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Arsenic is a metalloid with the chemical symbol of As. The symptoms of arsenic poisoning can be difficult to discern from other illnesses. During the Bradford sweet poisoning of 1858, the first deaths of two children were originally attributed to cholera. (

Remedies containing Arsenic are included in the Pharmacopeia, including a recipe for Fowler’s Solution of Arsenic. In the Compendium, it is warned that the use of too much Arsenic can cause the drug to build up in the system, which could cause health problems, as no known cure for arsenic poisoning was known at the time. The only time the Compendium recommended the use of Arsenic was in the form of Folwer’s Solution, given along with a dose of Jeremie’s Solution of Opium, to treat ague, or intermittent fever.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Preparations of Arsenic

Arsenious Acid / Acidum Arseniosum (syn: arsenicum album)[1]

  • “an anhydrous acid, obtained by roating arsenical orse, and purified by sublimation”
  • “occurs as a heavy white powder, or in sublimed masses which usually present a stratigied appearance caused by the existence of separated layers differing from each other in degrees of opacity”
  • given in dosages of 1/60 – 1/12 a grain, in a solution
  • used in the preparations of Liquor Arenicalis (4 grains in 1 fl oz) and in Liquor Arsenici Hydrochloricus (4 grains in 1 fluid oz)

Areseniate of Iron / Ferri Arsenian[2]

  • sulphate of iron (9 oz), Arsenitate of Soda, dried at 300° (4 oz), acetate of soda (3 oz), and boiling distilled water are combined to form…
  • “A tasteless amorphous powder of a green colour, insoluble in water, but reaily dissolved by hydrochloric acid.”
  • given in a dosage of 1/16 – ½ grains
  • also considered to be a preparation of iron [3]

Arsenical Solution / Liquor Arsenicalis (syn: Liquor Potasse Arsenitis, Fowler’s Solution”[4]

  • Arsenious Acid, in powder (80 grains), Carbonate of Potash (80 grains), Compound Ticture of Lavendar (5 fl drachms), and distilled water used to create
  • “a reddish liquid, alkaline to test paper, and having the odour of lavender”
  • given in a dose of 2-8 minims

Hydrochloric Solution of Arsenic / Liquor Arsenici Hydrochloricus [5]

  • Arsenious acid, in powder (80 grains), hydrochloric acid (2 fl drachms), and distilled water
  • “A colourless liquid, having an acid reaction.”
  • given in a dosage of 2-8 minims

Solution of Arseniate of Soda / Liquor Sodae Arseniatis[6]

  • Arseniate of Soda (rendered anhydrogenus by heat not exceeding 300°) (4 grains), dissolved in one fluid once of water

Arseniate of Soda / Sodae Arsenias[7]

  • Arsenious Acid (10 oz), Nitrate of Soda (8 ½ oz), dried carbonate of soda (5 ½ oz), and boiling distilled water (35 oz)
  • “In colourless transparent prisms soluble in water”
  • given in a dose of 1/16 – 1/8 grains
  • used in the preparation of Liquor Sodae Arseniatis (6.6 grains, or 4 grains dried) in 1 fl oz

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Savory warns those using arsenic, along with mercurial salts, digitalis, &c., that these products can accumulate in the system, and therefore should not be rapidly administered. [8] He Also notes that there is no known cure for arsenic poisoning, and as such, the stomach should be emptied immediately by use of sulphate of zinc.[9] However, arsenic "is a remedy of at least equal power with quinine," when treating ague, or intermittent fever. For this treatment, Fowler's Solution of Arsenic can be administered along with a dose of Jeremie's Solution of Opium. [10]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 6
  2. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 129-30
  3. GMCGB, 140
  4. GMCGB, 180-81
  5. GMCGB, 181-82
  6. GMCGB, 196
  7. GMCGB, 286
  8. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 21.
  9. Savory, 198
  10. Savory, 226

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