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Acidum Salicylicum.

Related entry: Gaultheria - Sodium salicylate - Salol- Aspirin - Salicin

Synonym—Salicylic Acid. Dose, from three to fifteen grains.

Physiological Action—Taken into the system, salicylic acid produces a roaring in the head similar to that produced by quinine, an uncomfortable fullness of the head, a sensation of distention with deafness and impaired vision. There is trembling or muscular uncertainty, and reduction of reflex action.

From over-doses, Bartholow says strabismus or ptosis may occur, and complete amaurosis has been temporarily induced. It has induced delirium, restlessness, difficult breathing, feeble pulse, loss of control of the natural evacuations. It induces general depression of the functions of the central nervous system. It depresses the action of the heart, and the temperature in large doses, to the extent in health of more than one and one-half degrees. In elevated temperatures its influence is more conspicuous, but if the synthetic agent is used its influence is irregular and not to be relied upon. It is destructive of the red blood corpuscles, destroying their oxygen carrying power. It produces flushing of the face in its first influence, a suffusion of the eyes and sweating which continues even if the temperature falls. Its protracted use produces pallor and prostration with lowering of the vital forces.

The agent is eliminated by all the natural emunctories, the natural form much more freely than the synthetic acid. It has appeared in the urine in fifteen minutes after its ingestion. It is usually, however, slow of absorption and its elimination is correspondingly protracted.

The influence of the agent upon the kidneys must be watched, as it sometimes acts as an irritant, producing congestion and hematuria, with partial suppression, or slight albuminuria.

In examining the urine of patients taking salicylic acid or its salts, it must be borne in mind that a reaction occurs from their presence with tests for sugar, similar to that of sugar itself, and is often misleading.

Chemical changes occur in the intestinal canal by the action of the digestive and intestinal juices upon it, and the effete products of large doses produce an alteration in the character of the urine.

Salicylic acid is used in medicine largely in combination with the alkaline bases, through its action on the neutral salts of these substances, because of their superior solubility. It was advised when the acid first came into general use to dissolve it, by the addition of the phosphate, acetate, carbonate, or other salt of sodium. This, of course, resulted in the formation of the salicylate of sodium with phosphoric, acetic or carbonic acids as the products. The sodium salt is now more universally used than any other compound of the acid.

The bromides or hydrobromic acid in small doses will correct the unpleasant roaring in the head induced by this acid or by the salicylates, and will permit their protracted use in cases where, when indicated, the patient is susceptible to this influence.

Therapy—The therapeutic influence of salicylic acid in internal use is largely comprehended in the therapeutics of the salicylate of sodium and the other salicylates.

Salicylic acid is specifically a remedy for rheumatism. It is used to best advantage in the acute and sub-acute forms, but will serve an excellent purpose in the chronic forms of whatever character. It is now given in the form of its soluble salts. Relapses are, however, more liable to occur after this agent than after almost any other remedy.

It is advised by Ringer as of especial value in sciatica and lumbago, and in some cases of migraine. It will serve a good purpose in many of these cases.

The antiseptic, deodorant, stimulating and healing properties of the agent are promptly and satisfactorily exhibited. It may be dissolved in hot water and used as a mouth-wash in all conditions of ulceration of the mucous membranes of the mouth or throat. It was commonly used in diphtheria at one time, and. was superior to other then known remedies.

In tonsilitis it seems to exercise a specific influence, operating efficiently in small doses of one or two grains every two hours. It can be applied directly to the tonsils if there is an exudate.

In the form of a spray it is useful in ozoena and fetid catarrh. It can be finely pulverized, combined with a non-irritating powder and used as an insufflation, or with a powder blower.

Internally the unaltered acid has been given in the treatment of ulcerations and cancerous conditions of the stomach and of the lungs, in all conditions wherein there was persistent foul breath or offensive expectoration. From two to five grains are given as a dose in these cases. It corrects the bad breath and quiets much of the discomfort present in ulcerative disease of these organs.

It is of value in old indolent ulcers, in chronic tibial ulcers, in unhealthy -granulating sores, and in cold abscesses. It is either dusted directly on these sores or incorporated into an ointment, with a healing base.

It is used in pruritus, especially if accompanied with a moist discharge from the part, similar to eczema. It is useful in a large number of skin diseases and has been especially advised in some tubercular and epitheliomatous conditions of the skin.

It is in universal use as a constituent of corn salves and other bunion and corn cure remedies, and is useful in the treatment of chilblains and frost bites.

Salicylic acid is an efficient agent in preventing fermentation. It is used to prevent this process in canned fruits, in cider and grape juice, and in other liquids subject to rapid decomposition. It is useful in preventing decomposition in urine preserved for future observation or analysis.


The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.



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