Skin creams and salves

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunshine for Thyroid Health

"Last summer I treated several young girls and women for goiter by exposure to the sun, at the same time administering thyroid and iodine treatment. I found that upon combining the drug treatment with the treatment by the sun's rays the results were far better. These persons took the sunbath on the shores of a river flowing on the outskirts of Carlsbad, or lying in a canoe on the river. This is an especially efficacious procedure, and upon lying in a rowboat on the river, in the sunshine, for a certain time an intense pigmentation of the skin can be obtained as proof of the direct action of the ultra-violet rays. It would not be wise, however, to take such a sunbath on very hot summer days and certainly not at noon.

The method requires a clear, pure sunshine, rich in ultra-violet rays, but not the excessively warm rays of the sun on hot summer days with a close atmosphere. On such days the morning hours up to about 10:30 or 11, or the afternoon after 4 o'clock, are most suitable, in order to avoid sunstroke.

There can be no doubt that this measure, especially in regions where the sun is rich in ultraviolet rays, is capable of powerfully assisting in the treatment of the diseases of the thyroid by thyroid gland.

Sometimes there are good results even without the thyroid.

Thus Revillet, of Cannes, obtained very good effects in children with congenital myxedema who were sent from Switzerland to the Asylum for Children of the Swiss Republic. Through simple exposure to the sun's rays of the Riviera, rich in ultra-violet rays, these children were cured without the use of thyroid preparations.

In recording these results Revillet also draws attention to a very interesting fact, mentioned in a report by Prof. Dupasquier, of the University of Lyons. He found at a small place called Allevard, in the Alpes Dauphinoises, that on the shady side of a street there were cases of cretinous goiter to be found in nearly every house—the sun never shone on this side of the street—whereas no such case could be found on the other side of the same street, which was the sunny side. It is a fact that idiocy and cretinous goiters are to be found with the greatest frequency in the deep, sunless valleys of Switzerland and Italy.

That the salutary results above referred to are brought about by the ultra-violet rays of the sunshine is best proved by the fact that the artificial sunlight, the quartz light (from the large quartz lamp), which consists mainly of ultra-violet rays, exercises a very wholesome influence upon the thyroid gland. Thus, Haselberg reported in a Swiss medical periodical that such treatment yielded excellent results in a number of girls and women suffering from goiter.

The ultra-violet sun's rays exert a similar favorable influence upon the other endocrin glands, including the sex glands. This is shown by the fact that in southern countries, with sunshine rich in ultra-violet rays, menstruation appears in young girls much earlier than in the north. The interesting fact has been recorded by Arctic travellers that with the appearance of the polar night, or several weeks thereafter, the Eskimo women sometimes cease menstruating, the function reappearing only after the sun has returned.

A similar direct influence of sunlight rich in ultra-violet rays has been reported by Revillet. In eighteen young, anemic girls in whom menstruation had been absent for several months he observed reappearance of the same after exposure for a certain time to the ultra-violet rays of the Mediterranean sun.

Solar treatment is also capable of giving the best results in the treatment of affections of the uterus and ovaries. But this applies even more to the treatment with the ultra-violet rays of the quartz light. Indeed, in modern gynecology such
treatment is availed of with great profit. As the results of Bach and others have shown, such treatment is also very efficacious where menstruation has been absent for a long time on account of certain diseased conditions.

On the basis of the above facts I have come to the conclusion that the ultra-violet rays serve as activators of the functions of the thyroid and sex glands."

source: "Life-Shortening Habits and Rejuvenation", by Arnold Lorand, 1922 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Glands Starving for Iodine that Keep Folks Rundown and Skinny!

Popular Mechanics Magazine~ 1936, 1937

(thanks, Steve)

...marketed to men to build muscle, to women to lose weight AND to gain weight depending upon the current fashionable figure...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"iodism" debunked, 1922

source: "Life Shortening Habits and Rejuvenation", by Arnold Lorand, 1922

"...When iodides are given in certain quantities the symptoms of intolerance may present themselves, constituting a condition we term iodism.

These symptoms are due very probably to an exaggeration of thyroid activity. Iodine being contained in the thyroid gland in larger amount than in any other gland and constituting its most important component substance, it will readily be understood that if too much of it is given it will excite an unduly pronounced activity of the gland.

 Strange to say, I have myself observed—and with me a number of others—that frequently even relatively small doses of the iodides produce such an effect, viz., iodism, yet if afterwards larger doses are given, they are well borne and bring about a feeling of well being and all the beneficial effects known to be characteristic of this drug.

I am not among those who look with alarm upon these symptoms of thyroid excitation.

I do not consider it an untoward result if an arteriosclerotic person, with symptoms of sclerosis of the brain vessels, suffers from one of the typical symptoms of iodism, viz., a running at the nose. Indeed, as I show in my book on the improvement of human intellect, such persons ought to be thankful if the circulation of the brain is relieved this way, close relations existing between the circulation of the blood-vessels of the brain and that in the vessels of the nose.

