Gleanings in Materia Medica.


An adulteration of Senega Root, with about 15 per cent. of the root of Ionidium Ipecacuanha has been noticed in France by Charbonnier. The latter root, which is one of the so-called false ipecacuanhas of Brazil, is greyish-white, in pieces about 5 to 6 centimeters long, and of the thickness of a goose quill; it is irregularly undulate, branched below, and above has small remnants of the ligneous stems; it is strongly wrinkled longitudinally, and irregularly fissured transversely; the bark is thin and adheres firmly to the thick meditullium, which is of a yellowish color.—Jour. Phar. Chim., 1883, Jan., p. 40.

Delphinium Consolida, Lin.—E. Masing obtained from 5 kilos of the dried flowering herb about 1 gram of alkaloid, for which he proposes the name calcatripine, derived from flores calcatripae, under which name the flowers were formerly officinal. The alcohol dissolved in one thousand parts of acidulated water, gave precipitates with the various group reagents for alkaloids; tannin yielded a faint turbidity after 24 hours; mercuric chloride, ammonium molybdate, and potassium bichromate had no effect. Sulphuric acid, sp. gr., 1.84 gave a red brown color, changing to violet brown, and after 24 hours to grey-brown. Fröhde's reagent colored olive green, becoming gradually deeper, then fading to grey-yellow. Sugar and sulphuric acid gave a red-brown color, slowly changing to greenish blue. Sulphuric acid followed by nitric acid or a nitrate, causes the red-brown color to change to orange-red, then orange-yellow, and finally golden yellow. The alkaloid, which was not quite pure, is soluble in alcohol, ether and chloroform, and appears to be easily decomposed by chemical agents.—Phar. Zeitschr. Russ., 1883, W. 3.

Jequirity.—The seeds which have been recently introduced under this name as a remedy in opthalmic complaints, are derived from Abrus precatorius, a leguminous plant, indigenous to Africa and Southern Asia, and naturalized in tropical America. The hard seeds have a bright red integument with a black spot surrounding the raphe. They are used in Oriental countries for ornaments and similar to beads; in Brazil they have been highly valued for several centuries in the treatment of certain diseases of the eyes, an infusion being made of 32 powdered seeds (about 3 gm.), which are macerated for 24 hours with 500 gm. cold water, after which 500 gm. of hot water is added, and, when cooled, the liquid is filtered.

The results obtained by L. de Wecker, show that this infusion produces conjunctivitis purulenta or cruposa as rapidly as inoculation, and that with due care, the desired inflammation may be well regulated. The experiments have not been concluded yet, and the active principle of the seeds is still unknown; an alkaloid prepared by Rigand & Dusart, did not give similar good results, whether used by instillation or subcutaneously.—Phar. Centralhalle, 1883, p. 145. Klin. Mon. F. Augenheilkunde.

Pongamia glabra.—Nat. Ord. Leguminosae is a tree extensively diffused throughout Southern India, Malacca and the Indian Archipelago, and also found in Southern China and North Australia. It has smooth, imparipinnate leaves, composed of 5 or 7 egg-shaped or broadly elliptical leaflets, and loose axillary racemes of flowers. In India all oil called pongamia or kurung oil is expressed from the seeds and is described in most works on Hindu materia medica as being a favorite remedy amongst the natives for various skin diseases. The oil is of a deep yellow color, inclining to reddish-brown, and is fluid at temperatures above 60°F., but below that it becomes solid. Surgeon-Major Dymock, of Bombay, has recently called attention to the use of pongamia oil in pityriasis versicolor. Several cases occurring on the neck, face and shoulders were cured in less than a fortnight by rubbing in the oil twice a day. He concludes that it is likely to be of service in other skin diseases which, like pityriasis, are attended by the growth of a fungus. Dr. Dymock considers this oil much more effective than acetic acid, while it has the advantage over iodine and Goa powder of not discoloring the part (often the face) to which it is applied. Dr. Thin has recently stated that sulphur ointment is an admirable remedy for ringworm, but pongamia oil might be used in cases where the disease is of a recurrent character.—Wm. Elborne, in Phar. Jour. and Trans., 1883, Feb. 24th, p. 688.

Constituents of Kino.—A. Kremel has examined Malabar kino, Butea gum, Eucalyptus kino, and kino from Coccoloba uvifera, and found them all free from kinoin discovered by Etti, (see Amer. Jour. Phar., 1872, p. 600); instead of a body acquiring like kinoin, a red color with ferric chloride, protocatechuic acid was obtained, alone or mixed with gallic acid.

