The potash salts have varied uses, and produce different effects according to the preparations used and the dose prescribed. Thus the bicarbonate is very largely used in some forms of dyspepsia, especially in those cases where the acid secretion of the stomach is in excess and requires to be neutralized; it is also employed as a febrifuge. The tartrate and acid tartrate are slightly aperient in large doses. The nitrate is perhaps more used in veterinary practice than any other drug in the pharmacopoeia, and probably, it may be added, more abused than any other by grooms and carters. Its action is febrifuge, and it is referred to here on that account; but its chief action being in connection with the kidneys, it will be more fully considered in dealing with drugs acting upon those organs. Potash salts, more particularly the carbonate and bicarbonate, enter the blood rapidly and increase its alkalinity. The red corpuscles already contain potash, and appear to possess a great affinity for it, the number of red blood corpuscles being increased rapidly when potash and iron are given together. By increasing the amount of water passed by way of the kidneys, they tend to promote absorption of fluids effused into the tissues and cavities of the body. The action of a combination of potash and iron in this respect is well known to stablemen and others, who use it to disperse those temporary swellings of the legs so commonly resulting from rest or overwork.
Chlorate of potash is a valuable drug in some cases on account of its antiseptic properties. In soreness of the throat and the mouth it is prescribed as a gargle or mouth-wash, or it may be applied as a powder to abraded surfaces.
Potassium chloride is a powerful caustic employed for the destruction of living tissues in the form of morbid growths such as warts, proud flesh, and other abnormal excrescences, callous sinuses, and fistulous surfaces. By it "proud flesh" is removed, as well as the callous sinuses of fistulous wounds, such as occur in poll evil, quittor, etc. Diluted freely with water,, it has powerful antiseptic and disinfectant properties, being largely used under the name of Burnett's fluid.
Permanganate of potash is a valuable salt, and largely used as an antiseptic, deodorizer, and disinfectant; and being a perfectly harmless substance, is employed for injections into the mucous cavities of the body, as well as for mouthwashes and gargles.
It is considered valuable in cases after difficult parturition, for which it is used in the proportion of about ten grains to each pint of warm water injected into the uterus.