Nor can it be considered as a serious drawback if toxic substances are carried out and deposited at the periphery of the body, in the skin, giving rise to pimples.

A feeling of marked lassitude may also be present as one of these symptoms, and not infrequently also an attenuation of the sexual function.

Not by any means do I consider such a condition of iodism as an unfortunate event, for it is only a passing stage, and if larger doses are given, it may disappear altogether. Indeed, in such cases as I have noted recently, in which large doses of iodides had been given on account of previous syphilitic infection, a marked state of well being can be produced for a certain period of time, with an increase of muscular strength.

Long walks and climbing in the mountains became possible without the subsequent feeling of great fatigue. Likewise the sexual desire reappeared, sometimes even in a higher degree than before the treatment. These persons, furthermore, began to look younger than their age, and in general became decidedly more vigorous..."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Poetic license, perhaps...

"Tumidum Guttur" in Switzerland 164 Years Ago.

—To physicians traveling in Switzerland, a letter written by the poet, Thomas Gray (1716-1771) will prove of interest. Oliver Goldsmith, the thriftless, erratic, ill-disciplined Roscommon youth, and patientless graduate in medicine of the Dublin University, took at an early period of his career a prolonged flute-playing tour around and through the greater part of Western Europe. Like a true-born Hibernian genius, he was penniless, ragged, and partially—or wholly—barefoot throughout the prolonged period of his pilgrimage. But he saw what was worth observing, and he described some of the items as nobody else could. One of his published comments refers to the epidemic prevalence of thyroid tumors and cretinism in some of the Alpine valleys. Indeed, in certain Swiss districts when a young woman approached the marriageable age she was obliged—in the rare cases in which Nature's usual process had failed to supply her with the recognized proportion of thyroid development—to wear a false goiter in order to give herself a chance of the usual settlement in life. 

source: American Medicine, Volume 6, 1903

~ since it was common for goiters to appear at puberty, a goiter could certainly signify sexual maturation...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Iodine Deficiency in the Alps, 1800s

 Source: The National Magazine, Vol XI, 1857

 "Recollections of Switzerland"

The dale of Valais opens before you, traversed by the Rhone on its way to the lake, the same as in the morning you had at your right that pleasant valley whence flows the Arve, coming from Chamouni, and commanded by bold Mont Blanc in the distance.

But while this opens widely, the valley of the Rhone, more inclosed by high mountains, presents, in spite of its rich vegetation, more somber perspectives, and has a mournful aspect. The snows do not shine so radiantly as those of Mont Blanc, which appear like a glittering carpet spread out for angels to climb upon to the furthest verge of earth, and rise from thence to heaven. Here they are scattering and hung upon the broken edges of cloud-capped summits, or else they appear in the distant horizon to form mysterious and inaccessible retreats.

If the shades of evening have commenced falling in the valleys, a secret terror glides into the imagination of the unaccustomed traveler at this threshold of unknown solitudes, leading to the summit of the Alps, to regions ever vexed with tempests, to a world which is always being menaced with glaciers and avalanches.

To the mournfulness of nature may be added that which is inspired at the sight of the inhabitants. What are these deformed dwarfs with a doltish look, a stupid form, abortive efforts at humanity, that creep rather than walk, that make inarticulate sounds in their throats in place of words, whose laugh is a grimace, and whose smile freezes you, that stop you as mendicants, and whose contact with you causes an involuntary horror, as if you were seized by a phantom in the nightmare. Yet they appear inoffensive, and whatever may be the hideous complication that in them attains to perfect ugliness, an ugliness so monstrous that it would disgrace a beast, yet I know not whether it is their early degradation or a kindly decay that extinguishes upon their features even the appearance of malice and all of the passions. What are these objects of fear or of derision? They are idiots! (cretins.) 

Unfortunate race! It would seem that Divine vengeance was wreaking itself on them, that they are the cursed offspring of some one of the Titans, who tried to scale heaven by piling up mountains, and were discomfited by the thunders of Jupiter.

On the contrary, however, the fathers of these poor idiots were a simple people and pious Christians, who came to find pasturage for their herds in these secluded valleys, who passed their lives in prayer, and through lack of bread lived upon milk; who, through lack of wine, cooled their thirst with the clear water of the rivulets. But this water, against which no instinct could guard them, tends to produce that most terrible of all maladies, the goiter, which becomes hereditary and acquires the fullest development; and under the influence of the same regime continued, the intellectual faculties
are changed, and idiocy appears. What venomous principle diffused in these running waters has led to such rapid and profound disorders in the physical organization, and consequently in the mind? None at all.

