"Scammony Resin is a mixture of resins obtained from Scammony Root or from Orizaba Jalap Root." Br.
Scammoniae Resina, Br., Scammony Resin; Resin de Scammonee, Fr. Cod.; Scammoniaharz, G.; Resina di scammonea,It.
"Scammony Root in No. 30 powder, one thousand grammes [or 35 ounces av., 120 grains]; Alcohol, Water, each, a sufficient quantity. Moisten the scammony root with sufficient alcohol, pack it in a cylindrical percolator, then add enough alcohol to saturate the powder and leave a stratum above it. When the liquid begins to drop from the percolator, close the lower orifice, and, having closely covered the percolator, macerate for forty-eight hours. Then allow the percolation to proceed, gradually adding alcohol, until the percolate ceases to produce more than a slight turbidity when dropped into water. Distil off the alcohol until the percolate is reduced to the consistence of thin syrup, and pour this slowly, with constant stirring, into one thousand mils [or 33 fluidounces, 6 1/2 fluidrachms] of hot water. When the precipitate has subsided, decant the supernatant liquid, wash the precipitated Resin twice by recantation with fresh portions of one thousand mils [or 33 fluid-ounces, 6 1/2 fluidrachms] each of hot water and dry the Resin on a water bath." U. S.
"Exhaust the coarsely powdered Root with Alcohol (90 per cent.). Recover most of the alcohol by distillation; pour the concentrated solution thus obtained into eight times its volume of Distilled Water; allow the resin that separates to subside, wash it with Distilled Water, and dry at a gentle heat." Br.
The U. S. IX and Br. Pharmacopoeia 1914 are in accord on the advisability of preparing Resin of Scammony from the dried root. This result has been brought about by the practical inability to secure pure resin of scammony from the countries in which the plant grows. Adulteration and sophistication for centuries have at last wrought havoc and the pharmacopoeias have been compelled to make scammony resin from scammony root. For an account of the collection of scammony and the sophistications and adulterations, see U. S. D., 19th edition, page 1099.
Resin prepared from the root and scammony obtained by evaporating the milky juice of the plant are practically identical. The elaborate researches of H. Spirgatis (A. J. P., xlvi, 421) appear to have established the identity of the two products. A. Hess, however (A. J. P., 1875, p. 210), states that the resin obtained from the root contains tannic acid. The advantage of the preparation is that the resin is obtained free from the inert matters with which it is often associated in the scammony of commerce. When pure virgin scammony can be procured, any preparation is unnecessary. Obtained according to the U. S. process, the resin is of a dirty greenish-brown color, with a feeble odor and taste of scammony, and is very soluble in ether, alcohol, and boiling proof spirit. When purified with animal charcoal it has a pale brownish-yellow color, and is without odor or taste, and retains its purgative property.
"Resin of Scammony consists of brownish, translucent masses or fragments, breaking with a glossy, resinous fracture; odor characteristic and agreeable. It is soluble in alcohol in all proportions, and not less than 95 per cent. is soluble in ether (distinction from resin of jalap and resin of false scammony). When triturated with water, it does not form an emulsion. Ammonia water and solutions of the alkali hydroxides dissolve it with the aid of gentle heat, and from these solutions the Resin is not re-precipitated by dilute acids. Its solution in alcohol does not give a blue color with ferric chloride T.S. or with solution of hydrogen dioxide (guaiac). Sulphuric acid does not turn red when stirred in a porcelain dish with an equal weight of Resin of Scammony (rosin). Resin of Scammony yields not more than 1 per cent. of ash." U. S.
"Brownish, translucent, brittle fragments, breaking with a resinous fracture; readily reduced to a pale-brown powder. Characteristic, agreeable odor; taste acrid. Readily soluble in alcohol (90 per cent.). When 1 gramme of the powdered Resin is triturated with 20 millilitres of water and filtered, the filtrate is almost colorless. A solution of 0.1 gramme in 10 millilitres of solution of sodium hydroxide, boiled for a few moments and cooled, when acidified with hydrochloric acid, may become opalescent but not immediately turbid (absence of certain other resins). Not less than 75 per cent. soluble in ether." Br.
The resin of scammony is liable to adulteration. Jalap resin may be detected by its partial insolubility in rectified ether, which dissolves that of scammony in all proportions. Sulphuric acid is the best test for common rosin or colophony, producing instantaneously with this substance an intense red color, while with the resin of scammony it causes no immediate change. For the tests for guaiac, the reader is referred to that article on p. 536. (See also A. J. P., xxiv, 158.) The presence of other resins may be known by the precipitates yielded when sulphuric acid is added to the alkaline solution, the resin of scammony agreeing with that of jalap in not affording a precipitate under such circumstances. Chas. Bullock has found the resins of scammony, of jalap, and of Podophyllum to be insoluble in benzene, thus enabling any resin soluble in this liquid, which may be employed in the sophistication, to be readily detected. When rubbed with unskimmed milk, the resin of scammony forms a uniform emulsion, which is not distinguishable from rich milk itself. This is a very excellent mode of administration. The resin should always be given either rubbed up with some mild powder or in emulsion.
L. Lutz (Pharm. Ztg., 1912, xxiii, p. 232) states that the behavior of the resin with iodine when examined microscopically affords a method of distinguishing resin from a number of its substitutes and adulterants.
Uses.—Scammony resin is an energetic cathartic, likely to occasion griping, and sometimes operating with harshness. It was known to the ancient Greek physicians, and was much employed by the Arabians, who used it as a purgative and externally in skin diseases. On account of its occasional violence, it is seldom administered, except in combination with other cathartics, the action of which it promotes, while its own harshness is mitigated. It should be given in emulsion with mucilage, sugar, almonds, licorice, or other demulcent, and its disposition to gripe may be counteracted by the addition of an aromatic.
Dose, from four to eight grains (0.26-0.5 Gm.).
Off. Prep.—Extractum Colocynthidis Compositum, U. S., Br.; Pilula Colocynthidis Composita, Br.; Pilula Colocynthidis et Hyoscyami, Br.; Pilula Scammonii Composita, Br.; Pulvis Scammonii Compositus, Br.; Pilulae Aloes, Hydrargyri et Scammonii Compositae, N. F.; Pilulae Colocynthidis Compositae, N. F.; Pilulae Colocynthidis et Hyoscyami, N. F.; Tinctura Jalapae Composita, N. F.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.