Now we can see the reason for their administration, because the nitrous ether, consisting chiefly of ethyl nitrite, dilates the superficial vessels and thus allows greater escape of heat from the surface; while acetate of ammonia, by acting as a diaphoretic and stimulating the secretion of sweat, increases the loss of heat by evaporation.
It is also an intestinal and hepatic stimulant and a feeble diuretic and diaphoretic, and has been considered a specific in some forms of neuralgia.
On the skin its action is that of a diaphoretic, and being also excreted by the bile it acts slightly as a cholagogue.
Often it relieves vomiting, though in a few persons it may cause vomiting, but in far less degree than apomorphine, which is a powerful emetic. Opium has a more marked diaphoretic action than morphine, and is much less certain as a hypnotic and analgesic. There are a few therapeutic indications for the use of opium rather than morphine, but they are far less important than those which make the opposite demand.
The plant is poisonous, acting as a powerful local and general stimulant, diaphoretic, emmenagogue and anthelmintic; it was formerly employed both internally and externally.
In the milder varieties of this complaint, such as those occurring sporadically, and where the symptoms are probably due to matters in the bowels setting up the dysenteric irritation, the employment of diaphoretic medicines is to be recommended, and the administration of such a laxative as castor oil, to which a small quantity of laudanum has been added, will often, by removing the source of the mischief, arrest the attack; but a method of treatment more to be recommended is the use of salines in large doses, such as one drachm of sodium sulphate from four to eight times a day.