C H E M I S T R Y, P H A R M A C Y, A N D M A T E R I A M E D I C A.

C H E M I S T R Y, P H A R M A C Y, A N D M A T E R I A M E D I C A.

526 delicate state of health, and that, in many of military invalids are on board ships so watered, it will readily be believed that a four months’ co...

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526 delicate state of health, and that, in many of military invalids are on board ships so watered, it will readily be believed that a four months’ course of such water cannot be taken by them with impunity; and although, perhaps, it is productive of no very acute disease, nevertheless it must, in a very considerable degree, retard their recovery. Where government can exercise control, as in the case of military invalids returning to Europe, the state of the water ought particularly to be seen to, and every cask ought to be filled from the filtering-boats at Calcutta, when ships sail from that from India

are

in

a

instances, large bodies

presidency. April 23,

1845.

BRITISH

MEDICAL JOURNALS.

rYROHANIA.ņINCENDIARY MADNESS.

after the death of the animal. Alluding to the different and remarkable action of electric currents on nerves, either exclusively motor, or both motor and sensitive, MM. Longet and Matteucci observe that this appears to themto constitute a sure means of distinguishing these nerves from each other, and may, consequently, serve to elucidate a question which has hitherto divided physiologists-namely, whether or not there are any nerves which are mixed at their origin.’ "ņAM-co-C/M’Mn-’ce- Review. EFFECT OF THE ELECTRIC CURRENT ON SENSITIVE NERVES’.

11 Longet and Matteucci, in the same memoir, describe the effect of electricity on the posterior or sensitive roots of the spinal cord. When these were separated from the cord, no contractions were excited by the electrical current, whatever its direction. But when they were still adherent to the medulla, they always gave rise to convulsive shocks on closure of the circuit, whether the current was inverse or direct. It was evident, however, that these convulsions were entirely due to a reflex action on the anterior roots; for when the latter were cut across, all contraction instantly ceased."-Idem.

copied in the Northern Journal of of the Crichton Asylum. In an age AN AMERICAN QUACK. when the palliation of great crimes is sought for with a zeal itself Thomas W. Griffin sworn, says he is a Thompsonian physician’; almost criminal, they should be received with a certain amount of articles caution. Betwixt the consequences of a malicious spirit of has practised eighteen years as such. Says he uses three lobelia, Cayenne pepper, and Barbary bark, in all cases, --yiz., revenge and the results of a blind insane impulse, justice admi- and in all stages of disease, and under all circumstances, and nistered with those characteristics which secure for it respect, always with good effect. Thinks that lobelia is not a poison.should find various degrees of criminality and of consequent New York Journal of Medicine. punishment; an observation as applicable to other species of crime as that to which the following remarks apply:C H E M I S T R Y, P H A R M A C Y, A N D The

following remarks

Medicine,

from the

Pyromania

are

Report

seems a

modification of the blind

impulse

cases

which have been most

carefully

examined haveoccurred in

children, or extremely young females, who, when able to explain their conduct, have assigned no more intelligible reason

mere

than

a desire to witness a conflagration. The disease is occasionally epidemic or imitative, affects various individuals unconnected by consanguinity or intercourse in success;on, and spreads desolation and terror over a whole country. This should be kept in

judicially;

for madmen may view when such acts are investigated be mingled with anarchists; or the act of the malicious or rebellious incendiary may have suggested a similar course to the excited imagination or distempered propensities of the pyromaniac. At precisely the same time in 1830, when such devastation was committed in England by rick-burners, bands of young women perpetrated similar ravages in France without apparent object or

design. They

were

regarded and treated,

and

M A T E R I A

to

destroy. While traceable to perversion of the will and sentiments, it may be provoked by malice, revenge, or other motives common to the vicious and unsound mind. A very large number of the