 The presence of a little magnesia or the absence of a little iodine suffices to produce this effect. And this frightful degeneracy of the human species from the same causes manifests itself throughout mountainous countries, in the Pyrenees and in the Alps, in the Hartz and in the Jura, in the valleys of Thibet, in the Ural chain, in the Andes, and the Cordilleras.

The canton of Valais, in Switzerland, is one of those countries where there is a predilection to the goiter and idiocy. The latter, in its excess, is happily the exception, but the goiter, more or less developed, is general among the women, and it is almost as much of a deformity as the neck of a swan would be in carrying the head of a Valaisian woman.

Next to the goiter the most general characteristic of the Valaisian women is their singular hat. It is worn by the poor as well as the rich, only that of the rich is ornamented with a crest of a rich, wide, gold-colored ribbon, and the brim of it is formed by a multitude of black ribbons placed side by side upon the edge; a superfluity of ornament, the idea of which would scarcely enter the head of a Parisian milliner. These fine Valaisian hats are quite expensive; but one of them lasts a long time, for they are only worn on Sundays and occasional fete days.

If you scale the Alps, whose glaciers separate Switzerland from the kingdom of Sardinia, you will also find, in the southern valley of Aosta, the goiter and idiocy as much as in the northern valley already described. At the village of Aosta these things are infinitely worse. On a summer Sunday, if you pass through the streets at an hour when the inhabitants come and seat themselves before the door to enjoy the air, you will be much affected at the sight of the numerous idiots.

A single road easily accessible, the route so celebrated under the name of the Great St. Bernard, is the means of communication between these two valleys, so rich in beautiful and picturesque scenes, and so mournful by the degradation of a part of the human race.

Source: The National Magazine, Vol XI, 1857

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mythbusting 1853~ disappearing testicles and breasts due to iodine

I have found wasting/disappearance of breasts and testicles referred to in old literature although it is always referenced, no first-hand knowledge, such as this:

source: The Elements of Materia Medica, By Jonathan Pereira, 1839

Two most remarkable effects which have been produced by iodine are, absorption of the mammae and wasting of the testicles. Of the first of these (absorption of the mamma;) three cases are reported in Hufelarufs Journal (quoted by Bayle, op. cit. p. 162), one of which may be here mentioned. A healthy girl, twenty years of age, took the tincture of iodine during a period of six months, for a bronchocele, of which she became cured; but the breasts were observed to diminish in size, and notwithstanding she ceased to take the remedy, the wasting continued, so that at the end of two years not a vestige of the mamma; remained. Sometimes the breasts waste, though the bronchocele is undiminished: Reichenau {Christison, p. 180) relates the case of a female, aged twenty-six, whose breasts began to sink after she had employed iodine for four months, and within four weeks they almost wholly disappeared; yet her goitre remained unaffected. With regard to the other effect (wasting of the testicle) I suspect it to be very rare. I have seen iodine administered in some hundreds of cases, and never met with one in which atrophy either of the breast or testicle occurred- Magendie also says he never saw these effects, though they are said to be frequent in Switzerland.

MYTH, busted...

source: Ohio medical and surgical journal, Volume 5, 1853

 By James Henry Pooley

Art. IX.—Remarks on the effects of Iodine on the Glandular System and on the Properties of Kousso,

By Thomas H. Sylvester, M. D., Clapham.

Read at the Anniversary Meeting of the South Eastern Branch.

In our journal the question has been asked whether atrophy or absorption ever takes place in the glandular system from the use of iodine? In answer to this question I would beg the favor of the present members of the Society to allow me to make a few remarks, the result of many years attention to this point. From 1834 to 1844, a great many patients, suffering under secondary and tertiary syphilis, were admitted into St. Thomas' Hospital, more especially under the care of the late Dr. Williams, who had gained a high reputation in the treatment of these morbid symptoms. Most of these patients came under my notice and particular observation, and many of the remarkable cases were entered in my note book, but one instance of atrophy or absorption of the large glands, occurred in our experience. It was thought advisable, on the recommendation of Lugol, to test the efficacy of iodide of potassium in scrofulous enlargement of the glands, and in order to give M. Lugol's method of treatment fair play, a most characteristic specimen of these affections was selected. A young woman, fat, florid, and fair, aged 18, was admitted with suppurating glands at the angle of the jaw, and others approaching suppuration, or hard and inflamed, extending to the chin, were conspicuously prominent. Eight grains of iodide of potassium, in camphor mixture, were prescribed, and steadily administered for six months, without the slightest perceptible effect on the scrofulous mass of glands, and she was presented in much the same state as at her admission. Now it happened that in this girl the breasts were largely developed, but no change was produced in their size by the treatment adopted for scrofulous ailment, notwithstanding the full dose, and the prolonged administration of the iodide.

