Gleanings in Materia Medica.


A new cotton plant. The account of which we published an abstract on page 116 of our February number, had been communicated by a correspondent residing in one of the Gulf States. From more recent correspondence we have become satisfied that a hybrid, as there described, between the cotton and okra plants has not been produced.

Herniaria glabra, Linné, is recommended by Zeissl in catarrh of the bladder; it is given in the form of infusion, 1 gram being used with the same quantity of Chenopodium ambrosioides, Linné, to 1 liter of boiling water. The addition of milk renders the infusion more agreeable.—Allg. Med. Ztg.

Herniaria belongs to the order Caryophyllaceae, tribe Paronychieae, and grows in sandy fields throughout the greater portion of Europe and Northern Asia. It is inodorous, has a saline, somewhat astringent and slightly bitter taste, and was formerly employed in dropsy, in diseases of the bladder and kidneys, and in hernia; it has long since fallen into disuse.

Conium maculatum, Linné.Lepage corroborates the observations made by Orfila, that the root of this plant contains very little alkaloid. During the spring and summer of the first year, the quantity of alkaloid was very minute, but in September the root contained a larger proportion than could be obtained from roots of the second year's growth.—Jour. Phar. Chim, Jan., 1885, p. 10.

Guaiacum Resin.—J. S. Ward examined three samples of this resin and reported his results to the Liverpool Chemists' Association, at the meeting held Nov. 6 last. Petroleum spirit had no solvent action. Alcohol dissolved 96.22, 92.96 and 87.28 per cent; ether took up 88.89, 89.91 and 84.12 per cent., and water between 3.00 and 4.66 per cent. The alcoholic and etherial extracts were found to be soluble in glacial acetic acid, and in liquor potassae, but only partly soluble in chloroform and in ammonia. Two samples of the resin yielded .299 and .334 per cent. of ash, consisting almost wholly of calcium salts, while the third sample, which had yielded least to alcohol and ether, and most to water, gave 6.55 per cent. of ash.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., Nov. 22d, p, 413.

Rasamalas.—Mr. E. M. Holmes states that the information obtained from Mr. Jamie seems to confirm Hanbury's statement that this liquid storax is not obtained from the rasamala tree, Liquidambar Altingiana, De Candolle. It is imported from Arabia and Persia, and is valued at $30 per picul (133 ⅓ pounds). It is used for scenting clothes and rampah-rampah (spiceries), and for rubbing over the body, also for swollen testicles. It is mostly sent from Bombay to Java. The black and white rasamalas seem to be identical, the latter being probably colored for the market.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., Dec. 20, 1884, p. 482.

Myroxylon Pereirae.—The volatile oil distilled from the fruit is described by Mr. E. M. Holmes as being almost colorless and of a sweet odor, recalling the fragrance of a field of beans in blossom. It is slightly altered by exposure to air, the odor approaching that of cedar, wood. A solution of the oil in rectified spirit separates a white precipitate. The oil seems well fitted for use in perfumery, as it is not exactly like any known perfume.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., Dec. 20, 1884, p. 483.

Abrus precatorius, Linné.—The structure of the seeds has been described by W. Tichomiroff in a paper read before the Russian Society of Physicians and Naturalists at Odessa. They contain oil and granular albuminoids, but neither aleurone nor starch, and in the parenchyma sometimes crystals of stearic acid or hesperidin. The testa is composed of four layers, viz., (1) Rods, colorless in the red part, but purple-violet in the black spot; (2) Palisade cells, branching and at the lower end folded and of small diameter; (3) Parenchyma, tangentially elongated; (4) Albumen the cells of the inner layer being flattened radially and at length coalescing into a homogeneous pellicle which cannot be decomposed into its separate cells by maceration in chromic acid, and which swells strongly in caustic potash. The hilum has two layers of rods, and the palisade cells are replaced by sclerenchyma. By chloride of iron the presence of tannin can be recognized in the albuminous layer and rods.—Pharm. Jour. and Trans., September 6. 1884.