perhaps wisely, as

lunatics. The involuntary propensity to burn is generally associated with bodily disturbance, an undeveloped constitution, and mental imbecility, but it is not necessarily so. It may likewise be the element of a mind combining strong intellect, serenity, and self-control. It has occasionally been developed as the last atrocity of despotism, or the wildest erraticism of genius. If combined with the monomania of pride and superstition, the patient burns a palace or a cathedral ; if with the tendency to suicide, he casts himself into the fire ; if goaded by imaginary insults or injuries, the property of an enemy is selected; but if the desire be blind, insensate, impetuous, the destruction is indiscriminate. Persons labouring under the impulse, not merely disregard life, they act as if it were invulnerable, and caress the flame they have produced, and almost invariably and anxiously watch its progress. One of this class, who was not a suicide, has been observed to handle ignited coals as if they were harmless, and, after setting fire to a sofa, sit quietly down upon the burning cloth as if to court immolation. Another inmate, who originally manifested her derangement by attempting to destroy farm produce, still, upon all favourable occasions, consigns her dress to the fire, without regard to the value of the article or to her own comfort, and obviously derives intense gratification from the brilliant flame which she has produced. This woman, although passionate, and so irrational as to recognise in her fellow-patients former friends and acquaintances, disguised as females, is acute, cunning, and perfectly conscious of the culpable and dangerous nature of her irresistible propensities." MODE OF DISTINGUISHING THE 3fOTOR AXD MIXED NERVES.

HIPPURIC ACID IN THE URINE IN CHOREA.

The urine of a female, thirteen years of age, who was suffering from chorea, was examined by M. Pettenkofer. The urine was evaporated, the residue acted on by alcohol, and this again evaporated, the extract treated with muriatic acid cold, yielded a large amount of crystals of hippuric acid. A larger proportionate amount was given by the urino sanguinis. 1000 parts of urine left 40.668 solid matters, of which 31.251 were soluble in alcohol, 9.417 insoluble. The soluble matters consisted of urea, alkaline chlorides, hippurates, and animal matter; the insoluble part, uric acid, sulphates, and phosphates. The 40.668 solid residue left, upon incineration, 10.599 of ashes, containing 30 per cent. of alkaline carbonates. Calculating from these data, M. Pettenkofer savs, the urine contained 1.2886 per cent. hippuric aeid, the solid contents 25.8 per cent. As the disease disappeared, the amount of hippuric acid gradually diminished.Annalen, Oct. 1844. ON THE DISTILLED WATERS OF OUR PHARMACOPOEIAS. BY ROBERT WARINGTON, ESQ.

THE subject of flavoured waters, prepared by distillation, or extemporaneously, through the medium of carbonate of magnesia, has for some time past engaged my attention; it is a subject of

considerable importance to the pharmaceutical chemist. The formulse given for the preparation of distilled waters in the London Pharmacopoeia of 1836 is as follows: -To a specified quantity of material, whether it be essential oil, flowers, herbs, bark, or berries, let two gallons of water, and seven of proof spirit, having a specific gravity 0.920, be added, and submit the mixture to the process of distillation until one gallon shall have parsed over. Presuming that the entire amount of spirit employed passes over in this operation, the resulting product will contain a quantity that will be equivalent to about four ounces and a half of rectified spirit, of specific gravity 0.838. ’ The Edinburgh form has rather less spirit to the proportion of materials, two gallons of water and three ounces of rectified spirit are so employed, and a gallon distilled. The Dublin formula differs from the foregoing, in ordering half an ounce of rectified spirit to be added to each pound of the water after distillation, or in the ratio of five ounces to the ounces

gallon.

In the course of other investigations, some years since, I found that when a very small quantity of alcohol was added to distilled water, and the mixture kept exposed to the air for a length of time, the containing vessel being carefully covered with paper to exclude the dust, it became gradually converted into acetic acid, and, by analogy, I was led to believe that the same effect would take place in these distilled waters; the following experiments were therefore put in operation to test the accuracy of thete

The experiments which have been devised and practised for ascertaining the functions of the nerves are the most cruel that can be imagined, while the results thereby obtained have frequently been unconvincing or uncertain. Every friend of humanity, therefore, will rejoice to find that in electricity we have ideas. "

an

agent capable of

distinguishing the

motor and

mixed

nerves

M E D I C A.

