Belladonnae Radix, B.P., Belladonna Root.

Botanical name: 

Related entries: Belladonna Leaves - Belladonna Root - Atropine - Atropine Salicylate - Atropine Sulphate - Datura Leaves - Datura Seeds - Stramonium - Daturine - Hyoscyamus Leaves - Hyoscyamus Seeds - Hyoscyamine Sulphate - Scopola

Belladonna root is obtained from Atropa Belladonna, Linn. (N.O. Solanaceae), a tall branching herb, widely distributed over Central and Southern Europe. It is also official in the U.S.P., when it should yield not less than 0.45 per cent. of mydriatic alkaloids. The root is collected in the autumn when about three or four years old, cut into pieces, and. carefully dried. Belladonna root usually occurs in cylindrical pieces about 10 to 30 centimetres long, and 1 to 2 centimetres thick. It is covered with a thin, greyish-brown, wrinkled cork, and breaks with a short fracture, exhibiting a white, starchy interior. In the transverse section the cambium is readily discernible as a dark line, within and near to which are scattered groups of vessels. The cortex is firmly adherent to the wood, and devoid of fibres. The root is often crowned with the remains of large hollow aerial stems, and near these the transverse section exhibits one or more circles of well-developed radiate wood. A transverse section of belladonna root exhibits under the microscope wood and cortex chiefly composed of parenchymatous cells filled with starch grains, and occasionally with sandy calcium oxalate. In the wood there are numerous groups of large pitted vessels associated with tracheids and fibres, but the cortex is devoid of bast fibres. The starch grains range mostly from 5μ to 20μ in length; the simple ones are rounded or oval, but many are compound and consist of two, three, or four constituent grains. These characters are sufficient to identify the entire or crushed root, and to limit the drug to young root collected in the late autumn, when it is said to be richest in alkaloid. The substitution of poke root (Phytolacca decandra, Linn.) for belladonna may be detected by the transverse section, which exhibits several concentric rings of wood bundles and calcium oxalate in the form of acicular, not sandy, crystals. Scopola rhizome (Scopola carniolica, Jacq.) is horizontal or oblique, and bears on the upper surface numerous scars of aerial stems. It is occasionally found in belladonna root, and contains the same alkaloids, but in the rather larger proportion of about 0.6 per cent.

Constituents.—The chief constituents of belladonna root are the alkaloids hyoscyamine and atropine. Hyoscyamine exists in the larger proportion; indeed, it appears doubtful whether the crude drug contains atropine at all, it being probable that in the process of extraction part of the hyoscyamine is converted into the isomeric atropine. Traces of scopolamine are also said to be present, as well as the crystalline fluorescent substance β-methyl-aesculetin. The total amount of alkaloid in the root varies from 0.4 to 0.6 per cent., rarely rising to 1 per cent., wild plants yielding more than cultivated, and young roots more than old.

Action and Uses.—The medicinal properties of belladonna root depend upon the presence of hyoscyamine and atropine. It is used to check excessive secretion and to allay inflammation, particularly in secretory glands, such as the breast. Small doses allay cardiac palpitation, and the plaster is applied to the cardiac region for the same purpose. It is a powerful antispasmodic in intestinal colic and spasmodic asthma; given with purgatives it depresses the inhibitory nerves of the intestine and allays griping. Belladonna is well borne by children and is given in large doses in whooping cough, urinary incontinence, and false croup. For its action on the circulation it is given in the collapse of pneumonia, typhoid fever, and other acute diseases. It is of value in acute sore throat, and relieves local inflammation and congestion. Belladonna decreases gastric secretion and should not be given just before or after meals. The root is the basis of the principal pharmaceutical preparations of belladonna. A standardised liquid extract is prepared, from which the official plaster, alcoholic extract, liniment, suppository, tincture, and ointment are made; these all contain a definite proportion of total alkaloid. A chloroformic solution of the root alkaloids is prepared under the name of Chloroformum Belladonnae and is suitable for mixing with olive oil or camphor liniment. In cases of poisoning by belladonna, emetics should be given or the stomach pump used; stimulants and strong coffee may be given, and pilocarpine nitrate injected hypodermically.

