Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

tive medicines affect, each in its own way, the composition of an 
organ, one alterative may, after a time, lose its influence, while the 
organ thus saturated, as it were, with the remedy, may still be suscept¬ 
ible of the influence of another. The practice of medicine affords-, 
in innumerable cases, a confirmation of this statement. By the con¬ 
tinued use of an alterative medicine, the composition of the organ 
will have suffered such a chemical change, that the same affinity 
for this substance no longer exists in the organism, while an affinity 
for another substance may still remain. Imponderable matters also 
are in this way alterative; thus the eye, after being long fixed on a 
gfeen surface, loses gradually its sensibility for this colour, which 
becomes dull and grey. At the same time, however, the sensibility 
for the red rays is increased. So, also, a long exposure of the retina 
to the red rays makes it susceptible of the green. In the same way, 
by fixing the eye for some time on yellow, the sensibility for that 
colour is lost, while the perception of violet becomes more intense, 
and vice versa; the same relation exists between blue and orange. 
3. Agents which destroy the organic composition. (Decom¬ 
posing agents.)—These are substances which, without first pro¬ 
ducing a stimulant or simply alterant effect, directly destroy the 
essential composition of the organised tissues. Some of the agents 
which are “stimulants” when they operate gently, produce by a 
more violent action too great a disturbance of the powers of the 
part; such are heat, electricity, &c. Others are “alteratives,” which 
by an extreme degree of their action produce great changes in the 
composition of the tissues, forming with the organic matter combi¬ 
nations which the organic force is not able to counterbalance. It is 
in this way that the narcotic alterants have a destructive action; 
and those alterants which modify the formation of the fluids of the 
body, and the organic changes effected in them by different organs, 
—for example, the antimonial and mercurial preparations, and the 
mineral acids and alkalies,—have, when in a concentrated state, an 
equally destructive influence on the organic composition. Stimu¬ 
lants can produce disorganisation in two ways. Some agents are 
stimulants only when their action does not surpass a certain degree 
of intensity; and, when their action is more violent, instead of reno¬ 
vating the organic composition and force, or even favouring this 
renovation by exciting new affinities, they produce immediately an 
essential change of composition. In this case no irritation or reac¬ 
tion precedes the local or general death; the disorganisation is imme¬ 
diate, as in death from electricity, lightning, &c. Other stimuli, 
which under certain conditions have a renovating action, may have 
a destructive effect by exciting the action of an organ during too long 
a period: more force being exhausted than can be restored again in 
an equal space of time. This action is called over-excitement. An 
organ thus over excited, as, for example, the eye by light, is rendered 
permanently weaker. The decomposing agents are used in medicine 
only when it is wished really to produce destruction of a part,


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