BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS.—Root perennial, tapering, 3 to 4 feet long, from 9 to 12 in. in circumference at the crown, and abounding in a milky, acrid juice. Stem annual, smooth. Leaves petiolate, sagittate, entire. Peduncles cymose, 3-flowered, twice the length of the leaves; calyx-lobes with a reflexed point; corolla pale yellow. Capsule 2-celled, 4-seeded.
HABITAT.—Western Asia. Obtained in the same manner as asafoetida.
DESCRIPTION OF DRUG.—The pure, or, as it is called, the "genuine" scammony is scarce in the market, the ordinary article being impure from flour, chalk, ashes, sand, etc., mixed with the exuded milk-juice before it has entirely hardened. It usually comes in hemispherical cakes, convex on one side, about 100 to 150 mm. (4 to 6 in.) in diameter; externally dark gray or nearly black; fracture brittle, shining, somewhat rough, exhibiting a usually porous interior, lighter colored and tinged with yellow or green. It yields a light-gray powder having a peculiar odor resembling cheese or putty; taste slight, but leaves an acrid sensation in the throat.
CONSTITUENTS.—Gum, resin, starch, scammonin, C34H56O16, etc. Not less than 75 per cent. of the drug should be soluble in ether; ash not more than 3 per cent.
ACTION AND USES.—Hydragogue cathartic, on account of its harshness, generally given in combination. Uncertain on account of frequent impurities. Dose: 1 to 8 gr. (0.065 to 0.5 Gm.), in emulsion.
462a. Scammonii Radix.—Scammony Root
The dried root of Convolvulus scammonia Linné yielding, when assayed by the official process, not less than 8 per cent. of the total resins of scammony root.
SOURCE AND DESCRIPTION.—This is the root of a morning glory-like plant, a native of Levant. The root is cylindrical or somewhat tapering from 10 to 25 cm. in length and 1 to 4.5 cm. in thickness. Externally, it is grayish to reddish-brown usually distinctly twisted, deeply longitudinally furrowed and marked by distinct root scars. Fracture tough, irregular and with projecting wood-fibers. Internally somewhat mottled showing yellowish, porous wood-wedges, separated by whitish parenchyma containing starch and resin. Bark, thin, odor, slight, resembling that of jalap; taste, slightly sweet, becoming slightly acrid.
ACTION AND USES.—For its action it depends on the gum resin. Hydrogogue, cathartic, on account of its harshness it is generally given in combination. Its action is often uncertain due to adulteration.
Powder.—Characteristic elements: See Part iv, Chap. I, B.
- OFFICIAL PREPARATIONS.
- Resina Scammonii Dose: 3 gr. (0.2 Gm.).
- Extractum colocynthidis Compositum 7 ½ gr. (0.5 Gm.).