Materia Medica of the New Mexican Pharmacopoeia.

Related entries: M. Ph. Materia Medica: part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5 - part 6 - part 7 - part 8 -
Related entries: M. Ph. Pharmaceutical preparations part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4


The "Sociedad Farmaceutica de Mexico," published a national pharmacopoeia in 1874, and a second revised edition of this work appeared last year in the Spanish language under the title of "Nueva Farmacopea Mexicana de la Sociedad Farmaceutica de Mexico," the revision having been entrusted to a permanent commission consisting of Professors Alfonso Herrera, Francisco Gonzalez, Jose M. Laso de la Vega, Severiano Perez and Dr. Manuel S. Soriano.

It is a handsome octavo volume, the first 32 pages of which are occupied with a historical introduction and an explanation of the arrangement of the work. Then follow 16 pages of preliminary matter, containing various tables, the most important of which for our purpose are the tables of weights and measures. All pharmaceutical preparations being made by weight, a comparison of the medicinal weights will serve to show the great difference between the values attached to the same signs used in prescriptions in Mexico and in the United States.

Mexican weights.
lb i = ℥ xvi = gr. 9216 = gm. 460.24
℥ i = ʒ viii = gr. 576 = gm. 28.76
ʒ i = ℈ iii = gr. 72 = gm. 3.60
℈ i = gr. 24 = gm. 1.20
gr. i = gm. 0.05
United States weights.
lb i = ℥ xii = gr. 5760 = gm. 373.24
℥ i = ʒ viii = gr. 480 = gm. 31.10
ʒ i = ℈ iii = gr. 60 = gm. 3.89
℈ i = gr. 20 = gm. 1.30
gr. i = gm. 0.065

The Mexican measure of capacity, the cuartillo, is nearly 4 per cent. smaller than the American pint, the former being 456.00 cc., the latter 473.18 cc. The cuartillo, like the American pint, is subdivided into 16 fluidounces (onzas medidas), the American fluidounce (29.57 cc.) being about 1 cc. larger than the Mexican onza medida (28.50 cc.); the latter is further subdivided into 8 fluidrachms, and these into 3 fluid scruples.

The second part treats, upon 94 pages, upon the crude drugs derived from the vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms; and this is followed by the pharmacopoeia proper (Farmacopea propriamente dicha), which is divided into two parts, the chemical products (112 pages) and the pharmaceutical preparations (96 pages), with 3 pages of supplement and appendix. The index alone covers 72 pages, and is divided into six separate parts, the Spanish, French, English, Mexican (and several other idioms) and Latin references, and an index of authors mentioned in the work. A lengthy list of typographical corrections, covering more than four pages, completes the book.

The text is printed in rather small but clear types, set closely, and is arranged in double columns in alphabetical order of the Spanish names of the subjects. The natural products (crude drugs) are treated of more or less extensively under the following sub-headings, following the names with the vernacular synonyms, botanical origin and natural order: habitat, part used or mode of preparation, physical characters, varieties, chemical composition, adulterations, common and special uses in medicine, therapeutics, the arts or for economic purposes, as well as incompatibles and antidotes. The chemical products and pharmaceutical preparations are treated of in a somewhat similar manner, the process of manufacture being given somewhat in detail.

It will be observed that the Mexican Pharmacopoeia partakes in reality more of the character of a dispensatory than of a medical and pharmaceutical law-book. This becomes also evident from the very large number of drugs admitted, some of which are stated to be little used, like brusco (Ruscus aculeatus), opopanax, and others which have become obsolete in most civilized countries. While obviously the materia medica list enumerates a large number of drugs, which are well known here and elsewhere, it is of particular interest for the large number of vegetable products of Mexican origin which have been admitted, and to these we propose to pay special attention in the following brief review.

Abanico, Celosia cristata, Lin., nat. ord. Amaranthaceae, the cockscomb cultivated in our gardens, grows in the Sierra de Huauchinango, and is popularly used in decoction of the leaves as an antiblennorrhagic.

Abelmosco, Hibiscus Abelmoschus, Lin., nat. ord. Malvaceae, furnishes the musk seeds of commerce, which are used as a perfume, and in the form of decoction as an emmenagogue and as an antidote to snake bites. The root is used medicinally as an emollient.

Abrojo de tierra caliente, Tribulus terrestris, Lin., nat. ord. Zygophyllaceae; indigenous to Yucatan. The root and seeds are commonly used for their tonic, stimulant and aperient properties, and a decoction of the leaves and stem, in the form of baths, against articular rheumatism. Taken internally the decoction of the leaves and root has a diuretic action.

Acedera, Rumex Acetosa, Lin., nat. ord. Polygonaceae, is somewhat employed as a diuretic.

