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129. Croton tiglium, Lam.—The Purging Croton.

Botanical name:

Tribe. Crotoneae, Blume.

Ovules solitary. Flowers usually having petals, in clusters, spikes, racemes, or panicles.


129. Croton tiglium, Lam.—The Purging Croton.

Croton Jamalgota, Hamilton.
Sex. Syst. Monoecia, Monadelphia.
(Oleum e semine expressum, L—Expressed Oil of the Seeds, E. D. [U. S.])

History.—Croton seeds are mentioned by Avicenna [Lib. ii. cap. 219.] and by Serapion [De Simplicibus, cccxlviii.] under the name of Dend or Dende. The earliest European describer of them is Christopher d'Acosta, in 1578, [Clusius, Exoticor, p. 292.] who terms them pini nuclei malucani. When Commeline wrote, they were known in the shops by the name of cataputia minor, although they were sold by itinerants as grana dilla or grana tilli. They were much employed by medical men in the 17th century, and were known by various names, but principally by that of grana tiglia. They, however, went out of use, probably in consequence of the violence and uncertainty of their operation. Their re-employment in modern practice is owing partly to the notices of them by Dr. White and Mr. Marshall, in the first edition of Dr. Ainslie's work; [Materia Medica of Hindostan, 1813.] but principally to the introduction of the oil, in 1S20, by Dr. Conwell. [See his Récherch. sur les Propr. Méd. et l'Emploi en Méd. de l'Huile de Croton Tiglium, 1824.—For further historical details, consult Prof. H. H. Wilson's paper in the Transactions of Mat Med. and Phys. Society of Calcutta, vol. i, p. 249]

Botany. Gen. Char.—Flowers monoecious, or very rarely dioecious. Calyx 5-parted. Males: petals 5; stamens 10 or more, distinct. Females: petals 0; styles 3, divided into two or more partitions. Capsule tricoccous [with one seed in each cell] (Adr. de Jussieu).

Sp. Char.—Arboreous. Leaves oblong-ovate, acuminate, 3—5-nerved, slightly serrate, smooth. Stamina 15, distinct. Each cell of the fruit filled by the seed.

A middle-sized tree, from 15 to 20 feet high. Bark smooth, ash-coloured. Leaves thin and membranous, sometimes cordate, and with two flat round glands at their base; when young, covered on both surfaces, but especially the lower one with minute stellate hairs. At the base of the leaves are two flat round glands. Raceme terminal, erect, simple. Petals of male flower white.

Hab.—Continent of India, islands forming the Indian Archipelago, and Ceylon.

The Croton Pavana [Hamilton, Trans. Linn. Soc. vol. xiv. 257.] is said also to yield tiglium or croton seeds. It is distinguished from C. Tiglium by having only ten stamina, and by the seeds being much smaller than the cells in which they are placed. C. Pavana is a native of Ava, north-eastern parts of Bengal? Amboyna ?? Dr. Hamilton thinks it is the Granum Moluccum of Rumphius.

Description.—Croton seeds (semina tiglii seu semina crotonis, grana tiglii, purging nuts of some authors) in size and shape are very similar to castor seeds. Viewed laterally, their shape is oval or oval-oblong; seen from either extremity, they have a rounded or imperfectly quadrangular form. Their length does not exceed 6 lines, their thickness is 2 1/2 to 3 lines, their breadth 3 or 4 lines. Sometimes the surface of the seeds is yellowish, owing to the presence of an investing lamina (epidermis?). The testa is dark brown or blackish, and is marked with the ramifications of the raphé. The endocarp, or internal seed-coat, is thin, brittle, and of a light colour. It encloses a yellowish oily albumen, which envelops the embryo, whose cotyledons are foliaceous or membranous. The seeds are without odour; their taste is at first mild and oleaginous, afterwards acrid and burning. When heated, they evolve an acrid vapour. The proportion of shell and kernel in 100 parts by weight of the seeds is thus stated by two authorities:—

