CHEMISTRY, PHARMACY, AND MATERIA MEDICA.

CHEMISTRY, PHARMACY, AND MATERIA MEDICA.

128 CHEMISTRY, PHARMACY, AND MATERIA MEDICA. physiological phenomenon we cannot conclude with certainty which is the species of the alkaloid in que...

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128

CHEMISTRY, PHARMACY, AND MATERIA

MEDICA.

physiological phenomenon we cannot conclude with certainty which is the species of the alkaloid in question. It is known that strychnine and brucine are distinguished from all other alkaloids by the fact that on being in very small quantities ap-

to a vein or a fresh wound, they act upon the spinal marrow and the motory nerves so as to produce tetanic fits; this physioIF a narcotic alkaloid be present in a fluid, in scarcely ponderable logical property may likewise be made available for the detection quantities, or mixed with a great excess of other substances, and of nux vomica or strychnia. W. Arnold ascertained by his experiments, that a living diluted, chemistry is unable to demonstrate either its qualities or even its existence. Physiology, however, in such cases, furnishes frog was the most delicate test for it, if the preparal ion of us with far more delicate reagents than those afforded by chestrychnine or brucine be introduced into a wound inflicted in the mistry : the former are, therefore, to be made available, when the skin of the back. A very trifling dose of these is sufficient to latter cease to render any service. By the aid of physiological produce tetanus in the frog. One drop, for instance, of a conreagents, questions-which commonly are medico-legal ones, it is centrated solution of nitrate of strychnia, prepared with cold true-may be answered with a certain degree of probability; water, was diluted with ninety-nine drops of water; from ten to whilst chemistry itself generally gives no information when twelve drops of this solution, applied in the above manner, were found to be sufficient to produce tetanus. One grain of a mixorganic matters are to be detected. A case occurred last year to the Royal Medical Committee of ture of one part of strychnia with ninety-nine parts of sugar the University of Miinchen, when a tribunal demanded their opi- of milk, applied to a wound in the skin of the back of a frog, nion in a criminal case, in which there was suspicion of murder caused tetanus after eight minutes, and when afterwards one having been committed by poisoning with a narcotic powder. grain of this mixture was rubbed with ninety-nine grains Only a very small quantity of the substance was attached to the of fresh sugar of milk, tetanus followed after thirteen minutes, legal documents, and the powder had already been extracted by though only 1obooth part of strychnia had been employed. butter-milk; in this case chemistry could not give the desired On further diluting the mixture with sugar of milk, Arnold information ; but with the aid of the microscope and two living found that lou1öooth of a grain of strychnia, after half an rabbits the questions put by the court were answered-some with hour or later, increased the irritability of the frog to a certaincertainty, and others with a high degree of probability. It was extent. ascertained that the powder was of a vegetable nature, and posHaving, however, in one of his experiments, employed a sessed the narcotic properties of belladonna. It was compared, frog, which on the preceding day, in consequence of a dose of by means of the microscope, with other powders, and with the part ofa grain of strychnia, had suffered from tetanus powder of belladonna, and was found completely to agree for several hours ; in this animal 10000 of a grain of with the latter; the absence of every mineral poison was shown strychnia produced tetanus, lasting for some hours, and proving at the same time. The substance was treated with alcohol ; the fatal. Similar experiments have been instituted with nitrate of filtered liquid evaporated by a gentle heat, and the residuum strychnia; Tôoth of a grain of this salt produced tetanus after extracted by a few drops of distilled water. This solution, on seven minutes, and ïoÔooth acted similarly after fifteen being applied to the eye of a rabbit, by the means of a fine hair minutes. Extractum nucis vomicse spirituosum, in an alcoholic under the skin of a frog, pencil, speedily produced a complete and long-continued dilatation solution, diluted one hundred times, of the pupil. produced, after twenty minutes, tetanus, even though only one As a controlling experiment, the powdered root of belladonna drop of the concentrated solution was contained in the solution; was treated in a similar manner, and the solution finally obtained, 1o’ooth ofa grain of an alcoholic solution of extract of brucine applied to the eye of another rabbit. The properties of the two on being applied only once, produced complete tetanus. The extracts, as well as the physiological phenomena, were found to aqueous extract of brucine acted more feebly ; one drop of the coincide. this, the medical committee gave same, diluted with ninety-nine parts of water, caused tetanus, their opinion only as a highly probable one, as it could not be only