Imatges de pàgina
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the sulphuric acid exists in this water in the state of sulphate of soda; yet, on the whole, this is the more probable opinion. If it be admitted, the preceding statement of the ingredients, and their proportions, must be altered. The sulphate of lime is of course to be omitted. The sulphate of soda, which is to be substituted for it, cannot be obtained by any method; but the quantity of it may be inferred, from the quantity of sulphate of lime which is formed by its action on the muriate of lime. Real sulphate of lime, and real sulphate of soda, are very nearly equivalent to each other with regard to the proportions of their acid and base; so that the quantity of the one may nearly be substituted for that of the other; 3.5 of sulphate of lime being equal to 3.7 of sulphate of soda. But this sulphate of lime is formed at the expence of a portion of muriate of lime, and its formation is accompanied with the production of a little muriate of soda; hence the proportion of the former must be a little larger, and that of the latter a little smaller, than have been before stated. 3.5 grains of sulphate of lime are equivalent to 2.8 of muriate of lime, which quantity, therefore, is to be added to the proportion above assigned. The equivalent portion of muriate of soda to be subtracted is 3. The whole proportions, therefore, will be the following:

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Muriate of soda,
Muriate of lime,

Sulphate of soda,
Carbonate of lime,

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"The quantity of sulphate of lime obtained in the analysis of the Pitcaithly water, being so much smaller than that in the Dunblane, it may perhaps be considered as an original ingredient; or, if even the opposite view be adopted, the change in the proportions, as indicated by the analysis, is much less. They may be stated as follow:

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"Sulphate of lime has been often stated as an ingredient existing in mineral waters, with muriate of soda and muriate of lime. It is almost superfluous to remark, that it is probable the original ingredients, in all such cases, are sulphate of soda and muriate of lime, and that the sulphate of lime is a product of the operation, or rather, that the portion of it equivalent to the quantity of muriate of soda, has this origin.

"It is a curious fact, which strongly confirms this, that in almost all the analyses of mineral waters since the time of Bergmau, when

they can be presumed to have been executed with any precision, where sulphate of lime is an ingredient, muriate of soda is also present. It is obvious, that, if the sulphate of lime has this origin, muriate of soda must also be formed. On the other hand, in the greater number of those analyses in which muriate of soda is an ingredient, we find also sulphate of lime; and, with the exception of the water of Harrowgate, sulphate of lime is always present, where muriate of soda and muriate of lime are conjoined.

"But the principal interest belonging to this view, is derived from its relation to a question which has often been brought under discussion,-Whether chemical analysis is capable of discovering the sources of the medicinal virtues of mineral waters? This question some have been disposed to decide in the negative, from finding examples of waters possessed of active powers, in which analysis does not detect any ingredients of adequate activity.

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"On the general question, the remark by Dr Saunders is perfectly just, that, considering the comparative accuracy to which chemists are at present able to carry their inquiries, we can hardly suppose, that whatever slight error might occur in the estimation of minute quantities, the actual existence of any powerful agent on the human body, in any mineral water, should escape the nicety of research.' Yet though this is just, and though we can have no hesitation in rejecting the opinion which would ascribe the medicinal qualities of mineral waters to unknown or mysterious causes, or which would deny all power to those in which an active chemical composition cannot be discovered, difficulties on this subject undoubtedly exist, and there is some room for that scepticism which has been extended to this department of the Materia Medica.

