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Author: Subject: Obscure antiquated or household drugs
Organikum
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When I was young I had warts on my fingers - big round ones and they didn´t go away with the usual medicine. I then got a small bottle (with a big poison/caustic sticker) with a unknown liquid. The liquid had to applied onto the warts with a dropper after the surrounding area was thoroughly creamed with some special cream for protection. When the liquid hit the wart it hissed and the wart turned yellow. After some days the wart could be removed with the root.

For the yellow color and the hiss I now believe that this was HI.

/ORG

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Elawr
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Both dichloro- and trichloroacetic acid have been used for warts. Dichloroacetic was what I've used in in my practice. It comes in a kit with about 30 ml of the acid along with a small glass vial and little wooden pointed applicator tips. Also included was some petrolatum to apply to the healthy skin around the wart as protectant from the acid. you would dip the sticks in the acid and use the pointed ends to work the slightly oily-viscous liquid into the wart. Don't recall hissing or color change, however. It has a very strong acetic smell - pungent yet almost pleasantly sweetish in low conc. It is fairly tedious procedure and kind of a pain in the butt to do - I would use when I had no liquid nitrogen on hand. It was the perfect chore to send your intern or medical students to go do. Have had no experience with trichloroacetic. It is said that conc. HNO3 will work for warts as well - i suppose you'd hear some hissing and see yellow color with that one! Never heard of using HI on warts, but I suppose it would work fine iif fairly conc.

[Edited on 31-7-2006 by Elawr]

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There are many toxic medicines still out there. Try going to a whole food market, heres what I found in the homeopathic medicine aisle...

Strychnnine (sp?)
Mercury (II) Chloride
Uranyl Acetate
Arsenic Trioxide
Silver Nitrate
Antimony Potassium Tartarate (Tartar Emetic)
Metallic Mercury (with a binder)

I can't really remember the rest, but there were a lot more!

not_important
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At what dilution? If its 12C ( 24D or 24X ) or higher then on the average there is less than one molecule of the substance in every 18 ml of water base; add one to the number and you're down to a single molecule in a typical tablet. Most homeopathic medicines sold seem to be at least 30X, that's not going to be very toxic.
pantone159
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 Quote: Originally posted by olmpiad Try going to a whole food market, heres what I found in the homeopathic medicine aisle... Uranyl Acetate

Where did you find this??? AFAIK this isn't OTC too many places.
not_important
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Quote:
Originally posted by pantone159
 Quote: Originally posted by olmpiad Try going to a whole food market, heres what I found in the homeopathic medicine aisle... Uranyl Acetate

Where did you find this??? AFAIK this isn't OTC too many places.

Try places like

http://www.abchomeopathy.com/shop.php?abrev=Uran

Note that even the most concentrate form is less than 1 part per thousand of the uranium compound.
unionised
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Did you hear about the homeopath who forgot to take his medication? He died of an overdose?

The problem with homeopathic "remedies" as a source of materials is that they are absurdly dilute.
phangue
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There are hundreds of these in the U.S. DISPENSARY (a book that most certainly belongs in the old-technical book site) from the late 18-hundreds—a book almost 3” thick with detailed extraction procedures for many medicines, alkaloids and other poisons. One most interesting to me is called, “lactucarium”. This drug is present in common lettuce plants (no guff) when they go to seed and develop a milky, bitter juice. In old days, this medicine was useful in the relief of cough, because, as the book claims, lactucarium affects the body in a way similar to opium, but without addiction or other harm.

Doctors are so stingy about prescribing codeine now, that it might be worth each of us having a little-old-bitter-lettuce patch of our own.
MagicJigPipe
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Bromic, mercurochrome no longer contains Merbromin (an organic Hg compound). They replaced it with an extremely dilute solution of benzalkonium chloride (a quaternary ammonium salt used as a disinfectant and surfectant) which is one of the most mundane chemicals (and most common and cheap) in existence. In fact, I would guess that a majority of products that "kill germs" without hypochlorite contain quaternary ammonium salts. Eg Lysol, nasal spray, pool algecide etc...

So, the mercurochrome she swears by is not longer even close to what she used to use. It comes in 1oz bottles and costs over a dollar (which is a HUGE rip off since it's worth less than a penny; ~99.95% water and .05 benzalkonium chloride).

I learned all this because I bought some thinking "wow! it says mercuro". Boy was I disappointed.

