Salicylic acid and salicin (q.v.) share the properties common to the group of aromatic acids, which, as a group, are antiseptic without being toxic to man - a property practically unique; are unstable in the body; are antipyretic and analgesic; and diminish the excretion of urea by the kidneys.
The antipyretic action which considerable doses of aconite display is not specific, but is the result of its influence on the circulation and respiration and of its slight diaphoretic action.
It follows that the drug is an antipyretic, and it is hence largely used in fevers as a means of reducing the temperature.
According to Sir Thomas Fraser nothing else can compete with alcohol as a food in desperate febrile cases, and to this use must be added its antipyretic power already explained and its action as a soporific. During its administration in febrile cases the drug must be most carefully watched, as its action may prove deleterious to the nervous system and the circulation in certain classes of patient.
In medicine antipyrine ("phenazonum") has been used as an analgesic and antipyretic. The dose is 5-20 grs., but on account of its depressant action on the heart, and the toxic effects to which it occasionally gives rise, it is now but little used.
It has been used with success as an antiperiodic and antipyretic in ague, and also as a diuretic in gout and kidney affections.
The acid and its salts are antipyretic and were used in Germany instead of salicylates in rheumatic fever.
The introduction of the clinical thermometer, which allows us to ascertain exactly the amount to which the temperature rises in fever or to which it is reduced by antipyretic measures, is to the physician like the compass to the sailor, and allows him to steer safely between two extremes.
Most of these belong to the aromatic group of bodies, although one of them, antipyrin, belongs rather to the furfurol group. Carbolic acid has an antipyretic action, but on account of its poisonous properties it cannot be employed as an antipyretic. Salicylic acid has a strong antipyretic action, and is most commonly used in the form of its sodium salt, which is much more soluble than the acid itself.
In medicine, resorcin, which is official in the United States under the name of resorcinol, was formerly used as an antipyretic, but it has been given up. The dose is 2 to 8 grs.
The dose of 2 to drachm contains little more than a grain of quinine, the antipyretic action of which is negligible.
This property is doubtless partly - though not wholly - explanatory of the antipyretic action of quinine.
Quinine was the first antipyretic used, and after the introduction of such preparations as antipyrin and acetanilide it may still be said to be the safest, though it is much less powerful.