"The root of Ferula Sumbul (Kauffmann) Hooker filius"—(U. S. P.) (Euryangium Sumbul, Kauffmann; Sumbulus moschatus, Reinsch).
COMMON NAMES: Sumbul, Musk-root, Jatamansi.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Botanical Mag., Pl. 6196; Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 131.
Botanical Source.—The plant that produces the sumbul-root of commerce, is an herbaceous perennial, with an erect, milk-bearing stem, and is a native of central Asia. The leaves are mostly radical, large, and ternately decompound, with the ultimate segments narrow and toothed. The upper stem leaves are reduced merely to the sheathing bases of the petioles. The flowers are small, yellow, and disposed in compound umbels. The terminal umbels are perfect, the lateral, only staminate. They have 5 stamens, 5 petals, and a 2-carpeled pistil. The fruit consists of 2 dry, seed-like carpels, compressed laterally, and each carpel having 3 dorsal ribs, and 2 narrow lateral wings.
History.—For thirty years after sumbul (musk-root) had become an article of commerce, nothing was known concerning its botanical source. In 1869, Kauffmann, from plants collected in Russian Turkestan, and grown in the Moscow Botanic Garden, established it in a new genus, Euryangium, closely related to Ferula, and differing chiefly in the broader vittae (Treasury of Botany). The plant has since, however, been ascribed to Ferula by Petournikoff, and by Hooker filius, after an examination of the ripe fruit sent from Russia.
Description.—Ferula Sumbul, or Musk-root of commerce, reaches our market through Russia. Some specimens are under cultivation in England (see E. M. Holmes, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1897, p. 314, from Pharm. Jour.). Sumbul-root of commerce occurs in pieces or sections, often branched, and from 1/2 inch to 4 inches in thickness, the diameter of the root ranging from 1/2 inch to 3 inches. It is brown externally, the bark, in some instances, scaling off in tough, paper-like pieces, resembling birch bark, and again adhering closely to the root. The lower part of the stem is frequently attached to the root, and usually, in such cases, it is broken into a fibrous mass. The cut parts of the roots are covered with a dirty resinous layer, which exuded while fresh. A fresh section of the root shows a very porous, spongy texture; in many cases the fibrous substances being saturated with resinous matter, especially near the bark. There is much difference in the color, some pieces being almost white internally; these we find to contain a comparatively small proportion of resin, and to be of light weight, when compared with the specimens of a brown color. This latter quality of the root is to be preferred, although it is customary, we believe, to select the former. Choice sumbul has a strong odor of musk, is resinous internally, and is aromatic and bitter to the taste. Its medicinal principles seem to be mostly extracted by strong alcohol, the addition of even a small amount of water being objectionable. An inferior sumbul, having only a faint musky odor, is derived from Ferula suaveolens, Aitchison (see E. M. Holmes, loc. cit.). As demanded by the U. S. P., sumbul is "in transverse segments, varying in diameter from about 2 to 7 Cm (4/5 to 2 4/5 inches), and in length from 15 to 30 Mm. (3/5 to 1 1/5 inches); light, spongy, annulate or longitudinally wrinkled; bark thin, brown., more or less bristly fibrous; the interior whitish, with numerous brownish-yellow resin dots and irregular, easily separated fibres; odor strong, musk-like; taste bitter and balsamic"—(U. S. P.).
Chemical Composition.—An examination of sumbul was made about 1843, by Reinsch, who found it to contain wax and a balsam; both are extracted from the root by ether. The balsam has a faint, musky odor, strengthened by soaking in water; it dissolves in sulphuric acid, with the production of a blue color. When the root has been previously extracted by ether, alcohol dissolves from it an aromatic resin and a bitter substance, the latter being soluble in water. P. H. Utech (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1893, p. 465) obtained 6.1 per cent of an aromatic resin, bitter, insoluble in water, soluble in chloroform, ether, carbon disulphide, benzol, etc., almost insoluble in aqueous ammonia. The root also contains about 0.3 per cent of a volatile oil of a musk-like odor. Reinsch and Ricker (1848) obtained about 0.3 per cent of pure angelic acid from the root, but according to E. Schmidt (Archiv der Pharm., 1886, p. 529) it does not preexist in the root, but is a decomposition product of the balsam obtainable by means of petroleum-ether. This solvent yielded to J. H. Hahn 17.25 per cent of fixed oil (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1896, p. 395).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Sumbul is a stimulant and tonic to the nervous system; it has been recommended in low typhus fevers (to allay intestinal irritation), in gastric spasm, hysteria, delirium tremens, diarrhoea, dysentery, leucorrhoea, gleet, chlorosis, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other maladies accompanied with an asthenic condition. In nervous diseases of a low, depressing character, it has been found very useful. Dr. Murawieff, a Russian physician, considers the balsamic resin as the active part, and has proposed its use, in the form of pills or tincture, in pulmonary diseases. The drug is seldom used in this country, but it certainly deserves further investigation. It was introduced (1835) as a remedy for cholera, but proved useless in that scourge. It is prepared in the form of fluid extract, the dose of which is from 10 to 60 minims, every 2, 3, or 4 hours; a tincture (dried root, ℥viii to alcohol, 98 per cent, Oj) may be administered in doses of 1 to 30 drops.
Pharmaceutical Preparation.—TONO-SUMBUL CORDIAL. This preparation is a specialty of Wm. R. Warner & Co., of Philadelphia. It is composed of sumbul, phosphate of iron, cinchona, acid phosphates, aromatics, and sherry wine. Tonic and cordial.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.