Dose.—Of Nitrate of potash, from grs. x. to ʒss., mixed with sugar or taken in solution. If taken as a refrigerant, it should be dissolved in water, and swallowed immediately.
Therapeutic Action.—Nitrate of Potash is diaphoretic, diuretic, antiseptic, refrigerant and sedative. If taken in doses of one ounce, it acts as a poison, and has caused death in several instances. Its effects, however, are by no means uniform; for in other cases the same quantity has been known to exert no injurious effect upon the system. When taken in poisonous doses, it acts as an acro-narcotic, causing nausea and vomiting, violent pain in the bowels, with free catharsis or bloody stools, indicating gastro-intestinal inflammation, together with a disordered state of the nervous system, marked by giddiness, convulsions, disposition to syncope, palsy, etc. When taken largely diluted with water, its poisonous effects seem to be much lesseued, or very nearly lost. The amount of dilution, and the use or abstinence from diluents after taking it, may account for the discrepant statements regarding its action.
In medicinal doses it acts as a diaphoretic, diuretic, refrigerant and sedative—its refrigerant and sedative influence being most readily appreciated when the surface is preternaturally hot, as is the case in febrile and inflammatory disorders. It greatly diminishes the force and frequency of the pulse, often from 70 to 60 beats in a minute, in a short time. Sunderlin says, "Nitre diminishes the orgasm and plasticity of the blood, perhaps by a chemical action on the cruor and fibrine."
Its action on the urinary organs is clearly manifested by the increased secretion and presence of the salt in the urine. It belongs to the class of renal depuratives, greatly increasing the solids of the urine. Like other neutral alkaline salts, it often acts upon the bowels, and if long continued, it frequently gives rise to pain and griping.
It has been found a very efficient prophylactic in habitual attacks of cynanche tonsillaris, or quinsy, and is also very valuable in shortening the paroxysm. Several cases have come under our notice where it has been used in this way.
It is also efficacious in obstinate spasmodic asthma, in shortening the paroxysm. A very convenient and effectual mode of exhibition, is in the form of nitrous fumigations, consisting in inhaling, for fifteen or twenty minutes, the smoke of burning paper, prepared by dipping it in a saturated solution of nitre, and afterward drying it.