Pulsatilla. Pasque flower. Meadow anemone.
Pulsatilla. N. F. IV. Pasque Flower. Meadow Anemone.—" The dried herb of Anemone Pulsatilla Linné, Anemone pratensis Linné, or of Anemone Ludoviciana (Nuttall) Heller (Fam. Ranunculaceae), without the presence of more than 5 per cent. of foreign matter." N. F.
The plants are common throughout Europe and should be employed in the fresh condition. The drug is collected at the time of flowering of the plants which extend from March to May. The drug is frequently sold in the dry condition and should be carefully preserved.
The genus Anemone is composed of small herbal plants growing in almost all the temperate countries of the world, and probably possessed very generally of the acrid rubefacient properties of the Ranunculaceae.
Pulsatilla was official in the U. S. P. 1890 and has been admitted to the N. F. IV. It has been introduced to make the tincture of pulsatilla of the strength of 10 per cent., with a menstruum of 3 volumes of alcohol with 1 volume of water. It is described by the N. F. as follows:
"Leaves and flowering scapes matted, silky-villous; basal leaves with petioles up to 30 cm. in length, the latter hollow, often purplish in color, the blades twice or thrice deeply three- or four-parted or pinnately cleft, the lobes linear and acute, the base of the petiole more hairy than above and frequently attached to the short root-stock; flowering scapes up to 30 cm. in length, solid in the lower portion and hollow in the upper part, with sessile, involucral dissected leaves near the flower, occasionally with remains of the dull purple hairy sepals and the dense-woolly, plumose-tailed akenes. Nearly odorless; taste very acrid.
"The powder, when examined under the microscope, shows numerous simple, thick-walled hairs up to 2.5 mm. in length and up to 0.02 mm. in thickness; tracheae up to 0.03 mm. in breadth with spiral markings or with simple or bordered pores; fragments of epidermal tissue with stoma, the latter being broadly elliptical and up to 0.05 mm. in length; some epidermal cells with wavy vertical walls; calcium oxalate crystals and starch grains few or absent. Pulsatilla yields not more than 10 per cent. of ash." N. F.
The A. ludoviciana Nutt. (Pulsatilla ludoviciana (Nutt.) Heller, A. nuttalliana Gray), an American species, growing in Minnesota and other parts beyond the Mississippi, has been employed with supposed advantage by W. H. Miller of St. Paul, in chronic diseases of the eyes, in cutaneous eruptions, and in syphilitic affections. A. W. Miller found anemonin in it. (A. J. P., 1862, p. 300; see also A. J. P., xlv, 299.) A. nemorosa L., which is common in Europe, is said to act as a poison to cattle, producing bloody urine and convulsions. It is stated also to have proved, when applied to the head, a speedy cure for tinea capitis. It is probable that the American A. quinquefolia L., at first described as a variety of A. nemorosa, has similar properties. The American Pasque Flower (A. patens L., var. Wolfgangiam (Bess.) Koch), formerly known as A. patens L. var. nuttaliana Gray, was recognized as a source of pulsatilla. This plant is also designated as Pulsatilla hirsutissima (Pursh.) Britt.
Beckurts obtained from pulsatilla anemone camphor by treating in each case the aqueous distillate of A. nemorosa, A. pratensis, and A. pulsatilla with chloroform. It is unstable, splitting easily into anemonin and anemonic acid, the latter, when treated with alkalies, yielding anemoninic acid, C10H12O6. (P. J., 1885, 365.) The formula of anemonin is C10H8O4. It is decomposed at temperatures above 152° C. (305.6° F.), and dissolves in alkalies with yellow color, changing at the same time into anemonic acid, C10H10O5. When treated with nascent hydrogen in an acid solution, anemonin yields hydroanemonin, C10H12O4, which crystallizes from boiling petroleum in large colorless laminae which contain 1 molecule of HgO, melt at 78° C. (172.4° F.), and distil without decomposition at from 210° to 212° C. (410°-414° F.) under a pressure of 10 mm. Hydroanemonin is much more stable than anemonin.
Medicinal Properties and Uses.—Pulsatilla is a violent irritant, producing when taken in sufficient amount excessive vomiting and purging, with pain, hematuria, tremors, dyspnea, and collapse. The statements of the physiological action of anemonin vary so much that there can be little doubt that different experimenters have used different substances under the same name. Noel and Lambert (A. J. P., 1897) affirm that it has no action upon the heart but affects powerfully the central nervous system, producing in the lower animals progressive paralysis of spinal origin. On the other hand, Bronevski (Med. Press, Aug., 1886) affirms that anemonin affects very powerfully not only the nerve centers but the heart itself. The strength of commercial anemonin is variable. Broudgeest gives the fatal dose for the rabbit as 200 mgm. per kilo, while in Noel and Lambert's experiments 0.16 gramme per kilo was required to kill a guinea-pig. Authors place the dose for man at from five-sixths to one and one-half grains (0.05-0.096 Gm.) a day, in divided amounts.
It has been claimed for pulsatilla that it acts powerfully upon the genitalia in men and women, and is useful in dysmenorrhea and ovarian irritation; also epididymitis and orchitis. Our own experience with it is in accord with that of many practitioners—that unless given in infinitesimal dose, with much ceremony, it fails to achieve any good in these various cases, so that the effect which sometimes follows its use in hysterical women is of psychical origin. Noel and Lambert especially commend a fluidextract made from the fresh herb, of which they state that from seventy-five to one hundred and twenty-five minims (4.6-7.8 mils) may be exhibited in the course of twenty-four hours. The dose of the dried powder is commonly given as from two to three grains (0.13-0.2 Gm.), but probably much larger amounts can be safely taken.