Sanguinaria. U. S.

Botanical name: 

Sanguinaria. U. S.

Sanguinaria. Sanguin. [Bloodroot]

The dried rhizome and roots of Sanguinaria canadensis Linné (Fam. Papaveraceae). U. S.

Blood-root, Red-root, Puccoon, Red Indian-plant, Puccoon-root. Coon-root, White puccoon, Pauson, Snakebite, Sweet-slumber, Tumeric, Red Puccoon, Tetterwort, Red Indian Paint; Sanguinaire, Fr.; Blutwurzel, G,

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), or, as it is sometimes called, puccoon, is an herbaceous or perennial plant. The rhizome is horizontal, abrupt, often contorted, about as thick as the finger, two or three inches long, fleshy, of a reddish-brown color on the outside, and brighter red within. It is furnished with numerous slender roots, and makes offsets from the sides, which succeed the old plant. From the end of the rhizome arise the scape and leaf-stalks, surrounded by the large sheaths of the bud. These spring up together, the folded leaf enveloping the flower-bud, and rolling back as the latter expands. The leaf, which stands upon a long channelled petiole, is reniform, somewhat heart-shaped, deeply lobed, smooth, yellowish green on the upper surface, paler or glaucous on the under, and strongly marked by orange-colored veins. The scape is erect, round, and smooth, rising from a few inches to a foot, and terminating in a single flower. The calyx is two-leaved and deciduous. The petals, varying from seven to fourteen, but usually about eight in number, are spreading, ovate, obtuse, concave, mostly white, but sometimes slightly tinged with rose or purple. The stamens are numerous, with yellow filaments shorter than the corolla, and orange oblong anthers. The ovary is oblong and compressed, with a sessile, persistent stigma. The capsule is oblong, acute at both ends, one-celled, two-valved, and contains numerous oval, reddish-brown seeds. The whole plant is pervaded by an orange-colored sap, which flows from every part when broken, but is of the deepest color in the rhizome. The bloodroot is one of the earliest and most beautiful spring flowers of the Northern United States, growing abundantly in loose, rich soils and shady situations. After the fall of the flower the leaves continue to grow, and by the middle of summer have become so large as to give the plant an entirely different aspect. Except the seeds, all parts of the plant are active.

Properties.—The following is the official description of sanguinaria: "Of horizontal growth, occasionally branching, more or less cylindrical, somewhat flattened, from 2 to 7 cm. in length, and from 5 to 15 mm. in diameter; externally dark brown, slightly annulate, with a few stem-scars on the upper surface and numerous more or less broken filiform roots and root-scars on the lower surface; fracture short and somewhat waxy, brownish-red, occasionally yellowish-white, with numerous, small, circular, yellowish fibro-vascular bundles within about 1 mm. of the epidermis, pith very large; odor slight; taste persistently acrid and bitter. Under the microscope, transverse sections of the rhizome of Sanguinaria show an outer layer of a single row of thin-walled epidermal cells; a cortex of from 10 to 15 rows of thin-walled parenchyma cells containing numerous starch grains, or a small amount of fixed oil; a zone of cambium, most of which is inter-fascicular; a narrow circular zone of small collateral fibro-vascular bundles, separated from each other by parenchyma; pith large, consisting of starch-bearing parenchyma cells; latex cells containing a red or orange colored secretion, either isolated or connected into irregular chains and distributed among the parenchymatous cells of the middle bark and pith; sections treated with glycerin show in the secretion cells, after twenty-four hours, spheroidal aggregates of crystals which strongly polarize light. The powder is brownish-red, sternutatory; when examined under the microscope it exhibits numerous starch grains, from 0.003 to 0.02 mm. in diameter, being mostly single, seldom 2- to 3-compound, the individual grains nearly spherical or ovoid, sometimes more or less plano-convex, somewhat resembling those of wheat starch in outline but polarizing light more strongly: numerous fragments of short latex cells with reddish-brown resinous masses; tracheal fragments few, having numerous slit-like pores." U. S.

For an interesting microscopical description of the rhizome by E. S. Bastin, see Pharm., 1885, p. 201. Sanguinaria has a faint odor, and a bitterish very acrid taste, the pungency of which remains long in the mouth and fauces. Lloyd states that sanguinaria is both a contamination and an adulterant of hydrastis. (Pharm. Rev., 1905, xxiii, p. 332.) It yields its virtues to water and alcohol.

