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gelatine and water

GELATINUM (GELATINE).—The dried product obtained from the skin, ligaments, and bones of animals after treatment by boiling and removal of water. Gelatine is insoluble in cold water, but swells on immersion, and absorbs a quantity of water equal to io per cent. of its weight. It is soluble in boiling water ; and a solution of one part gelatine to 5o parts of water solidifies upon cooling, and is widely employed in the household as an impor tant constituent of soups and of various jelly-like dishes. In pharmacy gelatine is used very widely as a coating material. In medicine it has no particular value, but it has been employed in surgery for certain technical purposes. Gelatine is not utilised to any great extent by the body, its sole value as a food substance being that of sparing other constituents, notably proteids. Thus, while it may be said that gelatine has no direct food value, it may be seen to serve indirectly a useful purpose.

GELSEMIUM.—The dried roots of Gelsemium sempervirens, or yellow jasmine, a woody twiner, climbing over moist woodlands in the southern United States, and extending also into Central America. It contains an amorphous alkaloid, gelsemine, and an acid, gelsemic acid. This latter is thought to be identical with the substance found in the root of scopoal.

Gelsemium acts upon the motor and end-organs in the muscles, depressing their activity ; in large doses it may cause paralysis of the muscles, notably of the eyelids and extremities. It also affects the sensory end-organs, thus diminishing the sensation of pain, and it has been used to some extent in the treatment of neuralgia. It is a dangerous drug, and can be used only with considerable caution.