Spigelia. U. S.
Spigelia. U. S.
"The dried rhizome and roots of Spigelia marilandica Linné (Fam. Loganiaceae), without the presence or admixture of more than 10 per cent. of stems or other foreign matter." U. S.
Maryland, Carolina or Indian Pink, Worm-grass, Worm-weed, American worm-root. Star-bloom; Spigelie du Maryland, Fr.; Marylandische Spigelie, Spigelie, G.; Spigelia, It.
Two species of spigelia have attracted attention as anthelmintics—S. Anthelmia L., of South America and the West Indies, and S. marilandica L. of this country. Spigelia Anthelmia L., of South America is an annual plant, from one or two feet in height, with thin, shortly petioled leaves, those of the lower stem being lanceolate, those above varying from very broadly lanceolate to ovate, with a distinct tendency to a rhomboidal outline and attaining a length of over four inches. It is much used as an anthelmintic in its native country, and its rhizome is said to have appeared in the European markets. The only specimens which we have seen, however, have been the whole dried plant, of which the attached rhizomes are much smaller and the rootlets much finer than in the North American species. It is affirmed that in overdoses this rhizome is a powerful poison, which has caused death not only in the domestic animal but also in man.
The Carolina pink (Spigelia marilandica) is an herbaceous perennial plant. The stems, several of which rise from the same rhizome, are simple, erect, four-sided, nearly smooth, and from twelve to twenty inches high. The leaves are opposite, sessile, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate, entire, and smooth, with the veins and margins slightly pubescent. Each stem terminates in a one-sided spike, and supports from four to twelve flowers with very short peduncles. The calyx is persistent, with five long, subulate, slightly serrate leaves, reflexed in the ripe fruit. The corolla is funnel-shaped, and much longer than the calyx, with the tube inflated in the middle, and the border divided into five acute, spreading segments. It is of a rich carmine color externally, paler at the base, and orange-yellow within. The' edges of the segments are slightly tinged with green. The stamens, though apparently very short, and inserted into the upper part of the tube between the segments, may be traced down its internal surface to the base. The anthers are oblong, heart-shaped; the ovary superior, ovate; the style about the length of the corolla, and terminating in a linear fringed stigma projecting considerably beyond it. The capsule is double, consisting of two cohering, globular, one-celled portions, with many seeds.
The plant is a native of our Southern and Southwestern States, being seldom found north of the Potomac. It grows in rich soils on the borders of woods, and flowers from May to July. The rhizome and roots are the only portions recognized in the Pharmacopoeias. The drug was formerly collected in Georgia and the neighboring States by the Creek and Cherokee Indians, who disposed of it to the white traders. After the emigration of the Indians, the supply of spigelia from this source very much diminished, and at one time it nearly if not quite ceased. But a new source of supply was opened from the Western and Southwestern States, and it is now again obtainable. The commercial supplies being so restricted, some attention has been given to the cultivation of the plant. The Bureau of Plant Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C., has grown spigelia under shade, and Miss Henkel states that it is readily cultivated in Georgia. (D. C., lvi, p. 132.)
No drug has had a commercial history like spigelia. For twenty years or more it was largely substituted by Ruellia ciliosa Pursh.. Sanders reported examining 57 samples of pink-root which were obtained from various sections of the country and none were genuine. (Jour. A. Ph. A., 1912, p. 502.) To Prof. Greenish (A. J. P., 1891, p. 226) belongs the credit for the first pharmacognostic description of this common substitute, although he incorrectly attributed it to Phlox Carolina L. (P. ovata L.). He pointed out that it was distinguished by the fact that it contained stone cells and cystoliths of calcium carbonate. Greenish's work was confirmed by Holm (A. J. P., 1906, p. 553) and by Stockberger (Ph. Rev., 1907, p. 2). His false identification continued in literature for several years, probably owing to the statements of the large drug houses which make a specialty of collecting American drugs. (Proc. A. Ph. A., 1909, p. 1171.) The presence of Phlox ovata L. in commercial lots of spigelia has not been confirmed, and Kraemer illustrates the pharmacognosy of the rhizome and roots of this drug in A. J. P., 1910, p. 470. Moser, however, affirms that Phlox ovata and P. glaberrima L. are frequently collected and sold as spigelia. (A. J. P., 1909, p. 576.) Among some of the adulterants which have been identified are the rhizomes of goldenseal and caulophyllum, although a large variety of rhizomes are no doubt more or less intermixed.