Nimmo.Caventou.
Shell or seed-coats3633.3
Kernel or nucleus6466.6
-------
10099.9

Composition.—Croton seeds were analyzed in 1818 by MM. Pelletier and Caventou, [Journ. de Pharm, t. iv. p 289, 1818; and t. xi. p. 10, 1825. In the first paper, croton seeds were, by mistake, said to be the seeds of Jatropha curcas. Caventou corrected this statement in the second paper. In the Journ. de Pharm. et de Chim. for March 1850, M. Guibourt states that he has recently ascertained that the seeds of J. Curcas are sold by respectable dealers in Paris for croton seeds. It is stated by Mr. Frost (Lond. Medic. Reposit, vol. xvii. p. 62, 1822; and vol. xviii. p 474, 1822) that in England, the former seeds have been mistaken for the latter.] in 1822 by Dr. Nimmo, [Quarterly Journal of Scienre, vol. xiii, p. 62, 1822. Soubeiran (Journ. de Pharm, t. xv. p. 514, 1829) states, though I know not on what authority, that the oil which Dr. Nimmo analyzed under the name of croton oil, was extracted from the Jatropha.] and in 1823 by Brandes. [Archiv des Apothekervereins im nördl. Teutschland. Bd. iv. (quoted by L. Gmelin, Handb. d. Chem. ii. 1820). See also Berlin Jahrb. für d. Pharm., Bd. xxvi. Abt. i. S. 222, 1824.] The following are their results:—

Pelletier & Caventou.Nimmo.
Fixed oil and crotonic acid50Active purgative principle27
Gum
Albumen (emulsin)
Lignin
50Fixed oil33
------
Kernel100Kernel100
Brandes.
Volatile oiltraces
Fixed oil, with crotonic acid, and an alkaloid (crotonin)17.00
Crotonates and colouring matter0.32
Brownish yellow resin, insoluble in ether1.00
Stearine and wax0.65
Extractive sugar, and malates of potash and lime2.05
Starchy matter, with phosphate of lime and magnesia5.71
Gum and gummoin10.17
Albumen1.01
Gluten2.00
Seed-coats and woody fibre of the nucleus39.00
Water22.50
------
Croton seeds101.41

1. Volatile Oil of Croton Seeds.—This is but imperfectly known, traces only of it having been obtained. Brandes regards it as extremely acrid, and thinks that by the united agencies of air and water it is converted into crotonic acid; for the distilled water of the seeds becomes more acid by keeping.

2. Fixed Oil of Croton Seeds.—This also is but imperfectly known. It must not be confounded with croton oil of the shops, which is a mixture of this and other constituents of the seeds. Fixed oil of croton seeds is, probably, a combination of crotonic and other fatty acids with glycerine.

3. Crotonic Acid (Jatrophic Acid.)—Discovered by Pelletier and Caventou. Though this acid exists in the free state in the seed, yet an additional quantity of it is obtained when the oil is saponified. For this purpose the oil is saponified by potash, the resulting soap decomposed by tartaric acid, and the watery fluid, from the surface of which the separated common fatty acids have been removed, is to be submitted to distillation. In this way is obtained an aqueous solution of a solid, very volatile, fatty acid, which congeals at 23° F., and, when heated a few degrees above 32° F., is converted into vapour, having a strong nauseous odour, and which irritates the eyes and nose, and has an acrid taste.

At first Pelletier and Caventou regarded this acid as the active principle of the oil; but Caventou subsequently expressed doubts on the subject, and stated that fresh experiments induced him to think that the irritating and volatile principle of the oil, and which so strongly irritated the nose and eyes, is not of an acid nature. My colleague, Mr. Redwood, informs me that he has ascertained that crotonic acid and the crotonates are inert, or nearly so; and in experiments with crotonic acid prepared by him support his statements.

Crotonic acid unites with bases forming a class of salts called crotonates, which are inodorous. The crotonate of ammonia precipitates the salts of lead, copper, and silver, white; and the sulphate of iron, yellow. Crotonate of potash is crystalline, and dissolves, with difficulty, in alcohol. Crotonate of barytes is soluble in water; but crotonate of magnesia is very slightly soluble only in this liquid.

