Calumba (U. S. P.)—Calumba.

Preparations: Extract of Calumba - Fluid Extract of Calumba - Tincture of Calumba - Infusion of Calumba
Related plant: Frasera.—American Columbo
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"The root of Jateorhiza palmata (Lamarck), Miers"—(U. S. P.) (Cocculus palmatus, Wallich).
Nat. Ord.—Menispermaceae.
COMMON NAMES: Columbo, Colombo.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 13.

Botanical Source.—Colombo is a climbing plant, with a perennial root, formed of a number of fasciculated, fusiform, somewhat branched, fleshy, curved, descending tubers, of the thickness of an infant's arm, covered with a thin, brown epidermis, marked, especially toward the upper part, with transverse warts; internally they are deep yellow, inodorous, very bitter, filled with numerous, parallel, longitudinal fibers, or vessels. The stems, of which 1 or 2 proceed from the same root, are annual, herbaceous, about as thick as the little finger, simple in the male plant, twining, branched in the female, rounded and green; in the full-grown plant, below, they are thickly clothed with succulent, longitudinal hairs, which are tipped with a gland. The leaves are alternate and large; the younger ones thin, pellucid, bright-green, generally 3-lobed, and upward gradually more numerous; the older ones remote, a span in breadth, nearly orbicular, deeply cordate, 5 to 7-lobed, the lobes entire, often deflexed, wavy on the surface and margin, dark-green above, paler beneath; hairy on both sides; the nerves, according to the number of lobes, are 3, 7, or 9, pale, connected by veins which, in themselves, are reticulated and are prominent beneath. The petioles are about as long as the leaves, rounded, glanduloso-pilose, and thickened below. The flowers are small, indistinct, arranged in the male plant in solitary, axillary, drooping, compound racemes, covered with glandular hairs, and with small, caducous bracts at the base; in the female they are also axillary, solitary, simple, spreading, but shorter than those of the male. Sepals 6, glabrous; petals 6, in a single row; stamens 6; anthers terminal and 4-celled. The fruit is drupaceous, or berried, about the size of a hazel-nut, densely clothed with long, spreading hairs, and tipped with a black, oblong gland. The seeds are black, striated transversely, and subreniform (L.).

History.—This plant inhabits the forests near the coast of Mozambique, and Oibo in East Africa, and has been cultivated at Madras, and in the Isle of France. It was formerly incorrectly described as Menispermum palmatum, and has more recently been properly investigated and classified. It grows abundantly on the southeastern coast of Africa, where in the neighborhood of Mozambique, it is known by the name Kalumb. The root is dug up in the dry season in the month of March, and is very fibrous and ligneous, only its spindle-shaped offsets are removed, being cut in slices, strung on cords, and hung up to dry in the shade.

Description.—As met with in commerce, colombo root consists of transverse sections from ½ an inch to 3 inches in diameter, and from 1 to 8 or 10 lines thick. These sections are composed of a thin, olive-brown and generally rugose cuticle; a thick, bright-yellow, easily detached inner bark; and a pith or spongy ligneous internal structure of a pale-brown or yellowish color, more or less contracted, often exhibiting dark concentric rings with radiated striae. The best pieces are those which are firm, dense, and regular, of a lively color, and not much injured by insects. The root is friable and readily reduced to a pale greenish-yellow powder, having a faintly aromatic odor, and an unpleasant, bitter taste, without the slightest acrimony or astringency. Alcohol, or boiling water, extracts its virtues. The bark has the strongest taste, which is readily taken up by water, alcohol, or ether. The central pith is almost mucilaginous. The powder soon spoils and becomes unfit for use, in consequence of absorbing moisture from a damp atmosphere. It is better to powder the root in limited portions, when required, keeping the powder in closely-stoppered bottles (P.). The U. S. P. describes it as "in nearly circular disks, 3 to 6 Cm. (1 ⅖ to 2 ⅓ inches) in diameter, externally greenish-brown and wrinkled, internally yellowish, or grayish-yellow, depressed in the center, with a few interrupted circles of projecting wood-bundles, distinctly radiate in the outer portion; fracture short, mealy; odor slight; taste mucilaginous, slightly aromatic, very bitter"—(U. S. P.).

Adulterations.—The American colombo (Frasera Walteri, Michaux., which is sometimes added to the genuine article, contains no starch, and is not, therefore, affected by iodine; but it contains tannic acid, and, therefore, becomes blackish-green when sulphate of iron is added to its decoction, and yields a precipitate with a solution of gelatin (P.). White bryony (Bryonia alba. root is said to have been an adulterant also. Both this and American columbo root can be detected by their widely divergent physical characteristics, so different from calumba. A wood, known as false columbo, or columbo wood (from Cascinum fenestratum., also of the Moonseed family, has been received into England from Ceylon.

Chemical Composition.—According to Planche and Buchner, the root contains bitter matter, yellow resinous extractive, volatile oil, wax, gum, starch, vegetable medulla, woody fiber, and water. Wittstock, in 1830, discovered a bitter principle, which be named colombin, or columbin. If the genuine columbo be first moistened, it becomes black when in contact with tincture of iron; iodine added to a decoction of the root, forms the blue iodide of starch; a decoction of the root does not redden litmus paper, nor is there any precipitate (tannic and gallic acids) when tartar emetic, gelatin, or sulphate or perchloride of iron are added to it; infusion of nut-galls, or tannic acid causes a precipitate.

