Acacia Catechu. Catechu, Cutch, Terra Japonica.

Botanical name: 

Description: Natural Order, Leguminosae. Genus ACACIA: Flowers polygamous; calyx four to five-toothed, tubular; petals five, generally distinct. Stamens eight to two hundred, exsert. Legume one-celled, two-valved. Leaves once or twice pinnate. A. CATECHU: A tree fifteen to twenty feet high; branches spreading, armed with strong black spines, downy toward the points. Leaves bipinnate, alternate, of from ten to eighteen pinnae; leaflets of pinnae thirty to fifty pairs, linear, auricled at the base, ciliated; petiole angular, grooved above, downy, with orbicular green glands between the bases of. the pinnae. Flowers in cylindrical, axillary spikes, on downy stalks, from four to five inches long, numerous, monopetalous, white or whitish yellow, and about twice as long as the tubular, hairy calyx. Stamens twice the length of the corolla, very numerous, distinct. Ovary glabrous, oval, on a very short stipe, terminating in a single style of the length of the stamens. Legume flat, linear, thin, straight, smooth, brown, pointed, about six inches long by three-fourths of an inch broad. Seeds six or eight, roundish.

This plant is a native of the East Indies, but is now common in some of the West Indies. Its chief value is for the extract which has long been prepared from it in Hindostan, and sold under the names of terra japonica, catechu, cashow, roath, cutch, etc. It is obtained by separating the redwood from the alburnum, cutting the former into chips, boiling in earthen pots, and evaporating slowly in the sun upon a thick mat smeared with the ashes of cow dung. It appears in market in irregular flat pieces, brownish, brittle, and of a specific gravity about 1.2. The light- brown variety is the best. Soluble in hot water, quickly so in alcohol, sparingly in cold water. It contains much tannin and some mucilage.

Properties and Uses: The extract is a powerful astringent without any material stimulation. It is applicable in excessive and passive relaxations of mucous membranes where there is no inflammation, as in some cases of chronic dysentery, leucorrhea, and gleet. When there is excitement, its use would be a misapplication. It is used as an injection in uterine and hemorrhoidal bleedings; and in epistaxis as a snuff. As a local application it is sometimes employed in thrush, elongated palate, venereal ulcers, and scurvy of the gums. It is an article that will disappoint the practitioner if he attempts to rely upon it alone in any local affection above named; but if seconded by a judicious constitutional regimen, its qualities fit it for usefulness in the conditions of extreme relaxation mentioned. The dose averages twenty grains.

Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. The powder is applied to ulcers, though a solution of the extract in hot water is a general mode of exhibition as gargle, drink, and injection.

II. Troches are sometimes made by mixing it with equal quantities of gum Arabic and sugar, and molding in the usual way.

III. A Tincture is formed by putting three ounces of the extract to a quart of diluted alcohol, and flavoring with two ounces of cinnamon. The dose is a fluid drachm or more in simple syrup.

IV. A Salve may be made by incorporating one ounce of catechu with one ounce of white resin, one ounce of beeswax, and ten ounces of sweet oil—powdering the first two articles and adding them to the others at a gentle heat. It is useful in weak, scrofulous, and semi-indolent ulcers; also in all wounds and bruises.

The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at