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Bitter Almond

alum, treatment, dried, action and active

ALMOND, BITTER. The ripe seed of the Amvgdalus communis amara, a native of Western Asia and extensively cultivated in the tropics. It is particularly interesting because it contains an active glycosid, amygdalinP, which on contact with water develops a very active acid, hydrocyanic or prussic acid. See PRUSSIC ACID.

ALOES.—The dried juice of the leaves of a number of species of the genus Aloe, southern members of the lily family, grown in Barbados and in other islands of the West Indies, and farther south. Some of the species yielding aloes are found also in Africa. The active principle of the drug is known as akin, which is an anthraquinone derivative. It is intensely bitter and resinous to the taste, and stimulates the movements of the intestinal tract. It causes increased flow of bile from the gall-bladder, but has no direct effect on the liver. Its chief action, however, is confined to the lower bowel, and it is for this reason that it is so Nvidely used in the treatment of chronic constipation. Given alone it is apt to cause griping, and it is widely used in pill-form combined with aromatic substances. The usual close of aloes alone is from one to five grains. It is an unsafe remedy for pregnant women, especially in large doses. The intestine gradually becomes habitu ated to it, as to all other cathartics, and it loses its effect with comparative rapidity.

ALUM.--The double sulphate of aluminum and potassium. It is largely formed in the manufacture of coal-gas, although a number of minerals can he used in its manufacture. Applied locally on the skin, alum has a

slight astringent action, and is an efficient antiseptic ; but its chief action is on the mucous membrane, where it causes a characteristic puckering and astringency, whitening the mucous membrane, thickening it, and making it tough. It also diminishes the secretion from the mucous membrane, and is widely used as a mouth-wash and in the treatment of leucorrhcea. For such conditions it should be well diluted, 20 grains of alum to an ounce of water being a fairly safe mixture. It is useful as a swab in sore throats ; and dried alum applied on a piece of cotton to canker-sores is usually efficacious in rendering them sterile and aiding in their healing.

In large closes alum is poisonous, acting as a metallic astringent. The dried alum is a much more powerful caustic than the ordinary crystalline alum. Internally, alum has been used in the treatment of lead-poisoning, but it is doubtful if its internal use is very efficacious. As an emetic it may be given in teaspoonful doses.

AMAUROSIS.—Term designating blindness caused by a disease, princi pally of the retina or optic nerve, occasionally congenital. It may result from gout, or from poisoning by wood-alcohol, grain-alcohol, lead, tobacco, or anilines. Amaurosis may develop from tumour of the brain, from loco motor ataxia, and from brain syphilis. It is not infrequently found in advanced disease of the kidneys.