On Phytolaccae Radix.

Botanical name: 


From an Inaugural Essay

A quantity of the root was coarsely powdered and treated with benzol until the last of the percolate left no residue upon evaporation. This extract was allowed to evaporate spontaneously, treated with 80 per cent. alcohol, which removed coloring matter and a small amount of resin. The part insoluble in alcohol was a dark brown oil, which, upon being mixed with potassic hydrate and sodium chloride, formed a saponaceous mass; the oil dropped on paper left a permanent greasy stain. Benzol extracted about .8 per cent., of which .4 per cent. was oil.

The root, after treatment with benzol, was completely exhausted with 95 per cent. alcohol; this extract was concentrated by distilling off the greater portion of the alcohol, and, upon standing, deposited a considerable quantity of colorless crystals, which had a saline and cooling taste; the crystals obtained as pure as possible, heated on platinum foil, fused to a colorless liquid, and congealed again on cooling. They were neutral to litmus paper, dissolved freely in water, but only slightly in alcohol, imparted a violet color to the flame, arid proved to be potassium nitrate.

The concentrated alcoholic extract has a sweetish, then acrid taste and an odor similar to that of conium leaves. This extract is of a dark reddish-brown color by transmitted light, and of a beautiful green by reflected light It was carefully evaporated to, dryness, treated with absolute alcohol, specific gravity .793, and filtered. The filtrate was evaporated to dryness, treated with water, filtered and the filtrate precipitated by solution of subacetate of lead; the precipitate was collected on a filter and washed with water, then suspended in water and the lead removed by passing sulphuretted hydrogen gas into it and filtering, the filtrate was boiled to drive off sulphuretted hydrogen. This solution gave a blueish-black coloration with a solution of ferric chloride, and a whitish gelatinous precipitate with gelatin, showing the presence of tannin. The portion soluble in water, but not precipitated by solution of subacetate of lead, was freed from lead and tested for alkaloids and glucosides. By adding iodo-hydrargyrate of potassium to the solution a whitish precipitate formed, and upon adding a solution of iodine and iodide of potassium to another portion of the solution it gave a reddish precipitate; These tests indicate the presence of an alkaloid.

The extract insoluble in water was treated with diluted hydrochloric-acid, which removed such a small quantity that it could not be examined. The mass insoluble in diluted hydrochloric acid, when treated with diluted ammonic hydrate, was entirely dissolved; hydrochloric acid added to this solution caused a precipitate, showing it to be an acid resin; it has a very acrid taste.

The portion insoluble in absolute alcohol was treated with water, in which it was entirely soluble. To this liquid a solution of subacetate of lead was added; the precipitate was collected on a filter, washed and freed from lead. This solution consisted of some coloring and-extractive matter. The filtrate was freed from lead. and tested for alkaloids, glucosides and sugar, but none could be detected excepting sugar.

Alcohol added to a decoction of the root gave a jelly-like precipitate, showing the presence of gum. An aqueous solution of iodine-and iodide of potassium gave the reaction for starch.

On incineration, the root yielded 10.73 per cent. of ash, of which 66.35 was soluble in water, 24.96 per cent. soluble in hydrochloric add, and 6.71 per cent. consisting of silica, soluble in hot solution of sodic hydrate, the rest being sand. The ash contained potassium, calcium and iron, combined with chlorine, sulphuric and phosphoric-acids.

According to this analysis poke root contains the following organic-principles: Gum, starch, sugar, tannin, fixed oil, coloring matter, acid resin, and possibly an alkaloid, the exact nature of which has not been ascertained.

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