4. Crotonin.—The crystallizable substance which Brandes thought to be a peculiar alkaloid, and which he called crotonin, and which appeared to be identical with the tiglin of Adr. de Jussieu, has been found by Weppen [Ann. de Chem. u. Pharm. Bd. lxx. S. 254, 1849.] to be (as formerly suggested by Soubeiran [Nouv. Traité de Pharm. t. ii. p. 103.]) a magnesian sap with an alkaline reaction.

5. Resin.—Is brown and soft; and has a disagreeable odour, on account, doubtless, of the oil which it retains. It is soluble in alcohol, but insoluble in ether and in water. The alkalies dissolve it by separating a whitish matter. It contributes to the purgative properties of croton oil.

Physiological Effects. 1. Of the Seeds, α. On Animals generally.—Croton seeds are powerful local irritants or acrids, causing inflammation in those living parts with which they are placed in contact. Orfila [Toxicol. Gén.] found that three drachms being introduced into the stomach of a dog, and the oesophagus tied to prevent vomiting, caused death in three hours; and on examination of the body, the alimentary canal was found to be in a state of inflammation. In another experiment, a drachm caused death under the same circumstances. A drachm, also, applied to the cellular tissue of the thigh, was equally fatal. A dose of from twenty to thirty grains of the powder of the kernel given to the horse causes, in six or eight hours, profuse watery stools, and is recommended by some veterinarians as a purgative; but the uncertainty of its operation, and the griping and debility which it occasions, are objections to its use. [Youatt, The Horse, in Library of Useful Knowledge.] Lansberg [Wibmer, Arzneim. u. Gifte, Bd. ii. S. 222.] found that twenty of the seeds killed a horse, by causing gastro-enteritis. The pulse was frequent, small, and soft.

β. On Man.—In the human subject a grain of croton seed will frequently produce full purgation. Mr. Marshall [Ainslie, Mat. Indica, vol. i. p. 104.] says that this quantity, made into two pills, is about equal in power to half a drachm of jalap, or to six grains of calomel. The operation, he adds, is attended with much rumbling of the bowels; the stools are invariably watery and copious. Dr. White recommends the seeds to be torrefied, and deprived of their seed-coats, before employing them. [Ibid.] Dr. Wallich informed me that the labourers in the Calcutta Botanic Garden were in the habit of taking one of these seeds as a purgative, but that on one occasion this dose proved fatal.

The seed-coats, the embryo, and the albumen, have each in their turn been declared to be the seat of the acrid principle; I believe the remarks which I shall have to make with respect to the seat of the acridity of castor-oil seeds, will apply equally well to that of croton seeds.

The following is a case of poisoning by the inhalation of the dust of the seeds:—

Thomas Young, aged 31, a labourer in the East India warehouses, was brought into the London Hospital on the 8th of December, 1841, labouring under symptoms of poisoning by the inhalation of the dust of croton seeds. He had been occupied about eight hours in emptying packages of these seeds, by which he was exposed to their dust. The first ill effects observed were loss of appetite, then a burning sensation in the nose and mouth, tightness at his chest, and copious lachrymation, followed by epigastric pain. Feeling himself getting worse, he left the warehouse, but became very giddy, and fell down insensible. Medical assistance was procured, an emetic was administered, stimulants were exhibited, and he was wrapped in warm blankets. When he became sensible, he complained of his mouth being parched, and that his throat was swelling. He was then removed to the hospital. On his admission he appeared in a state of collapse, complained of burning pain at the stomach, in the throat, and in the head, and of swelling and numbness of his tongue. The epigastrium felt hot and tense, the pupils were dilated, the breathing short and hurried, the countenance distressed, pulse 85, surface cold. He stated that his tongue felt too large for his mouth, and appeared to be without feeling, and he had bitten it two or three times to ascertain whether there was any sensation in it. On examination, however, no change could be observed in the size or appearance of the tongue or parts about the mouth. Hot brandy and water were given to him, and he was put into the hot bath with evident relief. He continued in the hospital for several days, during which time he continued to improve, but still complained of epigastric pain. It deserves notice that his bowels were not acted on, and on the day following his admission several doses of castor-oil were given to him.

