"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~Toni Morrison

Monday, September 30, 2013

WOTW: Chloroform

Chloroform:  (noun) a colorless, volatile, sweet-smelling liquid used as a solvent and formerly as a general anesthetic.

I am currently reading The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum.  According to the author, for fifty years after chloroform was discovered, "every drugstore stocked it.......It was mixed into cough syrups and liniments; it was dispensed as a sedative, a sleep aid, a painkiller, a treatment for alcoholic DTs, for hiccupping, seasickness, colic, vomiting, and diarrhea.  No one was entirely sure how it worked, just that it appeared to slow the body down and sedate the brain, sliding a patient into a much-desired stupor."

I am fascinated by the idea that doctors used to prescribe substances for so many ailments when they had no idea what the effect would be.  I guess it is a good reminder of how much we have learned about science and medicine.

No comments:

Post a Comment