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The Pharmacopoeias still recognize two members of a class of preparations, but little used at the present, and yet modifications of them were very important medicines in former times under the terms conserves and electuaries.

CONFECTIONS are semi-solid preparations of medicinal agents preserved by means of sugar, or honey, or both.

CONSERVES, as originally understood, were composed of fresh or undried, medicinal vegetables laid down in sugar. Subsequently it became common to prepare them by beating fresh vegetable medicines and sugar into a uniform soft mass, the juices of the vegetables furnishing sufficient moisture. When fresh drugs were not obtainable, dried drugs, either whole or powdered, were used, and sufficient water added to soften the mass.

ELECTUARIES were understood to comprise the mixture of powdered drugs with such softening and preserving agents as honey, syrups, or pulps, made into a uniform, pasty mass by thorough trituration in a mortar. If honey and pulpy substances are employed the electuary is not apt to become dry, hard, and crystalline, as is often the case when syrups are used. Such substances as light insoluble salts, soluble salts, extracts, oils, gum-resins, etc., may be made into electuaries. Heavy insoluble powders should not be used, as they are likely to settle, and finally to be found mainly at the bottom of the preparation. Extracts to be used in preparing electuaries should first be softened with water or other suitable liquids; non-pulverizable gum-resins should first be emulsified, and essential oils should be first rubbed with some inert powder or sugar. Freshly made electuaries should be soft enough to drop easily from a spatula. If so soft that the ingredients separate on standing they must be again brought into a uniform mixture by stirring. It is desirable that they be firm enough to hold up their several ingredients, and still be so soft that mastication is not required.

As already stated, the confections displaced both these sweets (conserves and electuaries) of mediaeval medicine, and very properly so, and in turn confections have given way to other and better pharmaceutical preparations.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.

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