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Alcohols and Aldehydes.

Preparations:

An Alcohol is a volatile organic compound of an organic radical and Hydroxyl (HO), contains no N, has a great affinity for water, and reacts with acids to form H2O and Ethers. Alcohols are therefore analogous to the metallic hydrates, and Ethers to metallic oxides or salts.

An Alcohol is obtained by distillation from the fermented product of grape-sugar, or some substance (as starch) easily converted into grape-sugar, which in the presence and by the growth of certain low vegetable organisms (the yeast plant, etc.) splits up into Alcohol and CO2. It may also be made synthetically by shaking Olefiant Gas (C2H4) with strong Sulphuric Acid, then diluting and distilling. C2H4 + H2O = C2H6O, Ethylic Alcohol.

Three most important Alcohols are the following-named, viz.:—

Methyl Alcohol, CH3 + HO = CH4O, Methyl Hydrate, Wood Spirit,—One of the products of its oxidation is Methylal, (see under Chloral).
Ethyl Alcohol, C2H5 + HO = C2H6O, Ethyl Hydrate, Grain Spirit, the substance commonly styled "Alcohol." Its oxidation products depend upon the rate of its oxidation. If very slowly it forms Aldehyde, C2H4O,—if more quickly Acetic Acid, C2H4O2,—if very quickly, as in burning, CO2 and H2O, which are, in all cases, the ultimate products of its continued oxidation.
Amyl Alcohol, C5H11 + HO = C5H12O, Amyl Hydrate, Fusel Oil, Potatospirit,—also occurs in the excessive distillation of fermented grain, along with the Ethylic Alcohol. Its oxidation produces Valerianic Acid, C5H10O2.

An Alcohol is obtained by distillation from the fermented product of grape-sugar, or some substance (as starch) easily converted into grape-sugar, which in the presence and by the growth of certain low vegetable organisms (the yeast plant, etc.) splits up into Alcohol and CO2. It may also be made synthetically by shaking Olefiant Gas (C2H4) with strong Sulphuric Acid, then diluting and distilling. C2H4 + H2O = C2H6O, Ethylic Alcohol.

Three most important Alcohols are the following-named, viz.;—

Methyl Alcohol, CH3 + HO = CH4O, Methyl Hydrate, Wood Spirit,—One of the products of its oxidation is Methylal, (see under Chloral).
Ethyl Alcohol, C2H5 + HO = C2H6O, Ethyl Hydrate, Grain Spirit, the substance commonly styled "Alcohol." Its oxidation products depend upon the rate of its oxidation. If very slowly it forms Aldehyde, C2H4O,—if more quickly Acetic Acid, C2H4O2,—if very quickly, as in burning, CO2 and H2O, which are, in all cases, the ultimate products of its continued oxidation.
Amyl Alcohol, C5H11 + HO = C5H12O, Amyl Hydrate, Fusel Oil, Potatospirit,—also occurs in the excessive distillation of fermented grain, along with the Ethylic Alcohol. Its oxidation produces Valerianic Acid, C5H10O2.

An Aldehyde is obtained from an alcohol by removing therefrom two atoms of hydrogen, hence its name—Al(cohol)dehyd(rogenatum). Aldehydes lie in chemical constitution between the alcohols and the acids, and have the power of reducing silver salts in darkness, which is shared also by living protoplasm. The principal aldehydes are—

Acetic Aldehyde, C2H4O, Aldehyde, Ethyl Aldehyde, Ethylidene Oxide,—a colorless, mobile liquid, antiseptic, locally irritant, anaesthetic when inhaled, and a powerful depressant of the respiration, too dangerous for use.
Paraldehyde, C6H12O3,—a polymeric form of Aldehyde, and a valuable hypnotic,—(See under Chloral).

A Ketone bears the same relation to an Aldehyde that an Ether does to an Alcohol,—being an aldehyde in which the hydrogen has been replaced by a radical. The most important Ketone is—

Hypnone, C6H5(CO)(CH3), Phenyl-methyl-acetone. A powerful hypnotic, (described under Chloral).

