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.
There is difficulty in estimating exactly the effect of antimony on the kidneys, and statements with regard to it vary much. It is probable that more or less of the drug may be excreted by this channel, according to circumstances, for, as already stated, Mayerhofer, experimenting on himself, could, at one time, detect it in his urine, and at another time, not; he found the amount of urine at first increased, afterward lessened. Trousseau and Gubler report a marked increase in the secretion only when vomiting and purging were absent or slight, and this was the case also in Hannon's experiments.
If the circulation be extremely depressed, or if choleraic symptoms occur, the urine is likely to become scanty, or even suppressed.
Other observers distinguish between the different constituents of the urine; Bocker, taking himself 2 1/2 gr. daily for nine days, found the urea and other urinary solids markedly lessened, and Beigel, giving a similar dose to four patients for four days, obtained the same results: in both instances, comparatively little food was taken.
Dr. Parkes, however, found the amount of urea increased after sul-phuret of antimony, and several modern writers (Ringer, Bartholow) describe a similar increase, relying, probably, on the observations of Acker-mann. His subjects received a cup of coffee, and then remained in bed for a day, taking from 1 to 2 gr. of tartar emetic, which caused emesis and often purgation. He reported that the water and the chlorides were diminished in proportion to the diarrhoea, but urea was increased by one-eighth, or even one-fourth, and uric acid and pigment were also increased: these results he attributed to increased metamorphosis. I cannot, however, accept them as conclusive evidence of the full action of antimony, for the lowering of circulation and of temperature, and relaxation of vessels, and the analogy of allied medicines (arsenic, digitalis) suggest so forcibly an opposite conclusion (v. p. 281). Further experiments are required on this point: meanwhile, I cannot but agree with Rabuteau and others in classing the drug with those which moderate or diminish the nutritive processes, and which therefore tend to lessen the excretion of urea as well as of carbonic acid. As a curious illustration of the power of antimony to lessen excretion and lower true nutrition, we may refer to a custom common in Germany of using "glass of antimony" in the food to fatten fowls and animals.
There is a similar discrepancy in observations on temperature, - a discrepancy which must depend upon difference in dosage, or in continuance of the medication, or in the reaction of healthy as against weakly subjects. Thus, Ackermann found the hands and face become cold during the period of nausea, but after vomiting they became warmer, and the mouth-temperature did not fall, but increased about 1° F.
Dr. Ringer made a very complete experiment when he gave 1/2 gr. of tartar emetic every ten minutes for seven hours, inducing vomiting and sweating, and yet the temperature did not vary more than 0.4° F. On the other hand, Pecholier observed the temperature to fall in direct ratio with the pulse, and the amount of fall has been stated at from 1° to 3° C. (Hirtz, Gubler): a brief and slight preceding rise has been noted by the latter physician.
In cases of poisoning the depression of temperature is very marked, and in another series of experiments made by Ackermann on animals, it amounted to nearly 7° C. in those that survived a few hours.