Emollients are those medieines which are supposed to soften and relax the fibres of the body, either by mechanically distending such as before were too closely, that is, preternaturally combined ; or, by penetrating into the interstices of the elementary fibres, and supplying those particles, from a deficiency of which they were too intimately united. Among the remedies of the former class are chiefly heat, and all unctuous applications; such as lard, wax, fat of venison, etc. : to the latter belong all juicy, mucilaginous, and saccharine substances, serving both as nutriment and medicines. Of this description are the expressed vegetable oils, fresh butter, decoctions of the marsh-mallows, infusions of linseed, etc.
Emollients are indicated : 1. When the fibres are in too rigid a state; 2. When they are spasmodically contracted ; 3. In all active inflammations ; and 4. In obstinate costiveness, or accumulations of feces in the intestines.