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Volume 24, Number 8—August 2018
Etymologia

Etymologia: Antimony

Mark D. WalkerComments to Author 

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Antimony [an′tĭ-mo′′ne]

Figure

Thumbnail of A)  Antimony, unknown author, http://images-of-elements.com/, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9084452; B) Antimony potassium tartrate trihydrate, Chargelot, own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47342907; C) Bone marrow aspiration: Leishmaniasis (Leishmania sp.) in liver transplant recipient, Paulo Henrique Orlandi Mourao, 2009, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leishmaniasis#/media/File:Leishmania_2009-04-14_smear.JPG;

Figure. A) Antimony, unknown author, http://images-of-elements.com/, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9084452; B) Antimony potassium tartrate trihydrate, Chargelot, own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47342907; C) Bone marrow aspiration: Leishmaniasis (Leishmania...

One hundred years ago, John Brian Christopherson (1868–1955) discovered that antimony potassium tartrate (Figure) was an effective treatment against schistosomiasis. Antimony had been previously used against visceral leishmaniasis, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, and yaws. The ancient Egyptians used antimony paste as mascara. In the Middle Ages, it was used as a laxative, which after swallowing and retrieval, could be reused. Alchemists used it to harden lead.

Its name might have been derived from the Egyptian word for the metal sdm, from which the Greek stimmi, then the Latin stibium, then the French antimoine were derived. A more interesting, but unlikely, origin is that the French antimoine translates as monk’s killer, referring to its toxicity to religious alchemists. Antimony potassium tartrate remained the treatment of choice for schistosomiasis until the development of praziquantel in the 1980s.

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References

  1. Challoner  J. The elements; the new guide to the building blocks of our universe. London: Andre Deutsch Ltd; 2014.
  2. Christopherson  JB. The successful use of antimony in bilharziosis. Lancet. 1918;192:3257. DOI

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Figure

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Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2408.et2408

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Table of Contents – Volume 24, Number 8—August 2018

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Mark D. Walker, Department for the Natural Environment, Sheffield Hallam University, Howard St, Sheffield S1 1WB, UK

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Page created: July 17, 2018
Page updated: July 17, 2018
Page reviewed: July 17, 2018
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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