The forms in which homoeopathic medicines are dispensed are Powders, Tinctures, Pilules, and Globules.
The powders consist of sugar of milk, to which has been added a given quantity of the trituration prescribed, or on which has been dropped a given number of drops of the tincture. It is necessary, therefore, to remember that only those attenuations can be dispensed in the form of powder which have been made with proof or stronger spirit. If prepared with a weaker spirit, the sugar of milk will partially dissolve, and thus a most inconvenient preparation will result.
The tinctures themselves are often dispensed either in bottles with directions to mix so many drops in a given quantity of water, or the prescriber orders so many drops to be mixed with so many ounces of water and sent out as a mixture.
In order to possess a convenient form for administering fractions of a drop, Hahnemann adopted the plan of saturating sugar globules with the attenuated tincture, d 2 and then directing so many of these to be taken at a dose. Since Hahnemann's time a large sugar globule, termed pilule, has been introduced, and is much used both in this country and America.
Another form of powder has been recommended in America, and used occasionally in this country, and is at times very convenient. It is called a tincture-trituration, and is prepared as follows: A weighed quantity of sugar of milk, for instance 2 ounces, is put into a mortar, and 1 fluid ounce of the tincture (usually the mother tincture) is poured over it, and the whole is well rubbed together, forming a soft paste; this is put on one side in a dry place, lightly covered with paper to exclude dust, but not to prevent evaporation; and as the paste gets drier it is again and again rubbed up well and scraped from the mortar and pestle until it becomes quite dry, when a second ounce of liquid is added and the operation repeated. When dry it is put up in bottles and preserved like any other preparation. From the way it is made it will be obvious that 1 grain of a tincture-trituration will contain as much of the medicine as 1 minim of the tincture itself.
Beyond the convenience of carrying it about and dispensing it as powders, there is no advantage in the tincture-trituration over the tincture; and it should never be used for the purpose of making attenuations, which should invariably be prepared direct from the tinctures themselves.
A few words must be said respecting the obtaining and medicating pilules and globules.
These preparations are made of sugar, and it is always better to procure them from a manufacturer who prepares them especially for homoeopathic chemists rather than from the confectioner, who, having frequently to colour his preparations, would bo very apt to employ his machinery indiscriminately for the coloured and the colourless, and hence the latter would not be sufficiently pure for our purpose.
In medicating the pilules and globules, a suitable quantity should be placed in a bottle, and the tincture with which they are to be saturated poured over them in sufficient quantity to thoroughly moisten every one of them; and the regular admixture of the tincture and the globules should be insured by repeatedly shaking, or, better still, by rolling the bottle horizontally in the hand. Some chemists fill the bottles with the tincture and leave the pilules and globules to macerate for several days; while others carefully ascertain how much they will absorb, and add exactly that quantity. Whichever plan is followed, the greatest possible care is required to secure perfect saturation.* The latter process, when carefully carried out, has the advantage of avoiding all exposure of the pilules and globules in drying; whereas, if the former plan is followed, it is necessary after a time to pour off the excess of tincture, and to dry the pilules and globules between sheets of filtering paper - a plan which is objectionable on many accounts.
Before closing these practical directions it will be well to say a little about the proper method of cleaning the utensils employed by homoeopathic chemists. It has been already stated that all careful homoeopathic chemists set apart separate pestles and mortars for each medicine which has to be triturated.
All the mother tinctures, and especially all the attenuations, should in the first place be put into perfectly new bottles, closed with perfectly new corks, and these should never in future be filled with any other medicine or attenuation.
* It is found advantageous, in medicating pilules and globules with attenuations which are usually prepared with strong alcohol, to make those required specially with 20 O.P. spirit, which will be more readily absorbed than stronger spirit.
It must happen, however, that measure-glasses, bottles which have contained mixtures, etc, are required to be used again and again, and hence it is well to know how they can be thoroughly freed from every trace of the medicine which they have previously contained. This may be effectually accomplished by washing the bottle in an ascending stream of water in place of a descending stream, as is almost universally employed. The chemist should have a fine nozzle and stopcock adapted to his water cistern in his laboratory (over the sink), and so arranged that the stream of water ascends like the jet of a fountain. He then washes his bottle or glass, as the case may be, in the usual manner, carefully removing every visible impurity, and then, while the vessel is still wet, he should hold it over the fine nozzle (which must be fine enough to pass through the neck of the smallest size bottle he has to wash), and while in that position open the stopcock and allow the stream to strike against the bottom of the glass or bottle he is washing; in this way, as soon as the water mixes with the remains of the medicine, it flows down the sides of the vessel and escapes into the sink, and in a very short time not the slightest trace of medicine can remain in the glass or bottle. It can then be drained and dried in the ordinary way.