Gleanings in Materia Medica.


Coloring of Cinchona bark with ammonia.—Thomas and Guignard noticed a cinchona bark, the liber fibres of which were of a pale yellow color, while the porous tissue was of a deep red, and which yielded infusions considerably more tinged than the infusion of good cinchona bark. The decoctions of both barks filtered when cold, yielded with Nessler's reagent precipitates, which were white from normal cinchona bark, and brown red from the suspected bark. On treating the two barks with diluted hydrochloric acid, decolorizing with animal charcoal, precipitating with platinic chloride and igniting the precipitates, that obtained from normal bark yielded .174 gm. platinum from 1 gm. of the precipitate, while the one obtained from the suspected bark yielded .220 gm. Pt. The chloroplatinate of cinchonine and isomers gives .178 gm., that of quinine and isomers .168 gm., but the chloroplatinate of ammonium .441 gm. of platinum; the above results, therefore, prove the presence of ammonia. A yellow or pale cinchona bark may be colored red by treatment with ammonia, the tannin being converted into cinchonic red.—Rép. de Phar., 1882, p. 337.

Cinchona succirubra trees in Ceylon that have been "shaved," are infested by a beetle which has been identified as the male of a species of Lucanus, greatly resembling the common European stag beetle. The insect appears to pierce the new bark and feed upon the resinous juice which exudes through the wound.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., March 31, 1883. Trop. Agriculturist.

The digitalin-group.—The compounds having an action similar to that of digitalin are arranged by Schmiedeberg thus:

  1. Crystalline glucosides:
    1. Digitalin, very sparingly soluble in water; from the leaves and fruit of Digitalis purpurea.
    2. Antiarin, very sparingly soluble in water; from upas antiar, the milkjuice of Antiaris toxicaria.
    3. Helleborein, freely soluble in water; from the root of Helleborus niger, viridis, and foetidus.
    4. Euonymin, sparingly soluble in water; from Euonymus atropurpureus.
    5. Thevetin, soluble in 124 parts of water; from the seeds of Thevetia nereifolia and Cerbera Odallam.
  2. Not glucosides, in part crystalline:
    1. Digitoxin, quite insoluble in water; from the leaves of Digitalis purpurea.
    2. Strophantin, soluble in water; in the Kombé arrow poison of West Africa, from Strophantus hispidus.
    3. Apocynin, almost insoluble in water; from the root of Apocynum cannabinum.
  3. Glucosides not crystallizable, very sparingly soluble in water:
    1. Scillain, from the bulb of Urginea Scilla.
    2. Adonidin, from Adonis vernalis.
    3. Oleandrin, from the leaves of Nerium Oleander.
  4. Amorphous glucosides, very soluble in water, resembling saponin:
    1. Digitalein, from the fruit and probably other parts of Digitalis purpurea.
    2. Neriin, probably identical with digitalein, from the leaves of Nerium Oleander.
    3. Apocynein, from the root of Apocynum cannabinum.
    4. Convallamarin, very like digitalein from Convallaria majalis.
  5. Parts of plants not previously investigated.
    1. Tanghinia venenifera, the fruit.
    2. Neriodorin and neriodorein, from the bark of Nerium odorum.
    3. Upas of Singapore, contains, besides a strychnaceous principle, a principle which acts like antiarin.
  6. Substances which besides other actions, possess the action of digitalin:
    1. Erythrophloein, freely soluble in water; from sassy bark Erythrophloeum guineense.
    2. Phrynin, from the glandular secretion and dried skin of the toad, Bufo viridis and B. cinereus.

London Med. Record.

Other tomes: King's

Minjak-Lagam or Lagam-Balsam, according to Dr. De Vrij, was first introduced into Rotterdam in 1854, from Padang in Sumatra. It closely resembles copaiba in appearance, and yields a considerable amount of levogyre volatile oil boiling between 245° and 252°C, the boiling point rising finally to 290°. The resin is dextrogyre and on treatment with nitric acid yields an uncrystallizable very bitter substance. The plant from which it is derived is unknown; it appears that the oleoresin varies somewhat in its properties.

