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.
This salt is prepared by saturating valerianic acid with ammonia. The chief difficulty is in obtaining it dry and crystallized, in consequence of its extreme deliquescence.
It is in white pearly quadrangular plates, of a strong very disagreeable smell like that of valerianic acid, and of a peculiar sweetish taste, with little pungency. It is very deliquescent in a moist air, soluble in all proportions in water and alcohol, and volatilizable by heat with partial decomposition. When kept in a bottle, which is occasionally opened, the crystals acquire a yellowish colour.
Its effects on the healthy system in remedial doses are not striking; and the only inconvenience experienced, when it has been taken too freely, is some disturbance of the head. From trials made by MM. Laboureur and Fontaine, it seems to exercise no injurious influence on the animal economy; two or three drachms of it having been given to dogs without serious effect. It appears that the idea of employing it therapeutically originated with M. Pierlot, an apothecary of Paris; but the attention of the profession was first decidedly directed towards it by Dr. Deelat, who, in December, 1855, used it in an obstinate facial neuralgia, which had lasted very long, and resisted all remedies, but yielded immediately to this. It was afterwards employed in similar cases with remarkable success, and is now among the most esteemed remedies in neuralgic affections. It has since been given in other nervous affections, as epilepsy, hysteria, chorea, etc. The dose of it is from one to six or eight grains, which may be dissolved in from one to four fluidrachms of pure or aromatic water, and sweetened if desired. A single dose is said often to relieve the pain; but it may be repeated, if needful, several times a day. In relation to the valerianates used in medicine, M. Landerer has found that the valerianic acid artificially prepared, is decidedly inferior to that obtained from the root, which, therefore, should always be preferred in medicine. (Journ. de Pharm. et de Chim., 3e ser., xlii. 77).