CHAP. XXIV. Of Medicaments in General, and of their Operations.
I. What • Medica∣ment is.HAving treated of the
Diseases that afflict the
Man, it remains now that we add something concerning
Medicins. Now a
Me∣dicament in general
is that which being applied to the Body of a Sick person, is able by its virtue, to reduce it from a Praeternatural state, to a Na∣tural.
II. Of the se∣veral sorts of Medica∣ments.
as Roots, Barks, Leaves, Flowers, Fruits, Seeds, Gums, Juices, Ani∣mals
and their Excrements, Products of the Sea, Salts, Stones, Minerals
Other are Compound;
and these again are either Internal,
which by the Mouth
are taken into the Body:
And these again are either Preparatory,
otherwise called Digestive,
which prepare and digest peccant Humours,
in order to their Expulsion, as Syrups
which evacuate the Matter that hath been prepared and ripened by the fore-going Digestives, as Purging Electuaries, Pills;
and those the Latins call Linctus,
and the Arabians Lohoch;
which are used to strengthen the Body
or rather when the Violence and Continuance of the Disease
hath greatly weakned it; as likewise to remove any Obstructions or Distemperature in the Bowels or Humours of the Body;
and take away the Symptoms of the Disease
(as Pain, Watching, Loosness, Swounding,)
such as are Cordial Con∣fections, Powders, Troches. External Medicaments,
are those that are outwardly applied to that part of the Body
which is chiefly affected, and therefore are called Topicks,
because they are applied to the place grieved; such are Oils, Ointments, Cere∣cloaths,
III. Of Medi∣cins Com∣mon and Specific•▪
But to leave the more particular Disquisition into these Matters to Physicians,
I shall only in a few words speak something of the Common Medi∣caments,Page 316
viz. V•mits, Purges, Diure•icks, Sudo∣rificks
or Diaphoreticks, Cordials
and then pass to Specificks,
and briefly declare the Nature of them in gene∣ral, and the manner of their Operation.
IV. Vomits or Vomitory Medicins.
VOMITS are Medicins
that evacuate the Stomach,
and drive out peccant humours
upwards, and that by drinking luke-warm Water,
but more readily if some Oil
or melted Butter
be mingled with it▪ which will make the Stomach
the more to loath it, and therefore the more easily to dis∣charge it. Besides these common things, several Chymical Preparations
are made use of to this purpose, as Salt of Vitriol, Glass of Antimony, Flowers of Antimony, Crocus Metallorum, Sul∣phur of Antimony, Mercurius Vitae,
of all which Preparations,
when dissolved, do so violently twitch and affect the Fibres
of the Sto∣mach,
as to cause a Conlvulsive Motion both of that and the Neighbour Parts, viz.
the Porus Choledochus,
or Passage that conveys the Gall,
and the Ductus
of the Pancreas,
by which Colvulsive motion
whatsoever is contained in them is carried up to the Stomach,
and from thence to the Mouth;
and not only so, but by these Vomits
the serous part of the Blood
is often drawn out of the Extremities of the Arteries,
carried up to the Stomach,
and thence evacuated by the Mouth.
V. Purging Medicins.
PURGING MEDICINS are such as move and loosen the Belly,
and drive out the pec∣cant Humours
in the Body
such as are Roses, Violets, Cassia, Manna, Aloes, Rhu∣barb,
besides manifold compound Purgatives.
The reason of the operation of these Catharticks
is, be∣cause they painfully affect the Spirits
that are in the Fibres
of the inward parts of the Body,
and pro∣voke them to excretory contractions; and more∣over raise a Fermentation
in the Humours,
and thereby produce several fusions and separations of their parts. For tho' Manna
and other such like Gentle Purgers,
which consist of very subtil parts, do not at all, or very little disturb the Stomach;
yet as soon as they are past the Py∣lorus,
or outlet of the Stomach
into the Guts,
they begin to irritate and twitch the most sensible Mem∣bran
of the Gut Duodenum,
and before they get any further, almost spend their whole force there. And because by the twitching and vellication of this Mmembran,
the Porus Biliaris
or passage of the Gall
is considerably shaken, therefore they pro∣duce Bilious dejections.