G. Haussner examined a lagam-balsam, which was a thick liquid, of a peculiar aromatic odor and a bitterish, lastingly acrid taste. In reflected light it was of a dingy green, in transmitted light yellowish and transparent; its solutions were likewise fluorescent. It was readily and completely soluble in alcohol, ether, benzol, chloroform, and carbon disulphide. Mixed with strong sulphuric acid, sulphurous acid was given off and the color changed to purplish red, brown, and black. On distillation with water about 33 per ct. of volatile oil was obtained, which on rectification in carbonic acid gas, boiled between 249° and 251°, was colorless, levogyre 9.9°, and possessed a not disagreeable aromatic odor and burning taste; on oxidation it became yellow. From the ultimate analysis and the density of its vapor, its composition was determined to be C20H32. A crystalline compound of the formula C20H324HCl was obtained on treating the oil with dry hydrochloric acid gas.

The resin was inodorous, hard, yellow, soluble in alcohol and ether. A portion of it is soluble in potassa solution and yields a copper salt having the formula C7H12O3Cu. The portion insoluble in alkali was treated with melted potassium hydrate, when butyric, acetic, and formic acids were obtained; also phenols or aromatic acids which could not be determined for want of material.

Minjak-lagam balsam evidently shows considerable analogy to both copaiba and gurjun balsam, and differs from the latter mainly by the resin-acid, which could not be crystallized.—Archiv d. Phar., April, 1883, 241-255.

The active principle of Piscidia Erythrina or Jamaica dogwood, has been isolated by Edward Hart. A pound of the fluid extract was well mixed with 30 grams of quicklime previously made into a thick paste with water; after digesting for half an hour the liquid was filtered, and water was added to the filtrate until it became slightly turbid; after 2 or 3 days crystals of the principle, for which the name piscidin is proposed, separated accompanied with resinous substance. By adding more water a second crop of crystals still more impure can be separated. The crystals are purified by recrystallization from alcohol. The resinous matter precipitated by water retains a small portion of piscidin, of which, the author thinks a pound of the fluid extract contains about one gram.

Elementary analysis led to the formula C29H24O8. Piscidin crystallizes in nearly colorless prisms, melts at 192°C., is insoluble in water, slightly soluble in cold, much more in boiling alcohol, slightly soluble in ether, easily soluble in benzene and chloroform. It dissolves in cold concentrated hydrochloric acid, and is reprecipitated apparently unchanged, by dilution with water. It dissolves in cold sulphuric acid, and separates again by addition of water, but it dissolves no longer easily in alcohol. Boiling with acids causes no separation of sugar. The alcoholic solution is neutral to testpaper, and not precipitated by acetate of lead.—Amer. Chem. Jour., April, 1883, 39.

The coloring matter of black grapes and red wine, according to E. J. Maumené, is produced by the oxidation and probably hydration of a colorless compound. When the berries just beginning to turn red are placed in a vacuum over sulphuric acid, the color changes to yellow, but on admitting moisture and oxygen, both are rapidly absorbed and the color changes to blue-black.—Compt. Rend., xcv., 925.

Cannabine Tannate is highly recommended by Fronmüller as a mild and efficient hypnotic, which leaves no symptoms of intoxication and does not produce constipation, but like opium it must be given in increased doses when used for some time. It is described as a yellowish brown powder, insoluble in water and ether, scarcely soluble in alcohol, of a not unpleasant odor and of a bitterish astringent taste; under the microscope it is seen to form amorphous pointed plates. The process for its preparation is not given, but is said to be tedious and difficult owing to its ready decomposition; but it is stated to be permanent and not to lose its activity after being mixed with sugar.

On distilling hemp with water a volatile oil is obtained, consisting of cannabene and cannabene hydride, the latter being poisonous and of an unpleasant odor and taste; it is not a constituent of the cannabine tannate.—Archiv d. Phar., Jan., 1883, p. 51, Memorabilien.

