This section is from the book "A Text-Book Of Materia Medica And Pharmacy For Medical Students", by Velyien Ewart Henderson. Also available from Amazon: A Text-Book of Materia Medica and Pharmacy for Medical Students.
"Misce" like "Recipe" is the second person singular form of the imperative mood of a verb of the second conjugation, while "signa" is the form of the same tense, number, person, and mood of a verb of the first. "Mistura" is the nominative of a noun of the first declension. "Fiat" is the third person singular of the present subjunctive and is an example of the jussive use of that tense as a mild imperative. "Drachmam unam" is the accusative governed by some such verb understood as "capiat" an other example of the jussive use of the subjunctive. "Ter" is a numeral adverb. "Die" the ablative of the noun "dies" after the preposition "in." "Cibos" is the accusative plural of "Cibus." Several other similar stereotyped forms are in use in the signature of which the following is one of the more common "Drachma una ter in die sumenda." The translation would be the same. "Drachma" is in the nominative singular and has agreeing with it the gerundive of the transitive verb "sumo." This use of the gerundive signifies duty or necessity and hence an order in a mild form.
The following points in regard to the manner of writing should be noted. The custom has been adopted of writing the numeral expressing the quantity after the abbreviation for the measure. The numeral is written in small Roman numerals except in the case of fractions, or where one wishes to draw special attention to the quantity; in both these cases the Arabic numerals are used. Further the "'i's" in the Roman numerals should have a dash above the letter and the dot should be carefully and distinctly written above the dash, so that they may be counted in confirmation of the number of strokes below the dash, should any question arise.
Abbreviations should be used with the greatest care and only such as are certain to be understood. For example such abbreviations, as "chlor" which might mean chloral, chloroform, chloridum, or as "hyd" which might stand for hydrargyrum, hydras, or hydrochloridum, are not per-misssible. The usual abbreviations for common words will be found in the vocabulary.
Were the above prescription written in the metric system it would be as follows (in order to fill a standard bottle of 150 c.c. it has been recalculated and now contains 42 doses).
Potassii Acet........... 41.5 gms.
Liq. Ammon. Acet..... 17.5 c.c.
Spt. AEth. Nit......... 10.25 c.c.
Infus. Buchu..........ad 150.00 c.c.
Gm. vel. c.c
The quantities are as a rule written in Arabic numerals, and the measure if the prescription be not written on paper with a heading as shown on the right follows the numerals as is shown on the left. Fractions are always written as decimals and again paper as printed on the right with a perpendicular line to distinctly mark the decimal point is a great advantage and a great safe-guard. Such prescriptions when read are commonly read in English and not in Latin.
The mathematics involved in prescription writing is not more difficult than is the grammar. Two points must first be decided, (1) For how many days and how many doses a day are you going to give the medicine? Taking the case used above as an illustration, we will suppose that you have decided to give three doses a day for a period of ten days, in all thirty doses. (2) How much of each ingredient do you wish to give at each dose? We will suppose that you intend to give 15 grs. of Potassium Acetate, 7 min. of Solution of Ammonium Acetate, 4 min. of the Spirit of Nitrous Ether, and some of the Infusion of Buchu (the latter is a comparatively inactive flavouring ingredient and may be given in considerable doses). You have already only 11 mins. of fluid; the acetate is very soluble and would readily dissolve in 30 min. therefore there is no need to give a larger dose than 1 fl. dr. The total quantity that you will want is 30 fl. dr. 32 fl. dr. make 4 fl. oz., which is the size of a standard bottle. The prescription will then be written for 32 doses, or of Acetate of Potassium 32 x 15 grs. = 480 grs. one Troy ounce; of Solution of Ammonium Acetate, 32 x 7 = 224 min. or approximately 3 1/2 fl. dr. (210 min.); of Spirits of
Nitrous Ether 4 x 32 = 128 min. approximately 2 fl. dr. Similar calculations may readily be made for any other prescription. It is customary to round off the amounts to make even numbers in drachms or ounces if the drugs be not very potent but if potent this practice should never be followed. The amount prescribed should suffice to fill a standard bottle. The standard bottle sizes are 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 16 oz.
