Description: This is a South American representative of the Natural Order Rutaceae, of which xanthoxylum and ptelea are among the North American genera. Its best known synonyms are Galipea officinalis, and Bonplanida trifoliata. It is a fine tree of the tropics, growing at moderate elevations above the sea, and reaching a height of from fifty to eighty feet. Leaves two feet long, triparted, of an unpleasant fragrance, bright-green? on petioles a foot long; leaflets ovate- lanceolate, sessile, acute, with white dots. Flowers in long, axillary racemes, numerous, white, with tufts of hair on the outside.
The bark of this tree is used in medicine. It usually comes to market in cut pieces six to ten inches long, a line in thickness, and rolled in at the rides. The outside is mottled, yellowish-gray or grayish-white, spongy, easily scraped off with the ail; the inside brownish or yellowish-brown, somewhat smooth, readily separable into layers, and fibrous or splintery. It breaks with a crisp fracture, has a strong and peculiar odor, and an aromatic, bitter, and somewhat pungent taste. It contains a volatile oil, resin, and a peculiar neutral active-principle which has been named angusturin and cusparin.
At first appearance, this bark resembles the poisonous bark of the nux vomica tree; and therefore it was not uncommon formerly to find portions of the latter mixed with it. This was a most dangerous adulteration, and brought the true angustura into disfavor, (the nux vomica being called false angustura.) This fraud, or error, no longer occurs; yet it is well to know the characters by which the two articles may most readily be distinguished. These are given by Pereira, in substance, as follows: Outer crust or epidermis of true angustura is whitish or whitish-yellow, insipid, unchanged or rendered slightly orange-red by nitric acid; while that of nux vomica is either spongy rust colored, or whitish with prominent spots, and is made intensely dark-green or blackish by nitric acid. Inner surface of true angustura is easily separable into layers, and its yellowish-brown color is somewhat deepened by nitric acid; while that of nux vomica is not separable into layers, and is turned blood-red by nitric acid.
Properties and Uses: The bark of angustura, as above distinguished from that of nux vomica is an excellent tonic, aromatically stimulating and somewhat relaxing, and gently diffusive in its action. It is not irritating to the stomach, but usually is well received. Like cinchona, its principal influence is expended upon the nervous tissues; but rather upon the nerve trunks and peripheries than upon the centers. It is also void of astringency; and neither excites the brain, hurries the circulation, nor diminishes the secretions, as cinchona and its preparations will do. Its relaxing power is sufficient to promote outward circulation, and relieve labored action of the circulatory centers; while it also promotes the secretions in general–in large doses proving decidedly evacuant and somewhat nauseating, in warm infusion increasing perspiration and urination, and in ordinary doses favoring a regular movement of the bowels. These qualities, (strongly resembling boneset,) combined with its stimulating and tonic action, render this article valuable.
It is an excellent remedy for bilious intermittents, and probably for all ordinary intermittents. Its value does not lie in a purely antiperiodic (nerve-stimulating) action; but in the impression it makes upon the nerves, combined with its action on the stomach, liver, circulation, and general secernents. It will be found of much service for such cases, when combined with hydrastis, sabbatia, and similar tonics, for the intermediate treatment. It is a very suitable tonic for weakness of the stomach causing loss of appetite and indigestion; in atony of the bowels, feebleness during convalescence from typhoid and other low forms of fever, and in general feebleness and laxity of the tissues. By its strengthening influence upon mucous membranes, it usually diminishes excessive mucous discharges dependent upon passive conditions–as in chronic dysentery, bronchitis, catarrh of the bladder, and leucorrhea. Though not so concentrated as gentiana, it is more positive than frasera and cocculus.
Dose of the powder, ten to twenty grains, three to five times a day. It is most generally given by infusion, which is readily prepared by digesting half an ounce of the coarse powder in twelve fluid ounces of hot (not boiling) water. Dose, a fluid ounce or more. Tincture of cinnamon is an agreeable flavoring adjunct. It may be combined in bitters or other formula with such articles as gentiana, euonymus, menispermum, and hydrastis.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com