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Chloral hydrate has been used in clinical medicine for almost a hundred years. It is safe, effective and reliable, and induces little tolerance or habituation, but it has been relegated to a secondary place in the list of hypnotics by the barbiturates and newer drugs because of its unpleasant taste (tablets are unsatisfactory since chloral is hygroscopic). It has an undeserved reputation as a cardiac depressant and a more justified one as a gastric irritant. The latter effect is much reduced if the drug is diluted in milk or in a pleasantly flavoured elixir or syrup.

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