This section is from the book "A Text-Book Of Materia Medica, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by George F. Butler. Also available from Amazon: A text-book of materia medica, pharmacology and therapeutics.
(Sweet Spirit of Nitre.)
Origin. - An alcoholic solution of ethyl nitrite, yielding, when freshly prepared and tested in a nitrometer, not less than eleven times its own volume of nitrogen dioxide.
Description and Properties. - A clear, mobile, volatile, and inflammable liquid, of a pale-yellowish or faintly greenish-yellow tint, having a fragrant, ethereal, and pungent odor free from acridity, and a sharp, burning taste. It should be kept in dark amber-colored, well-stoppered bottles, remote from lights and fire.
Dose. - 1/2-2 fluidrams (2.0-8.0 Cc).
Physiological Action and Therapeutics. - When applied to the skin and allowed to evaporate, spirit of nitrous ether produces a slight anesthetic effect. Internally, its action is very similar to that of the ammonium acetate. It dilates the blood-vessels more than the latter preparation, besides being more of a diffusible stimulant, stomachic, and carminative.
Like the solution of ammonium acetate, spirit of nitrous ether acts either as a diaphoretic or diuretic, the effect depending upon the manner in which it is administered. For its diuretic action it should be given in ice-water and the patient kept cool; to produce diaphoresis its administration should be accompanied by warm drinks and the patient be well covered.
Spirit of nitrous ether is used for about the same purposes as the solution of ammonium acetate, being particularly serviceable in febrile affections to promote critical sweating, employed either alone or in combination with tincture of aconite. It is frequently given as a diuretic in Bright's disease, congestion of the kidneys, and painful affections of the urinary apparatus.
It is a serviceable remedy to relieve flatulent distention of the stomach, to allay nausea, and to quiet nervous agitation. As an antispasmodic the remedy is frequently employed to relieve the pain of dysmenorrhea, and it may be inhaled for the relief of coughing. It enters into many expectorant mixtures, and is a soothing application to the forehead in neuralgic headache.
Administration. - The dose and manner of administering spirit of nitrous ether depend upon the action desired. As an antipyretic in febrile affections it should be given in doses of 20-30 minims (1.30-2.0 Co), in sweetened water, every half-hour. To produce diuresis the drug should be associated with some other diuretic and given in larger doses, 1/2-1 fluidram (2.0-4.0 Cc), every three or four hours. If the remedy is desired for its diaphoretic action, it should be given in hot water, in doses of 20 or 30 minims (1.3-2.0 Cc), repeated every half hour, the patient being well covered.
Should the drug be given as a nervous stimulant, the dose should not be less than 1 fluidram (4.0 Cc).
Care should be exercised in the selection of spirit of nitrous ether that it be reliable and of full strength. If the preparation has been kept in large bottles exposed to light and air, the drug will be more or less inert and should not be prescribed.