present, instead of overdoses of toxic ultimates, the trend in Eclecticism is toward greater questioning and conservatism than ever concerning vicious or possibly harmful medication. The old-time "Concentrations" have most of them been long since abandoned, displaced, or discredited as undesirable types of remedial agents. No longer are they sought as though they represented complex drugs. Small doses of kindly remedies, established by clinical study in disease, administered for curative action, not systemic shock, now universally prevail. The non-poisonous remedies, made of innocuous drugs, are now sought and are administered with a degree of therapeutic satisfaction unknown in past heroic dosage. Substances energetic or toxic, when used, are employed most cautiously and conservatively; small doses often repeated being the rule. The resins and alkaloidal salts of old, such as the sanguinarine compounds, are sometimes, but not often, prescribed; when prescribed, being in minute doses. Drug representatives such as plant textures and complexities, the poisonous constituents of which were considered as the standards of curative qualities by Eclectic pharmacists fifty years ago, and accepted as such by Eclectic physicians in the day of past evolution, are no longer therapeutic favorites, unless they are partially, or even wholly, freed from their toxic constituents. Such as opium and morphine were never Eclectic favorites, and now are most tenderly employed when employed at all, while the favorite Eclectic form of nux vomica is now a liquid preparation, in which strychnine is in minor proportion to other constituents. Thus the Eclectic methods of medication and the Eclectic remedies are, to-day, in marked contrast to those demanded under the ideas that yet prevail among physicians who believe that a remedy must be standardized in therapy from the toxic or physiological side, or who accept that therapeutic usefulness is in proportion to the poisonous viciousness of a drug. So great has been the advance among Eclectics in this direction that, as already intimated, even the preparation Resin of Podophyllum, once exclusively Eclectic, and originally employed as a drastic cathartic, has passed almost completely from Eclecticism into the practice of physicians of opposite ideals from those now prevailing in the school of its discoverer. 38 Concerning the revolution the half century has wrought in the therapy of the energetics once so freely used in Eclectic practice, among which Resin of Podophyllum was typical, Professor Felter, in the Eclectic Medical Journal, July, 1909, thus tersely expresses the facts:

38 In our opinion, the rank and file of the dominant school are not so firmly bound to the poison or shock treatment as a few imagine who think they speak for the profession, and are enthusiastic in that direction. We have reason to believe that, unless there be a change in the methods employed, a revolution will yet come in their ranks, as it did in Eclecticism.

So long as men will blindly follow the text-book statements of the regular materia medicas that bryonia is only a drastic cathartic, and may be used for its derivative effect in dropsy, so long will they remain in ignorance of the true medicinal action of a remedy that many thousands of so-called "irregulars" are using daily, in small doses, with the most potent and beneficial effect. Perhaps no remedy illustrates the value of small dosage better than bryonia. With a wide and direct action in a variety of diseased conditions of the serous membranes and the nervous system when so given, it has in the large and drastic physiologic doses absolutely no place in medicine. When such drastic, purgative action is desired in dropsy by those who accord to it such virtues, it is passed by for other less unpleasant hydragogues. So in the large dose bryonia may be said to have no place in therapeutics. But in the small dose—how promptly it allays distress in pleuritic pain, in frontal headache, in the early stage of pneumonia, and in the milder forms of non-septic peritonitis. Few Eclectics would dispense with bryonia, and they always use it in the fractional dose.

Colocynth is another remedy of the same class. If the dose be large, gastro-intestinal inflammation is invited. If the fractional doses be exhibited, it allays irritation, prevents inflammation, and acts with marvelous precision in dysentery and allied conditions, when accompanied by sharp-cutting, colicky pains.

Ipecac was long ago recognized as having a dual action—in the large dose, emetic, and many times desirable; in the small dose, the best of anti-emetics and a remedy of supreme value in allaying gastro-intestinal irritation and inflammation. Yet, knowing and acknowledging the dual emetic and anti-emetic action of this drug in its different doses, the physicians who first made these discoveries let them rest without similar investigation concerning other equally potent drugs. Worse than this, they have refused to accept, or have chosen to ignore, the work of those who have made such investigations, which have incalculably enriched therapeutics. Podophyllum and its resinoid are now seldom employed in physiologic doses by Eclectic physicians, but as remedies, in small doses, to gently stimulate intestinal secretions, they have grown steadily in favor.

Retrospective.—We have thus briefly referred to incidents and events connected with the discovery and introduction of the "Concentrations," as well as to the passing out of the substances that, as a fad or craze, more than half a century ago, came perilously near disrupting the Eclectic school in medicine.

Out of it all came the introduction of a few resins and a few alkaloidal salts of American plants, but yet these few, introduced into the Eclectic school over half a century ago, comprise all, of any importance whatever, that are to-day used by any class of physicians. 39 In this connection, to close this chapter, we can well introduce the translation from a French publication of an article by the talented scholar, Dr. Charles Rice, chairman, for three decades, of the Committee of Revision of the Pharmacopoeia of the United States:

39 Strange that in a flora of over 12,000 species this should be true. On this phase of the subject we shall write more fully hereafter.

The Eclectics form a class of physicians who reject the use of a large number of remedies of mineral origin, and particularly of all mercurial compounds, and replace them by vegetable remedies, chosen as much as possible from among indigenous plants. It is certain that the persevering and careful study that the adherents of this school have made of the action of several American plants has been very profitable to medicine in general. The regular profession never hesitate to make use of the truly useful among those discovered, whoever be the authors, but the system is very justly repudiated by the medical profession, because it is based upon a dogma. Many plants of which the Eclectics alone first availed themselves have ended by becoming the common property of the entire medical profession; every practitioner has, and ought to have, the inalienable right of employing every therapeutical agent, provided it be not a patented or secret preparation, which he considers useful to his patient, whether the pharmacopoeia has adopted it or not. But from the moment that a preparation is presented under the character of a special remedy, when its formula is unknown and kept secret, in such a manner that its preparation is monopolized by a particular firm or its composition can not be controlled by every pharmacist or physician, it should be proscribed. But such is not the case with the Eclectic preparations. Although I, like the majority of pharmacists and physicians, am not in accord with the Eclectics, from the standpoint of their theories, I must recognize the fact that they do not surround themselves with mystery; like the homeopaths, they have their pharmacopoeia, represented by the following work: "The American Dispensatory," by John King, M. D., 8th edition, Cincinnati, 1878.

Whatever opinion one may have regarding the ideas defended in this book, one can not but discover that it constitutes a precious encyclopedia of medical American plants, and their therapeutical uses. It is a very useful work for reference. Its author is as fine a botanist as a judicial observer of therapeutical effects. 40—Translation of pages 9 and 10 of Dr. Charles Rice's "Note sur Certains Medicaments Vegetaux Americains."

40 To this we will add that the ideals and the efforts of the Eclectic profession were very highly appreciated by Dr. Rice in his latter days, as this writer can authoritatively testify.

This treatise would not be complete as a historical record unless the position these substances occupy now were included. We therefore give, in the following pages, Lloyd Brothers' recent prices current with notes that we believe will fairly close the subject.


The Lloyd Libary Bulletin # 12: The Eclectic Alkaloids, 1910, was written by J. U. & C. G. Lloyd.



Main menu 2