Nitrates have long been recognized as effective diuretics. Thomas Willis,1 in 1679, used potassium nitrate or "the salt of niter" in the treatment of dropsy. Jörg,2 in 1825, administered increasing doses of potassium nitrate to a normal man and noted its diuretic effect. Wood,3 in 1856, confirmed the therapeutic action of nitrates, emphasizing the fact that an adequate dose was important in order to produce effective diuresis. Wilks and Taylor,4 in 1863, gave as much as 18 Gm. of potassium nitrate a day to a patient with renal dropsy, obtaining satisfactory results. About twenty-five years ago the toxicity of nitrates became a practical problem because of the rather extensive use of bismuth subnitrate in diagnostic roentgen procedures. Cases presenting methemoglobinemia were reported5 and consequently the possible toxic action of nitrates was overemphasized, with the resultant use of small and inadequate doses.
Our previous experiments6 and those of Gamble7 showed that
KEITH NM, WHELAN M, BANNICK EG. THE ACTION AND EXCRETION OF NITRATES. Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1930;46(5):797-832. doi:10.1001/archinte.1930.00140170058007