The stimulation of the respiration by hydrocyanic acid has been known ever since its physiologic action was first investigated. It was sought to utilize this extremely obvious stimulation of the respiration therapeutically, and we find articles published in the first half of the last century lauding its use as a respiratory stimulant.1 The depressing action of hydrocyanic acid was also noted.2 The only remnant of this once prominent remedy left in modern therapeutics is the use of hydrocyanic acid in certain cough mixtures.
Geppert3 established that the action of hydrocyanic acid is essentially asphyxiation, since it acts by decreasing the oxygen absorbed by the tissues and also the carbon dioxid produced by them.
The attitude of modern pharmacologists on the therapeutic use of hydrocyanic acid may be gathered from the following:
Heinz4 says that hydrocyanic acid is one of the strongest stimulants for the respiration known, but that its stimulating
LOEVENHART AS, LORENZ WF, MARTIN HG, MALONE JY. STIMULATION OF THE RESPIRATION BY SODIUM CYANID AND ITS CLINICAL APPLICATION. Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1918;XXI(1):109–129. doi:10.1001/archinte.1918.00090070120010
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