Skin creams and salves

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Iodine and arsenic in menstrual blood

image source- wiki

M. Armand Gautier has some interesting theories concerning the menstrual function and the rut of animals in relation to the role of arsenic in nutrition. These were communicated to the Academie des Sciences on August 6th, and may be read in La Presse M├ędicale for September 8th, 1900. He traces a relationship between the functions of the genital organs, those of the thyroid gland, and the growth of the appendages of the skin, namely, hair and nails. His attention was attracted to the subject by the observation that patients, when taking arsenic, menstruate more frequently than at other times, that their skin improves in condition, and that their hair increases in length and thickness. Since arsenic and iodine are assimilated by the thyroid, and excreted by the epidermis and its appendages, it occurred to Dr. Gautier that it is upon the utilisation and elimination of these substances that the above-mentioned relationship is based, and his experiments have confirmed him in this opinion.

He has shown that normal blood of man and of animals contain no arsenic and a very little iodine, while menstrual blood contains .3 milligrammes of arsenic per kilogramme, and 4 1/2 times more iodine than normal blood. A human thyroid contains about 15 milligrammes of arsenic, so that, allowing for a blood loss of 400 to 500 grammes per day during menstruation, the total blood lost would contain 12 to 14 milligrammes of arsenic, or nearly as much arsenic as the thyroid of the patient contained before menstruation. Thus arsenic and iodine are excreted every month by woman, and menstruation finds its raison d’├ętre in a removal of these substances from the thyroid, and perhaps also, in less degree, from the skin.

Normally the nucleo-proteids and iodised bodies of the thyroid go to nourish the skin, and especially the hair bulbs and the nail beds. The arsenic and iodine thus used are eliminated by the shedding of hair and nails, and by the desquamation of the general surface of the epidermis. In woman there is an excess production of these bodies, which is eliminated periodically in the menstrual blood, unless conception occurs, in which case the excess is used up in the construction of the foetus, in whose rapid growth much phosphorus, arsenic, and iodine are consumed.

We are aware that the thyroid gland excites and regulates growth, that it influences the nutrition of the skin, and that it is in relation with the development and function of the reproductive organs. Its atrophy in the cretin coincides with arrest of development, myxo:dema, and infantilism of the sexual organs. On the other hand, the thyroid develops rapidly in the pregnant woman, and in certain females it hypertrophies some days before menstruation. Hofmeister has observed atrophy of the sexual organs after removal of the thyroid, and conversely it is stated that the administration of thyroid substance has been followed by renewal of growth in an infantile uterus. In a word, all the organs rich in nucleins, especially those in which arsenic and iodine occur together, are favourably influenced by the administration of thyroid substance.

It is mainly by the appendages of the skin and by the menstrual blood that arsenic and iodine are eliminated by the female human subject. It may be asked, however, how these substances are dealt with by the male subject, and by female animals which do not menstruate. Our author answers this question by pointing out that warm-blooded animals of both sexes are covered with hairs or feathers, which grow as a rule before the breeding season, and are shed to a considerable extent when the period of sexual activity is passed. Thus the supply of arsenic and iodine is used during the winter in growing fur, feathers, horns, etc. When these have reached their full growth the supply of nucleo-proteids is diverted to the sexual organs, and breeding commences. The skin is thus deprived of the essentials of luxuriant growth, the hair falls out, the horns fall off, and the feathers drop out.

Fabio, breeding plumage?
The human male is not, as a rule, covered with hair; but at the same time he is more hirsute than the female. The hair of his head and beard grows, and our author maintains his epidermal desquamation is more rapid than that of the smoother skin of the female, whose hair does not grow much after puberty is reached. The extra growth of hair in the male human subject is thus said to eliminate as much arsenic as is lost in the menstrual blood by the female. In other words, the girl only begins to menstruate when her hair stops growing, whilst, on the other hand, it is just at the same period of life that the boy’s beard begins to grow. Amongst hairy human races, in whom, as in monkeys, arsenical nucleins are largely used up in the production of hair, menstruation and the corresponding periods of sexual appetite would be expected to appear at longer intervals than in hairless humanity. The author has ascertained by inquiry from anthropologists that this is actually the case. He also finds that cutting off the hair of females, as is done in some religious institutions, provides a fresh outlet for arsenical products, and thus tends to check the menstrual function.

male snowy egret, breeding plumage~ wiki image
 The author illustrates his views by observations upon certain lower animals, notably many male birds, whose feathers grow to brilliance before the breeding season, and are shed like a wedding garment at its close. Other birds grow appendages on their beaks, which fall off after the breeding season. Amongst certain urodela a horny crest rich in arsenic decorates the tail of the male animal, and is reabsorbed during and after the reproductive period of the year. Lastly, the author mentions the various afiections of the skin which are common during pregnancy as evidence of the strain upon the production of arsenical proteids, which is caused by gestation. Myxedema, he finds, is a disease most common amongst multiparae, who have time after time drawn upon their reserves of thyroid~produced substances.