Official Preparations of Alcohol. The official alcohol is Ethyl Alcohol, which is represented in the pharmacopoeia by the several preparations known as Brandy, Whiskey, and Wine, as also under the following four forms, viz.:—

Alcohol Absolutum, Absolute Alcohol,—is Ethyl Alcohol, containing not more than 1 p. c. by weight of water, and having a sp. gr. not higher than 0.797 at 59° F. Used in the manufacture of Chloroform.
Alcohol,—has about 91 p. c. by weight, or 94 p. c. by vol. of Ethyl Alcohol, and about 9 p. c. of water: sp. gr. 0.820 at 59° F.
Alcohol Deodoratum, Deodorized Alcohol,—has about 92 1/2 p. c. by weight of Ethyl Alcohol: sp. gr. about 0.816 at 59° F.
Alcohol Dilutum, Diluted Alcohol,—has about 41 p. c. by weight, or 48.6 by vol. of absolute Ethyl Alcohol, and about 59 p. c. of water: sp. gr. about 0.936 at 59° F. Prepared by mixing together equal volumes of Alcohol and Distilled Water.
Spiritus Frumenti, Whiskey,—obtained from the distillation of the mash of fermented grain; rye, wheat or corn (U. S.), barley (Scotch), and at least 2 years old. Alcohol strength 44 to 50 p. c. by weight; also has Ethers developed by the action of acetic and butyric acids on the alcohol, and traces of fusel oil even in the best. Dose, ℨj-℥ij.
Spiritus Vini Gallici, Brandy,—obtained by the distillation of the fermented juice of grapes, and at least 4 years old. Alcoholic strength 39 to 47 p. c. by weight; also contains Oenanthic and other Ethers developed by age. Pale Brandy is colored by the cask alone; dark has caramel added. Brandy is often prepared artificially by adding to high wine (Alcohol) Acetic or Nitric Ether, Caramel, and Logwood or Catechu for astringency. Dose, ℨj-℥ij.
Vinum Album, White Wine,—should contain 10 to 14 p. c. by weight of absolute alcohol, and is made by fermenting the unmodified juice of the grape, freed from seeds, stems and skins. California Riesling, Ohio Catawba, etc. Dose, ℥ss-iv.
Vinum Rubrum, Red Wine,—is made by fermenting the juice of colored grapes with their skins. It should contain 10 to 14 p. c. by weight of absolute alcohol. Native Claret, Burgundy, etc. Dose, ℥ss-iv.

Unofficial Alcoholic Preparations.

*Proof Spirit,—contains 49 p. c. by weight of absolute alcohol, with a peculiar oil and other foreign matters : sp. gr. 0.920.
*Rectified Spirit,—has 85 p. c. by weight of absolute alcohol, and no fusel oil: sp. gr. 0.835. Is often spoken of as "56 over proof," meaning that to reduce 100 volumes of it to the strength of proof spirit requires 56 volumes of water.
*Rum,—is obtained from the distillation of fermented molasses.
*Gin,—is distilled from rye or barley, and flavored in Holland with juniper berries and Hops; in England often with Oil of Turpentine, various cheap Aromatics, Lead Acetate, Zinc Sulphate, Cayenne Pepper, etc. Pure Gin is an efficient diuretic, from the Oil of juniper contained in it, but it is so rarely obtained pure that other diuretics are better employed.
*Vinum Portense, Port Wine,—has 30 to 40 p. c. of alcohol. Is almost impossible to be obtained pure, being usually made artificially and heavily fortified with Alcohol.
*Vinum Xericum, Sherry,—a dry spirituous wine, also generally made to order by the so-called rectifiers; the process being one of slow heating. Has of absolute alcohol from 20 to 35 p. c.
*Sparkling Wines, Champagne, etc.,—are sweet, being bottled before fermentation has ceased; have 8 to 12 p. c. Alcohol and considerable CO2.
*Sweet Wines, Burgundy, Tokay, Muscatel, Malaga, Angelica, Madeira, etc., are of low Alcoholic strength, 6 to 7 p. c., unless fortified.
*Light Red Wines, Claret, Red Rhine, Concord Port,—have 5 to 6 p. c. Alcohol, Tannic Acid, grape coloring matter, etc.
*Dry Acid Wines, Rhine, Moselle, Ohio, Catawba, etc.,—in which fermentation is completed. Alcohol strength 5 to 7 p. c.
*Beer, by slow fermentation, yeast falling,—Alcohol 2 to 3 p. c.
*Ale, by rapid fermentation, yeast floating,—Alcohol 2 to 6 p. c.
*Porter, Stout, have much coloring matter,—Alcohol 4 to 6 p. c.
[above three] Also contain extract of malt, CO2, lactic acid, salts of potassium and sodium, aromatics, etc.
*Kumyss,—is obtained by the fermentation of Milk, that of the mare being used in Tartary. It contains from 1 to 3 P. c. of alcohol, besides sugar, lactic acid, casein, fat, salts, carbonic acid and ethers.

