Alkaloids are bases capable of combining with acids to form salts, and which exist as proximate principles in certain vegetables, and possess the properties of an alkali in a greater or less degree. Alkaloids are, therefore, the active principles of medicines.


Medicinal Baths are composed of tepid water, with the addition of saline, emollient, narcotic or stimulant substances, such as salt, mustard, etc., etc.

Capsules are short tubes made of glycerin, and are agreeable forms for administering medicines which are unpleasant to the taste.

Cataplasms are poultices or plasters composed of soft, macerated preparations, to be applied externally.

Collyria are preparations applied to the eyes. They are sometimes dry, but generally liquid, consisting of infusions, decoctions or distilled waters, with the addition of various medicinal substances.

Confections, or Electuaries, are preparations made into a pulpy mass, with sugar or honey, mucilage or glycerin.

Decoctions are solutions made by boiling certain vegetable ingredients in a fluid, for the purpose of extracting the parts soluble at that temperature.

Dentifrices are antiseptic and alkaline mixtures, in the form of powders and pastes, for cleaning the teeth.

Emulsions are preparations composed of oils, resins, etc., suspended by means of mucilage, yolk of egg, sugar, etc.

Enemata, or Clysters, are liquid preparations injected into the rectum by means of a syringe, as auxiliaries to or substitutes for cathartics.

Extracts are preparations obtained by the evaporation of a vegetable solution, in the form of juices, infusions or decoctions, to a more or less fluid consistence.

Fomentations are fluid preparations applied to the surface of the body by means of a sponge, flannel or soft cloth.

Fumigations are the vapors of medicinal substances employed to purify infected air by absorbing or otherwise counteracting deleterious gases. They are also employed in diseases of the skin, and may be sometimes substituted for a local bath.

Gargles are washes for the mouth and throat, and are generally astringent and stimulating, sedative, refrigerant, etc. To be of any service, gargles or mouth washes must be frequently applied and persevered in for some time. They are employed in cases of inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membrane of the mouth and fauces.

Glycerites are combinations of medicinal substances with glycerin.

Glycerols are combinations made by dissolving medicinal agents in glycerin.

Infusions are preparations obtained by pouring a hot or cold fluid upon vegetable substances, for the purpose of extracting their medicinal properties.

Inhalants are remedies in the form of steam, for inhalation directly to the lungs.

Injections are medicated fluids thrown into a natural or preternatural cavity of the body by means of a syringe.

Liniments, or Embrocations, are unctuous medicinal preparations to be applied externally by means of friction.

Lotions are liquid preparations or washes, to be applied to the body externally.

Mouth-Washes are liquid preparations, antiseptic in character, and also containing either astringents, sedatives or refrigerants, according to the condition of the mouth to be corrected.

Mixtures are fluid preparations containing several medicinal ingredients, to be administered by the mouth.

Mucilages are solutions of colloid substances, such as acacia, in water.

Ointments, or Cerates, are preparations of the consistence of lard, composed of wax, lard, or resin, with solid or liquid ingredients, for topical application. Cerates are somewhat harder than ointments, especially where wax is substituted for the lard.

Oleates are medicinal ointments. (See Medicinal Oleates.)

Pills are simple or compound medicinal agents, of a firm consistence, spherical or globular in shape, and generally not exceeding five or six grains in weight.

Plasters are preparations of a solid glutinous composition, which, at the ordinary temperature of the body, adheres to the part on which it is placed.

Powders are dry substances in minute subdivision.

Poultices are preparations for applying continuous heat and moisture and softening the tissues. Their effects are to cause an afflux of blood to the part, dilate the vessels and soften the tissues by the influence of both heat and moisture, and render the diffusion of the fluids easy. In inflammatory conditions, the stasis of the vessels implicated is relieved, the tension of the parts lessened and resolution brought about. Where the stage of exudation is present, these preparations promote the increase and migration of the white corpuscle and facilitate the escape of purulent matter. Poultices also relieve the pain of inflamed parts by relaxing the tissues, and thereby removing pressure from the sensory nerve filaments; they relieve pain in parts distant from the points where their applications are made, and have both a local and systemic effect. Poultices are generally composed of such substances as flaxseed meal, powdered slippery-elm bark and corn meal; also bread and milk are sometimes employed.

The substance dissolved in hot water is spread upon soft muslin of such a size as to allow one free end to fold over the mass and intervene between it and the surface of the skin; or it may be inclosed in a small bag of muslin. Glycerin spread over the surface of a poultice will prevent its drying. Laudanum is often added to mitigate the pain, if necessary; also charcoal in the form of powder. A yeast poultice is made of brewer's yeast with enough of flaxseed to give it a proper consistence. Poultices should not be allowed to remain too long, as their effect will cause the skin to become white, wrinkled and pulpy, and lead to the formation of small boils or abscesses; also, in case of wounded or ulcerated surfaces, their too long use will cause the granulations to become pale and flabby and prevent healing; besides, if the granulations are large, they lower the tone and vigor of the system, depress the circulation, and exhaust the irritability of the vaso-motor nerves, and thus prevent healing. Poultices are employed in boils, carbuncles, irritable ulcers, gangrenous sloughs. The charcoal and yeast poultices are used in foul wounds. Poultices are also applied with benefit in pneumonia, pleuritis, pericarditis, hepatitis, peritonitis, faucial inflammation, etc.

Spirits are solutions of colorless substances, or oils in rectified spirit.

Stearoptenes are the solid constituents of volatile oils.

Suppositories are solid preparations, of a round, cylindrical or conical form, to be introduced into the anus; and are composed of sedative, astringent, or purgative medicines, combined with suet, cocoa-butter, honey or soap.

Syrups are liquid conserves, made by dissolving sugar with some plant, or in water, either with or without medicinal impregnation.

Tablets are small flat preparations made from drugs and sugar of milk, which have been minutely subdivided, admixed, and compressed.

Tinctures are preparations in the form of solutions of the active portions of medicinal substances, in rectified or proof spirits. A tincture is called simple when it holds only one substance in solution, and compound, when two or more ingredients are submitted to the solvent.