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Article
November 24, 1923

THE PHARMACOLOGY OF MERCURY: A REVIEW OF SOME LITERATURE

Author Affiliations

Clinical Instructor in Therapeutics, Stanford University School of Medicine SAN FRANCISCO
From the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Stanford University School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1923;81(21):1748-1752. doi:10.1001/jama.1923.02650210014004
Abstract

The most ancient of present-day therapeutic procedures is probably the use of mercury against syphilis. In 2637 B. C., the Chinese Emperor Hoang-Ty collected the medical literature of his day, and in these books the use of mercury by friction for a disease, which it is not difficult to believe was syphilis, is described as even then a procedure of some antiquity. Hippocrates did not mention it, but his pupil Aristotle knew of it and anticipated "protoplasmic poison" when he said it killed all living things. It was used by the Arabs, perhaps from the Chinese through the Hindus, as an ointment in skin diseases during the first thousand years of the Christian Era. An Arabian physician, Avicenna, in 1000 A. D., was using it continually, principally for its laxative action. Hugh of Lucca and his pupil Theodoric used it internally as well as externally in the thirteenth century, but

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