This section is from the book "Dental Medicine. A Manual Of Dental Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Ferdinand J. S. Gorgas. Also available from Amazon: Dental Medicine.
Ammonia, often called ammoniacal, or ammonia gas, is colorless and readily soluble in water, and forms a number of volatile stimulants, such as Aqua ammonia - ammonia water, which is the stronger water of ammonia diluted with two parts of water; Aqua ammonia fortior - stronger water of ammonia, is made by passing ammonia gas into water to make its specific gravity, 0.900 at 590 F.; Spiritus ammoniae - which is a ten per cent. solution of ammonia gas in alcohol; Spiritus ammonia aromaticus, which is an alcoholic, or rectified spirit, solution of carbonate of ammonium, to which are added oils of lemon, nutmeg and lavender. (See also muriate of ammonia, sal ammoniac, carbonate of ammonium, solution of acetate of ammonia, spirit of mindererus, chloride of ammonium, and valerianate of ammonium.)
Ammonia gas is very alkaline, and an irritant to mucous surfaces. Inhaled, it causes an overpowering sense of suffocation and spasm of the glottis, and when prolonged, violent inflammation of the air-passages. Solution of ammonia when swallowed causes destructive inflammation of the mucous membrane, extending to the stomach. The long-continued use of ammonia interferes with digestion by neutralizing the gastric juice, and by increased waste of tissue causes pallor, emaciation, and feebleness. In the blood it injures the red blood globules, and thus affects the nutrition of the body, being largely converted into urea. The preparations of ammonia are stimulant expectorants.
Aqua ammonia is administered by inhalation in syncope and shock, and as a counter-irritant; for which purpose ammonia liniment is also employed. The incautious inhalation of ammonia may cause inflammation of the fauces and glottis, but when cautiously employed sometimes gives relief to acute catarrh and hay asthma. The diluted aqua ammonia will relieve the pain of stings of insects, and the strong aqua ammonia is an antidote, when at once applied, to the bite of venomous snakes, and of rabid animals. The aromatic spirits of ammonia is useful in acidity of stomach, gaseous eructations and abdominal distensions; also in sick headache and migraine; but the bromides are more effective in the latter affection. Ammonia salts stimulate the liver and increase the secretions of the kidneys and intestinal mucous glands and the action of the heart, hence are frequently used in adynamic states, constipation, coated tongue and scanty urine. The preparations of ammonia for internal use correct obstinate vomiting when the irritating substances are removed, and the matters vomited are acid.
Of Aqua Ammoniae, m v to 3ss, much diluted; of
Spiritus Ammoniae, to greatly diluted; of Spiritus Ammoniae Aromaticus, to
Ammonia is used as a stimulant in dangerous narcosis; to prevent syncope or severe shock; in facial neuralgia, especially the chloride, and in periodontitis when it is combined with aconite and opium. Aqua ammonia is locally applied as a counter-irritant to the gums in acute inflammation of the peridental membrane. (See Acetate, Carbonate, Valerianate and Chloride of Ammonium.)
Aromatic Spirits of Ammonia, or Sal Volatile, is one of the most diffusible stimulants and is antacid and carminative. It is employed for syncope resulting from shock, dental operations, etc., and acts as a stimulant where alcohol is contraindicated. As an antacid is serviceable in acid conditions of the oral fluid, in superficial caries of the teeth, erosions, and sensitive necks of teeth.