In issuing a new Pharmacopoeia the British Homoeopathic Society have endeavoured to supply a want which has long been felt in consequence of the number of new remedies that have been proved within the last twenty years.
In 1834, Br. Quin, the President of this Society, edited The Pharmacopoeia Homoeopaihica, in Latin, in the preface to which the following authorities are referred to: viz., Hahnemann's Reine Arzneimittelehre and Kronischen Krankheiten, published at various times between 1811 and 1832; Stapf's Archiv fur die Homceopathische Heilkunst; Hartlaub and Trinks' Annalen der Homoeopathischen Klinik; and the Homoeopathisches Dispensatorium fur Aerzte und Apotheker published by Gaspari in 1825, of which Hartmann published a Latin edition in 1827, a German ditto in 1829, and a fourth, entitled Homoio-pathische Pharmacopoe fur Aerzte und Apotheker in 1832; Belluomini's translation of Caspari's work into Italian in 1829, and La Raja's Elimenti di Farmacopea Omiopatica, estratti dalla Materia Medica di Hahnemann, published in the same year at Naples. Since Dr. Quin's Latin edition of the Pharmacopoeia the following works have chiefly regulated the operations of homoeopathic chemists - viz., Jahr's Pharmacopoeia and Posology, which appeared in Germany, and was translated into English by Kitchen and published in Philadelphia in 1842; Buchner's Pharmacopoeia to which Jahr refers; Gruner's Homboopathische Pharmacopoe, compiled and published in 1845; Dr. G. Schmid's work on Pharmacy and Posology, which appeared in 1846; an English Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia and Posology, "compiled from the works of Buchner, Gruner, and Jahr, with original contributions by Chas. J. Hempel, M.D.," by Messrs. Leath and Ross in 1850; Buchner's second and enlarged edition of his Homoopathische Arznei-Bereitungslehro, in 1852; and an "authorized English edition" of Carl Ernst Gruner's Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia, published in Leipsic, London, and New York, in 1855; since which no work has appeared that has become a standard among the homoeopathic chemists.
In collecting the materials for the following work, the Committee appointed by the British Homoeopathic Society, at their annual meeting in June, 1867, set before themselves the following objects: -
1. The identification of all the substances used as homoeopathic medicines, concerning which any doubt existed.
2. The revision of the various pharmaceutical processes.
3. The supplying of good practical tests, whereby the identity and the purity of each medicine could be ascertained.
In carrying these various objects into effect they have made use of all the sources of information within their reach, and as regards not a few of them they have instituted direct experiments.
In identifying the plants used as medicines various methods have been followed. For example, in those instances where the medicine is officinal in the "British Pharmacopoeia of 1867" (published under the direction of the General Council of Medical Education and Registration of the United Kingdom, pursuant to the Medical Act, 1858) the Committee have accepted the conclusions arrived at by the compilers of that work, knowing that every endeavour has been made by them to render their work perfect. As regards substances peculiar to Homoeopathy, they have been guided by such information as could be obtained from the existing works on Homoeopathic Pharmacy, and from botanical works, as well as from notices in the periodical literature of our school. It has often happened that botanical authority has decided on the identity of two or more plants known under different names, and in these cases the source of the officinal preparation has been decided upon other grounds. For example, Pulsatilla nigricans, Pulsatilla Nuttalliana, and Anemone pratensis, appear to be three forms of one and the same plant, of which the first is common in Germany, the second in America, and the third in England. Again, as regards Bryonia alba and Bryonia dioica, since it is known that for twenty-five years many English homoeopaths have used chiefly the B. dioica (at any rate, all who have employed low attenuations), and found it answer to the medical characters given to the B. alba, it has been thought expedient to record both as officinal. It is strongly recommended, however, that in every instance where it is possible the exact variety (in fact, best of all, the identical preparation) used in the provings should be employed for making the higher attenuations. This suggestion is made because it is quite possible that the same natural causes which have modified the physical characters of the plant, and produced the variety, may have equally modified its pathogenetic effects, at least as regards its most refined symptoms.
In revising the pharmaceutical processes the Committee have been greatly assisted by some of the leading homoeopathic chemists, who have undertaken numerous experiments on their behalf.
In supplying tests for identifying, and ascertaining the purity of, various substances, the Committee have largely availed themselves of the British Pharmacopoeia of 1867. It seemed to be a work of supererogation to go over again the ground which had already been worked so well, and at so much cost of time and labour.
Many of the chemical substances used in Homoeopathy are employed also by the old school, and since the majority of these are best prepared on a large scale, it has been recommended that they should be obtained from the manufacturing chemists, while, at the same time, it is urged that in every instance their purity shall be determined by direct experiment before any of them are used for making our preparations.
Throughout this work the weights and measures are those that have been adopted by the British Pharmacopoeia, and the system of volumetric analysis, which is often referred to, is that for which full details are published at the close of the same work, pages 392 - 400.
The object of this work is to instruct homoeopathic chemists in all the processes peculiar to Homoeopathic Pharmacy, but no attempt is made to teach them the entire art of pharmacy. No one should pretend to make homoeopathic medicines who is not thoroughly versed in the art of pharmacy, and has not had large practical experience in the selecting of drugs, and in making all the ordinary preparations employed by chemists.
Again, no attempt has been made to teach Botany and Natural History; it has been deemed sufficient,in reference to each article belonging to the vegetable and animal kingdoms, to give the name, the natural order, and then the description of the exact species in sufficient detail for its identification; consequently a good practical knowledge of botany and natural history is essential.
Since there are various systems of classification in use, it is necessary to mention that all vegetable substances are referred to the Natural Orders adopted by Dr. J. H. Balfour, Professor of Botany in the Edinburgh University, and described by him in his "Outlines." The animal substances have been referred to the classes and orders as given in the "Compendium of Generic Distinctions," published in The Illustrated Natural History by Rev. G. Wood, and which he states to be that used by Owen, Gray, etc.
Finally, no attempt has been made to teach Chemistry, it being taken for granted that all who call themselves homoeopathic chemists already possess a good practical knowledge of that science. For the purpose of avoiding confusion, the old and best-known names have been retained in the case of all chemical compounds, but, in addition, the present name of each, and its notation according to the new system, has been given on the authority of Miller's Elements of Chemistry, fourth edition. It has been urged that the names used by Hahnemann should be laid aside, and others adopted in accordance with the designations common in this country. The denomination of all compounds, however, is at present undergoing such repeated changes that no alteration made could be final, and hence the compromise has been adopted of retaining the old and referring to the present name in each case.
With these prefatory remarks, the British Homoeopathic Society commend their new Pharmacopoeia in the sincere hope that by its universal adoption the difficulties arising from vague and varying preparations may be overcome.
For, and in the name of, the British Homoeopathic Society,
Frederic F. Quin, M.D.,
President of the Society.
Henry R. Madden, M.D.,
Convenor of the Pharmacopoeia Committee.