There were at this period, before the treatment had become generally known, innumerable cases of syphilitic periostitis, in which the iodide of potassium was very successful, and yet we never witnessed atrophy or absorption of either breast or testicle during the use of this remedy. A case of simple hypertrophy of the breast was then made the subject of experiment; eight grains of the drug were taken, steadily and continuously, for three months, but no diminution of the mammae took place.

A boy, aged 12, presented himself with immensely enlarged tonsils, and took the iodide nearly six months, without any impression having been made upon these organs. It would weary you to bring forward further illustration on this subject, and this negative kind of argument, is, I am aware, perfectly satisfactory, and may be destroyed by a single example of the positive power of the remedy in causing absorption of either the breast or testicle; but ten years' observation in a large hospital failed to furnish me with a single proof in favor of the opinion that atrophy or absorption of the glandular system, in its normal condition, arises from the use of iodine in any form. Experience as to the topical application of this powerful agent, involves an inquiry into the effects of friction, stimulation, protection and warmth, and excludes all interference as to its specific property. It must be confessed that enlarged testicles not unfrequently yield to its influence, but it will be found on inquiry, that in these cases the system has been contaminated by the syphilitic poison. The same remark is applicable to chronic induration of the inguinal glands. It is a very remarkable fact that the swelling of the thyroid body in common bronchocele, vanishes under the internal use of iodine, especially the iodide of potassium. The rapidity and certainty of its removal are equalled only by that of the venereal node; and I have sometimes thought that there might be a vital elective attraction between the iodine and the lime, which forms the basis of the nodal tumor, and is, probably the chief element in the thyroid enlargement.

It remains to be explained, how it happens that tumors, enlargements and thickenings of a nature other than have been noticed, disappear under the use, topical or internal, of the remedy in question; the explanation is undoubtedly difficult, but I may be allowed to remark, that there is an absence of permanency in the glands generally, the thyroid disappears spontaneously, the tonsils naturally at puberty, the breasts in advanced age, and sometimes the testicles and ovaries; and there are few practitioners who have not met with cases of absorption of the breast and testicles from some unknown cause, and in morbid instances, when no medicine has been taken. I have over and over again known and seen large swellings to vanish under the long and continued application of a poultice, or wet lint and oil silk; and an equal number of failures where iodine, internally, or externally, was had recourse to, have occurred to me.

I recommend this subject to my medical brethren, and I do not hesitate to say that they will confer a great boon upon scientific medicine by determining, with certainty, the value of iodine in the cure of disease.

Cineraria maritima and the Treatment of Cataract

~ available as a homeopathic remedy

scanned image of page 85

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

pre iodine~ Spongia Usta

from "A treatise on Apis (the bee), Tella Araneae (cobweb),Spongia and Cantharis" by John Uri Lloyd, 1911~ A discussion on medicines of animal origin...

~spongia usta(burnt sponge) fell out of favor when it was perceived that the active ingredient was iodine and iodine alone.

from below: Spongia gives better results than iodine, in the more chronic forms of goiter.


"The sponges were formerly regarded by many naturalists as belonging to the vegetable kingdom. They are now regarded as compound animals by all, and by many as being even higher than the Protozoa, having close analogies with the Radiates."—Elements of Zoology, Sanborn.

Both sponge and its ash have been valued in medicine from a very early date, as shown by the following excerpt from Dioscorides. Translated and condensed by Miss Margaret Stewart, A. M.

"Fresh sponges, and those most free from oils, are helpful for wounds, and to check tumors. With water or vinegar, they bind up (literally, glue together) fresh wounds, while, cooked with honey, they join together old wounds. Old sponges are useless. But even these are of value in softening up callouses and separating ulcers that are growing together, if bound upon them, dry, with a linen cloth. Fresh sponges placed upon old ulcers full of corruption dry them up. They also check the flow of blood.

"Burned with vinegar, they are useful in inflammation of the eye; also where there is need of a detergent or astringent. But it is better to tincture the ashes with the remedies to be used for the eye. The ashes of sponges burned with pitch check the flowing of blood."—Dioscorides, V: 138.

History. Spongia Usta (Burnt Sponge).—This preparation, known in Dioscorides' day, and in subsequent medical works and Dispensatories as Spongia Usta, was once included among the most important of remedial agents. Not only did it occupy a prominent position in the works on domestic medicine, but in authoritative professional publications generally.

The third edition of the London Pharmacopeia, 1751, gives explicit directions for its preparation as follows:

Heat the sponge in a covered vessel, till it becomes black, and is easily friable; then reduce it to powder in a glass or marble mortar.

Remark.—The heat here used must be much greater than in the former process; but, however, care should be taken not to burn the sponge till its volatile salt be expelled, for so doing would reduce it to a mere coal; but the volatile salt is so much extricated from the other principles by this operation, that if it be rubbed to powder in a brass or bell-metal mortar, it is very apt to acquire from the vessel a taint, that will offend the stomach. —From Dispensatory of the Royal College of Physicians, London, 1751 (3d edition).