It would be interesting to know whether the seeds of Croton Pavana are equally active with those of Croton Tiglium; and, also, whether the seeds of both species are found in commerce.

2. Of the Oil. α. On Animals generally.—On vertebrated animals (horses, dogs, rabbits, and birds), it acts as a powerful local irritant or acrid. When taken internally, in moderate doses, it operates as a drastic purgative; in large doses, as an acrid poison, causing gastro-enteritis. Moiroud [Pharm. Vétér. p. 272.] says, that from twenty to thirty drops of the oil are, for the horse, equal to two drops for a man; and that twelvo drops injected into the veins cause alvine evacuations in a few minutes. Thirty drops administered in the same manner, have caused, according to this veterinarian, violent intestinal inflammation and speedy death. A much less quantity (three or four drops) has, according to Hertwich, [Wibmer, Arzneim. u. Gifte, Bd. ii. S. 218.] terminated fatally when thrown into the veins. After death the large intestines have been found to be more inflamed than the small ones. Flies, which had eaten some sugar moistened with the oil of croton, died in three or four hours—the wings being paralyzed or immovable before death.

β. On Man.—Rubbed on the skin it causes rubefaction and a pustular or vesicular eruption, with sometimes an erysipelatous swelling of the surrounding parte. When rubbed into the abdomen, it sometimes, but not invariably, purges. Rayer [Treatise on Diseases of the Skin, by Dr. Willis, p. 367.] mentions a case in which thirty-two drops rubbed upon the abdomen produced purging, large vesicles, swelling, and redness of the face, with small, prominent, white, crowded vesicles on the cheeks, lips, chin, and nose. Applied to the eye, it gives rise to violent burning pain, and inflammation of the eye and face. In one case it produced giddiness. [Dierbach, Neuesten Entd. in d. Mat. Med. 1837, p. 201.] Ebeling obtained relief by the application of a solution of carbonate of potash. Swallowed in small doses, as of one or two drops, it usually causes an acrid burning taste in the mouth and throat, and acts as a drastic purgative, giving rise to watery stools, and frequently increasing urinary secretion. Its operation is very speedy. Frequently it causes evacuations in half an hour: yet it is somewhat uncertain. Sometimes six, eight, or even ten drops may be given at a dose without affecting the bowels. In moderate doses it is less disposed to cause vomiting or purging than some other cathartics of equal power. Mr. Iliff, [Lond. Med. Rep. vol. xvii.] however, observes that it produces nausea and griping more frequently than has been supposed.

The following is a case of poisoning by an excessive dose of croton oil: A young man, aged 25, affected with severe typhoid fever, swallowed by mistake two and a half drachms of croton oil. At the end of three-quarters of an hour the skin was cold and covered with cold sweats, the pulse and action of the heart scarcely perceptible, respiration difficult; the points of the toes and fingers, the parts around the eyes and the lips, blue, as in malignant cholera; abdomen sensible to the touch; but no vomiting. In an hour and a half there were excessive and involuntary alvine evacuations, sensation of burning in the oesophagus, acute sensibility of the abdomen, skin colder, respiration and circulation difficult, the cyanosis extended over the whole body, the skin became insensible; and death occurred, with some of the symptoms of asphyxia, four hours after the poison was swallowed. No lesion was found in the gastric membrane. The intestines presented ulcerations such as are characteristic of typhus fever. [Journ. de Chim. Méd. 2nde sér. t. v. p. 509.]

In comparing croton oil with other violently acrid purgatives, we find it distinguished by its speedy operation, the great depression of the vascular system as well as the general feeling of debility which it produces, and by the uncertainty of its operation.

