ASEPSIN—This preparation was so named by Professor A. J. Howe, and introduced into practice as an antiseptic and anti-fermentative agent. For these purposes it is very pleasant and effective, lacking the dangerous qualities of some topical agents, and being devoid of unpleasant odor. We value it as an addition to medicines compounded during the summer season to preserve them from decomposition when an alkaline preservative is admissible. It is a fairly good corrective of stomach and bowel disorders depending upon putrefactive changes. For borborygmus we employ it almost exclusively. It may be added to anti-rheumatic mixtures with the prospect of enhancing their effectiveness, as the compound is practically a sodium methyl salicylate. Combined with chlorate of potassium it makes a fine deodorizer. In gastric troubles we have administered it triturated with sodium bicarbonate, sodium sulphite, and sodium salicylate. There is no pleasanter mouth wash than a solution of asepsin, and as a liquid dentifrice it may be used alone or combined with a glycerinated solution of borage. As a dressing for simple abrasions, cuts, lacerations, contusions, and small scalds and burns, we combine it with distilled hamamelis. For the washing away of foul discharges asepsin dissolved in hot water is effective and pleasant It may be thus employed in nasal and vaginal catarrhs. For rhus poisoning it is one of the pleasant and soothing topical agents, and it may be used to cleanse fetid feet and axillae. In dressing wounds of the hands we use it with echafolta. Where dangerously infective discharges are present, or where infection is virulent, asepsin is not equal to some of the more powerful antiseptics. But for most purposes we value it as a safe, pleasant, and effective agent, and one we would not like to do without after so many years of successful use of it.—FELTER.
Selected writings of A. Jackson Howe:
Asepsin is a sodium salt of methyl salicylic acid introduced to the medical profession about 1880. It was first noticed therapeutically by Howe in the Eclectic Medical Journal, May, 1884, p. 241, and at his suggestion the name Asepsin was given the new antiseptic as the trade designation, the following being Professor Howe's (1884) introduction of the preparation:
Asepsin is a delicate crystalline body, bearing the pronounced odor of checkerberry. The crystals readily dissolve in water, thus surpassing salicylic acid, and the agent in moderately strong solutions is not irritating to sensitive structures. A leading feature of Asepsin is its power to prevent both fermentation and putrefaction. Not a strong solution will preserve meats indefinitely. Inasmuch as the bichloride of mercury is an irritant poison, it has to be used with caution; therefore, something like Lloyd's discovery has long been a desideratum. I am now employing Asepsin where I have previously used boro-glyceride, carbolic acid, mercuric bichloride, etc., and obtain the most satisfactory results. In eczematous and epitheliomatous manifestations Asepsin may be utilized to advantage. It may be mixed with vaseline as a vehicle or with any nice cerate. It may be used in the nose instead of menthol to ease headaches and to prevent nervous rigors of various kinds, especially those of tuberculosis. In future I expect to use Asepsin to keep wounds as free as possible from putridity. The agent is not expensive, and consequently is economical, considering how far a small quantity will go.
I have not employed Asepsin internally to a considerable extent. I found it to do excellent service in relieving a case of dyspeptic flatulence; and in minute doses it encourages digestive action. In as large as grain doses it increases respiratory activity, and slightly raises the temperature of the body.
Asepsin in Antiseptic Obstetrics.—A correspondent wishes to know what antiseptic obstetrics means and how it is to be conducted. In reply, I would say that clean hands wetted with a solution of Asepsin before manipulations are made to constitute about all there is in midwifery antiseptically conducted. Clean beds, napkins, towels, and binders are aseptic and need not be medicated with antiseptic solutions. If coagula and fragments of the placenta remain in the uterus, the cavity of the organ should be douched with a warm and weak solution of Asepsin. Ten grains to a pint of water will make the antiseptic strong enough to wet the obstetrician's hands, or to be used as an intra-uterine injection. If a tampon be employed in the vagina it is well to wet the fabric forming the plug with the least objectionable antiseptic known—with a solution of Asepsin. Carbolic acid and efficient solutions of corrosive sublimate are irritating and poisonous.
It is not necessary to render the ligature which constricts the funis antiseptic, yet there is no objection to the precaution. I sometimes employ the aseptic animal ligature which I use in general surgery. Ligatures preserved in a solution of Asepsin are soft and pliable as silk and not hard and stiff, as they used to be when kept wet in carbolized oil.
The blades of forceps and other obstetrical instruments should be mopped with a solution of Asepsin before use.
A plug or pledget of antiseptic lint kept in the os tincae or in the ostium vaginae, after delivery, is not required. Too much zeal in the matter of employing antiseptics in deliveries is not evidence of greatness.—Howe.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.