Hydrastis. U. S. (Br.)

Botanical name: 

Hydrastis. U. S. (Br.)

Hydrastis [Golden Seal]

Preparation: Tincture of Hydrastis - Extract of Hydrastis
(Golden seal is endangered. Don't use it unless you know it's cultivated, not wildcrafted. -Henriette)

"The dried rhizome and roots of Hydrastis canadensis Linne (Fam. Ranunculaceae), without the presence or admixture of more than 2 per cent. of the" stems, leaves or other foreign matter and yielding not less than 2.5 per cent. of the ether-soluble alkaloids of Hydrastis." U. S. "Hydrastis Rhizome is the dried rhizome and roots of Hydrastis canadensis, Linn." Br.

Hydrastis Rhizoma. Br.; Hydrastis Rhizome; Rhizoma Hydrastis; Golden Seal, Yellow Root, Yellow Puccoon, Orange Root, Indian Dye, Indian Turmeric, Ohio Turmeric; Indian Paint, Ground Raspberry, Eye Root, Eye balm. Yellow Eye, Jaundice Root; Hydrastis, Fr. Cod.; Racine d'Hydrastis du Canada, Sceau d'or, Fr.; Canadische Gelbwurzel, Gelbes Blutkraut, G.; Idraste, It.; Hidrastis del Canada (Rhizoma de), Sp.

Hydrastis canadensis is a small, herbaceous, perennial plant, with a thick, fleshy, yellow (rhizome, from which numerous long roots arise, and an erect, simple, pubescent stem, from six inches to a foot in height. There are usually but two leaves, which are unequal, one sessile at the top of the stem, the other attached to the stem, a short distance below by a thick roundish footstalk, causing the stem to appear as if bifurcate near the summit. The leaves are pubescent, roundish-cordate, with from three to seven, but generally five, lobes, which are pointed and unequally serrate. A solitary flower stands upon a peduncle rising from the basis of the upper leaf. It is without corolla, but with a greenish-white calyx, the sepals of which closely resemble petals, and are very caducous, falling very soon after the flower has expanded. The fruit is a globose, compound, red or crimson berry, half an inch or more in diameter, composed of many fleshy carpels, each tipped with a short curved beak, and containing one or rarely two seeds. The plant grows in moist, rich woodlands in most parts of the United States, and at one time abundantly in the North and West. The fruit bears a close resemblance to the raspberry, but is not edible. The root is the part used. The Indians employed it for staining and dyeing yellow under the name of yellow puccoon, and it is said to impart a rich and permanent yellow, and with indigo a fine green, to wool, silk, and cotton. There is but one other species of Hydrastis known—viz., H. jezoensis Sieb. et Zucc., which is found in Northern Japan.

Enormous quantities of hydrastis are consumed. It is estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 pounds of the drug are annually used in medicine. As the natural supplies are becoming limited many experiments in the cultivation of hydrastis have been made. It can be grown from cuttings of the rhizome and from seed. It furthermore can be grown with the natural shade of the woodlands or by means of artificial shade. The important articles on the cultivation of hydrastis are the following: John Uri Lloyd, Proc. A. Ph. A., 1905, p. 307, and in A. Ph. A; vol. i, p. 5; Alice Henkel and G. Fred Klugh, Circ. No. 6, Bureau of Plant Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture; J. C. Baldwin, A. J. P., 1913, p. 147. Most of the commercial supplies are obtained from the Ohio Valley. The States producing hydrastis are West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. The chief market being Cincinnati.

Properties.—The fresh rhizome is juicy, and loses much of its weight in drying. The drug is officially described as "rhizome horizontal or oblique, sub-cylindrical and usually more or less flexuous, from 1 to 5 cm. in length and from 2 to 7 mm. in diameter, occasionally with stem-bases; externally yellowish or grayish-brown, marked by numerous stem-scars and more or less annulate from scars of bud-scales, otherwise deeply longitudinally wrinkled; on the under and lateral portions arise numerous, long, filiform roots which are easily detached; fracture short, waxy; internally of, a deep yellow color and consisting mostly of parenchyma enclosing an interrupted circle of small fibro-vascular bundles; odor distinctive; taste, bitter. Macerate the drug for a short time in water until it is softened, then make sections and mount them directly in sulphuric acid and examine under the microscope; in a short time numerous acicular or rod-shaped crystals separate, some attaining a length of 0.2 mm. The powder is brownish-yellow; starch grains numerous, from 0.002 to 0.015 mm. in diameter, mostly single, nearly spherical, and either free or in the parenchyma cells; fragments with the tissues of the fibro-vascular bundles mostly associated with starch-bearing parenchyma; tracheae with simple and bordered pores and occasionally spiral thickenings, and associated with short sclerenchymatous fibers possessing thin walls with simple pores; occasional fragments of tabular cork cells with reddish-brown walls." U. S.

