"The leaves of Piper angustifolium, Ruiz et Pavon"—(U. S. P.). (Piper elongatum, Vahl; Stephensia [Steffensia] elongata, Kunth; Artanthe elongata, Miquel).
COMMON NAMES: Matico, Matico-leaves.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 242.
Botanical Source.—This plant is the Artanthe elongata of Miquel, and the Stephensia elongata of Kunth; it is described as a tall shrub, presenting a singular appearance from the segmentary character of its stems and branches. The leaves are harsh, short-stalked, oblong-lanceolate, acuminate, pubescent beneath, tessellated or rough on the upper side on account of the sunken veins. The spikes are solitary, cylindrical and opposite the leaves; the bracts lanceolate; the flowers hermaphrodite, yellow, minute, and numerous. The fruit consists of small, almost black seeds.
History and Description.—This is a Peruvian plant, which was brought into notice among the profession of this country by Dr. Ruschenberger, a member of the United States Navy. The dried leaves are the parts used; they have a strong, rather fragrant odor, not unlike that of cubebs, and a warm, aromatic, somewhat feebly astringent taste. They are easily reduced to a powder of a color similar to that of senna leaves. Water takes up their aroma and a slight pungency, but no astringency. Infusion of galls produces a gray precipitate with infusion of matico; iron causes a deep-green one; tartar-emetic, corrosive sublimate, and gelatin scarcely affect it.
The official description of matico is as follows: "From 10 to 15 Cm. (4 to 6 inches) long, short-petiolate, oblong-lanceolate, apex pointed, base unequally heart-shaped, margin very finely crenulate, tessellated above, reticulate beneath, meshes small, and the veins densely-brownish-hairy; aromatic, spicy, and bitterish"—(U. S. P.).
Chemical Composition.—Dr. Hodges, in 1844, found in the leaves a bitter principle which he called maticin, an aromatic, volatile oil, nitrate of potassium, a soft, dark-green resin, etc. T. S. Wiegand (1846) and John J. Stell (1858), and more recently, Prof. Flückiger, doubt the existence of Hodge's maticin; Flückiger (Pharmacognosie, 1891, p. 748) was also unable to verify the existence of Marcotte's crystallizable artanithic acid (1869). Tannin is present in the leaves. The volatile oil of matico is pale yellow and thick, and exists to the extent of 2.7 per cent. Its optical rotation is slightly right-handed. Most of the oil distills between 180° and 200° C. (356° and 392° F.). From the thick residue Prof. Flückiger obtained upon cooling, large crystals of a peculiar camphor; Kügler (1883) ascribes to the purified substance the formula C10H15(C2H5)O. It melts at 94° C. (201.2° F.), and is devoid of odor and taste.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Matico is an aromatic bitter stimulant, whose virtues reside in its resin, volatile oil, and bitter principle. It has been highly recommended in bleeding from the lungs, stomach, or kidneys, and in dysentery, but its use is doubtful in these cases. It has, however, been found advantageous in leucorrhoea, gonorrhoea, piles, and chronic mucous discharges; also in dyspepsia, owing to chronic mucous affections of the stomach. Externally, the leaves are used for arresting hemorrhages from wounds, leech-bites, etc.; the downy part of the leaf is said to be the most active part. Also applied to ulcers. A tincture is also used, made with 2 ½ ounces of the leaves to 1 pint of diluted alcohol, of which the dose is from 1 to 3 fluid drachms. The infusion is made by macerating ½ ounce of the leaves in ½ pint of boiling water for 1 hour; dose, from 1 to 2 fluid ounces, 3 or 4 times a day.
Related Species.—Piper aduncum, Linné (Artanthe adunca, Miquel), abundant in Tropical America, furnishes a leaf which was substituted for matico, and was detected by Prof. Bentley in 1864. It differs but little in odor, shape, or color, from matico, though it does not appear tessellated like the latter. The parallel ascending nerves are more prominent on the under surface, and the spaces are nearly smooth, instead of rugose, and not hairy like the same surface of matico leaves. Chemically, it resembles matico, and therapeutically, it is probably not less effective.
Artanthe lanceaefolium, Miquel (Piper lanceaefolium, H. B. K.), yields a matico which is employed in New Granada (Pharmacographia). The leaves of Eupatorium glutinosum, Kunth (the Chusalonga) (Nat. Ord.—Compositae), and Waltheria glomerata, Presl (Nat. Ord.—Sterculiaceae) of Central and South America, are known also as matico. It appears that the terms Matico and Yerba (palo) del soldado (Soldiers' herb or tree), both Spanish names, are applied to these plants as well as to true matico, on account of their styptic qualities. The Piper aduncum is used in Brazil as a stimulant only, styptic properties not being mentioned. The fruit of the same is employed like cubebs. The leaves of the Eupatorium and Waltheria are sufficiently different as not to be confounded with matico.
Piper Carpunya, Ruiz et Pavon. Peru and Chili. Glossy, leathery leaves used in gastric disorders.
Piper umbellatum, Linné; Piper peltatum, Linné. Tropical America. The caapeba or periparabo. Rhizomes, diuretic; leaves employed for tumors and cutaneous diseases. (See also Areca, Piper methysticum, and Piper Betle.)