Columbin (C42H44O14) may be obtained by treating columbo root twice or thrice successively with alcohol of specific gravity 0.835. Mix these solutions, distill off ¾ of the alcohol, and allow the residual liquid to remain at rest for some days. Crystals are deposited which may be collected by throwing the whole on a cloth and allowing the liquid portion to pass. These crystals are to be washed in cold water, dissolved in alcohol, and the solution digested with ivory-black, and filtered. When the solution thus treated is concentrated, it deposits pure crystals of columbin. The mother liquor still contains abundance of the same principle, which may be separated by mixing it with powdered glass and evaporating to dryness, stirring it constantly when it begins to become concrete. Digest this mixture of powder and glass in ether, which dissolves wax, fatty matter and columbin. Distill off the ether, digest the residue in boiling acetic acid, which takes up only the columbin, then evaporate, and crystals are formed. Sixty grains are obtained from ½ pound of the root. Columbin crystallizes in transparent rhombic prisms, which are inodorous, but very bitter. They are neutral, little soluble in water, alcohol, or ether, at ordinary temperatures, yet give a bitter taste, to them; boiling alcohol dissolves from 1/40 to 1/50 of its weight, but on cooling deposits them. Volatile oils sparingly dissolve them. The caustic alkalies dissolve columbin, from which it is precipitated unaltered by acids; nitric and sulphuric acids dissolve it, but hydrochloric acid has very little action on it. Boiling acetic acid of specific gravity 1.04, is its best solvent (T.).

Berberine (C20H17NO4) exists in colombo root to a large extent, being in union with columbic acid. Dr. Bödeker obtained it by exhausting the columbo root with boiling alcohol of specific gravity 0.889, removing as much of the alcohol as possible by distillation; and when a yellowish-brown mass of impure columbin had separated after 3 days' standing, the supernatant liquid, together with the aqueous solution arising from the rinsing of the impure columbin, was evaporated to dryness on a water-bath. The residue was exhausted with boiling alcohol of specific gravity 0.863, and this solution again treated as the preceding one. The residue was then treated with boiling water, and the filtered solution mixed with a considerable quantity of hydrochloric acid. The precipitate thus formed was collected on a filter, and well pressed between paper. Owing to its great solubility in pure water and alcohol, it could not be washed. To remove any free adherent acid, it was dissolved in alcohol of 0.863, and precipitated from this solution by ether. The salt obtained was an indistinctly crystalline bright-yellow powder, of an unpleasant bitter taste, and believed to be the hydrochlorate of berberine (Amer. Jour. Pharm., Vol. XX., p. 322). We have not verified these experiments, but, in our opinion, if the resultant salt is, as stated, very soluble in water, it is not hydrochlorate of berberine. Columbic acid (C22H27O7) is amorphous, but sparingly soluble in water (cold), but dissolves in diluted alkalies and alcohol, is of a pale-yellow color, and bitter to the taste.

Columbine, a white body, has been obtained by Alessandri (1882), who believes it to be an alkaloid. It was prepared by neutralizing an infusion of calumba made with oxalic acid solution (3 per cent) and evaporated to one-third, cooled, ether added, and the solution again evaporated, when pure columbine remains—(L'Orosi, Vol. I; P J. Tr., 1882, p. 995).

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—A pure, bitter tonic, which neither stimulates nor astringes. It acts upon the stomach much like hydrastis. Used in dyspepsia, chronic diarrhoea, and dysentery, in convalescence from febrile and inflammatory diseases, hectic fever, dysentery and diarrhoea; and in the muscular debility of young children. It has been efficient in sympathetic vomiting, not connected with gastritis, as in pregnancy. Like other strong bitters, it occasionally checks the remittent and intermittent fevers of hot climates. A powerful tonic may be formed of the alcoholic extract of the root. In dyspepsia and vomiting, it may be advantageously combined with the alkaline bicarbonates, as well as in debility with acidity of the stomach. It is used in various combinations, with aromatics, antacids, cathartics, or other tonics. It is particularly useful in dyspepsia, with constipation and hepatic torpor, and should be employed in 5-drop doses of specific calumba associated with a light dose of specific rheum or leptandra, to be given 5 or 6 times a day. In cholera morbus it stops the vomiting and purging, and imparts strength; after the active phases of cholera infantum, when an unirritating tonic is desired, this agent is to be preferred. Dose of the powder, from 10 to 30 grains, 3 or 4 times a day; of the infusion, from 1 to 2 fluid ounces; of the tincture, from 1 to 2 fluid drachms; of specific calumba, 5 to 30 drops, 3 to 5 times a day. Colombin is highly useful in the treatment of dyspepsia, in doses of from ¾ of a grain to 2 ½ grains daily.

Specific Indications and Uses.—Enfeebled stomach, with indigestion, or feeble digestion; anorexia, and general debility.

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