Barbiturates fall under the category of sedative-hypnotics. Barbiturates are used for calming, relaxation, and sedation so they may also be referred to as central nervous system depressants. At higher doses, barbiturates can be used for inducing sleep. Nicknamed after their colorful appearance, slang terms for barbiturates include phennies, redbirds, tooies, reds, yellow jackets, barbs, and yellows.


Adolph von Baeyer is credited with the discovery of barbiturates in 1863. Synthesizing uric acid, he named it barbituric acid, or barbiturates. It is said the name was derived from the Day of Saint Barbara. Von Baeyer celebrated his discovery at a tavern with army officers commemorating the day in honor of the artillerymen patron saint. Barbital was the first medical application of barbiturates. In 1903, barbital was first used ...

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