(From emollio, to soften). Emollients, malacticos. Medicines which lessen the force of cohesion in our simple solids, and therefore soften and diminish the hardness and rigidity of the parts to which they are applied. They not only relax the solids, but also sheath and defend them from the acrimony of the fluids. When externally applied, they are termed emollientia; internally administered, demulcentia. (See Demulcentia.) Dr. Cullen thinks that emollients act upon the parts to which they are immediately applied, either by insinuating themselves into the substance of the solid, and diminishing the density and force of cohesion of the mixt; or, by being insinuated into the interstices of dry particles, they diminish the friction that might otherwise occur, and thereby render the whole more flexible.

We have not, however, the slightest evidence that any permanent change can be made in the mixt, by the temporary application of oil or warm water. The nervous system is relaxed by warmth, and the simple solids partake of the change; but it is temporary only. A permanent change is only produced by a warm climate, or some relaxing occupation. In the simple solids we only find a greater flexibility, in consequence of emollients, which in Dr. Cullen's system appears to be correctly explained.

Emollient topics are formed of water, oily and mucilaginous substances. Water, particularly when assisted a moderate heat, is plentifully absorbed from the whole surface of the body. It powerfully relaxes and dilutes, being miscible, though it does not enter into the composition of the solid, with almost every animal fluid. Oil relaxes and obtunds what is rigid and acrimonious; and mucilage equally sheaths sharp humours. In compositions of this kind, the aqueous part should be freely admitted, for the mucilages require to be largely diluted; gentle friction on the part increases their efficacy, by promoting the circulation; but the heat with which they are applied should not exceed what produces a pleasing sensation. From the relaxing and demulcent quality of emollient topics, they are useful sedative applications, when pain from tension, or from irritation, is excited: from the sympathy of the nerves, their efficacy is conveyed to distant and deep seated parts; and thus the warm bath proves so powerful a sedative. From the same principles these applications are also antispasmodics. Emollients, by relaxing the fibres, and promoting the circulation, hasten suppuration. See Aikin's Observations on the external Use of Preparations of Lead, p. 29, etc.