Extracted from ashes of bones in which it exists as tricalcium phosphate. Unstable in the air, not soluble in water; but in alcohol. Slightly soluble in turpentine, ether and essential oils. Carbon bisulphide dissolves 18 times its weight of phosphorus.
Physiological action: In very small doses it is a general stimulant and nerve tonic, larger doses it is a violent poison, death resulting from its deoxidizing effect on the blood. In large doses it will produce violent inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract, nausea, vomiting, intense burning pain, general prostration, cold and clammy skin. Severe headache, anxiety and restlessness, wild delirium, coffee ground vomit, scanty and albuminous urine, coma and death.
Use: A powerful nutritive stimulant to the whole nervous system. Phosphorus must be used with care and in small doses as it is a deadly poison, nor should its use be continued very long. We think of it in nervous exhaustion, exhaustion from overwork or mental strain, insomnia of nervous prostration. We think of it in fatty degeneration of any organ, neuralgia of cerebral anemia, weak heart from nervous exhaustion, nervous debility, mental derangement. In small doses it has a favorable influence on the chest, overcomes pulmonary engorgement, modifies the cough of phthisis, cures intercostal neuralgia, stitches in the chest of neuralgic nature. In pneumonia or pleurisy where there is failing strength, short, dry hacking cough it is of value. Removes irritability of the prostate if from sexual excesses as well as irritability of the urinary apparatus. The hypophosphites are restorative to the nervous and bony system. In some cases lactophosphate of calcium, in others of sodium or potassium, is indicated and it is therefore important to give it in the form the case demands. In chronic conditions the syrup of hypophosphates is the most appropriate, while in acute conditions phosphorus is best when there is exhaustion of nerve force.
The Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics, 1905, was written by Fred J. Petersen, M.D.