after thirty-eight minutes; and loòooth of a grain prodecided whether the poison was prepared from mandragora, duced no sensible effect. One drop of tinctnra nucis vomicse, hyoscyamus, or stramonium. The eye is so delicate a test for diluted with ninety-nine of water, produced, after an hour and a atropine or hyoscyamine, that, according to Riecke, -r6oth of half, tetanic rigidity. These experiments show how extremely a grain of extract of hyoscyami, or lukth of a grain of sensible frogs are to strychnia, and therefore how well they are atropine, dissolved in water, and applied to the eye of a rabbit, qualified for demonstrating, at least with some probability, quau produces dilatation of the pupil ; nay, that ,ooooth of a grain tities too small to be discovered by chemical reagents. of atropine. after having been twice applied to the eye, produces Dr. P. Pickford, of Heidelberg, published a paper worthy of a the same effect. Runge found that the alkaloids of the solanacae perusal, " On the Results of some Experiments relative to the are evacuated by the urinary organs, and that, therefore, the Knowledge of Narcotic Remedies in general;" and after having urine of rabbits, to which either belladonna, stramonium, or repeated these experiments, he found the same facts corrobohyoscyamus has been administered, on being applied to the eyes rated ; but the blood of frogs which had been poisoned with large of other animals, invariably produces a dilatation of the pupil. doses of strychnia, having been introduced under the skin of Dr. Auer, of Munich, some years ago, instituted many in- other frogs, produced in the latter no tetanic symptoms; the same structive experiments relative to belladonna, which have not been was the case with the urine of poisoned frogs. One ounce of the published. From these it appears that all parts of this plant blood of a rabbit which was killed with sixty drops of a concencontain atropine, not only the bark, but also the woody portion trated solution of nitrate of strychnia, was introduced into the abof the petals, the calyx, the corolla, the stamina, and anthers, dominal cavity of another rabbit, but produced no symptoms of gave watery extracts, severally causing contractions of the pupil. poisoning in the latter. The same negative result was obtained The root and seeds were found to be most efficacious, the epider- with the blood of rabbits and dogs killed by prussic acid or. mis of the berries was the least active, and the juice expressed strychnia, when applied to rabbits or frogs in the above manner. from the berries contained very little atropine ; whereas the Finally, several rabbits, killed with large doses, were given to a energy of the calyx was little less than that of the root. Ac- large dog, who consumed them without injury to his health. cording to Riecke, the action on the eye induced by atropine is From these experiments, Dr. Pickford concludes that the sympstronger, and continues for a longer time, than that of hyos- toms of poisoning are not produced by the irritation of the narcyam’ne; whereas extractum hyoscyami acts more powerfully cotic circulating in the blood, but by the peculiar affinity of the than extractum belladonnse ; the latter fact agrees also with the poison to the nervous mass; owing to which, on coming in conobservations of Reisinger. The result obtained, however, varies tact with the blood, and intimately combining with it, it produces a change in the vital properties of the nervous system, in such a with the species of animals subjected to the experiment Dr. Auer has shown that the eyes of cats and dogs are far manner that the blood may be considered only as the vehicle of the poison. more susceptible of the action of atropine than those of rabbits, We may perhaps still better explain this fact in the following the latter being sometimes scarcely at all affected hy a prepdration, an equal quantity of which may m cats cause the iris almost manner :-The alkaloids enter with the blood into a chemical completely to disappear, and to continue in this state for several combination. similar to that of iron, (which also cannot be dishours. Similar differences were noticed after the internal use of covered until the blood is destroyed, though the amount of iron narcotic vegetables, herbivorous mammal;a being in general less is considerable,) in such a manner, that only the living blood can affected than the carnivora. Riecke found that five grains at act on the living nerves of the same organism, or, in other words, least must be given to a rabbit to produce dilatation of the pupil. the narcotic must first enter into an organic combination with, It must, however, be borne in mind, that other narcotic bodies, the living blood to act on the nervous system; hence, from reespecially opium, salts of morphia, cicuta, oenanthe, and even di- gions abundantly provided with vessels, the narcotic action is gitalis, if they are administered internally in large quantities, propagated with greater celer;ty and with more energy; and, may sometimes cause a dilatation of the pupil; so that from this several physiologists have found, by experiments on living aniON PHYSIOLOGICAL &EAGENTS.

