"A volatile oil distilled from chenopodium. It should be kept in well-stoppered bottles, in a cool place"—(U. S. P.).
SYNONYM: Oil of American wormseed.
Preparation, History, and Description.—Oil of wormseed is prepared in this country; that produced near the city of Baltimore is the most esteemed. It is obtained by distillation of the bruised seed or ripe tops of the plant with water, and when first obtained is of a light-yellow color, but becomes darker by age. It possesses the odor and taste of the plant, and has a varying specific gravity which may become higher by age. An oil of less strength is prepared in the western states from the leaves, stalks, and seeds of the matured plant, and probably possesses similar properties when given in larger doses. That from the seeds always commands the highest price. Thirteen ounces of the seeds gave 3 1/2 drachms of volatile oil, according to Engelhardt, which corresponds to a yield of about 3.4 per cent. Gildemeister and Hoffmann (loc. cit.), however, report a much smaller yield from the seeds, namely, 0.6 to 1 per cent. The herb of C. ambrosioides yields 0.25 per cent of oil, of specific gravity 0.901 (Schimmel & Co.'s Report, April, 1897). The oil is soluble in alcohol and ether. The U. S. P. describes it as "a thin, colorless or yellowish liquid, having a peculiar, penetrating, somewhat camphoraceous odor, and a pungent and bitterish taste. Specific gravity, about 0.970 at 15° C. (59° F.). One Cc. of the oil should form a perfectly clear solution with 10 Cc. of a mixture of 3 volumes of alcohol and 1 volume of water"—(U. S. P.). The oil is slightly laevo-rotatory.
Chemical Composition.—This oil has not been recently investigated. According to Garrigues (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1854, p. 404), it contains a hydrocarbon (C10H16), boiling at 176° C. (348.8° F.), probably limonene, and a body (C10H16O).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—This oil is used only as an anthelmintic. Its dose is from 3 to 6 drops for a child, repeated twice a day for 4 or 5 days, and then followed by an active cathartic. It forms the basis of several popular nostrums for worms. Poisonous effects have been observed, from its immoderate use. It has also been used in dyspepsia of stomach and bowels, and in certain spasmodic nervous disorders.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.