Uses.—The value of croton oil as an internal remedial agent depends principally on two circumstances—first, its powerful and speedy action as a drastic cathartic, by which it is adapted for obviating constipation, or for operating on the bowels as a counter-irritant; and secondly, on the smallness of the dose, which in practice presents many advantages. These circumstances render it peculiarly applicable in cases requiring powerful and speedy catharsis, and in which the patient cannot swallow, or does so with extreme difficulty, as in trismus, coma, and some affections of the throat; or where he will not swallow, as in mania. In all such cases the oil may be dropped on the tongue. In obstinate constipation, whether from the poison of lead or from other causes, it has sometimes succeeded where other powerful cathartics had been tried in vain. It is especially serviceable where the stomach is irritable, and rejects more voluminous purgatives; and it is of course objectionable in all inflammatory conditions of the digestive tube. In stercoraceous vomiting, with other constitutional symptoms of hernia, but without local evidence of displacement, and where the stomach rejected the ordinary senna draught, I have known oil of croton prove most effectual. In torpid conditions of the intestinal canal, in tendency to apoplexy, in dropsy unconnected with inflammation, in paralysis—in a word, in any cases in which a powerful and speedy intestinal irritant is required, either for the purpose of evacuating the canal merely, or for acting as a revulsive or counter-irritant, and thereby relieving distant parts, croton oil is a very useful, and, on many occasions, most valuable cathartic. In employing it, two cautions are necessary: it must be avoided, or at least used with great caution, in extreme debility; and it is improper in inflammatory affections of the digestive organs. The great drawback to its use is its uncertainty. In one case it acts with extreme violence, in another it scarcely produces any effect. In the diseases of children, where a powerful purgative is required, croton oil has been administered, on account of the minuteness of the dose and the facility of its exhibition. In hydrocephalus, and other head affections of children, I have several times used it where other cathartics have failed, or where extreme difficulty was experienced in inducing the patients to swallow the more ordinary remedies of this class. In some of these it has disappointed me. In the case of a child of four years of age, affected with incipient hydrocephalus, I gave six doses, of one drop each, of the oil without any effect. In uterine obstructions (chlorosis and amenorrhoea) it has occasionally proved serviceable. In tapeworm it has been recommended, but I have no experience of its efficacy.

Rubied on the skin, croton oil has been employed to produce rubefaction and a pustular eruption, and thereby to relieve diseases of internal organs, on the principle of counter-irritation, before explained [Bamberger, De olei crotonis externe adhibiti efficacia, Berol, 1833.] (see vol. i. p. 170). Inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the air-passages, peripneumonia, glandular swellings, rheumatism, gout, and neuralgia, are some of the diseases against which it has been applied in this way; and doubtless frequently with benefit. It is sometimes used in the undiluted form, but more commonly with twice or thrice its volume of olive oil, oil of turpentine, soap liniment, alcohol, ether, or some other convenient vehicle. But, in all the cases just enumerated, it has never appeared to me to present any advantage over many other counter-irritants in common use—as emetic tartar; while the chance of causing purging is, in some cases, an objection to its use, and its greater cost sometimes precludes its employment on a large scale in pauper establishments. Frictions with it on the abdomen have been used to promote alvine evacuations, but it frequently fails to produce the desired effect. To promote the absorption of the oil in these cases, it should be dissolved in ether or alcohol, and the frictions are to be assiduously made.

Administration.—Croton seeds are rarely or never used in this country. Their farina may, however, be given in doses of a grain or two.

CROTONIS OLEUM, E.; Tiglii Oleum, L., Oleum Tiglii, U.S.; Croton Oil.—This is the expressed oil of the seeds. It is imported from the East Indies, principally from Madras and Ceylon, but in part from Bombay. I have been informed by an oil-presser at Calcutta that it is prepared like castor oil, except that it is strained instead of being boiled. In shelling the seeds, the women often suffer severely with swelling of the face, &c. Croton oil is also expressed in England. The operation is usually effected by a Bramah's press in a room heated to about 75° F. The men engaged in the process are usually much affected by it; they suffer redness of the face, irritation of the eyes and air-passages, and purging. The following are the results obtained at two operations: the weights are avoirdupois:—

Seeds.Oil obtained.
cwts.qrs.lbs.lbs.
Croton Seeds201751
Ditto5310150
Total7327201

This gives a percentage produce of about 22.40. The colour of the oil thus obtained, when viewed by transmitted light, was that of dark sherry. No use is made of the cake.