VI. Purging Medicins do not act Electively.
The opinion of old was, that Catharticks
pur∣ged Humours Electively,
that is, by choice, as evacuating one Humour
rather than another: They were induced to be of this Opinion, because they often found that the Excrements
evacuted by pur∣ging Medicins,
were of a Yellowish,
and sometimes of a Blackish Colour,
whence they concluded, that some Catharticks, purged Choler,
and others Me∣lancholy,
as it were choosing and separating them from the rest of the Humours.
But this is no bet∣ter than an error; for tho' there be purgative Medicins
that evacuate Choler, Phlegm, Melan∣choly
and Watry Humours,
which gave occasion to Physicians
to distinguish Catharticks
into Chola∣gogues, Phlegmagogues, Melanogogues
as for Example, Rhubarb
and Scammony, purge Choler
rather than Phlegm;
and the Troches Alhandal,
rather than other Humours.
Yet is not this so to be understood, as if Scammony,
for in∣stance, purged Choler
only, without touching any other Humours;
or Mercurius Dulcis
only expel∣led Phlegm;
for it is certain that it purgeth other Humours
also, tho' not so copiously as that of Phlegm;
and therefore some Pungative Medicins
may well be called purgers of Choler,
and other Phlegm,
&c. for tho' they do not purge that Hu∣mour
only, whence they take their denomination, yet they do purge that Humour
more copiously and signally than any other.
DIURETICKS are Medicins
that purge by Urin,
such as are the Roots of Smallage, Parsly, Radish, Bitter Almonds, Spirit of Salt
and of Nitre, Juice of Limons
and of Sorrel, White-wine, Renish-wine
which when taken into the Body,
do precipitate the mass
and separate the Wheyish part from it, which soon after is evacuated. For the particles
of these Diuretick Medicins
by their pointedness and thin∣ness penetrate the Vessels,
and by diluting, inci∣ding and dissolving the Blood,
cause a great quan∣tity of Wheyish Matter
to be separated from it in the Reins,
and to be thence evacuated by the Ure∣ters.
VIII. Sudorificks or Diaph•∣reticks.
SUDORIFICKS are Medicaments
that provoke Sweat,
such as are the Leaves, Roots
of Carduus Benedictus, Contrayerva, Angelica,
or the like, being taken either in Pou∣der, Decoction, Conserve
The rea∣son of their Operation
is, because they consist of such particles
as are very friendly to the Stomach
and therefore do not produce any Con∣vulsions or Excretory Motions
in them; only the mass
being by them Rarefied and Heated, and consequently more swiftly circulated, do put the Body
into a Sweat.
Moreover, the particles
of these Diaphoreticks
entring the Vessels
which are implanted in the Stomach, mix themselves with the Blood,
and raising a Fermentation
in it, make it run more swiftly through the Veins
to the Heart,
and there entring with some impetuousness, encreaseth the Beating
of it, by which means the whole mass
being rarefied and enkindled, rusheth more swiftly through the Arteries
to all the outward parts▪ which not be∣ing able to admit it, nor the Veins
to send it all back to the Heart,
a considerable part of the se∣rum
of the Blood
is evacuated through the Pores
CORDIAL MEDICINS are such as are proper to restore and kindle the interrupted or weakned Fermentations
of the Blood
in the Heart.
Wherefore these Remedies
are not called Cardiaca
because they are appropriated to strengthen and comfort the Heart,
as are all things that are Spirituous
such as Saffron, Wine,
especially to those who are not accustomed to the drinking
of it, and Strong Waters.
The reason of which operation
is because their Volatil Particles
entring the Blood,
separate all Heteroge∣neous
and Malignant Particles
from it. Neither is the Passage from the Stomach
to the Blood
so long, that there should be need to fear that the virtue of these Medicaments
would be lost by the way. For it is evident that the inward Nervous Coat
of the Stomach
is all interwoven with multi∣tudesPage 317
so that Medicaments,
not only Purgative,
but any others may exert their operations upon the Blood,
before ever they pass out of the Stomach.