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer
Saerynide
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 Quote: Originally posted by phangue There are hundreds of these in the U.S. DISPENSARY (a book that most certainly belongs in the old-technical book site) from the late 18-hundreds—a book almost 3” thick with detailed extraction procedures for many medicines, alkaloids and other poisons. One most interesting to me is called, “lactucarium”. This drug is present in common lettuce plants (no guff) when they go to seed and develop a milky, bitter juice. In old days, this medicine was useful in the relief of cough, because, as the book claims, lactucarium affects the body in a way similar to opium, but without addiction or other harm. Doctors are so stingy about prescribing codeine now, that it might be worth each of us having a little-old-bitter-lettuce patch of our own.

I think they mean "wild lettuce" (Lactuca virosa).

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sf1134
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About a month back I found a few bottles of old medications (1960's).
Pyrroxate, which contained pyrathiazine, methoxyphenamine, asprin and caffiene
Miles Nervine, with several bromide salts
Also found camphorated oil, and a bottle of boric acid to make an eyewash
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My wife used saturated solutions of bromine for treating wounds (e.g. wounds due to diabetes). When such a bottle was opened, thick dense clouds of red bromine vapor came out of the bottle and this liquid was poured over the wounds .

It is not that long ago that this treatment was still in use, I think appr. 20 years ago.

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The_Davster
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...note the date this was allowed 1885...

[Edited on 18-5-2008 by The_Davster]

YT2095
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heres the Boracic ointment I mentioned along with the Silica Gel cartridge in its tin that was in the same Med Kit (the one I still use in the Lab).

\"In a world full of wonders mankind has managed to invent boredom\" - Death
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MagicJigPipe
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 Quote: In old days, this medicine was useful in the relief of cough, because, as the book claims, lactucarium affects the body in a way similar to opium, but without addiction or other harm. Doctors are so stingy about prescribing codeine now, that it might be worth each of us having a little-old-bitter-lettuce patch of our own.

Actually, codeine's efficacy as a cough suppressant has been disputed for quite some time. It is so weak. The only reason it works at all because it metabolizes in vivo to morphine (it is a prodrug of morphine because it seems to be useless by itself). Apparently, at the absolute most, 10% of codeine is "converted" to morphine in the body. So, in a standard 30mg pill (this is a "painkiller" dose, cough control doses are much lower) only 1.5mg-3mg of morphine is introduced into the body. I don't see how this could be effective for anything, much less pain relief or even cough supression but some swear by it.

I find it very fascinating that the addition of a single methyl (methoxy) group to a substance can basically cause it to become physiologically inert.

Isn't it sad when doctors are afraid to prescribe a substance that is barely addictive and barely "powerful" enough to suppress a cough or even kill mild pain?

Davster, cocaine is still used as a local anesthetic but it's prescription only. Also, heroin is legal (w/ prescription) in the UK and many other countries. The only reason it is illegal here (US) is because of old politics, prejudices and, more recently, because of it's stigma. In reality it is barely different from morphine but does offer some advantage (over morphine) to patients suffering from extreme pain.

 Quote: Try going to a whole food market, heres what I found in the homeopathic medicine aisle... Uranyl Acetate

Read up on homeopathy. With something like that, it is very likely that there is not one molecule of uranyl acetate in the product. It's probably just sugar water and/or alcohol.

On the back, what is the dilution? 20x? 30x? 100x? 10c?

The 10c would contain less than 1 part per octillion.

Imagine taking 1mL of EtOH and dissolving that in a 100mL of water. Then take 1mL of the resulting (1% v/v) and dilute it with another 100mL of water. Then, take that .01% v/v EtOH solution and dilute it in yet another 100mL of water to create a .0001% v/v EtOH solution. Repeat that process 17 more times to get a 20c homepathic "solution". That's a .00000000000000000000000000000000001% v/v EtOH solution in water.

Okay, after some rough (but time consuming) calculations, I have determined that in a 20c solution diluted as described above would contain .0000000000001015 molecules of EtOH which means the chance that it contains even one molecule is basically zero. Even a 10c solution contains only 101,500 molecules of EtOH per 100mL (1mL EtOH is 10.15 sextillion molecules). That's less than a femtoliter.

Anyway, you get the point. It's a bunch of hocus pocus, magical bullshit.