Aceite de Abeto is the turpentine obtained from Pinus religiosa, Humb. et Bonpl, nat. ord. Pinaceae. The tree grows in the mountains surrounding the valley of Mexico and in other parts of the republic. The turpentine is viscous, nearly colorless, ultimately greenish yellow, has a lemon-like odor and a bitter, acrid and aromatic taste, dissolves incompletely in alcohol and mixed with one-tenth of calcined magnesia, acquires in about two days a pilular consistence. It contains volatile oil, extractive and resinoid matter, and abietic and succinic acids. It is procured by puncturing by means of a little tube the vesicles in which it is secreted in the bark. Ocote turpentine from Pinus Teocote, Schlechtendal, is frequently substituted for it, but differs materially in its physical properties.

Acíbar, Aloe. Socotrine, hepatic (also called opaque socotrine), Cape and Barbadoes or Jamaica aloes are recognized. Socotrine aloes is stated to be superior to the other varieties, but Cape aloes is mostly employed in Mexico. Several species of aloe growing in Mexico might probably be used for obtaining this drug.

Acónito, Aconitum Napellus, Lin., nat. ord. Ranunculaceae. According to Oliva this plant grows in the sierra between Mazatlan and Durango; the variety delphinoides has been described by De Candolle as being peculiar to Central America. The leaves are the only part employed in Mexico

Acxoyatic, Ipomoea muricata, Kunth, nat. ord. Convolvulaceae, grows on the hills of Tacubaya and other places of the valley of Mexico. The root is rich in resin and is employed as a purgative.

Achicoria dulce, Sonchus oleraceus and S. ciliatus, Lin., nat. ord. Compositae; abundant near the City of Mexico. The root is commonly used as a tonic, and the leaves for their emollient and galactagogue properties.

Achiotillo, Bixa Orellana, Lin., nat, ord. Bixaceae, grows in hot localities. The leaves are popularly used as a purgative, and the seeds as an antidote to Manihot aesculifolia, Pohl. From the seeds the dye stuff annato, achiote, is prepared, which is regarded as an antidysenteric. But the plant and its products are rarely used by physicians.

Adormideras, Papaver somniferum, Lin., nat. ord. Papaveraceae; the capsules are used.

Agallas de Lavante, nutgalls. Under the name of borregos de encina the lanuginous galls of the evergreen Mexican oaks are popularly used as hemostatics; they are produced by the sting of Cynips Quercus baccarum.

Agarico blanco, white agaric; used as a drastic and against profuse sweating of consumptives.

Agarico yesca, spunk; used surgically. Boletus igniarius is stated to be more commonly used in Mexico than B. fomentarius.

Agrimonia Eupatoria, Lin., nat. ord. Rosaceae; our agrimony, grows also in Mexico. It is used as a mild astringent in the form of infusion or decoction in the proportion of 20:1000.

Aguacate, Persea gratissima, Gaertner, nat. ord. Lauraceae, grows in the temperate and warm regions of Mexico, producing the varieties vulgaris, oblongo, microphylla and Schiedeana. The pulp of the fruit was found by Betancourt to contain various fats, chlorophyll, malic and acetic acids, various salts, glucose, gum and starch. The seeds contain yellow volatile oil, mannit, green bitter resin, starch, little tannin, fat, gum, etc. Betancourt found also amygdalin and synaptase, yielding hydrocyanic acid, and in the epicarp soft acid resin, aromatic principle, tannin, etc. The leaves and fruit have the reputation of being emmenagogue, and according to Hernandez, are believed by the vulgar to increase the spermatic secretion and to be useful in suppurating wounds and sores. A decoction of the leaves like the powdered bark is employed as an antiperiodic. The pericarp enjoys considerable reputation as a vermifuge in the dose of Gm. 8 to 10, taken fresh, or Gm. 4 to 6 in the dry state; this property probably resides in the resin. The mesocarp is edible and the juice of the seed is used as an indelible ink for clothes. The fruit is known in the West Indies as alligator pear.

Other species indigenous to Mexico are Persea drymifolia, Schiede, known as aguacate olorosa, P. amplexicaulis, Sch., P. pachipoda, Ehrenb., known as aguacate cimarron, P. Ligue, Sch., and P. butyracea, Sch., known as pagua.

Aguamiel, the juice of different species and varieties of Agave is yellowish or whitish, mucilaginous, frothy, acidulous and sweet, of an herbaceous odor and a density varying between 1.025 and 1.046. Rio de la Loza found in it sugar 9.55, gum and albumen 0.54, salts 0.73 per cent., the remainder being water, some resinous and albuminous matters, etc. Boussingault found 2.65 levulose, 6.17 sugar, 0.35 malic acid, etc. The juice is used for the manufacture of sugar and of a tolerably good vinegar; its reputed medicinal properties are antiscorbutic and antiblennorrhagic.

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