Preparation: Fluid Extract of Hydrangea

The root of Hydrangea arborescens, Linné (Hydrangea vulgaris, Michaux and Pursh).
Nat. Ord.—Saxifragaceae.
COMMON NAMES: Seven barks, Wild hydrangea.

Botanical Source.—This plant is the Hydrangea vulgaris of Michaux and Pursh. It is an indigenous shrub, smooth, or nearly so, attaining the height of 5 or 6 feet, with opposite, petiolate leaves, which are ovate, obtuse at the base, rarely cordate, acuminate, serrate-dentate, nearly smooth, and green on both sides. The flowers are often all fertile, numerous, small, white, becoming roseate, and borne in fastigiate cymes. The calyx tube is hemispherical, 8 or 10-ribbed, and coherent with the ovary; the limb 4 or 5-toothed, and persistent; the petals ovate and sessile; the stamens 8 or 10, and slender; the capsule crowned with the 2 divergent styles, 2-celled below, and opening by a foramen between the styles and the seeds are numerous (W.—G.).

History and Description.—This elegant shrub grows abundantly in the southern, and middle-western states, in mountains and hills, and on rocks and near streams. The bark is rough, pealing off—each layer being of a different color, and which has probably given origin to the name "seven barks." It is quite common in the Susquehanna and Schuylkill valleys, and its flowers are often met with in bouquets in the markets of Philadelphia. The root is the part that has been employed. It is formed of numerous radicles, sometimes not larger than a goose-quill, and again half an inch or more in diameter, and of considerable length. These proceed from a caudex which sends upward numerous divergent branches. When fresh, the root and stalks are very succulent, containing much water, and can easily be cut, and the root likewise contains a great deal of mucilage, with albumen and starch. When dry they are very tough and resistent, and exceedingly difficult to bruise or cut, hence they should be bruised while fresh, or which is better, cut into short transverse sections, which facilitates the drying. The bark of the dried root has a rather pungent, aromatic, not disagreeable taste, somewhat similar to that of cascarilla bark. The stalks contain a pith which is easily removed, and they are used in some parts of the country for pipe-stems.

Chemical Composition.—Mr. Joseph Laidley, of Richmond, Va. (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1852, p. 20), found the root to contain gum, albumen, starch, resin, and inorganic salts. It was subsequently analyzed by Jos. Baur (ibid., 1881, p. 157), who found in addition, probable indications of an alkaloid and a crystallizable body. A glucosid, hydrangin, fluorescing with opal-blue color in alkaline solution, was obtained later by C. S. Bondurant (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1887, p. 123). It forms star-like masses of crystals, soluble in ether and alcohol, and when treated with diluted acids, splits into grape sugar and a resinous body. Acids destroy the fluorescence. Sugar, saponin, several resins, fixed and volatile oils (2.28 per cent), and starch (7.28 per cent) were also found. Sulphur is a constituent of the volatile oil. Contrary to Baur's statement, no tannin was found. Mr. H. J. M. Schroeter (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1889, p. 117) obtained a yield of 0.08 per cent of hydrangin, for which he established the formula C34H25O11, and found the melting point to be 228° C. (442.4° F.).

The root of Hydrangea paniculata, var. grandiflora, a shrub frequently cultivated in the northern and middle states, was analyzed quite recently (A. G. Luebert, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1898, p. 550). A glucosidal, crystallizable principle was obtained, melting at 178° C. (352.4° F.), and probably not identical with the hydrangin of Bondurant. The name para-hydrangin is suggested for this substance.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—This plant was introduced to the profession by Dr. S. W. Butler, of Burlington, N. J., as a remedy for the removal of calculous or gravelly deposits in the bladder, and for relieving the excruciating pain attendant on the passing of a calculus through the ureter; and from reports made, it certainly deserves a full and thorough investigation. The power of curing or dissolving stone in the bladder is not claimed for it; it is only, while the deposits are small, when in that form of the disease known as gravel, that it is an efficient remedy; then by removing the nucleus, which, if allowed to remain in the organ, would increase in size and form stone, the disease is averted, and when employed at this stage, it is said to have proved beneficial in every instance, and as many as 120 calculi have been known to come from one person under the use of this remedy. The effect of the plant, Dr. Butler states, is to remove, by its own specific action on the bladder, such deposits as may be contained in that viscus, provided they are small enough to pass through the urethra. Thus it has chiefly an eliminatory action rather than any power to dissolve gravel. By its soothing action it relieves vesical and urethral irritation. Probably its greatest value lies in its power of preventing the formation of alkaline and phosphatic deposits. The former mode of using it was to prepare a concentrated syrup of it with sugar or honey, and give a teaspoonful 3 times a day. Now specific hydrangea, in doses of 5 to 30 drops, 3 times a day, preferably in hot water, or a simple decoction of the root to be taken freely are preferred. If taken in overdoses it will produce some unpleasant symptoms, as dizziness of the head, oppression of the chest, etc. It is a good remedy in acute nephritis. The leaves of hydrangea are said by Dr. Eoff to be tonic, sialagogue, cathartic, and diuretic. The specific hydrangea and fluid extract of hydrangea are principally used in the earthy deposits, as phosphates of calcium, ammonium, and magnesium, in alkaline urine, and in chronic gleet, and mucous irritation of the bladder in aged persons. Its alterative powers, chiefly due to its washing away of strumous and other unhealthy products, are not to be underrated. It is not without some value in broncho-pulmonic affections, relieving irritation; also in some forms of gastric irritation.

Specific Indications and Uses.—Vesical and urethral irritation, with gravelly deposits; difficult urination; bloody urine; deep-seated renal pain; hepatic pain; irritation of bronchial tract. It improves the nutrition of the urinary mucous tissues.

Preparation of Hydrangea.—LITHIATED HYDRANGEA. This specialty of the Lambert Pharmacal Co., of St. Louis, Mo., is a compound of fresh hydrangea and benzo-salicylate of lithium, prepared by special process. It is employed in renal and cystic affections, viz.: Lithuria, gout, rheumatism, calculus, diabetes, cystitis, and vesical irritation. The dose is from 1 to 2 fluid drachms, 4 times a day, preferably between meals.

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