After removing any crude or irritating matters from the intestines by its purgative property, it acts as an astringent and tonic, and is often by itself sufficient to effect a cure. Some care, however, is necessary in ascertaining the cause of the Diarrha, as in the inflammatory form it proves injurious. The astringency of Rhubarb is increased, and its purgative power decreased, by the process of roasting; and in this state it is strongly advised by Mr. Hoblyn. * He directs it to be burnt in an iron crucible, until it oses two-thirds of its weight, and then to be given in doses of gr. v. - x. when necessary. He states that, in the Diarrhoea of Phthisis, he found it more useful than Chalk or Opium.
2366. In Gout, Rhubarb, taken regularly between the intervals, proves highly serviceable; often, apparently, warding off an attack. At the period of an impending paroxysm, Sir H. Halford states that he has had incomparably the most satisfaction in giving a few grains of Rhubarb, and double the quantity of Carbonate of Magnesia, every day, either at bedtime or early in the morning; or, under evident weakness of the powers of digestion, fss. of T. Rhei Co., with gr. xv. of Potas. Carb. in some light bitter infusion daily, before the principal meal. For the same purpose, Dr. Graves advises the following mixture: - Aurant. Cort. ij., Pulv. Rhei j., Pulv. Aloes c. Canelia, (D. Ph.) ij., Spt. Vin. Gallici Oiv., M. Dose, a table-spoonful of the strained liquor in water, night and morning.
2367. In Urticaria, Rhubarb, from its carminative property, is the aperient which is most indicated, particularly when the disease occurs in young females. The following draught is advised by Dr. Houghton:* - Pulv. Rhei, Mag. Carb. aa gr. x. - xv., Spt. Ammon. A. exx., Aq. Cinnam. fiss., M. ft. haust. In the Aphtha of Children, a similar formula, in small doses, proves highly serviceable.
* Lancet, 1840-41, vol. i. p. 790.
Copland observes that there are few remedies that deserve a more favourable notice than Rhubarb. It received the warm approbation of Baglivi and Lister, who recommended it in conjunction with aromatics; and of Brocklesby, Morton, Buckwald, and Harris. Dr. Baillie prescribes it with Laudanum. Dr. Copland, after quoting these authorities, observes that he has employed it frequently as an aperient, both in powder and in infusion, and he combines it with vegetable tonics, aromatics, and Opium, with the intention of promoting the digestive and assimilating powers; and he adds that, in his opinion, it is one of the best remedies which can be used in this disease.
Copland also considers that the diuretic action of Rhubarb is deserving of notice. When given, he observes, either in small doses, or in infusion as a vehicle for other substances of the same nature - as the saline diuretics and the preparations of Squills, of Juniper, or of Colchicum - it is a useful medicine in dropsies.
2370. To foul and indolent Ulcers, the application of finely-powdered Rhubarb was first proposed by Sir E. Home.§ It has since been occasionally employed. Mr. Alfred Markwick|| relates a case of sloughing venereal ulcer, which speedily yielded to its use. It causes great constitutional irritation.