Mesembrianthemum crystallinum.—H. Mangon found in the dried leaves of the ice plant 43 per cent. of salts of potassium and sodium, and calculates that a hectare would be capable of yielding 863 kilos of potassium carbonate.—Ibid., xcvi, 80.

Ledum palustre.—The crystalline stearopten from the volatile oil of this plant was obtained by Grassmann (1831) and farther examined by Trapp (1869) and Ivanov (1876), who obtained different results as to its composition. Hjelt and Collan have recently prepared this ledum camphor and obtained from plants grown in comparatively dry soil only a minute quantity of it and no volatile oil, while the fresh plant from wet localities yielded .7 per cent. of oil, including camphor. The latter recrystallized from alcohol is nearly inodorous and its ultimate analysis lead to the formula C24H44O2, which comes near that ascertained by Trapp. The camphor melts at 101°C., and crystallizes well from benzol, also by sublimation, when it is obtained in long white needles. —Berichte, 1882, p. 2500.

Mustard oil in the seeds of Cruciferae.—V. Dircks determined the following percentage quantities of mustard oil: black mustard seed-cake, 1.39; rapeseed from .018 to .037; rapeseed cake, .020 to .109; yellow mustard seed-cake, .018; turnip seed, .038; seeds of Sinapis arvensis .006. The quantity of oil decreases apparently with the age of the rape seed-cake, but whether this is due to a decomposition of the ferment or of the myrosin, the author is still engaged in determining.—Jour. Chem. Soc., 1883, p. 245, 246. Landw. Vers. Stat., xxviii, 179-200.

Ivy berries.—The fleshy part of the fruit contains, according to A. Jandous, 70 per cent. of water; a dark red coloring matter soluble in alcohol and water, turned greenish by ammonia and light red by hydrochloric acid; a greenish yellow resinous matter, sweet at first, but afterwards sharp and bitter; also grape sugar, gum, albumin and mineral matters. The seeds contain albumin, inorganic matter and a fat oil with a characteristic herbaceous and irritating taste, precipitated by lead acetate, and slightly by lime water, and colored green by ferric chloride. The poisonous properties of the fruit are neither due to the resinous matter in the pulp, nor to the oil in the seeds.—Ibid., 499. Chem. Centr., 1882, p. 806.

The leaves of Fraxinus excelsior, Lin.—W. Gintl and F. Reinitzer found in the aqueous decoction of these leaves calcium malate and tannin, with smaller quantities of mannite and inosite, and still smaller quantities of quercitrin, dextrose, gum, and free malic acid. Fraxitannic acid is amorphous, yellow-brown, brittle, in powder golden yellow, deliquescent to a yellow-brown shining mass. It is insoluble in benzene, chloroform, and anhydrous ether, readily soluble in alcohol, acetic acid, ethyl acetate, and water, and precipitated from the latter solution, like other tannins, on saturation with common salt, but not by tartar emetic. Lead acetate gives a fine golden yellow precipitate easily soluble in acetic acid, becoming brown-green on exposure to the air and at the same time less soluble in acetic acid. Ferric chloride causes a brown-green color and precipitate, changing to blood-red by alkaline hydroxide, carbonate, or acid carbonate, the colors becoming dingy on exposure. Mercuric chloride causes a slight precipitate of calomel; warming it with alkaline cupric solution throws down cuprous oxide; heated with dilute acids or baryta water, no glucose is yielded. Dried in a vacuum at ordinary temperature its composition is C13H16O7, and after heating to 100°C. in a stream of carbonic anhydride C26H30O12, this anhydride being only slightly soluble in hot water.

A minute quantity of volatile oil was obtained, which had a strong and very pleasant odor like that of syringa flowers; it boiled at 175°C. and had the Composition C10H20O2.—Jour. Chem. Soc., 1883, p. 216-219. Monatsh. Chem. iii, 745-762.

