Its only important application in medicine is as a carminative to lessen the griping caused by some purgatives such as aloes.
Sodium phosphate and sulphate are cholagogue purgatives and are used in the treatment of gallstones.
Many species had a great repute as demulcents, febrifuges, astringents, tonics, purgatives and anthelmintics.
The prescriptions are for a great variety of ailments and afflictionsdiseases of the eye and the stomach, sores and broken bones, to make the hair grow, to keep away snakes, fleas, &c. Purgatives and diuretics are particularly numerous, and the medicines take the form of pillules, draughts, liniments, fumigations, &c. The prescriptions are often fanciful and may thus bear some absurd relation to the disease to be cured, but generally they would be to some extent effective.
Above all, fasting was a mode of preparing oneself for the sacramental eating of a sacred animal, and as such often assisted by use of purgatives and aperients.
The important thing is to prevent the absorption of the poison, so emetics and purgatives should be given at once.
During his professorship he published the Institutes of Surgery, arranged in the order of the lectures delivered in the university of Edinburgh (1838); and in 1841 he wrote a volume of Practical Essays, two of which, "On Squinting," and "On the action of purgatives," are of great value.
In addition mild purgatives should be given.
Some substances have a very wide range of action, and involve a great variety of structures, while others, such as purgatives, have a very limited sphere.
The large number of vegetable substances used as purgatives owe their action to an irritating effect upon the mucous membrane and the neuro-muscular apparatus of the bowel, whereby the secretions and peristalsis are more or less increased, as the result of which diarrhoea ensues.