Cocculus Indicus. N. F. IV. Fish Berry. Indian Berry. Coque du Levant, Fr. Kokkelskörner, Fischkörner, Tollkörner, G. Oriental Berries.
It is described in the N. F. as "the dried fruit of Anamirta Cocculus (Linne) Wight et Arnott (Fam. Menispermaceae )."
This is a climbing shrub, with a suberose or corky bark, and grows along the Malabar Coast, and in Eastern Insular and Continental India. By Roxburgh it was proved to be one source of Cocculus, which is, however, probably derived also from other plants, notably from the Cocculus Plukentii, DC. (now Pachygone ovata Miers.), of Malabar, and C. laconusus DC. (now Anamirta paniculata Colebr.); of Celebes and the Moluccas. It was known to the Arabian physicians, and was imported into Europe from the Levant, from which circumstance it was called Cocculus levanticus. It is now brought exclusively from the East Indies.
The fruit bears some resemblance to the bay laurel berry, but is not quite so large, and may be distinguished by the fact that in the Cocculus Indicus the kernel never wholly fills the shell. When the fruit is kept long, the shell is sometimes almost empty. The Edinburgh College directed that " the kernels should fill at least two-thirds of the fruit." It is described by the N. F. as " reniform, about 10 mm. in length and 6 mm. in breadth and thickness, blackish-brown, wrinkled; hilum and micropyle close together, separated by a shallow sinus and connected by an obscure ridge running around the convex side. Seed urn-shaped, its longitudinal and transverse sections crescent-shaped. Taste slightly bitter; the 'seed whitish-yellow and intensely bitter. Cocculus Indicus yields not more than 5 per cent. of ash." N. F.
According to Merck its main constituents are menispermine, paramenispermine, picrotoxin, C30H34O13, picrotoxic acid and cocculin.
A tincture of Cocculus Indicus is official in the N. F. For Procter's formula for preparing a fluidextract, see U. S. D., 17th ed., or A. J. P., 1863.
Cocculus Indicus is used in India to stupefy fishes. Both its poisonous properties and any therapeutic virtues it may contain depend upon picrotoxin (see p. 1550). It has been used in medicine for the purpose of destroying vermin in the hair, but it is an extremely dangerous drug. For cases of poisoning see Sozinsky (M. News, 1883, xliii p. 485), Swift (N. Y. M. J., 1897, lxvi, p. 664), and Haines (P. M. T., 1884, xiv, p. 748). In spite of its highly toxic properties, Merck's Index, 1907, reports it as having nervine and sedative properties in doses of 1 to 3 grains (0.06-0.2 Gm.) doses of the powdered berries.