Posted by: Didapper PJ3 DEC 2008
Back in May (2008) the Pharmaceutical Press published a reproduction of the first edition of Martindale to celebrate the 125-year history of this authoritative reference work.
The original book’s full title is ‘The Extra Pharmacopoeia of Unofficial Drugs and Chemical and Pharmaceutical Preparations, by William Martindale, FCS, Late Examiner of the Pharmaceutical Society, and Late Teacher of Pharmacy and Demonstrator of Materia Medica at University College, with References to their Uses Abstracted from the Medical Journals by W. Wynn Westcott, MB Lond, Deputy Coroner for Central Middlesex’.
With a cute title like that, how can you resist acquiring a copy?
It is a compact little pocket book, in stark contrast to the current 35th edition, which is in two volumes, contains a googillion words, weighs several tonnes and has the blunt title, ‘Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference’. William Martindale would be amazed to learn what a monster his little brainchild has become after 125 years.
The first edition contains many fascinating monographs. The first entry, Abrus, relates to the scarlet and black seeds of Abrus precatorius, also known as jequirity seeds, prayer beads or jumble beads. An infusion is used “to produce purulent ophthalmia for the cure of granular lids”.
If you want to try it, just follow the book’s recipe, apply three times a day and, hey presto, no more granular lids, whatever they might be.
As you skim through the book your eye is drawn to other captivating entries relating to exotic botanical substances, such as chaulmoogra oil and quebracho bark.
But the book is not limited to plant products, for under the heading Extractum Carnis (meat extract) you can read about concentrated beef-tea, beef lozenges and peptonised beef jelly.
The entry also includes a paragraph on desiccated beef blood, which sounds about as appealing as the phosphorated suet that appears on a later page.