Chemical and Pharmacognostical Notes.
Euphorbia pilulifera.—Dr. C. C. Baker, of New Mexico, reports in the "Therapeutic Gazette," for January, 1884, his use of this plant in two cases of asthma. The results in both were very prompt and satisfactory. This tropical weed has been long used in aphthae and as an alterative. As far as may be judged from the sensible properties, the virtues of the plant are probably not superior to those of the closely allied indigenous weeds Euph. maculata and hypericifolia. A western species, Euph. humistrata, Engelmann, appears to be in popular use in some localities as a remedy for bowel complaints.
Hazigne.—In the "Journal de Pharmacie" for June (p. 456) Professor H. Baillon describes a Malagasy plant called "hazigne," the fruits of which yield an oil, and the stem a resin, which are used by the natives as a remedy in certain skin diseases, such as leprosy, the itch and ulcers. The oil obtained from the seeds is also used as food and for lamps. The hazigne is a handsome tree belonging to the Guttiferae, and is named Symphonia fasciculata. The fruit is known to the natives by the name of "voa-sou-vouara." Some of the seeds are now being submitted to chemical analysis by Messrs. N. J. Regnaud and Villejean.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., June, p. 1048.
Phaseolus limatus, Lin..In the "Practitioner" (p. 435) it is pointed out that the Pois d'Achery, a sort of kidney bean (Phaseolus limatus, L.), cultivated in the Mauritius and used there as an occasional article of diet by the Creoles, exists in the form of two varieties; the one white, which is generally esteemed wholesome, and the other very prettily variegated, which is regarded as poisonous. The poisonous character of the latter is due, according to Drs. Davidson and Stevenson, to hydrocyanic acid, which is formed when the beans are macerated in water by a similar process to that by which it is produced in certain plants of the Rosaceae, such as the almond and cherry laurel. The reason why two varieties of a plant which cannot be distinguished from each other by any definite botanical characters should produce different chemical compounds is a most interesting problem, and seems to deserve further investigation.—Ibid.
Croton morifolius.—A Mexican plant, by name "palillo," has recently been the subject of experiment in France, by Messrs. Dugees and Armendaris ("Bull. Soc. Bot." , v., p. 233). Two or three drops of the oil contained in the seeds act like a moderate dose of castor oil. The natives of Mexico use the leaves of the plant in the form of infusion as a remedy for gastralgia and atony of stomach. The tincture of the leaves is said by the above-named experimentalists to give excellent results in neuralgia, especially when occurring in the face, either when used as liniment, or dropped into the ears, or taken in the dose of 10 or 15 drops in orange-flower water.—Ibid.
Sizygium jambolanum is an East Indian plant belonging to the natural order Myrtaceae, the fruit of which has recently been somewhat in demand on the Continent for use in the treatment of diabetes. M. Banatrala ("Repertoire de Pharmacie," p. 169) has found, in three cases in which he has tried it, that its use led to a diminution in the amount of urine secreted, and that it caused the disappearance of the sugar. These results were manifested in forty-eight hours after taking the medicine. During the time that the patients were submitted to the action of the drug they could take amylaceous food with impunity. The astringent rind of the fruit appears to be the active part.
Matico-camphor.—A specimen of matico-camphor (from Piper angustifolium), examined by K. Kügler ("Ber." , pp. 2841-2843, had the odor and taste of matico-leaves, and melted between 89° and 103°. After repeated crystallizations, it melted at 94°, the mother-liquors containing a yellow amorphous resin. Matico-camphor exhibits a rotatory motion on the surface of water; it is not attacked by aqueous alkalies, is readily soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, benzin, and light petroleum. The pure substance lacks both taste and odor. In contact with hydrochloric acid, it assumes an intense violet color, which changes to blue and then to green, the compound yielding brown crystals from ether, showing green fluorescence, and having an ethereal odor. With sulphuric acid, it becomes yellow, then red, and finally violet. With sulphuric and nitric acids, it assumes first a yellow, then a violet, and finally a blue color. Matico-camphor has the formula C12H20O; it is, perhaps the ethyl-derivative of ordinary camphor.—Ibid.
Mannitol in the ananas.—In the course of the analysis of ananas from Pernambuco and Brazil, L. Lindet ("Bull Soc. Chim." , pp. 65-66) isolated crystals of mannitol; the quantity obtained was equal to more than 1 per cent. of the fresh fruit. The identity of the crystals with mannitol was established by combustion, crystalline form, solubility, and absence of rotatory and cupric oxide reducing power.