Alteratives are tonics, which, in some unknown way, favorably influence the processes of nutrition which have been disturbed by disease. They include the hematinics, which were discussed in the preceding chapter, the various preparations of mercury, and many, if not all of the preparations containing iodin, either free or in combination.A number of drugs of vegetable origin, such as sarsaparilla, were formerly classed as alteratives, but these are, for the most part, merely purgatives, or else devoid of therapeutic interest.The use of the thyroid gland in thyroid disease and in obesity, and of the newly discovered serum of Beebe in exophthalmic goiter, have a scientific basis, but the employment of the iodids in rheumatism and in syphilis, and of the mercurials in the latter disease is empirical, and in this connection the pharmacology of these agents is of minor importance since it throws little light
THE PHARMACOPEIA AND THE PHYSICIAN. JAMA. 1906;XLVI(19):1439–1442. doi:10.1001/jama.1906.62510460033002
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