Solanum.—The genus Solanum contains a number of species which are possessed of active physiological properties and some of which have been used to a considerable extent in medicine.
S. carolinense L. Horse Nettle. Sand Brier. Poisonous Potato. Apple of Sodom.—Under the name of Solanum the N. F. IV has made the berries of S. carolinense official and has introduced fluid-extract of solanum made with a menstruum of two volumes of alcohol and one volume of water.
"The air-dried ripe fruit of Solanum carolinense Linné (fam. Solanaceae)." N. F. IV.
"Globose, slightly depressed, somewhat shriveled and wrinkled in drying, from 0.8 to 2 cm. in diameter, orange-yellow, glabrous, fleshy, two-celled, many-seeded, calyx and pedicel usually persistent; calyx stellate pubescent, deeply five-lobed, the lobes ovate or ovate-lanceolate, acuminate and enclosing half or more of the berry; seeds orbicular, flat, yellow, smooth, shining. Odor pepper-like; taste bitter and acrid.
"Solanum yields not more than 6 per cent. of ash." N. F. IV.
This is a coarse perennial weed growing in waste sandy ground in the United States as far west as Iowa and as far south as Florida, and yields an orange-yellow berry which is said to be the most active part of the plant. For study of microscopic structure, see A. J. P., vol. lxix. It has been examined by G. A. Krauss (A. J. P., 1890, 601, and 1891, 65 and 216) and Harry Kahn (A. J. P., 1891, 126). Krauss found two active principles corresponding probably to solanine, C42H75NO15, and solanidine, C41H71NO2, together with a characteristic organic acid to which he gives the name solanic acid. J. U. Lloyd believes that the alkaloid in this plant is not identical with solanine, and proposes to call it solnine. (A. J. P., 1894, 61, and 1897, 76, 89, 108.) E. Q. Thornton (T. G; xii, 1896) finds that in frogs this solanum produces stupor with tetanic spasms, not prevented by section of the cord. It is said to have long been used by the negroes of the South in the treatment of the so-called falling sickness, and in 1889 it was recommended by J. L. Napier as of value in epilepsy. H. C. Wood has found that, although when given by itself its usefulness is very limited, as an adjuvant to the bromides it lessens the size of the doses necessary to keep the convulsions in check. Not less than a fluidrachm (3.75 mils) of the fluidextract should be given three times a day. No unpleasant effects have been produced by it. The N. F. recognizes a fluidextract.
S. aculeatissimum Jacq., known as Apple of Sodom, is indigenous to Brazil; the fruit yields traces of solanine.
S. bacciferum Ort., of Jamaica, yields the so-called Susumber berries, which are habitually used as fruit by the natives, but Manners has recorded in the Ed. M. J., 1867, fatal poisoning by these berries, death being preceded by dilated pupils and collapse. It is probable, however, that the berries were not true susumber berries but were the product of some other species of solanum.
S. Chenopodinum, F. Muell..In this plant, which is a native of Queensland, C. E. Sage has found the alkaloid solanine. According to E. B. Ormerod the plant is useful in the treatment of dysentery. (P. J., lxviii, 1902.)
Under the English title Bittersweet the N. F. IV recognizes "The dried stems and branches of Solanum Dulcamara Linné (Fam. Solanaceae)." N. F. The Latin title is Dulcamara, the synonyms Stipites Dulcamarae, Tiges de Douceamere (de Morelle grimpante), Douce amere, Fr. Bittersüss, Bittersüss-Stengel, Alpranken, G. Dulcamara. Dulcamara is a climbing shrub with a woody branching stem and purplish, cymose flowers, with lemon-yellow anthers. The bright scarlet berries remain after the falling of the leaves. The plant grows in wet places and around dwellings and is common to Europe and North America, and in the United States grows from New England to Ohio. All portions of the plant are very active. Fatal results from the eating of the berries by a child have been recorded. (P. J,, 1861.) For medicinal purposes the plant should be gathered in the autumn after the fall of the leaf, and the extreme twigs should be selected. That grown in high and dry situations is said to be the best.
It is described in the N. F. as "In short sections about 5 mm. or less in thickness, cylindraceous, somewhat angular, longitudinally striate, more or less warty, usually hollow in the center; bark thin, externally pale greenish, or light greenish-brown, glabrous, marked with alternate leaf scars, internally green, the greenish or yellowish wood occurring in one or two concentric rings. Odor slight; taste bitter, afterwards sweet.
"The powder is greenish-yellow and, when examined under the microscope, exhibits tracheae up to 0.05 mm. in diameter and with bordered pores; lignified wood fibers with few pores; non-lignified bast fibers with walls up to 0.02 mm. in thickness; fragments of cork cells; few, simple, unicellular hairs up to 0.8 mm. in length, and with the lumina distinct in the lower portions only; few starch grains, spheroidal, up to 0.012 mm. in diameter; sphenoidal crystals of calcium oxalate numerous, up to 0.007 mm. in length.
"Bittersweet yields not more than 6 per cent. of ash." y. F. IV.
The dried twigs are inodorous, though the stalk in the recent state emits, when bruised, a peculiar, rather nauseous odor. Their taste, which is at first bitter and afterwards sweetish, have given origin to the name of the plant.
