Staphisagriae Semina, B.P. Stavesacre Seeds.

Botanical name: 

Stavesacre seeds (Staphisagria, U.S.P.) are obtained from Delphinium Staphisagria, Linn. (N.O. Ranunculaceae), a herb indigenous to Asia Minor and Southern Europe and cultivated in France and Italy. The dried, ripe seeds are brown, when fresh, changing to a dull, earthy colour on keeping; obscurely quadrangular or triangular in shape, with a reticulated and pitted surface. The minute embryo is embedded in a large, whitish, oily endosperm, which is intensely bitter and acrid, the seed-coats being tasteless. The drug has no odour. It yields from 10 to 13 per cent. of ash.

Constituents.—The seeds contain several alkaloids, amounting altogether to about 1 per cent. Of these the most important are delphinine, delphisine, and delphinoidine; staphisagroine occurs in minute proportion only, while the alkaloid formerly known as staphisagrine appears to be a mixture. Delphinine, C31H49NO7, forms rhombic crystals which decompose at 120° before the melting-point is reached; it is easily soluble in benzene, chloroform, ether, or absolute alcohol; it is intensely toxic, acting chiefly upon the respiration and circulation. Delphisine is isomeric with delphinine; it is also crystalline and closely resembles delphinine, but is about twice as toxic. Delphinoidine is amorphous and much less toxic than delphinine. Stavesacre seeds also contain about 20 to 25 per cent. of fixed oil; when this is expressed from the seeds the greater part of the alkaloids, including practically all the delphinine, are also removed.

Action and Uses.—Stavesacre seeds are used chiefly in the form of ointment and lotion to destroy pediculi. This action is resident in the expressed oil, from which an ointment may also be prepared by mixing with 7 parts of benzoated lard. Delphinine resembles aconitine in its physiological action. It has been given internally in doses of 1 milligram (1/60 grain) in neuralgia and asthma. Applied to the skin it produces tingling and numbness, and an ointment (2 per cent.) has been used for neuralgia.

Dose of stavesacre seeds.—3 to 6 centigrams (½ to 1 grain).


Lotio Staphisagriae, B.P.C.—STAVESACRE LOTION. Syn.—Nursery Hair Lotio. 1 in 10.
Employed as a lotion for children's hair, being used to kill pediculi and their ova. It should be applied daily.
Unguentum Staphisagriae, B.P.—STAVESACRE OINTMENT.
Stavesacre seeds, 20; yellow beeswax, 10; benzoated lard, 85. Digest the previously crushed seeds with the lard for two hours on a water-bath, strain, press through calico, add the beeswax, dissolve by the aid of gentle beat, and stir until cold. Stavesacre ointment is used as a parasiticide to kill pediculi capitis et pubis.

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