"The root of Krameria triandra, Ruiz et Pavon, and of Krameria Ixina, Linné"—(U. S. P.).
COMMON NAMES: Rhatany, Ratanhia.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 30 and 31.
Botanical Source.—KRAMERIA TRIANDRA. This is a suffruticose plant, with a horizontal, very long, and branched root, with a thick bark, reddish-brown externally, and red internally. The stem is round, procumbent, much branched, and tapering; the branches are 2 or 3 feet long, and when young white and silky; when old, dark and naked. The leaves are alternate, sessile, oblong, and obovate, acuminate, entire, and hoary on each side. Flowers red, solitary, and axillary, on short stalks. Calyx of 4 sepals, the inferior largest, silky externally, smooth and shining inside, of the color of lac. The corolla consists of 4 petals, the 2 upper separate, spatulate, the two lateral roundish and concave. Stamens 3, hypogenous; anthers small, urceolate, with 2 openings at top; ovary ovate; style red, and terminal; stigma simple. The fruit is a dry, hairy drupe, burred with dull red hooks; seeds 1 or 2 (L).
KRAMERIA IXINA, Linné, differs in having 5 unlike petals in its flowers which are red, and borne in terminal, loose racemes. Its leaves are petiolate and longer than those of the preceding species.
History and Description.—The root of Krameria triandra is known as Payta or Peruvian rhatany; that of K. Ixina as New Granada or Savanilla rhatany. The latter is found growing from North Brazil to Mexico, and in the West Indies. The former plant grows upon the dry, gravelly, and sandy hills in Peru and Bolivia flowering all the year round. The natives had used it as a strong astringent long before its discovery by Ruiz, in 1780. The root is the official part; it is dug up in large quantities after the rains, and after being well dried is exported. In Portugal it has been employed to adulterate red wines. Sometimes an extract is prepared from it, which is exported and used in a similar manner. The U. S. P. thus describes rhatany: "From 1 to 3 Cm. (⅖ to 1 ⅕ inch) thick, knotty, and several-headed above, branched below, the branches long; bark smooth, or in the thinner pieces, scaly, deep, rust-brown, 1 to 2 Mm. (1/25 to 1/12 inch) thick, very astringent, inodorous; wood pale brownish-red, tough, with fine medullary rays, nearly tasteless. The root of Krameria Ixina (Savanilla rhatany) is less knotty and more slender, and has a dark purplish-brown bark, about 3 Mm. (⅛ inch) thick"—(U. S. P.). Cold water or diluted alcohol readily extracts its active constituents. In powder it is of a reddish color. The bark contains more of the medicinal virtues than the ligneous or woody part. If the root be macerated in water at 100° C. (212° F.), its medicinal properties will be extracted, but as a little starch and some colored extractive will also be dissolved, the infusion, when cool, will become muddy, and after a time the above inert substance will be deposited.
Boiling will extract still more of this matter, and the tannic acid of the root being oxidized by the action of the air, loses all its therapeutical influences. A cold infusion, or an extract from the cold infusion, are the best forms for use. By placing the powdered root in a percolator, and passing water through it, a brick-red aqueous solution is obtained, possessing all the medicinal qualities of the root, and from which an excellent extract may be procured by a quick, but cautiously conducted evaporation.
