Poison of Ergot.—It seems, says "Nature," to result from recent researches by A. W. Pehl, brought before the Russian Chemical Society, that the poisonous action of the ergot, the bad effects of which are so often witnessed in Russia, is due to putrefaction-poisons, true ptomaines, which appear during the decomposition of the albuminoids in flour. The ergot, that is the sclerotium of the small mushroom, has energetic peptic qualities, and thus would directly contribute to the formation of ptomaines in the flour.
Glycerin.—M. Desguin, of Anvers, has given glycerin internally in certain forms of skin disease with, it is said, marked success, especially in acne punctata and the furuncular diathesis. He commences with four drachms daily and gradually increases the dose. He states that the secretion of the cutaneous glands, which is thick and irritating in these diseases, becomes more liquid, and cutaneous irritation is notably lessened. During convalescence from scarlet fever, be believes that it facilitates desquamation.—Buffalo Med. and Surg. Jour., May, 1883.
Condensed milk.—Dr. Richard Neale raises his voice in the "Brit. Med. Jour.," March 24, 1883, against giving condensed milk to infants. "At times, given medicinally, it is of great value; but, as a food, it is unnatural, and sooner or later the infant must suffer if thus fed. I have in so many instances seen the fatal results of bringing up infants on the condensed milk, that I invariably warn patients against its continuous use. The most robust looking child thus fed has no vitality, and is frequently cut off by an illness that, under other circumstances, would have proved very trivial." We can corroborate his experience.—Med. and Surg. Rep., May 5, 1883.
Quassin and its uses.—Quassin is the active principle of quassia amara. It is amorphous or crystallized. Both forms produce the same effects; the former is preferable at a dose of 0.04 to 0.10 gm. a day; of the latter a dose above 0.02 gm. produces toxic effects. In a healthy man quassin produces during the first days a rapid increase of the appetite, a more complete digestion of aliments and a rapid development of strength. At a dose of 0.04 gm. before meals, it increases the alvine discharges, and therefore becomes useful in constipation caused by a feebleness of the muscular tunic of the intestines. This property is a precious one, for it permits, in many cases, to substitute the quassin for purgatives, which frequently render the constipation invincible, without speaking of the returns which most often are produced after their administration. At the same dose of 0.04 gm. before meals, quassin has been given to patients having three or four diarrheal discharges within twenty-four hours. After eight days of treatment the discharge became normal. Other experiments have proven that quassin has a most pronounced diuretic effect; that it increases the secretion of the salivary glands, of the fauces, of the kidneys, and also of the mammary glands. Quassin is a bitter tonic, aperient and stomachic. It must not be administered during the acute stages of diseases, but in the general debility, the atonic dyspepsia, the anorexia, the chlorosis, the spasmodic vomiting, the long and difficult convalescence, especially of fevers.—Chicago Med. Jour., May, 1883; Gazette des Hôpitaux.
Guachama, a tree which grows in Venezuela, contains in its bark and several layers of its wood an active principle. Guachama belongs to apocynaceae. The extract ("Progrès Médical," March 24, 1881), which is of a sombre brown color and resinous, resembles curare, but it is slightly soluble in absolute alcohol, and insoluble in ether and chloroform. The principal difference between the action of curare and that of extract of guachama is that the latter, according to Scheffer ("Deutsche Medicinische Wochenschrift," No. 28, 1882), acts rapidly on the nerve centres, while the action of curare is slow. Schiffer found that in a case of spasmodic muscular contraction, the hypodermic injection of one-sixth of a grain of the solid extract resulted in slumber, at first slight, then deep, which lasted about three hours; circulation and respiration being normal. Reflex excitability was preserved during slumber. Guachama seems likely to be a valuable hypnotic, but further experiments are needed.—Gaillard's Med. Jour., April 28,1883.
Extract of Calabar Bean.—This medicament has been recommended as an heroic remedy in obstinate constipation. Recent experiments undertaken in the service of Prof. Leyden, of Berlin ("Deutsche Medic. Woch."), demonstrate that this extract has a very rapid and sure action in atonic states of the intestine, characterized by flatulence, meteorism occurring just after meals, a sensation of weight in the epigastrium, habitual constipation, etc. The medicament was given in this form:
|Rx.||Ext. calabar bean||1 centigram.|
M. S.—Ten drops, daily.
The patients are greatly relieved, but the benefit is rarely durable, and if the remedy is continued for any length of time, toxic accidents are apt to supervene.—Med. and Surg. Rep., May 5, 1883.
Pop-corn has been introduced to the materia medica by Dr. F. C. Wallace ("Medical and Surgical Reporter") as a remedy for the vomiting of pregnancy. It is to be prepared in the usual way in a wire popper and sprinkled lightly with salt, and is to be eaten freely. He speaks from an experience of several cases in which it served a good purpose, and reports one in which accepted remedies had previously failed. Dr. E. J. Kemf, in the "Louisville Medical News," speaking favorably of personal experience with it, says that Dr. F. A. Burrall called attention to it three years ago.—Albany Med. Annals, 1883, p. 108.