Gunpowder. (Pulvis Pyrius. Pulvis Nitratus.)
History. — Gunpowder is prepared by combining together, five or six parts of nitre, with one part each, of charcoal and sulphur ; however, these proportions vary with the different manufacturers of the article, so that there is no regular or officinal method for its preparation. The uses of gunpowder, aside from medicine, are too well known to require any description.
Properties and Uses. — Recommended as a detergent and alterative in chlorosis, and dyspepsia, also as a corrective of morbid secretions of the gastro-mucous membrane, dependent on, or accompanied with subacute inflammation. Dose, ten grains, three or four times a day, gradually increased, occasionally using a mild laxative. Externally, applied in powder or ointment to indolent ulcers, and several forms of cutaneous diseases. Gunpowder dissolved in water, and the solution taken in teaspoonful doses three or four times in twenty-four hours, and continued daily, has cured gonorrhea. Dr. Bone and Dr. Henry, two celebrated botanic practitioners of some thirty or forty years since, made considerable use of this article in the treatment of some forms of cutaneous disease, indolent ulcers, and even cancers ; the following is the formula they employed ; simmer one pound of the inspissated juice of poke for a short time, on hot ashes, until the aqueous portion has evaporated ; then place it in an iron dish, add to it a pound of fresh butter, and half a pint of finely pulverized gunpowder, and place it over a fire, where it must be kept until it is so far dried that the mixture will flash once or twice ; or if it should take fire instead, it must be immediately smothered. Remove it into a glazed pipkin, and let it remain on hot ashes until it is well incorporated, when it may be transferred into pots, and covered with alcohol to prevent it from molding. This ointment applied twice a day, is reputed to destroy cancer to its extreme fibers or roots.
Off. Prep. — Lotio Hydrastii Composita.