Properties.—Pinkroot is officially described as "rhizome horizontal or slightly oblique, more or less flexuous, somewhat branched, from 1.5 to 5 cm. in length and from 2 to 5 mm. in diameter; externally dark brown, slightly annulate, with scars of bud scales, the upper surface knotty from approximate stem-bases, bearing cup-shaped scars; from the lower and lateral portions arise numerous, long, rather coarse, sparingly branched, brittle roots; fracture short, internally differentiated into three nearly equal zones of pith, wood and bark; odor slightly aromatic; taste bitter, pungent. Few if any of the roots exhibit thin, terminal portions with the bark stripped from the slender strands of wood. Stems usually attached to the upper portion of the rhizome, nearly cylindrical, attaining a length of 6 cm. and a diameter of 3 mm., light grayish-brown to purplish-brown, nodes annulate, marked by opposite leaf-scars. Under the microscope, transverse sections of the rhizome of Spigelia show a dark brown, more or less exfoliated epidermal layer; a cortex composed of from 10 to 15 rows of starch-bearing parenchyma; a distinct zone of sieve tissue from 0.075 to 0.15 mm. in width; a compact woody area composed of tracheae and tracheids which are hardly distinguishable from each other, both kinds of vessels being marked with bordered pores; an internal sieve closely resembling the sieve in the bark; and a pith composed of fairly uniform, nearly polygonal, thin-walled cells, more or less filled with small starch grains. Transverse sections of the root show a large cortex, the cells of which are more or less filled with small starch grains and a central stele of 6 or 8 radial fibro-vascular bundles, which in the older roots are united by a strong development of lignified cells. The stem in transverse section is distinguished from the rhizome by a narrower woody zone, the tracheae having spiral thickenings, and by a nearly uninterrupted circle of non-lignified bast-fibers in the bark. The powder is grayish-brown; when examined under the microscope it exhibits starch grains generally numerous, at times, however, few, spherical or slightly angular, from 0.002 to 0.006 mm. in diameter; fragments of lignified tracheae and tracheids conspicuous; fragments of tracheae with spiral thickening relatively few; bast-fibers few, very long, non-lignified; occasional fragments of the reddish-brown epidermal cells. Spigelia yields not more than 10 per cent. of ash." U. S.
The virtues of spigelia are extracted by boiling water. The root, analyzed by Feneulle, yielded a fixed and volatile oil, a small quantity of resin, a bitter substance supposed to be the active principle, a mucilaginous saccharine matter, albumen, gallic acid, the malates of potassium and calcium, etc., and woody fiber. The principle upon which the virtues of the root are thought to depend is brown, of a bitter nauseous taste, like that of the purgative matter of the leguminous plants, and when taken internally produces vertigo and a kind of intoxication. An analysis of the root by R. H. Stabler yielded as results a bitter uncrystallizable principle upon which the virtues of the medicine are supposed to depend, a little volatile oil, tannic acid, inert extractive, wax, resin, lignin, and salts of sodium, potassium, and calcium.
The active principle is a volatile alkaloid discovered by W. L. Dudley (Am. Chem., vol. i, p. 150), who, on the contrary, found that the active principle of spigelia is a volatile alkaloid. He made it by distilling the ground root with milk of lime over a paraffin bath, and collecting the distillate in hydrochloric acid. After evaporation to dryness, the residue is taken up with alcohol and crystallized out of solution. He compared the reactions of this alkaloid, which he called spigeline, with those of nicotine, coniine, and lobeline. Spigeline yields a brownish-red precipitate with a solution of iodine in potassium iodide, a white crystalline precipitate with potassio-mercuric iodide, and a white flocculent precipitate with meta-tungstic acid. Boorsma (P. J., 1898, 89) found 0.0005 Gm. of spigeline to be lethal to guinea pigs.
Uses.—The activity of spigelia is somewhat diminished by time. Spigelia is generally considered among the most powerful anthelmintics, especially esteemed against the round-worm. In the ordinary dose it usually produces little sensible effect on the system; more largely given it acts as a cathartic, though unequal and uncertain in its operation; in overdoses it is said to cause vertigo, dimness of vision, dilated pupils, spasms of the facial muscles and of the eye-lids, and even general convulsions. The death of two children who expired in convulsions was attributed to it by Chalmers. H. A. Hare (Med. News, March, 1887) has found that in the lower animals it produces symptoms similar to those just described, namely, dilatation of the pupil, exophthalmia, strabismus, progressive muscular weakness of spinal origin, cardiac depression, and death from failure of respiration. The narcotic effects are said to be less likely to occur when the medicine purges, and to be altogether obviated by combining it with cathartics. The danger from its employment cannot be great, as it is in very general use in the United States, in both regular and domestic practice, and we never hear at present of serious consequences. Its effects upon the nervous system have been erroneously conjectured to depend on other roots sometimes mixed with the genuine. The vermifuge properties of spigelia, first learned from the Cherokee Indians, were made known to the medical profession by Lining, Garden, and Chalmers, of South Carolina.
It may be given in substance or infusion, or as the fluidextract. The infusion may be made by macerating half a troyounce of the root in a pint of boiling water. It is usually combined with senna or some other cathartic, to insure its action on the bowels. A preparation much sold under the name of worm tea consists of spigelia, senna, manna, and savin, mixed together, in various proportions, to suit the views of different individuals.
Dose, of the powdered root, for an adult, one or two drachms (3.9-7.7 Gm.), to be repeated morning and evening for several days successively, and then followed by a brisk cathartic.
Off. Prep.—Fluidextractum Spigeliae, U. S.