Gleanings in Materia Medica.


Digitalin, according to Ph. Lafon, (Archives de Phar. 1887, p. 32), is not altered by diastase, pepsin, gastric juice, pancreatic juice, bile, yeast, emulsin or in contact with putrefying substances, and therefore, cannot be altered in the digestive canal; but after it has entered the circulation it appears to be oxidized. Alkalies and mineral acids, with the exception of nitric acid, do not interfere with the detection of digitalin but this is destroyed by nitric acid.

Cannabis indica has been experimented with by Dr. J. Roux, (Archives d. Phar. 1887 p. 1) the preparations having been made by Duquesnel. The drug was exhausted with alcohol, and the alcoholic extract was freed from matters soluble in water which were inert; the remaining green mass was then treated with petroleum benzin and with ether. Of the three extracts thus obtained, that made with ether produced insignificant results. The petroleum extract was found to be excitant and convulsivant, and in the dose of a gram produced coma and in 11 or 12 hours death of the animal. The alcoholic extract has narcotic properties, but its action is uncertain, if small doses are given.

Formation of solanine in potatoes.—Thus far, this alkaloid has been obtained only from potatoes while unripe or during the time of sprouting. Dr. Geo. Kassner, of Breslau, reports (Zeitschr. f. Nahrungs Unt. u. Hygiene, 1887, p. 22,) that he succeeded in proving its presence and isolating weighable quantities from potatoes which had been injured, and had afterwards been kept for some time in a cellar. In such cases the wound becomes covered with a kind of scurf, beneath which dark colored spots and stripes are usually observed in the white tissue, and the potato has generally a disagreeable taste. It has not been ascertained whether under this circumstance the presence of solanine is due to the vital functions of the tuber, as is the case while sprouting, or whether it must be referred to the action of the fungoid mycelium appearing upon the wound, and regarded as a decomposition product of the nitrogenated constituents of the potato. It would be of interest to ascertain whether the different varieties of cultivated potatoes will always generate solanine under the conditions mentioned above.

Commercial Jalapin has been examined by Edmund White, (Phar. Jour. and Trans., Feb. 12, 1887, p. 651,) who found seven samples to contain between 3.5 and 7.3 per cent. of ether-soluble resin, while an eighth sample was completely soluble in ether, and was probably derived from Tampico jalap. The moisture present in the samples which were in powder and nearly white, amounted to between 2 and 5 per cent., and the alcohol-soluble resin, between 87.8 and 94.8 per cent.

Commercial jalap resin was likewise examined, six samples yielding the following results:

7.8 sol. in ether, 88.2 sol. in alcohol, trace sol. in water.
7.2 99.2 none
8.4 72.4 16.6
77.8 16.6 3.1
25.6 72.0 trace
46.0 50.4 none

The ether-soluble resins were in all cases plastic and tenacious. Only two of the six resins correspond to the requirements of the pharmacopoeia.

Valeriana Hardwickii, Wallich.—An analysis has been made of the rhizome of this East Indian plant, by J. Lindenberg (Dorpat Pamphl.—Phar. Zeits. Russl. 1886), and compared with one of Val. officinalis, Lin. The direct determination of valerianic acid, total albuminoids, and total water soluble substances gave for the former 1.37, 11-06 and 28-59 per cent. respectively, and for the officinal drug 1.21, 9.38 and 24.88 per cent. The results of the quantitative analysis were:

V. Hardw. V. officin.
Moisture 10.46 11.57
Ash 4.04 4.31
Fat and resin, soluble in petroleum-benzin 0.56 0.36
Volatile oil and valeric acid, sol. in benzin 1.005 0.90
Volatile acid soluble in ether 0.335 0.31
Resin and wax soluble in ether 0.56 0.85
Resin soluble in alcohol 1.05 0.975
Tannin 3.13 1.64
Citric, tartaric and other acids . 0.335 0.566
Glucose 6.03 5.32
Other substances, sol. in water, insol. in alc. 14.96 14.39
Mucilage and albumin sol. in water 4.16 2.97
Albuminoids extracted by soda 9.72 7.83
Metarabic acid, phlobaphene and albuminoids 19.10 16.70
Starch 14.05 12.87
Cellulose 10.36 11.65
Lignin and other compounds 10.015 16.80

Butea frondosa, Roxburgh.—The seeds have been analyzed by Nikolai Waeber, (Dorpat Pamph.—Phar. Zeits. Russl. 1886.) The seeds are flat about ½ inch long, 1 inch broad and inch thick; testa dark reddish brown, veined; hilum projecting; cotyledons broad, leafy, veined; radicle small; taste somewhat bitter. Alkaloids and glucosides were not found. The results of the analysis were: moisture, 6.62; ash, 5.14; fat, 18.20, wax soluble in ether, 0.25; albuminoids soluble in water, 9.12, soluble in soda, 1.95, and insoluble in water and soda, 8.49; substance apparently nitrogenated, soluble in alcohol, 0.82; mucilage, 2.28; glucose, 6.87; organic acids, 4.00; other substances soluble in water, 2.16; metarabic acid and phlobaphen 10.10; cellulose, 3.80, and other insoluble substance, 22.20 per cent.

Ulexine.—The alkaloid discovered by Gerrard in Ulex europaeus, Lin., has been experimented with by Dr. Pinet (Arch. Physiol., 1887.) It produces convulsions resembling those following nicotine, then sleepiness and cessation of respiration; it appears to affect the nervous, but not the muscular system. It is not an antidote to strychnine, its effects being rapidly produced, but not lasting. See also AM. JOUR. PHAR. 1886, p. 491.

Asclepias currasavica, A. incarnata and Vincetoxicum officinale were found by C. Gram (Chem. Centr. 1886, p. 735) to contain a glucoside, asclepiadin which is readily soluble in water, sparingly soluble in alcohol, and is easily converted into the less active asclepin. Harnack's asclepiadin which appears to be identical with Feneulle's asclepin, was obtained from the herbaceous portion of A. currasavica. The root of vincetoxicum yielded asclepidin, but no asclepin. Of two commercial resinoids of A. tuberosa that prepared by Parke, Davis & Co. consisted of asclepin with a small quantity of a substance having a tetanic action; while that prepared by Keith & Co. was a mixture, of asclepiadin, asclepin and asclepion, the latter being a constituent of vincetoxicum and of milkweed.

Mutisia viciaefolia, Cavanilles.—This plant is stated by Mr. Naudin (Jour. d'Hygiene, 1886), on the authority of Dr. Sace of Cochabamba, Bolivia, to enjoy the reputation of curing phthisis and all pulmonary diseases. The plant is indigenous to the western part of South America from Chili to Peru, and belongs to the labiatifloral compositae which are confined chiefly to South America, and the leaves of which are usually mucilaginous, somewhat bitter, and occasionally more or less aromatic. A number of species are locally used as expectorants.

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