Savin consists of the young shoots of Juniperus Sabina, Linn. (N.O. Coniferae), a small evergreen shrub indigenous to Southern Europe, but cultivated in England. It is official in the U.S.P. The leaves of savin are opposite, alternate, and each provided with a large, depressed, dorsal oil gland. On the younger twigs they are small (2 millimetres), rhomboid, appressed, and often adnate to the stem; the older twigs (and sometimes also the young) bear longer, subulate, spreading leaves. Fruits small, baccate, drooping. Odour, when crushed, strong and characteristic; taste, bitter, unpleasant and acrid. Juniperus Phoenicea, Linn., which is often substituted in France for J. Sabina, may be distinguished by the spiral arrangement of the leaves; the latter also contain large sclerenchymatous cells, which are not found in those of J. Sabina. It yields an oil which may be distinguished from that of J. Sabina by its lower dextrorotation (+4° against +40° to +60°), lower total sabinol content (17 against 48 to 51 per cent.), and lower ester content (9 against 36 to 47 per cent.).
Constituents.—The drug contains from 2 to 4 per cent. of volatile oil, together with tannin and resin.
Action and Uses.—The properties of savin are those of its volatile oil. Internally it is a powerful gastro-intestinal irritant, causing in large doses gastro-enteritis, haematuria, and congestion of the pelvic organs. It is employed in small doses as an emmenagogue, acting reflexly by its irritation during excretion, but it must be given with caution. The volatile oil is given on sugar, the tincture in mixture form. Externally, savin ointment was formerly employed as an irritant to promote discharge from ulcers and blisters.
Dose.—3 to 6 decigrams (5 to 10 grains).
- Tinctura Sabinae, B.P., 1885.—TINCTURE OF SAVIN.
- Savin tops, dried and coarsely powdered, 12.5; proof spirit, sufficient to produce 100. Tincture of savin has been given as an emmenagogue, but is rarely employed. Dose.—1 ½ to 4 mils (20 to 60 minims).
- Unguentum Sabinae, B.P., 1885.—SAVIN OINTMENT.
- Fresh savin tops, bruised, 4; yellow beeswax, 1.5; benzoated lard, 8. Melt the lard and beeswax together on a water-bath, add the savin, and digest for twenty minutes; then remove the mixture from the water-bath, express through calico, and stir until cold.