Friday, April 4, 2008


Magnesia, besides being a laxative, allays irritability of the
stomach; it is consequently useful during dentition, at which period
there is both much irritability and a prevailing acescency of the
stomach. The dose is from five grains to ten for an infant, increasing
the quantity to fifteen grains or twenty to children of nine or ten
years of age. When taken alone the best vehicle is hot milk, which
greatly quickens its aperient operation. And whenever the bowels are
distended with wind, the pure magnesia is preferable to the carbonate.
It is well to mention here, that when the infant throws up the nurse's
milk it is generally curdled; a fact which leads the inexperienced
mother to infer that the child is suffering from acidity; and to
counteract the supposed evil magnesia is given again and again. This is
a useless and pernicious practice, for curdling or coagulation of the
milk always takes place in the stomach, and is produced by the gastric
juice, and is so far from being a morbid process, that milk cannot be
properly digested without it.
Rhubarb, it should always be recollected, has an astringent as well as
purgative property, according to the extent of the dose in which it is
administered; the former of which never opposes or interferes with the
energy of the latter, since it only takes effect when the substance is
administered in small doses, or, if given in larger ones, not until it
has ceased to operate as a cathartic. This latter circumstance renders
it particularly eligible in cases of diarrhoea, as it evacuates the
offending matter before it operates as an astringent upon the bowels.
As a purgative it operates mildly, and may be given to the youngest
infant; if from two to twelve months old, from three to six grains; for
children above that age, the dose may range from ten grains to twenty.
Its operation, however, is much quickened by the addition of magnesia;
both of which are more effective when thus united than when given
separately. The following form, in a costive and flatulent state of the
bowels, will be found useful[FN#19]; a tea-spoonful or more may be given
every three or four hours until the desired effect is obtained:--
Powdered rhubarb, half a drachm;
Magnesia, two scruples;
Compound spirits of ammonia, twenty drops;
Dill water, two ounces;
Simple syrup, two drachms.
[FN#19] This may be made up and kept in the nursery for a long time
without spoiling.
Rhubarb, mixed with flour and warm water, may be made into a poultice,
and applied to the abdomen of a child that obstinately refuses to
swallow medicine, and it will be found to produce the same effect as if
the medicine had been taken into the stomach; it will purge briskly.


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