The oil distilled from turpentine, which is obtained from several varieties of pines, chiefly those growing in the South. Called also "Spirits of Turpentine."
Externally oil of turpentine is stimulating and very irritant, causing redness and heat followed by vesication. Its action as a counter-irritant needs to be watched with much care, as severe blistering, with depression of the general system, may result if its applications be too long continued. Turpentine is absorbed by the whole skin, and enters the blood unchanged.
Internally in moderate doses its immediate action is slightly antiseptic and stimulant to the blood-vessels. On the nerves it acts locally as a sedative, and in the intestines stimulates the muscular coat, and is, in larger doses, a purgative.
It is a carminative, expelling gas from the intestines, and this result is produced as well by outward applications and by enemata as when given by mouth. It is also an anthelmintic, and is given in enemata for thread-worm.
It is a stimulant diuretic, producing in large doses active irritation or congestion of the urinary organs, with pain, or it may be strangury or haematuria. The strength and rapidity of the pulse are increased by turpentine.
In large doses it has a sedative effect on the brain and spinal cord, shown by heaviness and drowsiness, an unsteady gait, and debility. The temperature is lowered slightly. It is eliminated by the kidneys and lungs, giving its own odor to the breath, and the odor of violets to the urine.
Turpentine is capable of causing death, but fatal cases are very rare, and there are but few instances even of serious poisoning.
The symptoms recorded in such cases include usually vomiting and purging, though they do not always exist. The pupils are dilated; the pulse rapid, weak, and irregular. The skin may be either dry or moist; the urine diminished or suppressed altogether, or containing blood. In most cases unconsciousness is complete.
Death in one instance was supposed to have followed a dose of ℥ vi., but recovery has taken place in other cases after doses nearly as large.