This section is from the book "A Practitioner's Handbook Of Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Thos. S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: A Practitioner's handbook of Materia Medica and Therapeutics.
Digitalis. A full consideration of this important drug will not be attempted here, but a few views will be presented. The action of this drug depends very much upon how it is administered. If given in the way this little book advocates the administration of many remedies, viz., in small and frequent doses, it will do more harm than good, acting in an irregular and ofttimes in a depressing manner and irritating the gastro-intestinal tract. It is in this way that the cumulative action is apt to be brought about. If larger doses are given six to ten hours apart and not too long continued, there is no more reliable remedy as a heart stimulant. Heart stimulants should not be used for every trifle, but in prostration, surgical shock, in the crisis of debilitating disease, to slow a rapid and feeble pulse in sthenic fever with high temperature, compressible pulse and vital failure, the failing heart of pneumonia, cyanosis, impending death from mitral disease, failure of heart in child-birth, these and many more serious conditions are promptly met with digitalis in free doses of the tincture or fluidextract. Do not combine with other heart stimulants or follow the dose with food or water or bulky medication. If the other heart stimulants are needed and are specifically indicated, each in its place, give the one indicated and reserve digitalis. Mixtures of three or four heart stimulants are highly irrational. F.e., I to 3 I.; tr., 5 to 20 I . In my hands, tinctures made of the recent herb are not superior to the U. S. P. preparations.
Infusum Digitalis CD. S. P. 1 1/2%), in doses of 0 to I K, is a positive and most valuable diuretic; but do not give many doses as large as this, and keep patient in the recumbent position. The average dose of the infusion is 2 teaspoonfuls, and I K doses should not be given initially except where urgently demanded. A poultice of digitalis leaves applied directly over the kidneys will manifest the diuretic action in a short time.