"The rhizome and roots of Ferula Sumbul (Kauffmann) Hooker filius (Fam. Umbelliferae)." U. S.
Sumbul Radix, Br.; Racine de Sumbul, Fr.; Sumbulwurzel, Moschuswurzel, G.
Under the name of sumbul or jatamansi, a root has long been used in India, Persia, and other parts of the East, as a perfume, an incense in religious ceremonies, and medicinally. It was the root of a then unknown plant, supposed to be umbelliferous, and, from the character of the root, to grow in low wet places. The plant is said to inhabit no part of British India, but the regions to the north and east of it, as Nepaul, Bootan, Pucharia, etc. The root is taken northward to Russia, and reaches the rest of Europe through Petrograd. The physicians of Moscow and Petrograd were the first to employ it on the continent of Europe. Granville first introduced it to the notice of the profession in Great Britain and in this country. It has also been imported into England from India, whither it was brought from a great distance. The plant which is now recognized by the U. S. P. as the source of the sumbul is the Ferula Sumbul Hooker fil.
Ferula Sumbul was first discovered by the Russian Fedschenko in 1869, growing at an elevation of 3000 feet in the mountains which separate Russian Turkestan from Bucharia. In 1871 it was described by Kauffmann, who erected a new genus on characters dependent upon the enormous size of the vittae in the immature fruit. The plant has been cultivated in the Moscow botanical gardens, and, less successfully, at Kew, and it has been found that the vittae almost disappear in ripening, and do not afford a good generic character. The plant is a large umbellifer, reaching a height of eight feet, and having a solid, cylindrical, slender stem, which in the upper part gives origin to about twelve slender divaricate branches. The root-leaves are two and a half feet long, with short, channelled, broadly dilated, completely clasping petioles. They are triangular in outline, tripinnate, with the alternate divisions fine. The stem-leaves rapidly decrease in size until they become mere sheathing bracts. The flowers are polygamous, the fruit from three-eighths to one-half inch long by one-fourth inch wide; the mericarps oblong-oval, dorsally much compressed, thin, with three faint, thread-like, dorsal ridges; no dorsal vittae, and commissural ones collapsed. J. E. Aitchison states (Tr. Linn. Soc., ser, 2, Bot., 69) that the root of Ferula suaveolens, which has only a faint musky odor, is one of the kinds exported from Persia to Bombay by the Persian Gulf.
Properties.—Sumbul is officially described as "in transverse segments, attaining a length of 10 cm. and a diameter of 7 cm.; externally light brown to dark brown, longitudinally wrinkled and showing in the upper portions a smooth, grayish, epidermal layer, occasionally with the short stem-bases attached; fracture short, fibrous, spongy; internally light yellow or brownish-yellow, arrangement of wood irregular and with yellowish-brown or blackish resinous patches frequently extending over the entire ends of the segments; odor peculiar, musk-like; taste bitter and somewhat aromatic. The powder is grayish-brown; when examined under the microscope it exhibits numerous, irregular, brownish-black fragments and well-defined isolated tracheae, the latter with distinct end-walls, and. mostly with reticulate thickenings and from 0.03 to 0.1 mm. in width; occasional fragments of polygonal epidermal cells with yellowish-brown walls; numerous, nearly colorless, yellowish-brown and reddish-brown fragments consisting of a granular substance in which the cellular structure is not well defined; long, narrow fragments consisting of more or less collapsed leptome or sieve tissue; occasional fragments of well-defined parenchyma with a few, nearly spherical starch grains, from 0.003 to 0.012 mm. in diameter." U. S.
The root has been analyzed by Reinsch and other German chemists, and found to contain volatile oil, two balsamic resins, one soluble in alcohol, the other in ether; wax, gum, starch, a bitter substance soluble in water and alcohol, and an acid which was named sumbulic acid, but which Riecker and Reinsch showed to be angelic acid, C5H8O2, accompanied by a little valeric acid, C5H10O2. Solution of potassium hydroxide is said to convert the resin into the potassium salt of an acid called sumbulamic, but which has not been sufficiently investigated. The musk-like odor seems to be connected with the balsamic resins, and probably depends on some principle associated with them not yet isolated. The volatile oil, of which 0.33 per cent. is yielded by distillation, has a taste like that of peppermint. On dry distillation it yields a bluish oil which contains umbelliferone. Philip H. Utech (A. J. P., 1893, p. 465) has extracted and purified the resin soluble in alcohol. He obtained it as a soft, whitish, translucent resin which, on drying at 110° C. (230° F.), yielded a clear, transparent, amber-colored product having a bitter taste and the aromatic odor of the root. It constituted 6.1 per cent. of the drug. J. H. Hahn (Proc. Penna. Ph. Assoc., 1896, 75) found 17.25 per cent. of fixed oil in sumbul.
A proximate analysis reported by Hcyi and Hart (A. J. P., Dec., 1916, p. 546, shows the following results: Moisture, 10.17 per cent.; starch, 7.70 per cent.; pentrosans, 10.60 per cent.; crude fiber, 17.15 per cent.; protein, 5.50 per cent.; dextrin, 1.40 per cent.; ash, 6.50 per cent.; sucrose, 1.64 per cent.; reducing sugar, 0.51 per cent., volatile oil, 1.10 per cent.; resins, 17.1 per cent. Alkaloids were not detected. The volatile oil did not show the presence of sulphur. Umbelliferon was detected, as was also betaine. Vanillic acid (C8H8O4) was identified in the resinous portion and a phytosterol was also recognized as being present. Acetic, butyric, angelic and tiglic acids were among the volatile acids, while among the non-volatile acids were oleic, linoleic, tiglic, cerotic, palmitic and stearic.
Uses.—Sumbul is supposed to have a quieting influence on the nervous system and is used in the treatment of various hysterical conditions. By many it is believed to have an especial relation to the pelvic organs and it is widely employed in dysmenorrhea and allied disorders. It has also been used as a stimulant to mucous membranes not only in chronic dysenteries and diarrheas, but in chronic bronchitis, especially with asthmatic tendency, and even in pneumonia.
Murawieff, of Russia, prepares the resin, which he considers to be the active principle, by macerating the root first in water, and then in a solution of sodium carbonate, washing it well, with cold water, drying it, treating it with alcohol, filtering the tincture, adding a little lime and again filtering, separating the lime by sulphuric acid, agitating with animal charcoal, again filtering, distilling off nearly all the alcohol, mixing the residuum with water, driving off the remaining alcohol, and, finally, washing the precipitate with cold water, and drying it.
Half an ounce of a tincture produced narcotic symptoms, such as confusion of the head, a tendency to snore, even when awake, feelings of tingling, etc., with a strong odor of the medicine from the breath and skin, which continued for a day or two and gradually passed off. (N. R; Oct., 1874, p. 309.)
Dose, one-half drachm to two drachms (2.0-7.7 Gm.).
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.