BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS.—Underground stem a short, irregular rhizome, from which start numerous fleshy fusiform roots 1 to 4 inches in diameter. Leaves palmate, on long petioles. According to Bentley and Trimen, the blade of the leaf often reaches 14 inches in length. Flowers dioecious, sepals 6, petals 6, stamens 6; anthers 2-celled; fruit about the size of a hazelnut, densely clothed with long, spreading hairs, each tipped with a black, oblong gland.
HABITAT.—East Africa and Madagascar, cultivated in the East Indies.
DESCRIPTION OF DRUG.—In transverse sections, circular or oval in outline, 25 to 50 mm. (1 to 2 in.) in diameter; 3 to 12 mm. (⅛ to ½ in.) thick. The outer edge is covered with a brown wrinkled layer of cork. The bark is about 9 mm. (⅜ in.) thick; a dark, shaded cambium line separates this bark from the spongy grayish-yellow central portion. In drying the central portion contracts more than the outer, hence the disks are depressed at this point, where also are found a few interrupted circles of projecting wood-bundles, while the outer portion near the cambium is distinctly radiate. A microscopic section shows near the center very distinct bright yellow wood-bundles, which are narrow and radiate near the bark. The parenchyma is filled with large, oval or circular starch granules.
Odor faint; taste slightly aromatic, very bitter, and mucilaginous. Dose: 30 gr. (2 Gm.).
SUBSTITUTION.—American calumba has frequently been used. It is almost uniformally much smaller, the color is not yellow, it contains no starch and is not mucilaginous. The decoction gives brown precipitate with ferric chloride.
Powder.—Characteristic elements: See Part iv, Chap. I, B.
CONSTITUENTS.—A neutral crystalline principle, calumbin, extremely bitter, berberine, calumbic acid, and starch, of which it contains 33 per cent. No tannin is present; it can therefore be compounded with salts of iron. The best solvent for the bitter principle is dilute acetic acid. This liquid, however, is not a good menstruum. Ash, 8 per cent.
Preparation of Calumbin.—Infusion of columbo, made with 3 per cent. of oxalic acid, is neutralized with ammonia. Evaporate to one-third, and when cool, shake out with ether. On evaporation of ethereal solution, white calumbin is obtained.
ACTION AND USES.—A simple tonic, stimulating the appetite through the gustatory nerves, increasing in turn the gastric and salivary secretions. Its special value as a tonic resides in the fact that it has no disagreeable effects, such as nausea, headache, or febrile disorder, like other remedies of its class. Externally, antiseptic, disinfectant, and anthelmintic.
- OFFICIAL PREPARATION.
- Tinctura Calumbae (20 per cent.). Dose: 1 to 4 fluid drams (4 to 15 mils)