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Aspidosperma (U. S. P.)—Aspidosperma.

Preparation: Fluid Extract of Aspidosperma

"The bark of Aspidosperma Quebracho-blanco. Schlechtendal"—(U. S. P.).
Nat Ord.—Apocynaceae.
COMMON NAME: Quebracho.

Botanical Source.—This tree is a large evergreen, having pendant branchlets, bearing small elliptic-lanceolate, acutely-pointed leaves, which are opposite, or tri-verticillate, and subsessile. They have entire, stiff margins. The flowers are axillary, cymose, small, and yellow. The fruit is a ligneous capsule, containing seeds having broad wings.

History.—This tree is a native of Chili and the Argentine Republic. The variety furnishing the official drug has the lighter-colored wood, another variety having a dark wood. The former comes chiefly from the province of Salta, the latter from the province of Cordoba. The wood of this tree is exceedingly hard, and the name "quebracho" (from quebrar hacho, signifying "breaking the axe") is given it in its native habitat,, and is equally applied to all trees having wood that is very hard. The drug was introduced into Europe, in 1878, by Schickedanz. The bark is used for tanning in some parts of South America. The bark having a thick, corky layer is preferred, and is collected from the older trees.

Description.—"In nearly flat pieces, about 1 to 3 Cm. (1/2 to 1 2/5 inches) thick; the outer surface yellowish-gray or brownish, deeply fissured; inner surface yellowish-brown or reddish-brown, distinctly striate; fracture displaying two sharply defined strata, of about equal thickness, and both marked with numerous whitish dots and striae arranged in tangential lines; the fracture of the outer, lighter-colored layer rather coarsely granular, and that of the darker-colored, inner layer short-splintery; inodorous; taste very bitter and slightly aromatic"—(U. S. P.).

Chemical Composition.—The wood of this tree yields no alkaloids. The barks, besides containing a small amount of tannin, laevogyre inosite, and another form of sugar, denominated quebrachit, yields at least six alkaloids, as follows:

ALKALOID. Discovered and named by— Form. Melting point. Solubility. Reactions. Other properties, etc.
ASPIDOSPERMINE, C22H30N2O2 Schickedanz; named by Fraude (1878). Colorless, prismatic crystals. 205° C. (401° F.). Readily in fixed oils and fats; partially in alcohol and ether; very sparingly in water (1 in about 6000); insoluble in glycerin. Red with warm perchloric acid; blue with platinic chloride; brown, changing to bright reddish-purple with sulphuric acid and bichromate of potassium. Aqueous solution bitter. It has weak basic properties; is less poisonous than the other alkaloids. Salts principally amorphous.
ASPIDOSPERMATINE, C22H28N2O2 O. Hesse Crystalline 162° C. (324° F.). Soluble in varying degrees in alcohol, chloroform, and ether. Red with warm perchloric acid. Has strong basic properties. Salts amorphous.
ASPIDOSAMINE, C22H28N2O2 O. Hesse Amorphous About 100° C. (212° F.) Soluble in varying degrees in alcohol, chloroform, and ether. Blue with sulphuric acid and potassium bichromate. Strong basic properties; isomeric with aspidospermatine.
QUEBRACHINE, C21H26N2O2 O. Hesse Colorless crystals, changing to yellow in the sunlight. 215° C. (419° F.). Soluble in varying degrees in alcohol, chloroform, and ether. Yellow with warm perchloric acid; colorless with H2SO4, becoming blue at rest. Salts crystalline.
HYPOQUEBRACHINE, C21H26N2O2 O. Hesse Yellow, amorphous mass. About 80° C. (176° F.). Nearly insoluble in hot benzin. Cherry-red with iron perchloride. Isomeric with quebrachine.
QUEBRACHAMINE O. Hesse Colorless, silky, acicular crystals. 142° C. (288° F.). Freely in cold alcohol and ether; sparingly in chloroform and benzin. Not always present in the bark.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Quebracho is said to be valued as an antiperiodic by the Chilians. Wounds are sometimes dressed with the fluid extract. But its chief value rests upon its property of controlling dyspnoea, when not due to organic changes. Some, however, contend that it is equally valuable when structural changes are present. It is valuable in both cardiac and asthmatic dyspnoea, as well as in emphysematous states. Being a stimulant to the pneumogastric it affects chiefly the cardiac and pulmonary plexuses, and is a remedy of marked value where there is evidence of imperfect oxygenation. The cases show a disturbed relation between the pulmonic circulation and the action of the heart. In cardiac asthma it is reputed one of the best remedies, and to relieve the distressing dyspnoea of capillary bronchitis, the latter stages of phthisis, advanced bronchitis, asthmatic bronchitis, and simple asthma, with insufficient cardiac power, it has been highly praised. Pure, uncomplicated asthma is not much benefited by it, but asthma associated with emphysema is very promptly met by it. The cough of la grippe, with marked dyspnoea, yields to it. Dose of the fluid extract, from 5 to 60 minims, in water, syrup, or syrup of tolu, every 2 or 3 hours; for specific uses, doses of 5 to 15 minims are preferred; of the tincture, 10 to 20 minims; of commercial aspidospermine, which is a mixture of the associated alkaloids, the dose varies from 1/4 to 1/2 grain.

Specific Indications and Uses.—Dyspnoea of functional origin; dyspnoea with emphysema, face pale, anxious, and livid, lips cyanotic; pulse small, soft, compressible, irregular, or intermittent; orthopnoea; cardiac palpitation with cough.

Related Drugs.Loxopterygium Lorentzii, Grisebach. Nat. Ord.: Terebinthaceae. The quebracho colorado of the Argentine Republic. The wood contains a large amount of tannin and a yellow coloring matter. Hesse obtained two alkaloids, both bitter in taste, one being unnamed and the other known as loxopterygine. The juice of the bark forms a resinous exudation not unlike kino, and is soluble in alcohol, wood alcohol, acetic acid, acetic ether, acetone, and boiling water (Arate). Has been used as a substitute for aspidosperma, but is weaker in action.

Iodina rhombifolia, Hooker and Arnott. Nat. Ord.: Aquifoliaceae. Quebracho flojo. Used as above and often gathered with it.

Machaerium fertile, Grisebach. Nat. Ord.: Leguminosae. Tipa tree. Uses same as preceding species.

Croton pseudochina, Schlechtendal, Mexico. Source of Copalchi-bark, which is occasionally sold as quebracho bark.


King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.



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