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The chemical element of Antimony has the symbol Sb, and is a metalloid with grey lustrous colouring. Its uses date back to ancient Egypt, where it was used the treat eye ailments, and as a cosmetic eye shadow (the Arabic name for Antimony is kohl). (

Antimony is included is treatments for aliments causing coughs to encourage expectoration (spitting, or clearing of the throat), and is also a popular emetic that encourages vomiting during the early stages of diseases such as Typhus fever, croup, and hooping-cough. Antimony is also an important component in James’ Powder, a popular treatment for fevers. (

Long term exposure to antimony can cause a range of health problems including pneumoconiosis, respiratory irritation, and gastrointestinal problems. Antimony poisoning can result in Adams-Stokes syndrome. (

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Preparations of Antimony

Oxide of Antomony / Antimonii Oxidum[1]

  • SbO3 or Sb2O3
  • Made by combining Solution of Chloride of Antimony (16 fl oz), Carbonate of Soda (6 oz), Water (2 gallons), and distilled water (a sufficient amount).
  • “A greyish-white powder, fusible at a low red heat, insoluble in water, but readily dissolved by hydrochloric acid. The solution, dropped into distilled water, gives a white deposit, at once changes to orange by sulphuretted hydrogen. It dissolves entirely when boiled with an excess of the acid tartarate of potash.” Given in the dosage of 1-4 grains.
  • used in the preparations of antimonium tartaratum, and pulvis antimonialis (1 part in 3)

Black Antimony / Antimonium Nigrum (synonym: prepared sulphuret of antimony, 1864)[2]

  • “Native sulphide of antimony… purified from siliceous matter by fusion, and afterwards reduced to fine powder.”
  • “A greyish-black crystalline powder. It dissolves almost entirely in boiling hydrochloric acid, evolving in sulphuretted hydrogen.”
  • used in the preparation of Antimonium Sulphuratum, and Liquor Antimonii Chloridi (39)

Sulphurated Antimony / Antimonium Sulphuratum (syn: antimonii oxysulphuretum, antimonii sulphuretum aureum, antimonii sulphuretum praecipitatum)[3]

  • sulphide of antimony (aka Black Antimony) that also contains a “small and variable amount of oxide of antimony”
  • to make, black antimony (10 oz) is combined with a solution of soda (4 ½ pints), distilled water, and diluted sulphuric acid.
  • “An orange-red powder, readily dissolved by caustic soda, but also hydrochloric acid with the evolution of sulphuretted hydrogen and the separation of a little sulphur. Boiled in water with acid tartare or potash, the resulting solution is precipitated orange red with sulphuretted gydrogen. Sixty grains of this preparation, dissolved in hydrochloric acid and dropped into water, give a white precipitate, which, when washed and dried, weighs about 53 grains.” Given in a dosage of 1-5 grains.
  • when prepared it can form Pilula Hydrargyri Subchloridi composita (1 part in 5) (compound pill of subchloride of mercury)

Tartarated Antimony / Antimonium Tartaratum (syn: antimonii potassop-tartras, antimonium tartarizatum, emetic tartar)[4]

  • “A tartarate of potash and antimony”
  • made by combining Oxide of Antimony (5 oz), Acid Tartarate of Potash, in fine powder (6 oz), and distilled water (2 pints)
  • “In colourless transparent crystals exhibiting triangular facets, soluble in water, and less so I proof spirit. It decrepitates and blackens upon the application of heat. Its solution in water gives with hydrochloric acid and white precipitate, soluble in excess, and which is not formed if tartaric acid be previously added. Twenty grains dissolved without residue in a fluid ounce of distilled water at 60°, and the solution givens with sulphuretted hydrogen an orange precipitate which, when washed and dried at 212°, weights 9.91 grains.” Given in a dosage of 1/16 - 1/6 of a grain as a diaphoretic, and 1-2 grains as an emetic.
  • It is used in the preparations of Unguentum Antimonii Tartarati (1 part in 5) and in Vinum Antimoniale (2 grains in 1 fl oz)

Solution of Chloride of Antimony / Liquor Antimonii Chloridi [5]

  • black antimony (1 pound) us combined with hydrochloric acid (4 pints)
  • “A heavy liquid usually of a yellowish-red colour.”
  • it is used in the preparation of Antimonii Oxidum

Compund Pill of Subchloride of Mercury / Pilula Hydrargyri Subchloridi Composita (syn: pilula calomelanos composite, 1864)[6]

  • subchloride of mercury (1 oz), sulphurated antimony (2 oz), guaiacum resin, in powder (2 oz), and castor oil (approximately 1 of oz) are combined
  • given in the dosage of 5-10 grains

Antimonial Powder / Pulvis Antimonialis

  • oxide of antimony (1 oz) mixed with phosphate of lime (2 oz)
  • given in the dosage of 3-19 grains

