This section is from the book "Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by W. Hale White. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics..
All mercurial ointments and the oleate, when applied to or gently rubbed into any part which is chronically inflamed, often aid the absorption of the products of inflammation, if they are not too deep-seated. For this purpose blue ointment, or Scott's ointment Unguentum Hydrargyri Compos-itum, B. P., which consists of mercurial ointment, 10; yellow wax, 6; olive oil, 6; and camphor 3, or the oleate in an ointment are very commonly used for chronic inflammation of joints, chronically enlarged glands, and chronic peritonitis, which certainly sometimes appears to be cured by the application of a binder spread with one of these preparations or the Linimentum Hydrargyri B. P., which consists of equal parts of mercurial ointment, solution of ammonia and camphor liniment even when the disease is tuberculous. The ointment of the red mercuric iodide is, in India, applied to the thyroid gland in goitre.
Alimentary canal. - Very dilute solutions of the corrosive chloride (4 gr. .24 gm. to 10 fl. oz. 300. c.c. water with 1 fl. dr. 4. c.c. of diluted hydrochloric acid and a little glycerin may be used as a mouth wash for syphilitic ulceration. Ringer advises gray powder Hydrargyrum cum Creta in minute doses for the sudden vomiting immediately after food sometimes met with in children. By far the most important intestinal action of mercury is its purgative effect. Calomel and blue pill are pre-eminently the purgatives to employ when there is, from the headache, constipation, furred tongue, feeling of weight over the liver, and general lassitude, reason to suspect that the dyspepsia is hepatic. Either of these drugs at night, followed by a watery purge, in the morning, will often completely relieve the symptoms. The blue pill at night, and black draught (Infusum Sennae Compositum) in the morning have long been a favorite combination. Acid solutions, as lemonade, should not be taken until the purgative effects of calomel have passed. Mercury or calomel is also one of the best purgatives for cases of cirrhosis, and for cardiac cases in which there is considerable hepatic congestion. Gray powder mixed with a little sugar is an excellent purgative for children, or even for adults, when a very mild purge is required - as, for example, after severe enteritis or peritonitis. Calomel in small doses (1/10 gr.; .006 gm.), triturated thoroughly with sugar of milk and repeated every hour until a movement is secured, is a favorite gentle purgative or if it is desirable to open the bowels dur ing typhoid fever. Children take mercury very well. Infants can easily bear grain .06 gm. doses of the gray powder. As diarrhoea, especially in children, is so often due to the presence of some irritant, a simple purgative, as gray powder, will, by removing it, often cure the diarrhoea. This preparation hardly ever causes griping, but calomel is liable to do so. Mercury compounds are, on account of their intestinal antiseptic action, much given in Germany for typhoid fever.
In cases of heart disease mercury is often combined with digitalis and squill as a diuretic (as in the well-known Guy's diuretic pill: blue pill, powdered squill, powdered digitalis, of each 1 gr. .06 gm.; extract of hyoscyamus, 1 1/2 gr. . 10 gm. ), and in some cases this combination does great good. The corrosive chloride is most often used for adults, and the gray powder for children.
Mercury in any form is powerfully antisyphilitic. This action is so important that it makes mercury one of the most valuable drugs we have. It has already been mentioned that it may be applied locally to syphilitic ulcerations, but to be of any use it is essential that it should also be administered so as to reach the blood. It is a direct antidote to the syphilitic virus; it can completely cure the patient; its use must be continued over a long time, but it should never be pushed to salivation. Treatment should be begun at as early a stage as possible, as soon as the diagnosis is established. It is especially valuable in the primary and secondary stages; authorities differ as to its value in tertiary syphilis. It is as efficacious for the congenital as for the acquired disease. It is also administered for many non-syphilitic varieties of chronic inflammation, but not so often as formerly. Patients with disease of the kidneys do not bear it well. The yellow iodide is very commonly prescribed for syphilis, and often succeeds when other preparations have failed. Its great disadvantage is in its instability. Mercurous tannate (dose, 1 to 2 gr. .06 to .12 gm. in a pill) is strongly recommended by some authorities.
Mercurol (not official) is a chemical combination of nucleinic acid and mercury, the former being obtained from yeast. It is a brownish-white powder, soluble in water but insoluble in alcohol. It is employed in a 2 per cent. solution as an injection in gonorrhoea. This apparently destroys the gonococci, lessens the severity of the inflammation, and tends to prevent the development of complications. It does not entirely stop the discharge in all cases.