Dose.—½ to 3 decigrams (1 to 5 grains).


Compound Liniment of Aconite

Contain 12 centigrams (2 grains) of alcoholic extract of belladonna in each.
Chloroformum Belladonnae, B.P.C.—CHLOROFORM OF BELLADONNA. 1 (liquid extract) in 2.
Painted on the unbroken skin with a camel hair brush to relieve neuralgia. It is sometimes mixed with 7 parts of liniment of belladonna for application on flannel or impermeable piline in rheumatism; applied in this manner the chloroform renders the rubefacient and the anodyne action more marked; it may also be mixed with olive oil or soap liniment. A similar preparation is Linimentum Belladonnae cum Chloroformo.
Collodium Belladonnae, B.P.C.—BELLADONNA COLLODION. Syns.—Emplastrum Belladonnae Fluidum; Liquid Belladonna Plaster.
Liquid extract of belladonna, 50; Canada turpentine, 4; castor oil, 2 camphor, 1.5; pyroxylin, 2.5; methylated ether (specific gravity, 0.720), to 100. Used as a cleanly substitute for belladonna plaster; it is especially suitable for painting over joints, or wherever a plaster cannot conveniently be employed.
Emplastrum Belladonnae B.P.—BELLADONNA PLASTER.
Liquid extract of belladonna, 4; resin plaster, 5. Concentrate the liquid extract by distilling off the alcohol and evaporating on a water-bath, until the residue weighs 1; then add the previously melted plaster and mix. This preparation contains 0.5 per cent. of the alkaloids of belladonna root. Belladonna plaster relieves pain and diminishes secretion; it is applied in intercostal neuralgia, lumbago, and to relieve the pain due to adhesions following pleurisy. It is also applied to the cardiac region to relieve pain and palpitation. Belladonna plasters of suitable shape applied to the breast are said to decrease the secretion of milk; but there is reason to believe that non-medicated plasters would have the same effect. Cases of poisoning by absorption have arisen owing to the use of belladonna plaster over too large a surface.
Emplastrum Belladonnae Mitius, B.P.C.—MILDER BELLADONNA PLASTER.
Contains 0.25 per cent. of the alkaloids of belladonna root, and is less likely to produce poisonous symptoms than Emplastrum Belladonnae B.P. If this plaster be desired of a bright-green colour, chlorophyll may be added in sufficient quantity.
Extractum Belladonnae Alcoholicum, B.P.—ALCOHOLIC EXTRACT OF BELLADONNA.
Liquid extract of belladonna, 100. milk sugar, a sufficient quantity to make an extract containing 1 per cent. of the alkaloids of belladonna root. Alcoholic extract of belladonna is a yellowish-brown, slightly coherent powder. It is sometimes found in the form of a paste which tends to absorb moisture on exposure to air. Such extracts are made from liquid extract of belladonna prepared by modifications of the official process, which yield an undesirable amount of extractive, the presence of which is the more inconvenient because it displaces an equal weight of milk sugar. Only the powder form should be used in dispensing, on account of its greater permanency. When "Extractum Belladonnae" is prescribed it is customary to dispense Extractum Belladonnae Viride, except (in the case of prescriptions written since 1898) for the preparation of suppositories and pessaries, in dispensing which Extractum Belladonnae Alcoholicum should be used, as in the official formula for Suppositoria Belladonnae. Dose.—15 to 60 milligrams (1/4 to 1 grain).
Extractum Belladonnae Liquidum, B.P.—LIQUID EXTRACT OF BELLADONNA.
