The acid is capable of passing through the unbroken skin, whereupon it instantly paralyses the sensory nerves.
Hydrocyanic acid is a general protoplasmic poison, all the lower organisms being very susceptible to its action, while in the higher animals it speedily depresses or paralyses all forms of nerve tissue.
When rubbed into the skin with such substances as alcohol or glycerine, which are absorbed, atropine is carried through the epidermis with them, and in this manner - or when simply applied to a raw surface - it paralyses the terminals of the pain-conducting sensory nerves.
" From the charnel-house of the Vienna cabinet," he exclaimed, " a pestilential air breathes on us, which dulls our nerves and paralyses the flight of our spirit."
It is indicated in paralyses (chiefly functional), and is most valuable in the treatment of post-diphtheritic paralysis.