These views may appear to be vague, unproved, and even romantic ; they are, however, interesting and not without suggestiveness. It may be found, after experiment and extended observation, that they are based upon a substratum of solid fact. _
male mallard duck, breeding plumage, image source, wiki
article source: The Practitioner, Volume 65, 1900

Monday, August 27, 2012

Iodism and eliminative function

Another article on syphilis. Good advice, though on how to avoid "iodism".

The general hygienic management of syphilis is of fundamental importance. In many instances mercury and iodides act badly, simply because the patient's eliminative areas are not functionating with their normal activity. Injurious results from the drug specifics occur under such circumstances, and are explained by that explanation which does not explain, "idiosyncrasy." Ptyalism and iodism may both be avoided in many cases by attention to the eliminative functions. The ingestion of large quantities of water, with the concomitant increased functional activity of the skin, kidneys and bowels, is very useful in syphilis. This point is too frequently neglected. In giving iodides it is best, as is generally known, to administer them simultaneously with considerable quantities of water. It is impossible, however, without resulting stomachic disturbance, to give a sufficient quantity of water in this way to perfect elimination by the kidneys in certain cases in which the renal function is inadequate. It is in just such cases that iodism from so-called idiosyncrasy is liable to occur.

The best method of giving the iodide under such circumstances is to mix the daily dose of the drug with a given quantity of pure water, say from two quarts to a gallon, and instruct the patient to drink the entire amount, a glassful at a time, at intervals during the twenty-four hours,  have succeeded in avoiding iodism in this way in patients in whom the smallest quantity of iodide given by the ordinary method produced iodism.

Hot baths are a very useful adjuvant to the treatment of syphilis. They increase tissue metamorphosis, favor; elimination, and necessarily enhance the therapeutic action of the mercury and iodide, while limiting any possible injurious effects of the drugs. In many instances hot baths alone will prevent injurious effects from mercury and iodide. A very hot bath of short duration, taken daily and followed by a cold shower or cold tub, is perhaps the best method of administration for the average patient. The ideal method, however, where its application is practicable, is the Turkish or Russian bath. The patient should drink large quantities of hot water while in the bath. Much of the efficacy of the Hot Springs treatment of syphilis is dependent upon the free ingestion of hot water while the hot bath is being given.
Attention to the bowels is very important in the treatment of syphilis. Ptyalism not infrequently results as a consequence of constipation. Obviously, the simpler forms of laxatives are best. The saline aperients taken hot in the morning are excellent. 

Ptyalism~ an excessive flow of saliva.

  The Medical News, Volume 80, 1902

           of Chicago; 


Friday, August 10, 2012

merck manual, 1899

A search on "iodine" in the 1899 Merck Manual returns 96 hits. "Iodide", 100 hits. Were I to repeat the search using the term "iodopin" or "iodophorm", even more results would be returned...

Below is a sampling of conditions for which iodine in one or another form was prescribed in 1899. Iodine was certainly NOT the only suggested medicine, I am listing these conditions only to show you the wide range of conditions for which iodine was once prescribed. It was prescribed in many forms, from tincture to potassium iodide to iodized oil, and administered in a variety of ways, from internal dosing to painting to injection to inhalation. Some of the indications are to be expected, such as the use of iodine for goiter or uterine fibroid. Others were unexpected, such as the use of an iodine enema in hepatitis. This manual was published well after the initial iodine enthusiasm in the early part of the century, so I imagine that these treatments were well-established in 1899.


iodine: painting the line of the pneumogastric nerve with liniment or tincture in pure spasmodic asthma

Hordeolum(stye).- see also, eyelids

Iodine tincture

Meningitis, tubercular


Ovarian diseases

Carbolate of Iodine




Potassium iodide




iodine, iodi-tannin, solution of iodine and tannic acid, on cotton wool






iodine, solution not too strong painted over.


iodine, potassium iodide


carbolate of iodine, in the later stages of typhoid, and in chronic malarial poisoning


iodine, antiseptic dressing



glanders and farcy: more info here: Glanders in a Military Research Microbiologist


glandular enlargements

iodine, internally and painted around, not over the gland.
iodoform, as a dressing to breaking-down glands.
iodoformogen: equitable and persistent in action on open glands.
iodole: internally
lead iodide: ointment


iodine: internally, and locally as ointment or tincture, and as injection
potassium iodide


iodide of potassium
iron iodide

gums, diseases of

iodine tincture, locally


iodine, as enema

hepatic diseases

iodine or iodides






iodine, potassium iodide


iodine, injections after tapping.


