Other tomes: Potter
Properties: Anesthetic, antispasmodic, sedative. A colorless, heavy liquid having a sweet, burning taste. It is not inflammable, but when heated will burn with a,green flame. Dissolves sparingly in 200 parts of water. Dissolves in alcohol, ether, benzene, essential and fixed oils. Chloroform has great solvent power. Decomposes, in daylight or sunlight, therefore should be kept in dark bottle or in a dark place.
Physiological action: Taken internally it is a powerful irritant to the mucous membrane, producing heat, burning and gastric irritation. If taken undiluted in sufficient quantity it will produce narcosis followed by violent gastro-enteritis. In 5 to 10 drop doses in water it produces a feeling of warmth in the stomach. In 1/2 teaspoonful doses taken in water the pulse will become slower, circulation a little slower and a mild anesthetic effect follows. It should always be well diluted if taken internally. Locally applied it relieves pain and diminishes sensibility. If applied oftener and evaporation is prevented it will cause pain, redness and vesication.
Use: Its action is mainly on the brain and spinal centers. If inhaled it lowers arterial pressure and depresses the heart's action. Death results generally from paralysis of the heart; while death from ether is by asphyxiation. The action of chloroform is in 3 stages. In the first stage only slight effect is noticed, patient being conscious, but senses are blunted somewhat. Pulse will beat a little faster in this stage. In the second stage the consciousness and sensibility are abolished and muscles become relaxed, the pulse beating about normal. In the 3rd stage there is full narcosis with stentorous breathing, rapid and weak pulse. If chloroform is administered prepare patient if possible; nothing should be eaten for at least 2 hours before as vomiting may result otherwise; loosen clothing and place in recumbent position. See that the patient is calm and if too nervous and weak a little opium may be given shortly before giving the anesthetic. Alcoholic stimulants may be given. Give no more than needed and watch the respiration carefully, the face, pulse, lips and cheeks. If breathing becomes stentorous, if face becomes pallid or purple, if patient gasps for breath danger is near, especially in the latter case. To resuscitate use artificial respiration, lower the head, pull out tongue, if necessary stretch the sphincter ani muscle, slap chest, see that patient gets fresh air. Always have an assistant at hand. During operation if patient looks conscious and flinches or has pinched expression with eyelids turned up, give more. In heart disease or disease of the lungs it is dangerous to use. Outside of its full effect in operations, etc., we think of it for giving immediate relief in all spasmodic troubles. In spasmodic asthma it is our best remedy; if enough is inhaled to relax muscles and produce normal respiration. Use in attacks of hysteria as a last resort, in puerperal convulsions, in chorea and tetanus if no other. remedy relieves, in whooping cough. In obstetrical practice it is of great value as it relieves pain and does not interfere with uterine contractions, while it does relax, and mitigates the suffering. It is a good local anodyne in neuralgia or lumbago. Chloroform is dangerous to use for those who have taken the gold cure for liquor habit.
The Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics, 1905, was written by Fred J. Petersen, M.D.