Gossypii Radicis Cortex (U. S. P.)—Cotton Root Bark.

Preparations: Extract of Gossypium - Fluid Extract of Cotton-Root Bark
Related entries: Gossypium Purificatum (U. S. P.)—Purified Cotton - Oleum Gossypii Seminis (U. S. P.)—Cotton-Seed Oil - Pyroxylinum (U. S. P.)—Pyroxylin

"The bark of the root of Gossypium herbaceum, Linné, and of other species of Gossypium"—(U. S. P.).
Nat. Ord.—Malvaceae.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 37.

Botanical Source.—Gossypium herbaceum is a biennial or triennial herb with a fusiform root, giving off small radicles, and a round, pubescent, branching stem, about 5 feet high. The leaves are hoary, palmate, with 5 sublanceolate, rather acute lobes, 3 large, 2 small, lateral, and a single gland on the midvein below, ½ an inch from the base. The stipules are falcate-lanceolate. The flowers are yellow; the calyx cup-shaped, obtusely 5-toothed, surrounded by an involucel of 3 united and cordate leaves, deeply and incisely toothed. The petals are 5 in number and deciduous, with a purple spot near the base. Style simple, marked with 3 or 5 furrows toward the apex. Stigmas 3 or 5. Capsules 3 or 5-celled, 3 or 5-valved, and loculicidal; the seeds, 3 or 5, are involved in cotton, somewhat plano-convex and reniform (W.—R.—W.).

Gossypium barbadense, Linné, or Sea Island cotton plant, is a larger plant than the preceding; leaves 5-lobed, with 3 glands beneath, upper ones 3-lobed; cotton white and seeds black. It is likewise biennial or triennial (W.).

History.—Cotton is an Asiatic plant, but is extensively cultivated in India, Syria, Asia Minor, the Mediterranean, and America. Cultivation has considerably changed the plant so as to render it difficult for botanists to correctly describe the originals. Several species have been named by authors, which Swartz and Macfayden believe to be mere varieties of one species; while Wight, Arnold, and Hamilton believe that there are but two distinct species, the G. album, whose seeds are white, and which furnishes, according to A. W. Chapman, the upland or short-staple cotton, and the G. nigrum, whose seeds are black, and which furnishes long-staple or Sea Island cotton of the United States. G. barbadense yields true Sea Island cotton. The various cotton plants differ considerably in the form of the leaf and its gland, the height of the plant, the hue of the petals, and the elongation and delicacy of the cotton. The plant cannot be profitably cultivated north of the Ohio River, or above that latitude. Ɣ The leaves are very mucilaginous, and have been used in cases where mucilage is required. A fixed oil is contained in the seeds, which may be procured by pressure; it is a drying oil. The part used in medicine is the inner bark of the root, and the white, downy substance contained in the matured capsule, and known as "cotton." When examined microscopically, the filaments constituting cotton are seen to consist of distinct, flat, narrow ribbons or tubular hairs, with occasional appearances of joints, indicated by lines at right angles to the side of the tube.

The U. S. P. thus describes cotton root: "In thin, flexible bands or quilled pieces; outer surface brownish-yellow, with slight, longitudinal ridges or meshes, small, black, circular dots, or short, transverse lines, and dull, brownish-orange patches, from the abrasion of the thin cork; inner surface whitish, of a silky lustre, finely striate; bast fibers long, tough, and separable into papery layers; inodorous; taste very slightly acrid and faintly astringent "—(U. S. P).

Chemical Composition.—Prof. E. S. Wayne (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1872, p. 289) regards the red resin so frequently precipitated in fluid extracts of gossypium as being produced by chemical change from a chromogene substance existing in all parts of the plant. It has acid properties, dissolves in alkali and forms colored precipitates with solutions of metallic salts, and is, therefore, called gossypic acid. About 8 per cent of the acid resin was found by Wm. C. Staehle (1875) in the powdered bark. It was soluble in alcohol, chloroform, ether, and somewhat less in benzol. Charles C. Drueding (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1877) removed from the red coloring matter a yellow principle by means of boiling benzin. He also finds in the root fixed oil, gum, sugar, tannin, and chlorophyll. Walter A. Taylor (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1876, p. 402) observes that fresh root yields with strong alcohol a tincture of pale yellow color, which turns red upon prolonged standing, yet without precipitating. A weaker alcohol solution exhibits the same change in color, but precipitates. Old root yields to strong alcohol at once a deep-red solution, which does not precipitate upon standing.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—The bark of the recent root of the cotton plant is emmenagogue, parturient, and abortive. It is said to promote uterine contraction with as much efficiency and more safety than ergot, and was used by the slaves of the South for inducing abortion, which it effected without any apparent detriment to the general system. It is adapted to cases of uterine inertia, and, while acting after the manner of ergot, is a much feebler though less dangerous drug. Four ounces of the inner root-bark may be boiled in a quart of water down to a pint, the dose of which is 1 or 2 fluid ounces every 20 or 30 minutes. The hydro-alcoholic extract, as well as the decoction and specific gossypium, form excellent emmenagogues, and may be used in chlorosis, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, etc. It is very doubtful whether this will ever take the place of other more certain parturients. In my own practice, it failed in producing any influence upon the uterus during parturition in about one-half the cases in which it has been used, owing, probably, to its not being fresh enough. It operated exceedingly well in the first cases in which it was exhibited (J. King). The old root-bark is valueless as a medicine. The fluid extract is less efficient than the decoction, and fluid preparations are valueless after they begin to gelatinize, and deposit the so-called "red tannates" (see Fluid Extract of Gossypium). Enthusiastic reports of its efficiency in hysteria have been made. It seems adapted to those cases in which there is an anemic state of the reproductive organs, with lack of sexual desire or pleasure. It is a remedy for sexual lassitude, and has been suggested for impotency (Webster). It is regarded as an efficient remedy for the reduction of uterine subinvolution and fibroids. It should not be used where there is marked irritation or tendency to inflammation. Gossypium is also a stimulant diuretic. The dose of the decoction (see above); of the fluid extract, 1 to 60 minims; of specific gossypium, 1 to 60 drops.

Specific Indications and Uses.—Uterine inertia during parturition (large doses). Menstrual delay, with backache and dragging pelvic pain; fullness and weight in bladder, with difficult micturition; hysteria, with anemic condition of the reproductive tract; sexual lassitude, with anemia.

Other Parts of the Plant.—The seeds are reputed to possess superior antiperiodic properties. A pint of cotton seed placed in a quart of water and boiled down to 1 pint, and 1 gill of the warm tea given 1 or 2 hours before the expected chill, is said to cure intermittent fever with the first dose. The flowers and leaves are reputed diuretic, and useful in urinary affections; the leaves steeped in vinegar, are said to relieve hemicrania when locally applied, and a decoction is considered beneficial in the bites of venomous reptiles in Brazil. An infusion of the whole plant is reputed galactagogue.

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