In the distillation of essential

oils, it is

well known that the

527 over is opalescent, from its being highly charged with the oil, and that when thus impregnated it will keep perfectly sound for a great length of time. Distilled waters were prepared from various of the essential oils without the addition of any spirit, and these were taken as the basis of the following experiments. Equal portions of the waters obtained from the oils of dill, carraway, pimento, spearmint, and cinnamon, were taken, and to one half the proportion of spirit ordered by the London College was added, the other half remaining in its original state;

Moreover, the magnesia unfits them for the preparation of solutions of some of the metallic salts, as bichloride of mercury and nitrate of silver." The method of examination adopted in the following experiments was to take a measured volume of the water, say 1000 grains, and evaporate it to dryness at a temperature not exceeding 212°, then to ascertain carefully the weight of the residue, re-dissolve it in dilute acid, and test the resulting solution. Magnesia, in the form of carbonate, was invariably found, together, frequently, with resinous matter from the oil; this was more these were all loosely corked, marked, and placed aside. After especially the case where oils of considerable age had been emremaining six months, they were examined, when the spearmint ployed. By this mode of operating, the results obtained range and carraway waters, with the spirit, were found to be distinctly from 0.50 gr., in the 1000 gr. measure: of the water, as in pepacid, reddening litmus paper, and causing an effervescence with permint-water, to 1.20 gr. in dill and pimento waters; many carbonated alkalies; all the others remaining perfectly sound. others were tried, which ranged between these two points. It They were again examined after a lapse of twelve months: the may perhaps he as well here to mention, that it was observed acidity had increased in the previous cases, while the same very soon after the application of the heat in evaporating, that waters, without the spirit, remained perfectly unchanged, and flocculi of carbonate of magnesia invariably separated. evidenced no signs of acidity. On examination after another The general opinion has been that these waters were formed in twelve months, they did not appear to have undergone any consequence of the magnesia as a base favouring the union of further alteration. the oil and water, and thus implying some combination of these I need scarcely mention, that in selecting the specimens speci- materials ; but I was led to believe, from various circumstances fied, the object was to try the general action of ordinary exposure presenting themselves during these experiments, that this was not to the atmosphere on waters varying in their characters and in any respect the true cause, and that the carbonate of magnesia sources, as other samples might have been chosen which would acted simply as a mechanical subdivider of the oil, if I may be doubtless have become acid as soon as, or even sooner than, the allowed the expression, so that the water aCÌB.:d as a solvent, with carraway and spearmint, as for instance, rose-water, elder-flower, greatly increased effect upon an enormously extended surface of the essential oil, as is the case in distillation, where the cohesive orange-flower, peppermint, and pennyroyal waters. Another point in favour of these distilled waters keeping, was attraction of the molecules being overcome by the influence of their having been prepared from their respective essential oils, heat, the vapours of the oil and water rise together, are mutually and not from the herb, seed, or bark. It is stated that these diffused, and pass over into the refrigerator or worm, to be conwaters are liable to become mucilaginous and sour when long densed, and thus solution is to a certain extent effected. Under kept, and that the small quantity of spirit is added to prevent this impression the same experiments were repeated, substituting this; from the foregoing experiments, however, it will be evi- for the carbonate of magnesia the kaolin or porcelain clay of dently seen to produce a directly contrary effect, and the Cornwall, or finely-divided silica in the form of powdered flints, formula* of the Edinburgh and Dublin Pharmacopoeias will be and with perfect success, the resulting medicated waters being equally in error on this point. perfectly colourless, transparent, and having a full flavour of It is curious, that of the European Pharmacopoeias that I have their respective oi!s. On evaporation no residue was obtained, looked into during this investigation, not one labours under this except in a few instances a small quantity of resinous matter, error, their instructions being simply to distil the materials with where, as before mentioned, oils had been used which had been water. made a long time; this amounted in the case of pimento water On searching back through former editions of the London to 0.50 gr. Two questions remain now to be settled, arising out of the Pharmacopoeia, to ascertain, if