Dulcamara consists of the stems and branches of Solanum Dulcamara, Linn. (N.O. Solanaceae), a shrubby plant with long climbing stems, common in the hedges and thickets of England. The stems are gathered when the plants are about two or three years old. They are then cut into short pieces and dried. The drug occurs in commerce in short cylindrical pieces about 6 millimetres in diameter. They are of a light green or brownish-yellow colour, glabrous, bear alternate scars, and are longitudinally furrowed and wrinkled. The outer layer is glossy and can easily be removed by scraping, disclosing a greenish cortex. The stems are usually hollow in the centre and the wood of old pieces exhibits annual rings. The odour is slight, the taste at first bitter, then sweet.
Constituents.—The chief constituent of dulcamara is the amorphous glucoside dulcamarin, to which the bitter-sweet taste is due. The drug also contains the glucosidal alkaloid solanine. Dulcamarin yields on hydrolysis dulcamaretin and sugar, whilst solanine yields solanidine and rhamnose.
Action and Uses.—Dulcamara was formerly a popular remedy for chronic rheumatism and for obstinate skin eruptions. A fresh infusion or decoction is made of a strength of 1 ounce of the herb to ½ pint of water, the dose being a wineglassful two or three times daily. An extract and a liquid extract (1 in 1) have been used abroad. The latter is given in doses of 2 to 4 mils (30 to 60 minims).
- Infusum Dulcamarae, B.P.C.—INFUSION OF DULCAMARA. 1 to 10.
- Used as a mild sedative and hypnotic, but its value is doubtful. Dose.—30 to 60 mils (1 to 2 fluid ounces).