This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol2", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
In another variety of the disease, known commonly as rheumatic gout or nodose rheumatism, it is spoken of as peculiarly efficacious. it is the form in which the joints of the fingers are affected with firm swellings. Dr. Christison ascribes to Dr. Haygarth the first suggestion of this special application of the remedy. I have myself used it in one extremely obstinate case, with more satisfactory results than I had been able to obtain from any other remedy. Others have since found great advantage from it in the same affection, among whom one of the most distinguished was the late M. Beau, of Paris. in fact, arsenic may be employed with the hope of beneficial effects in all cases of chronic and extremely obstinate rheumatism, which have failed to yield to other means.
Nervous diseases have been referred to above as among those in which arsenic has been used for its alterative powers. The one in which it is probably most efficacious is chorea. By some practitioners it is considered as an almost sovereign remedy in that affection. Having found other measures very effectual, I have not employed arsenic, but have no doubt of its remedial powers. Dr. Ferriar found it useful in hooping-cough, after the cessation of the inflammatory symptoms; and asthma has often been treated with it successfully. it is said to have been employed in epilepsy with some success; but there are few practitioners who would at present be disposed to place much reliance upon it in that complaint. in tetanus, in which it has also been tried, experience has not pronounced in its favour; and the disease is too rapid and violent, to allow us to expect advantage from any degree of impression upon the system, which it would be quite safe to obtain from arsenic. I have already referred to its use in the intermittent and regularly remittent forms of neuralgia. it is also among the remedies used in irregular forms of that affection, and occasionally it proves serviceable, especially in nervous headaches; but it cannot be relied on. it is said sometimes to have relieved angina pectoris, which may be ranked among the neuralgic affections.
By Dr. Cahen, of France, who writes after a large experience of arsenic, it is asserted to be useful in every form of dyspnoea, whether original or accompanying other diseases; in the former case, causing an amendment so great as to deserve almost to be considered a cure, and in the latter, relieving and ameliorating the complaint. For this purpose it may be used in bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, angina pectoris, and phthisis, when these complaints are attended with difficulty of breathing. He ascribes its effect to a peculiar influence on the respiratory process. (Arch. Gén., Sept. 1863, p. 257.)
There are other diseases, in the treatment of which arsenic has had more or less credit. it has been deemed a remedy for the poisonous effects of snake-bites; but little reliance is placed upon it. Phthisis, secondary syphilis, dropsical diseases, the advanced stage of typhus fever, certain ill-conditioned ulcers, lupus, and cancer, are complaints in which it has been used with more or less supposed advantage it is highly commended in leucorrhoea and menorrhagia by Dr. A. P. Burns, of Ellicott's Mills, Md. if called to the patient during an attack of uterine hemorrhage, he gives from ten to twenty drops of Fowler's solution, and repeats it in doses of ten drops every fifteen or twenty minutes, till the hemorrhage is checked; and, to prevent returns, gives from five to ten drops three times a day. in leucorrhoea, he gives from three to five drops as often. (Am. Journ. of Med. Sci., Oct. 1859, p. 393.) in pectoral affections it has been used by way of inhalation, for which MM. Trousseau and Pidoux recommend cigarettes prepared in the following manner. From thirty grains to a drachm of arseniate of soda is to be dissolved in three drachms of distilled water. A piece of paper is to be saturated with this solution, then dried, cut, and rolled into the form of little cigars. Each cigar may contain one or two grains of the arsenical salt. They are to be smoked like the similar preparation of tobacco; the patient slowly drawing the smoke into the bronchia, and repeating the inhalation four or five times; and the process may be performed three or four times a day. in this way, the authors have employed arsenic with great alleviating effect in phthisis, and with much greater advantage in simple chronic laryngitis and bronchitis. (Op. cit., i. 267.) in some of the external affections above referred to, arsenic is also employed topically. But of its use in this way, the proper place to treat will be under the escharotics, to which the reader is referred.
Arsenic should not be employed in states of high febrile or inflammatory excitement, in any case in which the stomach is inflamed, or in cachectic conditions of the system with weak pulse, defective appetite, depraved or anemic blood, and a disposition to dropsy.