Physiological Action—This agent is an active irritating emetic. It is used when profound and immediate emesis is necessary, as after the ingestion of poisons. When given in overdoses, the vomiting is extreme and there is persistent retching. If the stomach is in a state of irritation when evacuation seems imperative, the stomach pump or irrigation should be used and this agent should be avoided.
Therapy—With a very torpid stomach, heavy coating on the tongue, and pale, flabby mucous membranes, this agent will produce a good result, by arousing the action, unloading morbid secretion and stimulating the nervous influence of the stomach, but vegetable emetics devoid of irritating properties will accomplish the same result in a much more satisfactory manner.
It was in use at one time in the treatment of gastric catarrh. It was given in small dose, probably not exceeding one-fourth of a grain. It should be beneficial in this disease from its inherent properties, but we have not used it in this condition because we have not needed it.
It has been given as an emetic in membranous croup, and in spasmodic croup and whooping cough and in other laryngeal disorders. The agent has antiseptic properties, is very astringent, and is said to be tonic to the surfaces to which it is applied. It is widely used as a topical application or as an injection or wash.
It is so used in gonorrhea with hydrastis in the proportion of about one grain to the ounce. It is used in leucorrhea, and in other catarrhal or purulent discharges. An excellent combination for the eyes is made by dissolving one grain of hydrastine hydrochlorate and five grains of zinc sulphate in an ounce of rosewater. From five to ten drops of this is slowly instilled into the eye twice daily. It is useful in purulent conjunctivitis. It is used for indolent ulcers and gangrene, and the dried salt is made into an ointment for application to urethral caruncles, warts and fungoid growths, in lupus and in condylomata. In these cases at least one-fourth of the ointment should be of the sulphate. It should be used with care. In ulcers a much milder ointment may be used.
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.