Euonymus (U. S. P.)—Euonymus.
Preparation: Extract of Euonymus
The bark of the root of Euonymus atropurpureus, Jacquin"—(U. S. P).
COMMON NAMES: Wahoo, Indian arrow-wood, Burning bush, Spindle tree.
Botanical Source.—This is a small shrub or bush, with smooth branches, and rising from 5 to 10 feet in height. Its leaves are from 2 to 5 inches in length, about half as wide, opposite, on petioles ⅓ to 1 inch in length, elliptic-lanceolate, mostly acute at base, finely serrate, and pubescent beneath; the peduncles are opposite, slender, compressed, from 1 to 2 ½ inches in length, each with a cyme of from 3 to 6 flowers. The flowers are dark-purple, and usually pentamerous; the corolla about 21 lines in diameter, flat, inserted on the outer margin of a glandular disc; the calyx flat, of 4, 5, or 6 united sepals; the stamens 5, with short filaments; the capsule or pod smooth, crimson, 5-angled, 5-celled, and 5-valved; the seeds, 1 or 2 in each cell, are inclosed in a red aril (W.—G.).
History.—There are two species of Euonymus used in medicine—the spindle-tree, E. atropurpureus, and the burning bush, or E. americanus, to both of which the term Wahoo is indiscriminately applied. They grow in many sections of the United States, in woods and thickets, and in river bottoms, and flower in June. The bark of the root is the medicinal part. It has a bitter, and somewhat unpleasant taste. Water or alcohol extracts its virtues.
Description.—The U. S. P. thus describes this drug: "In quilled or curved pieces, from 2 to 6 Mm. (1/12 to ⅕ inch) thick; outer surface ash-gray, with blackish patches detached in thin and small scales; inner surface whitish or slightly tawny, smooth; fracture smooth, whitish, the inner layers of a laminated appearance; nearly inodorous; taste sweetish, somewhat bitter and acrid"—(U. S. P.).
Chemical Composition.—Charles A. Santos found in the aqueous distillate of the bark of Euonymus atropurpureus, a volatile oil (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1848, p. 83). Clothier, in 1861, detected starch, glucose, and pectin matter. In the following year Mr. Wm. T. Wenzell (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1862, p. 385), found a non-crystallizable, bitter principle, euonymin (not to be confused with the old Eclectic concentration of that name), asparagin, crystallizable and non-crystallizable resins, fixed oil, malic, citric, and tartaric acids, the peculiar euonic acid, and inorganic salts. The name euonymin was first affixed to the dried powdered solid extract about 50 years ago, and was included among the Eclectic resinoids or concentrations. This is the only preparation used in medicine under the name euonymin, and must not be confused with the definite, proximate principle that follows, and which is only of chemical interest. Euonymin, as obtained from E. atropurpureus by Prof. Meyer and Dr. Romin, of Dorpat, by an elaborate process (Pharm. Centralh., 1885, p. 220), is a crystalline glucosid which corresponds in its physiological action closely with digitalin. It is sparingly soluble in water and ether, and easily soluble in alcohol. In l884, H. Paschkis (Pharm. Centralh., p. 196), called attention to the occurrence of mannit as a seemingly regular constituent of all species of Euonymus. Naylor and Chaplin (Chemist and Druggist, 1889, p. 822), identified a certain sweet substance which they bad obtained from Euonymus atropurpureus and provisionally named atropurpurine a few months before, as dulcit (C6H14O6), which is an isomer of mannit.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Euonymus has been in use among physicians for a long time. The bark is tonic, laxative, alterative, diuretic, and expectorant; the seeds are cathartic and emetic. In infusion, syrup, or extract, it has been successfully used in intermittents, dyspepsia, torpid liver, constipation, dropsy, and pulmonary affections. Prof. Locke states" there are but few good stomach tonics, and this agent is one of them." It stimulates the biliary flow, and has considerable anti-malarial influence, and may be used in intermittents after the chill has been broken with quinine. It stimulates the nutritive processes and improves the appetite. It may be used with advantage in atonic dyspepsia, and in indigestion due to hepatic topor or following malarial fevers. It is a remedy for chronic ague, and the consequent obstinate constipation and gastric debility accompanying or following it. A gin tincture (root ℥j to gin fl℥viij), is not without value in some cases of dropsy, particularly when associated with hepatic and renal inactivity. Dose of the tincture (℥viij to alcohol 76 per cent Oj), from 1 to 4 fluid drachms; of the syrup, from 1 to 2 fluid ounces; of the hydro-alcoholic extract, from 5 to 15 grains; of the powder, from 20 to 30 grains; of specific euonymus, 1 to 30 drops.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Prostration with irritation of the nerve centers; periodical diseases, to supplement the action of quinine; anorexia, indigestion, and constipation, due to hepatic torpor.
Related Species.—Euonymus americanus, Linné, or Strawberry-bush, is of a smaller size than the preceding variety, with smooth, 4-angled branches; leaves oval and elliptic-lanceolate, sessile, subentire at the margin, acute or obtuse at apex, smooth coriaceous, from 1 to 2 inches in length, about one-third is wide. Peduncles round, longer than the leaves, with 2, 3, or 4 flowers. Flowers somewhat larger than those of the preceding variety, yellow and pink; capsule dark-red, rough-warty, depressed, not so copious as in the former plant (W-G.). Uses similar to those of the preceding species.
Euonymus europaeus, Linné;Europe.—Cultivated somewhat in gardens. This species has lance-oblong leaves, smooth, shining, and serrate, and bears a flattened, 3-flowered pedicel, and greenish-white, 4-parted flowers. The capsule is light-red, and the arillus of an orangered color. It is not hardy in northern latitudes. In 1833, Riederer isolated in an impure state a body which he thought to be an alkaloid, and gave to it the name euonymine, and this body he believed to impart the bitter taste to the bark. According to Grundner (1847), this is simply a mixture of bitter extractive and resin. Kubel extracted a body bearing resemblance to mannit, to which he gave the name, euonymit. It is a crystallizable, saccharine principle differing from mannit in the fusing point and in crystalline structure (Jour. de Pharm., 1862). All species of Euonymus possess an orange coloring matter, and a bitter oil having this characteristic color may be obtained from the arillus of the European species by means of pressure. The fruit of this, as well as of the foregoing species has been used in ointment form for the destruction of lice. All parts of the plant are nauseous, emetic, and purgative, while the leaves are said to poison sheep and cattle.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.