In France, the croton cake is subjected to the action of alcohol, and the oil thus obtained mixed with the previously expressed oil. Guibourt [Journ. de Pharm. et de Chim. 3d sér. t. xvii. p. 183, 1850.] obtained by expression 41.6 per cent. of oil from the kernels of the seeds, and subsequently 10.4 per cent. by the action of alcohol: making together 52 percent. Calculating the shells at one-third the weight of the entire seeds, this product would be equal to nearly 35 per. cent. for the entire seeds.

Genuine croton oil varies in colour from very pale yellow (like that of Canada balsam) to dark reddish-brown (like the deepest-coloured sherry). Its consistence is unctuous, and increases with age. It has an unpleasant but marked odour and an acrid taste, and leaves bebind an acrid sensation in the fauces. It reddens litmus, and is soluble in ether and in the fixed and volatile oils.

The following are the characteristics of the goodness of the oil according to the Edinburgh College:—

When agitated with its own volume of pure alcohol and gently heated, it separates on standing, without having undergone any apparent diminution.

This statement is not correct, according to my observations. Pure croton oil expressed in London dissolves in alcohol (sp. gr. 0.796) without requiring to be "gently heated." The oil imported from the East Indies does, however, require to be heated with the alcohol to effect its solution. In the second place, separation does not take place, at ordinary temperatures, in the case of a mixture of English croton oil and alcohol. But by a low temperature, separation takes place on standing, but in that case the volume of oil is found to be slightly augmented. East India croton oil mixed with alcohol separates by repose: the volume of the oil, however, is increased and that of the alcohol proportionately lessened.

In one experiment, 8 vols. of E. I. croton oil were mixed with 8 vols. of alcohol, sp. gr. 0.796, and gently heated. In two days separation had taken place: the oil now measured 8 3/4 vols., and the alcohol 7 1/4 vols. In a second experiment, 7 vols. of another E. I. croton oil were mixed with 7 vols. of alcohol: in four days separation had taken place: the oil measured 7 1/8 vols., and the alcohol 6 7/8 vols.

According to Dr. Maclagan, only 96 per cent. of the oil separates. It is obvious, therefore, that commercial croton oils, believed to be genuine, are not uniform in their relation to alcohol.

According to Mr. Twining, [Dierbach, op. cit.] there are two kinds of croton oil met with in commerce. One is dark yellow and thickish, the other is straw-coloured. The first is the most energetic. These oils, he thinks, may perhaps be obtained from different plants; the one from Croton Tiglium, the other from Croton Pavana.

The croton oils found in the London market are of two kinds; one exotic, imported from India and Ceylon—the other expressed in London. These differ both in their appearance and relation to alcohol.

α. Oleum Crotonis exoticum; Foreign or East Indian Croton Oil; Pale Croton Oil.—This is imported from Ceylon and the continent of India. It is paler than London expressed oil. Some samples are very transparent and pale yellow, like Canada balsam. Others (the more usual sort) are of a pale amber colour. If equal volumes of East India oil and alcohol (sp. gr. 0.796) be shaken together, an opake milky mixture is obtained: but, if the heat of a spirit-lamp be applied, the mixture becomes transparent and uniform. By standing, however, for twentyfour hours, it separates into two strata: the lower one consisting of the oil which has taken up a small quantity of alcohol, and has, in consequence, become somewhat augmented in bulk, and the upper one, the alcohol, which has suffered a corresponding diminution in volume (see above).

