Taschenbuch der Geheimmittellehre. Eine kritische Uebersicht aller bis jetzt untersuchten Geheimmittel. Herausgegeben, von DR. G. C. WITTSTEIN. 3e vermehrte Auflage. Nördlingen, 1871.

[Handbook of Secret Medicines, A critical review of all the secret medicines analyzed until the present time. Third enlarged edition.]

The fact, that in about four years this little work has reached its third edition, is sufficient proof that the labors of the author have been appreciated. Wittstein is an unrelenting enemy of the nefarious industry in nostrums. Having himself analyzed quite a number, or caused them to be examined by his pupils and others, he was peculiarly fitted for this critical compilation, which embraces also the labors in this direction of Hager, Jacobsen, Casselmann and many others. The book confines itself, for obvious reasons, to those secret preparations offered for sale in Germany; but we find among them quite a number which are more or less known in this country and have their birthplace in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France or England; even a number of American origin are "ventilated" therein, the proprietors of which had "enterprize" enough to introduce them on the old continent.

The articles are arranged in alphabetical order, and a short history is in nearly all cases attached, giving the originator or manufacturer, the diseases which it pretends to cure, a description of the physical properties and style in which it is put up, the retail price, the pretended constituents, the names of the analysts, the true composition, and the actual retail value, if made in a respectable apothecary's store. We extract the formulas for a few articles only, which may be of some interest to our readers:

Coca Pills, by Sampson, New York. According to Hager and Jacobsen, composed of powdered coca and extract of coca in about equal quantities; value about one-fourth of price.

Eau de Cythére, a hair color restorer, consists of 4 chloride of lead, 8 hyposulphite of soda, 88 water. A similar composition has Eau de fées, which, a couple of years ago, was introduced here. The writer found in a sample also some alkalies, earths and traces of nitric acid, originating probably in the spring or pump water used. Hager and Jacobsen give the following formula: hyposulphite of lead 1 ¼, hyposulphite of soda 3, glycerin 7, water 88 parts.

Granular Effervescent Citrate of Magnesia, by Bishop, of London, consists merely of bicarbonate of soda and tartaric acid.

Pommade des Châtelaines, a hair invigorator, consists of benzoinated lard and some volatile oils.

Hamburg Tea, by Frese & Co., of Hamburg: Senna 8, manna 3, coriander 1.

Magnesian Aperient, by Moxon, of England, is, according to Siller, anhydrous sulphate of magnesia 31, carbonate of magnesia 14, bicarbonate of soda 30, tartaric acid 25 parts.

Lait de Perles, according to Dragendorff, 1 white lead, 7 rose water.

Swedish Essence of Life is made also in this country, under various names. As usually made by apothecaries, it is a tincture prepared from 4 aloes, 1 agaric, 1 rhubarb, 1 saffron, 1 zedoary, 1 gentian, 1 myrrh, 1 theriac, with 100 to 120 dilute alcohol. The secret medicine manufacturers usually substitute cheaper articles for the high priced saffron and rhubarb.

Hof's Extract of Malt has been repeatedly altered in its composition. It is now a good beer, of a pretty constant alcoholic strength of 3 per ct., but varying in the amount of extract between 5-3 and 10 per ct. The beer sometimes contains an infusion of a bitter herb (buckbean, blessed thistle) and of the bark of Rhamnus frangula. According to one original receipt, beer was mixed with a small quantity of a strong infusion of marsh mallow root, coriander, staranise, and grains of paradise, and with some simple syrup, glycerin, oil of lemon, oil of orange and beer coloring (caramel). The consumers can make it for, at most, one-sixth of its price.

Zimmermann's Extract of Malt, which, like the former, comes likewise from Berlin, is similar in composition.

Matico Injection, by Grimault, of Paris, for gonorrhoea, is made, according to Bjoerklund, by dissolving 4 grains sulphate of copper in 8 oz. infusion of matico (from ½ oz.)

Syrup of Horseradish, by Grimault. Hager gives the following directions: 50 p. each of fresh scurvygrass, buckbean, and watercress, 60 of horseradish, 40 of fresh orange berries, are infused with 3 cinnamon in 50 p. white wine, and after a day expressed; 250 p. sugar are dissolved in the filtrate.

Iodinized Syrup of Horseradish, by Grimault, contains 10 iodine and 5 potassium iodide in 8000 of the former.

Sirop de Lait Iodique, by Bouyer, of Paris. 200 cows' milk, 60 cane sugar, a little soda, and 1-6 of potassium iodide, are evaporated to 100 parts.

Myrrhine, by J. B. George, of Paris, for the preservation of the teeth: glycerin 38, myrrh 7, arrowroot 5, chalk 54, oil of cinnamon 1 part.

New York Pills, by Sampson, of New York. The 1 ½ grain pills consist of powdered coca 25, extract of coca 30, powdered iron 35 parts.

Opiate pour les Dents, by Pinaud. Syrup 70, chalk 21, gypsum 7 ½ , magnesia 11, colored with anilin red, containing arsenic, and flavored with oil of cloves and of spearmint.

Brandreth's Pills contain resin of podophyllum, inspissated juice of poke berries, saffron, cloves, oil of peppermint.

Holloway's Pills are composed or aloe, myrrh, and saffron.

Morrison's Pills, 2 ½ grains each, consist of aloe, cream of tartar and colocynth; another kind contains the same ingredients, besides gamboge.

Radway's Ready Relief, according to Peckolt, is an etherial tincture of capsicum, with alcohol and camphor.

Radway's Renovating Resolvent, a vinous tincture of ginger and cardamom sweetened with sugar. (Hager and Jacobsen.)

Poudre Hémostatique Végétal, by Bonnatour, consists of 4 rosin, 1 gum Arabic, 1 wood charcoal.

Poudre Unique, by Godernaux, of Paris, lauded as a specific against epilepsy, is impure calomel, leaving when heated a slight reddish residue.

Oil of Horsechestnuts, by E. Genevoix, of Paris, is not the oil of the horsechestnuts, but another non-drying oil, altered by heat so that it has acquired a darker color, a pungent odor and acrid taste. (Wittstein.)

The above quotations may suffice to show the nature of the little volume, which we heartily recommend to those who desire to inform themselves of the nature of numerous panaceas, heralded as specifies for all ailments which human flesh is heir to.


The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. XLIII, 1871, was edited by William Procter, Jr. (Issues 1-4) and John M. Maisch (Issues 5-12).