Gleanings in Materia Medica.


Myroxylon peruiferum, Lin. F.—From this tree of tropical America a balsam, similar to balsam of Peru, and by a similar treatment, may be obtained, as was ascertained by Th. Peckolt. Its specific gravity at 17°C. was 1.031; its odor was pleasant, between that of benzoin and vanilla. When compared with true balsam of Peru, the balsam obtained from M. peruiferum exhibits the following differences:

M. Pereirae. M. peruiferum.
Taste warming to the tongue; then burning the throat; bitter and aromatic; odor agreeable, like vanilla. Taste slightly pungent, but not warming; aromatic and astringent; odor aromatic.
Yields a volatile oil when distilled with water. Gives only traces of a volatile oil.
Mixes with chloroform in all proportions. Acts in the same manner, but deposits a powdery precipitate on standing.
Dissolves in six parts of 90 per cent. alcohol, and gives, after a time, a fawn-colored deposit. Soluble in 90 per cent. alcohol in all proportions, and forms no deposit.
Ether, benzin and petroleum spirit dissolve only the yellow oil (cinnamein). Insoluble in these three liquids.
Bisulphide of carbon only partially dissolves it, giving a yellow solution. Bisulphide of carbon partially dissolves it, forming a clear light brown solution.
Castor oil takes up 15 per cent. Mixes with castor oil in all proportions.
Equal volumes of balsam and concentrated sulphuric acid mixed give a stiff mixture which, kneaded with water, yields a brittle resin, which is not sticky when pressed between the fingers. The same treatment causes the formation in twelve hours of a gelatinous mass of a reddish-black color which, kneaded with water, colors it dirty green; the mass, after washing, is sticky, and of greasy consistence.

In many points the balsam from the wood of M. peruiferum agrees with balsam of Peru, and the author thinks it could for many medicinal purposes replace that more expensive drug, and might be distinguished in commerce as Brazilian balsam. He states that he has used it with remarkable success as a balsam for wounds and in the treatment of scabies. (The fact of its mixing readily with castor oil in all proportions would give it an advantage over the balsam of Peru for use in stimulating pomades.)—Phar. Jour. and Trans., April 2, 1881.

Erythrina corallodendron, Lin., a medium sized spiny leguminous tree of tropical America, is employed in asthma and cutaneous diseases as a mild laxative, diuretic, etc.; the bark and leaves, also the flowers are used. In Brazil the tree is known as "mulungu." Rochefontaine ("Compt. Rend.," xciii, p. 733) obtained some reactions rendering the presence of an alkaloid probable, for which the inappropriate name erythrina is suggested; the aqueous extract employed hypodermically was found to decrease the functions of the central nervous system, and the bark seems to possess sedative properties.

Cont'd on next page.

The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 53, 1881, was edited by John M. Maisch.