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"Of this no better example can be given, than the celebrated Bath water. It has always been found difficult to account for its powers, the ingredients which are obtained in its analysis being substances of little activity, and the principal ones, indeed, being apparently inert. It contains in an English pint, along with a slight impregnation of carbonic acid, about 9 grains of sulphate of lime, 3 grains of muriate of soda, 3 grains of sulphate of soda, ths of a grain of carbonate of lime, 4th grain of silica, and th grain of oxide of iron. Now, from these ingredients unquestionably no medicinal power of any importance could be expected. They are either substances altogether inert, or are in quantities so minute, as, in the dose in which the wa ter is taken, to be incapable of producing any sensible effect. Some have from this circumstance been disposed to deny altogether any virtues to these waters; but the reverse of this appears to be establish. ed by sufficient evidence, and what is still less equivocal, the inju rious effects they sometimes produce, and the precautions hence necessary in their use, sufficiently demonstrate their active powers. To account for these, therefore, various hypotheses have been pro posed. The observation has been urged, which, to a certain extent, is undoubtedly just, that substances given in small doses in a state of great dilution, may, from this dilution, produce more effect on the

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general system than the quantity given would lead us to expect. The temperature of the water, too, it has been supposed, may have a considerable share in aiding the effect; and these two circumstances in particular, it has been imagined, may favour the action of the iron. This is the view of the subject given by Dr Saunders, in his Treatise on Mineral Waters. Some of the other ingredients, too, it has been supposed, may exert unknown powers. Thus, some effect has been ascribed to the agency of the nitrogen gas which rises through the water. And Dr Saunders himself, apparently not very well satisfied with the reasoning he had employed, allows some weight to the opinion suggested by Dr Gibbes, that the silicious earth assists in the general effect of the Bath waters ;-remarking, that though there is only half a grain of it in a pint of the water, this forms no objection, when the great powers of very minute quantities of active substances are considered; that neither is its insolubility in the animal fluids an objection, as it exists in the water in a state of solution; and that, though it has neither taste nor smell, it may be an active substance, since there are indisputably powerful medicines, which have little of either of these qualities.

"All this, it is superfluous to observe, is extremely unsatisfactory. With regard to the iron, the only active substance, allowing full weight to the observations, that small quantities of active medicines, under great dilution, operate with increased power, and that a high temperature may aid their operation on the stomach,-still we cannot believe that one-sixtieth of a grain, the quantity in a pint of this water, can produce any important medicinal effect. And, with regard to the other substances, the reasoning whence their possible operation has been inferred, instead of removing the difficulty, rather places it in a clearer light.

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The view of the constitution of mineral waters stated above, enables us to assign to the Bath water a much more active chemical composition. There is every probability that muriate of lime is its powerful ingredient. The principal products of its analysis are sufphate of lime, muriate of soda, and sulphate of soda. The propor tion of sulphate of lime is such, that part of it must pre-exist in the water, but part of it, there is reason to conclude, is a product of the analysis; the muriate of soda is entirely so, and the quantity of sulphate of soda is larger than what the analysis indicates. In other .words, there exist in it muriate of lime, sulphate of soda, and sulphate of lime, and, during the evaporation, the muriate of lime being acted -on by a portion of the sulphate of soda, muriate of soda and a corresponding portion of sulphate of lime are formed.

"On this view of the composition of the Bath water, it is easy to assign the proportions of the ingredients, from the products which are obtained in its analysis. In the formation of 3.3 grains of muriate of soda, which is the quantity obtained from a pint of the water, 3.1 grains of muriate of lime must be decomposed: 4 grains of sulphate of soda would be required to produce this decomposition; and, at the same time, 3.8 grains of sulphate of lime would be formed.

"The latest, and no doubt the most accurate analysis of the Bath water, that by Mr Phillips, gives the following view of its compo sition :

In an English pint Carbonic acid,

Sulphate of lime,
Muriate of soda,
Sulphate of soda,
Carbonate of lime,
Silica,

Oxide of iron,

Carbonic acid,
Sulphate of lime,
Muriate of lime,

Sulphate of soda,
Carbonate of lime,

1.2 inches.

9 grains.

3.3

Silica,

Oxide of iron,

1.5

0.8

0.2

grain.

But, considering the composition according to the preceding view, the ingredients and their proportions will be,

1.2 inches.

5.2 grains.

3.1

5.5

0.8

0.2

grain.

