Embelia consists of the dried fruit of Embelia Ribes, Burm. f., and of E. robusta, Roxb. (N.O. Myrsineae); shrubs indigenous to India, the islands of the Indian Archipelago, and to East Africa. The drug consists of spherical fruits about 4 millimetres in diameter. They vary in colour from red to nearly black. The fruits of E. robusta are finely striated longitudinally, those of E. ribes are warty. In both fruits a short stalk is often present, and a small five-partite calyx, and when these are removed they leave a small hole in the fruit. The pericarp is brittle, and encloses a reddish seed, which is covered with a thin membrane; on removing this the seed is seen to be covered with light spots, which disappear upon soaking in water. The seed is depressed at the base, and has a horny and slightly ruminated endosperm. The drug has a slightly astringent, aromatic taste.
Constituents.—The chief constituent of the drug is embelic acid, C18H28O4; this substance, which is present to the extent of about 2.5 per cent., is obtainable in golden-yellow lamellar crystals, melting at 142°. Embelic acid is insoluble in water, but soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, and benzene. A quinone has also been detected in the drug.
Action and Uses.—Embelia fruit is used in India and in the Eastern Colonies for its anthelmintic properties; it is especially useful for tape worm, one or two teaspoonfuls of the powdered fruit being administered in milk on an empty stomach, and followed by a purgative.
Dose.—4 to 16 grammes 60 to 240 grains).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.