Mercurialis. Mercurialis annua L. Mercury Herb. French Mercury.—An herbaceous European plant, of the Family of Euphorbiaceae which has been employed from the most ancient times as a purgative, diuretic, and emmenagogue. When boiled, it loses its acridity, and in this condition has been used as an emollient. Another species, M. perennis L., or dog's mercury, also a native of Europe, is poisonous. (Merat and De Lens.) Reichardt has discovered in M. annua a volatile alkaloid, which he named mercurialine. According to E. Schmidt (P. J., vol. x, 29), mercurialine is identical with methylamine, CH3NH2, and is associated in the mercurialis with trimethylamine. It is a liquid of an oily appearance, narcotic odor, and alkaline reaction; boils at 140° C. (284° F.); forms salts with the acids; absorbs carbon dioxide; has a strong affinity for water; on exposure to the air it is changed into a resin of a buttery consistence, and is said to be poisonous to man; but Hugo Schulz (A. E. P. P., April, 1886, 88) found that neither the fluidextract nor the herb given as food was capable of killing either the pig or the rabbit, and that four and a half grains (0.29 Gm.) of the mercurialine hypodermically injected had no effect. The urine is increased in quantity and colored reddish.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.