The oil of the herb and of the seed is the only preparation of chenopodium used. It is a thin, colorless, or slightly yellow liquid having a penetrating camphoraceous odor and a pungent. and somewhat bitter taste.
This is strictly an American product, large quantities of the oil being produced in this country though the foreign demand should establish foreign sources of supply.
Therapy—This agent has long been used as a remedy for worms but because of an early objection made to its use on the grounds of certain subtle, dangerous properties, it has not come into general use. In sufficient doses of from ten to twenty minims of this oil, it was recommended to expel the round worm. Our own authorities seldom recommended above five minims which was not always sufficient though safer.
A recent report puts this agent in its exact place as an anthelmintic. In the Orient, especially in Singapore and in Sumatra, the oil of chenopodium is extensively employed against hookworm and other intestinal parasites. More than 100,000 cases of hookworm of both the Old and New World types have been treated with practically no untoward effects, and with greater success than with any remedy heretofore employed.
In Sumatra, it is used also with equal confidence, in the treatment of roundworm, tapeworm, and whipworm. Weiss of Kisaran treated 5,000 cases of hookworm with highly satisfactory results. There was one case of nephritis which he thought might have followed it, but the case was quickly controlled. Schuffner and Baermann in Sumatra have treated over 40,000 cases without after effects, and with results superior to those obtained from thymol. They Conclude that the efficiency of this remedy over thymol is as 91 to 83.
Administration—The method of the above observers is to give the patient a liquid diet for an evening meal, no breakfast on the following morning. From ten to sixteen minims of the oil is placed on sugar divided into three parts, one part being taken every hour. Two hours after the last dose, a full dose of castor oil and a full dose of chloroform is given.
Others give ten minims as a single dose in a capsule, giving it every morning for three days, and on the third day, following it with a tablespoonful of castor oil. In the case of certain well known anthelmintics, oil must be avoided, but better results are obtained with this remedy in getting rid of the worm, after the paralyzing influence of chenopodium. Perhaps more care should be taken in our country to avoid such complications as nephritis and paralysis, but foreign prescribers account the remedy as harmless in the above described doses.
Toxicity—In addition to the conditions named above which may be induced are persistent inclination to sleep, great drowsiness, and depression. The agent, if these symptoms appear, should be withheld, and the patient stimulated with strong coffee or other available stimulant, and wakefulness induced, as after opium.
There is little doubt that this will now immediately become the most dependable of our remedies for hookworm, as well as being reliable for other intestinal parasites.
The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.