Chemical Composition.—Wittstein (Vierteljahrsschrift, 1854, Vol. III, pp. 348 and 485), found the freshly peeled root-bark of rhatany to contain an iron-greening tannic acid, and a red decomposition product of the latter, analogous to chinova-red; gummy matter, wax, sugar, starch, calcium oxalate, etc. No gallic acid is present. The tannin of rhatany, called ratanhia-tannic (krameria-tannic) acid, is the most important constituent. It is a red amorphous powder. Nearly 18 per cent was obtained from the Payta variety by Wittstein (1854), while R. G. Dunwody (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1890, p. 166) found in the commercial drug considerably less tannin, viz., 8.4 per cent. Tartar emetic causes no precipitate with it; with gelatin a flesh-colored precipitate is obtained. Pyrocatechin is produced as a decomposition product in dry distillation; fused with potassium hydroxide it yields phloroglucin and protocatechuic acid; and diluted acids acting upon it produce sugar and rhatanic-red (C26H22O11), a product similar in composition to one yielded by hippocastanum and tormentil. The dry extract of rhatany formerly imported from South America yielded to Wittstein a crystalline principle which he believed to be identical with tyrosin (C9H11NO3), an amino acid; this principle is not contained in ratanhia root. Ruge and Städeler (1862) found it to have the formula C10H13NO3, and pronounced it to be methyl-tyrosin, and also named it ratanhin. Ruge obtained 1.26 per cent of this substance. Gintl (see Jahresb. der Pharm., 1869, p. 165), showed it to be identical with angelin, first obtained by Peckolt in the quantity of more than 86 per cent from the Resina d'angelim pedra, a natural exudate from the Brazilian tree Ferreira spectabilis, Allemao. It is probable that the South American ratanhia extract in question was derived from this tree and not from krameria. O. Hiller-Bombien (Archiv der Pharm., 1892, pp. 513-548), confirmed the identity of ratanhin with methyl-tyrosin and angelin, and also with the alkaloid surinamine, obtained in 1824 by Hüttenschmid from Geoffroya surinamensis, and proposed for it the name andirin, on account of its probable occurrence in all species of Andira.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Rhatany is a powerful astringent, with some slight tonic virtues. Constipation with slight dyspeptic symptoms may be induced by immoderate doses. It maybe employed internally with advantage in menorrhagia, hematemesis, passive hemorrhages, chronic diarrhoea, leucorrhoea, chronic mucous discharges, colliquative perspiration, and incontinence of urine. Internally in small doses, Prof. J. M. Scudder (Spec. Med.) recommends it in "gastric catarrh, dyspnoea, with full, relaxed skin, incontinence of urine, gleet, prostatorrhoea, leucorrhoea, and in some cases of catarrh" (p. 164). It is also used as an energetic styptic in epistaxis, hemorrhage from the cavity of an extracted tooth, or the surface of a wound, and as a local application to prolapsus ani, fissure of the anus, fissured nipples, and leucorrhoea. As an application to spongy and bleeding gums, to redden and consolidate them, as well as to preserve the teeth, the following paste will be found unsurpassed: Take of prepared chalk and powdered cinchona, of each, equal parts; combine them with a sufficient quantity of equal parts of the tinctures of rhatany and myrrh, to form a paste. Use daily with a brush. Dose of the powdered rhatany, from 10 to 30 grains; of the tincture, from 1 to 4 fluid drachms; of the infusion, from 1 to 4 fluid ounces; of the extract., from 10 to 20 grains.
Related Drugs.—BRAZILIAN (PARA or CEARA) RHATANY is referred by Flückiger and Hanbury to Krameria argentea, Martius, of Brazil. Krameria cistoidea, Hooker, of Chili, furnishes a rhatany closely resembling the Payta product, while Texas rhatany is yielded by the Krameria secundiflora of De Candolle. Krameria lanceolata, Torrey, of North America, is richer in tannin and extract than the official product. A false rhatany has been met with, the source of which is unknown; compared with true rhatany, its twigs are smoother and slightly shining, having also deeper furrows and transverse depressions of an annular form. It is not so tough, breaks more easily and with a short fracture; its bark is thicker and adheres firmly to the wood, is lighter-colored on its inner surface, and has a glistening aspect when cut with a sharp knife. The center, when cut through, is of a dull, pale-red color, and without the dark points met with in the true root. It is inodorous, more strongly astringent in taste than the genuine rhatany, and gives more abundant precipitate with chemical reagents (Pharm. Jour. and Trans.).