Santonica. Levant Wormseed. Artemisia cina.
Santonica. U. S. VIII. Levant Wormseed. Turkestan, Aleppo, Alexandria, or European Wormseed. Santonici Semen. Semen cinae. Flores Artemisiae. Semen Sanctum. Semen-contra Dalep. Semencine ou Barbotine, Fr. Cod. Flores Cinae, P. G. Wurmsamen, Zitwersamen, G. Santonico, It., Sp.—The dried unexpanded flowers of the Artemisia Cina Berg. (A. pauciflora (Ledebour) Weber) (Fam. Compositae). This plant is a small, semi-shrubby perennial, from whose oblique, knotted rootstalks arise numerous leafy shoots and flowering stems. The glabrous and woody stems bear on their many branches numerous small (one inch long) bi- to multi-pinnatifid leaves, while the leaves of the flowering stems are very minute, the upper ones simple. The flower heads are small, numerous, one-tenth of an inch long, with from twelve to eighteen involucral scales, and from three to five flowers; The plant varies very greatly, and several species have been made out of its varieties. The plant grows in Persia and Turkestan and the flower-buds are collected in July and August. The Levant wormseed was officially described as "heads 2 to 4 Mm. long, oblong-ovoid, slightly flattened, obtuse, consisting of an involucre of about 12 to 18 closely imbricated, glandular scales with broad midribs, enclosing 4 to 5 rudimentary florets. Santonica has the appearance of a granular, yellowish-green or greenish-brown, somewhat glossy powder; odor strong, peculiar, somewhat camphoraceous; taste aromatic and bitter." U. S. VIII. Astolfi (Ph. Ztg., 1893, 333) gives the following test for recognizing adulteration of santonica. 1 Gm. of the suspected drug is finely pulverized and then agitated with 10 mils of absolute alcohol; the whole is heated to boiling, filtered, a piece of potassium hydroxide is added to the filtrate, which is then heated. If the drug is pure, the liquid will acquire a pronounced red color; if falsified, the color will be yellow; and if no santonica be present, the liquid will be colored but faintly, if at all.
Most of the wormseed of commerce comes from the steppes of the northern portion of Turkestan to the great Nizhni-Novgorod fair, whence it finds its way to Moscow and Western Europe. The export from this region has largely declined, because of the erection in Orenburg and Tschimkent of factories for the manufacture of santonin, which is now sent from there into commerce. The yearly consumption of santonin throughout the world is estimated 'at about twenty-five tons, and of this at least twelve tons are produced in the factories just spoken of. The santonin in the plants is said to reach its maximum proportion in July and August, and to disappear immediately after the flowering.
Attention was called by C. H. LaWall (J. A. Ph. A., 1813, p. 596) to a variety of santonica that has appeared upon the market, which seems to be devoid of santonin or to contain not more than traces. He proposes a simple test which may be applied directly to the drug as a preliminary procedure and thus avoid the necessity of going through the long assay process if the sample is valueless: Place 5 Gm. of santonica (whole or ground) in a test tube, add 5 mils of spirit of nitrous ether and boil gently. No more color should be developed or not more than a slight greenish yellow color due to the solvent action of the spirit on the resins of the drug. Now add 10 drops of alcoholic solution of potassium hydroxide. In an active drug a rose red color is developed in direct proportion to the amount of santonin present.
Wormseed contains a volatile oil, but it owes its efficiency to santonin. According to Merck, the mother liquors in the manufacture of santonin from the seeds of Artemisia maritima yield a crystalline principle, C15H18O4, which has been named artemisin. It is freed from santonin by recrystallization from chloroform. It melts at 200° C. (392° F.), gradually turns yellow in the air, and is more readily soluble in water and in dilute alcohol than is santonin. It gives a fugitive carmine red color when heated with aqueous or alcoholic sodium hydroxide, and is apparently a hydroxy-santonin. (P. J., 1896, 484.) Dose, of artemisin, one-six hundred and fortieth of a grain (0.0001 Gm.). The oil of santonica, according to Wallach (Ann. Ch. Ph., ccxxv, 314; and ccxxvii, 277), consists chiefly of cineol, C10H18O, which is isomeric with borneol, and seems to be identical with the cajuputol of cajuput oil, together with some dipentene. Wormseed is rarely used in this country in substance. It is stated that artemisin is a powerful stimulant to the mucous membrane and muscles of the alimentary canal and that its addition to the simple bitters greatly increases their activity. Dose, of santonica, ten to thirty grains (0.65-2.0 Gm.). For a method of valuing santonica, by Dragendorff, see Proc. A. Ph. A., xxvi, 229. For Ehling's Process for Valuing Santonica, see U. S. D., 19th ed., page. 1085.