The expressed oil of the seeds of Croton tiglium.—East Indies.
Dose.—Croton oil is administered in doses of one or two drops; in cases of coma and where there is great torpor or insensibility, from five to ten drops will produce but a feeble impression upon the patient. It is better to administer it in pill or emulsion, and half a drop at a dose, repeated sufficiently often to obtain its effects.
Therapeutic Action.—Croton oil is a speedy and powerful hydragogue cathartic. If we except elaterium, it is more energetic, and produces more effect upon the system in minute doses than any other cathartic agent. The activity of the oil, the certainty and efficacy with which it acts, and the smallness of the dose required to produce these powerful impressions upon the system, together with the facility with which it may be taken, and the comparative mildness of its action, render it an agent worthy of notice. It may, however, be so administered as to produce vomiting, hypercatharsis, violent tormina, gastrointestinal irritation or inflammation, or even fatal results.
It is evident that an agent of such powers should be administered cautiously, and so combined with demulcents and aromatics, and so timed, as to render its operation as mild as possible. If administered in cases of great debility, it should be so combined with demulcents and stimulants as to prevent its irritant and exhausting effects. It acts rapidly, often in one hour, and frequently produces a disagreeable burning in the fauces and throat.
In cases of mania or furious delirium, the facility with which it can be administered gives it a superiority over all other cathartics. If the patient will not take medicine, he may be deceived by giving the oil in wine, milk, etc., and thus its full advantages are secured. In spasm of the glottis, epilepsy, and neuralgia, it is supposed to prove valuable, independent of its purgative property.
The seeds have been used in India for their cathartic powers, in doses of one or two grains; they are not used in this country. Four drops of the oil, applied to the umbilicus, often purges.
Applied externally it acts as a suppurant revellant, producing rubefaction, and finally vesicular and pustular eruptions, and proves a valuable derivative. It has been employed for this purpose in chronic bronchial affections, phthisis, chronic lnryngitis, rheumatism, neuralgia, glandular enlargement, spinal diseases, etc.; it is sometimes used in its pure state, but more frequently diluted with olive oil, turpentine, alcohol, etc.