OPIATS are those Medicines
which have Opium
for their Basis
or chief ingredient, and are proper for the laying of Noxious Vapours,
and as∣swaging of Grievous Symptoms,
for the strength∣ning of the inward parts, the removing of Pain,
and recruiting of the Animal Spirits.
The man∣ner of their performing these effects is this, the particles
of these Medicines
do put a stop to the out∣going or efflux of the Animal Spirits
and sup∣press them; so that during the operation of the Opium,
they do flow much more sparingly to the inwards and other parts of the Body.
And accord∣ingly the Pulse
of the Heart,
are diminished in their swiftness and force, and some∣times cause a difficulty of Breathing,
and a weak∣ness of the Pulse,
with a listlesness to move, and drowziness over the whole Body.
XI. Why the Author treats of Specificks.
Next after the common Medicins
follow SPE∣CIFICKS, whose Virtues
discovered by Expe∣rience, are consistent with the Principles
of our Philosophy,
and may be perspicuously unfolded by them. Some Galenists
indeed have altogether rejected Specificks,
probably because they found themselves unable to explicate the manner of their operation.
XII. What a Specifick is.
The word Specifick
is by Physicians
used in a threefold Sense; for some call that a Specifical Me∣dicin,
which is peculiarly friendly to some particu∣lar part of the Body,
as to the Heart, Liver, Brain,
&c. Others call that a Specifical Medicin,
which by a peculiar Quality doth evacuate some determinate Humour,
are said to Evacuate Choler; Senna, Melancholy; Ja∣lap
and Diagridium, Serosities
But more frequently that is called a Specifical Medi∣cin,
which peculiarly cures some particular Disease,
as the Pleurisie, Tissick, Colick, Dropsie,
and in this Sense
I take it here.
XIII. Whether there be any Specifical Medicins.
It may therefore be enquired, whether there be any such Specifical Medicins.
Some Dogmatical Physicians,
leaning too much upon the Principles of the Scholastick Philosophy,
will admit of no Me∣dicinal Virtues
that cannot be reduced to their ma∣nifest Qualities: But GALEN somewhere com∣plains of these Men, that they either plainly deny matter of Fact, or else assign such causes to these effects as are not sufficient to explain them. So that not only Galen,
but many other Learned Phy∣sicians,
both Modern and Ancient, do maintain that there are Specifick Medicins.
XIV. The effects of Speci∣ficks may be explain∣ed Mecha∣nically.
It may also be queried, whether the effect of Specificks
explicable, that is, whe∣ther they be consistent with the Principles
of me∣chanical Philosophy;
to which I answer, that the Principles
of the said Philosophy
are of such a vast comprehension, that he who considers it, will not at all question, but that the effects of these Me∣dicins
may be explained in such a manner, as shall not in the least contradict the said Princi∣ples▪
XV. In order to the ex∣plaining of the Effect: of Speci∣ficks, the make or structure of Mans Body is to be noted.
To make out this we are to observe, that the Animated Body
is not to be considered as a meer Statue,
as if it were nothing else but a dead heap of several parts and matters whereof it con∣sists; for to speak the truth, it is a most wonder∣ful
and curious Machin
composed of fixt, liquid and spirituous Substances,
with such exquisit Artifice
joined together, that frequently we cannot judge so well concerning the action of an Agent that acts upon it, from the Power
and forces of the Agent,
considered in it self, as by the effects proceeding from it, because of the mutual action of the parts of this Living Machin
upon each other.
XVI. Another thing to be noted about the opera∣tion of Spe∣cificks.
It is likewise to be observed from the learned Mr. BOYLE, that it is not necessary that the Operations
of all Specificks,
or of the same in differing Diseases,
must be of one kind; but differing Specificks
may operate in several man∣ners, And of these general ways he has proposed such as follow, premising only, that the Specifick
Remedy do's not commonly, tho' sometimes it may, relieve the Patient by this or that single way of Operation, but by a Concurrence of two or more, that as it were join their forces to pro∣duce the desired effect.
