Benzedrine (also called Amphetamine) and Methedrine (German equivalent Pervitin) are
substances belonging to the group called analeptics (restoratives). For practical
purposes the actions of these drugs are the same, but 1 dose of Methedrine is
as potent as 1 1/2 doses of Benzedrine, weight for weight. Their chief
action is to stimulate the higher activities of the brain, showing itself
especially in decreased sensations of tiredness and fatigue, and in a disinclination
and inability to sleep. The administration of Benzedrine does not increase
the mental or physical efficiency of a man who is not tired, and Benzedrine
should not be taken with this object.
Mention may be made here of the trend of German reports on the use of analeptics. In
the latter half of 1941, these reports were enthusiastic, but toward the
end of the year warnings commenced to appear, and in the early months
of 1942 reports tended to be definitely against their use except under rigid
control. The substance in use was Pervitin. (See Tactical and
Technical Trends, No. 5, p. 32.)
The effect of these substances on troops has now been studied in the
laboratory and in the field, and the following conclusions have been drawn by
British medical authorities.
(a) The valuable effect of Benzedrine* to individuals engaged in war
operations is to reduce the desire for sleep, and the fatigue which results in loss
of efficiency and makes difficult the continuation of essential duties.
(b) Circumstances may thus arise in which the administration of Benzedrine may
be advantageous for skilled personnel when they are severely fatigued
and unable to continue at a reasonable level of efficiency without an additional
The use of Benzedrine should be confined to emergencies or crises, and
it should not be taken regularly.
The decision to give Benzedrine must only be made in circumstances
when there is reasonable expectation that the emergency will be at an end
within 12 hours.
(c) No person whose duties involve the making of difficult decisions, should
be permitted to take Benzedrine in a crisis unless he has tested his
reactions to it previously.
(d) Benzedrine must not be given indiscriminately to large bodies of troops.
(e) A single dose should not exceed 10 milligrams. A dose of 5 mg may be
repeated once or even twice at intervals of 4 to 6 hours.
If an individual is of the opinion that a dose of 10 mg does not produce
appreciable effects upon him, the use of the drug should be given up.
(f) The administration of Benzedrine should be under the control of a medical officer.
*Where "Benzedrine" is written, "Methedrine in equivalent dosage" may be
substituted except where this is obviously inappropriate.