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.
Paraldehyde is a polymeric modification of aldehyde (C2H4O). It is a colorless liquid of an ethereal odor, pungent taste and insoluble in eight parts of water, which is a proper menstruum. It is frequently combined with chloroform, oil of almonds and syrup of orange peel, or cinnamon.
Paraldehyde is an efficient hypnotic, similar in its effects to chloral, although the sleep caused by it is not so deep nor so prolonged. As it does not weaken or paralyze the heart or lungs, it is considered to be safer than chloral. It is employed as an hypnotic in fevers, rheumatism, gout, prurigo, insomnia, hysterics, delirium tremens, some cases of neuralgia, and all mental and nervous disorders. It is also used as an expectorant. Poisonous doses cause respiratory paralysis. The action of paraldehyde upon digestion is as follows: a. Large quantities considerably accelerated the digestion of fibrin, and that the rate of this acceleration was distinctly in ratio with the quantity used.
b. Small quantities also increased, but to a less degree, the digestion of fibrin.
c. Putrefaction was prevented by the larger quantities of paraldehyde, and was delayed by the smaller quantities.to repeated if necessary.