BY DR. BUCHNER, SEN.

plied

put

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129 mals, that on bringing harcotics into immediate contact with the after the completion of a fall-i.e., after the cranium is at rest’ brain, spinal marrow, or nerves, they do not act as narcotics if the brain, through the operation of the vis inertise, still tends to

carefully prevented from communicating with the blood vessels ; fall with an acquired momentum, its surface recedes from the if, therefore, contradictory symptoms are sometimes observed, parietes of the skull, and there leaves a vacuum-the atmothis may be owing to the incomplete exclusion of the co-operation spheric pressure upon the outlets of the skull being overcome, the of the blood. blood and serum of the brain expelled, and its volume dimiSeveral narcotics, as strychnia, morphia, nicotin, and cyano- nished." gen, ill the state of soluble solutions, brought into contact with This vacuum will thus continue for a certain time, or become the heart of a frog, laid bare, may paralyze the action of the filled with blood-serum-or, as in the present in" as instituted from immediately heart, experiments appears by Fontana, Humboldt, Wilson, Brodie, Arnold, and Pickford ; in searching stance, with air. The author supports his arguments by a quoafter these substances, this physiological property could likewise tation, appropriately, from Professor Airy, showing the immense be made use of. The known constipating and antiemetic promomentum which bodies acquire in falling, and he illustrates his perty of opium, as Dr. Pickford has clearly shown, is founded views by experiment. The quotation is correct, and the experionly on the circumstance that this narcotic exerts a paralyzing effect on the stomach and bowels.-Chemist, from Buchner’s ment is ingenious; but the author would have some difficulty Repertorium, vol. xxxvii. in inducing us to believe that water contained in an inverted bottle closed by a valve, presented a correct analogy to the brain, enclosed in its bony case, with its foramina of exit and entrance; BRITISH AND AMERICAN MEDICAL and, consequently, that a vacuum produced in the former afforded JOURNALS. any indications of the changes which occur in the latter. We have not referred to the case with a view of entering on this discussion; DEATH FROM FRACTURE OF THE SKULL.-AIR FOUND BENEATH we wish rather to show how readily the truth escapes the attenTHE DURA MATER. IN the -Medical Gazette, Dr. Haworth relates the case of an tion of the theorizer-how the simple explanation of a phenomenon individual who had been injured by several tons of earth falling on may be lost sight of, whilst some seven pages of ingenious reasonhim from a height of fourteen or fifteen feet, whilst he was in a ing may be thrown away in idle speculation-how truth on the stooping position. He was quite sensible, complaining chiefly of surface may be passed by, whilst error may be sought for in the his back; blood flowed freely from the nose and right ear; he well. Dr. Haworth should have first asked himself whether this had a fracture of the right humerus, and a compound fracture air entered the skull during life, or afterwards ? He would then; of the left tibia. He died about an hour after receiving the probably, have arrived at the conclusion, that in raising the injury. Dr. Haworth thus describes the appearances found after calvarium from the dura mater, and in separating the firm death :"Forehead exhibits marks of violence; scalp easily separated over that region, there being effused blood; skull moderately thick. The calvarium being removed, underneath the dura mater was found a quantity of air, amounting to four or five cubic inches, extending over at least the anterior third of the surface of the brain, and disappearing on steady pressure with both hands. On removing the brain, it exhibited no laceration; its structure was healthy: the anterior lobes appeared to be compressed at the base; fluid blood was effased beneath the dura mater, over the cerebellum and posterior lobes of the cerebrum, inferiorly, extending into the fissures; sero-sanguineous fluid in the lateral ventricles ; anterior portion of the cerebrum pale as far as the air extended ; a rent appears in the dura mater, over the sphenoid bone, in front of the sella turcica, fallowing the air to enter.] Removal of the dura mater from the base of the skull shows a fracture extending from near the external angular process on the left side of the frontal bone, through all the bones, to the point on the right side of the occipital protuberance, on a level with it, and about an inch distant, the internal table being more extensively fractured ; the petrous bone fractured through twice, and the carotid canal lt2ju:’ed; (Ethmoid bone fractured, and spicula loose. 11 I may add, that when the dura mater was exposed, it was distended like a bladder, and felt elastic, so as to leave no doubt of the existence of air underneath. To the best of my recollection, the upper surface of the anterior lobe was also depressed."

