Syn.—Iron, metallic iron.
Taken internally it increases the ability of the red blood corpuscles to carry oxygen. Oxygen absorbed produces ozone; thus iron proves to be a nutriment to the red blood corpuscles. It is absorbed slowly and only in very small quantities, and for that reason should only be given in small doses, when it is easily absorbed and far less irritating. In large doses it will color feces black. If continued for some time in large doses it causes gastric irritation. If it should cause constipation on account of its astringent qualities a mild laxative should be given with it. People with the mental or motive temperament will require iron more than those with a vital temperament. Iron is not eliminated very speedily from the system if given in small doses, but retained. In anemia, chlorosis or any condition where the red blood corpuscles are deficient in hemoglobin iron is indicated. It is generally well to give with other indicated tonics, In plethora and inflammatory conditions iron is contra-indicated. As different conditions will require iron in different forms the various preparations that are mostly used and most easily assimilated will be given with their indications and use. Anything containing tannic acid should be avoided when iron is taken. As tea and coffee contain tannic acid they should not be taken with iron. If they are used at meals the iron should be given at least an hour or more after meals to give time enough for the absorption of tannic acid they contain, especially tea. Otherwise the tannic acid will combine with the iron and form insoluble tannate of iron. Iron is a normal constituent of the blood. By its molecular activity in the stomach through its oxidation it sets free hydrogen. The salts in small doses are converted into chlorides in the stomach, and into alkaline albuminates in the duodenum. In large doses the chlorides, iodides, nitrates and sulphates are poisonous and powerful astringents. The persalts in large doses are powerful irritants. Locally many irons are good astringents and hemostatics.
Acid Solution of Iron (Howe's):
Indications: Pallid mucous membrane, debility and general weakness, anemia, alternate pale and flushed skin, poor digestion. As it does not disturb digestion, but, on the contrary, improves digestion, it is our best form of iron when not contra-indicated. In anemia we use it with the happiest results. A valuable tonic in constitutional syphilis if alternated with other antisyphilitic remedies. It may be given 2 to 3 drops in a little water; or in orange syrup: Howe's acid sol. of iron 1 drachm; syrup of orange 4 ounces. Sig: 1 teaspoonful in a little water before meals.
Indications: We think of it in conditions where there is pallor, blueness of tongue, aversion to motion in anemia. In malarial cachexia with above indications it is of value. Should not be given to patients troubled with gastric catarrh.
Syn.—Carbonate of iron.
Use: A non-irritating, tasteless preparation of iron having great restorative power in debilitated conditions. Its action on the stomach is stimulating and the least astringent of iron preparations. It will improve digestion. May be given with quinine if the latter is indicated. In atonic conditions it may be combined to advantage with nux vomica, xanthoxylum, hydrastis or corydalis, using such as are indicated. Of value in some forms of pustular eruption of the skin, crops of boils if not the result of deficiency of the lime salts, silica or sulphur, or taint in the blood. We think of it in chorea, anemia, amenorrhea due to anemia, and in any condition where a mild non-irritating iron tonic is indicated. Dose for adults is about 1/2 to 2 grains 3 or 4 times a day.
Syn.—Prussian blue; Ferrocyanide of iron.
Properties: Tonic and antiperiodic.
Use: In pernicious intermittent malaria and neuralgia. In malarial conditions it is usually given with quinine, sometimes it is of benefit to add capsicum.
Syn.—Iron by hydrogen, Quevenne's iron; Reduced iron.
Use: This form of iron has a gray color and if lighted with a match should take fire and burn with a red glow. If it will not completely ignite it is of no value. Insoluble in water or alcohol. Being finely divided it is a nonirritating, pure iron tonic and may be given with confidence to children where other preparations of iron may be objectionable. Its astringent effect is hardly worth mentioning, being so slight. Dose for adult is about 1 to 3 grains during meals.
The Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics, 1905, was written by Fred J. Petersen, M.D.