In 1905, Meltzer and Auer proved by experimental work that paralysis of the whole body could be induced by magnesium salts. They showed that the conductivity of nerve-trunks could be interrupted by the local application of a solution of magnesium salts and that a more or less complete block for afferent and efferent impulses occurred. This work suggested the use of magnesium sulphate for tetanus.
As death in tetanus is due in at least half of the cases to asthenia produced by excessive muscular action and inability to take food, and in most of the remaining eases to asphyxia during a convulsion, the value of this experimental work by Meltzer as applied to tetanus can be readily seen. There have been reported in the literature twenty-four cases in which magnesium sulphate has been used by subarachnoid injection, and four in which it has been used subcutaneously. In the subarachnoid cases,
PARKER G. TREATMENT OF TETANUS WITH MAGNESIUM SULPHATE, WITH REPORT OF THREE CASES. JAMA. 1912;LVIII(23):1746-1747. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04260060095003