Carota.—Wild Carrot.

Botanical name: 

Preparation: Carrot Poultice

The root and fruit of Daucus Carota, Linné.
Nat. Ord.—Umbelliferae.
COMMON NAME: Wild carrot.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 135.

Botanical Source.—Wild carrot is a biennial herb, with a slender, yellowish, aromatic, spindle-shaped and sweetish root. Its stems are 2 or 3 feet high, round, branched, erect, furrowed, leafy, hairy, or bristly. The leaves are alternate, on broad, concave, ribbed footstalks, bipinnate, cut, narrow, acute, and distantly hairy; the leaflets are linear and acute. The flowers are small, white or cream-colored, except the one central, neutral flower, which is blood-red. The umbel terminate the long, leafless branches, and are solitary, large, dense, concave, and many-rayed. The general involucre is pinnatifid, slender, and large, though not so long as the umbel; the partial involucre is undivided, or partly 3-cleft, and membranous at the edges; the petals 1 5 in number, are obovate and emarginate, with an inflected point. Fruit small, oval, somewhat compressed, and pale dull-brown; the half-fruits or mericarps with the 5 primary ridges, filiform and bristly, the 3 middle ones at the back, the lateral on the plane of the commissure; the 4 secondary equal, more prominent, winged, and split into a single row of spines. The vittae are solitary in the channels below the secondary ridges (L.—W.—G).

History.—Wild carrot is indigenous to Europe, and is extensively naturalized in this country, growing in old fields and by roadsides, flowering from June to September. By cultivation it becomes somewhat changed, as in the garden carrot. The root of the wild variety, and the seeds of both kinds are employed.

Description.—CARROT SEEDS. The seeds or mericarps are oval, with plano-convex surfaces, slightly ciliated, and marked with 5 ridges, from 1 to 1 ½ lines long, of an agreeable, aromatic smell, and a moderately pungent, bitter taste (Ed.). Their medicinal properties are owing to a volatile oil, which is colorless, or lightly tinged with yellow, and which may be procured by distilling them with water. They yield their virtues by infusion, to water, at 100° C. (212° F.); boiling dissipates them. No particular analysis has been made of them.

CARROT ROOT.—The root is fusiform, slender, yellowish-white, occasionally branched, rather woody, possessing a peculiar aromatic odor, and an unpleasant, bitterish taste, with some acrimony. The root of the garden carrot is fusiform, from 9 to 12 inches in length, white, orange, yellow, or reddish-colored, transversely wrinkled, with scattered radicles, having a reticulated bark or fleshy parenchyma, and a round or angularly radiated medulla; they are quite thick, have an agreeable, peculiar odor and a rather pleasant, saccharo-mucilaginous taste.

Chemical Composition.—According to Wackenroder, the expressed juice of carrot root contains fixed oil, with some volatile oil, a coloring matter termed by him carotin, uncrystallizable sugar, with some starch and malic acid, mannit, albumen, and ashes composed of salts of aluminum, calcium, and iron. It also contains pectose, a substance insoluble in water, alcohol, or ether, which gives the hardness to green fruits, and which may be converted into pectin. The volatile oil is of sp. gr. 0.8863 at 12.2° C. (54° F.), is very soluble in alcohol or ether, less so in water, is colorless, and has the odor and strong taste of carrots. Carotin (C18H24O, according to Husemann), is a ruby-red, crystalline, tasteless, odorless, neutral substance, heavier than water, fusible, combustible, soluble in fixed and volatile oils, benzol, and carbon disulphide, slightly so in alcohol, chloroform, and other, insoluble in water; and its solutions are not decolorized by solar light. The solution in carbon disulphide is blood-red, and yields carotin as a precipitate upon the addition of alcohol. It undergoes a complete change when exposed to light, becoming colorless and amorphous, and much less soluble in carbon disulphide, but easily soluble in alcohol and ether (Husemann).

Another body, in the juice of the root, was investigated by A. Husemann, in 1860, named by him hydrocarotin (C18H30O), which is the same substance as that found by Brimmer in angelica root. From hot alcohol it crystallizes upon cooling in silky, colorless crystals, devoid of taste. Arnaud also obtained a body related to cholesterin, differing but little from the animal product of that name, but agreeing with the phytosterin obtained from the calabar bean (Comptes Rendus, cii, 1319). After repeated alcoholic purification it was obtained, combined with a molecule of water, in foliaceous condition.

PECTIN or vegetable jelly is found universally scattered over the vegetable kingdom, being inconsiderable quantity in many fruits, roots, etc. It may be obtained from the juice of all fruits by (1) the cautious addition of oxalic acid to throw down their calcium salts; (2) then adding a concentrated solution of tannin so long as a precipitate occurs, of coagulated albumen; (3) separating the albumen by filtration, and then adding alcohol to the clear liquid, and leaving the solution for a couple of days to spontaneous evaporation, when the pectin is deposited as a gelatinous coagulum; to obtain it in purity, subject it to gradual pressure, and wash it with weak alcohol. It is translucent like isinglass, swells in 100 parts of cold water, forming a mass like starch, but not colored blue by iodine; boiling water has less action upon it than cold. It is insoluble in alcohol or ether, and has no action on polarized light. The least trace of a fixed alkali instantly converts it into pectic acid, forming a pectate of the alkali, the addition of another acid decomposes it, and sets the pectic acid free. Pectic acid has the form of a transparent and colorless jelly, with a perceptible acid taste, reddens litmus, and forms salts with alkalies (T.).

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Both the root and seeds are mildly stimulant and diuretic. Used in infusion with much success, in dropsy, chronic nephritic affections, and gravel. Also as a carminative, and to relieve strangury from cantharides. Carrot is said to possess emmenagogue properties, and the juice is reputed to relieve pruritis, accompanying some forms of skin disease. Externally, scraped or grated, it forms an excellent application as a poultice to phagedenic, cancerous, malignant, and indolent ulcers—relieving the pain, correcting the fetor, lessening the discharge, and altering the morbid condition of the parts. Dose of the infusion (℥j to water Oj), from 2 to 4 fluid ounces, 3 or 4 times daily; of the powdered seeds, 20 to 60 grains.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.