Deposit from the juice of Momordica elaterium.—Greece.
Dose.—The dose of Elaterium runs from one-tenth to one-fourth grain.
Therapeutic Action.—Elaterium is a drastic hydragogue cathartic, and said to be diuretic. As a powerful hydragogue cathartic, in minute doses, this article is unequaled by any other agent in the materia medica. If too freely employed, the violence of its action admonishes the physician of the necessity of prescribing it cautiously, not always, however, until it is too late to repair the injury. If administered in large doses it causes excessive nausea and vomiting, irritation of the mucous membrane, or even an inflammation that may prove fatal. The violence of its action and the high price of the article, probably prevent the frequent and too free use of this agent.
Cautiously administered, Elaterium may be used with great propriety in cases where we wish to produce a powerful derivative and depletive effect upon the system; particularly when the patient is of a plethoric habit, and has a strong and vigorous constitution. In debilitated states of the system it is inadmissible, as well as when there is any irritation of the intestinal mucous membrane.
It is principally used in the treatment of dropsy, to which it appears to bo especially adapted, often proving successful in the most obstinate cases, and after a variety of other measures have proven abortive. It has proved a highly important hydragogue, promoting absorption, and at the same time lessening effusion by diverting the increased vital action from the point of effusion to the intestinal mucous membrane.