Cocculi Fructus. Cocculus Indicus.
Related entry: Picrotoxin
Synonyms.—Cocculus; Levant Berries.
Cocculus indicus is the fruit of Anamirta paniculata, Colebr. (N.O. Menispermaceae), a climbing shrub indigenous to Eastern India and the Malay Archipelago. The fruits are collected when ripe, and dried. The fruit is brownish-black in colour, about 12 millimetres in length, and more or less reniform in shape. The pericarp is hard and rough, and bears on the concave side the scar of the stalk, and also a minute prominence, the remains of the style. The pericarp encloses a single oily, cup-shaped seed, into the hollow of which an ingrowth of the mesocarp and endocarp projects. The fruit has no odour; the seed has a bitter taste.
Constituents.—The chief constituent of cocculus indicus is the bitter, crystalline, poisonous substance, picrotoxin, which occurs in the seed to the extent of 1.0 to 1.5 per cent., associated with a. little cocculin (anamirtin). The seeds also contain about 50 per cent. of fat. In the pericarp of the fruit two tasteless alkaloids, menispermine and paramenispermine have been found.
Action and Uses.—Cocculus indicus is of importance as the source of picrotoxin. The powdered berries are sometimes used in the form of ointment (1 in 60) for destroying pediculi; a tincture and a liquid extract are also prepared, generally for external use. For most purposes the neutral active principle picrotoxin is preferred to the crude drug. The entire fruits have been used to stupefy fish, being thrown into the water for that purpose.