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Cusparia or Angostura bark is obtained from Galipea officinalis, Hancock (N.O. Rutaceae), a tree growing abundantly on the mountains of Venezuela. The drug comes into commerce in quills or thin curved or channelled pieces, often 10 or 12 centimetres long, and about 2 millimetres thick. The outer corky layer is either grey, and firmly adherent, or buff-coloured, spongy, and easily removed by the finger-nail. The inner surface is light brown, finely striated, and usually laminated in structure. Examined under the lens it exhibits numerous short white lines (crystals of calcium oxalate), and similar white lines may be seen in the smoothed transverse and radial sections. The fracture is short and resinous. The bark has a musty odour and bitter taste. It yields about 7 per cent. of ash on incineration. Cusparia bark has been adulterated with nux vomica bark, but that is different in appearance, and distinguishable by the transverse section, which exhibits under the lens a distinct paler line of sclerenchymatous cells, separating the cortex from the bast. This line of cells is never found in cusparia bark, which seldom contains any sclerenchymatous tissue, other than small isolated groups of bast fibres. Its characteristic structure serves to distinguish cusparia from other adulterants, such as copalchi bark (Croton niveus, Jacq.), and Brazilian angostura bark (Esenbeckia febrifuga, A. Juss).
Constituents.—The chief bitter principle of cusparia bark is angosturin, a colourless crystalline substance which is readily soluble in water, alcohol, or ether. The bark also contains about 2.4 per cent. of the bitter, crystalline alkaloids, galipine, cusparine, galipidine, cusparidine, and cuspareine, together with certain amorphous alkaloids, about 1.5 per cent. of volatile oil, and a glucoside which yields a fluorescent substance when hydrolysed by heating it with diluted sulphuric acid.
Action and Uses.—Cusparia bark is an aromatic bitter and is administered as Infusum Cuspariae and Liquor Cuspariae Concentratus, often in combination with cinchona and aromatics. It is an important constituent of "Angostura bitters," which also contains cinchona, and other bitter substances.
- Infusum Cuspariae, B.P.—INFUSION OF CUSPARIA.
- Cusparia bark, in No. 20 powder, 5; distilled water, boiling, 100. Infuse the drug in the water for fifteen minutes, in a covered vessel, and strain. Infusion of cusparia is an aromatic bitter. Dose.—30 to 60 mils (1 to 2 fluid ounces).
- Infusum Cuspariae Concentratum, B.P.C.—CONCENTRATED INFUSION OF CUSPARIA.
- A product closely resembling infusion of cusparia is obtained by diluting 1 part of this preparation with 7 parts of distilled water. Dose.—4 to 8 mils (1 to 2 fluid drachms).
- Liquor Cuspariae Concentratus, B.P.—CONCENTRATED SOLUTION OF CUSPARIA.
- Cusparia bark, in No. 40 powder, 50; alcohol (20 per cent.), a sufficient quantity. This solution is prepared by a process of percolation. Infusum Cuspariae Concentratum is a more satisfactory product. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.