Spiritus Aetheris Nitrosi.
Related entry: Spiritus Aetheris Nitrosi under diuretics
Spirit of nitrous ether—sweet spirits of nitre—is markedly sedative in some cases. It lessens the frequency of the pulse, brings down the temperature, relieves nervous irritation, and stimulates secretion from the skin and kidneys. With the old ideas of the depressing action of the sedatives, the physician can hardly see how such results can follow the administration of a strong alcohol. But experiment will prove the fact, and will go far towards establishing the doctrine I have taught for years, that the medicinal action of sedatives was by improving the functional power of the heart and blood-vessels; that, instead of being depressants, they should rather be regarded as stimulants. This is now the established doctrine with regard to digitalis, is conceded by the majority with regard to aconite, and will be found equally true of the small dose of veratrum.
In the fevers of childhood, when the skin, though hot, is slightly moist, a teaspoonful of spirits of nitre in a half-glass of water, will lessen the frequency of the pulse and lower the temperature like aconite or veratrum. There are cases in which the first can not be used, owing to its unpleasant effect on mouth and fauces, and we do not care to use the second; this remedy may then be tried.