Myrica. N. F. IV. Myrica cerifera L. Wax Myrtle. Bayberry. Candle Berry. Arbre a suif, F. Wachsbaum, Wachsgagel, G.—" The dried bark of the root of Myrica cerifera Linné (Fam. Myricaceae), without the presence of more than 5 per cent. of adhering wood." N. F. IV.
This is an indigenous myrtaceous shrub growing in great abundance in the sandy soil along the seashore, and even on the shores of our northern lakes. The leaves of the wax myrtle have resinous dots on both sides, and are very fragrant when rubbed. The fruit is covered with a coating of white wax, and sometimes continues on the plant for two years or more. The coating of wax upon the surface is collected, and known in commerce as myrtle wax. (See Vegetable Wax.)
For a study of the Myricaceae of the Eastern United States, see Youngken. (A. J. P., 1915, p. 391.) The bark of the stem and root is supposed to possess valuable remedial properties, and has been employed to a considerable extent. It yields its virtues to water and alcohol. George M. Ham-bright found in it volatile oil, starch, lignin, gum, albumen, extractive, a red coloring substance, tannic and gallic acids, an acrid resin soluble in alcohol and ether, an astringent resin soluble in alcohol and not in ether, and a peculiar acrid principle having acid properties. (A. J. P., 1863, 193.) Myrtle wax consists of the glycerides of stearic, palmitic, and myristic acids and a small quantity of oleic acid. (Lewkowitsch, Oils, Fats, and Waxes, p. 542.)
The National Formulary IV describes the bark as: "In quills or quilled pieces or strips, of variable length and up to 20 nun. in breadth, the bark rarely exceeding 2 mm. in thickness; outer surface varying from dark-brown to gray-brown, occasionally slightly silvery, somewhat lustrous, at least in patches, bearing occasional warts or slight transverse ridges, the periderm frequently much wrinkled; inner surface deep rusty-brown, finely short-striated and somewhat roughened; fracture short and weak, light brown in the outer layer, yellowish-brown in the inner layer. Odor characteristic, rather disagreeable; taste astringent, mildly bitter and slightly acrid." N. F. IV.
The bark appears to be moderately tonic and astringent, and in large doses emetic, it has been considerably used by the eclectics in diarrhea, jaundice, scrofula, etc. Externally the powdered bark is used as a stimulant to indolent ulcers, and the decoction as a gargle and injection in chronic inflammation of the throat, leucorrhea, etc. Dose of the powder, twenty to thirty grains (1.3-2.0 Gm.), of a decoction (one ounce to one pint), one or two fluidounces (30-60 mils). An alcoholic extract, very inappropriately named myricin, is given in the dose of about five grains (0.32 Gm.).
From the bark of Myrica Nagi Thunb., the yellow coloring matter of which is known as myricetin, A. G. Perkin has separated a glucoside, myricetrin, closely resembling quercitrin. (See Proc. Chem. Soc., xviii, 11.) For analysis of the rhizome, Myrica asplenifolia L., see A. J. P., 1892, 303.
The leaves of the Myrica Gale L. (sweet gale) or Dutch myrtle have been used in France as an emmenagogue and abortifacient, and were formerly official in that country under the name of Herba Myrti Rabantini. They contain a poisonous volatile oil.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.