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Aspidosperma. U. S. Aspidosperma. Aspidosp. [Quebracho]

Preparations: Fluidextract of Aspidosperma

"The dried bark of Aspidosperma Quebracho blanco Schlechtendal (Fam. Apocynaceae), without the presence or admixture of more than 2 per cent. of wood or other foreign matter." U. S.

Aspidosperma Quebracho. Quebracho Bark. Quebracho Blanco.

Quebracho is an evergreen tree which sometimes reaches the height of one hundred feet, and is remarkable for its erect stem and its wide-spreading crown reaching out over the cacti and lower bushes among which it grows. The tree is indigenous to the western provinces of Argentine and is also found growing in Chili, Bolivia and Southern Brazil. The bark has been used for a long time in South America as a febrifuge and was not introduced into Europe until about 1878. The name quebracho is derived from the two Spanish words, quebrar and hacha, signifying " The axe breaks." The wood of the quebracho tree is not met with in commerce, but is said to be very hard, distinctly marked with rings of growth, and of a bright chocolate-brown color, except the very young wood, which is yellowish or reddish. According to Hesse and Penzoldt, the wood contains no alkaloids; it is used for tanning. In addition to Aspidosperma quebracho blanco there are two other plants which are known as quebracho. (1) The wood and bark of Schinopsis Lorentzii (Grisebach) Engl. (Fam. Anacardiaceae) are extensively used in tanning. The plant was formerly known as Aspidosperma quebracho colorado and the wood is sold in commerce as "quebracho wood." Under the name of "quebracho flojo," the wood and bark of Iodina rhombifolia Hook. et Arn. (Fam. Santalaceae) are substituted and sold for quebracho colorado in Southern Brazil to Argentina and Uruguay.

Properties.—Quebracho bark is remarkable for the extreme thickness of the corky layer which often constitutes more than half of its entire substance, and is separated from the lower layer by a more or less sharply defined outline. The corky layer is usually externally dirty gray, or where it has been rubbed appears yellowish-red. "In irregular chips or in longitudinal pieces attaining a length of 14 cm. and a thickness of 35 mm.; outer corky layer from 3 to 25 mm. in thickness, brownish-gray or reddish-brown and deeply furrowed, frequently somewhat reticulate with longitudinal and shallow transverse fissures, the crevices being occasionally lined with the mycelia of a grayish mold; outer surface of bark, from which the cork has been separated, light brown or reddish-brown and usually more or less roughened; inner surface occasionally with adhering wood, otherwise light yellowish-brown to light reddish-brown, longitudinally finely striate and finely porous; fracture short-fibrous with projecting bast-fibers; nearly inodorous, taste bitter and slightly aromatic. Under the microscope, transverse sections of Aspidosperma show a number of successive layers of cork separated by large groups of stone cells, isolated bast-fibers and parenchyma; inner bark with starch-bearing medullary rays 1 to 5 cells in width, separating" narrow wedges composed of large prominent groups of stone cells in which are occasionally included one or more thick-walled bast-fibers; bast-fibers usually single, very thick-walled, strongly lignified and surrounded with crystal fibers and starch-bearing parenchyma. The powder is reddish-brown; bast-fibers single, very long and surrounded by crystal fibers, the crystals being in prisms frequently terminated by pyramids and from 0.008 to 0.03 mm. in length; stone cells in large thick groups composed of numerous more or less tabular cells; cork cells more or less polygonal in outline with thick, slightly lignified walls; starch grains single or 2- to 4-compound, the individual grains spherical, ovoid or more or less plano-convex, from 0.003 to 0.025 mm. in diameter." U. S.

In 1878, Fraude (Ber. d. Chem. Ges., 1878, p. 2189; 1879, p. 1560) discovered in the quebracho blanco an alkaloid, aspidospermine, C22H30N2O, but Hesse has found five other alkaloids, aspidospermatine, C22H28N2O2, and isomeric with it aspidosamine, C22H28N2O2, quebrachine, C22H26N2O3, and isomeric with this hypoquebrachine, C21H26N2O2, and quebrachamine, quebrachol, C20H34O + H2O, quebrachit, C6H11(OCH3)O5. (Ber. d. Chem. Ges., xiii, 2308.) Aspidospermine is a brownish-yellow amorphous powder or needle-shaped crystals, fusing at 205° to 206° C. (401°403° F.), is soluble in about 6000 parts of water at 15° C. (59° F.), the solution having a decidedly bitter taste, soluble in about 48 parts of absolute alcohol, in 106 parts of ether, insoluble in glycerin; it dissolves readily in fats and fixed oils, cod liver oil dissolving a larger proportion than it does of quinine. Its sulphate and hydrochloride are very soluble in water. The citrate is crystallizable, and very soluble. The yield of aspidospermine is small, 0.33 per cent. of the bark. Aspidospermatine is crystalline, and fuses at 162° C. (323.6° F.); aspidosamine is amorphous, and fuses at 100° C. (212° F.); quebrachine in colorless crystals fuses at 214° to 216° C. (417.2°-420.8° F.); hypoquebrachine is a yellowish mass resembling albumin, and fuses at 80° C. (176° F.); quebrachamine forms colorless silky needles, only slightly soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, and benzin, and fuses at 142° C. (287.6° F.). Two new sugars have also been extracted by Tanret, quebrachite and laevogyrate inosite. Tannin and starch have also been found in the bark. According to H. C. Wood, Jr., the most important principle is quebrachine. (U. P. M. B., 1910, xxiii.)

Uses.—When a preparation of aspidosperma is injected into the circulation it causes an enormous increase in the rate and depth of the respiration with some fall in the blood pressure. Pentzold, who first described the effects of this drug on the respiration, believed that the breathing was dyspneic in type and that the drug acted by preventing the red corpuscles from giving up their oxygen. He based his belief on the fact that after death from the poison the blood had the same color in both arteries and veins, but Wood and Hoyt (U. P. M. B., Sept., 1903) showed that the blood retained its normal oxidizing powers after aspidospermin and believed that the arterial hue in the veins was due to the violence of the respiration. The fall of blood pressure is due primarily to weakness of the heart, although larger doses also cause dilatation of the blood vessels—according to Cow (J. P. Ex. T., 1914, v, p. 341), by a depressant action on the medullary centers. The increase in the respiration which is the most marked effect of aspidosperma appears to be due to a direct action upon the respiratory center as H. C. Wood, Jr. (U. P. M. B., 1910, xxiii), has shown that it does not affect the circulation in the lungs, and Cow that it does not affect the bronchioles.

All of the alkaloids of aspidosperma as far as they have been studied are possessed of similar physiological properties, although to different degree. Both Wood and Cow agree that quebrachine is the most active alkaloid in the drug.

Aspidosperma is used in medicine for the relief of various types of dyspnea, especially in emphysema and asthma. In the latter condition it is not generally useful to interrupt the paroxysm, but in many cases if used continuously will greatly reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

Under the name of amorphous aspidospermine there has entered in commerce a mixture of the various alkaloids of this drug. Dose of this preparation is from a quarter to one grain (0.016-0.065 Gm.); that of the crystalline aspidospermine is from one-fortieth to one-twentieth of a grain (0.0016-0.003 Gm.).

Dose, of aspidosperma, fifteen grains (1 Gm.); it is not, however, used in the crude state.

Off. Prep.—Fluidextractum Aspidospermatis, U. S.


The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.



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