"Rhizome tortuous, simple or branched, from ten to forty millimetres long and from three to ten millimetres thick; yellowish-brown, becoming darker by age. On the upper surface, short ascending branches usually terminated by cup-shaped scars; on the lower surface and sides numerous thin, brittle roots. Fracture clean, resinous; fractured surface brownish-yellow or greenish-yellow. In transverse section, a ring of bright yellow, somewhat distant, wood-bundles. Slight but characteristic odor; taste bitter. Ash not more than 11 per cent." Br.

The color of the rhizome, though yellow in the recent root, becomes a dark yellowish-brown by age; that of the rootlets and the interior of the root is yellow, and that of the powder still more so.

Holm gives a valuable illustrated article on the morphology of the hydrastis plant in Merck's Rep., xxii, p. 202. (See also Chem. Zeit., 1894, p. 134.) Rosenthaler has extended his studies of microsublimates to that of hydrastis and finds that the pyroanalytical sublimate of hydrastis gives general alkaloidal reaction and a characteristic reaction with sulphuric acid. (Apoth. Zeit., xxviii, p. 991.) Owing to the high price of hydrastis the quality of the commercial article has steadily deteriorated in recent years, and Lloyd asserts that every drug native to the soil which resembles this rhizome, either in fiber or in color, has been known to be mixed with it. (Pharm. Rev., xxiii, p. 330.)

"Assay.—Introduce 10 Gm. of Hydrastis, in No. 60 powder, into a 250 mil flask and add 100 mils of ether and proceed as directed under Belladonnae Radix, fourth line of the Assay, beginning with the word "Stopper." Modify the process there given by using 50 mils of the ether solution, representing 5 Gm. of Hydrastis, to complete the assay. Use ether instead of chloroform for the final shaking out of the alkaloids, and dry the residue to constant weight at 100° C. (212° F.) instead of titrating. The weight is the amount of ether-soluble alkaloids from 5 Gm. of Hydrastis." U. S.

The medicine imparts its virtues and coloring matters to water and alcohol. Examined by Alfred B. Durand of Philadelphia, it was found to contain albumen, starch, fatty matter, resin, yellow coloring matter, sugar, lignin, and various salts. He also discovered a peculiar nitrogenous, crystallizable substance, for which he proposed the name of hydrastine. (A. J. P., 1851, p. 112.) It was also found that the root contained another alkaloid, to which it owes its yellow color. F. Mahla first ascertained that this alkaloid of hydrastis was berberine. (Am. J. S., Jan., 1862, p. 43.) It exists in large proportion in hydrastis, constituting, according to Perrins, nearly 4 per cent. For a valuable paper by J. U. Lloyd on the preparation of salts of berberine, see A. J. P., 1879, p. 11. Lerre's process based on Lloyd's for preparing hydrastine and berberine will be found in the U. S. D., 19th ed., p. 643.

Wilhelm (P. J., 1888, 325) furnishes a process for obtaining the alkaloids from hydrastis as follows. The extract obtained by treating the coarsely powdered root with water acidified with acetic acid at 37.8° C. (100° F.) is evaporated to a syrup and excess of diluted sulphuric acid added, when berberine sulphate separates. The nitrate neutralized with ammonia water gives a precipitate containing much hydrastine; this is separated, and on adding ammonia water in excess to the filtrate a further precipitate is produced, which contains canadine. Both precipitates, boiled with ethyl acetate, give solutions which, on cooling, deposit hydrastine in large crystals, somewhat colored, but rendered pure by recrystallization. The crystals from the second ammonia precipitate are much purer than those from the first; by slow evaporation of the ethyl acetate solution they can be obtained as large as walnuts.

A substance obtained by the precipitation of an infusion of the root by hydrochloric acid has been for some time known and used by the "Eclectics," under the name of hydrastin; it consists of a small proportion of hydrastine, with berberine and resin, and the reader must be cautious not to confound this substance with the alkaloid to which the name properly belongs. Perrins obtained 1.5 per cent. of the eclectic principle from the root, and, having given five grains of it to a rabbit without any other effect than a slight uneasiness which soon ceased concluded justly that it was not poisonous.