Boiling water extracts all their virtues. These are supposed to depend, at least in part, upon the alkaloid solanine. Wittstein (1852) supposed another alkaloid, dulcamarine, to be present, but Geissler (1875) showed that this substance was a glucoside, and not an alkaloid, yielding on decomposition with dilute acids dulcamaretin and sugar. He assigned the formula C22H34O10 to dulcamarine, and C16H26O6 to dulcamaretin. (Flückiger, Pharmacographia, 2d ed., p. 451.) Besides solanine, the stalks of S. Dulcamara contain, according to Pfaff, a peculiar principle to which he gave the name of picroglycion, indicative of the taste, at once bitter and sweet, which it is said to possess. This was obtained by Blitz, in the following manner: The aqueous extract was treated with alcohol, the tincture evaporated, the residue dissolved in water, the solution precipitated with lead subacetate, the excess of this salt-decomposed by hydrogen sulphide, the liquor then evaporated to dryness, and the residue treated with acetic ether, which yielded the principle in small isolated crystals by spontaneous evaporation. Frederick Davis (Y. B. P., 1902) found the two alkaloids, solanine and solanidine, the glucoside solanein, and the bitter principle dulcamarin, in fresh specimens of the plant.
Dulcamara possesses feeble narcotic properties, with the power of increasing the secretions, particularly those of the kidneys and skin. George B. Wood observed, when the system was under its influence, a dark purplish color of the face and hands, and at the same time considerable languor of the circulation. In overdoses it produces nausea, vomiting, faintness, vertigo, and convulsive muscular movements. (London Med. Gaz., 1850.)
Anaphrodisiac properties have been attributed to dulcamara, and it has also been employed with alleged benefit in chronic rheumatism. But its chief use has been in the treatment of scaly cutaneous eruptions, such as lepra, psoriasis, and pityriasis. A fluidextract is official in the N. F. Dulcamara may be given in doses of from thirty grains to a drachm. (2-3.9 Gm.).
D. Freire has obtained from the fruit of S. grandiflorum, or wolf fruit, of Brazil, a toxic alkaloid, grandiflorine. (C. R. A. S., cv.)
S. Jacquinii Willd. is used in India as a diaphoretic and expectorant.
S. Lycopersicum L. Tomato Plant (formerly termed the Love Apple).—The tomato is believed by many practitioners to be an injurious article of diet to gouty persons on account of the great acidity of the juice, an acidity which T. D. McElhenie has demonstrated to be due at least in part to citric, malic, and oxalic acids. (A. J. P., 1872.) Solanine is said not to be present in the juice but has been found by George W. Kennedy (P. J., 1873) in the herbaceous part of the plant. It probably also exists in the seeds. (A. J. P., xxxiv.)
S. nigrum L. Black, or Garden, or Common Nightshade. Duscle. Hound's Berry. Morelle.— Tills is a simple leaved annual plant, growing widely in shaded and rich open ground throughout the United States. The leaves have been used in medicine in the treatment of scrofulous dyscrasias, and are said to produce diaphoresis when in overdose; also nausea, purging, and nervous disturbance. The poisonous properties commonly attributed to this plant are, however, to be doubted, since Dunal of Montpellier, states, as the result of numerous experiments, that the berries are not poisonous to man or the inferior animals; and the leaves are said to be consumed in large quantities in the Isles of France and Bourbon and in the Hawaiian Islands by the natives as food, having been previously boiled in water. In the latter case the active principle of the plant may have been extracted by decoction. Introduced by importers under the name of juruteba, this plant was examined by Kobert and found to be inert. According to Peckoldt, however (Ph. Rund., 1889), true jurubeba is Solanum insidiosum Mart., from which the results would have been more favorable. It is used in Brazil in gonorrhea and syphilis.
S. Pseudocapsicum L., or Jerusalem or Winter Cherry, a plant cultivated for greenhouse or house decoration when covered with its bright colored berries, yields a fruit whose resemblance to the common cherry is said to have led to its being eaten by children with fatal results.
S. rostratum Dunal. Sand Bur. Buffalo Bur. Beaked Nightshade. Bull Nettle.—This very prickly plant, which grows on the prairies from Nebraska to Mexico, and is noteworthy as having been the original food of the Colorado beetle or potato bug, has. yielded to W. S. Amos an alkaloid. (Notes on N. R., iv.)
Narcotic properties have been attributed to the leaves, stalks and unripe berries of S. tuberosum L., or common white potato, and the extract has been used in various diseases. Worsham, of Philadelphia, found the extract, in the quantity of nearly one hundred grains, to cause no sensible effect. (Phila. Journ. of the Med. and Phys. Sciences, vi, 22.)
A case is recorded of death in a girl of fourteen, from eating the unripe fruit of the potato. (B. M. J., Sept. 3, 1859.) The prominent symptoms were partial stupor, speechlessness, jactitation, hurried breathing, lividness of the skin, cold sweats, very frequent and feeble pulse, and a constant spitting through the closed teeth of viscid frothy phlegm.
It is probable that the properties of the plant vary with the stage of growth, or with the place and circumstances of culture. C. Haaf found solanine in old potatoes which had begun to germinate, in the proportion of 0.16 in 500 parts, and in very young potatoes, deprived of their coating, precisely the same quantity. Fully ripe potatoes, which had not begun to sprout, gave a negative result. (N. R. Pharm., 1864, p. 559.) Solanine has also been found in the germs of potatoes by Schmiedeberg. (A. E. P. P., 1899, xxxvi, 361.)