Cubebs (Cubeba, U.S.P., Cubeb), or tailed pepper, are the dried, full-grown, unripe fruits of Piper Cubeba, Linn. (N.O. Piperaceae), a plant indigenous to the Malay Archipelago. They are collected when green, stripped from the rachis, and dried in the sun. The fruits are greyish-black in colour when dry, nearly globular in shape, sometimes depressed at the base, and about 4 millimetres in diameter. The pericarp is reticulately wrinkled, and abnormally prolonged at the base into a slender, firmly attached stalk. Within there is a single seed attached by its base to the pericarp. The odour is strong, spicy, and characteristic; the taste strong, spicy and somewhat bitter. The crushed fruit imparts a crimson colour to sulphuric acid. Other Piperaceous fruits are not infrequently substituted for cubebs, but the genuine may be distinguished by the sulphuric acid test taken in conjunction with their anatomical structure. The inner layer of the pericarp consists of a single (here and there doubled) row of radially elongated rectangular sclerenchymatous cells. The drug should not contain the rachis of the inflorescence, as this yields only about 1.7 per cent. of volatile oil, nor should too many immature fruits be present.
Constituents.—The chief constituent of cubebs is from 10 to 18 per cent. of volatile oil; the drug also contains resins, amorphous cubeic acid (0.96 per cent.), which gives a crimson colour with sulphuric acid, and colourless, crystalline cubebin. It leaves on incineration about 6 per cent. of ash, and by extraction with ether yields about 22 per cent. of oleoresin.
Action and Uses.—Cubebs has an action similar to, but weaker than, that of cobaiba. It is used internally as an antiseptic diuretic, and as a stimulant to the genito-urinary mucous membrane, especially in the advanced stages of gonorrhoea. Cubebs is much used as a stimulating expectorant to the bronchial mucous membrane, and is the basis of some advertised bronchial lozenges. Cubeb powder is administered enclosed in wafer paper or well stirred with water. It is also made into a paste with copaiba, sometimes with the addition of sandal-wood oil, and given in a wafer. The volatile oil of cubebs may be dispensed in mixture form with mucilage of gum acacia, or enclosed in gelatin capsules. Oleoresina Cubebae is employed in chronic and subacute bronchitis, and is best dispensed in capsule form. It is sometimes used as snuff for cold in the head, when there is free secretion. For inhalation, Vapor Cubebae is used with hot water. Cubeb cigarettes are smoked for hoarseness and subacute laryngitis.
Dose.—2 to 4 grammes (30 to 60 grains).
- Fluidextractum Cubebae, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF CUBEB.
- Cubeb in No. 40 powder, 100; alcohol (95 per cent.), to 100. A more concentrated solution of the active principles of the drug than the tincture, and is consequently preferred to the latter when the larger bulk of alcohol is objectionable. Average dose.—1 mil (15 minims).
- Oleoresina Cubebae, B.P., 1885.—OLEORESIN OF CUBEBS.
- Cubebs, in coarse powder, 100; ether, a sufficient quantity. Pack the cubebs closely in a percolator and pass ether slowly through the mass until the liquid passes colourless; then recover the ether by distillation, let the residue stand in a closed vessel until waxy or crystalline matter is no longer deposited, decant the oleoresin and preserve in a well-stoppered bottle. Oleoresin of cubebs has the stimulant and diuretic properties of cubebs, and is given in gelatin capsules in bronchitis, cystitis, gonorrhoea, and gleet. Dose.—1/4 to 2 mils (5 to 30 minims).
- Oleoresina Cubebae, U.S.P.—OLEORESIN OF CUBEB.
- Cubeb, in No. 30 powder, 100; alcohol (95 per cent.), a sufficient quantity. Average dose.—5 decigrams (7 1/2 grains).
- Tinctura Cubebae, B.P.—TINCTURE OF CUBEBS.
- Cubebs, in powder, 20; alcohol, sufficient to produce 100. Prepared by the percolation process. Mixtures containing tincture of cubebs require the addition of one-sixteenth of their bulk of mucilage of gum acacia. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm).
- Trochisci Cubebae, B.P.C.—CUBEB LOZENGES.
- Each lozenge contains cubebs, 1/2 grain; with a sufficient quantity of fruit basis. Cubeb lozenges are used as a stimulant to the mucous membrane and to allay bronchial cough. Dose.—1 to 6 lozenges.
- Trochisci Cubebae, U.S.P.—TROCHES OF CUBEB.
- Oleoresin of cubeb, 2 grammes; oil of sassafras, 1 mil; extract of liquorice, in fine powder, 25 grammes; acacia, in fine powder, 12 grammes; syrup of tolu, a sufficient quantity. To make 100 troches.
[For preparations of the oil see under Oleum Cubebae.]
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.