Jump to Navigation

We've moved! The new address is http://www.henriettes-herb.com - update your links and bookmarks!

Amygdala Amara, B.P., Bitter Almond. Amygdala Dulcis, B.P., Sweet Almond. Amygdalinum, Amygda.


Related entry: Oil of almond, Oil of bitter almond

Bitter almonds are the ripe dried seeds of Prunus Amygdalus, Stokes, var. amara, Baillon (N.O. Rosaceae). They are also official in the U.S.P. Almond trees, both sweet and bitter, are widely cultivated in the countries that border on the Mediterranean. The fruit is a drupe, which splits open as it ripens, disclosing the hard endocarp, within which the almond is to be found. Bitter almonds are exported chiefly from Morocco and Sicily. The seeds are shorter and broader than the ordinary Jordan sweet almond, being about 2 centimetres long and 1.25 centimetres broad, and are at once distinguishable by the characteristic odour evolved when they are triturated with water, as well as by their bitter taste.

Constituents.—The chief constituents of bitter almonds are fixed oil (about 50 per cent.), the bitter crystalline glucoside amygdalin (about 3 to 4 per cent.), and at least two enzyme ferments, emulsin and laccase, together with other proteins. The fixed oil, obtained by crushing and pressing the seeds, constitutes the bulk of the genuine almond oil of commerce. When the cake thus produced is mixed with warm water and allowed to stand, the ferment emulsin splits up the glucoside amygdalin into dextrose, hydrocyanic acid, and benzaldehyde. If steam be then passed through the mixture, the hydrocyanic acid and benzaldehyde distil over, partly in the free state, but mainly in unstable combination as benzaldehyde-cyanhydrin. These form a heavy oil (essential oil of almonds) which sinks in water. Bitter almonds yield about 0.5 to 0.8 per cent. of essential oil, which may contain from 4 to 7 per cent. of hydrocyanic acid.

Action and Uses.—The action of bitter almonds depends upon the hydrocyanic acid they yield. Unpleasant symptoms, especially in children, may arise from eating relatively small quantities. For administration in cough mixtures, Pulvis Amygdalae Amarae Compositus is prepared, bitter almonds being used instead of the sweet variety in the B.P. formula; from the compound powder the corresponding Mistura Amygdalae Amarae is prepared. For toilet purposes, and as a basis of lotions, Mistura Amygdalae Amarae is preferred without gum acacia and sugar.


Mistura Amygdalae Amarae, B.P.C.—BITTER ALMOND MIXTURE. 3 in 40.
Used as a basis for soothing skin lotions, especially to allay the smarting of sunburn.
Mistura Amygdalae Amarae Composita, B.P.C.—COMPOUND BITTER ALMOND MIXTURE. 1 (compound bitter almond powder) in 8.
Contains a variable amount of hydrocyanic acid and is given for coughs. Dose.—15 to 30 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid ounce).
Pulvis Amygdalae Amarae Compositus, B.P.C.—COMPOUND BITTER ALMOND POWDER.
Bitter almonds, 10; refined sugar, 5; gum acacia, 1.


Sweet almonds are the dried ripe seeds of Prunus Amygdalus, Stokes, var. dulcis, Baillon (N.O. Rosaceae). They are also official in the U.S.P. 'The sweet almond tree closely resembles the bitter almond, and is cultivated in the same districts, but especially in Southern Italy, Southern France, and Spain. The variety known as the Jordan almond, which is exported from Malaga, is alone official, and may be recognised by its large size and long narrow shape, being about 2.25 to 2.5 centimetres long and 1.5 broad. Valencia almonds, which are also exported from Spain, are shorter and broader.

Constituents.—When fresh, sweet almonds contain an average of 27.7 per cent. of water, 16.5 per cent. of proteins (including emulsin), 41.0 per cent. of fixed oil, and 2.8 per cent. of cellulose. They contain no starch, and leave, when incinerated, about 1.5 to 2 per cent. of ash. The most important constituent is the fixed oil, which varies in quantity from about 35 to 56 per cent. The oil cake which is left after the expression of the oil contains about 10 per cent. of water, 15 per cent. of oil, 41 per cent. of protein, 20 per cent. of non-protein, 9 per cent. of fibre, and 4.3 per cent. of mineral constituents. Sweet almonds differ essentially from bitter almonds in containing no amygdalin; the taste of the seeds, and of the emulsion obtained by triturating them with water, is bland and agreeable.

Action and Uses.—Sweet almonds are demulcent, and a mixture made from the compound powder of almonds is a useful vehicle for cough medicines. Almond flour, when deprived of its oil forms a valuable material for preparing bread for diabetic patients. Almond meal is used as a "water-softener" for toilet purposes.


Emulsum Amygdalae, U.S.P.—EMULSION OF ALMOND.
Sweet almond, 6; acacia, in fine powder, 1; sugar, 3; distilled water, sufficient to produce 100. Average dose.—120 mils (4 fluid ounces).
Lotio Rosae, B.P.C.—ROSE LOTION. Syn.—Lac Rosae; Milk of Roses. 1 in 10.
Almonds, curd soap, white wax, oil of almonds, oil of bergamot, oil of lavender, oil of rose, alcohol, and diluted rose water.
Mistura Amygdalae, B.P.—ALMOND MIXTURE. Syn.—Lac Amygdalae; Milk of Almonds; Emulsio Amygdalae; Emulsio Simplex.
Compound almond powder, 1; distilled water, 8. Almond mixture is employed as a demulcent vehicle for cough mixtures, and to suspend terebene and similar drugs not readily miscible with water. Dose.—15 to 30 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid ounce),
Pulvis Amygdalae Compositus, B.P.—COMPOUND POWDER OF ALMONDS.
Sweet almonds, 8; refined sugar, in powder, 4; gum acacia, in powder, 1. This compound powder is used as an emulsifying agent, and to prepare demulcent mixtures for use in cough.


C20H27NO11, 3H2O = 511.274.

Amygdalin, C20H27NO11, 3H2O, is the glucoside of d-phenylglycollic acid, and is obtained from bitter almonds, or the seeds of other Rosaceous plants. It occurs in white crystals with a bitter taste. It is neutral in reaction and laevorotatory ([α]D = -35.5°). It melts at about 200°, after darkening in colour, and sets to a glassy mass, which melts at 125° to 130°. By the action of emulsin it is decomposed into dextrose, benzaldehyde, and hydrocyanic acid this decomposition also occurs under the influence of dilute acids.

Soluble in water or alcohol; insoluble in ether.

Action and Uses.—Amygdalin in itself has no action, but in the stomach it undergoes decomposition, hydrocyanic acid and benzaldehyde being formed, so that its ultimate effect is that of hydrocyanic acid. It may be administered as an ingredient of cough mixtures.

Dose.—1 to 3 centigrams (1/4 to 12 grain).

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

Main menu 2