Sanguinaria rhizome (Sanguinaria, U.S.P.) is obtained from Sanguinaria canadensis, Linn. (N.O. Papaveraceae), a herbaceous plant with perennial rhizome, widely distributed throughout the United States and Canada. The rhizome occurs in pieces from 2 to 5 centimetres long and 5 to 15 millimetres thick, dark grey or dark reddish-brown in colour, and nearly cylindrical or sometimes flattened in shape. It occasionally bears one or two short branches, but is usually deprived of the thin wiry roots. Fracture short, the section varying in colour from almost white to deep reddish-black; in most rhizomes it is red, and exhibits under the lens minute, deep red, secretion cells. Odour, slight; taste, unpleasantly bitter and acrid.
Constituents.—The chief constituents of the drug are the alkaloids sanguinarine, chelerythrine, protopine, and β- and γ-homochelidonine. Sanguinarine, C20H15NO4, 1/2H2O, forms colourless crystals (melting-point, 211°), but yields with acids deep red crystalline salts. Chelerythrine, C21H17NO4, 1/2H2O, melting-point, 203°, is also colourless and crystalline, but forms yellow salts. Protopine, C20H19NO5. also found in opium, is one of the most widely diffused of the opium alkaloids. In addition to the alkaloids, sanguinaria rhizome also contains a red resin and abundance of starch.
Action and Uses.—The powdered rhizome is a violent irritant to the respiratory passages. It is occasionally employed as a stimulating expectorant in chronic bronchitis; the tincture is, however, more suitable for internal use. Sanguinarine belongs to the opium group of alkaloids, and has an action midway between that of codeine and thebaine. In small doses it is emetic, expectorant, and mildly narcotic, but like thebaine it increases reflexes. In large doses it causes vomiting, purging, salivation, and tonic convulsions. Poisonous doses cause death from respiratory failure. A resinoid named sanguinarin is prepared and has been recommended in doses of 3 to 12 centigrams (1/2 to 2 grains) for use in bronchitis, asthma, and as an emmenagogue in amenorrhoea.
Dose.—6 to 30 centigrams (1 to 5 grains).
- Fluidextractum Sanguinariae, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF SANGUINARIA. Syn.—Liquid Extract of Blood Root.
- Sanguinaria, in No 30 powder, 100; a mixture of acetic acid (36 per cent.), 1, and distilled water, 3, sufficient to produce 100. This extract is prescribed in mixture form with ipecacuanha and lobelia far its expectorant and antiasthmatic properties. it is also used, sometimes with pulsatilla and viburnum, in dysmenorrhoea. Average dose.—1 decimil (0.1 milliliters) (1 1/2 minims).
- Tinctura Sanguinariae, U.S.P.—TINCTURE OF SANGUINARIA. Syn.—Tincture of Blood Root.
- Sanguinaria, in No. 60 powder, 10; acetic acid (36 per cent.), 2; a mixture of alcohol, 6, and distilled water, 4, sufficient to produce 100. This tincture is occasionally used as a stimulating expectorant in chronic bronchitis. Average dose.—1 mil (15 minims).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.