Small doses have a cooling taste and quench thirst, but, if continued, may irritate the stomach, and large doses cause purging.

Very large quantities have toxic effects, though not of so severe a kind as those of oxalic, or even of citric acid (Husemann). A fatal result is very rare, but Taylor records one in which death followed nine days after taking 1 oz. of tartaric acid in solution: the symptoms and appearances were those of gastro-enteritis. In other cases the mucous membrane of the stomach and the intestines has been found either white (not inflamed) or ecchymosed, with partial softening.

Circulatory System

Bobrick reported weakening and slowing of the heart-action in frogs, rabbits, and men, after large but non-toxic doses; the vagus nerve was not concerned in this effect (Husemann: Arzneimittellehre, ii., 894). According to Mitscherlich, rabbits die from doses of 3 to 4 dr. with symptoms of adynamia, weakened heart-action, and difficult respiration; the blood is found fluid, in some cases light, in others dark-red.

Bence Jones found tartaric acid increase acidity of urine, and lead to excretion of uric acid in a free state (Lectures, 1867).


Citric and other vegetable acids.


Alkalies, salts of mercury and lead, and vegetable astringents are incompatible. Lime and magnesia are the best antidotes.

Therapeutical Action (External)