Granatum. U. S.

Botanical name: 

Granatum. U. S.

Pomegranate. Granat. [Pomegranate Bark]

"The dried bark of the stems and roots of Punica Granatum Linne (Fam. Punicaceae), without the presence or admixture of more than 2 per cent. of wood or other foreign matter. Preserve it in tightly-closed containers." U. S.

Granati Cortex, Br., 1898; Pomegranate Bark; Grenadier, Fr. Cod.; Ecorce de la Racine de Grenadier (de Balaustier), Ecorce de Granade, Fr.; Cortex Granati, P. G.; Granatrinde, Granatwurzelrinde, G.; Melogranato. Malicorio, Scorza del Melogranati, It.; Granada (Corteza de), Sp.

The pomegranate is a small tree, attaining in favorable situations the height of twenty feet, with a very unequal trunk, and numerous branches which sometimes bear thorns. The leaves are opposite, petiolate, entire, oblong or lance-shaped, pointed at each end, smooth, shining, and of a bright-green color. The flowers are large, of a rich scarlet color, and stand at the end of the young branches. The petals are roundish and wrinkled, and are inserted into the upper part of the tube of the calyx, which is red, thick, and fleshy. The fruit is a globular berry, about the size of an orange, crowned with the calyx, covered with a reddish-yellow, thick, coriaceous rind, and divided internally into many loculi, which contain an acidulous pulp, and numerous oblong, angular seeds.

This tree grows wild upon both shores of the Mediterranean, in Arabia, Persia, Bengal, China, and Japan, has been introduced into the East and West Indies, and is cultivated in all civilized countries where the climate is sufficiently warm to allow the fruit to ripen. In higher latitudes, where it does not bear fruit, it is raised in gardens and hot houses for the beauty of its flowers, which become double and acquire increased splendor of coloring by cultivation. Doubts have been entertained as to its original country. The name of Punicum Malum, applied by the ancients to its fruit, implies that it was abundant at an early age in the vicinity of Carthage. The fruit, for which the plant is cultivated, varies much in size and flavor. It is said to attain greater perfection in the West Indies than in its native country. The edible pulp is red, succulent, pleasantly acid, and sweetish. The flowers were recognized by the Dublin College, and the seeds are official in France. See a paper by J. U. Lloyd in West. Drug., 1897,202.

The pomegranate may be grown in the United States as far north as Virginia. It is cultivated to some extent in California, and the Gulf States as a garden and hedge plant. The seeds are utilized in the south in making cooling drinks. There are several varieties of the pomegranate. The typical having an acid pulp, and others having a sweet and sub-acid character. There is an East Indian variety which is seedless and is highly prized in India. There are several double-flowered varieties which do not bear fruit and are largely cultivated in the south and in greenhouses for ornamental purposes.

The rind of the fruit is seen in commerce in the form of irregular fragments, hard, dry, brittle, of a yellowish or reddish-brown color externally, paler within, without odor, and of an astringent, slightly bitter taste. It contains a large proportion of tannin, and in countries where the tree abounds, has been employed for tanning leather.

The flowers, sometimes called balaustines, are inodorous, have a bitterish, astringent taste, and impart a violet-red color to the saliva. They contain tannic and gallic acids, and were used by the ancients in dyeing.

Properties.—"The stem bark is mostly in somewhat flattened or transversely curved pieces, to some extent in quills, from 2 to 8 cm. in length; bark from 0.5 to 3.5 mm. in thickness; outer surface yellowish to grayish-brown, with grayish patches of foliaceous lichens with their brownish-black apothecia, longitudinally wrinkled, also marked with small, broadly elliptical lenticels and with more or less abraded patches of cork; inner surface light yellow or yellowish-brown, finely striate; fracture short, smooth, inner bark yellowish-green; odor slight; taste astringent, somewhat bitter and nauseous. The root bark is in transversely curved pieces; externally brownish-yellow to dark brown with irregular patches of cork; internally dark yellow, the medullary rays extending nearly to the outer surface. The powder is yellowish-brown to dark brown; calcium oxalate crystals in rosette aggregates, monoclinic prisms or crystal fibers, the individual crystals from 0.01 to 0.018 mm. in diameter; starch grains numerous, spherical, ellipsoidal biconvex, polygonal or irregular, and single or compound, from 0.002 to 0.01 mm. in diameter; fragments of whitish cork with strongly lignified walls; stone cells mostly single, occasionally in small groups, the individual cells from 0.05 to 0.18 mm. in length, the walls being very thick and strongly lamellated; occasional fragments of wood with long wood-fibers from 0.015 to 0.02 mm. in width, the walls being slightly lignified and from 0.003 to 0.008 mm. in thickness and associated with tracheae possessing simple and bordered pores. Mix 1 Gm. of powdered Pomegranate with 100 mils of distilled water, macerate it with occasional agitation for about an hour and filter; a light yellow filtrate is obtained. Upon the addition of a drop of ferric chloride T.S. to 10 mils of this filtrate a bluish-black precipitate is produced. Upon the addition of from 40 to 50 mils of lime water to another portion of 10 mils of the filtrate, an orange-brown, flocculent precipitate is produced. Pomegranate yields not more than 16 per cent. of ash." U.S.

