Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 351 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GROUP XVII. Alcohol.—This group also includes a very large number, of chemical bodies, only a few of which are mentioned here. Ethyl alcohol is taken as a type of the action of methyl alcohol, amyl alcohol, propyl alcohol, ether, acetic ether, paraldehyde, sulphonal, chloroform, methyl chloride, ethyl chloride, chloral hydrate, butylchloral hydrate, and almost any number of derivatives from these. Some of them are so volatile that they produce their effects when inhaled, others when sprayed upon the skin cause intense cold and then anaesthesia; but taken in the broadest sense the action of all of them after absorption into the blood is very similar, and is exerted upon the central nervous system, more especially the cerebrum. In all cases there is a longer or shorter period of excitement, followed by intoxication or narcosis, and with large doses this passes into paralysis and death from depression of the respiratory centre or of the heart. Small doses of any of them dilate the blood vessels from an action on the vaso-motor centre in the medulla oblongata, as a result of which the heart beats more rapidly and the blood circulates more freely; but larger doses have a general depressing effect upon the circulatory system. Under their action more heat is lost from the body, the general metabolism is diminished and the temperature falls. With some of them, such as chloral and chloroform, the stimulation period is short compared with the narcotic period, while with others, such as ether, the reverse is the case.
End of Article: GROUP XVII

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