Physiological Action—Alcohol is a cerebral excitant and depressant, and a narcotic poison. It is anaesthetic, antiseptic, and anti-parasitic, a mild counter- irritant, and coagulates albumen by abstracting its water. It is very diffusible, partly oxidized by the organism, partly excreted. In small doses it relaxes the vessels, stimulates the gastric glands, promotes appetite and digestion, lessens the elimination of waste products, (urea and CO2), causes a subjective sensation of heat, and slightly raises the body temperature. It briefly stimulates the heart, prolonging its systole and reducing the length of the diastole, and increases the functional activity of all the organs. A portion is oxidized by the organism (℥iss in 24 hours?), yielding force, which is utilized as nervous, muscular and grandular power.

The long-continued use of moderate doses congests the stomach and liver, over-stimulates the gastric glands and the hepatic cells to the production of pathological secretions, causes gastric catarrh and morning vomiting, and impairs digestion. By irritation it sets up hyperplasia of the submucous connective tissue (sclerosis), especially in the stomach, brain, kidneys and liver (cirrhosis); produces fatty degeneration (steatosis) of the blood, the arterial walls, and the various organs; and depresses the heart and the arterial tension Epilepsy, paraplegia, amaurosis and insanity may result from the long-continued use of spirits, Alcohol having an especial affinity for the nervous system The malt liquors (beer, ale, etc.,) are less prone than the spirituous to affect the brain, but are apt to set up fatty degeneration of the liver and heart.

In large doses Alcohol precipitates pepsin and destroys its activity as a ferment, arrests digestion, produces exhilaration, intoxication, hallucinations, delirium, muscular incoordination, depression of the heart, lowered arterial tension and body temperature, abolished reflexes and coma. A Toxic Dose, after a very brief period of excitement, produces insensibility, stertorous breathing, dilated or contracted pupils, complete muscular resolution, and death by paralysis of the heart and respiration.

Alcohol is a food within narrow limits; ℨiss per diem (?) is the quantity which the adult organism can oxidize; more than this is a poison, setting up structural changes in the organs, and lowering the resistance power of the body to morbific influences. It has frequently caused an intractable form of phthisis. The very young and the very old bear more Alcohol relatively than the adult. Alcohol has been proven to exist normally in the human organism.

Morbid Conditions with which Acute Alcoholism may be Confounded. Apoplexy, opium narcosis, concussion of the brain, and even acute pneumonia. The differential diagnosis is impossible to make in the state of deep coma. The pupils are not a trustworthy indication, as in alcoholism they may be either dilated or contracted.

Treatment of Acute Alcoholism. Evacuate the stomach, Ammonia inhalation cautiously, warmth to the extremities, cold affusion to the head, faradism of the muscles of respiration. Milk, black coffee, mucilaginous drinks afterwards. Nutritious, digestible diet in liquid form, and small quantities frequently repeated. Ammonium Chloride, ℨss in O1/2 of water at one draught, is said to restore the faculties and antagonize stupor. Chloral Hydrate, gr. xxx, well diluted, and repeated at intervals of 2 or 3 hours to procure sleep.

Therapeutics. Though decidedly injurious in health, in disease Alcohol is a most valuable remedy in appropriate cases. In—

Vomiting of yellow fever, sea-sickness, etc.,—Iced Champagne is useful.
Atonic Indigestion of nervous and depressed subjects,—cautiously!
Phthisis,—it does good if it promotes digestion and assimilation; otherwise it is very injurious.
Cholera Infantum, Diarrhoea, etc.,—Cognac Brandy in full doses.
Cardiac Failure,—Brandy in small doses repeated as fast as oxidized.
Chloroform Anaesthesia,—℥j-ij of Whiskey beforehand, to sustain the heart, and prolong the chloroform narcosis.
Poisoning, by cardiac depressants and snake-venom,—Alcohol freely, to sustain the heart. In snake poisoning it is given ad libitum.
Diphtheria,—Whiskey or Brandy in small doses frequently from the commencement, and dilute Alcohol sprayed into the throat, is very efficient treatment.
Adynamic Fevers,—Small doses frequently are often of great value.
Gonorrhoea,—Niemeyer is said to have done a lucrative business by treating this affection with injections of Tannic Acid in Port Wine.
Insomnia from cerebral anaemia,—may be prevented by small doses of some alcoholic stimulant at bed-time.
Wounds,—no better dressing than strong Alcohol, to prevent putrefaction and protect the surface by coating it with a coagulum of its own albumen.
Bed Sores if threatening,—Alcohol locally, to harden the tissue.
Cold from exposure,—may be prevented by a moderate dose of Alcohol, to restore the balance of the circulation and prevent internal congestions, by relaxing the vessels of the periphery.

A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.



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