EDIT
The Wikipedia article "Homeopathy" seems to have it's shit straight. It also has some amusing (but true) examples and comparisons that are more interesting than just comparing straight numbers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy

 Quote: ...the chance of a single molecule of the original substance remaining in a liter of 15C remedy dose is about one in 1.7 million, and about one in 1.7 trillion trillion trillion (10^36) for a 30C solution. Commonly, critics of homeopathy, as well as homeopaths themselves, attempt to illustrate the dilutions involved in homeopathy with examples. Hahnemann is reported to have joked that a suitable procedure to deal with an epidemic would be to empty a bottle of poison into Lake Geneva, if it could be succussed 60 times.[70][71][72] Another example given by a critic of homeopathy states that a 12C solution is equivalent to a "pinch of salt in both the North and South Atlantic Oceans",[70][71] which is approximately correct.[73] One third of a drop of some original substance diluted into all the water on earth would produce a remedy with a concentration of about 13C.[74] Another common illustration involves comparing homeopathic dilution to dissolving the therapeutic substance in a swimming pool.[75] One example inspired by a problem found in a set of popular algebra textbooks states that there are on the order of 10^32 molecules of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool[76] and if such a pool were filled with a 15C homeopathic remedy, to have a 63% chance of consuming at least one molecule of the original substance, one would need to swallow 1% of the volume of such a pool, or roughly 25 metric tons of water.[77][78][79] For further perspective, 1 ml of a solution which has gone through a 30C dilution would have been diluted into a cube of water measuring 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 metres per side, which is about 106 light years. Thus, homeopathic remedies of standard potencies contain, almost certainly, only water (or alcohol, as well as sugar and other nontherapeutic ingredients). Homeopaths maintain that this water retains some "essential property" of the original material, because the preparation has been shaken after each dilution.[80]

[Edited on 5-23-2008 by MagicJigPipe]

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer
Magpie
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My mother has an old (1930) home economics book that I was perusing just for fun. The recommended way to deal with roaches was to spread a fine white powder, sodium fluoride, around on table tops and counter tops!

Nowadays the recommendation would be to wear rubber gloves and a respirator just to weigh it out.
Sedit
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I have a bottle of mercurochrome sitting here in front of me, and I cant help but think if in say 50 years will those people look back and wounder how stupid we where to use some of the popular medication that we are using today.
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I have an old 1 ounce bottle of "Tincture Merthiolate" sold by Thrifty Drug Co. What I find so refreshing is that all the information I need about its makeup is plainly written right on its tiny front label, ie:

(Sodium Ethyl Mercuri Thiosalicylate, Lilly); 1:1000; alcohol 50 per cent

This is in contrast to present day product labeling which seems to have hype and obfuscation the goal.
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@Magpie: Well, cryolite (Na<sub>3</sub>AlF<sub>6</sub> has replaced NaF for the purpose. As to whether it is a good trade, I ain't certain...

@Sedit: Maybe they'll laugh at how we use too few samples to test our drugs...

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Magpie
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This weekend I was visiting a small tourist town about a 100 miles from where I live. It had the usual little museum of antiques from the surrounding area. The curator noted that there were 2 small fire extinguishers mounted on the wall about 8 feet (2.6m) above the floor. I could see that they were the old "fire grenade" type glass bulbs likely containing CCl4. I asked her if they still contained liquid. She said "No, I don't think so." Unconvinced I pushed up on one gently. A small wave was set in motion showing that it obviously was still filled. I then told her a little about carbon tet: 1) if it breaks she should evacuate the museum, let it evaporate and air out, and 2) do not call the hazmat folks, unless you are willing to put up with the ensuing circus of technicians, bureaucracy, and costs. I then offered to take them off her hands but she said she couldn't legally do that. There were two grenades. I estimate each contained about 500 ml of CCl4.

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Brain&Force
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Antipyrine was once used as a fever reducer, but it can also be used as a ligand to terbium(III) complexes to make them triboluminescent.

At the end of the day, simulating atoms doesn't beat working with the real things...
prof_genius
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I wish I could find a bottle of Merbromin powder that pharmacists use to make the solutions.

[Edited on 27-6-2014 by prof_genius]
zed
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I got a tube of ointment somewhere in my house. Might be old style "Unguentine". Seemed to have a positive effect on resolving a recurrent boil problem. A little dab, once or twice, and my little skin problem disappeared forever.

Contained a smidge of Phenyl-Mercuric something or other. Improbable, that such things are still allowed.
lavenatti
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I have a bottle of potassium chlorate tablets that still looks like new.

Also a host of old medicine bottles the wife and I dug up in the back yard (old house). A couple of them, like iodine, with a little skull and crossbones molded into the glass.
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 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Special topics » Biochemistry » Obscure antiquated or household drugs Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues