Synonyms—Acetic Acid, Pyroligneous Acid, Acetyl Hydrate or the Hydrogen Acetate.
The pure, free, absolute acid is known as the Glacial Acetic Acid. It contains ninety-nine per cent of the acid.
Vinegar is a liquid made from the juice of apples, acidulated with Acetic Acid, which is produced therein by the ferment mycoderma aceti in the natural process of acetous fermentation. Alcoholic fermentation first takes place in the fermenting substance, and this is followed by the acetous fermentation, produced artificially by the introduction of the characteristic ferment, or mother of vinegar.
Therapy—In spasmodic croup a few drops quickly volatilized on a hot surface, or on the surface of boiling water, will often give quick relief in breathing. Its vapor is often diffused in the room from hot water in cases of dry bronchial cough, in bronchitis, with excellent results. It is useful also in diphtheria and membranous croup, both internally and externally. It is of service in syrups forming an acetous syrup of many well known expectorants, such as sanguinaria, ipecac, lobelia and squills. The influence of the other constituents is often enhanced by this combination.
Dr. Vassar advocates the use of acetic acid in nose bleed. He makes a fifty per cent solution of vinegar and water, saturates cotton and passes it back along the floor of the bleeding nostril. In extreme cases he uses full strength vinegar. Sometimes he tampons posterially also.
Glacial acetic acid mixed with one part of chloroform and applied lightly once a day to the bare spot will cure some cases of alopecia.
There is good authority for the use of acetic acid dilute, or strong vinegar in twenty-five per cent solution as an external application in many forms of infectious disease. One so-called crank claimed to cure all chronic disease with the use of vinegar baths. A case resembling general bubo, apparently malignant infection of the glands, was rapidly relieved by the action of this remedy externally.
There is a tradition that some nurses in the London Bubonic Plague of the fourteenth century saved their lives and those of some patients by vinegar baths.
This agent is specific in carbolic acid poisoning. If Acetic Acid or plain vinegar is at once diluted to a safe strength-one that can be swallowed without strangulation, and given to the patient immediately after taking a dose of carbolic acid, its influences are neutralized immediately, and no appearance of the destructive poisonous effects of the latter acid are apparent. Henning took a teaspoonful of 95 per cent carbolic acid into his mouth for a minute or more, then ejecting it, he held dilute acetic acid in the mouth for a short time, when all evidences of the carbolic acid disappeared, and no unpleasant symptoms whatever were experienced. Many cases are reported of its prompt action in carbolic acid poisoning.
If acetic acid be poured on to a compress and inhaled by a patient after the patient has taken chloroform, Lewis says it will relieve nausea and vomiting from the chloroform, or prevent it, most effectually.
Many alcoholic habitues are in the habit of drinking vinegar diluted with water to cut short a debauch, claiming that it produces steadiness of action and overcomes the intoxicating effects of alcohol.
This acid is used as a reagent in the laboratory. It is used also in the preservation of food stuffs, as it is actively antiseptic. Its vapor has been used as a stimulant, inhaled in asphyxia, and syncope.
It has been used in the treatment of venereal sores and other specific ulcers and in cancers, and it has been applied to gangrenous degeneration.
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.