"The peculiarity in the composition of the Bath water, compared with the greater number of saline mineral waters, is, that it contains a larger quantity of sulphate of soda than is necessary to convert its muriate of lime into sulphate of lime. Hence no muriate of lime is obtained after evaporation in its analysis; hence even a portion of sulphate of soda is indicated; and hence the large proportion of sulphate of lime which that analysis yields. In the Dunblane and Pitcaithly waters, the sulphate of soda is deficient; the muriate of lime is in large quantity, and is accompanied with muriate of soda; hence the entire want of sulphate of soda, the small quantity of sul. phate of lime, and the large proportion of muriate of lime in their analyses.

"Muriate of lime, it is well known, is a substance of considerable power in its operation on the living system; in quantities which are even not large, it proves fatal to animals. When taken to the extent of six grains, the quantity of it which, according to the preceding view, exists in a quart of the Bath water, it cannot be inactive. It is very probable, too, that a given quantity of it will prove much more active in a state of great dilution in water, than in a less diluted form; as, in this diluted state, it acts, when received into the stomach, over a more extended surface; and, besides this, whatever effect may be due to the high temperature of the Bath water, in aiding the operation of the minute portion of iron it contains, the same effect must be equally obtained in aiding the operation of the much larger quantity of muriate of lime. The conclusion, indeed, as to the importance of this effect, is much more probable with regard to

the muriate of lime, than to the iron; for, supposing the quantity of the former to exist in the Bath water, which has been assigned, the dose of it taken in a quart of the water, is not far from its proper medium dose, and is at least equal to one-half the largest dose which can be given, and continued without producing irritation; while the dose of the iron is not the one-hundredth of that which is usually prescribed. Under the circumstances, therefore, in which the muriate of lime is presented in the Bath water, it is reasonable to infer that it must be productive of considerable immediate effect.

"The speculation is farther not improbable, that, to produce its more permanent effects on the system as a tonic, it is necessary it should enter into the circulation. In a dilute state of solution, it may pass more easily through the absorbents; while, in a more concentrated state, it may be excluded, and its action confined to the bowels. Hence the reason, perhaps, that in some of the diseases in which it is employed, scrofula particularly, it has frequently failed, its exhibition having been in doses too large, and in too concentrated a form. And hence it is conceivable, that in a more dilute state, as that in which it may exist in the Bath water, besides its immediate operation, it may produce effects as a permanent tonic, more important than we should otherwise expect.

"I may add, that the iron in the Bath water is probably not in the state of oxide or carbonate, as has been supposed, but in that of muriate. The muriate is the most active preparation of iron, and so far, increased activity may be given to the slight chalybeate impregnation; and some modification of power may even be derived from the combined operation of muriate of lime and muriate of iron.

"It deserves to be remarked, that, in the most essential ingredients, the muriate of lime and the iron, the Dunblane and Pitcaithly waters are similar to the Bath water, only with regard to the former ingredient much stronger; the other differences are unimportant; the larger quantity of sulphate of lime, and the small quantity of silica in the latter, cannot be supposed to contribute anything to its medicinal operation; the difference in the proportion of sulphate of soda is trivial, and the larger proportion of muriate of soda in the other waters, may rather be an advantage, rendering them more agreeable to the taste and the stomach. The principal difference will therefore be that of strength with regard to the most active ingredient, the muriate of lime. The quantity of this is so large, that the tonic quality of the Dunblane or the Pitcaithly waters can scarcely be observed, and perhaps even scarcely obtained; their action being more peculiarly on the bowels. It is accordingly as a saline purgative that the Pitcaithly water has been celebrated; and it is principally in those diseases in which this effect is sought to be obtained, that it has been used. The Dunblane water, from the similarity of its operation, would no doubt be employed in diseases of a similar kind. But whatever advantage might be derived from this purgative effect, it cannot fail to be perceived, that a different operation, not less useful, may be obtained from them. If sufficiently diluted, so as to

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