This section is from the book "Materia Medica: Pharmacology: Therapeutics Prescription Writing For Students and Practitioners", by Walter A. Bastedo. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica: Pharmacology: Therapeutics: Prescription Writing for Students and Practitioners.
This group includes phenol, the sulphocarbolates, resorcinol, pyrogallol, benzoic acid, salicylic acid, salol, cinnamic acid, cresol, creosol, guaiacol, creosote, tar, oil of cade, many volatile oils, camphor, thymol, aristol (di-thymol di-iodide), europhen and losophan (iodine compounds of cresol), iodol (tetra-iodo-pyrrhol), naphthalene, beta-naphthol, trimethol, etc.
The drugs of this group, when taken internally, tend to increase the ethereal sulphates of the urine, and in some cases may result in indicanuria. They are less affected than most antiseptics by organic matter. They are all antiseptic, antipyretic, and analgesic. Their toxic action manifests itself by depression of the respiratory and vasoconstrictor centers, coma, and collapse.
Benzoic and cinnamic acids and their salts are similar to salicylic acid in their action, though less effective in rheumatism. They are used as food preservatives, and even in very minute quantities retard the activity of the digestive ferments (Sailer and Farr). The cinnamates have been employed in tuberculosis. Sodium benzoate is used in cystitis to acidify and disinfect the urine. Dakin states that in men amounts of 1 to 1 1/2 drams (4-10 gm.) daily for two or three days are practically all eliminated as hippuric acid. Balsam of Peru, which contains ben-zoates and cinnamates, is used externally in chronic skin diseases; and, in the form of "balsam gauze," is applied to ulcers or wounds as a stimulant of granulation.
Benzoin, which is also a balsam containing benzoates and cinnamates, is very fragrant. It is employed for inhalation in whooping-cough, laryngitis, nasopharyngitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia, one teaspoonful of the compound tincture (benzoin, aloes, storax, and tolu) being added to boiling water in a pitcher or to water boiling in a croup-kettle, and the steam inhaled. Its tincture is also mixed with water and used as a lotion for the skin in ivy-poisoning, sunburn, and other forms of dermatitis.