XVII. The first way or manner whereby Specificks perform their Ef∣fects.Specifick Medicins may sometimes cure by dis∣cussing or resolving the Morbifick matter, and thereby making it fit for expulsion by the greater Common-Shores of the Body, and the Pores of the Skin.
For it is most notorious, that a great many Diseases,
and those very obstinate and Chronical,
are caused by some tough
and slimy Humours,
which obstruct the Passages,
and so hinder the Circulation
of the Blood,
and the free motion of other useful liquors;
which peccant Humours
are sometimes so exceeding Glewy
that they will not give way to common Remedies.
Where∣as the Specifick,
by the minuteness of its Parts,
and the congruity of their Figure
with the Pores
of Morbifick Matter
may be able to penetrate and re∣solve it, with the concurrent heat of the Patients Bo∣dy,
and thereby dispose for an evacution by Urin, Sweat
or otherwise, as Nature finds most convenient. So that the Blood,
or some other Liquor
of the Body
being impregnated with the amicable and Active Particles
of the Matter,
may be a Men∣struum
to dissolve the peccant matter; even as common Water impregnated with Salt Armoniack
becomes a Menstruum,
which by degrees will dis∣solve Copper
XVIII. The second way or manner.
Sometime a Specifick Medicin may mortifie the too over Acid, or other immoderate Particles that infest the mass of Blood, and destroy their Coagu∣latory or other Effects.
For seeing that most Di∣stempers
do arise from Acids,
and their Malignant Effects,
it is very probable that all such Diseases
may be cured, or much alleviated by such a Reme∣dy
as abounds with particles
proper to mortifie the said Acid Juices.
may be effected these two manner of ways: for there are some Bodies
which destroy Acids
by a Positive Hostility,
that is to say, by such a contrariety as is discernible by the Taste,
and by a conspicuous •
ight or conflict they maintain with the Acid Juice:
Of this kind are all fixed Askalies, viz.
the Lixivous Salts of Plants,
and all volatil Alkalies,
as Spirits of Harts-horn, Salt Armoniack,
&c.▪ Another way whereby Acids
may be mortified or dulled is, when their Particles
are, as it were, sheathed
or blunted; for as a Knife
may be disa∣bled to cut, either by filing or otherwise blunting its Edge, or else by covering the Blade with a Sheath fit for it; so an Acid
Compound may losePage 318
its power of cutting or pricking, when an Alkali
alters its Figure,
or when its sharp particles
are, as it were, sheathed in the Pores
of some other Body,
tho' it may be the said Body
may be wholly without Taste,
or any considerable manifest quali∣ty by which it might appear contrary to the sowr Juice
it enervates, as a File is contrary to the Edge of a Knife.
XIX. The third manner.A Specifick Medicin may sometimes help the Patient by precipitating peccant Matter out of the Blood, or other Humours of the Body.
Thus SENNERTUS seems to intimate that in some cases the Disease
is vanquisht by a precipi∣tation of the Aguish Matter.
And KERGE∣RUS in his Treatise of Fermentation, Sect.
3. tells us in plain terms, that he had cured above 1000 persons of Agues
let∣ting, Purging, Diaphoreticks, Diureticks,
only by means of one pre∣cipitating Medicin.
Neither need we to fear any danger in these precipitations
by the particles
of the Medicin
entring into, and spoiling the Tem∣perament of the Blood; because it is certain that Heterogeneous Matters
in the Blood
may be preci∣pitated by means of Remedies
which never enter the Blood:
often exhibit filings
and other preparations of that Metal,
to mortifie the Acidities
of the Blood,
and yet we have no reason to believe that the said metalline particles
ever enter the Blood.
XX. The fourth manner.Sometimes Specifick Remedies exert their effect by a peculiar corroborâting of the Heart, and by that means, or without it, the Parts affected.
