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Kamala. Mallotus philippinensis. Rottlera.

Botanical name:

Kamala. U. S. 1890. Kamala. Glandulae Rottlerae.—The U. S. Pharmacopoeia, under the name of Rottlera, U. S., 1870, Kameela, formerly recognized the glands and hairs from the capsules of Mallotus philippinensis (Lamarck) Muell.-Arg. (Fam. Euphorbiaceae.) This tree grows in Abyssinia, Southern Arabia, Hindostan, the East India Islands, China, and Australia, reaching a height of from fifteen to twenty feet, and yielding a roundish, three-valved, three-locular capsule about the size of a small cherry, thickly covered with a red powder, which is collected in Hindostan by rolling the berries about in large baskets until the freed powder sifts through the open wicker-work.

Kamala, as brought to our market, is a light, finely granular, very mobile powder, of a brownish-red or madder color, with little odor or taste, but producing a slight sense of acridity in the mouth, and feeling gritty under the teeth. (When the grittiness is excessive, the drug has probably been adulterated with earthy matters.) It is inflammable, and flashes almost like gunpowder when dropped into the flame of a candle. It is insoluble in cold and but very slightly soluble in boiling water; but alkaline solutions, alcohol, and ether dissolve a large proportion of it, forming a deep red solution, from which water precipitates resinous matter, "imparting a deep red color to alkaline liquids, alcohol, ether, or chloroform, and a pale yellow tinge to boiling water." U. S., 1890. Under the microscope it consists of garnet-red, semi-transparent, roundish, glandular hairs from 0.040 to 0.100 mm. in diameter, and containing numerous red, club-shaped cells and admixed with minute stellate hairs, and the remains of stalks and leaves, the latter of which are easily removed by careful sifting. It has been examined chemically by Thomas Anderson, of Glasgow, and by G. Leube, in Germany. As given by the former, the constituents are, in 100 parts, 78.19 of resinous coloring matter, 7.34 of albumin, 7.14 of cellulose, etc., a trace of volatile oil and volatile coloring matters, 3.84 of ashes, and 3.49 of water. The amount of earthy impurities, chiefly sand, in commercial kamala, varies greatly, sometimes amounting to fifty or even sixty per cent. It can readily be estimated by heating the drug to redness and weighing the residue. The U. S. P., 1890, permitted the presence of "not more than 8 per cent. of ash." Any specimen of kamala containing more than the official percentage of impurity should be rejected. Rusby states that kamala often cornea to this country adulterated. He found one shipment loaded with sand, one with olive stems, one olive stems and sand, and one ground bark. Two samples, 40.8 per cent. acid, 43.4 per cent. ash, were mostly sand. (See also Ph. Rev., 1907, 129; P. J., 1906, 258.) Of the resinous coloring substances, Anderson obtained one in a pure state by allowing a concentrated ethereal solution to stand for two days, draining and pressing in bibulous paper the resulting mass of granular crystals, and purifying them from adhering resin by repeated solution in ether and recrystallization. To this substance he gave the name of rottlerin. It is in the form of minute crystalline plates, of a yellow color and a satin-like luster, insoluble in water, sparingly soluble in cold but more so in boiling alcohol, and readily dissolved by ether, and by alkaline solutions, which assume a dark red color. Perkin (Chem. Soc. Trans., lxiii, p. 975) shows rottlerin to consist of six distinct substances, i.e., rottlerin, isorottlerin, wax, two resins and a coloring substance. The pure rottlerin has the chemical composition C33H30O9. (See also P. Ztg., 1906.) Crude rottlerin, sometimes known as kamalin, melts when heated moderately, and at a higher heat is decomposed, giving off pungent vapors. A. and W. Perkin (Ber. d. Chem. Ges., xix, 3109) and Jawein (Ibid., xx, 182) both stated that rottlerin can be extracted from kamala by the action of carbon disulphide. Jawein gave its fusing point as 200° C. (392° F.), and said that it was easily soluble in hot alcohol and acetic acid. In a later communication, A. G. Perkin (P. J., 1893, 159, 236), stated that when he extracted it with ether, kamala yielded a dark brownish resinous product from which six distinct substances can be isolated; rottlerin, iso-rottlerin, a wax, and two resins, one of high and one of low melting point, form the principal constituents. There is also present a trace of a yellow crystalline coloring matter melting at from 192°-193° C. (377.6° 379.4° F.). Perkin also found in kamala a small quantity of a sugar soluble in water. Potassium permanganate oxidizes it to oxalic and benzoic acids; nitric acid of 1.5 sp. gr., on the other hand, oxidizes it to oxalic acid, ortho- and para-nitrocinnamic acids, and para-nitrobenzoic acid. The ashes were in the extraordinary proportion of 25.85 per cent., and of the ashes 83.8 per cent. consisted of insoluble silica. Silica probably enters essentially into the constitution of the minute granules, and its presence accounts for their grittiness under the teeth. The active constituent is supposed to be the resin.

Kamala is actively or even violently purgative in full doses, occasionally causing nausea, but seldom vomiting. Kamala has long been used in India against the tape worm, and was first made generally known by C. Mackinnon. (Ind. Ann. Med. Sci., 1854.) Semper (A. E. P. P., 1910, lxiii, p. 10) has found that kamala has a paralyzing effect on motor nerves and muscles, to which action he believes it owes its tenifuge powers. It is given, without previous preparation of the patient, in the dose of from one to three drachms (3.9-11.6 Gm,), suspended in water, mucilage, or syrup. In the latter dose it sometimes acts violently. The worm is usually expelled at the third or fourth stool. If the first dose fails to operate on the bowels, it may be repeated in four hours, or followed by a dose of castor oil. The tincture (four ounces to eight fluidounces of diluted alcohol) is also said to be efficient in doses of from one to four fluidrachms (3.75-15 mils). As an external remedy, kamala is used by the people of India in various affections of the skin, particularly scabies. William Moore, of Dublin, has employed it successfully in herpetic ringworm. (Dublin Hosp. Gaz., Nov. 15, 1857.) A tenifuge composed of kamala and koussin and known as kamakosin, is in use on the continent.


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



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