β. Oleum Crotonis anglicum; English Croton Oil; Dark Croton Oil.—The oil expressed from croton seeds in London is darker coloured than that usually imported from India. By transmitted light it is of a reddish-brown colour, like that of the deepest sherry, almost approaching to chestnut brown. By reflected light it has a greenish tinge. The dark colour of the oil may perhaps depend on some change which the seeds have suffered by keeping. After the oil has stood for a few months it is found to have deposited some white fat (margarine?). If equal volumes of alcohol (sp. gr. 0.796) and this oil be shaken together at ordinary temperatures, they form a uniform transparent mixture, and no separation takes place on standing for many weeks, unless the mixture be exposed to a low temperature. This fact, which was mentioned to me by Mr. Redwood, he has verified with various samples of croton oil expressed respectively by himself, by Mr. Morson, by Messrs. Herrings, and by Messrs. May and Co. I have verified it with a sample expressed by Messrs. Herrings. Exposure to artificial cold (as a freezing mixture) or to the atmosphere during a very cold night will cause a separation: the oil is then found to have slightly increased in bulk, and the alcohol to have suffered a corresponding diminution of volume.

On what, it may be asked, does this difference in the properties of the East Indian and English croton oils depend? Does it arise from some difference in the mode of preparation? Or is the East Indian oil contaminated with jatropha oil?

Dr. Christison observes, that croton oil "is not easily adulterated with the common fixed oils, with the exception of castor-oil, because this is the only common oil which possesses sufficient thickness to impart due unctuosity. Castor-oil may be detected by the test mentioned in the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia. Absolute alcohol shaken with the adulterated oil will dissolve out the impurity, and thus lessen its volume; but no visible diminution is produced on pure croton oil. Five per cent. of castor-oil may be thus detected; but the application of heat, as recommended by the College, is unnecessary." It is obvious, however, that this test is not applicable to English croton oil adulterated with castor-oil, both of which oils are soluble in the cold in alcohol.

If any fraud be practised in respect to croton oil, the adulterating ingredient is, I suspect, jatropha oil, which is less soluble in alcohol than croton oil.

Croton oil is exhibited in doses of one, two, or three drops. In some instances it is simply placed on the tongue—as in coma, tetanus, mania, &c.; or it may be taken in a teaspoonful of syrup. These methods of administering it are objectionable, on account of the acrid taste produced. The usual mode of employing it is in the form of pill, made with conserve of roses or bread-crumb. Some have employed it in the form of emulsion, flavoured with some carminative oil or balsamic substance; but the burning of the mouth and throat to which it gives rise is an objection to its use.

α. Tinctura Crotonis; Tincture of Croton.—This is prepared by digesting the seeds, or dissolving the oil in rectified spirit. Soubeiran's formula is one drop of croton oil, and half a drachm of rectified spirit.

β Sapo Crotonis; Croton Soap.—This is prepared with two parts of croton oil and one part of soap-boiler's lye. It is, in fact, a crotonate of soda. A croton soap is sold by Mr. Morson, of Southampton Row, Russell Square. It may be used as a purgative, in doses of from one to three grains. It has been said that the alkali diminishes the acrimonious property of the oil without affecting its cathartic powers—a statement, however, which is highly improbable.

2. LINIMENTUM CROTONIS, D.; Croton Liniment.—(Croton Oil f℥i; Oil of Turpentine f℥vii. Mix them with agitation, D.)—A croton liniment is frequently prepared by mixing one part of croton oil with four or five parts of olive oil. Rubbed repeatedly on the skin, it occasions redness and a pustular eruption. It is used as a counter-irritant.

Antidotes.—In a case of poisoning by the seeds or oil, the first object is to remove the oil from the stomach. Mild, demulcent, and emollient drinks are then to be given. Alkaline substances have been recommended as chemical antidotes, but their efficacy is not proved. Full doses of opium will be requisite to check the diarrhoea. To relieve a failing circulation, ammonia and brandy may be given, and the warm bath employed.


The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Vol. II, 3th American ed., was written by Jonathan Pereira in 1853.



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