For seeing that the Heart, Brain, Liver, Kidneys
are all of them of a peculiar make and structure, and so likewise the liquid parts, as the Gall,
and the Lympha;
it may happen that the particles
of a Remedy dissolved in the Stomach,
and carried up and down the Body
in the Vehicle of some of its Li∣quors, may according to their determinate Figure, Size, Stifness, Flexibility
&c. be more fit to be admitted in some one part of the Body,
as the Brain, Heart,
&c. than another, and so by continuing in the Pores
thereof, and associating themselves to the Fibres,
or furnishing it with some particles
it wants, may strengthen the Tone
of that Part,
and enable it to resist the action of the Morbifick
matter, and expel it.
XXI The sifth manner.Sometimes a Specifick Medicin may exert its operation, by producing such a Disposition in the Mass of Blood, as may enable Nature by correct∣ing, expelling, or other fit ways, to overcome the Morbifick matter, or other cause of the Distemper.
For seeing that as most of the Diseases
incident to Mans Body,
are produced by a vitiated constituti∣on of the Blood,
so the recovery of it to Health
depends on the restoring of it to its former state; a Specifick Medicament
may divers ways effect this advantageous change of the Blood.
by furnishing the Blood
with some very active particles,
by which means it will not be necessary for the Midicament
to raise any Fermen∣tation
in it. Secondly,
may be of great use in restoring the Mass
to a laudable state, by dilating and attenuating or thinning of it. For when the Blood
is too thick, as frequent∣ly it is, it cannot so freely pass through the Ca∣pillary Vessels
whence an obstruction will follow in them▪ whereby the Circulation
of the Blood
will be retarded, and great inconveniencies accrue to the Body.
And on the other hand, if the Blood
be too thin, especially if it be overmuch agitated, it will easily run out of the Vessels,
and produce various Fluxes of Blood,
and other dange∣rous effects, that commonly accompany the extra∣vasation of the Blood.
Now a Specifick Medicin
may correct this vitious consistence of the Blood,
by furnishing it with such Particles,
which by their Figure, Bulk, Motion,
&c. may subdue those vitious particles
that thicken the Blood,
and atte∣nuate them; or by dividing the parts
of it dispose it to a greater degree of Fluidity.
And when the Blood
is too thin, which is the effect sometimes of Diseases,
and sometimes of certain Medicaments,
and more particularly of Aloes,
in this case may afford such particles,
as by their easie complication and infolding one another, may curb the too active particles
of the Blood,
which do too much attenuate it, or it may assist the expulsion of the said particles
or any other way. Thirdly,
may be helpful to re∣store the Mass
to its former good state, by some particular operation
it may exert upon the Heart,
by strengthning the Tone
and Vigor of it, so as that it may be able to transmit the Blood
to the greater advantage and welfare of the Micro∣cosm.
XXII. The sixth manner.Sometimes also a Specifick may unite its parti∣cles with those of the Peccant Matter, and with them constitute a Neutral Matter, that may be easily, or is not needful to be expelled.
As when the Blood
being impregnated with an Acid Juice,
hath lodged the same in some stable part of the Body,
as in the Liver, Spleen
&c. In this case the particles
of the Specifick
may with∣out any sensible contest or effervescence, when manifest Acids
are mortified by such like Alkalies,
so combine themselves with the particles
of the vi∣cious Acidum,
as to make one compound with them, which differing from the particles
of the sowr Juice
in Motion, Figure, Solidity
or in one or more of the same, must needs constitute a substance
of a Different Nature
from the said Acid particles
before that they were cor∣rected.
XXIII. An Adver∣tisement concerning Specificks.
It was noted before, that when it was said that a Specifick
doth cure a Disease,
it is not to be un∣derstood as if a Specifick Remedy,
or Nature by means of it, did for the most part cure
Distem∣pers by one only of the propounded Modes,
see∣ing that two, or more of them may concur to pro∣duce this effect. Besides, I have only here under∣taken to explain the operation of Specificks
in Ge∣neral; but never asserted that the ways
by me propos'd, to be true and genuine, but on∣ly propounded them as so many probable ways whereby Specificks
may produce their effects. Wherefore these things are not Dogmatically
assert∣ed by me, but only delivered by me as Possible or Probable Explications,
my chief design being only to evince thereby, that the Operations
are congruous to the Principles
of Mechani∣cal Philosophy.
