This section is from the book "A Practitioner's Handbook Of Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Thos. S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: A Practitioner's handbook of Materia Medica and Therapeutics.
Dispensing Fluids. It has become quite the custom to eliminate fluids from the portable medicine case. Permit the suggestion to all readers who practice with tablets that a list of twenty liquids be prepared, and, with that before you, go over in review the run of cases met with in which bedside dispensing is proper. Then think of the indications to be met with these liquids, singly or in combination, and how you can modify the strength or relative proportions to suit varying ages and personality. Now estimate how many different kinds of simple and combination tablets it would take to meet these same indications. It would be very easy to run the list up to two hundred if one felt inclined to press the point. Of course, one wants some pills, tablets, and powdered drugs in his case as well.
Fluidextracts of ipecac, ergot, and cannabis indica, spirits of glonoin, tr. opium, chlorodyne, eclectic tinctures of aconite, belladonna, gelsemium, digitalis, nux vomica, sanguinaria (all of which mix with water without precipitation), Norwood's veratrum viride, chloroform, liq. ferri chloridi, brandy, ess. pepsin, a bromide or chloral mixture, and some reliable fluid antiseptic, like carbolic acid, or one of the various cresol preparations, are all fluids exceedingly useful and cannot be satisfactorily displaced with powders or tablets. In dispensing fluids for their actions in small doses, it is well to mix them with water containing just sufficient glycerine or alcohol (preferably glycerine) to prevent the souring of the mixture. Combining with them syrups and elixirs ofttimes defeats the end aimed at by the medicine. A large proportion of the eclectic tinctures mix clearly with water, and a day's supply of medicine can be mixed simply with clean water, covered, and kept in a cool room. When sp. etheris nitrosi is indicated, it may be combined with nearly any of the fluid extracts for bedside medication.
Fluids given for their actions in large doses can be combined with simple elixir or just sufficient tr. cardamomi comp. or tr. gentianre comp., ess. pepsin, syr. rhei aromat., sherry wine, neutralizing cordial, mint or cinnamon water, or any indicated substance suitable to the case; but the practice of mixing up several liquids with syrups or highly flavored elixirs is mentioned only to be condemned.
One-ounce vials are convenient for a business man to carry, and it is not at all hard to administer fluids to cover most indications, with the dose not exceeding fifteen or twenty drops. Some patients have a fancy for homeopathic sugar disks. When drop-or-two doses of a purely alcoholic medicine suffices, a vial of disks medicated with the remedy is very convenient to the patient. Aconite, belladonna, bryonia, nux vomica, and a few other drugs are given in sufficiently small doses as to admit of this method, but our official tinctures are not purely alcoholic and the water in them makes the disks soften or adhere.