This substance crept as a matter of reference into many modern works, but its general use was abandoned very soon after the discovery of iodine and the compounds of iodine.

It will be noticed in the above formula that the sponge, after being burned, is to be powdered in a mortar of stone or glass, to protect against taint. This feature is more fully explained in Lewis' Materia Medica, London, 1768, wherein the foregoing formula, in substance, is given as follows:

"Burnt in a close, earthen vessel, till it becomes black and friable, it has been given in doses of a scruple against scrophulous complaints and cutaneous defedations; in which it has sometimes been of service, in virtue, probably, of its saline matter, the proportion of which, after the great reduction which the other matter of the sponge has suffered in the burning, is very large. By virtue of this saline matter also, the preparation, if ground in a brass mortar, corrodes so much of the metal, as to contract a disagreeable taint, and sometimes an emetic quality: hence the college expressly orders it to be powdered in a mortar of glass or marble".—Lewis's Materia Medica. London, 1768.

It is evident, as experience thus taught, that an emetic compound of copper was produced when a brass mortar was employed.

Coeval with such authorities, as well as others preceding and following, Burnt Sponge maintained its position as a remedial agent. Of this, a quotation from Motherby, giving the uses of Burnt Sponge, together with directions for preparing the drug, is sufficient as an illustration:

"Spongia is used in scrofulous disorders, and cutaneous foulnesses, for which end it is reduced, by lightly burning it, to a black powder, which is given in doses from gr. x to xx, two or three times a day; its virtues, which render it useful in these disorders, depend on a volatile, animal, alkaline salt (with which it abounds), and the oil of the sponge united.

When sponge is cut in small pieces, and freed from the stony matters which are lodged in it, it is burnt in a close, earthen vessel until it is black and friable, and when being powdered in a stone or a glass mortar, it is kept in a close vial for use. The burning should be discontinued as soon as the matter becomes thoroughly black; as the outside of a large quantity will be sufficiently burnt before the middle is much affected; the best method is, to cut it in small pieces, and keep it continually stirring in such a machine as coffee is roasted in."—Motherby's Medical Dictionary, London, 1755. (Second Edition.)

In 1812, M. Courtois, of Paris, in manufacturing soda, observed that the mother liquors from kelp corroded the boilers. In experimenting therewith he discovered the element, iodine. Close following came the fact that sea plants generally, as well as some of the lower forms of animal life of the sea, contained more or less iodine. The new element not only became a fashionable remedy for "scrophulous diseases," but led to the supposition that, as before stated, it alone constituted the remedial portion of Burnt Sponge. Thus, such authorities as Christison, in his Dispensatory, 1848, asserts:

Sponge contains a trace of combined iodine, and before the discovery of this element and its compounds, was, in the charred state, a remedy in scrofula and goitre. Its use internally, however, is now obsolete.
Indeed, it may perhaps be accepted that the discovery of iodine, and its occurrence in sponge, led the professions of medicine and pharmacy, theoretically, to displace Burnt Sponge with iodine and its compounds. For example, the Dictionary of Domestic Medicine, by Thompson and Smith, 1868, assumes as follows:

"Burnt sponge was formerly considered the best remedy in cases of "bronchocele."(aka goiter) It is now known that its power of removing that disease depended on the presence of iodine.
Notwithstanding this and other positive assertions concerning the iodine phase of the subject, Burnt Sponge continued, as a therapeutic substance, to occupy authoritative position. For example, the Pharmacopeia of the United States, 1830 edition, gave it a position, but not thereafter. The first edition of the United States Dispensatory, 1833, commented on it as follows:

The sponge is decomposed, the volatile matters being driven off by the heat, and a black, friable coal remaining, which consists of charcoal mixed with phosphate and carbonate of lime, chloride of sodium, carbonate of soda, and iodine in the state of hydriodate of soda. As the remedial value of burnt sponge depends chiefly upon the presence of iodine, it can not be esteemed good unless it afford purple fumes when acted on by sulphuric acid, assisted by heat. It is said that the preparation is most efficient as a remedy when the sponge is kept on the fire no longer than is necessary to render it friable. The powder is then of a much lighter color. Burnt sponge has been highly commended in goitre, glandular swellings of a scrofulous character, and obstinate cutaneous eruptions. It is most conveniently administered mixed with syrup or honey, in the form of an electuary, with the addition of some aromatic, as powdered cinnamon. The dose is from one to three drachms.—United States Dispensatory, Wood and Roche, 1833.

