This section is from the "A Practical Treatise On Materia Medica And Therapeutics" book, by Roberts Bartholow. Also available from Amazon: A Practical Treatise On Materia Medica And Therapeutics
Methyl-pyrocatechin is the chemical designation, and it consists for the most part of creosote—from 60 to 90 per cent. It is a colorless, limpid, oily liquid, with a pleasant aromatic odor, having some suggestion of creosote. It is soluble in water in the proportion of 1 to 85. Dose, τη ij—τη v. Can be administered in pill or capsule, or dissolved in oil (cod-liver oil), or in brandy or whisky.
The value of creosote as a remedy for gastric disturbance—catarrh and other forms in which nausea and vomiting are pronounced symptoms—has long been recognized. Since guaiacol has been introduced into medical practice it has largely taken the place of creosote. It is less disagreeable in taste and odor, and is far less toxic. It is frequently given with bismuth. Rx Guaiacol, 3 j; bismuth, subnitrat.. vel subcarb., 3 iv; glycerini, f oz j; aquae chloroform, f oz j; aquae des-til., f oz ij. M. Sig.: One or two teaspoonfuls in water three times a day. Such a combination is highly useful as a corrective in the ileocolitis of children, in diarrhoea, etc.
Guaiacol has been much given within the last few years in phthisis. The testimony is somewhat conflicting, but on the whole it is evident that in cases not too far advanced it is beneficial. It does not appear to have any toxic influence on the bacillus. It does lessen cough and expectoration, diminishes the fever and sweats, and promotes nutrition. Beginning with one drop, the dose is raised as rapidly as possible to three to six drops and more three times a day. It is a good plan to give it in cod-liver oil. Guaiacol is also applied locally to the
E walls of the chest in some cases where pain indicates the localization of inflammatory action. It is a valuable local application in cases of rheumatism and gout, along the course of the nerve in sciatica and other neuralgiae.
Guaiacol is also used as an antiseptic dressing, in solution or ointment, in treatment of affections of the skin, in wounds or injuries where such applications are required, and under the same conditions in which creosote and carbolic acid are now employed.
Benzosol—Benzoate of Guaiacol.—These names have been applied to a combination of benzoic acid with guaiacol. Benzosol is the most frequently used of these designations. It contains about 54 per cent of guaiacol, and is a colorless, odorless, and nearly tasteless powder. It is insoluble in water, and is best exhibited in powder. It may also be pleasantly given mixed with chocolate, or be taken in capsules. The dose ranges from 2 to 10 grains.
By the action of carbon dioxide on creosote, creosotal is produced, and it is therefore the carbonate of creosote, just as the benzoic acid, combining with guaiacol, becomes the benzoate of guaiacol. Creosotal is a viscid, oily liquid, insoluble in water. The dose is from 15 minims to 3 j.
Under this designation is prepared a mixture of carbolic, salicylic, and benzoic acids by heat, and then dissolved in lactic acid. It is said that to the mixture thus made menthol and eucalyptol dissolved in glycerin are added. Phenosalyl is a clear, sirupy liquid, which dissolves readily in warm water, and to some extent in cold water (seven parts to one hundred parts). It has a pleasing and non-diffusing odor, which does not cling to clothing and instruments. The dose for internal administration ranges from 10 minims to 30 minims. A solution for topical use varies from 1 per cent to 10 per cent.
As respects the germicide power of these three remedies, the most effective is phenosalyl; the most suitable as a substitute for creosote or guaiacol in the treatment of phthisis is benzosol. It is as active as creosote as a remedy, while it is far more manageable. It diminishes cough, lessens expectoration, and stops the hectic fever, while the appetite and general nutrition steadily improve.
Phenosalyl containing several antiseptics should be an effective remedy, but the therapeutic value of such a combination is not measured by the standard of its chief ingredient. It is said to be a more effective germicide than carbolic acid. The most resistant of the pathogenic organisms is the staphylococcus pyogenes aureus, and this is destroyed by a one-per-cent solution of phenosalyl. It has proved to be equally effective against the bacillus of cholera, the bacillus of tubercle, the pneumococcus., and other forms of pathogenic bacilli. Although so destructive of organisms, it is not irritating to the skin, and does not corrode instruments. It has been employed chiefly in obstetric practice as an antiseptic topical application, in catarrh of the bladder by irrigation, in gonorrhoea, and in various skin diseases. In gastro-intestinal catarrh, in phthisis, and other wasting diseases, it may be substituted for other remedies of the group.
Salix. The bark of Salix alba Linné, and of other species of Salix (Nat. Ord. Salicaceae).
Salicin. A neutral principle obtained from several species of Salix and Populus (Nat. Ord. Salicaceae). Colorless, white, silky, shining crystals, permanent in the air, odorless, having a very bitter taste and a neutral reaction. Soluble in 28 parts of water, and in 30 parts of alcohol at 59° Fahr.; insoluble in ether or chloroform. Dose, Э j—3 ij- So little soluble, and light in weight and bulky, it were better administered in a wafer, powder, or emulsion.
Salicin promotes appetite and the digestion— properties which it possesses in common with other bitters. It is an antiferment, and has antiseptic powers similar to quinine and salicylic acid. The latter is a derivative of salicin. It is destructive to bacteria and vibrio, and prevents the reaction of amygdalin and emulsin, and of ptyalin on starch. It does not produce very sensible effects even in large doses, and is without toxic activity. It has been used as a substitute for quinine in the cases of disease to the treatment of which the latter is applied, especially in the treatment of intermittents. It is, however, much inferior to quinine.
Salicin is an excellent stomachic tonic in atonic dyspepsia, and is a serviceable remedy to prevent the fermentations which take place in the foods in cases of gastro-intestinal catarrh. In the chronic diarrhoea of children, it has been employed successfully. The good results obtained from it in these cases are doubtless due to its antiferment properties and its lack of irritating qualities.
The most important use of salicin thus far proposed is in the treatment of acute rheumatism. Its utility has been zealously maintained by Dr. Maclagan, to whom, also, we are indebted for much information in regard to its therapeutical properties. He asserts that the more acute the case the more beneficial the remedy; that the good effects are always experienced within forty-eight hours; that relief of pain and fall of temperature are the earliest effects produced. Maclagan gives from ten to thirty grains every two, three, or four hours, in powder mixed with water. "Fifteen grains every three hours is a medium dose."
Much confirmatory evidence has been published; but, on the whole, salicin is generally regarded as inferior to salicylic acid. There are conditions of the system, however, in which salicin should be preferred to any of its congeners. In those cases characterized by weak heart, whether from adherent pericardium, myocarditis, fatty degeneration, or other causes, salicylic acid may be dangerous. Again, when the vaso-motor system is depressed, salicin is far safer. As the curative results obtained from salicin are but little inferior to those from salicylic acid, whenever the latter is contraindicated the former may be confidently relied on, if efficiently administered. Authorities referred to:
Husemann, Drs. Aug. und Theod. Pflanzenstoffe, p. 959, et seq.
Maclagan, Dr. T. The Treatment of Acute Bheumatism by Salicin. The Lancet, March, 1876.