Gleanings in Materia Medica, cont'd.
Olea fragrans, Thunberg, and Forsythia suspensa, Vahl, two Japanese oleaceae, according to J. F. Eykman, contain a new glucoside, C26H32O11, which crystallizes in colorless silky needles, is insoluble in ether and petroleum, and sparingly soluble in cold water, from which solution it is not precipitated by lead and other mineral salts. By oxidation with chromic acid it yields a compound having the odor of vanillin, and by boiling with acids it is decomposed into glucose and a substance of phenolic properties, the latter being readily soluble in alcohol and ether, sparingly soluble in water and insoluble in petroleum benzin.—Jour. Chem. Soc., 1886, p. 1040.
In its physical properties the new glucoside resembles phillyrin, C27H34O11, the composition and properties of which were investigated by Bertagnini in 1860, but which had been used by Carboncini since 1825 as a febrifuge. The latter had at first regarded it as an alkaloid; in 1836 he published the process by which he obtained it from the bark of the South-European species of Phillyrea. This process consists essentially in preparing a decoction, adding lime, exhausting the sediment with alcohol, decolorizing and crystallizing.
Rubus Chamaemorus, Lin., known as cloudberry, is indigenous to Canada and the White Mountains, to Northern Asia and Northern Europe. The amber-colored fruit is of a pleasant acidulous taste. The pubescent and wrinkled leaves are about 1 ½ , inch long and 2 inches broad, reniform in shape, roundish five-lobed and crenately dentate, have an unpleasant sweet, afterwards bitter taste, and are popularly used in Siberia in various urinary complaints. Recently (Russk. Med., 1886) the leaves have been recommended by Dr. Ivan Troitzky, of Smolensk, as an excellent diuretic in dropsies, in the form of infusion prepared from a drachm of the bruised leaves by digestion with a cupful of boiling water; this quantity is taken morning and evening for about a month; the taste is stated to be not very unpleasant (Hah! that taste is major yuck. -Henriette), and the patient to become habituated to this tea.
Cassia alata, Lin.—The leaves we recommended by Conillebault (Thèse, Paris, 1886) for giving prompt relief in ringworm; they are moistened with water and the affected parts are then rubbed: or an acetic extract of the leaves may be used.
In India the plant is regarded as a cure for poisonous bites and for venereal eruptions, and the leaves have long been used for curing ringworm. Lindley describes the leaves as being 2 feet long, abruptly pinnate. Leaflets opposite, from 8 to 14 pairs, the exterior largest, linear-oblong, obtuse or emarginate, with a point, smooth, entire, veined; 3 to 6 inches long, 2 to 2 ½ inches broad; the lower pair somewhat distant, newly round and reflexed back on the stem or branches. Petioles channelled, the channel large and formed by two thin firm yellow borders. There is a cross-bar between each pair of leaflets, covered with small dark-colored bristles, and them is no other gland. Stipules auriculate, rigid, pointed, persistent, appearing like prickles.
The plant is shrubby like Cassia Sophora, Lin., the leaves of which are similarly employed. Cassia Tora, Lin., an annual of Southern Asia, is reputed to have similar antiherpetic properties; likewise Cassia occidentalis, Lin., which is common throughout the tropics, has been naturalized in the Southern United States as far north as Virginia, and is known in some localities as styptic weed.
Astringent qualities of Heuchera and Mitella.—F. W. Anderson reports (Botan. Gaz., 1887, p. 65,) that the roots of Heuchera hispida, Pursh, H. cylindrica, Douglas, and H. parvifolia, Nuttall, are much used in the west by hunters, prospectors and others as astringents, particularly in cases of troublesome diarrhea caused by the drinking of water in alkali regions. H. parvifolia is the commonest species in Northern Montana. Of milder and somewhat slower action is the root of Mitella pentandra, Hooker, which contains also a bitter principle, and is not likely to cause sudden constipation like the heucheras.