Abortifacients





Emmenagogues are remedies which have the property of exciting the

catamenial flow; ecbolics, or abortives, are drugs which excite

contraction of the uterus, and are supposed to have the power of

expelling its contents. The vegetable substances commonly reputed to be

abortives are ergot, savin, aloes (Hierapicra), digitalis, colocynth,

pennyroyal, and nutmeg; but there is no evidence to show that any drug

possesses this property. Lead in some parts of the country is a popular

abortifacient. A medicine may be an emmenagogue without being an

ecbolic. Permanganate of potassium and binoxide of manganese are

valuable remedies for amenorrhoea, but will not produce abortion. The

vegetable substances frequently used as abortives are savin and ergot.



=Savin= (Juniperus Sabina).--Leaves and tops of the plant yield an

acrid oil having poisonous properties, and which has even produced

death.



Symptoms.--Those of irritant poisons. Purging not always present, but

tenesmus and strangury.



Post-Mortem Appearances.--Acute inflammation of alimentary canal.

Green powder found. This, washed and dried and then rubbed, gives odour

of savin.



Test.--A watery solution of savin strikes deep green with perchloride

of iron, and if an infusion of the twigs has been taken the twigs may be

detected with the microscope. The twigs obtained from the stomach, dried

and rubbed between the finger and thumb, will give the odour of savin.



=Ergot= (Secale Cornutum).--A parasitic fungus attacking wheat,

barley, oats, and rye, which is reputed to have the power of causing

contraction of unstriped muscular fibre, especially that of the uterus.



Symptoms.--Lassitude, headache, nausea, diarrhoea, anuria,

convulsions, coma. Small quantities frequently repeated have in the past

produced gangrene of the extremities, or anæsthesia of fingers and toes.



Tests.--Lake-red colour with liquor potassæ; this liquid filtered

gives a precipitate of same colour with nitric acid.





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