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Sanguinaria.

Botanical name:

The root of the Sanguinaria canadensis.—U.S.

Preparations.—The powdered root, syrup, a tincture, an acetous tincture, nitrate of sanguinaria.

Dose.—The dose of the powder as an emetic, grs. x. to grs. xx.; of the acetous tincture as an emetic, ℨss. to ℨj. For the other uses, the tincture may be employed in doses of from the fraction of a drop to gtt. x. For its specific use, I prefer the nitrate of sanguinaria, grs. j. to water ℥iv.; dose a teaspoonful.

Therapeutic Action.—Sanguinaria is emetic, expectorant, diaphoretic, acro-narcotic, sedative, alterative, and in small doses tonic and stimulant. Administered in full doses it induces nausea and vomiting, with a sensation of warmth in the stomach, acceleration of the pulse, and slight headache. It acts on the fauces, producing an acrid impression, and in some cases it proves cathartic. The leaves and seed possess similar properties; the seeds, however, are said to exert a marked influence upon the brain and nervous system, occasioning torpor, languor, disordered vision, and dilatation of the pupils. In large doses the emesis is violent; there is a burning sensation in the stomach, faintness, vertigo, dimness of vision, and alarming prostration.

This article is one of much importance, owing to the diversity of properties possessed by it, and the varied indications which it fulfills, according to the dose and mode of administration. In large doses it is an acrid emetic; it is active and thorough in its operation, and not unfrequently produces a violent burning pain in the stomach, thirst, vertigo, prostration, and other symptoms common to the free use of acro-narcotics. In small doses it is a stimulant tonic, and a stimulating expectorant. When first administered it acts as an excitant, and, if the dose is sufficiently large, its secondary effects are those of sedation.

As an emetic it is not often used, except in combination with less acrid agents. If combined with the lobelia and ictodes, it makes a valuable addition to those agents, and may be thus used in all febrile and inflammatory affections in which prompt and thorough emesis is indicated. We have used this combination extensively, for many years, in the treatment of intermittent and bilious fevers, and also in diseases of the respiratory organs; and this long experience has resulted in the conviction that, for the purpose of cleansing the stomach, arousing the liver and glandular system in general, restoring the secretions, and lessening exalted organic action, we have no combination that exceeds it in value. While it is efficient in its action, it is much less debilitating than the ipecacuanha, or tartarized antimony, so frequently used.

As an independent emetic, it is mostly resorted to in diseases of the respiratory organs, as in phthisis pulmonalis, asthma, pertussis, laryngitis, catarrhal affections, etc. In all diseases of this kind, when an emetic is indicated, this article may be employed with a prospect of advantage.

As a stimulating expectorant, it may be employed in typhoid pneumonia with much advantage; we frequently combine it with the asclepias tuberosa, in this disease. In the various diseases of the respiratory passages and organs, after the acute inflammation has been moderated by the use of emetics, cathartics, diaphoretics and revulsives, this article is of unquestionable importance. If administered early as an expectorant, before the high grade of inflammatory action has been moderated, it often proves too exciting, unless conjoined with less stimulating agents, anodynes, and demulcents. We likewise believe this article to be one of superior efficacy as a pectoral in the treatment of phthisis pulmonalis; it acts as a sedative to the respiratory organs, allays irritation, promotes expectoration, stimulates and sustains the system, and acts as an alterative. It may be used in the form of a powder, or tincture, but the syrup is preferable in this diseuse. It has proved valuable in hemoptysis, probably by its sedative influence upon the circulation. In croup, asthma and pertussis, many who have become acquainted with its merits, place it at the head of curative agents in the treatment of these diseases.

Specific Indications.—Sensations of burning and itching of mucous membranes, especially of fauces, pharynx, eustachian tubes and ears; less frequently of larynx, trachea and bronchia, occasionally of stomach and rectum, rarely of vagina and urethra. The mucous membrane looks red and irritable. Sometimes the redness will be of the end of the nose.

Specific Uses.—The uses of the remedy will be obtained by the indications as above. I have used it in chronic disease of the ears and eyes, pharyngitis, laryngitis and bronchitis, irritative dyspepsia, uterine and vaginal disease, and in the chronic exanthemata.


The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 1898, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.



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