Gleanings in Materia Medica.

Wisteria chinensis, Lin. A poisonous glucoside has been isolated from the bark of this ornamental climber by Ottow (Nieuw Tijdschr., 1886, p. 207), and has been named wistarin. It is freely soluble in alcoholic liquids,, sparingly soluble in ether, chloroform and cold water, is colored violet and green-brown by ferric chloride, and dissolves in alkalies and alkali carbonates with a yellow color, and in sulphuric acid with a yellow color changing to cherry red. Wistarin has a bitter and astringent taste, melts at 204° C., is not precipitated by tannin, yields a white precipitate with basic lead acetate and a green one with copper sulphate, and on being boiled with dilute sulphuric acid is decomposed into sugar, a crystalline resin ,and a volatile oil having the odor of menyanthol; this oil when treated with warm potassa solution is converted into a white compound of a coumarin-like odor.

The bark contains also a resin having apparently toxic properties.

Spiraea Filipendula, Lin., is a perennial herb the tuberous roots of which were formerly used in excessive secretion of mucous glands, and over fifty years ago were recommended in hydrophobia. Recently a Polish physician, Dr. F. I. Jagell, stated that he had successfully used the bark of this plant in the form of infusion, in 88 cases where persons had been bitten by rabid dogs or wolves, 26 of the patients having already exhibited the early symptoms of hydrophobia.

The root has not been fully analyzed, but is known to contain tannin, sugar and starch, and in the fresh state also a volatile oil, which is probably identical with that of the stem and leaves, this consisting of salicylic aldehyde.

Boldoglucin. Dr. René Juranville has given in his graduation thesis the experiments and results with this glucoside, the preparation and properties of which were described in the AMER. JOUR. PHAR., 1884, p. 580. On account of its strong odor, boldoglucin cannot readily be given in the form of mixtures; but it was best administered to insane patients enclosed in gelatin capsules or by means of clysters. In doses of 1.5 to 4.0 gm. it produced a decided hypnotic effect, and occasionally cessation of the hallucinations; but these as well as sleeplessness returned on discontinuing the use of the remedy. Though it cannot supplant other reliable hypnotics, it appears to be useful in certain forms of insomnia.

Action of caffeine and theine. Léven in 1868, showed that theine produced convulsions in frogs, while caffeine did not; and that the lethal dose of theine was larger than that of caffeine. This is confirmed by the experiments on frogs, made by Dr. Thos. J. Mays, from which the following conclusions are drawn:

Theine and caffeine agree in the following—

  1. They first affect the anterior extremities.
  2. They diminish respiration.
  3. They produce hyperaethesia during the latter stage of the poisoning process.

They differ in the following —

  1. Theine principally influences sensation, while caffeine does not.
  2. Theine produces spontaneous spasms and convulsions, while caffeine does not.
  3. Theine impairs the nasal reflex early in the poisoning process, while caffeine does not, if at all, until in the very last stage.
  4. The lethal dose of theine is larger than that of caffeine—Therap. Gazette, September '86.

Orthosiphon stamineus, Bentham, s. Ocymum grandiflorum, Blume, is indigenous to India, Java and the Nicobar and Philippine Islands. The pale green leaves have purplish petioles and veins, and on both sides of the blade prominent oil glands. Dr. Van Itallie (Phar. Zeitung, 1886, p. 376) obtained from the dried leaves a small quantity of volatile oil and of a crystalline glucoside. This orthosiphonin has a bitter and afterward sweet taste, is freely soluble in absolute alcohol, less soluble in weak alcohol and in chloroform, almost insoluble in absolute ether, and is precipitated by plumbic subacetate, but not by the acetate or by tannin. It does not contain nitrogen.

The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 59, 1887, was edited by John M. Maisch.