This section is from the book "Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by W. Hale White. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics..
A. Aphrodisiacs. - These are substances which increase sexual desire. There are conceivably many ways in which this might take place. There is a centre in the lumbar spinal cord, irritation of which causes erection, and this is capable of being excited by afferent impulses proceeding from many parts of the body, but especially from the cerebrum, and the genital organs themselves, or the parts in their immediate neighborhood. The lumbar centre appears to be very dependent upon the general health, and therefore substances which improve this are indirectly aphrodisiacs.
The following drugs are known as aphrodisiacs; their mode of action is not certainly known:
(4) Cannabis Indica.
B. Anaphrodisiacs. - We do not know for certain of any drugs which have a depressant effect upon the lumbar centre. Most anaphrodisiacs act by decreasing or removing some irritation which is reflexly producing an aphrodisiac effect, but some probably act centrally.
Drugs used as anaphrodisiacs are -
(2) Potassium iodide.
C. Ecbolics or Oxytocics are remedies which during or immediately after parturition increase uterine action.
They are -
(6) Powerful purgatives.
Of these ergot is by far the most important. Occasionally some of these drugs will act upon the gravid uterus to produce abortion before parturition has begun. They have all of them been used criminally for this purpose.
D. Emmenagogues are substances used to increase the menstrual flow. Diminution of the menstrual flow is a symptom of so many diseases that a large number of drugs which remedy these are indirect emmenagogues, but the substances which seem to have a special action in increasing the menstrual flow are -
(1) All Ecbolics.
(2) Manganese dioxide.
Among the many indirect emmenagogues the commoner are purgatives, iron, cod-liver oil and strychnine, which act by improving the general health. Hot foot- or hip-baths, especially if mustard be added, often aid the onset of menstruation.
E. Substances which depress Uterine Action.- These are employed to restrain the contractions of the gravid uterus.
They are -
(3) Chloral hydrate.
(5) Cannabis Indica.
(7) Antimony and potassium tartrate.
F. Drugs acting on the Secretion of Milk.
Galactagogues are drugs which increase the secretion of milk.
Of these pilocarpus is the most powerful, but its effects soon pass off. The leaves of the castor-oil plant are used, applied as a poultice, and a decoction, or the fluid extract of them, given internally at the same time. Alcohol is very feeble. The secretion is so much under the control of the general health that the best way to insure an abundant secretion is to keep the general health as good as possible.
Antigalactagogues are drugs which decrease the secretion of milk.
Belladonna, either given internally or applied locally, is very efficient, probably acting on the mammary gland as on the sweat glands.
The following drugs, if given, are excreted by the milk, and are therefore taken in by the child: - Oil of anise, oil of dill, garlic, oil of turpentine, oil of copaiba, and probably all volatile oils, sulphur, rhubarb, senna, jalap, scam-mony, castor oil, opium, iodine, indigo, antimony, arsenic, bismuth, iron, lead, mercury, zinc and potassium iodide. It is clear that these must be administered with care to the mother; for example, copaiba or turpentine will make the milk so unpleasant that the child will not take it. The above purgatives, given to the mother, may cause diarrhoea in the child. Opium should not be given in large doses to the mother. On the other hand, mercury, arsenic, and potassium iodide may be administered to the child by being given to her.