Constituents of Turmeric.—Jackson and Menke have continued their investigations on curcumin (see Amer. Jour. Phar., 1882, p. 388) and studied the products obtained by the action of nascent hydrogen and bromine. Oil of turmeric was obtained by light petroleum and purified by fractional distillation under diminished pressure; the fraction boiling below 193°C., consisted of turmerol and petroleum hydrocarbons and the second fraction of turmerol, C19H28O; a viscous semi-solid residue was left. Turmerol is pale yellow, of a pleasant aromatic odor, spec. grav. .9016 at 17°C., dextrogyrate, readily soluble in the ordinary solvents except water, and boils under ordinary pressure at 285-290°C., but decomposes at the same time. It is an alcohol, and by action of a hot solution of potassium permanganate in excess is oxidized to terephthalic acid.—Amer. Chem. Jour., iv, 360-374.

Oil of Erechtites consists, according to F. Beilstein and E. Wiegand, almost exclusively of terpenes, boiling between 175° and 310°F.

Oil of Erigeron canadense contains mainly a terpene C10H16 which after distillation over sodium, boils at 176°C., has the spec. grav, .8464 at 18°C., and forms a crystalline dihydrochloride C10H162HCl, which melts at 47 to 48°C.

Oil of Marjoram.—The first fractions are a terpene C10H16, boiling at 178°, of spec. grav. .8463 at 18.5°C., and forming a liquid monohydrochloride. The fraction boiling between 200° and 220°C., has the composition C15H16O, and is not affected by long continued boiling with metallic sodium.—Berichte, 1882, p. 2854.

The protein compounds of milk.—The statement made by Kemmerich, concerning the formation of casein from albumin, led Schmidt-Muehlheim to undertake a series of experiments, the result of which was that on digesting fresh milk at 40°C (104°F) for from 6 to 24 hours, albumin was not changed in the least, but casein decreased in quantity, on an average 4.17 per cent. in 6 hours, 9.45 per cent. in 8 hours, and 16.5 per cent. in 24 hours. This casein was converted into peptone, the increase of which over that contained normally in milk was proven colorimetrically by cupric sulphate and comparison with peptone solution of known strength. In order to obtain the peptone in a suitable condition for this examination, it was found necessary to remove the albuminoids not by boiling, but by precipitation in the cold by means of table salt and acetic acid; and the milk sugar by precipitating the peptone with phosphotungstic acid and dissolving the precipitate in caustic soda. Fresh milk contains between .08 and .19 per cent. of peptone, which by digestion was increased to .33 per cent.

The conversion into peptone ceases after boiling the milk, but is not interfered with by the addition of salicylic or carbolic acid.—Chem. Cent. Bl., 1883, p. 246. Pflüg. Archiv.

The Effect of Chemicals on the reaction of Diastase upon Starch has been studied by Professor W. Detmer, who observed that the conversion of starch is greatly accelerated by the presence of carbonic acid. Minute quantities of citric acid (.0001 to .005 gm. added to 25 cc. of 1 per cent. starch paste and 5 cc. malt infusion) have likewise an accelerating effect, increasing with the amount of acid, until a certain percentage is reached beyond which the process becomes more .sluggish, and by still larger amounts of acid is entirely suspended. Analogous effects were likewise observed with phosphoric and hydrochloric acid; but a relatively large proportion of carbolic acid may be added, without materially affecting the formation of sugar, which is prevented, however, by an excess of the compound mentioned. An extremely faint alkaline reaction diminishes the conversion of starch, and a few drops of concentrated solution of potassa prevents it entirely; but in the presence of a large proportion of starch paste and at an elevated summer temperature, the mixture often acquires an acid reaction through the influence of numerous schizomycetes. The chemicals mentioned above, without the presence of diastase, do not produce the conversion of starch in the same time in which the ferment effects it completely.

A very convenient test for ascertaining the progress of this process is found in the behavior of iodine solution, which colors unaltered starch paste, blue; but as the conversion into sugar proceeds, the addition of iodine will successively cause a violet, dark red, yellowish red, and finally, scarcely any coloration.—Zeitschr. Physiol. Chem. vii. 1-6. (See also, Am. Jour. Phar., 1883, 292-296.)

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