This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Antimonium tartarifatum Ph. Lond.
Tartar. emetic. five anti-mon. Ph. Ed.
A vinous solution of this salt is now directed by both colleges; that of London ordering forty grains to be dissolved in two ounces of boiling water, after which, eight ounces of mountain wine are to be added; and that of Edinburgh prescribing twenty-four grains of the salt to a pound of the wine.
The total evaporation of the fluid appears the best way of securing uniformity of strength to the medicine: for as only a part of the tartar is saturated with the metal, and as the part thus saturated is more soluble than the rest, some of the unsaturated tartar is apt, in crystallization, to shoot by itself. The solubility of the compound affords one of the best means for esti-mating its strength, or the degree of its impregnation with the antimony. Dr. Saunders relates (a) that an ounce of cold water, about the middle temperature of the air, dissolved, of some of the common emetic tartars of the shops, not thirty-two grains, or one fifteenth its own weight; whereas, of a well saturated sort, which he had himself prepared by long boiling, the same quantity of water dissolved fifty-two grains, or near one ninth its weight. Perhaps the most certain way of obtaining a saturated and uniform preparation of this kind would be, to digest the common emetic tartar in eight times its weight, or less, of cold water, and evaporate the filtered yellow solution to dryness: or to continue the boiling of the glass of antimony and tartar for twelve hours or longer, adding water enough occasionally to keep the tartar always dissolved, and at length to let the water waste so far, as not to exceed eight times the quantity of the tartar employed, after which the liquor is to be suffered to cool, and then filtered and evaporated.
(a) Differtatio medico-chemica inaugural, de antimonio, p. 44.
Vinum Anti-mon. Tartar. Ph. Lond. Vin. e Tar-taro Anti-mon. Ph. Ed.
This preparation is one of the best of the antimonial emetics; as containing the active part of the antimony, made soluble by a mild vegetable acid, which does not, like those of the mineral kingdom, communicate any degree of corrosiveness: the dose is from two or three to six or eight grains. It may be given also as an alterative or diaphoretic, in doses of a quarter of a grain or half a grain or more; and added, in the quantity of a grain or two, as a stimulus to the milder vegetable cathartics. It is said that cafia diminishes the power of this medicine, but probably on no good foundation.
Most sorts of vinous liquors contain so much acid, as to extract, in a short time, a strong impregnation, from the antimonial metal. The college of London directs an ounce of glass of antimony to a pint and a half of mountain; that of Edinburgh, the same quantity of the glass to fifteen ounces by weight. It does not appear, that these or much greater differences in the quantities, affect the strength of the preparation the same glass being sufficient to impregnate many fresh portions of liquor. These tinctures have been chiefly used, in the quantity of half an ounce or an ounce, as strong emetics: in small doses, as thirty to sixty drops, they act commonly as diuretics or diaphoretics. A case is related in the Edinburgh Essays, vol. II. in which the whey made with a gill and a half of antimonial wine produced sleepiness without vomiting. The curd had the same effect.
Vinum anti-inoniale Ph. Lond. & Ed.
The virulence of some of the antimonials is greatly abated, by intimately mingling them with wax or resins. Powdered glass of antimony, injected into one eighth its weight of melted bees wax, over a gentle fire, and kept constantly stirring for half an hour, becomes so mild, that when given from two or three grains to twenty, it occasions for the most part only a few stools, or a flight nausea or sickness, and sometimes produces no sensible evacuation. This preparation has for some time been celebrated in dysenteries: several instances of its good suc-cess in these cases are related in the fifth volume of the Edinburgh medical essays.
From the foregoing review of the antimonial medicines, it appears, that the several preparations of this mineral, the caustic butter excluded, differ from one another only in degree of activity; and that the greater number must vary in strength, from small and unheeded variations in the manner of preparing them. And indeed, though their real qualities should be always the same, they may nevertheless operate with different degrees of force; from the juices in the first passages, or the food taken during their use, occasioning more or less to be dissolved. Sometimes the milder preparations, and even crude antimony itself, have, from acid foods, proved strongly emetic; and sometimes the more active have lain for a time indolent in the body, and afterwards, on taking the slightest acids, sud-denly exerted unexpected violence. Tinctures of the pure metallic part in mild vegetable acids appear to be the most safe and certain of all the antimonials; and capable of being so managed, as to answer all the salutary purposes that can be rationally expected from any preparation of this mineral; what is effected in the others, by rendering the metal more or less soluble, being here obtained, with much less uncertainty, by giving actual solutions of it in larger or smaller doses. Whether the wine, recommended by Huxham, or the tartarous solution, is the mod eligible, experience only can determine. It is certain that both of them, as commonly prepared, are very variable in strength; the vinous solution, from differences in the degree of acidity, and consequently in the dissolving power, of the wine itself; the tartarous, from the process being more or less skilfully performed. We ought therefore, in prescribing these preparations, if we are not well allured of their strength, to begin with a finall dose, and gradually increase it according to the effect.
Vitrum anti-monii cera-tum Ph. Ed.