Materia Medica

The materials used in the treatment of disease.


The application of remedial agents in the treatment of disease. It includes :

General Therapeutics

The application of curative agents other than drugs and medicines. E.g., diet, climate, baths, venesection. Rational Therapeutics. - Therapeutics based upon Pharmaco-dynamics. E.g., the use of digitalis for mitral disease. Empirical Therapeutics. - Therapeutics based upon clinical experiences only. E.g., the use of colchicum for gout. In this work we shall consider only that part of Therapeutics which is concerned with drugs. Pharmacology. - The study of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, including the origin, history, properties and uses of drugs and medicines. It includes :


The study of the physical and chemical characters of drugs, and the art of identifying and selecting them in accordance with those characters. Pharmaco-Dynamics. - The study of the action of remedial agents upon the organism of man, or the lower animals in a state of health. Therapeutics. - Although the correct definition of this term is as given above, yet it is, for want of a better one, often used as the name of the branch of study which deals with Therapeutics. Therapo-Dynamics has been used in the same sense, but is faulty. Experimental Therapeutics has been suggested, but is not comprehensive. Toxicology. - The study of the nature, effects and detection of poisons, substances which, introduced into the body inopportunely or in excessive amounts, are capable of destroying life. Courses of study and treatises upon Toxicology are, for convenience, commonly made to include the subject of antidotes and treatment, although this is, strictly speaking, a part of Therapeutics.


The art of preparing drugs in a form suitable for use as remedial agents and of dispensing them.


A code of remedial agents, usually with descriptions, definitions or directions, prepared by experts appointed by an authority of some kind, and intended to serve as a standard until superseded by a new one. By admitting certain articles to its pages, it declares them to be of importance, through the extent of their use, or to be entitled to confidence because of their value, or both, in the practice of medicine, but does not, necessarily, deny these properties to articles not admitted. It fixes their official title or titles, and often their leading synonym or synonyms. Usually it defines them, describes them with sufficient completeness to provide for identification and determination of the proper degree of purity, or strength, or both, and details and recommends such operations in preparing them as pertain to a dispensing pharmacy. It may, in addition, fix or limit doses and provide rules, formulae, tables, and other information and directions of importance in the practice of pharmacy and medicine. It also fixes a date upon which its authority shall commence. Everything contained in the United States Pharmacopoeia (abbreviation "U. S. P.") is said to be "official." "Not official," as used in this work, refers only to the U. S. P. Many drugs and preparations are so designated which are, however, official in the British Pharmacopoeia (abbreviation "B. P.")

The United States Pharmacopoeia is prepared by a committee, meeting at the beginning of each decade, consisting of delegates appointed by invitation extended by the President of the preceding Convention, to all incorporated medical and pharmaceutical societies and medical and pharmaceutical colleges, and to the United States Army, Navy, and Marine Hospital Service. By Congressional action the U. S. P. is made a legal authority in the conduct of the Department of Customs, of the Army, Navy, and Marine Hospital Service, and of the District of Columbia and other Territories within the jurisdiction of the United States laws. By legislative enactment it is also made a legal authority within the jurisdiction of many States. With these exceptions its authority is but moral. The last edition became official on January 1, 1894.