Part II. Special Therapeutics.

Special Therapeutics is that branch of medical science which treats of the application of special remedies in the cure or alleviation of disease. Under this head we will consider the different agents in classes, and the application of these classes in the treatment of special forms of disease, and then examine each individual agent in the same manner. It is not the intention of the authors to make what might be called a strictly scientific classification of agents, but to make such an one as they think will give the student and general reader the clearest view of the subject. The intention is to sacrifice every thing that is not strictly practical—to make the work a full, safe and reliable guide to the practitioner.

In the classification of remedies, those will be considered first that are most frequently indicated in the treatment of those diseases that make up the major part of daily practice.

The first general division may be termed eliminatives, from their principal influence upon the system—eliminating morbid materials from it. This will be divided into four classes, emetics, or those agents that produce evacuation from the stomach; cathartics, those that cause evacuation from the bowels; diaphoretics, those that cause an increased secretion from the skin; and diuretics, those that cause an increased secretion from the kidneys.

The second division may be termed neurotics, because their principal influence is exerted upon the nervous system. This will be divided into three classes: sedatives, or those agents that depress nervous energy, without producing any previous excitement; narcotics, those that first exalt and then depress nervous energy, and also produce sleep; and stimulants, incuts which increase the evolution of nervous force. To this may be added a fourth class, termed anaesthetics, which render the patient unconscious of pain.

The third division embraces the internal remedies and local applications used for the purpose of reducing the temperature of the entire system or of a particular part. The class is termed refrigerant.

The fourth division embraces those agents which act principally upon the blood, and hence may be called hematics, or blood medicines. These may be divided into two classes— tonics, or agents that restore the normal quantity and quality of this fluid; and alteratives, those agents that alter, destroy, or remove any morbid material from the blood.

The fifth division embraces incidentally all those agents which act by revulsion, producing a new point of irritation, and directing to this the vascular and nervous afflux, and in this way relieving disease of more important parts. It embraces but a single class, which from their action take the name of revulsives.

The sixth division embraces but a single class, called astringents, agents which cause contraction and condensation of the tissues of the body.

The seventh division embraces but a single class, expectorants, agents which rectify wrongs of the respiratory apparatus.

The eighth division consists of those agents which counteract putrefaction, or the septic tendency, and are, in consequence of this action, termed antiseptics.

The ninth division embraces those agents which act specifically upon the uterus, and may be divided into three classes—emmenagogues, agents which promote the menstrual secretion; parturients, those which increase the expulsive efforts of the womb, and accelerate the process of parturition; and abortives, agents supposed to effect the dislodgement of the fetus in utero, producing abortion.

The tenth division embraces all agents that counteract spasmodic action, the single class being termed antispasmodics.

The eleventh division embraces but a single class, anthelmintics,—agents which destroy or cause the evacuation of worms.

The twelfth division embraces two classes that increase special secretions: sialagogues, those agents that increase the salivary secretion; and errhines, agents that increase the nasal secretion.

The thirteenth division embraces three classes, the action of which is chiefly chemical: they are acids and antacids, agents which regulate acidity; and antilithics, agents which counteract the tendency to the formation of calculous deposits.

The fourteenth division embraces three classes which act mechanically: they are demulcents and emollients, agents which soften and relax the tissues to which they are applied, and shield them from irritation; and diluents, agents which augment the fluidity of the blood and other animal fluids.

The fifteenth division embraces a single class of agents, called antidotes, agents capable of neutralizing or lessening the action of poisons.

The following table will exhibit this classification:—

1. Eliminatives,Emetics,Agents that evacuate the stomach.
Cathartics,Agents that evacuate the bowels.
Diaphoretics,Agents that increase the secretion of the skin.
Diuretics,Agents that increase the secretion of the kidneys.
2. Neurotics,Sedatives,Agents that lessen nervous sensibility.
Narcotics,Agents that produce sleep.
Stimulants,Agents that increase nervous energy.
Anaesthetics,Agents that produce insensibility.
3. Refrigerants,Agents that diminish the heat of the body.
4. Hematics,Tonics,Agents that give tone to the system.
Alteratives,Agents that modify organic action.
5. Revulsives,Agents that cure by producing a new point of irritation.
6. Astringents,Agents that cause condensation of the tissues.
7. Expectorants,Agents that increase and favor expectoration.
8. Antiseptics,Agents that counteract putrefaction.
9. Uterina,Emmenagogues,Agents that promote the menstrual secretion.
Parturients,Agents that excite contraction of the uterus.
Abortives,Agents that produce abortion.
10. Antispasmodics,Agents that counteract spasms.
11. Anthelmintics,Agents that remove worms.
12.Sialagogues,Agents that increase the secretion of saliva.
Errhines,Agents that increase the nasal secretion.
13. Chemics,Antacids,Agents that neutralize acidity.
AntilithicsAgents that prevent calculous formations.
14. Mechanics,Demulcents,Agents that shield the tissues.
Emollients,Agents that soften and relax them.
Diluents,Agents that increase the fluidity of the blood.
15. Antidotes,Agents that counteract tha action of poisons.

The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 1898, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.