Related entry: Nectandra.—Bebeeru-Bark
SYNONYMS: Beberiae sulphas, Sulphate of bibirine, Sulphate of bebeerine.
Source.—An impure sulphate of an alkaloid obtained from nectandra or bebeeru barks. The salt is probably a mixture of beberine, nectandrine (this is probably identical with sipirine), and other alkaloidal. bodies.
Preparation.—The process for obtaining it is essentially the same as that for sulphate of quinine. The bark is at first freed of tannin and coloring matter by boiling it with carbonate of sodium; it is then exhausted by boiling in water acidulated with sulphuric acid, and the alkaloidal matter is thrown down from the concentrated acid liquor by means of carbonate of sodium. The impure bases thus separated are washed, dissolved, and neutralized with weak sulphuric acid, and the solution is treated with animal charcoal, concentrated, filtered again, and finally evaporated in thin layers in flat vessels. Any excess of acid must be carefully avoided, otherwise the salt will be charred on evaporating it to dryness.
Description and History.—The sulphate of beberine of commerce contains both bebeerine and probably sipirine (sipeerin), another alkaloidal principle also discovered by Dr. Rodie. It occurs in thin, somewhat glittering scales of a deep-brownish color (sometimes with a greenish tinge), and forming a yellow powder. It is inodorous, and has an intensely bitter, persistent, and somewhat astringent taste. Like the sulphate of quinine, it requires an excess of acid for its perfect solution; hence the addition of a few drops of diluted sulphuric acid renders its solution more complete. It is also soluble in alcohol. When well prepared the particles should be glittering and translucent, and when incinerated ought to leave no ash, or a mere trace only. In this way sulphate of calcium, the only important impurity which has been found in it, may be easily detected. When carefully dried it contains 90.83 per cent of base and 9.17 of sulphuric acid. Beberine sulphate is always impure, containing, as above stated, other alkaloids. While it has not been proven that nectandrine and sipirine are identical, it is altogether probable that they are one and the same. The commercial sulphate of beberine contains scarcely "one-third of its weight of the pure alkaloid" (Pharmacographia). (See Nectandra, Buxus, and Pareira Brava.)
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Beberine (and its sulphate) is a tonic and antiperiodic, and is applicable to the same forms of disease as those in which quinine is employed. It increases the appetite, raises the pulse a little, and improves the tone of the constitution generally, with but little tendency to produce ringing in the ears, headache, vertigo, or other nervous symptoms, as is the case with quinine, except when given in large or frequently-repeated doses. It has been used with success in intermittent and remittent fevers, but is inferior to quinine, although a valuable substitute for it. It has been found of decided benefit in periodic headache and other periodic neuralgias, as well as in atonic dyspepsia and general debility. It seems to be specially applicable to persons of a strumous or phthisical habit, and in the latter stages of phthisis has strengthened the system, improved the appetite, and checked night-sweats. In menorrhagia, strumous ophthalmia, and in pregnancy requiring tonic treatment it has been highly prized by many practitioners. Dr. Scudder (Spec. Med.) asserted its specific action upon the uterus, and suggested its use in menorrhagia, where the flow is profuse and too frequent. The dose he suggested was from ½ to 3 grains every 3 or 4 hours. The dose of sulphate of bebeerine is from 1 to 3 grains as a tonic and from 5 to 20 as a febrifuge. It may be given in pill with conserve of roses, or in solution. Half a drachm of the sulphate, 25 minims of elixir vitriol, a fluid ounce each of syrup and tincture of orange peel, and 4 fluid ounces of water, mixed together, form an excellent solution for general tonic purposes; of this a tablespoonful may be given 3 times a day, each dose containing about 2 ½ grains of the salt. Dose of the salt, from 2 to 5 grains.