iodine, locally

joint affections- see also arthritis, bursitis, etc

iodoformogen, more diffusible and persistent than iodoform
iron iodide

keratitis- see also, corneal opacities

potassium iodide

laryngitis, acute

iodine, as inhalation and counter-irritant over neck.

laryngitis, chronic

iodine, as counter-irritant


iodine, in glycerin



meningitis, tubercular


menorhaggia and metrorrhagia- see also, amenorhea, hemmorhage, uterine tumors


mercurial cachexia - a condition arising from over-use of mercury- containing medications. for more: mercurial cachexia

iodine and iodides



nevus- see also, tumors, warts

iodine, paint




iodine: painted on to remove tartar on teeth; and in exposure of fang due to atrophy of gum.

opthalmia- see also, blepharitis, conjunctivitis, keratitis

iodine, iodoform, iodoformogen, iodole

ozena- see also, catarrh, chronic, nasal

carbolate of iodine
glycerine and iodine
iodine: as inhalation. Much benefit is derived from washing out the nose with a solution of common salt, to which a few drops of the tincture of iodine have been added.

pericarditis- see also, endocarditis




pharyngitis- see also, throat, sore, tonsillitis

iodine, iodoform

phthisis- see also, cough, hemoptysis, hectic fever, perspiration, night sweats, laryngitis, tubercular, meningitis, peritonitis, etc

iodine: liniment as a counter-irritant to remove the consolidation in early stages, and to remove pain and cough later, as inhalation to lessen cough and expectoration.
iodine tincture
iodoform: inhalation

uterine tumors


a sampling of iodine preparations found in the 1899 Merck Manual:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

topical iodine and tumors

image from book...
an early report on the use of topical iodine and "scirrhus"tumors(definition below). It was recognized then that if such growths were not attended to they could indeed develop into cancer. So much for FBD being a "benign" condition...   

(6.) Preparations of Iodine." That the external use of iodine, in the form of ointment, sometimes completely removes tumors possessing the characters of scirrhus*, (where it has been had recourse to at an early stage of their development,) is a fact of which we have witnessed some examples. The truly cancerous nature of such growths may of course be questioned ; yet a trial of iodine externally, provided the part be indolent, and its use excite no irritative action, is certainly advisable : the length of the trial should be regulated by the apparent influence produced on the tumor." Since I wrote these words in 1840, my confidence in the powers of iodine-friction, especially when combined with the use of the iodide of arsenic internally, has increased. Nor does my present experience allow me to conceive a single doubt that tumors, actually and truly scirrhous in structure,—tumors which would have run the common course of cancer,—may be arrested in their progress by early and judicious use of these agents. Nor is similar testimony wanting from others. Mr. Gr. N. Hill's cases afford very decisive evidence to the same effect, and Dr. Ashwell's statements on the subject (see Cancer of the Uterus) are strongly encouraging. The convictions of Mr. Travers on the point are stated with peculiar emphasis. " By an indolent scirrhus," says this writer, " I mean an incompressible permanent tumor, possessing for many years no distinguishing character of that disease ; but in a deranged state of health assuming its genuine character, and at a particular period of life breaking up into an actual cancer. I do not entertain a doubt that such a tumor may be, and often is, absorbed in its first stage, and need not therefore of necessity follow this course. I feel assured that most of the hard breasts of young and middle-aged women admit of being reduced by the iodine or the mercurial ointment, if early resorted to, and steadily persevered in, having often succeeded in procuring their absorption by such means, when, from the characters they presented, I should otherwise have felt compelled to urge their removal by operation Nothing is more certain than the susceptibility of absorption in many such tumors at an early stage of their existence.

The preparation of iodine used is not a matter of indifference. That ordinarily employed, a combination of iodide of potassium, iodine and lard, almost invariably produces a degree of cutaneous irritation, which makes it necessary to intermit its use frequently, and sometimes give it up altogether. The iodide of lead ointment (composed of a drachm of the salt and an ounce of lard) is not only completely free from this inconvenience, but has appeared to me more actively promotive of absorption. The ointment should be smeared in very gently, twice daily, for several minutes at a time.


source: The Nature and Treatment of Cancer", by Walter Hayle Walshe, M.D., 1846

*scirrhus~ Scirrhus is a hard, unequal tumor, which occasionally appears in different viscera, such as the liver and womb, but more fre-quently in the grandular parts, for instance, the breasts, arm-pits, and about the neck.