Fig. 49. Leaf of Peumus boldus. Related entry: Extractum Boldo Fluidum.—Fluid Extract of Boldo

The leaves of Peumus Boldus, Molina, (Boldoa fragrans, Gay).
Nat. Ord.—Monimiaceae.
COMMON NAME: Boldo or Boldu.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Bot. Reg., Plate 57; Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 217.

Botanical Source.—Peumus Boldus (Bot. Reg., Plate 57, and Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 217), is an evergreen, fragrant shrub, from 15 to 20 feet high, and native of the mountainous regions of Chili. The leaves are opposite, coriaceous, and on leaf-stalks about ¼ inch in length. The flowers are in loose, terminal, dioecious cymes of about 12 flowers each, on slender, pubescent pedicles. The petals are generally 7, strap-shape, and about ½ inch long, of a light-yellow color, and somewhat twisted. The male flower has numerous recurved stamens, with slender filaments, which are hairy at the base. The fruit is a small orange-green, 1-seeded drupe, which is aromatic and edible.

Description.—The leaves (Fig. 49), as found in commerce, are thick, firm, of a light-green color, and covered with numerous glandular points on the upper surface. They-are about 2 inches long, two-thirds as wide, and oval or elliptical in outline; have a rounded base, and a very obtuse apex. The edges are entire, and slightly recurved. The veins are pinnate, and prominent on the under side of the leaves. The odor of the leaves somewhat resembles that of wormseed, and the taste is nauseating and disagreeable.

History and Chemical Composition.—In 1782, Molina described this shrub, under the name Peumus Boldus; in 1794, Ruiz and Pavon described the same plant under the name Ruizia fragrans; in 1809, Jussieu classed the plant under the name of Boldoa fragrans; finally, in 1869, M. H. Baillon presented a complete history of the plant under the name Peumus Boldus, which name it still retains. Boldo was introduced to the profession by Dujardin-Beaumetz and C. L. Verne, about 1872, and in the same year E. Bourgoin and C. Verne obtained from the leaves a volatile oil, and an alkaloid to which the name boldine or boldina, was given. The plant also contains essential oil, citric acid, lime, sugar, gum, tannin, and a quantity of thick, black, aromatic substances, probably due to oxidation of the oil; these constituents have no medicinal virtues. Boldoglucin, a narcotic alkaloid, was isolated by Chapoteaut.

The plant attracted but little attention until 1875, when Prof. Bentley exhibited it before the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, and Dr. Miller brought it before the Philadelphia Pharmaceutical meeting. After this, some little demand was created for it, and even at exorbitantly high prices, small amounts were sold in this country. At present the demand is limited, and the price is reasonable. The virtues of the drug, whatever they may be, are evidently derived from the essential oil and the alkaloid.

Boldine is obtained by extracting the leaves of the plant with alcohol, distilling the alcohol, and exhausting the residuum with acidulated water (acetic acid preferable), precipitating with ammonia, and purifying by solution in ether. It is a tedious operation to obtain the pure alkaloid. Boldine is crystallizable, soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, benzol, and benzin. The diluted acids dissolve it, from which solution ammonia, in slight excess, precipitates the alkaloid as an amorphous mass. It is sparingly soluble in water, to which it imparts a bitter taste, and gives an alkaline reaction. Nitric and sulphuric acids yield a red color when boldine is added to them. The best agent to extract the medicinal. principles of the leaves is alcohol, and the addition of water to the menstruum, even in small amount, is objectionable.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—This agent is a stimulant to the circulatory organs and nervous structures. It is quieting and soothing, producing in full doses drowsiness. Cerebral excitation is said to be controlled by boldo and boldoglucin, refreshing sleep following. Boldo was sent from Chili as an efficient agent in hepatic diseases, but its effect appears to be that of a gentle, diffusible stimulant, probably useful to a certain extent in gastric debility, incipient dyspepsia, anemic conditions, etc. It is of value in painful digestion with nervous irritability, and in gastrodynia. In these cases the alcoholic solution is undoubtedly the preferable one. A wine, elixir, and syrup have also been prepared, but they possess no advantages over the tincture, which may be used in doses of from 5 to 20 drops in some agreeable vehicle. One part of the leaves to 5 parts of alcohol, at 60 per cent, forms a deep-red, bordering a little on green, bitter tincture. Boldine may be given in doses of from 1 to 5 grains. The essential oil, in doses of from 3 to 5 drops, in capsules, has been recommended in subacute inflammations and catarrh of the urinary passages, but it certainly possesses no superior advantages over turpentine, copaiba, and other resinous balsams. A very moderate use of the oil will, in a few days, impart the strong odor of the leaves to the urine, which fluid will redden under the action of diluted sulphuric acid.

Specific Indications and Uses.—Gastric pain, nervousness, debility and jaundice.

Related Species.Atherosperma moschata, Labillardière. Sassafras tree. Australia. All parts of this tree have a nutmeg-like odor. Tannin and a bitter alkaloidal body (atherospermine) have been obtained from the bark. The latter is an amorphous, white powder, sparingly soluble in ether, but dissolving freely in chloroform or alcohol. The bark is reputed antisyphilitic, antiscorbutic, and tonic. It renders difficult expectoration easy, reduces the pulse rate, and is sedative to an overacting, irregular heart. The Australian Bushmen employ a diet-drink prepared from it, in rheumatism and secondary syphilis. Graves personally found it of much value in chronic bronchitis.

Daphnandra repandula, F. von Mueller.—A toxic alkaloidal principle is derived from this plant, which is said to be, in some respects, the antagonist of strychnine. It is soluble in water. Muscular paralysis is produced by its local application. It has anti putrefactive qualities, and will deodorize tainted meats. The bark is rich in alkaloids which, when pure, are crystalline and colorless. It checks the growth of the yeast plant (Torula cerevisiae). Daphnandra micrantha, Bentham (Atherosperma micranthum, Tul.), is identical with the foregoing in its action (P. J. and Trans., 1887). It is intensely bitter, and is used as a tonic by the Australians.

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