This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol2", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
But these emollient cataplasms may be continued too long. They should always be discontinued, when the sedative effect becomes the prominent evil; and sometimes, in such cases, a stimulant application will speedily correct the condition. Thus, after the use of poultices in ordinary paronychia, the end of the finger affected often swells much,-assumes an almost mush-like consistence, and, if an incision has been made, fungous granulations are apt to shoot up out of the wound. I have found that the withdrawing of the poultices, and the application of resin cerate, with a spirituous lotion, have immediately restored energy to the parts. Nor should emollient poultices be applied in cases of inflammation, in which suppuration is threatened, or liable to occur, but in which, nevertheless, it may be very desirable to prevent it.
The degree of consistence in the emollient application has been indicated in the definition. it should be so soft as readily to adapt itself to the shape of the surface, yet so consistent as to retain its form, and not run. The fixed oils added to poultices are often useful by maintaining the softness, particularly about the edges, where they are most apt to become dry, and thus prove irritating to the part. I believe glycerin is still better than the oils, as, in addition to the effect aimed at, it may possibly be absorbed, and aid the water in its action on the tissues.
Of the substances used as emollients, all or nearly all have been already treated of, and, when not, the material is so common and well known as to require no description. Little more, then, is required here, than to name the substances used, and give, in relation - to each one, such practical hints as may suggest themselves.
For application to small extents of surface, as in furuncles, paronychias, buboes, etc., these are on the whole as convenient as any other materials, being almost always at hand, and easily prepared. The poultice is made by simply crumbling the bread, and heating it with milk, stirring constantly until the two are thoroughly incorporated. Care should be taken to use sweet milk, as it is somewhat irritant when soured. A little perfectly bland olive oil, or fresh lard without salt, may be added, to retard the drying of the poultice, but they do not add to its emollient virtues.
Lini Farina. U. S., Br. - The British Pharmacopoeia directs the meal of flaxseed, previously deprived of its fixed oil by expression. This contains a large proportion of gummy matter or mucilage, and will make a good cataplasm; but the oil has the advantage of keeping the poultice longer in the proper soft condition, partly through its own fluidity, and partly by mechanically retaining the water. The meal of the unexpressed seed, as directed by the U. S. Pharmacopoeia, is, therefore, preferable. it is obtained by grinding. The cataplasm is made by adding the meal gradually to boiling water, till it is sufficiently thickened. About four ounces are required for half a pint of water. The flaxseed cataplasm is one of the best that can be used, if made out of meal that has not become acrid by keeping. • 3. Slippery Elm Bark. - Ulmus. U. S. - The ground slippery elm bark, in consequence of the abundance of its mucilage, forms an excellent emollient cataplasm, prepared exactly in the same manner as that of flaxseed meal. The ground bark is a loose, very light, coarse powder, in which, along with a fine dust, there are many fibres not completely pulverized. I have been told that many persons sift the powder, retaining the finer for internal, and the coarser for external use. This is wrong. The whole powder should be used in the formation of poultices, as likely to be more completely unirritating to delicate surfaces. Some bland fixed oil, incorporated with this cataplasm, might be useful by longer preserving its softness.
Avenae Farina. U. S. - if oatmeal be gradually added to boiling water until it assumes the consistence of a thick paste, it forms an excellent emollient cataplasm. .
Zeae Farina. - Indian mush is much used, in this country, where large cataplasms are required, as, for example, to cover the anterior surface of the abdomen, or a large portion of the chest. The poultice is made, as the others, by adding Indian meal gradually to boiling water, and stirring until the proper consistence is obtained.
7. Most of the roots of ordinary edible vegetables may be used for the same purpose. Potatoes, turnips, and carrots are most frequently employed. They are thoroughly boiled, and then mashed into a pulp. The unboiled carrot root has also been recommended; but this is not strictly emollient, being somewhat excitant in consequence of the presence of a little volatile oil. in this state, however, it sometimes answers a good purpose in indolent and flabby ulcers, by gently stimulating them, and will sometimes cause the ulcers which follow burns to heal kindly.
Whatever substance is used in preparing emollient cataplasms, it will often be advisable to cover the surface of the poultice with a piece of gauze, and stitch the edges of this to those of the outer covering, in order to prevent the escape of the material. When the poultice is applied over the eye, the external meatus of the ear, or a wound of irregular surface, this precaution is peculiarly necessary.