The leaves and branches of Fabiana imbricata, Ruiz and Pavon.
COMMON NAME: Pichi.
Botanical Source.—Fabiana is a tree-like shrub which grows from 15 to 20 feet high, and has short, thick, bluish-green leaves, which are densely imbricated on the branches. The flowers are single, terminal, white or purplish, and tubular, with the corolla much longer than the calyx. The fruit is a 2-celled, 2-valved capsule, enclosing sub-globular, angular seeds.
History.—This tree-like shrub grows on the dry, sandy hill-tops of Chili. Though belonging to the solanaceous family, it has, when not in bloom, the general appearance of a conifer. The tender portions of the plant are covered with a peculiar, greenish-gray resin, unaffected by water, and affording protection to the plant by preventing the too rapid evaporation of its moisture. The whole plant has a bluish-green aspect. Its Chilian name is Pichi. The drug imparts its virtues to alcohol, the tincture yielding a heavy precipitate when added to water. Pichi was introduced into American commerce by Parke, Davis & Co., of Detroit, Mich.
Description.—The larger branches abound in resin, and are covered with ash-colored bark, finely beset with minute longitudinal, elevated, and minute protruding glands, exhibiting when magnified, a lustrous, resinous appearance. The younger branches or branchlets, are densely covered with the imbricated leaflets, which are scale-like, long, broad-ovate, sessile, entire, glaucous, and of a blue-green hue. The wood is yellow.
Chemical Composition.—The results of chemical analyses of this drug are somewhat at variance with each other. Dr. Rusby, who studied the plant at the place of its growth, believed the bitterness of the drug to be due to an alkaloid contained in its abundant resin. A. B. Lyons succeeded in isolating from an ethereal solution of the drug a small amount (less than 0.1 per cent), of a substance whose acid solution was bitter and gave the usual reactions for alkaloids. The supposed alkaloid was provisionally named fabianine. Besides, Mr. Lyons found a neutral, crystallizable, tasteless principle, insoluble in water but soluble in ether; furthermore a fluorescent body closely resembling the glucosid aesculin, the characteristic constituent of horse-chestnut; also a volatile oil and a bitter resin in great quantity, soluble in alkalies from which solution it was precipitated by acids; it is not fluorescent, is soluble in ether and chloroform, and sparingly soluble in water and petroleum ether (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1886, p. 65). The ether-soluble crystalline compound alluded to was analyzed by Prof. Trimble and Mr. Schroeter, and its formula ascertained to be (C18H31O)x. H. C. Loudenbeck (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1891, p. 434), made a complete analysis of the drug, and obtained the fluorescent principle in crystalline form. It had a bitter taste and yielded an intense blue fluorescence with ammonia water, and a rose-red fluorescence in acid solution. The author doubts the existence of an alkaloid in this drug.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Pichi has not been extensively employed by Eclectic practitioners. It is reputed a diuretic, tonic, and hepatic stimulant. It favorably influences digestion, and the hepatic benefit derived from it is believed by many to be the indirect result of its effects upon stomach digestion. Dyspepsia and jaundice have been treated with it. As a diuretic, it acts similarly to the terebinthinates and balsams, and like them, is of no value in structural renal disease, but of benefit only in functional disorders, and particularly those of a catarrhal type. It has been successfully employed in cystic catarrh, both acute and chronic, and is said to be a popular remedy in Chili, for both hepatic and urinary calculi. Gonorrhoea, and prostatitis accompanying or following that complaint, are said to be benefited by it. Notwithstanding its irritant character (in large doses), and the view held that it is contraindicated in structural kidney disease, benefit has been claimed from its use as an antihemorrhagic in albuminuria when bleeding is associated with the latter disorder. An infusion (℥i to water Oij), is given in wineglassful doses every 4 hours; dose of the fluid extract, ½ to 1 fluid drachm every 4 hours, in capsules or flavored emulsion. It precipitates in water unless the latter be alkalinized. In doses of from 5 to 20 drops Prof. Webster speaks well of the fluid extract to relieve urinary irritation, dysuria, vesical tenesmus, and cystitis. It is also recommended in nocturnal urinal incontinence, renal congestion (when no organic changes exist), and in alkalinized solution in the uric acid diathesis.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Cystic irritation, dysuria, and vesical tenesmus, all with catarrhal discharge; vesical pain with frequent urination.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.