adhesions which constantly connect them, the dura mater had been raised from the surface of the brain, and a vacuum being then and thus produced, air entered through the fracture at the base. Independently of the frequent occurrence, in post-mortem examinations, of almost analogous phenomena, the condition of the patient during life is opposed to the hypothesis of the author. OBSERVATIONS AND EXPERIMENTS ON THE RAPIDITY OF THE PASSAGE OF SOME FOREIGN SUBSTANCES THROUGH THE

KIDNEYS, ETC. IN the same journal, Mr. Erichsen details some interesting experiments made on a boy, the subject of extroversion of the bladder. The surface of the bladder he invariably found covered with an alkaline secretion, the urine itself acid. Aproemaybe passed for some inches along the ureter, without giving rise to any sensible inconvenience. The passage of the urine from the ureter is thus described :-

" A drop collectswithin the papillary termination of the ureter, which becomes somewhat distended; the orifice of this canal then opens to an extent of from two to three lines in diameter, and as soon as it has allowed the drop of urine to pass, it contracts with The distention of the lower end of the a sphincter-like action. ureter before the drop of urine escapes is very distinct, and the relaxation of the orifice of the canal has the appearance of being occasioned by the accumulation of the drop of fluid that collects These appearances suggest to the author the question, " How above it. Th closure of the vesical termination of the ureter, the air found its way into the skull?" and he believes that he after the escape of the drop of urine, is accompanied by a slight refraction of the papillary bulging of the mucous membrane on finds the answer which he gives, an argument in support of which it terminates, and the whole act resembles exactly the ordia view which he had previously advocated-viz., " that under nary sphincter actions in animals." certain conditions, a tendency to a vacuum, and even a vacuum, When theindividual was placed on his back, the flow of urine can be produced within the skull." He argues that the brain is was interrupted for a considerable time, and then began to take retained in situ, and its surface made to apply itself equally to its place slowly; on suddenly rising, it flowed in a full stream, until bony case by means of the external atmospheric pressure acting the ureters had emptied themselves. Experiments were made through the various foramina. He then remarkswith a view of ascertaining the rapidity with which various sub" It sometimes happens that this atmospheric pressure is over- stances introduced into the stomach were excreted by the kidneys. come. When rapid movement of the head is suddenly arrested, On this point much difference of opinion has existed-a difference or suddenly commenced, as by a fall or a blow, the tendency of which can now be happily reconciled by the results of Mr. Erichsen’s matter to continue in the same state, whether of rest or motion, otherwise vis inertias, will produce the following effects :-In the experiments. Those made with prussiate of potass are the first case of a blow, the brain will have a strong tendency to remain detailed. The authors found that the earliest period at which in the same place, and the cranium to onwards in the this salt made its appearance in the urine, was about one minute direction of the blow; in the case of a fall, the reverse will take it had been swallowed-the longest period, thirty-nine of its brain will tend to moment the at the arrested; being place continue the fall, after the cranium is at rest. When, therefore, minutes. This difference is thus examined:-

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