Amylene is obtained by distilling amylic alcohol with chloride of zinc. It is a colorless, very mobile liquid, with a boiling point of 102°, and the density of its vapor 2.45. It has a very peculiar and disagreeable smell.

Medical Properties And Physiological Action

Amylene was introduced as an anaesthetic in 1856, by the late Dr. Snow, who regarded it as possessing the following advantages: the safety of ether, absence of pungency and irritating property, readiness with which the absense of pain is obtained, with less coma than with chloroform or ether, the speedy recovery from its effects, less nauseating, and less headache and rigidity and struggling than in the case of ether or chloroform. Others, however, have not been so much impressed with this anaesthetic agent as was Dr. Snow; hence, it has not been regarded with the same favor as other agents of this class. An extreme quantity being required to produce complete insensibility to pain, its operation is considered to be dangerous.

Therapeutic Use

As an anaesthetic.

Hydrate of Amylene is a tertiary alcohol first prepared by Wurtz. It is a colorless, watery-looking fluid, with a sharp taste and smell, and is soluble in eight times its volume of alcohol. It is generally regarded as a safe and reliable narcotic and hypnotic, sleep being produced in from fifteen to forty-five minutes, and sometimes almost instantly. When large doses are given, sleep may be induced in five or eight minutes, and as a rule its actions are prompt and safe. Contraindications of the drug have not yet been observed, but in cases of severe gastric troubles and ulcerations of the pharynx, it should be given per anus. Its action may be briefly summed up as follows:

1. Hydrate of amylene is a hypnotic whose action can be confidently relied upon when sufficiently large doses are given. Experiments have shown that it is not so strong as chloral, yet stronger than paraldehyde.

2. Hydrate of amylene also acts upon persons who are accustomed to the use of hypnotics, although the dose employed in such cases must be comparatively large.

3. Sleep occurs soon after the administration of the drug, and is not preceded by any period of excitement. The sleep produced is light or heavy, according to the dose given ; yet it is always easy to awaken the patient. Upon waking, the patient is perfectly sensible and bright, but if not disturbed further will fall asleep again.

4. Sleep lasts from two to three hours if small doses have been given, or from six to eight hours under the influence of larger doses.

5. The awaking is similar to that from natural sleep. The patient feels rested and strengthened. No headache or weakness was ever observed.

6. The respiration remains unchanged.

7. The change in the pulse's frequency and in the pressure of blood is no more than that which accompanies natural sleep.

8. The patients were never observed to wake up with a bad taste in their mouths and complaining of a disagreeable smell, symptoms which nearly always follow the use of paraldehyde.

9. Whether or not a habit and tolerance for the drug may be formed remains yet to be seen. As yet, even when the dose has been used continually, an increase of dose was never found necessary.


Of hydrate of amylene, grs. xii to grs. xxxvii. It may be administered in gelatin capsules containing 15 1/2 grains each, or in the fluid form mixed with claret and water, or raspberry syrup.