a brief essay written by Dr. Janos on the proper methods
A Few Words on the Specific, Mercury
The attentive reader will note that many of the pages here prescribe medicines of mercury in the treatment of the venereal disease. Many doctors the world over have found this marvelous element to be the one guaranteed cure for all manner of afflictions to the parts of reproduction. I, myself have witnessed the worst of afflictions melting away under the administration of mercury, and seen many a formerly debilitated patient resume normal life once more. I must emphasize that this element will not undo the decaying effects of the French Disease and others, but it will prevent further decrepitude. Worthy of note also is that the prescription of mercury will only work to remove effects of the venereal disease. A wise doctor can use this knowledge to aid in an effective diagnosis; if a bubo or cancre yields to the Specific, the cause is surely venereal. If quicksilver works to no effect, another sort of illness is at work.
In the pages above, I make mention to some of the many preparations of quicksilver, and here I will describe them in detail. Different patients and different constitutions will call for various concoctions of mercury, ranging from pills, poultices, injections, ointments, caustics, and others. Methods for creating and applying these are described below. Remember also that no two men are alike, and as such, the amounts of the Specific needed for each may vary widely. One may know that he has thrown in the proper amount of the drug when he experiences soreness and increased salivation in the mouth. Any mention of salivating a patient in these pages refers to this effect of the mercury. It may continue for several months, and is the sign of proper treatment. If a patient does not experience these side-effects, he has not a sufficient amount of quicksilver in his system. (15) Remember, however, that the salivation should be gentle, and not violent. Decrease the dosage if the soreness or salivation are extreme.
A great deal of controversy resides with the issue of whether to prescribe pure mercury, or some derivative thereof. The choice to me, seems very clear, as the raw Specific is far too potent for the constitution, and can lay waste to the body, rather than promoting good health. Therefore, I must urge the reader to be wary of quacks and charlatans who peddle raw mercury, ignorant of its proper use and dosages. Here, I list some of the more popular and safe means of ingesting mercury.
In pills, quicksilver works very well in a calomel form, that is, in a mercuric chloride compound. Taken orally, this is an excellent way of introducing mercury into the system. (16)
With any oral intake of mercury, one must be watchful that it does not run off in the patients stool. This is a common occurance, and can be negated by administering a few grains of opium along with the mercury. The opium will not only relax the patient, but also keep the quicksilver from exitting the body. (17)
A corrosive sublimate of mercury may also be administered, either applied directly to the affected area, or mixed with spirits and drunk. The bowels, however, are apt to reject the concoction, and thus it should never be given on an empty stomach. (18)
For those whose stomachs ill favor mercury, ointment containing quicksilver may be prescribed instead. While generally not as effective as oral treatment, the ointment will still affect a cure. (19)
Injections of a mercuric solution into the urethra often prove effective against such diseases as gonorrhea, or any infection of the lues venerea in the urinary tract. The patient is advised to prepare the solution, inject it into the urethra, hold it there for several minutes, and then release it. Goulards Extract (Lead), also proves particularly effective in this method of treatment. (12)
The few practicioners of physic who disdain the use of quicksilver claim it to be harmful and potentially fatal to the constitution. There are indeed several side effects associated with the Specific, but these are easily avoided with proper treatment. Symptoms such as profuse salivation and bloody discharge from the mouth and bowels are indications that the patient has too much mercury in his system. Reducing the dosage should alleviate these ailments. The soreness of the mouth and salivation listed above are also side effects, but are comparatively minor when compared to the magnitude of the cure effected.
Opponents of the drug also cite larger and more grievous side effects of the use of mercury, such as blindness, madness, corrosion of the flesh, and death. I would emphasize again that such ills are the result of poor practice, poor maintanence of the retinue of the cure, and often dangerous or immoral living on the part of the patient. Anyone being treated with mercury should abstain from wine and spirits until his cure is completed, and should also avoid profuse sweats, which can aggravate the system. They should be given regular, full meals, and avoid going into the cold for any reason. (20) It is my personal belief that all of the woeful side effects cited by the opponents of quicksilver could have been easily prevented had the patients followed their doctors orders of keeping warm, well-fed, and modest. In my own patients, I have never once had an occurrence of these ills when the afflicted followed my instructions.