PharmacopŒial Nomenclature. - The principles of the pharmaco-poeial nomenclature are very simple. As far as possible the Latin names are direct equivalents of the English names. . . . The names of acids may be considered as direct translations of the English names. For example "Hydrochloric Acid, becomes"Acidum Hydrochloricum." "Acid-um" is a neuter noun of the second declension with a genitive "Acidi." "Hydrochloricum" is an adjective (termination -us, -a, -um) agreeing with "Acidum" in gender, number and case. There may even, as in English, be a second adjective in the title, for example "Acidum Hydrochloricum Dilutum," or "Acidum Aceticum Glaciale" ("Glacialis" is an adjective of the third declension nom. -is, -e, gen. -is.).....
The names of salts may again be looked upon as the Latin form of their English names, though not their official English names, for example "Potassium Bromide," "Bromide of Potassium," becomes "Potassii Bromidum." Bromidum the name of the acid constituent is a noun of the second declension as is Potassium but the latter appears in the partitive genitive in the official name. . . All salts whose names end in -"'ide" have names in Latin ending -idum. The names of salts ending in "-ate" have Latin names in a "-as" (gen. -atis) and are masculine nouns of the third declension, example " Sodium Citrate " is "Sodii Citras." Those salt names ending in "-ite" have Latin names masculine and of the third declension in "-is" (gen. -itis), example "Sodium Sulphite, Sodii Sulphis."
The names of alkaloids become in Latin feminine substantives of the first declension with a termination "-ina" (gen. -in), example Strychnina. Those of glucosides, bitters and neutral principles are neuter substantitives of the second declension with a termination "-inum" (gen. -ini), example Aloin, Aloinum.
The names of parts of plants may be looked upon also as direct translations, example " Belladonna Leaves, Leaves of Belladonna, BelladonnŠ Folia," Folia being a neuter noun in the plural (nom. sing, folium gen. folii pl. folia, gen. foliorum). " BelladonnŠ" is the genitive of the feminine noun of the first declension, "Belladonna."
The names of preparations are again similarly formed "Tincture of Opium, Tinctura Opii"; Tinctura" is a feminine noun of the first declension "Opii" the genitive of the neuter noun of the second declension "Opium."
Some of the cases where the student may find it difficult to understand the Pharmacopaeial nomenclature are noted in this paragraph: - Liquor
AmmoniŠ, Solution of Ammonia (the hydrate) and hence Spiritus Am-monise Aromaticus, Aromatic Spirit of Ammonia, but Liquor Ammonii Acetatis, Solution of the Acetate of Ammonium (NH3); Vinum Antimoniale, Antimonial (adj.) Wine; Liquor Arsenicalis; Arsenical (adj.) Solution; but Liquor Arsenici Hydrochloricus, Hydrochloric (adj) solution of Arsenicum (an old word for Acidum Arseniosum) and Liquor Arsenii Hydrargyri Iodide, solution of the Iodide of Arsenium (the metal) and of Mercury.
The formation of the genitive and plural should as a rule give no trouble but the following nouns have somewhat irregular genitives. Adeps, Adipis, Mel, Mellis; Fel, Fellis; Mas, Maris; Rhizoma, Theobroma, Physos-tigma, enema, gargarisima, make the genitive in -atis; Aloe, Aloes; Can-tharis, Cantharidis; Rhas, Rhaeados; Colocynthis, Colocynthidis; Flos. Floris; Digitialis, Hydrastis, Sinapis do not change in the genitive; Jabor-andi, Kino, Catechu, Buchu, Kousso, Peru, Tolu, and most names ending in "1" are indeclinable. Spiritus, Fructus, Cornus, haustus are nouns of the fourth declension with genitives in -as.
The gender of Latin substantives may usually be judged by their termination, substantitives in -us and -or being usually masculine (exceptions names of plants in -us, Prunus Virginiana), those in -a are feminine; those in -um and -on and indeclinable nouns neuter.
Vocabulary of words commonly occuring in the Inscription. The parts of speech are indicated by the usual abbreviations, as is the gender of the nouns, the case governed by prepositions; the genitive, singular (or plural in the case of plural nouns) and the plural will also be given for substantives and the terminations of the nominative for adjectives, also the accepted abbreviations.