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Berberidis Cortex. Barberry Bark. Berberine salts.

Botanical name:

Related entries: Berberis

Barberry bark is the dried bark of the stem of the common barberry, Berberis vulgaris, Linn. (N.O. Berberideae), a shrub growing wild in Great Britain and distributed over the greater part of Europe and Western Asia. Barberry bark occurs in slightly curved pieces about 5 centimetres long and 12 millimetres broad. The outer surface is of a yellowish-grey colour, and marked with longitudinal furrows and transverse cracks, and often bears the minute black apothecia of lichens. The inner surface of the bark is dark yellowish-brown, fibrous, and longitudinally striated; it often has pieces of the white wood adhering to it. The outer part of the bark has a short fracture, but the inner surface is fibrous and laminated. A transverse section exhibits a thin cork and a dark brown bast traversed by pale yellow medullary rays. The bark has a slight odour and a bitter taste. Berberidis Cortex should not be confused with Berberis, I.C.A.

Constituents.—The chief constituent of barberry bark is berberine, a bitter, yellow, crystalline alkaloid. The drug also contains oxyacanthine and berbamine, two colourless crystalline alkaloids.

Action and Uses.—Barberry bark is a bitter tonic, and is used in intermittent fevers. It may be administered in the form of decoction, infusion, or tincture; but, generally, a salt of the alkaloid berberine is preferred.

PREPARATIONS.

Decoctum Berberidis Corticis, B.P.C.—DECOCTION OF BARBERRY BARK. I to 20.
Dose.—15 to 60 mils (1/2 to 2 fluid ounces).
Infusum Berberidis Corticis, B.P.C.—INFUSION OF BARBERRY BARK. I to 20.
Dose.—15 to 30 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid ounce).
Tinctura Berberidis Corticis, B.P.C.—TINCTURE OF BARBERRY BARK. 1 in 10.
Used as a bitter, in intermittent fevers. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm).

BERBERINA.
BERBERINE.

C20H17NO4 = 335.146.

Berberine, C20H17NO4,xH2O, is an alkaloid found in Berberis vulgaris and other plants. It may be obtained by treating a sulphuric acid solution with baryta water in slight excess, precipitating excess of barium by carbon dioxide, evaporating the filtrate in vacuo, and recrystallising from water or alcohol. The alkaloid crystallises with four to six molecules of water, of which only two to two and a-half remain after drying the crystals at moo. It occurs when pure in brilliant yellow needles with a fine silky lustre, but more usually it has a brown colour; neutral, odourless, and bitter. It melts at 145° and decomposes above 150°. It forms well-crystallised compounds with acetone, chloroform, etc. The aqueous solution is coloured blood-red by chlorine water; on the addition of bromine water it yields a yellow precipitate which darkens rapidly. If a trace of berberine be boiled with concentrated hydriodic acid, the product diluted with water, and made slightly alkaline with ammonia, an intense blackish-violet colour is obtained. Nitric acid oxidises it to berberonic acid.

Soluble in water (1 in 500), readily soluble in boiling water and alcohol, almost insoluble in ether or carbon bisulphide.

Action and Uses.—Berberine is a bitter stomachic, and is used also against diarrhoea and the vomiting of pregnancy. It is best administered in cachets.

Dose.—1/2 to 3 decigrams (1 to 5 grains).


BERBERINAE CARBONAS.
BERBERINE CARBONATE.

C21H19NO7,2H2O = 433.194.

Berberine carbonate, C20H17NO4H2CO3+2H2O, is the salt of a base which is found in Berberis vulgaris and many other plants. It may be prepared by passing carbon dioxide into a concentrated alcoholic solution of the alkaloid, when the salt separates out. It occurs in yellowish-brown, acicular crystals, with a bitter taste.

Insoluble in water; soluble in hot water or alcohol.

Action and Uses.—Berberine carbonate has similar properties to berberine, and is given for similar purposes. It is best administered in cachets.

Dose.—1/2 to 3 decigrams (1 to 5 grains).


BERBERINAE HYDROCHLORIDUM.
BERBERINE HYDROCHLORIDE.

C20H18NO4Cl,2H2O = 407.646.

Berberine hydrochloride, C20H17NO4HCl,2H2O, is the neutral salt of a base which is found in Berberis vulgaris and many other plants. It occurs in bright yellow acicular crystals or powder, with a bitter taste.

Soluble in water (about 1 in 400), or in alcohol, to which it imparts a deep yellow colour.

Action and Uses.—Berberine hydrochloride has similar properties to other salts of berberine. It is best administered in cachets.

Dose.—1/2 to 3 decigrams (1 to 5 grains).


BERBERINAE PHOSPHAS.
BERBERINE PHOSPHATE.

C20H23NO12P2,2H2O = 567.306.

Berberine phosphate, C20H17NO4,2H3PO4,2H2O, is the acid salt of a base which is found in Berberis vulgaris and many other plants. It may be prepared by the interaction of berberine-acetone with an excess of phosphoric acid and recrystallising the product, and may contain varying amounts of water of crystallisation. It occurs in bright yellow crystals, with a bitter taste. It is the most soluble salt of berberine.

Soluble in water (1 in 15), and precipitated by excess of alcohol.

Action and Uses.—Berberine phosphate has similar properties to other salts of berberine, but it is much more soluble in water. It is administered in mixtures with chloroform water, or it may be dispensed in cachets or pills, the latter being massed with a minimum of syrup of glucose.

Dose.—1/2 to 3 decigrams (1 to 5 grains).


BERBERINAE SULPHAS.
BERBERINE SULPHATE.

C20H19NO8S = 433.232.

Berberine sulphate, C20H17NO4,H2SO4, is the acid salt of a base which is found in Berberis vulgaris and many other plants. It may be prepared by boiling the powdered drug with water acidulated with acetic acid. The decoction is filtered, evaporated to a syrupy liquid and mixed with three times its volume of 20 per cent. sulphuric acid. The crystals thus obtained are washed with cold water, dissolved in boiling water, and, after the addition of alcohol and some sulphuric acid, again allowed to crystallise. The salt occurs in bright yellow acicular crystals, with a bitter taste.

Soluble in water (about 1 in 150), or in alcohol.

Action and Uses.—Berberine sulphate has similar properties to other salts of berberine. It is best administered in cachets.

Dose.—1/2 to 3 decigrams (1 to 5 grains).


The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.



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