Do you know?
That no branch of the science of medicine has been more neglected by the dominant school of medicine, than materia medica, is a fact that no one will presume to deny. Why our old school friends are content with the therapeutic knowledge of a few remedies and of these an undue proportion of a mischievous character, while the field of vegetable botany lies before them is a great enigma to us.
That patients sometime recover under the plan of treatment, we are willing to admit, but that most of them do, we deny. Comes to our mind the words of Lacon, "The patients have had a fortunate escape," the vis medical rix natura have been sufficiently potent to dispossess the disease and overcome the effects of noxious drugs.
Indeed, but for the labors of the Eclectic school of medicine, the materia medica of our country would still remain unknown. It is we who have rescued it from oblivion, and given to the world valuable therapeutic agents, convenient for use, pleasant to taste and very efficient in their action.
Many of our remedies have a specific action upon specific organs, surfaces or tissues, are directly curative in their action upon diseased parts of the body.
Take hydrastis canadensis. This great drug has a specific action on mucous surfaces, and its action in this direction is so apparent that the indications for its employment can not be mistaken. Iris versicolor has a positive action upon the glandular system, and is invaluable as an alterative and resolvent; it is powerfully depurating and is indicated in scrofula, glandular swellings, syphilis, etc.
Podophyllum is directed to the liver and hepatic ducts. Cactus grandiflorus quiets the action of the heart in palpitation from nervous excitement or other causes, while our old friend veratrum viride acts directly upon the same organ as a sedative and controls its pulsation with more certainty than any other agent known.
In the materia medica indigenous to the United States, the field for investigation is still very large. "The leaves of the trees of life are for the healing of the nations." Who of the men of wealth will place at our disposal means for the construction and equipment of new laboratories to further explore and prosecute our inquiries in the vegetable materia medica?
National Eclectic Medical Association Quarterly, Vol. 26, 1934-35, was edited by Theodore Davis Adlerman, M.D.