Terminalia Chebula, Retzius.—The dried immature fruits furnish the Turkish drug "kara kalileh," the black myrobalans of old writers. They are shriveled black, hard, ⅓ to ¾ inch long, with a shining fracture and very astringent taste. Mr. Dickson states that the drug is a mild tonic laxative, in great repute among the Mecca pilgrims, probably because the had is tell them that the Prophet praised its virtues. It should be broken up into a coarse powder and swallowed, has a ligneous bitterish flavor, and in the dose of a drachm acts as a very mild laxative. The Indian Pharmacopoeia mentions the drug as combining mild purgative with carminative and tonic properties.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., Dec. 20, 1884, p. 483.

Chinese Rhubarb.—Mr. Wm. Elborne, Assistant Lecturer on Materia Medica, Owens College, states that Chinese or East Indian rhubarb consists of two varieties, of which one possesses the characteristic white lattice-worked venation with a red grained fracture, while the other possesses a longitudinal ramification of white veins with a black grained fracture. The first variety is referred by the author to Rheum palmatum, var. tanguticum, from which plant, the author believes, also the highly esteemed extinct Russian and Turkey varieties were obtained. The second variety is yielded by Rh. officinale, and agrees in all essential characters with the roots from this species cultivated by Rufus Usher, of Bodicote.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., Dec. 20, 1884, p. 497.

Sarcocephalus esculentus, Afzelius, s. Cephalina esculenta, Schumacher, nat. ord. Cinchonaceae, grows from Senegambia to the Gaboon, from 16° N. lat. to 5° S. lat., and is known in the Sousou tongue as "doundake," in the Toucouleur as "jadali," in the Bassa country as "dorg," and in Sierra Leone as "amelliky." The root is sometimes exported from West Africa under the name of peach root. Heckell and Schlagdenhauffen consider it valuable as an astringent and febrifuge and as a yellow dye.
The bark is sometimes mixed with the bark of Morinda citrifolia, Lin., M. longiflora, G. Don, and M. Doundakee, Heckel, the latter being regarded by Oliver as a variety of the second species. Doundake bark from Sierra Leone, when young, is grayish, smooth, somewhat fissured, and has small, hard, distant excrescences of a darker color; older bark becomes more blackish, the cracks multiply and the epidermis falls off as a reddish dust; the inner surface is ochrey yellow and striated longitudinally; the liber fibres separate easily in lamellae; the bark has a bitter taste and tinges the saliva yellow, while the corky layer is astringent only. Doundake bark from Boké (Rio Nuñez) differs in the absence of the blackish excrescences, the inner surface is of a darker yellow, the outer layer is less astringent and the liber is more bitter, but the anatomical structure is identical. The authors have not been able to obtain the alkaloidal principle indicated by Bochefontaine, Féris and Marcus, but have found the bitterness to be due to two nitrogenous coloring principles of a resinoid character, differing in their solubility in alcohol and water and having the formulas C28H19NO13 and C19H16NO9; the other constituents found are glucose, traces of tannin and a tasteless principle soluble in potassa. The morindas yield a bitter and astringent bark.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., Jan. 31, 1885, p. 614; Compt. Rend., C., 69.

Hedychium spicatum.—Nat. ord. Zingiberaceae.—The plant is a native of the Himalayas, and the rhizome is known in Hindoostan as kafur-kachri or kapur-kachri, and is kept dried in slices which are ½ to ⅜ inch in diameter and from ¼ to ⅜ inch in thickness. The transverse section is white and starchy and exhibits a large central portion, containing scattered minute vascular bundles, and separated by a faint line from the cortical portion. Externally the pieces are covered with a tough, wrinkled, reddish-brown epidermal layer. The taste is aromatic and slightly pungent The odor may be described as intermediate between storax and rhubarb.

A proximate analysis, made by John C. Thresh, gave the following results: soluble in petroleum ether 5.9, soluble in alcohol (indifferent substance precipitated by tannin, acid resin, etc.) 2.7, glucoside or sugar 1.0, mucilage 2.8, albuminoids and organic acid 1.9, starch 52.3, moisture 13.6, ash 4.6, cellulose, etc., 15.2 per cent.

The benzin extract yielded colorless, inodorous, tabular crystals which appear to be ethyl-methyl-paracoumaric acid, 2.9 parts of the extract consisted of fat with the odorous principle; a minute portion of this oily liquid dropped upon clothes renders them highly odorous for a considerable length of time, the odor recalling that of hyacinths.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., Nov. 8, 1884, p. 361.

The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 57, 1885, was edited by John M. Maisch.