Canadine (C20H21NO4) was extracted by E. Schmidt; it occurs in the form of brilliant, small, "white nodules, melting at 134° C. (273.2° F.). When canadine is dissolved in alcohol and treated with iodine, berberine hydriodide (which is yellow in color) is formed. Canadine was believed to be identical with dihydromethylberberine (Ph. Post, 1892, 230), and the formula C21H21NO4 was given to it. E. Schmidt, however (A. Pharm., 1894, 136-154), has found that its true formula is C21H21NO4, and, owing to the fact that iodine forms with it berberine hydriodide, he believes that canadine is a tetrahydroberberine. Schmidt also obtained, as an additional product of the iodine reaction, the hydriodide of another base, which he believes is intermediate between berberine and canadine. For a process for isolating canadine, see Proc. A. Ph. A., 1894, 1103. The alkaloid discovered by A. K. Hale, and obtained later by Burt and by Lerchen, and which was named xanthopuccine, is now considered to be identical with canadine. For processes for making hydrastine and berberine, see D. C., 1897, 34. It is probable, from the odor of hydrastis, that besides the two alkaloids here mentioned it contains also an active volatile principle, but this has not yet been isolated.

LaWall (Proc. Pa. Ph. A., 1912, p. 142) made separate assays of the rhizome and rootlets from a 98-pound lot of the drug. There was present 45.5 pounds of rhizome and 48 pounds of rootlets, the balance being dirt and waste. The rhizomes assayed 2.48 per cent. of hydrastine and the rootlets 1.38 per cent. The average of the entire lot was 1.92 per cent.

Uses.—Hydrastis owes its virtues almost entirely to hydrastine, the alkaloid berberine, aside from some effect as a bitter, being practically inert. It has enjoyed a widespread reputation as a local remedy in various forms of catarrh, such as rhinitis, gastritis, vaginitis, and urethritis.

In chronic or subacute inflammations of the colon and rectum injections of hydrastis are often of great service, and it has been used in hemorrhoids with asserted excellent results.

The strength of the local application of hydrastis to be used in various diseases of the mucous membrane varies from five to twenty-five per cent. of the fluidextract. In gonorrhea from forty to eighty minims (2.5-5.0 mils) of the fluidextract, may be used to the fluidounce (30 mils). In hemorrhoids from two to four drachms to the fluidounce may be used. The glycerite is not so useful a local preparation as the fluidextract diluted with water, a deposit of the insoluble resinous substance upon the mucous membrane and its constant prolonged influence being important.

It is essential to recognize the differences, medicinally, between the preparations of hydrastis. The so-called hydrastin of commerce is really an impure body, containing berberine, canadine, hydrastine, and probably some resin. The dose of this hydrastin is from five to ten grains (0.32-0.65 Gm.).

There is some reason for believing that berberine has a special action upon the gastro-intestinal tract. Marfori has, however, found that even in large therapeutic dose it is without perceptible influence upon the circulation or the nervous system. When, therefore, a preparation of hydrastis is to be used for effects other than a local action on the gastro-intestinal or other mucous membrane, a salt of the pure alkaloid hydrastine should be used.

According to the studies of Falck and Guenste, berberine causes in dogs and rabbits restlessness, convulsive tremblings, hurried respiration, and diarrhea, followed, if the dose has been large enough, by decrease of the breathing rate, widespread paralysis, dyspnea, convulsions, and death. In man as yet no serious symptoms have been recorded as produced by it. Buchner is stated to have taken nearly twenty grains without causing anything more serious than a loose stool. Marek (W. M. W., 1911, 2146) has presented evidence that it possesses valuable oxytocic properties, and is useful in delayed labor. It has been employed in internal medicine as a simple bitter, in doses of from two to five grains (0.13-0.32 Gm.).

Hydroberberine (Canadine), whose molecule contains four atoms of hydrogen more than the molecule of berberine, is said by Marfori to differ from berberine physiologically; it produces in moderate dose an increase in the blood pressure by stimulating the vasomotor center in the medulla, Opianic, hydrastinic, and berberinic acids are said by the same authority to be almost inert physiologically, except that they are feebly antiseptic. (T. G., 1890.)

The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.