This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
† Oleum sulphurat.
|| Balf. sulph. craflum.
Fixt alkaline fat, stirred by little and little into twice [or rather half] [or a fifth part †] its weight of sulphur in fusion, unites with it into a red mass called from its colour liver of sulphur. This compound has a fetid smell, and a nauseous taste: it dissolves in water, and deliquiates in the air, into a yellow fluid: thrown, whilst hot from the fire, into rectified spirit of wine, in the proportion of about four ounces to a pint, and digested about twenty-four hours, it communicates a rich gold colour, a particular not ungrateful smell, and a hot somewhat aromatic taste. Solutions of the liver in water, made with sugar into a syrup; and a few drops of the tincture mixed with a glass of canary or other rich wine, to which it communicates a milky hue; have been some-times given in the same intentions as the bal-sams, and seem to be accompanied with the same inconveniences.
Flowers of sulphur may be dissolved in water by boiling them with thrice their weight of quicklime, though not so readily as by alkaline salts. If the filtered solution be long exposed to the atmosphere, or if air from the lungs be blown into it for a short time through a glass pipe, the lime gradually separates, as it does from common lime-water; and the sulphur, which was dissolved by means of the lime, separates and precipitates along with it. Common alkalies, fixt or volatile, added to the solution of sulphur in lime-water, occasion a precipitation of the lime, the sulphur continuing dissolved; caustic alkalies make no precipitation.
Kali sulphurat. Ph. Lond. †
On adding to the sulphureous solution, whether made by lime or by alkalies, some of the weak spirit of vitriol, (or any other acid) the liquor becomes milky, an extremely fetid and diffusive inflammable vapour arises, and on Handing for some time the sulphur settles to the bottom in form of a white powder, which, when washed with fresh quantities of water, becomes insipid and inodorous, and is vulgarly called lac or milk of sulphur: the liquor after the precipitation retains still a sulphureous impregnation, which further additions of acid will not precipitate. The method of preparing the lac with fixt alkalies is the most expeditious and least troublesome, provided the sulphur has been thoroughly united with a sufficient quantity of the alkali †; and on the other hand, quicklime gives the preparation a more saleable whiteness. The medicine proves in either case nearly the same: it would be exactly the same if the precipitation was made with any other acid than the vitriolic; which forms with the dis-solved lime a selenitic concrete, not separable from the lac by any ablution, but with the alkali a neutral salt, which by hot water may be totally dissolved and washed off; whereas the combinations of all the other acids, with lime as well as with alkalies, are easily dissolu-ble even in cold water. The pure lac is not different in quality from pure sulphur itself; to which it is preferred, in external applications, only on account of its colour. The whiteness does not proceed from the sulphur having loft any of its parts in the operation, nor from any new matter superadded: on being melted with a gentle fire, it resumes its yellow hue.
A solution of sulphur in volatile alkaline spints may be obtained, by boiling half a pound d 2 of volatilis valga of flowers of sulphur with a pound of quicklime, in a gallon of water, till half the liquor is wafted; then putting the remainder into a retort, with eight ounces of powdered sal ammoniac, and distilling with a gradual fire. The spirit comes over loaded with the sulphur, and has a strong offensive smell, somewhat resembling that which rises in the precipitation of the lac. Hoffman says, a mixture of it with thrice its quantity of spirit of wine, given in doses of thirty or forty drops, proves a powerful diaphoretic; and that applied externally as a fomentation, with the addition of camphor, it alleviates gouty pains.
† Sulphur praecipitat. Ph. Lond.
The flowers of sulphur in substance seem to be preferable for internal use to any of the preparations: they are certainly more safe, and and perhaps not less effectual; as they do not heat or irritate the first: passages, and yet are evidently dissolved in the body and carried through the habit. They are mod commo-diously taken in the form of troches: the college of London directs for this purpose two ounces of the washed flowers, and four of double refined sugar, to be beaten together, and made up with mucilage of quince seeds; that of Edinburgh, one ounce of the flowers of sulphur, ten grains of flowers of benzoine, fifteen grains of factitious cinnabar, and two ounces of fine sugar, to be formed with mucilage of gum tragacanth: by the addition of the flowers of benzoine in this last prescription, the medicine is supposed to be rendered more efficacious in some disorders of the breast.
A sulphureous ointment, for the itch, is pre-pared, by mixing two ounces of the unwashed flowers, with three † or eight ‡ ounces of the simple ointment called pomatum †, or of hogs-lard ‡, and a scruple of essence of lemons. Half this quantity is, in most cases, sufficient for a cure; though it may be proper to renew the application, and touch the parts most affected, for some nights longer, till the whole quantity is exhausted. Some have been of opinion, that this external use of sulphur is unsafe; that as sulphur taken inwardly promotes the expulsion of impure humours and the eruption of cutaneous efflorescences, it must act, when outwardly applied, by repressing them. This consequence, however, does not follow; nor is it by affecting the humours that it performs the cure: for it equally removes the itch, whether used internally or externally, by its vapours diffused through the skin. All the danger, that is to be apprehended from sulphureous unguents, is that which may arise from the obstruction of the cutaneous pores by the unctuous matter; and to prevent any disorders from this cause, only a part of the body is to be anointed at one time.
Trochiscie sulphure Ph. Lond.
Trochifcie sulphure five diafulphuris Ph. Ed.
Unguentum sulphuris †Ph. Lond.
- e sulphure five antip-foricum ‡Ph. Ed.