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.
A great deal of fear has been expressed about the use of iron in this malady, and it has been said by eminent observers to hasten and aggravate its course, especially when given in full doses and in the early stages (Trousseau, Millet: Bulletin de Therapeutique, 1862, etc.). If there be acute pyrexia and evidence of pulmonary congestion, leading to florid haemoptysis, then I think that iron is better avoided, because it can increase blood-pressure and congestion, and stimulates blood-formation, and in any case it should be given with much caution during the early stages of the malady, and special attention should be directed to supplying at the same time any deficiency of fatty food, and to securing a due supply of oxygen (Dobell: British Medical Journal, i., 1867). Iodide of iron is one of the best preparations to use, especially in "scrofulous phthisis," and it should be combined, if possible, with cod-liver or other oils. In later stages of phthisis, all are agreed as to the value of iron in relieving many of the most distressing symptoms and much assisting any measure of recovery that can be obtained: the astringent preparations control purulent formations and discharges of various kinds, such as expectoration and passive haemoptysis, diarrhoea, and profuse perspiration, and they often improve the strength and the appetite. Bonorden used the sulphate in a number of cases, giving from 2 to 4 gr. every two hours for several days at a time: the dose seems large, but he obtained very good results (Schmidts Jahrb., May, 1852). Dr. Thompson employed chiefly the perchloride at the Brompton Consumption Hospital, and calculated the effects of iron medication in more than 1,500 cases, - 54.6 per cent. were found "improved," 23 per cent. much improved, and only 21 per cent. not improved. He does not give the details of any cases, nor does he mention the stages of the disease when iron was used, but states generally that the patients grew stronger, and were able to eat better, and suffered less from flatulence, diarrhoea, night-sweats, and haemoptysis: he considers that iron is clearly required in the treatment of phthisis, because "it improves the condition of the blood," and he advocates its continued but moderate use "as a food" (Practitioner, vol. i.). Others have written special treatises in favor of this medication. Dr. Cotton obtained favorable results from the iodide and ammonio-citrate (Medical Times, i., 1860), and Sir Thomas Watson recommends iron in non-inflammatory forms of phthisis, "and finds the mist. ferri comp. very useful when it is well borne:" if sweating be profuse, he uses the perchloride. Dr. Cameron recommends the basic iodate of iron as better than the iodide: it contains 51 per cent. iodine and 11 per cent. iron (Dublin Quarterly, May, 1869).