The first edition of the Eclectic Dispensatory, King and Xewton, 1851, gives the current uses of Burnt Sponge and its compounds, but neglects its assay constituents. In the second edition, 1854, the analysis is added, as follows:

"In 1,000 parts of sponge, 343.848 were dissipated by calcination: the remainder consisted of 327.0 parts of carbon and insoluble matters, 112.08 of chloride of sodium, 16.43 of sulphate of lime, 21.422 of iodide of sodium, 7.57 of bromide of magnesium, 103.2 of carbonate of lime, 35.0 of phosphate of lime, 4.73 of magnesia, and 28.72 of oxide of iron. The efficacy of burnt sponge depends principally upon the presence of iodine, and it should always be used when of recent calcination, as it becomes impaired rapidly in consequence of the volatilization of the iodine."—-King's American Eclectic Dispensatory, 1854.

While Professor King thus accepts the prevailing opinion that Burnt Sponge depends upon iodine and its compounds for its virtues, he wisely qualifies the assertion by stating that it depends "principally" upon the presence of iodine, in which direction Professor Wood, in his Dispensatory of the United States, above alluded to, 1833, states that the remedial value is due to the presence of iodine, and likewise qualifies his statement by the word chiefly.

Owing to the intrusion into therapy of iodine, and to its conspicuity, the natural compound known as Burnt Sponge largely disappeared from professional use, excepting in the Homeopathic and Eclectic practice of medicine, where iodine and iodine compounds have ever been viewed as things in themselves, Burnt Sponge being considered as a compound in itself. For example, Allen's Inscripta of Pure Materia Medica, Vol. 9, devotes eleven or more pages to its therapeutic use, whilst other Homeopathic pharmacopeias, such as that of the American Institute of Homeopathy, 1879, and tne United States Homeopathic Pharmacopeia, 1878, devoted due attention to the preparation of the drug, as well as its dilutions and triturations.

In this connection, it is evident in that in former times more or less questionings arose concerning the possibility of displacing Burnt Sponge by mixtures of charcoal and alkaline substances then known to be present in it. That these attempts thus to brush the remedy of old out of existence were failures is shown by a statement of the Royal College of Physicians, London, 1809, only two years before the discovery of iodine.

"Burnt sponge appears practically to produce effects which no mixture of the alkali and charcoal does, especially in the removal of bronchocele; and it is therefore retained."

Constituents.—Burnt Sponge contains a large amount of combined iodine, not "a trace" as Christison states. One minim of the Specific Medicine represents one grain of sponge, and (see Characteristics, p. 43) a fragment of a minim will give a deep blue color with starch paste. In addition bromine, phosphorus, sulphur, and other elements in unknown combinations go to make up Burnt Sponge. Whoever reasons concerning the action of compounds made up of such substances as unknown combinations of the elements that theoretically may be formulated into chloride of sodium, calcium sulphate, sodium iodide, magnesium bromide, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, magnesium and iron oxides, unknown sulphides, and phosphates reorganized from organic tissue and reconstructed by heat from complex organic bodies, presumes much in asserting that such combinations depend solely for their qualities upon a single substance that may by destructive chemical processes be isolated from the original product. The intermolecular constitution of Burnt Sponge is to-day unknown, and the part iodine takes in the therapy of that substance is also unknown.

Let us repeat that in our opinion the balanced structure, a complexity in itself, that results in the empirical production of the compound known as Burnt Sponge, can not be molecularly established by any theoretical computation made from a review of the isolated constituents thereof. Consequently, the uses of this preparation by physicians who employ it in contra-distinction to iodine or its compounds, are accepted as logically applying to a structural something, molecularly unknown, that must be very different from iodine, or a single iodine compound.

Pharmaceutical Preparations.—The uses of Burnt Sponge are recorded in the foregoing extracts, as well as in a multitude of like publications. The use in Eclectic medicine has been centered mainly on the alcoholic solution known as "Specific Medicine Spongia," in which one pound of Mediterranean natural sponge is burnt according to the old Pharmacopeial directions, and this triturated with alcohol while still hot. The mixture is allowed then to digest until all soluble material is extracted, when it is filtered. This preparation varies somewhat in composition, owing to differences in the sponge, but in general qualities it acts uniformly, as a whole.

Sponges are possessed of some form of mineral skeleton, calcareous, siliceous, and horny. They also enclose foreign substances which aid in giving them stability. These latter substances may be largely separated, mechanically, and magnesium and calcium salts may be dissolved by dilute acids. For the making of pharmaceutical preparations, the natural Mediterranean sponge, only, by this writer, is employed, never sponge that has been acid-cleaned, or chlorine-bleached. Scrap sponge (soft trimmings) is also very inferior, yielding little ash, and that of a poor quality. The whole sponge, carrying the base attachment should be employed, the ash of several bales of such sponges running from 30 to 36 per cent.

