An Introduction to Chemical Pharmacology

Hugh McGuigan


An Introduction to Chemical Pharmacology - Hugh McGuigan

Excerpt from An Introduction to Chemical Pharmacology: Pharmacodynamics in Relation to Chemistry

Before the foundation of a science is definitely laid, many facts must be established, analyzed and correlated. In obtaining these facts many methods may be used and many fields studied. This is especially true of the science of pharmacology, the foundation of which rests on anatomy, physiology, chemistry and physics. It is natural therefore, in the development of pharmacology, that research should have proceeded in waves, during which anatomy, physiology, physics or chemistry, played the predominant role. The sequence of such waves may be due to the investigator following the line of least resistance or to the influence of a dominant character in the science. Finally however, such waves are spent, and new methods of attack are developed, often in a new field.

The period of pure physiological methods in which changes in blood pressure, respiration or heart rate have been recorded, for the present seems spent, and many are convinced that chemistry now offers the most hopeful method for the solution of many problems of pharmacology.

The changes in blood pressure, respiration, secretion or metabolism, after the administration of drugs are fundamentally due to a chemical reaction between the drug and the tissue. Physical changes also result, and it is often difficult to separate the purely physical from the purely chemical. The fact that we know little of the chemistry involved in many cases where the dynamic reaction is most pronounced cannot be used as an argument against the importance of a study of the Chemical Pharmacology. Rather our ignorance of such a reaction should stimulate chemical investigation concerning many life processes. The dictum of the great physiologist who said "Ignoramus, Ignorabimus," must apparently remain true, until chemical investigation gives the explanation.

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