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.
C7 H16S2O4=(Ch3)2: C:(So2c2h5)2.
Sulfonal is in the form of colorless prisms, odorless and tasteless'. It is easily soluble in hot water and in alcohol, and but slightly soluble in 100 parts of cold water, and is soluble in 18 to 20 parts of hot water, and melts at 2580 F.; it is also soluble in alcohol and ether; it is not affected by any of the ordinary acids. It appears to possess hypnotic properties of considerable power, and is regarded as prompt and reliable, producing a quiet, natural sleep, lasting a number of hours. It appears to have no unfavorable effects on the heart or the circulation, nor on the temperature, the pulse or the respiration, and to produce no disagreeable secondary symptoms, nor to interfere with the process of digestion.
It is best administered in hot liquids, such as a bowl of soup or broth, a cup of milk, tea, coffee, cocoa, in capsules, or in acacia mucilage, etc.
The conclusions drawn by Mathes are as follows: I. Sulfonal is a useful hypnotic agent, though it is not always efficacious. 2. It has the advantage over other agents of having no odor or taste, and no influence on the essential organs of life. 3. The worst of its disagreeable effects are insignificant. 4. The dose depends upon the individual susceptibility, and is therefore variable. Generally a gramme is sufficient to cause sleep without accessory manifestations. When these are produced the dose should be diminished. On account of its slow action, it should be given at least an hour before the time for sleep. 5. When the insomnia is due to irritating cough or to pains not clearly neuralgic, the use of sulfonal is contra-indicated. In most true neuralgias, on the contrary, it may be used with benefit. Sulphonal should be used 2 or 3 hours before the patient retires.
It is a valuable remedy for persistent neuralgia in doses of gr. x-xxx ; it may be administered in hot liquids such as tea, in the form of tablets of five and fifteen grains.
Grs. x to grs. xxx; but variable, depending upon the individual susceptibility.
Although sulphonal is probably one of the safest, as it is one of the most efficacious among the recent hypnotics, the series of cases published by Bresslaur, of Vienna, show clearly that it has certain dangers. Out of seventy-seven feeble lunatic patients who were treated with this drug, no less than seven showed serious symptoms, and in five of these there was a fatal termination ; but it should be stated that the patients had been taking the drug for a considerable time in good doses, and had borne it well until symptoms of disturbance appeared, such as great constipation, dark-brown urine, slow but in some cases rapid but feeble pulse, discolored patches resembling purpura on the limbs, and great prostration. In the cases which ended fatally, the cause of death was heart-failure, with oedema of the lungs. A number of fatal cases of acute and chronic poisoning from sulphonal are recorded. Sulphonal should not be used continuously for more than a few days.
Dr. Chase recommends sulphonal very highly for nervous patients after a protracted dental operation, as a small dose will give a quiet night's rest.