Bitters are divided into the Simple Bitters and the Aromatic Bitters. The latter contains Gallic and Tannic acids, besides aromatic constituents, and are, therefore, more or less astringent. There are also certain special bitters, Eucalyptus, Hydrastis, Cinchona, etc., which will be treated of separately.
Simple Bitters, their Principles, Preparations and Doses.
Quassia,—The wood of Picraena excelsa. Principle, Quassin.
- Extractum Quassiae, gr. j-iij. Tinctura Quassiae, ♏v-ʒj.
- Extractum Quassiae Fluidum, ʒss-ʒj.
Gentiana, Gentian,—The root of Gentiana lutea. Composition, Gentianin, Gentesic Acid.
- Extractum Gentianae, gr. j-v. Extr. Gentianae Fluidum, ʒss-j.
- Tinctura Gentianae Composita, ʒss-ij. Contains Cardamom 1, Bitter Orange Peel 4, Gentian 10, Dilute Alcohol to 100.
- *Mistura Gentianae Alkalina, ℥j. Contains Sodium Bicarb., gr. xv, Dil. Hydrocyanic Acid, ♏iij, Infusum Gentianae Co. to ℥j.
- *Mistura Gentianae et Sennae, has of Infusum Sennae ʒiij, Tinct. Cardamomi Co. ʒj, Infusum Gentianae Co. ʒvj. One dose.
Calumba, Columbo,—The root of Jateorrhiza palmata. Composition, Berberine, Colombin, Columbic Acid and Starch, but no Tannin.
- Extractum Calumbae Fluidum, ♏v-xxx. Tinctura Calumbae, ʒss-ij.
*Cornus, Dog-wood,—The bark of the root of Cornus florida. Composition. Cornin, also a resin, and Tannic Acid.
- *Extractum Cornus Fluidum, ♏x-ʒj.
Aromatic Bitters, their Principles and Preparations.
Serpentaria, Virginia Snake-root,—Described under Cardiac Stimulants.
Prunus Virginiana, Wild Cherry, —The bark of Prunus serotina. Composition, Amygdalin and Emulsin (which by their mutual reaction with water produce Hydrocyanic Acid), Tannic and Gallic Acids, etc.
- Extractum Pruni Virginianae Fluidum, ʒss-j.
- Infusum Pruni Virg., ℥ss-ij. Syrupus Pruni Virg., ʒj-iv.
Cascarilla,—The bark of Croton Eluteria. Composition, Cascarillin, Tannic Acid, etc.
- *Infusum Cascarillae, ℥ss-j.
Physiological Action. The Simple Bitters increase appetite and aid digestion, thus promoting the constructive metamorphosis. They increase the mucous secretion, the flow of saliva and of gastric juice. As they also increase the gastric mucus, their continued use will set up gastric catarrh, and interfere with digestion.
The Aromatic Bitters have similar properties, and in addition, a local stimulant action upon the alimentary canal, due to the presence of a volatile oil, as well as decided astringent qualities from their Tannic and Gallic Acids. Cornus is a good antiperiodic.
- Therapeutics. They are used as tonics chiefly in—
- Atonic Dyspepsia, with pain after eating,—Quassia or Calumba.
- Convalescence,—to promote the appetite and to aid digestion.
- Diarrhoea, depending on indigestion, or an irritable intestinal mucous membrane,—Gentian or Calumba.
- Flatulence,—an infusion of Calumba, Ginger, aa ℥ss, and Senna ʒj.
- Malaria,—Cornus, as a tonic and antiperiodic, has considerable repute.
- Bronchial Catarrh,—Prunus Virginiana has a domestic reputation.
- Hectic Fever, from any source,—Prunus Virginiana is an efficient tonic.
- Ascarides Vermiculares,—Quassia internally, and as an enema.
- Cough of Phthisis,—Prunus Virginiana in cold infusion.
- As Vehicles, the various bitter infusions are much used. The Syrup of Wild Cherry is an ingredient of almost every cough mixture. Quassia, Gentian and Calumba may be prescribed with Iron, as they contain no Tannin.
A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.