sedative

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sedative,

any of a variety of drugs that relieve anxiety. Most sedatives act as mild depressantsdepressant,
any one of various substances that diminish functional activity, usually by depressing the nervous system. Barbiturates, sedatives, alcohol, and meprobamate are all depressants. Depressants have various modes of action and effects.
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 of the nervous system, lessening general nervous activity or reducing the irritability or activity of a specific organ. Sedatives taken in small quantities are useful in relieving coughing, nausea, or convulsions and in lessening anxiety. In increasing doses sedatives act as hypnotics (see hypnotic drugshypnotic drugs,
drugs that induce sleep, sometimes called soporifics. In general, hypnotics are central nervous system depressants. Alcohol, laudanum (see opium), bromide salts, and herbs such as valerian have been used as hypnotics.
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), i.e., they induce sleep, and as anesthetics. Many sedatives, including barbituratesbarbiturate
, any one of a group of drugs that act as depressants on the central nervous system. High doses depress both nerve and muscle activity and inhibit oxygen consumption in the tissues. In low doses barbiturates act as sedatives, i.e.
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, meprobamatemeprobamate
, tranquilizing drug that acts as a depressant of the central nervous system and is commonly used in the treatment of anxiety and sometimes schizophrenia. Although meprobamate is chemically unlike barbiturates and has lower toxicity, it has similar pharmacological
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 (Miltown), and benzodiazepinesbenzodiazepine
, any of a class of drugs prescribed for their tranquilizing, antianxiety, sedative, and muscle-relaxing effects. Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for epilepsy and alcohol withdrawal.
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 (Librium and Valium), are habit-forming and should be taken only under medical direction. Chloral hydrate, ethyl alcohol, bromide salts, and antihistamines can all be used as sedatives. Tranquilizerstranquilizer,
drug whose action calms the central nervous system, decreasing emotional agitation without impairing alertness. Tranquilizing drugs differ from hypnotic drugs such as barbiturates in that they do not act on the brain's cortical areas but rather on its lower
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 are compounds that calm without excessively reducing mental alertness.

Sedative

 

one of a chemically heterogeneous group of medicinal substances of vegetable and synthetic origin that exert a calmative effect. In the narrow sense of the word, a sedative is a substance that produces only a calmative effect; this type includes valerian, motherwort, menthol, and bromides of sodium and potassium. Tranquilizers that dispel anxiety are known as anxiolytic sedatives; these tranquilizers include derivatives of propanediol (for example, meprotan), diphenylmethane (for example, actozine), benzodiazepin (for example, diazepam), and trioxazine. Also used as sedatives are somnifacients, including phenobarbital, which are used in small doses, and neuroleptics, for example, aminazine and Tisercin. Combined neuroleptics are also used, for example, Bekhterev’s mixture (sodium bromide and an infusion of adonis and codeine phosphate), Corvalol (ethyl ester of α-bromoisovaleric acid, phenobarbital sodium, mint oil, ethyl alcohol, and water), and Validol (a solution of menthol in menthyl ester of isovaleric acid).

Sedatives produce a calmative effect and decrease feelings of fear, anxiety, and mental tension without substantially interfering with attentiveness and mental and physical efficiency. They can therefore be used during the day. In therapeutic doses they are not themselves somnifacient but may promote the normalization of disrupted sleep. The mechanism of the action of sedatives is not completely clear. It is conjectured that sedatives are capable of selectively suppressing the subcortical (limbic) and cortical structures of the brain that regulate emotions.

Sedatives are used widely in modern medical practice. Surgically and anesthesiologically they are administered particularly during preoperative and postoperative procedures. They are used in treating such internal diseases as hypertension and myocardial infarction. Sedatives, however, have been and are used primarily in neuropathology and psychiatry in treating neuroses and other borderline mental diseases accompanied by obsessions, fear, and agitated depression (sometimes sedatives are combined with neuroleptics or antidepressants). Treatment is prolonged. Both the selection of a preparation and the appropriate individual dosage are important. Sedatives are usually tolerated well, and the side effects are insignificant. Sleepiness or lethargy may result from an overdose. Sedatives do not usually produce cumulation, habituation, or predilection,

REFERENCES

Mashkovskii, M. D. Lekarstvennye sredstva, 7th ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1972.
Aleksandrovskii, Iu. A. Klinieheskaia farmakologiia trankvilizalorov. Moscow, 1973.

K. S. RAEVSKII

sedative

[′sed·əd·iv]
(pharmacology)
An agent or drug that has a quieting effect on the central nervous system.

sedative

1. of or relating to sedation
2. Med a sedative drug or agent
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