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Chlorum—Chlorine

Other tomes: King's

Chlorine, Cl,—is a greenish-yellow gas, belonging to the Halogen group of elements; and though not official itself, it is represented in medicine by several of its compounds, as well as by several preparations which furnish it.

The so-called Halogen Elements derive their title from αλς, the sea,—because the most important members of the group are obtained, directly or indirectly, from the ocean, viz:—Chlorine, from sea-salt; Bromine, from sea-water; and Iodine, from sea-weed. They are all noted for their affinity for hydrogen, and consequent power as decomposers of organic matter.

Chlorine Compounds, described under the titles of their respective bases, are—the Chlorates of Potassium and Sodium; the Chlorides of Ammonium, Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Mercury, Gold, Iron and Zinc, etc.;—also Hydrochloric Acid, classed with the mineral acids (see page 50), and Chloral, Croton-chloral, and Chloroform.

Preparations.

Aqua Chlori, Chlorine Water,—is an aqueous solution, containing at least 0.4 per cent. of the gas. Dose, ♏x-xx in water. For local use ℨj-iv, well diluted, as a lotion or spray.
Calx Chlorata, Chlorinated Lime, "Chloride of Lime," (not Chloride of Calcium),—contains at least 35 per cent. of available Chlorine. Dose, gr. iij-vj in water;—externally a 1 to 3 per cent. solution.
*Liquor Calcis Chloratae, Solution of Chlorinated Lime, (B. P.),—has of the preceding 1 pound in 1 gallon of Water.
Liquor Sodae Chloratae, Solution of Chlorinated Soda, (Labarraque's Solution),—is an aqueous solution of several chlorine compounds of sodium, and contains at least 2.6 per cent. of available chlorine. Dose, ♏x-ℨj, in 20 parts of water.

Physiological Action. Chlorine is the most powerful of all the disinfectants and deodorants, and an antiseptic and antifermentative agent of the highest activity; its power in these respects being due to its affinity for hydrogen, decomposing all bodies which contain hydrogen as a molecular constituent, forming hydrochloric acid and setting oxygen free in its nascent form (ozone). Administered internally, it is converted, on reaching the stomach, into hydrochloric acid and chlorides, losing all action on the organism in its own character. Locally applied, it is irritant to the skin and mucous membranes, producing a sense of heat, with burning sensations and even vesication. Inhaled in any quantity, it causes cough, sneezing, and spasm of the glottis, also inflammation of the mucous lining of the air-passages, and of the lungs.

The Chlorides generally resemble, in their actions, their basic constituents rather than Chlorine; but one of them possesses qualities of its own which render it of prime importance, namely, Sodium Chloride, or Common Salt. This substance is one of the most important and abundant of the saline constituents of the animal organism, existing normally in the blood, where it keeps the fibrin and albumin in solution; hence in inflammation, being thus needed, it accumulates at the seat of the morbid action, disappearing temporarily from the urine; its reappearance therein being considered one of the surest signs of the patient's improvement. In very dilute solution it enables water to dissolve both albumins and globulins, and renders water non-irritant to the animal tissues and harmless to the red blood-corpuscles. For these purposes the solution employed is one of 0.65 per cent., known in experimental physiology as the "normal salt solution." In substance, however, or in concentrated solution, it is very irritant to cut surfaces, mucous membranes, muscle and nerve tissues. Taken into the stomach in quantity it irritates that organ, and induces vomiting; and, when absorbed in excess of the normal requirements of the body, it causes, in great intensity, the peculiar nervous irritation which is expressed by the sense of thirst; and this is only relieved by the ingestion of water in sufficient quantity to enable the excess to be dissolved and excreted by the kidneys. It is rapidly absorbed, and equally rapidly excreted; and, when consumed in excess, it increases tissue-change, and consequently the excretion of urea,—and also the excretion of potassium salts. On the other hand, the excessive ingestion of potassium salts, (as in the cases of herbivorous animals, and vegetarian cranks), increases the excretion of sodium chloride, by a double decomposition between them in the blood, forming potassium chloride and sodium phosphate, which, being foreign to the blood, are constantly excreted. In this way, by a continuous vegetable diet, the normal amount of sodium chloride in the organism may be greatly reduced; and the animal will feel the want of it, and will travel hundreds of miles to visit a salt-lick. Besides being emetic, when given internally, Sodium Chloride also acts as a hemostatic, decreases the secretion of mucus, is a vermifuge against ascarides, promotes the absorption of pleuritic serous exudations and of dropsies, and has considerable power as an antiperiodic and an antiseptic.

Ammonium Chloride is alterative, expectorant, cholagogue, and purgative, also anti-neuralgic, and refrigerant,—the latter property being exhibited when locally used, as by the process of its being dissolved in water a considerable degree of cold is produced.

Ferric Chloride is one of the most valuable compounds of Iron, with which it is generally classed,—its action being mainly that of a chalybeate. Being a chloride, however, it must possess high antiseptic energy in the organism; and it is doubtless its combination of the quality of an active, yet safe internal antiseptic, with its power as a blood-restorer, which makes it so valuable a remedy in the septic diseases.

The other Chlorides (of Mercury, Gold, Zinc, etc.) and the Chlorates of Potassium and Sodium, are described under the titles of their respective bases.

Antidotes. Ammoniacal vapors inhaled to form Ammonium Chloride. Albumen if Chlorine preparations have been taken into the stomach; also a little Aqua Ammoniae sufficiently diluted, may be given with advantage.

Therapeutics. The Chlorinated preparations are used as disinfectants and deodorizers of rooms, drains, and discharges from the body; but rarely about the person or clothing, as they are too irritant to be inhaled with impunity, and they destroy the color of fabrics. In very dilute solution they are employed with great benefit as local applications in—

Diphtheria, and other septic diseases,—to destroy fetor chiefly.
Gangrenous Ulcers and wounds, foul discharges, etc.,—as deodorizers.
Bites of serpents and insects,—a strong solution of Chlorinated Soda.
Throat Affections,—an excellent gargle is the mixture of Potassium Chlorate with the Tincture of the Chloride of Iron, in which the former is decomposed by the free HCl always present, and the resulting solution contains Chlorine, Euchlorine, Potassium and Ferric Chlorides,—perhaps the best and most innocuous mixture of antiseptics known.
Silver Nitrate Poisoning,—Sodium Chloride as an antidote.
Migraine,—both Sodium and Ammonium Chlorides are efficient.
Intermittent Fever,—has been cured by Sodium Chloride, in 8 to 10-drachm doses, given during the apyrexia.
Bilious Diarrhoea,—Sodium Chloride, gr. x-ℨj, thrice daily.
Ascarides,—Sodium Chloride, in solution by enema, two tablespoonfuls of the salt to a pint of water,—will effectually destroy them.

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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