Belladonna root, in No. 20 powder, 256; a mixture of alcohol 7, and distilled water, 1, a sufficient quantity. Divide the drug into four equal portions. Moisten one portion with 48 of a mixture of 7 of alcohol and 1 of distilled water and set aside for six hours; pack firmly in a percolator, add 48 of the same menstruum and set aside for twenty-four hours; then percolate slowly, collecting the percolate in small portions, and adding more of the menstruum as required, Repeat the operation with a second portion, moistening the drug with the first 48 of percolate, and using as menstruum the liquid collected from the first percolator. Again repeat the process with the third and fourth portions, using the liquid from the second percolator to extract the third portion, and the liquid from the third percolator to extract the fourth. Collect 100 of the strong percolate from the fourth percolator, and standardise and adjust so that the finished product shall contain 0.75 per cent. of alkaloids. Liquid extract of belladonna has a deep sherry colour, a specific gravity of 0.917 to 0.925. and contains from 12 to 13 per cent. of total solids. Liquid extracts of a darker colour and containing a higher percentage of total solids are found in commerce. These are probably made by processes which yield more extractive than the official process, the drug being exhausted by percolation and the percolate concentrated by evaporation—thus causing a darkening in colour and possibly alteration of the alkaloids by the heat employed. Liquid extract of belladonna is used in the preparation of the official plaster, alcoholic extract, liniment, tincture and ointment of belladonna. A dose is not given, as on account of its powerful nature, it is only intended to be prescribed for internal use in the diluted form as Tinctura Belladonnae.
Fluidextractum Belladonnae Radicis, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF BELLADONNA ROOT.
Belladonna root, in No. 60 powder, is exhausted with a mixture of 4 of alcohol (95 per cent.) and 1 of water. The strong percolate is reserved, the weak percolate is evaporated at a temperature not exceeding 50° to a soft extract and dissolved in the reserved portion. The strength of the product is adjusted so that it shall contain 0.4 per cent. w/v of mydriatic alkaloids. Average dose.—5 centimils (0.05 milliliters) (1 minim).
Linimentum Belladonnae B.P.—LINIMENT OF BELLADONNA.
Liquid extract of belladonna, 50 camphor, 5; distilled water, 10; alcohol, sufficient to produce 100. Used as an anodyne application for lumbago, neuralgia, and rheumatic pains. Diluted with an equal quantity of soap liniment or compound camphor liniment it is rubbed over the painful part or applied on impermeable piline. It contains 0.375 per cent. of total alkaloids.
Linimentum Belladonnae, U.S.P.—BELLADONNA LINIMENT.
Camphor, 5; fluidextract of belladonna root, sufficient to produce 100.
Linimentum Belladonnae cum Chloroformo, B.P.C.—LINIMENT OF BELLADONNA WITH CHLOROFORM.
Chloroform, 1; liniment of belladonna, to 8: Specially suitable for close application to the skin on flannel or piline to relieve neuralgic pain.
Pessus Belladonnae B.P.C.—BELLADONNA PESSARY.
Each pessary contains alcoholic extract of belladonna, 12 centigrams (2 grains), For use in leucorrhoea and inflammatory conditions of the cervix uteri.
Suppositoria Belladonnae, B.P.—BELLADONNA SUPPOSITORIES.
Each suppository contains 1 ½ grains of alcoholic extract of belladonna (or 1/60 grain of the alkaloids of belladonna root) together with oil of theobroma. Belladonna suppositories are used to allay pain.
Tinctura Belladonnae, B.P.—TINCTURE OF BELLADONNA.
Liquid extract of belladonna, 1; alcohol (60 per cent.), to 15. The product should be yellow, not brown. It contains about 0.05 per cent. of total alkaloids. Dose.—3 to 10 decimils (0.3 to 1 milliliters) (5 to 15 minims). Larger doses are sometimes given.
Unguentum Belladonnae, B.P.—BELLADONNA OINTMENT.
Liquid extract of belladonna, 80; benzoated lard, 90. Reduce the liquid extract by evaporation on a water-bath to 10 by weight, and incorporate the lard. Belladonna ointment should contain 0.6 per cent. of total alkaloids. The ointment is applied over neuralgic areas to relieve pain; it is also applied to the anus in fissure to relieve pain and muscular spasm.

The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.