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DR. SOLOMON'S £ALM OF GILEAD.
The true balsam- or balm of Gilead was held in high estimation by the ancient physicians (particularly in Turkey), for its balsamic virtues.
It is a resinous juice, very similar to the balsam of Copaiva, to which ample experience, so far from proving it to possess any superior medicinal properties, the medical practitioners of this country have, of late years, given the latter the decided preference; in consequence of which, we believe that scarcely an ounce of the genuine balsam of Gilead is to be obtained in the united kingdom, or perhaps in IJurope. It is, however, still admitted into the materia medica, and therefore we think no person has any right to advertise a nostrum under that name, inasmuch as it may induce the ignorant to believe that it possesses the virtues of that arr ticle, when perhaps it is as opposite to it as two medicines can well be.
We do not, on examination, find that the balsam of Gilead enters the composition of this nostrum. We observe in the proprietor's publication a quotation from the Medical and Physical Journal, on the virtues of the true balm oj Gilead or Mecca, which being brought forth in favour of the restorative powers of his medicine, certainly implies that it is impregnated with its virtues. In another part of the work he, however, states that the composition of balm of Gilead is a profound secret, and that those chymists who have attempted an analysis of it have only been able to discover pure virgin gold! ! .' We can venture to assert, that no
chymist in this kingdom ever thought the medicine of that consequence as to spend one minute in its examination: nor should we have considered it worthy our notice, had he not given it a fictitious title. Those nervous cordials are generally had recourse to by a set of restless hypochondriacs, who are unfortunately sufficiently numerous in this country to support the illicit trade; and if the demand for them were entirely confined to this class of invalids, we. should be more inclined to encourage than condemn them; for if a fraud be allowable, it is in the treatment of hypochondriacs, who, anxious for the relief of complaints, which exist only in imagination, are fond of medicines of this kind, and will gladly take any new drug that is recommended to them, and generally with some ideal advantage. If the imagination be, therefore, diverted by them, they answer some purpose; and as the confidence of the patient is ot the first consequence to insure any success, Dr. Solomon has very properly put a very high price on his medicine, we presume, for this purpose. Besides, if the medicine should prove hurtful from some unfortunate combination of symptoms, the proprietor has great satisfaction in knowing that it is to a life useless to the community, intolerable to the possessor, and distressing to all his friends. We therefore cannot wonder that such medicines should experience a demand in this country. But the great misfortune is, that they are puffed off" as infallible remedies for the cure of diseases to which they cannot be applicable. In pulmonary consumption, they must, from their cordial properties, necessarily prove injurious, as well as in many of the diseases specified'in the authors pamphlet; but as we are persuaded they are not employed in such cases, we shall not dwell on the mischievous
effects that might attend their exhibition in the different stages of those complaints.
Although the proprietor asserts that this nostrum is composed of pure virgin gold, he. (which indeed its high price seems to confirm), in different diseases it is directed to be taken with very powerful auxiliaries. Hence, in complaints of the stomach, debility, &c. the patient is directed to take it with bitter infusion; in hysteric fits assafoetida is to accompany its use, &c. &c.—which seem to infer that the Doctor's nostrum is little more than a vehicle for the exhibition of the regular pharmaceutical preparations!!! which we have no doubt would prove as beneficial without his pretended balsam of Gilead as with it.
From an examination of this nostrum, we cannot hesitate to assert, that if it have any effect in the different diseases for which it is recommended, it is principally to be attributed to the confidence with which such medicines are taken by the credulous and ignorant, and which their puffing advertisements with that class of people are well calculated to inspire. The Lord Chancellor Bacon saith, "that imagination is next kin to miracle"working faith," and the learned Dr. Falconer in his dissertation on the passions observes, "that if "such remedies have any salutary effect on the "body, it is through the medium of the imagi"nations."
The siege of Breda affords a very striking example of the influence of the mind in diseases of the body; that city, from a long siege, suffered all the miseries that fatigue, bad provisions and distress of mind could bring on its inhabitants. Among other misfortunes the scurvy made its appearance, and carried off great numbers. The Prince of Orange anxious to save the city, and Unable to relieve the garrison, contrived to introduce letters addressed to the men, promising them the most speedy assistance. They were accompanied with medicines against the scurvy, (merely coloured water) said to be of great price, but still greater efficacy. The effects of this deceit was truly astonishing; three small vials of this wonderful arcanum were given to each physician. It was publicly given out, that three or four drops were sufficient to impart an healing virtue to a gallon of liquor—cheerfulness soon appeared in every countenance, and an universal confidence prevailed in the suffering virtues of the remedies. The effects of this delusion (says Dr. Lind) was really astonishing, for many were quickly and perfectly recovered; such as had not moved their limbs for a month before, were seen walking in the streets with their limbs sound, straight, and whole. They boasted of the cure by the Prince's remedy—many who declared they were rendered worse by all former remedies, were cured in a few days to their inexpressible joy. Several similar mstances of the powers of imagination on diseases of the body, are published by Dr. Falconer, Dr. Lind, and particularly by the antient physicians, as Aretaeus, Hippocrates, &c. If therefore real diseases have been cured by applications to the mind, we cannot be surprised that complaints which exist only in the imagination, or have their origin from a mind diseased (which is the case with what are termed nervous patients,) we can very readily account for cures which have been effected by the wonderful discoveries of illiterate quacks, but the effects of such remedies, like charms, are of a transitory nature: the mind of an hypochondriac being in general only gratified by taking medicine, and every new one has its temporary and beneficial effect. Hence we find that one person has even attested the restorative powers of almost all the advertised nervous nostrums, which a late Author has attributed to one person having printed for all!!!
We well know that an advertiser of nostrums in London, refused to employ a printer, unless he would take his restorative balsam and attest its efficacy, which he assented to do. We are also very credibly informed by a vender of medicines, that on discontinuing the advertisements of quacks, lie uniformly found the demand for their nostrums' to cease, a plain proof that notwithstanding the then boasted cures, their sale entirely depends on being frequently advertised, which if the cases published were genuine ones, would have so established its reputation as to render their public addresses unnecessary.
The nostrum of a celebrated nervous doctor, who perhaps advertised more extraordinary cures than any of his cotemporaries, have lately fell into entire disuse from its being assigned to a person who could not afford to advertise it properly; a convincing proof of its intrinsic reputation, and of the reality of the cures. The inventor of that medicine has thought proper to relinquish the title of Doctor in consequence of the interference of the College of Physicians, whose power, it is much to be lamented, does not extend to Liverpool.
Dr. Solomon refers his readers to the different Reviews for the high character of his "Guide to Health," without even specifying the number or name of the Review, which is a very unusual omission with authors whose works are well spoken Of, arid we think we know the character of Dr. . , Solomon too well to suppose that if his Guide to Health had been honored with a critical comment