Synonyms.—Nectandrae Cortex; Nectandra Bark; Bibiru Bark; Greenheart Bark.
Bebeeru bark is obtained from the greenheart tree, Nectandra Rodiaei, Hook. (N.O. Laurineae), a native of British Guiana. The bark occurs in flat heavy pieces 10 to 12 centimetres long, 5 to 7.5 centimetres wide, and 3 to 9 millimetres thick. It is of a greyish-brown colour, the outer surface being marked with broad shallow depressions, due to the exfoliation of the bark. The greyish-brown cork is easily scraped off and discloses a darker brown inner portion. The inner surface of the bark is of a dark cinnamon-brown colour, with broad shallow longitudinal depressions. The bark breaks with a short, granular fracture, the smoothed transverse section exhibiting a narrow pale-grey cork, and a cortex traversed by yellow, wavy, medullary rays, between which small groups of sclerenchymatous cells are arranged radially. The bark has a bitter taste, but is without odour.
Constituents.—The chief constituents of bebeeru bark are the alkaloids beberine and siperine. Beberine, C19H21NO3, is a colourless crystalline alkaloid also found in pareira root. Siperine has been obtained in the form of dark reddish-brown scales of very doubtful purity.
Action and Uses.—The action of bebeeru bark is that of the so-called "beberine sulphate," which is a mixture of alkaloidal sulphates, and is the preparation usually employed.
Dose.—1 to 4 grammes (15 to 60 grains).
Beberine sulphate is prepared from commercial beberine—the mixed alkaloids of the bark of Nectandra Rodiaei—by dissolving it in alcohol, neutralising the solution with dilute sulphuric acid, evaporating the liquid on a water-bath to a syrupy consistence, spreading this on glass plates, and scaling. It occurs in brown translucent scales with a very bitter taste, and contains about 30 per cent. of beberine associated with other alkaloids and much colouring matter.
Soluble in water (about 1 in 1), sparingly in alcohol, and freely in diluted mineral acids.
Action and Uses.—Beberine sulphate is an aromatic bitter, and is used as a substitute for quinine. It is administered in solution in water, usually with a mineral acid, or in pills massed with syrup of glucose. To dissolve beberine sulphate, it should be added to warm water.
Dose.—1/2 to 3 decigrams (1 to 5 grains).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.