This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
From the experiments of Dr. Bill and Professor Rabuteau, it appears that tissue-change is retarded under the influence of bromides. The former especially noted that the carbonic acid eliminated was decidedly less than normal, and this independently of diminished nerve-power, and not proportionately to the dose, as it is with morphia and its congeners. For some time after ceasing the medicine the excretion of the gas was increased, implying that, for a time, "the way through the lungs was barred," and this he attributed to vital causes, "limited in their seat and effects to nerve-elements in the pulmonary mucous membrane."
Rabuteau found that while his average daily excretion of urea was 21.25 grammes, the mean amount passed while he took a daily dose of 15 gr. of bromide of potassium was 19.52 grammes; for a fortnight after omitting the drug it remained at about 20 grammes; in the third week it resumed a normal proportion, and in the fourth week exceeded this. Rabuteau connected the primary result with slowing of circulation and respiration; it was not accompanied by increased quantity of urine.
Dr. Gibb found the ammonium salt diminish body-weight "by favoring absorption of fat" (Lancet, i., 1863). If this be so, we should expect carbonic acid and urea to be increased in amount (contrary to the above results from the potassium salt); but he gave only small doses (3 to 5 gr.), and his results need confirmation. Bartholow found that assimilation was retarded by the continued use of bromides, and he traced emaciation to this cause. 1 have sometimes noted emaciation from these medicines; but it is by no means invariable, as shown in ten patients at Hayward's Heath Asylum, who took daily doses of less than 1 dr. of the potassium salt. Ordinary secretion and excretion were not affected, but all these patients increased in weight; and in another series of patients who took more than 1-dr. doses, some lost weight and some did not (Dr. Williams). The increase of weight would accord with the conclusions of Bill and Rabuteau, but minute analyses were not made.