Asarum. N. F. IV. Wild Ginger, Canada Snake-root. Asaret du Canada, Fr. Canadische Haselwurzel, G.—"The dried rhizome and roots of Asarum canadense Linne (Fam. Aristolochiaceae), with only an occasional leaf or flower present, and without the presence of more than 5 per cent. of other foreign matter." N. F. The plant has in all its parts an aromatic odor and an aromatic, slightly bitter taste, which it imparts to alcohol and hot water. "Of horizontal growth, occasionally branched, two-edged when young, quadrangular when older, finely striate, usually more or less twisted, from 5 to 17 cm. in length and from 2 to 4 mm. in thickness; nodes enlarged with irregular scars from petioles and remains of pedicels; internodes with annular scars from scales; dark purplish-brown externally; fracture short, internally whitish, starchy or resinous; attached roots few, from 5 to 7 cm. in length and not over 1 nun. in thickness, having from four to six radial fibro-vascular bundles. Odor aromatic, non-irritating upon heating; taste pungent and slightly bitter. In transverse section the rhizome shows a thick bark with numerous oil cells, a wood with about twelve fibro-vascular bundles and a large pith. Examined microscopically, the powdered drug shows simple and two- to four-compound starch grains, the individual grains being from 0.004 to 0.02 mm. in diameter, and tracheae with scalariform or reticulate thickenings, a few spiral. Asarum yields not more than 12 per cent. of ash." N. F. The chief constituent is the volatile oil, at one time largely used in perfumery. According to Petersen, the oils of Asarum Europaeum and Asarum canadense are composed in the main of one compound, which is identical with the methyl ether of eugenol, C6H3(OCH3)2.C3H5, a compound which has been made synthetically but not previously found in nature. Under the trade name Asaron a camphor derivative of Asarum Europaeum is recommended as an antiseptic and tonic. It is given the formula (CH3)3. C6H2(CH)2CH2OH2, and occurs as a whitish-yellow crystalline powder or fragments possessing a faint biting taste. According to the researches of Power and Lees (Trans. Chem. Soc., 1902) the oil of Asarum canadense contains the following substances: a phenol, C9H12O2; pinene, apparently a mixture of the d- and l- forms; d-linalool, l-borneol, l-terpineol, geraniol, eugenol-methyl-ether, a blue oil, of undetermined composition, consisting of oxygenated substances of alcoholic nature; a lactone, C14H20O2, palmitic acid, acetic acid, and a mixture of fatty acids intermediate between acetic and palmitic acids. For formulas for fluidextract, syrup, and oleoresin, see A. J. P., 1876, 155. F. P. Streeper (A. J. P., 1888, 6) proved that strong alcohol was the proper menstruum for the fluidextract. The medicinal properties of this drug are those of a feeble aromatic. From a half to one drachm (2-3.9 Gm.) may be used. It is employed as an aromatic adjuvant to tonic mixtures and infusions. From Asarum arifolium Michx., E. K. Miller obtained from 7 to 10 per cent. of volatile oil having a sassafras odor, sp. gr. 1.0585 (P. J., lxix); see also Schim. Rep; 1902, p. 12; also Proc. Alabama Pharm. Assoc., 1910, 56-58.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.