XXIV. An Objecti∣on against Specifick Medicins answered▪
There is an Objection
the Rejecters of Specifick Remedies
usually urge against them, which is, that by being taken into the Stomach
they are greatly changed by Digestion,
and mix∣ture with the Aliments,
a good part of them sentPage 319
away by Excrement;
and that as soon as they are got out of the Stomach,
they pass through manifold Strainers of different Textures,
which in all probability stop the greater part of the Me∣dicinal Particles.
But this Difficulty will disap∣pear, if we consider that Rhubarb••
ngeth the Urine
of those that have taken it, many hours af∣ter, with a Yellow Colour.
eaten by a Goat,
communicates a purging
quality to its Milk,
so as to purge
that takes of it. For the •articles
of some Bodies
do very obstinately ret••
n their Figures,
and do not easily quit their virtue.
For if a Me•icament
exerts its activity by impregnating the Blood,
or any other Liquor
in the Body,
thereby turning it into a kind of Menstruum,
it may so happen that the several Strainers
through which the Particles
are to pass, may stop the less f••
parts of the Vehicle,
so as to make the Menstr••m
more appropriate to the overcoming of the Peccant Humour,
or that at least thereby it may be so changed as to restore this Substance
in the Body
of a Man
rather than ano∣ther. And tho' there may but a small quantity of the Medicinal Matter
reach to the part, on which it is to act, 〈◊〉
ought not we to question the effect upon that account, seeing that the 〈◊〉
of Natural Agents
upon the Body
is not to be measured by their Bulk
but by their Activity
XXV. An Objecti∣on concern∣ing Topicks.
may be also made against what hath been here asserted concerning the Operation
that all Topical Medicins,
espe∣cially such as are applied to the Wrists, Amulets,
and things hung about the Neck,
or only out∣wardly touching any other part of the Body,
can∣not afford sufficient Medicinal Particles
for corect∣ing of the Peccant Matter,
or subduing of the Dis∣ease.
For an Answer to this Objection, it will be sufficient to consider that the Skin
of Mans Body
is very full of Pores,
by which the more subtil particles
of the Remedy
may enter; as is evident
from manifold instances. Water
penetrates the Pores
of the Bladder,
and dissolves the Salt of Tartar
contained in it. Quick-silver
mix∣ed with Ointments,
and outwardly applied, insinu∣ates it self through the Pores of the Skin,
into the most inward parts
of the Body,
where it often produceth most violent operations.
Neither can it be difficult to conceive how the particles
of any Specifick
being once got into the Pores,
may fur∣ther diffuse themselves throughout the •ody,
asmuch as near the Cuticle
or thin outward Skin 〈◊〉
there be many Capillary Vessels,
which tho' very small, yet have their Cavities continu∣ous with other greater Vessels,
and it will be easily understood that the particles
of the Medicament,
being once entred into these Capillary Vessels,
will by the Vehicle
of the Liquors
contained in them, be transmitted to the Branches of the Principal Veins,
and so by means of Circulation
be mingled with the whole mass
and with it con∣veyed to all parts of the Body.
XXVI. Whether there be any Medi∣caments appropria∣ted to any particular part of the Body.
The only difficulty that remains now to be re∣moved, is whether there •
e any Medicaments
that are appropriate to this or the other particular part of the Body?
To which I Answer▪ that there is no impossibility nor improbability in it, that the Particles
of a Specifick Medicament
should be de∣stinated more to one part of the Body
than to ano∣ther, so as not only to strengthen it, and preserve its sound Constitution, but to restore it to its for∣mer strength and vigor, when 〈◊〉
by any Disease of Di••
eir par∣ticular Texture, Motion,
&c. they may 〈◊〉
a pecu∣liar manner prepare the Molesting Matter for Ex∣pulsion,
and withall so work upon the Fibres
of the Part
affected, as both to Enable
it, and Excite
it to free its self from its Enemy.