Pharmacy is the art of preparing drugs for use and dispensing them as medicines. Although accuracy is the basis of every method, it is doubly important in Homoeopathic pharmacy whose distinctive feature is simplicity. The United States Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia deals with the preparation of Homoeopathic drugs and corresponds to the United States Pharmacopoeia. (Regular.) A new edition of the former book is in process of preparation and in this English edition an effort will be made to standardize pharmaceutical processes so it will no longer the necessary to have different homoeopathic pharmacopoeias for different countries. At present, there are three : British, German, and American.
Essentials of Homoeopathic Pharmacy – The pharmacy of medicine for homoeopathic use differs in many essential details from other and older methods. Cleanliness as required by Homoeopathy differs as much from that of the older pharmacy as the cleanliness of modern surgery differs from the practice of surgery before the days of our aseptic methods. It involves the most conscientious care in handling drugs of different kinds and in keeping them from contact with each other, in storing them so as to protect them from vapors, odors and deterioration from physical agents.
Drugs for homoeopathic use are taken from the three kingdoms of nature. In order to convert these substances into Homoeopathic medicines in such a state as will secure the ready and complete absorption we choose one of two processes (solution or trituration) such choice being determined by the physical state of the substance. Such a preliminary substance is the basis of our Homoeopathic potencies hence the necessity for starting with pure and active preparations. A discussion of potencies is reserved for a later paragraph.
The Menstrua used in Homoeopathic Pharmacy
Sugar of milk (lactose, saccharum lactis) is the menstruum used for triturations and tablets. It is pure white, slightly sweetish and non-hygroscopic. The selection of this substance by Hahnemann as a general menstrua was a most happy one as the sharp flinty crystals are capable of reducing even hard mineral substances to an extremely fine powder.
Alcohol (Pure Ethyl) is the most important menstruum used in Homoeopathic pharmacy and must be of absolute purity. Evaporation should be immediate, leaving neither stain nor odor.Mixed with pure water in any proportion it should remain clear. Official or dispensing alcohol is used for making the liquid potencies and is best adapted for medicating disks or pellets. It contains 88 per cent by volume of ethyl alcohol.
Distilled Water – This is most essential because it is used as a solvent for many chemical substances and also for converting triturations into liquid preparations.
The Unit of Medicinal Strength – The dry, crude drug is the unit of medicinal strength. It is a starting point from whence to calculate the strength of every preparation (tincture or solution). In making triturations or solutions of chemical substances, the matter is very simple. The first potency or tincture being 1/10 of the crude drug. In case of tinctures from plants, the dry drug also is a unit of drug power but as this is soluble in varying proportions in different plants the drug power of tinctures must first be calculated. (See paragraph on Tinctures.)
Some Homoeopathic solutions are subject to deterioration. The chemical salts should be made fresh. An example of this is ammonia carbonate, silver nitrate, etc.
Tinctures – These are made from plants and other substances wholly or partially soluble in alcohol. A few are extracted by other more suitable means. The chief source of Homoeopathic tinctures is the fresh plant, also barks, roots, seeds, etc. When made from plants it is essential to obtain the fresh, flowering plant, the dried article being inferior, often inert.
For this reason, Homoeopathic tinctures must be imported from the country where the plants grow and in no case will it answer to substitute the tincture made from the dry plant or worse still from a fluid extract. In order to have uniform strength, in spite of the different water content of plants (some being more succulent than others) the dried crude drug is taken as a starting point from whence to calculate the strength of the tincture.
This is readily ascertained by taking a suitable quantity of the fresh plant and weighing it, then drying and weighing again. The difference in weight will indicate the amount of water contained in the plant for which allowance is to be made in the use of the menstrua. It should be remembered, however, that while a dry crude plant is taken as a unit of strength the fresh green plant is to be used in the preparation of the tincture.