Cactus Grandiflorus. N. F. IV. Night Blooming Cereus.—Cardiac stimulant properties have been attributed to two Cacti—namely, Cereus Bonplandii Parm. and Cereus grandiflorus Miller (Cactus grandiflorus L. Night-blooming Cereus. Cierge a grandes fleurs, Fr. Königin der Nacht, G.). Of these the latter only is now used in practical medicine. It is a native of tropical America, often cultivated in hot houses for the interest in its very fragrant night-opening white flowers. The N. F. drug is "the fresh succulent stems of the wild growing Cactus grandiflorus Linne (Cereus grandiflorus Miller) (Fam. Cactaceae). As found in-commerce, Cactus Grandiflorus is usually preserved in alcohol and the amount of alcohol present should be stated on the label. It occurs in pieces of varying length, from 1.5 to 4 cm. in diameter, and from five to seven angled. On the angles at intervals of about 2 cm. are tufts of from nine to twelve spines, each about 2 mm. in length, and three slender flexuous spines about 1 cm. in length; at irregular intervals are branched roots. It has a strong, herby odor; taste acidulous and mucilaginous. The transverse section shows a central cylinder about 3 mm. in diameter and a spongy parenchyma containing large crystals and raphides of calcium oxalate." N. F. IV. Due to the difficulty in obtaining this drug commercially the larger drug houses arrange for its collection and preservation for their own manufacturing. F. W. Sultan (A. J. P., 1891, 424) believed that he had found in it an alkaloid, cactine, but the existence of this alkaloid is extremely doubtful.
It has long been used in tropical America in the treatment of dropsy. It was first brought into notice as a cardiac remedy by Eubini, of Naples. According to Myers (N. Y. M. J., June, 1891), it elevates the arterial tension by increasing the muscular energy of the heart, and by contracting the arterioles through the vasomotor centers. Considerable clinical testimony has been given to the value of cactus as a cardiac regulator in functional disorders of the heart connected with neurasthenia, Graves's disease, tobacco toxemia, and allied affections. On the other hand, Hatcher and Bailey (J. A. M. A., 1911, lvi, p. 26), experimenting with carefully identified specimens of the Cactus grandiflorus, as well as commercial preparations purporting to be of this drug, were unable to recognize any action upon the circulation, even when given in enormous doses. (Note. Pharmacognosists use/used dried plant preparations. Cereus, like a few other plants, is active only if tincturedfresh. -Henriette)
Sharp could obtain from the drug only resins which were inactive, and concludes that it is inert. (Pract., Sept., 1894.) The usual dose of the fluid extract is from five to ten minims (0.3-0.6 mil).
From Cereus Caespitosus Engl. and A. Gray, Heyl separated an alkaloid, pectenine, which, according to Heffter (A. Pharm., 1901, ccxxxix, s. 462), produced both in cold and warm blooded animals tetanic convulsions with heightened reflexes. According to the experiments of Mogilewa, the alkaloid acts upon the isolated frog's heart as a depressant.
From Cereus pilocereus (?), Heyl separated the alkaloid pilocereine, which Hefftner found to produce in frogs central paralysis with great cardiac depression, and in warm blooded animals to kill by cardiac arrest.
Anthelmintic properties have been ascribed to Cereus flagelliformis Miller and to C. divaricatus (Lam.) DC.