Caulophyllum. Pappoose root, Squaw root, Blue cohosh. Caulophyllum thalictroides (L.) Michx.
Caulophyllum, N. F. IV. Pappoose Root. Squaw Root. Blue Cohosh.—"The dried rhizome and roots of Caulophyllum thalictroides (Linne) Michaux (Fam. Berberidaceae)." N. F. This is an indigenous, perennial, herbaceous plant, with matted, knotty rhizomes, from which rises a single smooth stem, about two feet high. " Rhizome of horizontal growth, from 7 to 25 cm. in length, and from 5 to 15 mm. in thickness, much branched, slightly compressed from above, bearing large, cup-shaped stem scars on the upper surface, underneath a tangled or matted mass of long, curved, thin, tough roots which frequently conceal the rhizome; both rhizome and roots of a grayish or yellowish-gray color; fracture tough and woody. Odorless but sternutatory; taste bitter-sweet and acrid. The powdered drug is light brown and, when examined under the microscope, it exhibits numerous starch grains, spherical in outline, mostly simple, up to 0.016 mm. in diameter; fragments of cork with cells about 0.05 mm. in diameter and having yellowish-brown walls; tracheae with bordered pores, the cells being up to 0.05 mm. in width; wood fibers with heavily lignified walls; fragments of parenchyma tissue with many of the cells containing starch grains. Caulophyllum yields not more than 6 per cent. of ash." N. F.
Mayer found caulophyllum to contain a saponin and a colorless alkaloid. (A. J. P., 1863, 99.) The caulophyllin of the eclectics is made by pouring a concentrated alcoholic tincture into water and collecting the precipitate, washing with ether, and drying. For an analysis of this substance by J. F. H. Gilbard, see P. J., 1911, 101. J. U. Lloyd purified the substance which Ebert described as analogous to saponin, and for distinction terms it leontin. (See Drugs and Medicines of North America, vol. ii, 152.) He also obtained caulophylline, the alkaloid first announced by Mayer in 1863. Lloyd describes it aa colorless, odorless, possessed of little taste, and dissolving freely in water, alcohol, ether, and chloroform. It crystallizes with difficulty. The hydrochloride has been obtained, however, in crystals. It has not been tested physiologically. The fruit has been analyzed by Edith Stockton and C. G. Eldridge. (See Chem. News, 1908, 190.)
Caulophyllum has been used by eclectic and homoeopathic practitioners. It is said to be sedative, antispasmodic, and oxytocic, and to have the power when uterine inertia occurs during labor to cause the contractions to become very severe, without altering their general character as does ergot. It is also alleged to be capable of arresting threatened abortion, to be very efficacious in hysteria, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, uterine subinvolution, etc.; also to be capable of originating uterine contractions and of producing abortion. For a detailed description of the various contradictory powers ascribed to it, the reader is referred to Lloyd's Drugs and Medicines of North America, vol. ii, p. 155. It is given in decoction, infusion, or tincture, the first two being made in the proportion of an ounce to a pint of water, the last of four ounces to a pint of spirit. Dose, of decoction or infusion, one or two fluid-ounces (30 or 60 mils); of the fluidextract five to ten minims (0.3-0.6 mil). Leontin has been used in doses of six-tenths of a grain (0.04 Gm.) in a one per cent. solution.