This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol1", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
Sensible and Chemical Properties. Nitrate of lead is in white, nearly opaque, four or eight-sided crystals, inodorous, sweet and astringent to the taste, permanent in the air, soluble in water and alcohol, and characterized by evolving nitrous vapour when heated, and by yielding a white precipitate with ferroeyanide of potassium, a yellow one with iodide of potassium, and a black one with hydrosulphate of ammonia.
So far as known, these are the same as those of the other soluble salts of lead.
Nitrate of lead was long since employed as an internal remedy in asthma, epilepsy, and the hemorrhages; but it is now almost entirely out of use, having been superseded by the acetate.
As it possesses the property of decomposing hydrosulphuric acid and the hydrosulphates, it corrects fetid odours dependent upon these substances, and may be employed with that object. Hence it is occasionally sprinkled in the chambers of the sick, and added to offensive discharges to obviate their smell. For this purpose, a solution may be employed containing a drachm in every fluidounce of water. Ledoyen'.s disinfecting liquid is of this nature. But, though it will correct offensive odours, there is no proof that it will prevent putrefaction, or decompose and render innoxious contagious effluvia, or the malaria of marshes. It should, therefore, never be depended on as au antidote to these noxious agents.
Having, with the corrective property above referred to, the desiccant and sedative powers of the saturnine preparations generally, it may be employed, with reference to both, as an external application, in offensive ulcers, and fetid discharges from the nostrils, ears, vagina, and uterus. To these purposes it has been applied by Dr. Ogier Ward, who uses it also in gleety discharges from the urethra, and in chronic impetiginous affections. He employs, however, an extemporaneous preparation, made by dissolving one scruple of carbonate of lead in as much diluted nitric acid as may be necessary for the purpose, and adding this to a pint of distilled water. It may be applied two or three times daily. In the more obstinate cases, a much stronger solution may be used with impunity. On the continent of Europe, a solution, containing ten grains of the nitrate in a fluidounce of water, has been advantageously employed in sore nipples, chapped hands, cracked lips, and various excoriations.
The dose of the nitrate, for internal use, would be from one-quarter of a grain to a grain, to be repeated, in acute cases, every two or three hours; in chronic, two or three times a day.