 Such a natural (Mediterranean) Spongia Usta may be described as follows:

Spongia Usta varies, not only by reason of the sponge constituents, but through process influences. If the sponge be burned by allowing air to enter the vessel and thus produce a flame, or if the temperature be at first very hot and the process soon ended at a high heat, so as to dissipate all possible volatile constituents, the product is inferior. The combustion process must be a slow, smothering manipulation, in which, by a gradually raised heat in a vessel provided with a smoke exit, the product comes mainly to a gray-black or brown color. Throughout this charred, soft, pulverulent texture are to be found silvery specks of mineral matter, and even calcined shell, of considerable size. The odor of the ash reminds one of burnt coal of a marine nature. The taste is strongly saline, accompanied by a persistent, sulphide of hydrogen odor, and a sulphuret (sulphide) aftertaste. Treated with sulphuric acid in a covered beaker glass, effervescence follows, and violet fumes arise that change starch paper to a deep blue.


Characteristics.—This preparation has a golden yellow color, and the odor of alcohol. Each minim represents one grain of sponge. The evaporation of 10 Cc. leaves about 0.58 per cent, of a crystalline residue, yellowish, and of a saline odor and taste. When in a beaker glass (covered by a watch crystal) sulphuric acid is poured over this residue effervescence follows, the mass assuming a violet color, by liberation of iodine, in places being very dark brown. The beaker becomes next filled with the characteristic violet iodine fumes which change starch paper to blue, or even to brown. On standing, the iodine fumes condense on the cover glass and the cooler parts of the beaker, as minute needle-like crystals. If the sulphuric acid treated mass be exhausted by 10 Cc. chloroform and filtered, a deep violet red solution results, which on spontaneous evaporation yields minute iodine crystals. If upon the contrary the residue be treated with alcohol, the solution is deep yellow, but carries the iodine. Both solutions turn starch paper dark blue, changing to brown. If a few drops of starch paste be spread over the bottom of a porcelain dish, one drop of a mixture of Sp. Med. Spongia and sulphuric acid in its center, will develop a blue color of varying degrees of intensity in accordance with the proportion of the ingredients.

Therapeutical Uses.—In consequence of its neglect by many teachers, as well as by reason of the quickly and yet illogically accepted premise (on the discovery of iodine) that one element, and one only, contributed to its efficacy, the use of spongia usta has been restricted mainly to the Homeopathic and Eclectic members of the American medical profession. These physicians also use iodine and its compounds when they are indicated, but they do not neglect "Spongia," as is shown by the confidence that experienced practitioners have in its clinical use, and that, too, a hundred years after the discovery of iodine. The Eclectic uses of Spongia, as given by Dr. George M. Hite, who uses the preparation extensively, are tersely expressed, as follows:

Uses.—"Spongia gives better results than iodine, in the more chronic forms of goiter. It is useful in chronic pharyngitis with thickening of the mucous membrane. In acute hoarseness from colds, it is the very best remedy of which I know, but it is chiefly as a croup remedy that I have used it. In follicular tonsillitis, Spongia is a most excellent remedy, and combined with other indicated remedies, as aconite, Phytolacca, and bichromate of potassium, will relieve in half the time the same prescription would, without the Spongia. It is a fine remedy in laryngitis, with burning, smarting, raw sensations, as it is also in tubercular laryngitis, relieving the teasing cough, and improving the health of the mucous membrane, overcoming the hoarseness, and improving the voice. I have used Spongia for many years, and always with specific results."

Indications.—Croup, with rough, barking, crowing, cough; stridulus respiratory sound during inspiration, with dry cough; loud wheezing respiration, with suffocative fits of coughing; inability to breathe except with the head thrown backward.

Dose.—1£ Sp. Med Spongia gtt. x to xxx.

M. Sig.—A teaspoonful every fifteen to thirty minutes, to one to two hours, as urgency of symptoms demands.—Geo. M, Hite, M. D.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pulsing the dose, eating dulse and seaweed poutices... 1827

from the Edinburgh Journal of Medical Science, Volume 2, 1827                        

We have again to record another case, published by Dr Reynaud, in the Journal Complementaire, relative to the administration of iodine, which certainly indicates, not only that its efficacy is far from being proportionate to the quantity in which it is given, but that its operation in reducing goitrous tumours is extremely gradual. Dr Reynaud's patient had been, during two months, put on a course of iodine, taking from ten to twenty-four drops of the tincture three times aday, without any change in the volume of the tumour having been manifested. He ceased, during six months, to make use of this medicine; and, during this interval of abstinence from it, the effect of the iodine manifested itself, and the goitre was reduced to half its size. A friction with the pomade of the hydriodale of potash was then ordered, and the cure was completed. It was hence inferred, that considerable advantage might be derived, in some cases, by allowing interruptions during the administration of iodine.

