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.
It is in such blood - and gland - disorders, which are essentially of serious, if not fatal import, that phosphorus has been recently employed, and Dr. Broad-bent, one of the first to recommend it, offered some evidence in its favor. A boy with "essential anaemia," prostration, diarrhoea, yellow, waxy face, etc., recovered very quickly under phosphorus capsules, and remained well for some time. Another case of "leucocythaemia," treated in the same manner, got inflamed spleen, "apparently from very rapid blood-formation "(Practitioner, i., 1875). In a woman with lymphadenoma, having symmetrical enlargement of cervical glands, anaemia, dyspnoea, etc., steadily getting worse for some time, "complete recovery took place" after taking phosphorus (British Medical Journal, ii., 1876, p. 792). In two other cases - one very far advanced, the other chronic - the same remedy was successful. Some support was given to Dr. Broadbent's conclusions by a case, under Dr. Wilson Fox, of "leukaemia splenica" occurring in a man, aged thirty-seven, in University College Hospital, for, when extremely enfeebled, he began to take 1/50 to 1/30 gr. doses, and after three months' treatment was greatly improved; he died, however, in the following year (Lancet, ii., 1875).
If we add to these cases one of leukaemia (Dr. Gowers), in which the use of phosphorus was followed by diminution in size of glands, and lessened anaemia (though albuminuria and death afterward occurred), it will be seen that the evidence in favor of phosphorus is not strong, while many cases of its failure are on record. Dr. Moxon objects even to receive Dr. Fox's successful case as one of leukaemia, because the white corpuscles in the field were "only twenty to thirty," and refers to about thirty cases of his own ("pernicious anaemia," apparently), all unsuccessfully treated by phosphorus (British Medical Journal, ii., 1876, p. 792).
At the meetings of the Clinical Society at which this subject was discussed (November, 1876), Dr. Greenfield and Dr. Goodhart related unsuccessful cases, and Sir William Jenner referred to three of "splenic leuco-cythaemia," in which the remedy seems to have had a really fair trial without any good result. The question was even raised whether it might not be responsible for some fatty degeneration found post-mortem; but, without laying stress upon that point, the general conclusion of competent authorities, both at that time and since, has been adverse to the value of phosphorus in such cases.
It would seem, perhaps, to offer a better prospect in cases of lympha-denoma than of leukoemia, and especially in early cases, and more evidence must be collected before we can rightly estimate the true power of the drug. I have already referred to the increase of red blood-corpuscles, reported by Dr. Gowers, under the use of phosphorus; this was in a case of "lymphoma," and the increase in one month was from 52 to 66 per cent., and in another month to 74 per cent.; 1/30 gr. was taken three times and then six times daily - no other drug was given, nor were the circumstances of the patient altered. The pathology of these maladies is, how-ever, still very obscure, and they are not well defined one from the other. Greater clearness in their diagnosis and prognosis must be expected to precede therapeutic advance; but we may say this, that much more benefit has been already recorded from arsenic, both in pernicious anaemia and in lymphadenoma, than from phosphorus. The two remedies are doubtless allied, but the former claims much more reliance than the latter.