Pulvis Effervescens Compositus (U. S. P.)—Compound Effervescing Powder.

Botanical name: 

SYNONYMS: Seidlitz powder, Aperient effervescing powders, Pulveres effervescentes aperientes (U. S. P., 1870), Effervescent tartrated soda powder, Pulvis sodae tartaratae effervescens, Pulvis aërophorus seydlitzensis.

Preparation.—"Sodium bicarbonate, in fine powder, thirty-one grammes (31 Gm.) [1 oz. av., 41 grs.]; potassium and sodium tartrate, in fine powder, ninety-three grammes (93 Gm.) [3 ozs. av., 123 grs.]; tartaric acid, in fine powder, twenty-seven grammes (27 Gm.) [417 grs.]. Mix the sodium bicarbonate intimately with the potassium and sodium tartrate, divide the mixture into twelve (12) equal parts, and wrap each part in a separate paper of some pronounced color, as blue. Then divide the tartaric acid also into twelve (12) equal parts, and wrap each part in a separate paper of a color distinctly different from that used for wrapping the mixture, as white. Keep the powders in well-closed vessels"—(U. S. P.).

History.—This powder received its name from the Seidlitz Saline Springs of Bohemia, though the foregoing laxative constituents do not represent those of the springs named. As found upon the market, the Seidlitz powder is very variable in regard to proportion. To properly prepare them, each part should be weighed, strictly following the official directions, making the Seidlitz mixture of 3 parts of Rochelle salts and 1 part of sodium bicarbonate, and, as is directed, placing the alkaline powder in a blue paper. Then in a white paper place the tartaric acid. The white paper should contain, by weight, 35 grains of tartaric acid; the blue paper, 160 grains of Seidlitz mixture. When the powders are separately dissolved in water, and the solutions slowly mixed, the acid reacts with the sodium bicarbonate, liberating carbonic acid gas, and forming sodium tartrate, which adds somewhat to the laxative action of the Rochelle salt. The powders should be kept in a dry place, lest the acid should absorb sufficient moisture to dissolve it.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—The saline laxative, Seidlitz powder, is very popular as a laxative, especially where there is a slight rise of temperature, and particularly in warm weather. They should be used with care in very young children and the aged and debilitated. Preferably, the powders should be dissolved in separate glasses, using about 5 or 6 fluid ounces of water for the saline powder, and 1 or 2 fluid ounces for the acid powder. The two solutions should then be gradually mixed together and taken while effervescing. Under no circumstances should one solution be swallowed after the other, lest the liberation of carbon dioxide in the stomach should give rise to serious distension, if not rupture, of that organ. The usual dose for an adult is the contents of a white and blue paper (see also Potassii et Sodii Tartras).

Related Powder.—PULVERES EFFERVESCENTES (U. S. P., 1870), Effervescing powders, Soda powders. "Take of bicarbonate of sodium, in fine powder, 360 grains; tartaric acid, in fine powder, 300 grains. Divide each of the powders into 12 equal parts, and keep the parts, severally, of the bicarbonate and of the acid in separate papers of different colors"—(U. S. P., 1870). Each acid powder contains 25 grains; each alkaline powder 30 grains. They may be administered in water, both being dissolved at one time in one solution, or separate solutions may be prepared and mixed. The acid reacts upon the alkaline compound, producing sodium tartrate, while carbon dioxide escapes.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.