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Copaiba.

Botanical name:

An oleoresin derived from species of Copaiba growing in South America. Dose, 5 to 30 drops.

Description.—A viscid, pale-yellow or brownish-yellow liquid, without or with a faint fluorescence (green), and having a bitter, acrid, and persistent taste, and a distinctive aroma. Soluble in chloroform, ether, dehydrated alcohol, and volatile or fixed oils; partly soluble in alcohol; insoluble in water.
Specific Indications.—Vesical pressure and tenesmus, frequent urging to urinate, the urine passing in drops; itching, burning or smarting in the urethra after urinating; urethral mucoid discharges; laryngeal irritation; cough, with thick tenacious sputum, accompanied by loud rales.

Action.—Copaiba is a stimulating antiseptic when applied to the skin and mucosa. Small doses taken internally act as a stimulant and antiseptic diuretic. It restrains excessive mucous discharges. When swallowed it causes gastric warmth, unpleasant eructations, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Continued use impairs the digestive processes. It is readily absorbed, imparting its odor and bitterness to the secretions. While apparently eliminated by all the emunctories, it is chiefly passed in the urine in company with glycouronic acid. Large doses occasion gastroenteritis and haematuria. A transient measles-like eruption on the skin, with unpleasant formication and itching, or an erythematous, urticarial or bullous outbreak may occur from its use. It is not determined whether this is due to elimination-irritation, or to gastric disturbances produced by the drug.

Therapy.—External. Copaiba is sometimes applied to frost-bites and chilblains, sore nipples, old ulcers, and anal fissures, and to fistulous tracts to soften hardened edges and surfaces; also in sluggish chronic skin affections when a stimulating antiseptic action is desired.

Internal. Copaiba is a remedy for excessive mucous discharges after the subsidence of acute inflammation. For this purpose it is rarely used in chronic bronchitis, especially when coincident with a catarrhal condition of the bladder. It is of much value in intractable gonorrhea in the male to reawaken a dormant infection and recreate the active symptoms, after which the smaller doses are used to restrain the discharge and antisepticize the membranes. It should never be used in the acute inflammatory stage of gonorrhea, with pronounced urethral irritation and profuse secretion. This stage should be treated with Rx. Specific Medicine Aconite, 10 drops; Specific Medicines Gelsemium and Cannabis, one fluidrachm each; Simple Syrup, enough to make 4 fluidounces. Mix. Sig.: One teaspoonful every 3 hours. Having used the required local application, and rendered the urine bland by the use of small doses of sodium bicarbonate well diluted, employ the following after the acute phase has subsided: Rx Copaiba, 1 fluidrachm; Alcohol, 1 fluidounce. Mix. Dose, 5 to 10 drops in sugar and water 4 times a day. If chronic or unduly prolonged use the following: Rx. Copaiba and Spirit of Nitrous Ether, 1/2 fluidounce each; Liquor Potassae and Essence of Cinnamon, 1 fluidrachm each; Mucilage of Acacia and Simple Syrup, 1 fluidounce each. Mix. Sig.: One teaspoonful after each meal. Copaiba only helps gonorrhea when brought in direct contact with the parts affected, as it does when passed in the urine. For this reason it is more effectual in the male than the female in whom at least a part of the infection is vaginal. It is also less valuable by injection than when used internally. The foregoing treatment is Locke's method, and is adapted to otherwise unconquerable cases. Most cases of gonorrhea are now readily cured by more modern means.


The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.



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