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Matico. Piper angustifolium.

Botanical name:

Matico. N. F. IV (U. S. P. VIII). Matico Leaves. Feuilles de Matico, Fr. Cod. Maticoblätter, G.—"The dried leaves of Piper angustifolium Ruiz et Pavon (Fam. Piperaceae), without the presence of more than 5 per cent. of stems, flower spikes, or other foreign matter." 2V. F. IV. The genus Piper, according to Engler and Pranti, includes nearly six hundred species, which are distributed throughout the tropics of the Old and New World, being particularly numerous in tropical America and of relatively less number in Africa.

Piper angustifolium is a shrub with a jointed stem about twelve feet in height. The plant is a native of Peru, where the fruit, under the name of thoho-thoho, is employed .in the same manner as cubeb. This species is also found in other parts of South America. The commercial drug matico is furnished, according to G. Dethan and E. Bertault (J. P. C., 1897, 537), by two varieties of Piper angustifolium—viz., a-cordulatum (Artanthe elongata Miq.), and β-ossanum, which differ somewhat in the shape of the leaves. The former has the leaves larger, shorter, and broader, with an oblique cordate base. The midrib of a-cordulatum is much less convex below than in the other variety. In 1864 Bentley (P. J., Jan., 1864) described a false matico from Central America believed to be yielded by the Piper aduncum L.. It is distinguished by the want of the reticulations on the upper and the down on the under surface which characterize true matico. (See also Thorns, Arbeiten a. d. Pharm. Institut d. Universität, Berlin, 1910, p. 70.)

The drug is described in the N. F. as: "Usually in compressed, matted masses with leaves more or less broken; leaves sub-sessile, lanceolate, from 10 to 20 cm. in length and from 2 to 5 cm. in breadth; summit tapering and acute; base slightly unequal, cordate; margin finely crenulate; upper surface dark green, tessellated; lower surface pale green, reticulate with prominent yellowish-brown midrib and veins forming small quadrangular meshed clothed with matted pubescence. Odor distinct, aromatic; taste pungent, pepper-like. Sections, when examined under the microscope, exhibit the epidermis of the upper side composed of regular polygonal cells and of the lower side of somewhat irregular and undulate cells, especially where covering the veins; numerous stomata with large neighboring cells on the lower side; the hypodermis of one row and palisade cells in two or three rows; mesophyll loose, spongy tissue; midrib in cross section oval, outer layer of thick-walled cork cells; secretion cells filled with yellow oil; upper surface with papillae and few bristly hairs; hairs of the lower surface of two kinds, the one six to ten cells in length, pointed, bent and matted, having thick walls and astriate cuticle; the other bristle hairs of one stem cell and a head cell; calcium oxalate crystals few in parenchyma tissue of the venation, in the form of raphides or monoclinic prisms. The powder is greenish-yellow and, when examined under the microscope, exhibits the characteristic hairs, polygonal epidermal cells, and secretion cells of the leaf. Matico yields not more than 18 per cent. of ash."

Fluckiger found it to contain 2.7 per cent. of the volatile oil, which was slightly dextrogyrate and boiling in large part at 180° to 200° C. (356°-392° F.). In the winter-time it deposited large crystals of a camphor, according to Kugler (A. J. P., 1884, 477). Schimmel & Co. (Schim. Rep., Oct., 1898, p. 37) and Thorns (A. J. P., 1904, p. 584) state that the newer matico oils do not contain this camphor but contain asarol (propenyl-trimethyltrioxybenzene). Matico also affords, according to Marcotte, a crystallizable acid named artanthic acid, with some tannin. (Pharmacographia, 2d ed., p. 590.)

Matico is said to be employed in Peru in arresting hemorrhages and as a local application to ulcers, and has been used in European practice in the treatment of diseases of the genito-urinary organs, such as those for which cubeb is commonly prescribed. It has also been praised as a remedy in dysentery and diarrhea and especially as a local hemostatic, in which it probably acts in part mechanically in the same manner as does agaric. The powder is sometimes used, but the fluidextract (see Part III), is preferable for internal administration. Dose, forty-five to seventy-five grains (3-5 Gm.).


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



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