Menispermum (U. S. P.)—Menispermum.
Preparation: Fluid Extract of Menispermum
"The rhizome and roots of Menispermum canadense, Linné"—(U. S. P.).
COMMON NAMES: Yellow parilla, Canadian moonseed, Moonseed sarsaparilla, Texas sarsaparilla, Vine maple.
Botanical Source.—This plant has a perennial, horizontal, woody, very long root, of a beautiful yellow color externally, and a round, striate, climbing stem, greenish-yellow when young, 8 to 12 feet in length. The leaves are roundish, cordate, peltate, 3 to 7-angled or lobed, smooth, the petiole inserted near the base, 3 to 5 inches long, white lines radiating from the petiole on the upper surface to each angle, glaucous green above, paler below, entire, 4 or 5 inches in diameter. The flowers are small, yellow, and in axillary clusters; sepals, 4 to 8, in a double row; petals 4 to 7, minute, retuse, and shorter than the sepals. Stames 12 to 20 in the sterile flowers; anthers 4-celled. Pistils 2 to 4 in the fertile flowers, raised on a short stalk, 1 or 2 ripening into round drupes. Imperfect stamens are sometimes found in the fertile flowers. The drupes are about 4 lines in diameter, black, with a bloom resembling frost-grapes, and 1-seeded. The seeds are crescent-shaped and compressed (W.—G.).
History.—This is a valuable American remedy, not in extensive use among physicians. It grows in woods and hedges near streams, from Canada to Carolina, and west to the Mississippi, flowering in July. The rhizome, with its roots, is the official part. It has a bitter, persistent, but not unpleasant acrid taste, and yields its virtues to water or alcohol. The root of this plant has been offered in our markets as a Texas sarsaparilla (see Amer. Jour. Pharm., Vol. XXVII, page 7).
Description.—The U. S. P. describes yellow parilla as follows: "Rhizome several feet long, about 5 Mm. (⅕ inch) thick, brown or yellowish-brown, somewhat knotty, finely wrinkled longitudinally, and beset with numerous thin, rather brittle roots; fracture tough, woody; internally yellowish, the bark rather thick, the wood-rays broad, porous, and longest on the lower side; pith distinct. Nearly inodorous; taste bitter"—(U. S. P.).
Chemical Composition.—Prof. J. M. Maisch found in it a small amount of berberine, and a large quantity of a white, amorphous, bitter alkaloid, which is soluble in ether, alcohol, and in much water with alkaline reaction (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1863, p. 303). It does not dissolve in benzene or alkaline solutions, but dissolves in 20 parts of chloroform. H. L. Barber (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1884, p. 401) has shown it to differ in its properties from menispermine (from Cocculus indicus) and oxyacanthine (from Berberis vulgaris). Maisch has named it menispine; its taste is a pure bitter, like that of gentian. Tannin, gum, resin, and starch are also present in the drug.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Yellow parilla is tonic, laxative, alterative, and diuretic. In small doses, no obvious effects are produced on the general system, but in larger doses, a slight increase of the volume of the pulse may be perceived, as well as increase of the appetite, and the action of the bowels. In excessive doses, purging and vomiting will follow, but no other unpleasant effect. It is a superior laxative bitter. It acts quite prominently upon the glandular structures. It was formerly much esteemed as a remedy in scrofulous, cutaneous, arthritic, rheumatic, syphilitic, and mercurial diseases. Likewise employed in dyspepsia, general debility, and chronic inflammation of the viscera. Externally, the decoction has been used with good effect as an embrocation in gouty and cutaneous affections. Indications seem to point to its probable value in leucocythaemia, especially when the spleen is prominently involved. Dose of the decoction, from 1 to 4 fluid ounces, 3 times a day; of the extract, from 2 to 6 grains, 3 or 4 times a day; of the saturated tincture, from ½ to 1 fluid drachm.
Specific Indications and Uses.—"Skin brown, tongue coated at the base, tip red, irregular appetite, constipation" (Scudder, List of Specific Indications).