The Pharmacopoeia of the British Homoeopathic Society issued in 1870 having met with a rapid sale, it became necessary either to reprint the work or to prepare a new edition.
A reprint without some corrections would have been a mistake, and as an issue with alterations would virtually have been a new edition, it was not desirable that such should appear until the whole had been thoroughly revised. It is believed that the course that has been adopted, notwithstanding the delay, will be generally approved.
A new edition being determined on, the British Homoeopathic Society again appointed a Committee to take the necessary steps for its preparation.
Dr. Madden, the convenor of the first Committee, had so admirably discharged the duty of Editor, by bringing out a book that was so valuable for the information it contained, and which met with such a favourable reception, that, had his health permitted him to return to his post, the new work could not have been entrusted to abler hands; unhappily, owing to his continued and universally regretted illness, these services that would have been so much appreciated, have been lost to the Society and the profession, and the duty of preparing the present edition has devolved on another.
Excellent as the Pharmacopoeia was, it was apparent that there were some errors to be corrected and deficiencies supplied. To ascertain what these were, correspondence was invited, and as suggestions came in response to this appeal, they were carefully considered and, where desirable, adopted.
To those gentlemen who gave help grateful thanks are due; also to others who in various ways supplied information in reply to questions asked.
The Society are, however, specially indebted to two of the homoeopathic chemists, Mr. Wyborn and Mr. Franklin Epps. The assistance of these gentlemen cannot be too much appreciated. In correcting the tables, as well as in all matters requiring practical knowledge, their help was, from first to last, of the utmost value; indeed, it is not too much to say that without such assistance the time spent in preparing the work would have been far greater than it has been.
Were a Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia now to be issued for the first time, it is very likely that the book would differ materially from the existing one, as there is no doubt that changes of one kind or another might be introduced with advantage; but Homoeopathy has grown up, and much that is must be accepted, as it is impossible to make the violent changes that some would suggest without causing much confusion. Changes are, however, gradually working their way, and if those that are in a right direction can be made good, and those of a contrary tendency rectified, all will be well. These remarks are the only answer that can be given in anticipation to the questions that may be asked, as to why this is retained or that omitted.
The work is, however, very far from being a stereotype of the former edition. Changes there are, but rather of a conservative tendency, the object being to effect all needful alterations with as little disturbance as possible, and to avoid controversial points.
The work will be found to be considerably increased in size. Almost every page will be found to contain fresh matter; but, owing to the removal of a good deal to the Appendix that more legitimately had its place there, the body of the work shows the increase less than might be expected, though some medicines that have been more fully proved now find their place there.
Instead of the Appendix being divided into two parts as formerly, there is now but one. The description of many of the medicines there given is extended, and many new ones are added. It would have greatly increased the size of the book had all the medicines that have been inquired for at the homoeopathic chemist's been included. This would have merely added a barren list of names, as many of them are now never asked for, and but little known. In the selection made it is hoped that the most useful are included. Very few that were in the former edition have been altogether expunged.
In dealing with the medicines in the Appendix, it will be found that here and there hints are thrown out as to the action of medicines that may be thought out of place in a Pharmacopoeia. It must, however, be remembered that this is done with medicines about which but little is known, and the line of extra information, where given, may explain why the medicine is introduced. Another object is gained thereby: medical men may be tempted to prove medicines if they see something to encourage them to do so.
The following important changes require attention: -
In the early portion of the work the tables showing the amount of rectified spirit to be used in the preparation of fresh plant tinctures have been re-calculated, and the contraction which results in mixing the spirit and juice allowed for, the quantity required for each ounce of magma being given.
Many new characters, and some tests, have been added in the case of chemical substances, and new formulae introduced; and where indigenous or naturalized plants are noticed, it has been thought best to give the botanical characters necessary for their identification, and so avoid the substitution of allied species.
As there appeared to be much uncertainty about the solubility of Sulphur and Phosphorus, a number of careful experiments have been made with each, in order to ascertain the strength of the saturated solutions, and the mean results have necessitated a considerable alteration in the paragraphs under these headings. In the case of Sulphur, it was found that the solution varies in strength to such an extent at different temperatures that no satisfactory attenuations can be made from it; nearly all the Sulphur crystallizing at a temperature approaching the freezing-point, the minute quantity named being only retained a ta temperature of about 60° F. In consequence of this, in the Pharmacopoeia it is directed that the triturations be made from the crude Sulphur, which is designated as Sulphur φ and that the tincture be made in the regular way from the trituration; but as many medical men have a leaning to the tincture made directly from the crude Sulphur (notwithstanding its irregular strength), it is also retained, but is distinguished by the addition of the letter F (fortissima). When prescribed it must be so indicated, otherwise the officinal preparation should be given.
In the case of Phosphorus, it must be borne in mind that in future there will be no, so-called, mother tincture.
A Crude Phosphorus will be marked φ, and the strongest tincture will be 3x As this is a strong tincture, it must not be incautiously ordered, and chemists will see the wisdom of giving some strength, such as 3 centesimal, when Phosphorus is asked for by a non-professional person.*
There are some non-officinal preparations of Phosphorus that may be of greater strength; but for all practical purposes, it has been judged best to start from one of known quantity.
The quantity of spirit used in the preparation of the Tinctures of Moschus and Opium has been increased from 10 to 20 parts, the former proportion being insufficient to exhaust these drugs; the tinctures thus prepared will not necessarily be much weaker, since a portion of the active ingredients was formerly left undissolved by the spirit.
In regard to the sign φ, it is perhaps to be regretted that originally a different rule was not laid down as to its application, so that in all cases the crude drug alone would be represented by it; but mother tinctures being now generally recognized, it would be impossible to make the change, so that the vegetable tinctures remain as they were.
* As some time will elapse before all the homoeopathic medical men will be aware of this change of designating pure Phosphorus by the Greek f, to prevent the possibility of a mistake, it may be necessary to observe that chemists, in dispensing prescriptions containing an order for Phosphorus 0 to be taken in drops, must always interpret it to mean the old matrix tincture.
The rules for the employment of the sign are fully laid down at pages 32 and 33. By these it will be seen that with some medicines, such as Iodine, about which there has been some confusion, the crude drug will be marked by the sign φ, but that the ordinary tincture, which has at times been improperly called a mother tincture, is in reality a lx attenuation.
In the case of medicines of comparatively recent introduction a modern nomenclature has been adopted, but where the remedy has been long known under an old name, this has either been retained or given as a synonym. Some further changes in this direction are desirable; but in consequence of the difficulties raised, less has been done than some might think needful, but on the whole, perhaps, as much as is at present advisable.
The average per-centage of moisture present in many plants is given, which it is expected will be a very welcome addition to those who have to prepare the tinctures.
For, and in the name of, the British Homeopathic Society,
Frederic F. Quin, M.D.,
President of the Society.
William V. Drury, M.D.,
Convenor of the Pharmacopoeia Committee.