Fumaria. Fumaria officinalis L. Fumitory. Beggary. Fumeterre, Fr. Erdrauch, Feldraute, G. (Fam. Fumariaceae.)—A small annual European plant, naturalized in this country, growing in waste places, and flowering from May to August. It was formerly considerably employed as a medicine, and is still used in Europe. The leaves are the official part. They are inodorous, have a bitter, saline taste, and are very succulent, yielding by expression a juice which has the sensible and medicinal properties of the plant. An extract, prepared by evaporating the expressed juice or a decoction of the leaves, throws out upon its surface a copious saline efflorescence. Fumaric acid, C4H4O4, was early identified as present, and its isomerism with maleic acid, the acid obtained from malic acid by heat, was established later. The alkaloid fumarine, which was observed by Peschier, has been believed by some chemists to be identical with corydaline, but according to Reichwald (P. J., xix, 990) its formula, C21H19C4N, is different from that of corydaline, from which it further differs in producing immediately an intense violet with concentrated sulphuric acid and an intense golden color with strong nitric acid. It occurs in colorless, tasteless crystals, freely soluble in chloroform, less so in benzene, still less so in alcohol and ether, sparingly soluble in water. He obtained it by treating the pulp of the leaves with concentrated acetic acid, with the aid of heat, filtering, evaporating the liquid, treating the extract with boiling alcohol, filtering the alcoholic solution, and, finally, decolorizing, and evaporating so that crystals might form. The acetate thus procured was decomposed by the alkalies and yielded the fumarine. (See Adermann, A. J. P., 1890, 396.) Fumitory has been considered gently tonic, alterative, and, in large doses, laxative and diuretic. Hannon has found fumarine, in the dose of about one-third or one-fourth of a grain (0.021-0.016 Gm.) to be moderately excitant; in that of three grains (0.2 Gm.) to be at first irritant and afterwards sedative. (Ann. Ther., 1854, 78.) Both in ancient and modern times fumitory has been esteemed a valuable remedy in visceral obstructions, particularly those of the liver, in scorbutic affections, and in various troublesome eruptive diseases. Cullen gave two fluidounces (60 mils) of the expressed juice twice a day. Others have prescribed it in much larger quantities. The leaves, either fresh or dried, may be used in decoction or extract, in almost indefinite dose. The inspissated juice has also been employed.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.