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.
This is an excellent rubefacient, acting rapidly and efficiently on the skin, especially when applied hot. There is, however, extraordinary difference of susceptibility, in different individuals, to the local irritant influence of oil of turpentine. While some are little affected by it even in a concentrated state, others suffer extremely, though it may be largely diluted; the skin being not only reddened, but breaking out profusely with eczematous vesicles, with much swelling, redness, and pain. Great blame is sometimes attached to practitioners from the consequences of this idiosyncrasy; so that they should be on their guard in using the oil externally, and feel their way cautiously, when there is no special urgency in the case. A slight trial will be sufficient to determine, whether this peculiar liability exists in any particular instance. The oil is an excellent rubefacient in the low states of fever attended with a cold skin, whether in the first stage of malignant chill, or in the prostration occurring in the advanced stages. it is also much used, as a local stimulant, in paralytic conditions of the extremities, when not associated with acute lesions of the nervous centres, in chronic rheumatism, sprains of the joints, neuralgic pains, sore-throat, chilblains, etc. It has been found useful in deafness, associated with defective secretion of wax, being introduced cautiously into the external meatus. it is highly esteemed by some in the treatment of burns, particularly when attended with sloughing; and has been thought to be useful in gangrene of the extremities, and in anthrax.
As an application over the whole abdomen, in cases of puerperal peritonitis, it has been strongly recommended; and it may be employed with probable advantage, as a substitute for blisters, in most cases of abdominal inflammation, attended with an enfeebled state of system, or after depletion, general and local, has been carried sufficiently far. it may be used either as a lotion, or applied on flannel saturated with it, and laid closely upon the part. When used to excite the system, in cold states of the surface, it should be previously heated; but care must be taken, in heating it, that it does not take fire, through its ready volatility and inflammability.*