Alkyl nitrites are a group of compounds of the alkyl esters group. They were first discovered in 1859 and have been used from then on for their various beneficial effects. Alkyl nitrites consist of three major forms: the amyl, butyl and isobutyl. All of these are used in medicine or in laboratories as chemical reagents. There are other forms; however, they are not in use. The compounds have a distinct fruity odor and are gaseous at room temperature. Alkyl nitrites are soluble in water and are flammable.
Uses of Alkyl Nitrites
Alkyl nitrites are generally used as medications for various conditions such as angina, heart problems, and high blood pressure in their amyl nitrite form. Amyl nitrites were first used in 1867 by Sir Lauren Brunton for medical purposes. In 1959, medical professionals and scientists have declared alkyl nitrites as completely safe for use in the medical field. Due to this, there was a vast usage of alkyl nitrites for its various advantages. Specific uses of alkyl nitrites include:
1.As a Vasodilator
Alkyl nitrites are very potent vasodilators due to the release of nitrites in the body. This vasodilatation effect is very advantageous for people suffering from angina pectoris because the vasodilatation takes effect quickly improving the blood flow to the heart muscles.
2. As a muscle relaxant
As a muscle relaxant, alkyl nitrites are also beneficial for those suffering from heart problems because relaxation of the smooth muscles in the blood vessels reduces the total workload of the heart. This is also beneficial for those experiencing angina pectoris as muscle relaxation may produce desired effects such as calming properties.
3. As an aphrodisiac
The butyl and isobutyl forms of alkyl nitrites have a distinctive aroma and are used as an aphrodisiac. This effect is the principle behind “poppers”, which is the term used for alkyl nitrites used for recreational purposes. Alkyl nitrites are proven to provide desirable results in terms of foreplay and orgasm because of their calming and disinhibiting effects. Poppers are now widely used in disco bars and other recreational settings.
Alkyl nitrites are absorbed in the blood stream effectively though the lungs so the inhaled preparation of the drugs containing it is preferred although they can also be administered through injection.
Advantages of Alkyl Nitrites
Alkyl nitrites do not exhibit evidence of human dependency, tolerance or addiction so their use is generally safe. Alkyl nitrites are also effective in lowering the blood pressure quickly within ten seconds although they are not routinely used as an anti-hypertensive drug. This drop in blood pressure is actually advantageous for patients who have heart problems because of the reduced myocardial workload.
Based on various studies, there have been no serious negative effects of the compound in humans even after prolonged use. There may be short-term negative effects such as headaches and weakness, but these do not outweigh the benefits of using the compound.
Although controversies have aroused due to the recreational use of the drug, there have been no studies indicating that alkyl nitrites are addicting and damaging to one’s body. At this point, alkyl nitrites are seen to be very useful in the field of medicine and recreation.