Ointment of Tartarated Antimony / Unguentum Antimonii Tartarati

  • tartarated antimony, in fine powder (1/4 oz) is combined with a simple ointment (1 oz)

Antimonial Wine / Vinum Antimoniale

  • Tartarated Antimony (40 grains) is dissolved into 1 pint of Sherry
  • given in a dosage of 5 minims, to 1 fluid drachm

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Mentioned in the form of tartarised antimony (tartar emetic). Tartar emetic and Butter of Antimony classified as Mineral Poisons [7]

antimonial powder: a powder consisting of one part oxide of antimony and two parts phosphate of calcium that has been used as a diaphoretic, emetic, and cathartic —called also James's powder (

Given for a few of childhood diseases

Remedies Containing or to be used with Antimony

  • Antimmonial Powder: "A medicine forming the basis of the celebrated Dr. James's powder" used in treating fevers. Often combined with opium or camphor.[8]
  • Diaphoretic Powder: antimonial powder[9]
  • Diaphoretic Pill: antimonial powder[10]
  • Camphor: can be used with antimonials [11]
  • Extract of Henbane: Used with antimonial wine to create a cough syrup that can be given to infants, and also to make drops used to treat hooping-cough in infants [12]
  • Gum Guaiacum: can be combined with antimonials [13]
  • Nitre: can be combined with saline mixtures that contain antimony to treat inflammatory diseases [14]
  • Paregoric Elixir: Jame's powder can be used in the first stages of common cough in children to open the bowels. Once done, a mixture containing paregoric elixir and antimonial wine can be administered to treat cough.[15]
  • Spirit of Mindreerus: contains antimonial wine. Induces sweating (sudorific) when treating colds and fevers.[16]
  • Tartar Emetic (Fr. Tartrate de Potasse Antimonie): is this made from antimony?[17]
  • Wine, Antimonial: diaphoretic or emetic, depending on the dose given.[18]

Diseases Treated with Antimony

  • Bronchitis: antimonial wine can be administered in the treatment of acute bronchitis to soothe a troublesome cough. If a sudden actue attack happens, antimonials or other diaphoretics should be adminastered. [19]
  • Catarrh, or a Cold: antimonials can be given to encourage expectoration (spitting, or clearing of the throat) [20]
  • Cough: antimonial wine is included in a mixture used to treat "Severe Coughs of Children of Four Years of Age." [21]
  • Erysipelas: antimonial diaphoretics can be given to young patients who experience erysipelas and fever [22]
  • Inflammatory Sore Throat: tartar of antimony (tartar emetic) can be administered at the outset of soreness [23]
  • Gravel and Stone: antimonial diaphoretics can be administered during a "fit of gravel" [24]
  • Small-pox: antimonials can be administered in the distinct form of the disease. [25]
  • Typhus Fever: tartarised antimony (tartar emetic) given along with ipecacuanha at the first signs of the disease. [26]
  • Chicken or Swine Pock (Infantile Disease): if the fever is high, antimonial or James's powder can be given, with saline draughts [27]
  • Croup: antimonial wine is to be given in ipecacuanha at the first appearance of the disease. A mixture containing tartar emetic can also be given. [28]
  • Hooping or Chincough: "At the commencement of this disease, emetics of ipecacuanha and antimonial wine should be given every evening for a week."[29]
  • Scarlet Fever: antimonial wine should be given immidiately, and James's powder provided with a mixture of calomel "until the bowels operate." [30]

Prescriptions Containing Antimony


  • Diaphoretic Mixture: Antimonial wine [31]
  • Diaphoretic Draught: Diaphoretic Draught: antimonial wine [32]


  • Antimonial Emetic Mixture: tartar emetic [33]
  • Compound Emetic Mixture (351): Antimonial wine [34]

Narcotics and Anodynes

  • Narcotic Draught (Another): Antimonial wine [35]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 38-39
  2. GMCGB, 39
  3. GMCGB, 40
  4. GMCGB, 41
  5. GMCGB, 179-80
  6. GMCGB, 238
  7. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 199.
  8. Savory, 40
  9. Savory, 41
  10. Savory, 42
  11. Savory, 58
  12. Savory, 85
  13. Savory, 96
  14. Savory, 251
  15. Savory, 135
  16. Savory, 161
  17. Savory, 172
  18. Savory, 190
  19. Savory, 233
  20. Savory, 238
  21. Savory, 240
  22. Savory, 252
  23. Savory, 259
  24. Savory, 257
  25. Savory, 276
  26. Savory, 279
  27. Savory, 288
  28. Savory, 291
  29. Savory, 294
  30. Savory, 301
  31. Savory, 347
  32. Savory, 348
  33. Savory, 351
  34. Savory, 351
  35. Savory, 352

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