The presence of pyrocatechin in kino has been observed by Eichstedt, Flückiger, and others (see Amer. Jour. Phar., 1872, p. 210). Preusse ascertained that pyrocatechin is extracted by ether from an alkaline solution, while for the extraction of protocatechuic acid, the solution requires to be acidulated. Following this process, Kremel proved the absence of pyrocatechin from the above named varieties of kino; the ether residue was amorphous, insoluble in hot water and the alcoholic solution without action on ferric chloride. But from the acidulated solution of Malabar and eucalyptus kino, ether took up a crystallizable body, of acid reaction which in aqueous solution, like pyrocatechin was colored green by ferric chloride; sodium bicarbonate added to this caused a violet color; the crystals were, therefore, protocatechuic acid.

Butea gum and coccoloba kino treated in the same manner yielded crystals of neutral reaction, becoming green by ferric chloride, but on the further addition of sodium bicarbonate, ferric hydrate was precipitated. The nature of these crystals could not be determined for want of material.

The different kinds of eucalyptus kino examined, yielded from ether, besides protocatechuic acid, also a body the aqueous solution of which acquired after the addition of sodium carbonate, gradually an emerald green color, which on the addition of hydrochloric acid turned red and finally became decolorized; these reactions prove the presence of gallic acid.

On preparing kinic red by Etti's process from eucalyptus kino, extracting the product with ether, fusing it with caustic potassa, dissolving in water, acidulating and extracting with ether, Kremel obtained considerable amount of protocatechuic and gallic acid.—Phar. Post, 1883, No. 11.

Mullein Leaves in Pulmonary Consumption.—The leaves of Verbascum Thapsus are popularly used in Ireland, in consumption, and the plant in addition to growing wild, is cultivated in gardens, occasionally on a rather extensive scale. The mullein is administered by boiling an ounce of the dried leaves or a corresponding quantity of the fresh ones, in a pint of milk for ten minutes, and giving the strained liquid warm, with or without a little sugar. From his observations, Dr. F. J. B. Quinlan regards mullein as having a distinct weight-increasing power in early cases of pulmonary consumption. The hot decoction causes a comfortable sensation, and when patients take it they experience a physiological want for it. It eases phthisical cough, some patients scarcely requiring cough medicines at all. Its power of checking phthisical looseness is very marked, and it also gives great relief to the dyspnea; but for phthisical night sweats it is utterly useless. In advanced cases it does not prevent loss of weight.

The decoction in milk is liked by the patient; in watery infusion it is disagreeable, and the expressed juice preserved by glycerin still more so.—Brit. Med. Jour.

Assay of Nux Vomica.—W. R. Dunstan and F. W. Short, have found the following process a satisfactory one: One part of nux vomica is made into a paste with a solution of two parts of crystallized sodium carbonate, the mixture dried over a water-bath and powdered; the powder equal to five grams of nux vomica is packed in a suitable extraction apparatus and exhausted by 40 cc. of chloroform containing 25 per cent. of alcohol. This is usually accomplished in one or two hours. The solution thus obtained is well agitated with 25 cc. of a 10 per cent. solution of sulphuric acid. The separation of the chloroform is much aided by gently warming the mixture on a water-bath. After repeated agitation the chloroform is separated by means of a funnel and again shaken with 15 cc. of dilute sulphuric acid. The mixed acid solutions from which all the chloroform has separated, should be filtered if necessary, then made alkaline with ammonia and shaken with 25 cc. of chloroform in a separating funnel; the clear chloroform solution is evaporated over a water-bath to a constant weight and then weighed. The amount of mixed alkaloids thus obtained from five samples was 2.92, 3.57, 3.32, 3.38, and 2.56 per cent.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., 1883, Feb. 17, pp. 665, 666.

Colchicine has been obtained well crystallized by Dr. S. Zeisel. In a communication to the Austrian Academy of Sciences the author states that the crystals were obtained from a chloroform solution; the solvent adhering persistently to them, it is not impossible that the crystals may be a compound with chloroform, though their aqueous solution possesses all the characteristic properties of colchicine.

In preparing colchiceine from colchicine, the author obtained a new base, apocolchiceine, which has both basic and acid characters. It may be obtained in larger quantities, besides methyl chloride, on beating colchiceine with hydrochloric acid; and on increasing and continuing the heat, another substance is obtained having acid properties.—Phar. Post., 1883, W. 10.

Formic and Acetic Acid in Plants.—From a series of experiments made with thirty-five plants belonging to different groups, Emil Bergmann concludes that these two acids are constantly present in the protoplasm of the different parts of plants, those containing chlorophyll, as well as those which are free from it; that most likely propionic, butyric and other volatile fatty acids are likewise widely distributed in the vegetable kingdom; and that these acids are formed as products of decomposition from certain constituents of the vegetable protoplasm in growing plants.—Chem. Centralblatt, 1883, W. 1.2.

The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 55, 1883, was edited by John M. Maisch.