The roots of the pomegranate are hard, heavy, knotty, ligneous, and covered with a bark which is yellowish-gray or ash-gray on the outer surface, and yellow on the inner. The root bark occurs in quills or fragments similar to but differing from those of the stem as shown in the official characterization. "The transverse section exhibits numerous fine radial and tangential lines." Br. (1898). It has little or no odor, colors the saliva yellow when chewed, and leaves in the mouth an astringent taste without disagreeable bitterness. There is considerable question as to the relative value of the root and stem barks of granatum. The drug of commerce usually consists of a mixture of stem and root bark, the former commonly predominating. Granatum is sometimes substituted by the barks of other plants. The principal of these being Berberis vulgaris, which is bitter and not astringent; Buxus sempervirens, which is also bitter and free from tannin; and Strychnos Nux Vomica or false Angostura bark which has a dark inner surface and a very bitter taste. None of these barks have the characteristic checkered appearance of the transverse surface of genuine Granatum.

The bark of the stem of the pomegranate is sold as root bark: for microscopic diagnosis, see P. J., 1873. As the activity of the barks of different portions of the plant is important, represented by the alkaloids the analyses of Stoeder are of interest. His results are: stem and branch bark, in thin quills, 0.612 per cent.; average quills, 0.350 per cent.; thick quills, 0.498 per cent; root bark from south of Europe, in thick quills, 1.010 per cent.; shaved root bark from Java, 1.326 per cent.; exfoliated bark from dry thick roots of unknown age, 1.240 per cent.; finely rasped wood from these roots, 0.218 per cent. According to the same authority (Nederl. Tijd. Pharm., 1890), of the bark of three varieties of the wild pomegranate recognized and used by the natives of Java, the red-flowered "merah," yielded 2.43 per cent.; the white-flowered, "poetih," yielded 3.75 per cent.; the black-flowered, "hitam," yielded 1.71 per cent.

The infusion of granatum yields a deep-blue precipitate with salts of iron, and a yellowish-white precipitate with solution of gelatin. The inner surface of the bark, steeped in water and then rubbed on paper, produces a yellow stain, which by the contact of ferrous sulphate is rendered blue, and by that of nitric acid acquires a slight rose tint, which soon vanishes. These properties serve to distinguish this bark from those of the box root and barberry. When used, it should be separated from the ligneous portion of the root, as the latter is inert. The bark contains more than 22 per cent. of tannic acid, which Rembold (Ann. Ch. Ph., 143, 285) found to consist for the most part of a peculiar variety, punico-tannic acid, C20H16O13; when boiled with diluted sulphuric acid it is resolved into ellagic acid, C14H8O9, and sugar. Punico-tannic acid is accompanied by common tannic acid, yielding by means of sulphuric acid, gallic acid, which appears sometimes to pre-exist in the bark. Henry Trimble, however (A. J. P., 1897, 636), as the result of an ultimate analysis of the purified tannin and a study of its reactions, pronounced it to be identical with gallotannic acid. Pomegranate bark also yields a considerable quantity of mannite, which was formerly described under the names of punicin or granatin. The medicinal value of the root, however, is due, according to Tanret (C. R. A. S., lxxxvi, 1270, and lxxxvii, 358), to an alkaloid pelletierine, C8H15NO, a dextrogyrate liquid boiling at 195° C. (383° F.), easily soluble in water, alcohol, and ether, and specially so in chloroform. It has strong basic properties and precipitates many metallic salts: 1000 parts of dry bark yielded 4 parts of it.

