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Botanical name:

Condurango. N. F. IV. Cundurango. Cortex Condurango, P. G.—This drug some years ago attracted a great deal of attention as a reputed remedy in cancerous disease, but further experience has demonstrated its uselessness. It appears, however, to be used largely in South America as an alterative in chronic syphilis, has been recognized by the German Pharmacopoeia, and so merits a brief notice here. According to an official investigation (A Report on the Origin and Therapeutic Properties of Cundurango, by Ruschenberger, Washington, 1873) made by Passed Assistant Surgeon Joseph G. Ayers, U. S. N., there are at least ten different plants known in the republic of Colombia as condurango. The variety which has been used in cancer, and which may be considered as genuine condurango, is the condurango blanco, the product of an asclepiadaceous vine from ten to thirty feet in length and from one to two inches in diameter. The plant is the Marsdenia Condurango of G. H. Reichenbach. The bark is prepared by pounding the stem with a mallet, to separate it, and then drying it in the sun. In the N. F. it is described as "the dried bark of Marsdenia Condurango (Triana) Reichenbach films (Fam. Asclepiadaceae). In quills or transversely curved pieces, usually from 4 to 13.5 cm. in length; bark 1 to 6 mm. in thickness; outer surface light grayish-brown to dark brown, nearly smooth and with numerous lenticels, or more or less scaly and considerably roughened; the scales soft, occasionally with brownish-black apothecia of a fungus; inner surface grayish-white or light brown, longitudinally striate; fracture short-fibrous and granular. Odor slightly aromatic, especially marked in the fresh drug; taste bitter and aromatic. Under the microscope, sections of Condurango show a corky layer consisting of several rows of thin-walled cells, frequently with yellowish-brown contents; a layer of phelloderm of eight to ten rows of cells, containing starch grains and membrane crystals of calcium oxalate, the latter in prisms, from 0.01 to 0.035. mm. in length; a primary cortex of collenchyma containing chloroplastids, starch grains, or rosette aggregates of calcium oxalate, from 0.015 to 0.04 mm. in diameter; a pericycle or pericambium of tangentially elongated parenchyma cells, with groups of bast fibers and laticiferous vessels in an interrupted circle; middle bark with large groups of stone cells varying from nearly isodiametric to elongated, sometimes very irregular in form; inner bark with medullary rays one or two cells in width, numerous lactiferous cells accompanied by small groups of sieve cells, parenchyma containing either starch grains or rosette aggregates of calcium oxalate, and an occasional isolated bast fiber or small group of stone cells. The powder is light yellowish-brown, consisting chiefly of groups of stone cells and parenchyma containing calcium oxalate crystals and starch grains; stone cells chiefly in large groups, the individual cells being more or less irregular in shape and with very thick porous walls, the lumina being usually filled with air; calcium oxalate chiefly in rosette aggregates, occasionally in single prisms, mostly from 0.015 to 0.02 mm. in diameter; starch grains mostly simple, frequently two- to four-compound, the individual grains being from 0.003 to 0.015 mm. in diameter; bast fibers non-lignified; very long and from 0.01 to 0.035 mm. in width; fragments of thin-walled latex tubes from 0.015 to 0.025 mm. in diameter and filled with a granular substance; fragments of cork grayish or light yellowish-brown. Macerate 1 Gin. of the powdered bark in 5 mils of cold water; filter and heat the filtrate in a test tube; it becomes cloudy, but on cooling assumes its original transparency. Condurango yields not more than 12 per cent. of ash." N. F. Thomas Antisell (A. J. P., xliii, 289) found in it tannin, extractive matter, and a yellow resin, to which he attributes whatever of virtue the plant may possess. Vulpius (P. J., 1885, 1066) found in it condurangin, a glucoside, very closely allied to vincetoxin of Tanret, and, like it, converted by warming when in concentrated solution into a tolerably stiff jelly. For Barthe's method of isolating it, see A. J. P., 1892, 640. Merck gives the following constituents of condurango: Alpha-condurangin, C20H32O6; Beta-condurangin, C18H24O7; Conduransterin, C30H50O2, and also a trace of an alkaloid resembling strychnine in action. Carrara (A. J. P., 1892) obtained from the so-called condurangin of commerce two principles: One insoluble in water, soluble in benzene, a light, almost white, powder, melting at from 60°-61° C. (140°-141.8° F.), and of the composition C20H32O6. Both compounds are decomposed by acids, yielding a brown pitchy substance, insoluble in water. Boehm (M. M. W., lv, p. 1775) regards condurangin as a derivative of cinnamic acid. According to Firbas, condurangin in solution can be recognized by freeing from alcohol with gentle warmth, precipitating with a saturated solution of sodium chloride, dissolving the precipitate in chloroform, and adding a liquid composed of equal parts of sulphuric and hydrochloric acids and alcohol. On warming, the mixture assumes a green color, which turns a beautiful greenish-blue on the addition of a trace of ferric chloride. This Lafon reaction is given also by adonidin, oleandrin, sapotoxin and digitoxin. Brunton (J. P., vol. v) reached the conclusion that Condurango blanco was inert, but Kobert found condurangin to be a violent poison, causing convulsions followed by paralysis; he believes it to be a mixture of several principles, (S. Jb., 1889, No. 9.) H. Chiriboga states that three drachms of the bark taken by himself in the form of decoction produced considerable activity of the circulation, copious diaphoresis, increased secretion of urine, and even some vertigo and disturbance of vision. Under the name of Guayaquil condurango a drug has appeared in the European markets composed of pieces of bark and fragments of woody branches, believed to be derived from an asclepiadaceous plant closely related to the genus Gonolobus. Mexican condurango is composed of split stems or thin adherent bark, and is thought to be yielded by an Aristolochia. For full description, see Ph. Rund., May, 1888. Prof. P. E. Hoinmell recommends Mistura condurango et ulmi and Fluidglycerate of condurango for the internal administration of the drug. (See Proc. N. Jersey Pharm. Assoc., 1913, 80; also M. R., 1913, 231.) Fluidextract of condurango is official in the National Formulary. Dose, one fluidrachm (3.9 mils).

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

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