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Article
March 1930

MERCURIAL OINTMENTS IN THE TREATMENT OF SYPHILIS: THEIR ABSORPTION AS MEASURED BY STUDIES ON EXCRETION

Author Affiliations

CLEVELAND

From the Departments of Dermatology and Syphilology and of Pharmacology of the School of Medicine of the Western Reserve University and of the Cleveland City and Lakeside Hospitals.

Arch Derm Syphilol. 1930;21(3):372-393. doi:10.1001/archderm.1930.01440090020002
Abstract

Mercury has been used by the inunction route in the treatment of patients with syphilis almost since the first authentic reference to the disease. Mercurial ointments have been used in the treatment of persons with diseases of the skin since time immemorial; what then could have been more natural than that some investigator should have employed it experimentally when syphilis first appeared on the medical horizon? Thus one finds that among the earliest writings on syphilis the use of mercurial ointments is recommended. For example, among the ten incunabula on syphilis reviewed by Singer,1 Schelling (1495), Grunpeck (1496), Torella (1497), Widman (1497) and Steber (1498) emphasize the value of this medication; though Leonicenus rather discredited its value. Naturally, these early writers had little rime or reason to their methods of therapy.

The Spanish syphilographer, Almenar, in 1501, seems to have been the first physician to employ a rational method

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