Part I. General Therapeutics.
A Practical Treatise on General and Special Therapeutics.
The term Materia Medica embraces all of those agents termed remedial or curative, which are employed either with a view to palliate or cure diseases. It treats of their natural characters, sensible qualities, chemical properties, and of their mode of action.
Remedies may be divided into two great classes. The first may be termed psychical or mental remedies, and embraces all those influences which may be brought to bear upon the mind of a person laboring under disease, and which often, if rightly applied, teud much to facilitate a cure. The second may be termed corporeal remedies, and embraces all agents of a curative nature, whether imponderable or ponderable.
Therapeutics is that branch of medical science which treats of the administration of remedies, and their effects upon the system. Thus, it treats of the changes in function, sensation, or action, wrought upon the system when in a state of disease, by the exhibition of the various agents included under the term materia medica, by which disordered function, sensation or action is subdued. In other words, it treats of the precise steps or series of influences by which morbid phenomena or diseased action is arrested, and health re-established.
In a more extended signification, therapeutics embraces not only the administration and mode of action of remedies, but it likewise takes cognizance of the morbid process existing—the pathology of the disease, the variance from a physiological condition or state of health. Thus says Dr. Dunglison: "To be a good therapeutist, a man must be well versed in every department of medicine, and be capable of observing and reasoning well. He may be a good observer, and yet a bad reasoner. He can not practice well unless he is both."