Antidotes (Gr.Antidotes 100364 against, andAntidotes 100365 to give), a term formerly used to signify remedies or preservatives against sickness, but now applied only to means for counteracting the effect of poisons. To get rid at once of the poisoning substance, to hinder its absorption, or to counteract its effects, are the general results to be sought for. The first of these objects is attained, when the poison is in the stomach, either by the stomach pump or an emetic. If a stomach pump is not at hand, an ordinary elastic syringe with a stomach tube may be made to do duty in washing and pumping out the stomach. The best emetics are those which act rapidly, especially mustard, which is almost always at hand, sulphate of copper (blue vitriol), or sulphate of zinc (white vitriol), the vomiting being encouraged and kept up by tickling the fauces, giving large draughts of warm water, etc. If the poison has been thrown into or under the skin, as by the bites of serpents or mad dogs, or wounds from poisoned weapons, it may be sucked out by the mouth or a cupping glass; the wounded part may be excised, or a ligature placed so as to hinder the entrance of the poison into the system.

Dr. Fayrer's elaborate experiments have shown that these procedures, to be of any avail, must be put in force with the utmost promptness, since only a few seconds suffice for the poison of venomous serpents to enter the circulation. The cauterization of such wounds either with the hot iron or powerful chemical agents, such as nitric acid, nitrate of silver, and ammonia, has been practised.

Many substances may be rendered insoluble or comparatively inert in the stomach by appropriate chemical reagents. Strong acids may be neutralized by magnesia, chalk, or soap; caustic alkalies by vinegar. We may use for arsenic freshly precipitated sesquioxide of iron, which every druggist should have the materials at hand for preparing at short notice. That which has been kept under water, or the so-called subcarbonate, may be used in case the first is not ready. The light magnesia, or freshly precipitated gelatinous magnesia, has also been used. A mixture of chalk and castor oil, of the consistence of cream, is said to envelop the particles of arsenic still adherent to the stomach after it has been washed, and render them harmless. For bichloride of mercury, albumen (eggs), gluten (wheat flour), or caseine (milk) may be used, but should at once be followed by an emetic, as the precipitate formed is not absolutely insoluble. With lead and baryta, sulphates form insoluble precipitates; with sulphate of copper or zinc carbonate of soda, and with oxalic acid carbonate of lime (chalk) may be used.

The vegetable astringents (galls, tannic acid, strong tea), and also a solution of iodine in iodide of potassium, form insoluble precipitates with some of the alkaloids. - The antidotes which fulfil the third indication, counteracting the effects of poisons, are not so well determined. Inflammation from irritant poisons is to be treated on general principles. Opium narcotism is to be treated by external irritants, such as cold affusion or forced exercise and strong coffee. The efficacy of belladonna as an antidote to opium, and vice versa, is not established. For prussic acid ammonia may be cautiously used. The symptoms of nux vomica and strychnia may be partially controlled by chloroform, chloral (if there is time for it to act), or bromide of potassium. Aconite has been proposed. Aconite poisoning calls for stimuli, as alcohol and ammonia.