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Agents Affecting Metabolism.

Restoratives,—promote the constructive metamorphosis, and include the Foods, Haematics, Tonics, and many stimulants.

Foods,—supply material to renew some structure of the body, or to maintain some vital process; and are derived from the three natural kingdoms, the vegetable, animal, and mineral,—as Oils and Fats, Sugar, Starch, Gum, Water, Alcohol, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Chloride, etc.
Haematics, (αιμα, the blood),—augment the quantity of haematin in the blood, enriching its red corpuscles, and thus restoring the quality of that tissue. They include principally Iron and Manganese, and their compounds.
Tonics, (τονος, tension),—improve the tone of the tissues on which they have specific action, increasing the vigor of the entire system. Those which act most generally are Strychnine, Quinine, Iron, and the Vegetable Bitters;— those acting more on particular organs will be found enumerated under the titles of the organs or tissues which they affect specifically,—as Cardiac Tonics, Respiratory Stimulants, etc.

Alteratives,—are agents which alter the course of morbid conditions, modifying the nutritive processes while promoting waste, and thus indirectly curing many chronic diseases. Mercury, Iodine and Arsenic are the typical alteratives, the first breaking up new deposits, the second stimulating the absorbent circulation, and the last acting like the first on pulmonary deposits, and being almost specific to the chronic diseases of the skin. Those who denounce the term Alterative as a "cloak for ignorance," have never been able to replace it by any more definite designation for a group of agents whose effects upon disease are facts of clinical medicine. The principal Alteratives are the three above-named, also Antimony, Aurum, Colchicum, Guaiacum, Sulphur, Stillingia, Xanthoxylum, Calcium Chloride, Phosphorus, Cod-liver Oil, etc. A subdivision may be formed of the—

Resolvents or Descutients, (resolvo, I unbind, discutio, I dissipate),—agents which promote the absorption of morbid products, probably by stimulating the lymphatic system. This group includes Iodine, Mercury, Arsenic, and Cadmium, also such local measures as Poulticing and Counter-irritation.

Destructive Metamorphosis of the tissues is promoted by a large number of agents, most of which are classed as Alteratives or as Astringents,— the principal ones being the following, viz., the Alkalies, Vegetable Acids, Metals and their salts, Colchicum, Sulphides, Iodides, Stillingia, Xanthoxylum, Tannic and Gallic Acids, and the Vegetable Astringents.

Metabolism may be diminished by—Alcohol, Glycerin, Oils and Fats, Salicin, Quinine, Resorcin, Chinolin, etc.

Antipyretics, (αντι, against, πυρετος, fever),—are agents which reduce high body-temperature. This may be done by 5 different actions working upon 2 principal lines, viz.—By—

(a) Lessening Heat-production, by (1). Diminishing tissue change.
(2). Reducing the circulation.
(b) Promoting Heat-loss, by (3). Dilating cutaneous vessels, thus increasing heat-radiation.
(4). Promoting perspiration—its evaporation lowering the temperature.
(5) Abstracting heat from the body.

The following list of Antipyretics includes a few for each of the above-named actions, to which the numbers refer in each case, viz.:—

Quinine, 1. Digitalis, 2. Kairin, 1, 4. Cold Bath, 5.
Berberine, 1. Aconite, 2. Antipyrin, 1, 4. Cold Drinks, 5.
Carbolic Acid, 1. Alcohol, 1, 3. Thallin, 1, 4. Ice to body, 5.
Salicin, 1. Nitrous Ether, 3, 4. Antimony, 2, 4. Wet Pack, 5.

Antiphlogistics, (αντι, against, φλογιξω, I burn),—include all measures and medicines which reduce inflammation, the principal among them being:—

Mercury and Opium for inflammations of serous membranes, Aconite and Antimony for those of the respiratory apparatus, and Veratrum Viride in puerperal metritis. Others are—Digitalis, Ergot, Ipecac, Venesection, Local Depletion, Purgation, Counter-irritation, Cold, and Rest in the recumbent position.

Antiperiodics,—are agents which check the progress of certain periodically recurring diseases, lessening the severity of their paroxysms and preventing their return, probably by a toxic action upon the microbes, whose development in the blood by successive crops is supposed to cause the disease. The great antiperiodic is Quinine, next in efficiency is Arsenic, and others of less importance are Salicin and its derivatives, the other alkaloids of Cinchona, Berbeeru Bark and its alkaloid, Iodine and Eucalyptol.


A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.



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