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Immune: Wm Cook on diaphoretics

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 3(4):10

The majority of diaphoretics act directly upon sweat glands, and that chiefly by relaxation. They thus are followed by an increased evacuation of the watery materials and saline constituents of perspiration; and by their aid great quantities of offensive and irritating materials are cast out of the system. A few of those which act on the sweat glands are stimulating, e.g. ginger. All diaphoretics act more or less upon the capillaries, and induce a greater outward flow of blood; and while their principal action is on the sweat glands, it is not probable that the materia medica furnishes a single diaphoretic article whose action does not at the same time embrace the circulation and nervous system to a visible and important extent. A goodly number of these articles act so largely upon the circulation, that the flow of sweat is but a sequence to the increased hurry of the blood. Of such a character are serpentaria and capsicum—the former seeking first the capillaries, while the latter commences at the heart and gradually advances to the surface. The diaphoretics of this class are always stimulating. The distinction in their use is of much importance; for the first class is to be selected when the skin is both warm and dry, and the action of the heart is excited; while the latter class is appropriate when the skin is cold and harsh, and the heart’s action deficient in strength. Aslepias tuberosa would be quite out of place for a cold surface and a sluggish pulse, though capsicum would meet the requirements of such a case; and, on the other hand, capsicum would be utterly unsuited to a hot and dry skin with a large bounding pulse, while aslepias would then be one of the more useful remedies. Thus it is not sufficient merely to say that an agent is a diaphoretic, as that naked description would not cover any indication of the times for employing it or withholding it.

—excerpted and edited from the Physiomedical Dispensatory, by Wm. Coo, M.D. (1869)
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    183