Therapeutic Action.—Chloride of Sodium is emetic, cathartic, stimulant, tonic, anthelmintic, styptic or astringent, alterative, antiseptic, resolvent, refrigerant, and in large doses an irritant poison.
As an emetic it may be given conjoined with pulverized mustard seed in cases of poisoning by narcotics. One or two tablespoonfuls of the salt, and a teaspoonful of the flour of mustard, in a tumbler of water, will act promptly in such cases.
It has been employed in cholera in preference to other emetics. It has also been used in the same disease, by injecting it into the veins, as a stimulant, and powerful restorative, and likewise with the view of replenishing the blood with the saline and aqueous constituents removed by the excessive discharges from the bowels. This treatment, however, though giving temporary relief, was not successful.
In many cases of dyspepsia, this agent answers a valuable purpose as an emetic. It stimulates the stomach, and proves less debilitating than most agents of this class. In sick headaches, arising from a weak, languid, or foul state of the stomach, attended with, or dependent upon, large quantities of mucus lodged in that viscus, the salt often answers an admirable purpose as an evacuant. From one to two drachms, added to a tumblerful of cold water, and taken in the morning on an empty stomach, and repeated every twenty or thirty minutes, will generally produce emesis, and in the event of its failing to operate in this way, it will act mildly upon the bowels. It should be taken whenever the patient is attacked, or rather before an attack (which from its usual recurrences at stated intervals, may be predicted with considerable certainty), and persevered in till the disease is arrested, or the habit broken up.
Sometimes, though rarely, it has been used as a cathartic, but more frequently as a purgative enema.
In small doses it acts as a stimulant, tonic, anthelmintic, and alterative; and as such promotes the appetite, and facilitates digestion and assimilation. By giving tone to the stomach and bowels it corrects that morbid state of the digestive organs in children of debilitated habits, which is supposed to favor the generation of worms. In diseases where there is a depraved and vitiated state of the circulating fluids, common salt is a very efficient remedy. It is not only valuable as an internal agent, but is also very useful as an application to the surface, in the form of a bath.
As an astringent in hemorrhages, dysentery, diarrhoea, etc. salt is sometimes prescribed with lemon juice. It often proves effectual in checking hemoptysis, given dry in doses of a teaspoonful; a saturated acetous solution is also very useful, and often very effectual in checking dysentery and diarrhoeas. For this purpose it may be dissolved in common vinegar made hot, till no more can be held in solution, then administer it in doses of one tablespoonful every hour or two till it gives relief, which it frequently does in a few hours.
It is a valuable antiseptic, and as such may be combined with poultices and applied to gangrenous parts; or it may be dissolved in brandy or spirits, and applied for the same purpose. A saturated tincture of it is beneficial as an excitant, counter-irritant, resolvent, and discutient, applied with brisk friction as an embrocation to tumors, glandular swellings and indurations, chronic diseases of the joints, as hydrops articuli, etc. The same maybe applied in cases of strains, bruises, and similar injuries.
It constitutes a valuable antiseptic gargle, particularly in the malignant forms of cynauche. It may be dissolved in vinegar and sweetened with honey. Gum-myrrh, capsicum, or hydrastis, may be added with advantage. It is a useful refrigerant applied in the form of an acetous or aqueous solution to the head in cases of congestion and inflammation of the brain, or to the surface in cases of febrile and inflammatory excitement. It is sometimes applied to the chest in cases of tainting and asphyxia, as a stimulant.
It proves a valuable excitant and tonic when applied to the surface in the form of a cold solution, in cases of general debility. Applied as a bath (cold or warm as the case may require), it rarely fails to act as an excitant and tonic.
Dose.—As an emetic, one half to one ounce., dissolved in in tumbler of water, acts promptly. As a cathartic, from two drachms to half an ounce. As a tonic and alterative, from ten grains to one drachm. As an injection, from one to two ounces, dissolved in a pint of water or gruel.