Tanret (C. R. A. S., lxxxviii, p. 716) announced that he had found three additional volatile bases in the bark, a liquid left-rotating one, a liquid optically inactive one, and a crystallizable inactive one, to which the names of methylpelletierine, C9H17NO, and pseudopelletierine (granatonine), C9H15NO, and isopelletierine, have been given. Carl J. Bender (Ph. Centralh., 1885, p. 6) found three bases in pomegranate bark, one crystallizable and two amorphous. He objects to the name pelletierine, and substitutes punicine. Wm. F. Junkunz analyzed pomegranate bark, and believed that the alkaloid exists in the bark as a tannate. (A. J. P., 1884.) The old idea that the bark loses activity when kept seems to be negatived by the analysis of De Vrij. (P. J., xxi.) Piccinni isolated a tertiary alkaloid, C10H18NO, from pomegranate root bark. (P. J., 1900, 24-9.) Flückiger stated that methyl pelletierine predominates in the bark of the root and pelletierine in the bark of the overground portions of the plant. For Leger's method of determining total alkaloids, see P. J., 1904, 581. Assay processes for granatum are given in most of the foreign pharmacopoeias and these were critically reviewed by Dichgans (Ph. Ztg., 1914, 852), who finds the one in the Swiss Pharmacopoeia to be the best.

Uses.—The rind of the pomegranate fruit was formerly recognized by the U. S. Pharmacopoeia. It is astringent, and in the form of decoction is sometimes employed in diarrhea and colliquative sweats, and, more frequently, as an injection in leucorrhea, and as a gargle in sore throat in the earlier stages, or after the inflammatory action has in some measure subsided. The powdered rind has also been recommended in intermittent fever. The flowers have the same medicinal properties and are used for the same purposes. The bark of the root was used by the ancients as a vermifuge, and is recommended in the writings of Avicenna, but was unknown in modem practice until brought into notice by F. Buchanan, who learned its powers in India. The Mahometan physicians of Hindostan consider it a specific against taenia. One of these practitioners, having relieved an English gentleman in 1804, was induced to disclose his secret, which was then made public. The French writers prefer the product of the wild pomegranate, growing on the borders of the Mediterranean, to that of the plant cultivated in gardens for ornamental purposes. The bark may be administered in powder or decoction, but the latter form is usually preferred. The decoction is prepared by macerating two ounces of the bruised bark in two pints of water for twenty-four hours, and then boiling to a pint. Of this a wineglassful may be given every half hour, hour, or two hours, until the whole is taken. It often nauseates and vomits, and usually purges. Portions of the worm often come away soon after the last dose. It is recommended to give a dose of castor oil and to diet the patient strictly on the day preceding the administration of the remedy, and, if it should not operate on the bowels, to follow it by castor oil, or an enema. If not successful on the first trial, it should be repeated daily for three or four days, until the worm is discharged. It appears to have been used by the negroes of San Domingo before its introduction into Europe.

Pomegranate owes its anthelmintic powers to the alkaloids, pelletierine and isopelletierine, the mixture of which is official. The efficacy of these taenicides has been abundantly confirmed, and it appears to be established that the tannate is the most effective and the least dangerous form of the remedy,—probably because its insolubility prevents its rapid absorption and enables it to come in prolonged contact with the worm. The experiments of Dujardin-Beaumetz have shown that the alkaloids from pomegranate act upon the higher animals like curare, causing paralysis of the motor nerves without affecting sensation. The same authority asserts that hypodermic injections of six grains produce in man severe vertigo, muscular weakness, and great retinal congestion. Double vision has also been noted, and Galezowski has been led by it to prescribe pelletierine in paralysis of the third and sixth pairs of nerves; he affirms that he has succeeded in affording relief after the failure of potassium iodide and blisters. The proper dose of pelletierine tannate is variously given by authorities. It has been stated to be from one-half to three-quarters of a grain (0.032-0.048 Gm.) (B. G. T., xcvi, xcvii), but others place it as high as eight grains (0.5 Gm.). Commercially, it occurs almost exclusively as a syrupy solution, put up, we believe, under the supervision of its discoverer, each bottle containing a single dose, it is stated, of about five grains (0.32 Gm.). We have seen pronounced temporary general palsy produced in a female adult by this dose. The dose of pomegranate rind and flowers in powder is from twenty to thirty grains (1.3-2.0 Gm.). Decoctum Granati Corticis was formerly official in the British Pharm. (1898). The decoction may be prepared in the proportion of four ounces of the bark to twenty fluidounces of water, and given, in the dose of half a fluidounce (15 mils). The remedy should always be given after a twelve hours fast, and be followed in two hours by a brisk cathartic. The seeds are demulcent.

Dose, twenty to thirty grains (1.3-2.0 Gm.).

Off. Prep.—Fluidextractum Granati, U. S.

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