Reviews and Bibliographical Notices.
Elixirs, their History, Formulae and Methods of Preparation (available online at http://www.swsbm.com/ ManualsOther/ ManOther.html), including practical processes for making the popular elixirs of the present day and those which have been officinal in the Old Pharmacopoeias; together with a resumé of unofficinal elixirs from the days of Paracelsus By J. U. Lloyd, Professor of Pharmacy in the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy, etc. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1883, pp. 187.
This little book opens with a letter from Dr. Charles Rice, explaining the derivation of the word "elixir" from the Arabic, being composed of the article al or el and the word iksîr, the latter being the Greek xîrion, which in medical works means any "dry powder," and in alchemy was used to denote the "magical transformation powder, so much sought after, a pinch of which would convert a whole mass of base metal into gold." In this sense iksîr is identical with the Arabic term kînziyâ, which is also derived from the Greek and from which the word "chemistry" originated. Later the word "elixir" was used as synonymous with "liquid tincture," the first step in the preparation of the philosopher's stone, or it designated any compound preparation of supposed "sublime" properties, reputed to prolong life and to ward off disease. Prof. Lloyd shows that the elixirs formerly used in medicine and those which are still recognized by European pharmacopeias, are with very few exceptions not sweetened; that the idea accepted in our country at the present time regarding what should be the attributes of an elixir is strictly an Americanism, and that these American elixirs would be better defined by the term cordial.
It was not an easy task for the author to collect and critically examine the numerous formulas for elixirs which are scattered through the journals and other publications during the past 24 years; but it has been accomplished, and the author's own experience with this class of preparations. has been added, introducing improvements and practical useful suggestions. Of the old-fashioned elixirs, all the important ones have been selected, mostly with the more or less modernized formulas.
The book gives full, and what is better, reliable information about the numerous elixirs more or less in use, and as long as physicians will continue to prescribe these "ready made" somewhat medicated preparations, it will be of great practical usefulness. With the admission into the new Pharmacopoeia of the Elixir Aurantii as an agreeable vehicle, it may be hoped that the prescriber will gradually learn to order the extemporaneous preparation of elixirs suited to each case, instead of suiting the case to the ready made elixir; and when the numerous formulas for special elixirs shall have become things of the past, Professor Lloyd's book may then not be as frequently consulted for the practical use to be made of it, but it will retain a permanent value as a good work on a line of preparations, which, for a time, had been permitted to assume greater importance than they deserved.
The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 55, 1883, was edited by John M. Maisch.