Kamala consists of the glands and hairs covering the fruits of Mallotus philippinensis, Müller Arg. (N.O. Euphorbiaceae), a small tree widely distributed through India and the Malay archipelago. It is collected chiefly in Orissa, Bengal, and Bombay. The small three-celled capsular fruits are densely covered with a reddish-brown powder, easily detached by rubbing; this powder, freed from mechanical impurities by sifting, constitutes the drug. It occurs as a fine, mobile, dull reddish-brown powder, without odour or any marked taste. It consists of minute garnet-red glands with which are associated nearly colourless tufts of hairs. Examined under the microscope the glands, which vary from 40μ to 100μ in diameter, have a depressed-globular shape and contain a varying number (thirty to sixty or more) of radiately arranged, club-shaped cells, embedded in a dark red resinous mass surrounded by a thin cuticle. The resin is soluble in alcohol, ether, and chloroform, and in solution of potassium hydroxide, but not in water. The hairs are thick-walled, pointed and curved, and are arranged in radiating groups of from two to ten or more. If quite pure, kamala yields on incineration traces of ash (about 1.0 per cent.), but commercial kamala of good quality yields from 3 to 10 per cent. The drug is often grossly adulterated. Its quality may be roughly judged by throwing a little on to the surface of water, when such adulterants as sand, and ferric oxide, will sink, whereas kamala floats. Dyed starch may easily be detected by microscopical examination, which will also reveal such debris of leaves, etc., as may be present. Ground safflower which has been substituted for kamala may also be distinguished by the same means. Waras, or wurrus, is a substance similar to kamala, obtained from Flemingia congesta, Roxb. (N.O. Leguminosae), a large shrub growing in India and Africa. It is a dark, dull, purplish powder, and consists of single (not grouped) hairs and dark glands; in the latter the secreting cells are arranged in tiers and not radiately. Waras contains a dark red resin, an orange-brown resin, an orange-red crystalline substance flemingin, and small quantities of a yellow crystalline substance, homoflemingin. These principles resemble those of kamala, but are not identical with them. Like kamala, it is largely used in India as a dyestuff, dyeing silk a golden-yellow.
Constituents.—The chief constituent of kamala is rottlerin, a substance which crystallises in thin salmon-coloured plates; the drug also contains yellow and red resins, wax, and a yellow, crystalline substance. So-called isorottlerin appears to be impure rottlerin.
Action and Uses.—Kamala, is employed as an anthelmintic against tapeworm. It produces free purgation and is usually very efficacious, expelling the worm. The powder may be given mixed with honey, gruel, or treacle, or made into a draught with mucilage of gum acacia and water. No purge need be given after the powder.
Dose.—2 to 8 grammes (30 to 120 grains).