Or Carminativa. Carminatives. In general, by these words are meant such medicines as are used to expel wind from the alimentary canal. The ancients had much of mystery in their practice, and celebrated these medicines by singing verses when they administered them, as by their frequent speedy relief they seemed to act as by a charm; so from carmen, the Latin word for a verse, the word carminative is derived. Others derive it from carmino, to card wool, or cleanse it from foulness, or from Carolina, charms. They were supposed to attenuate and discuss wind or vapours, and promote their discharge by perspiration. We have already had occasion to mention, that, in the process of digestion, much air is expelled, which is again combined with the alimentary mass, and afterwards separated by the different secretory organs. When this process is disturbed by accident, or not properly carried on in consequence of weakness, the air is not combined, but accumulates in the stomach, producing pain from the distention. But, though the accumulation of wind will alone create great inconvenience, and prevent its own escape, yet it seems seldom to amount to a disease, except the stomach be spasmodically contracted. When such spasms take place, wind, before unnoticed, creates uneasiness. Car-minatives, therefore, at present, are confined to such medicines as, by their stimulating and antispasmodic power, increase the action of the primae viae, take oft spasmodic affections, and thus promote the expulsion of flatulencies.
Our own lighter aromatics, particularly peppermint, are highly useful; occasionally combined with ardent spirits. The fetid gums also, as the asafoetida and galbanum, are employed with great success; but, perhaps, the chief and most effectual carminative is opium.