This section is from the book "Dental Medicine. A Manual Of Dental Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Ferdinand J. S. Gorgas. Also available from Amazon: Dental Medicine.
C5H11No2. Sp. gr., 0.877.
Nitrite of Amyl is prepared by the action of nitric acid on amylic alcohol (fusel oil). The distilled portion obtained below 212° F. is rectified by means of carbonate of potassium, and that portion only distilling between 200° and 2060 F. is reserved, being a nitrite of oxide of amyl. It is a yellowish or amber-colored liquid, somewhat oily, very volatile and inflammable, and boils at 1820 F. It has an odor like that of ripe pears, and belongs to the class of compound ethers.
It is used by inhalation, causing an accelerated action of the heart, sudden flushing of the face, dilatation of the arteries, paralysis of the action of the smaller arteries, a sense of great fullness of the brain, a lowering of the blood-pressure and temperature, and complete resolution of the muscular system. The vapor of nitrite of amyl, when applied directly to the muscular or nervous tissues, arrests their functional activity, and, circulating in the blood, appears to act most on the vaso-motor system and unstriped muscular fibre. It affects respiration and the composition of the blood, producing headache, which is often prolonged.
Being a powerful stimulant to the heart, it is an antidote to chloroform and cocaine. A case is mentioned in the British Medical Journal, where, during chloroform narcosis, respiration ceased, and artificial respiration failed to restore the patient. Some nitrite of amyl was then poured on lint, and held to the patient's nostrils. In ten seconds there was a flushing of the face, the pulse was again felt, and respiration was restored.
When from two to five minims are poured on lint and applied to the nostrils, the heart's action will be accelerated, a sudden flushing of the face takes place, dilatation of the arteries results, also a fall in the blood pressure and a lowering of the temperature, and complete muscular relaxation. As a remedy for chloroform narcosis, it is supposed to antagonize cerebral anemia by causing capillary dilatation and thus promoting the inflow of blood to the brain.
By inhalation, for relieving the pain of angina pectoris, and preventing epileptic seizures; also used in asthma, strychnia poisoning, hydrophobia, tetanus, epileptic attacks, and in many other convulsive or spasmodic diseases.
Of nitrite of amyl, to by inhalation ; not more than should be administered, unless the patient has been accustomed to its use.
As an antidote for chloroform narcosis, for the relief of epileptic attacks during the extraction of teeth, for relieving the pain of neuralgia of the fifth pair of nerves, and for restoration from syncope. As nitrite of amyl is a powerful and dangerous agent, care must be observed in its use, and but small doses applied at first, as some patients, especially the weak and nervous, are very susceptible to its influence.