We consider the foregoing statement a most important illustration of the advantage of administering iodine in small doses, yet prolonged for a considerable time. Hence its efficacy when taken along with alimentary matters. We can, on this principle, account for the alleged virtues of the Spongia usta, in which so small a portion of iodine is contained. And, in like manner, probably may be explained a popular remedy which we remember to have seen practised in a county of the north of England. It was, to send patients afflicted with strumous complaints to the sea coast, there to remain for several months, and to undergo the daily external application of cataplasms, almost entirely composed of sea-ware, in which, as chemists well know, a notable quantity of iodine is contained. But, at the same time, the internal administration of some species of Fuci, probably that known in Scotland by the name of dulse, (Fucus palmatus), was likewise enforced. Mr Neill, in his "Tour through Orkney and Shetland," has furnished us with an anecdote illustrative of the ancient medicinal virtues which were ascribed to this plant. "There is a common saying in Stronsa, that  he who eats of the dulse of Guiodin, and drinks of the wells of Kildingie, will escape all maladies except black death.'"

~ a "cataplasm" is a poultice. I assume that "sea-ware" is seaweed...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Thyroid, gland of energy production

testing thyroid action, Popular Science Magazine, December 1931

Likening one energy machine to another, the thyroid may be compared to the accelerator of an automobile. That is a rough and superficial comparison because an accelerator lets in more of the fuel to be burned up, while the thyroid makes the fuel more combustible. It thus resembles more the primer, for a rich mixture of gasoline and air burns at a greater velocity than a poor one. But the action of thyroid could really be simulated only by some substance that could be introduced into the best possible of gasoline mixtures, to increase its combustibility by a hundred per cent or more. For that is what thyroid will do to our food. Nor has it only this destructive or combustion side. Withal there is at the same time a constructive action, for the process frees energy to be used for heat, motion or other need. The thyroid, therefore, in addition to its role as an accelerator, acts, too, as the efficient lubricator for energy transformations. So we see it as accelerator, lubricator and transformer of our energies.

The Gland of Energy Production

The isolation of thyroxin has made possible the determination of the influence of the thyroid hormone upon the evolution of energy in any higher animal organism. There is, for every individual, a constant, known as the metabolic rate, or the combustion rate, a reading of the rate at which his cells are consuming material for heat. The metabolic rate is thus a gauge of the energy pressure within the organism. It may be calculated by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide gas exhaled during a unit of time, and the number of calories of heat radiated by the skin simultaneously. A simplified device has lately rendered it practicable to make actual determinations by a few five-minute readings of the rate of oxygen absorption by the lungs. Plummer, also connected with the Mayo Foundation, has shown that what would amount to less than a grain of the thyroxin would more than double the amount of energy produced in a unit of time. To be exact, one milligram of thyroxin increases the metabolic rate two per cent. That illustrates some of the power of the internal secretion of the thyroid and its importance to normal life.

source: "The Glands regulating Personality", Louis Berman, 1922

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Most Beautiful Man...

Life Magazine, Oct. 11, 1937
from the text below, "One of the publicity stunts advertising the Paris Exposition was a contest for "The Most Beautiful Man in Europe"..."Others, such as the man in the middle, used ochre or iodine solution to achieve a red Indian skin."

Iodine mixed with oil of some sort, no doubt, all the better to highlight the musculature.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cataract cured with Iodized Ether

Scientific American, 1863~

The Paris Medical Gazelle states that a man of 70 has almost been cured of this eye disease, by the application of concentrated fumes of iodized ether. The liquid was put into a bottle, and one eye held over the mouth for a few seconds, five or ten times a day. After some months' use, the sight of one eye was entirely restored and the other much Improved. Iodine has been applied in the same manner by some of our American oculists, for diseases of the eye, but we are not aware of It ever having been effectual In curing cataract. This afflicting disease consists of an opaque condition of the crystaline humor (transparent albumen) of the eye, or its capsule. When the opacity is seated in the lens, it is called "lenticular;" and when the membrane is opaque, "capsular cataract " when both are combined, the cataract is called "capsule lenticular." There are also other varieties of cataract; so that the method applicable for treating one, may be entirely Inapplicable to another form of the disease. The opacity is generally slow in Its progress, requiring months and sometimes years for Its full development. For lenticular cataract the iodine would have no effect, but for capsular cataract it may be beneficial. It requires much experience to decide upon the nature of cataract. At one period cataract was altogether treated by medicine, but this mode has been abandoned; and tho remedy now consists in the removal of the opaque body by making a delicate Incision with a fine instrument near the cornea and displacing the opacity of the humor, under the hope that by absorption, arising from a healthy condition of the body, it may disappear. All surgical operations for cataract are not successful in effecting a cure. The new matter to be supplied for that which has been removed, from a certain locality, may be opaque, and in all likelihood will be so if the body is not in a healthy condition. Oculists, therefore, are very particular not to operate for cataract unless the patient is in good health. Indeed most diseases of the eye are caused by ill health, and general debility of the body.