Other tomes: Petersen

The substance improperly called "Sulphuric Ether" or "Ether" is Ethylic Ether, or Ethyl Oxide, C4H10O, and is a derivative of Ethyl Alcohol, prepared by its distillation with Sulphuric Acid, the latter body dehydrating the Alcohol and remaining in the retort. (C2H6O)2 - H20 = C4H10O.

Properties. Ether is a volatile, colorless, inflammable liquid, composed of about 96 p. c. of absolute Ethyl Oxide and about 4 p. c. of Alcohol containing a little water. Its sp. gr. is 0.725 to 0.728 at 59° F., therefore it is lighter than water, but its vapor is heavier than air, with which it forms a highly explosive mixture. It evaporates speedily in the open air, with the production of cold. When good, it evaporates from the hand, without leaving behind a disagreeable odor. Its odor is strong and characteristic, its taste hot and pungent. It dissolves oils, fats, resins, caoutchouc, most of the organic alkaloids, and many other substances. Dose, internally, ♏︎x-ʒj, in syrup; hypodermically, for heart-failure, ♏︎xv-xxx. It is best prescribed as the Spirit of Ether, which mixes readily with water.

Other Ethers used in Medicine are

Aether Aceticus, Acetic Ether, Ethyl Acetate,—an inflammable liquid, of ethereal and acetous odor; used in Cologne-water, and Tinct. Ferri Acetatis. Dose, ♏︎x-ʒj.
*Hydrobromic Ether, Ethyl Bromide,—is not inflammable. Dose, internally and hypodermically, ♏︎x-ʒj.
*Hydriodic Ether, Ethyl Iodide,— non-inflammable and insoluble in water. Dose, by inhalation, ♏︎xv.
*Nitrous Ether, Ethyl Nitrite, C2H5NO2. A solution of this in Alcohol is the well-known diuretic and diaphoretic—Spiritus Aetheris Nitrosi, Spirit of Nitrous Ether, Sweet Spirit of Nitre,—Dose, ♏︎v-ʒij.
*Sulphuric Ether, (properly so called),—is Ethyl Sulphate, C4H10SO4


Oleum Aethereum, Ethereal Oil,—consists of equal vols. of heavy oil of wine and ether. As it occurs in commerce it is usually worthless.
Spiritus Aetheris, Spirit of Ether,—Dose, ♏︎v-ʒj. Ether 32 ½, Alcohol 67 ½.
Spiritus Aetheris Compositus, Compound Spirit of Ether, Hoffman's Anodyne,—contains Alcohol 65, Ether 32 ½, Ethereal Oil 2 ½. Dose, ♏︎v-ʒj.
*Anaesthetic Mixtures,—have Ether 3 parts, Chloroform 2 or 1, Alcohol 1.

Physiological Action. Ether is anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, and anthelmintic, a cardiac and cerebral stimulant, an anaesthetic, and a narcotic poison. Administered internally it is one of the most powerful secretion-stimulants known, acting especially on the secretions of the stomach, salivary glands, and pancreas. On the cerebrum and the motor and sensory nerves, its action is similar to that of alcohol, but more prompt and less protracted. It is eliminated quickly, chiefly by the lungs.

Inhaled, it produces at first faucial irritation, a sense of strangulation, and cough, then a stage of excitement (cerebral intoxication), in which the face is flushed and the respiration and pulse are quickened. A tetanic convulsive stage generally follows, the face being cyanosed, the muscles rigid, the respiration stertorous. This soon subsides, and complete insensibility is established, the muscles being relaxed, and the reflexes abolished. The cerebral functions are suspended, the lower centres in the medulla continuing to carry on the processes of respiration and circulation. If the inhalation be continued these too become paralyzed, death usually resulting from slow paralysis of respiration, the heart pulsating long after breathing has ceased. Atropine hypodermically is the best antagonist to the toxic effects of Ether.

Nitrous Ether is a mild diaphoretic, a carminative, a most efficient diuretic, and a diffusible stimulant.

Therapeutics. When diluted with Alcohol, as in the Spirit, Ether mixes readily with Water, and may be administered internally in—

Indigestion of Fats, and to aid the digestion of Cod-liver Oil.
Gastralgia, Colic, Flatulence, etc.,—the Compound Spirit is admirable.
Hepatic Colic,—Durande's solvent remedy consists of Ether and Turpentine, and is supposed to dissolve hepatic calculi, when given internally.
With Opium,—to counteract the drying up effects of that drug.
Syncope,—is promptly met by the Compound Spirit.
Hysteria, the paroxysms and flatulence,—are quickly relieved by Ether.
Cholera, the algid state,—Ether has been well used subcutaneously.
Neuralgia,—Ether injected into the vicinity of the affected nerve.
Local Anaesthetic by Ether-spray,—affords great relief in neuralgia of superficial nerves, lumbago, spinal irritation, chorea; and in minor surgical operations it is a valuable method, but now displaced by Cocaine.
As an Anaesthetic,—Ether is less prompt in action but much safer than Chloroform, as it never paralyzes a healthy heart. It has its necrology, however, many deaths being reported as undoubtedly caused by it, besides several which occurred some hours after its anaesthesia. Ether should be inhaled in as concentrated a form as possible, and will then produce insensibility in 3 to 8 minutes. If a light be in the room it should be high above the patient. A grate-fire or gas-stove in the vicinity is very dangerous. [Compare the next article.]

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