Dana of New York, obtained from it an alkaloid, denominated by him sanguinarine. (Ann. Lyc. of Nat. Hist., New lark, ii, 250.) It may also be conveniently procured by a process similar to that employed by Probst for obtaining chelerythrine from celandine. (Chem. Gaz., i, 145.)

G. Konig (A. J. P., 1891, p. 457) found chelerythrine, which is present in greatest quantity, sanguinarine, β- and γ-homochelidonine, and protopine. Chelerythrine crystallizes with a molecule of alcohol which is not separated at 150° C. (302° F.). Its formula is C21H17O4N, and it is identical with the alkaloid extracted from Chelidonium majus. The salts are lemon-yellow. Sanguinarine has the formula C20H15O4N (Schmidt, C91H15O4N), and is very similar to chelerythrine in its properties. It crystallizes with one-half molecule of H2O, and melts at 211° C. (411.8° F.). Its salts are red. The base named g-homochelidonine is probably identical with that separated by Selle from Chelidonium majus, and its formula is C22H21O5_. The fourth alkaloid, protopine, has been prepared from Chelidonium majus, from Sanguinaria canadensis, and from opium, all three of the specimens being identical. Its formula is C20H17O5_, and it melts at 204° C. (399.2° F.). The virtues of the root are said to be rapidly deteriorated by time. Thos M. Newbold extracted from sanguinaria a non-volatile liquid acid (sanguinarinic acid) (A. J. P., 1866, p. 496), which L. C. Hopp has shown to be a solution of impure citric and malic acids. Schlotterbeck (Ph. Rev., 1900, 358) examined sanguinarine nitrate of commerce and found it to consist mainly of chelerythrine, with some sanguinarine and traces of protopine and homo-chelidonine; he believes that chelerythrine should be called sanguinarine. For methods of assay of sanguinaria see A. J. P., 1896, 305; M. K., 1900, 451; Proc. A. Ph. A., 1903, 284; A. J. P., 1913, p. 395.

Uses.—Sanguinaria is an active local irritant, in large doses producing nausea and vomiting. When snuffed up the nostrils it excites much irritation and sneezing. According to the investigations of Meyer (A. E. P. P., 1892, xxix, p. 397) sanguinarine is an active stimulant to the spinal cord producing in frogs strychnine-like convulsions followed, after very large doses, by complete paralysis. It also stimulates the respiratory center, increasing both the depth and rate of the breathing. By virtue of a stimulant action upon the vasomotor center it causes a rise in blood pressure which, with toxic doses, is followed by a fall in the blood pressure, due to weakening of the heart action. It also excites the flow of saliva and increases intestinal peristalsis. In toxic doses it acts as a poison to the voluntary muscles. When locally applied it causes at first pain, followed by a local anesthesia. Chelerythrine, although present in larger amounts in sanguinaria, is a much less poisonous alkaloid than sanguinarine and it is probable that it plays a role of relatively small importance in the action of the whole drug. It differs widely in its action from sanguinarine, acting chiefly as a paralyzant of the nerve centers, including the spinal cord, the respiratory and the vasomotor centers. It is also a poison to the voluntary muscles. It is locally irritant but has neither anesthetic nor narcotic properties. Beta-homochelidonine, the third most important alkaloid, has a feeble narcotic effect, produces cerebral convulsions, but does not increase reflex activity. It is an active local anesthetic without the irritant effect of sanguinarine.

Sanguinaria is used chiefly as an expectorant, especially in the treatment of subacute or chronic bronchitis. Whether it possesses any beneficial action for this purpose except that which may be attributed to its nauseating effect, seems doubtful. It has also been recommended by Graber (J. A. M. A., 1907, xlix, p. 705) as a local application in chronic eczema, especially when secondary to varicose ulcers.

In toxic quantities sanguinaria produces burning in the epigastrium with vomiting, tormenting thirst, faintness, vertigo, dimness of vision, and alarming prostration. Twenty grains (1.3 Gm.) are said to usually act as a violent emetic. (For fatal cases, see Am. J. M. S., n.s., ii, p. 506.)

The alkaloid sanguinarine has been used in doses of from one-twelfth to one-sixth of a grain (0.005-0.01 Gm.). Sanguinaria is rarely given in substance.

Dose, U. S. P., two grains (0.13 Gm.).

Off. Prep.—Tinctura Sanguinariae, U. S.; Fluidextractum Sanguinariae, N. F.; Syrupus Pini Strobi Compositus, N. F.; Syrupus Pini Strobi Compositus cum Morphina, N. F.; Syrupus Sanguinariae, N. F.

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