possible, whether the formula; had always been the same, and if not, when this erroneous alter- foregoing experiments: first, does the magnesia enter into comation had been effected, I found that in the Pharmacopoeia of bination with the acid oils existent in some of the essential oils 1624 two classes of distilled waters are specified, entitled simple, used, as pimento, &c. ? or, secondly, is the oil simply taken into and compound or spirituous; the former made without the addi- solution by the distilled water? The fact of the carbonate of tion of any spirit, either in the process or afterwards; the latter, magnesia separating from the solution by the application of heat, similar to the preparations entitled spirits of the present day. and remaining always in the state of carbonate on evaporation to After this date the error of adding small portions of spirit seems dryness at a temperature of 212° F., is a strong argument in to have originated, and to have been regularly copied, with very opposition to the first of these questions, as I do not think the little deviation, from edition to edition, down to the year 1836, view taken by Dr. Pereira is possible-namely, that the magnesia the general directions being to distil a certain quantity of the of the carbonate of magnesia first combines with the acid of the water from a given weight of material, and then to add five oil, which, as a consequence, implies the evolution of its carbonic ounces of proof spirit to each gallon, that it may be preserved, or acid from its weaker affinity; and that then, by the absorption of rather, I may say, in many cases, to spoil it. In the edition of carbonic acid from the atmosphere, it is again deposited as carboof spirit was increased to the formula that nate of magnesia, thus making its affinity stronger ; the second 1836, the has been already given, and this was also the form prescribed in position being directly contradictory to the first. some of the various dispensatories about the middle of the ’, On trying a repetition of the same experiments with the same materials, but omitting the essential oil, and going through preeighteenth century. On examining into the quantity of acid generated in the fore- cisely the same routine, I obtained from 0.50 to 0.70 gr. of carbogoing experiments, I found that half a pound of the carraway nate of magnesia by evaporation as the average results of many water required four grains of dry carbonate of soda to effect per- trials; so that I consider from these data we may fairly conclude fect neutralization, which is equivalent to 4.45 grains of real no combination of the magnesia and oily acids had taken place, acetic acid. This acid was also isolated by distillation, and its but that it was simply a solution of the earthy carbonate in the distilled water ; nevertheless, in many of the experiments, the identity proved by various tests. We now pass onto the extemporaneous preparation of flavoured presence of the different oils evidently affected the solvent power waters from their respective essential oils. The general formula of the water, and thus directly influenced the quantity of carbogiven in the Pharmacopoeia of 1836, in which it is introduced for nate of magnesia taken up; and the resin existent in some of the the first time, is to triturate carefully together one drachm of the old oils will account for the occasional increase of weight over essential oil with one drachm of carbonate of magnesia, and after- this quantity, for it has been shown that this resin is soluble to wards with four pints of distilled water, and then strain. Now, some extent in water. on examining the waters thus prepared, they are all found, withThere can be no doubt, from the above experiments, that any out exception, to contain a notable quantity of magnesia; the pro- insoluble substance in a fine state of division will answer the portions taken up seeming tc vary with the various essential oils same purpose as the carbonate of magnesia much better, as for employed, all other circumstances remaining the same. Dr. Pereira, instance, very fine porcelain clay, finely-divided silica, powdered in his valuable " Elements of Materia Medica," vol. i. p. 258, glass, pumice-stone, &c. I am not aware how the use of carbospeaks thus of these waters:" The magnesia (carbonate of mag- nate of magnesia for the extemporaneous formation of these nesia) effects the minute division of the oil. Moreover, when the waters originated, except with the pharmaceutist, as being a oils possess acid properties, as the old oils of pimento, cloves, and material generally at hand, and it is well known to have been the cinnamon, it probably serves to saturate them. Prepared in this substance usually employed for this purpose for a great number way, the medicated waters usually contain a minute portion of of years, and was, I am informed, used by the perfumers to promagnesia in solution; hence, by exposure to the air, they at- duce the same results long before its introduction for medicinal tract carbonic acid, and let fall flocculi of carbonate of magnesia. preparations.

water which passes

proportion