Xanthoxylum. U. S.
Xanthoxylum. Xanthox. [Prickly Ash Bark]
Related entry: Artar root
"The dried bark of Xanthoxylum americanum Miller, known in commerce as Northern Prickly Ash Bark, or Xanthoxylum Clava-Herculis Linné, known in commerce as Southern Prickly Ash Bark (Fam. Rutaceae)." U. S.
X. americanum: Toothache Tree, Angelica Tree, Suterberry, Pellitory Bark, Yellow-wood; Clavalier, Frene epineux. Fr. Zahnwehholz, Zahnwehrinde, G.
X. Clava-Herculis: Sea Ash, Hercules' Club, Pepper-wood.
Northern Prickly Ash (Xanthoxylum americanum) is a shrub from five to twenty-five feet in height, with alternate branches, which are covered with strong, sharp, scattered prickles. The leaves are alternate and pinnate, consisting of four or five pairs of leaflets, and an odd terminal one, with a common footstalk, which is sometimes prickly on the back, and sometimes unarmed. The leaflets are nearly sessile, ovate, acute, slightly serrate, and somewhat downy on their under surface.
The flowers, which are small and greenish, are disposed in sessile umbels near the origin of the young shoots. The plant is polygamous, some shrubs bearing both male and perfect flowers, others only female. The number of stamens is five, of the pistils three or four in the perfect flowers, about five in the pistillate. The capsules are stipitate, oval, punctate, of a greenish-red color, with two valves, and one oval blackish seed. This species of xanthoxylum is indigenous, growing in woods and in moist shady places throughout the Northern, Middle, and Western States. The flowers appear in April and May, before the foliage. The leaves and capsules have an aromatic odor, recalling that of oil of lemon.
Botanists are not agreed concerning the distinction of the genus Fagara from Xanthoxylum. Thus, the authors of the Index Kewensis consider the two genera identical, while Engler and Pranti separate them. The most important character separating them seems to be the absence of sepals in Xanthoxylum. Most of the species of the genus Fagara are tropical trees.
Z. Clava-Herculis L. [Fagara Clava-Herculis (L.) Small], or Southern Prickly Ash, varies in size from a large bush to a small tree. Its bark is armed with warty prickles, and large conical cork wings occur on the branches and the petioles. The alternate leaves have from seven to nine ovate-lanceolate, crenate-serrulate, unequal-sided leaflets, smooth and shining on the upper surface. It grows on dry soil, westward as far as Western Texas, and perhaps into Mexico, eastward to the Atlantic coast, and northward to Southern Virginia, especially affecting the coast region.
The fruits (Prickly ash berries) of both of the official species probably contain the same principles found in the barks. The dried berries are recognized by the N. F. under the name of Xanthoxyli Fructus, and are described below.
There has been much confusion in regard to the nomenclature of the prickly ashes. Aralia spinosa L., or angelica tree, which grows in the Southern States, is occasionally confounded with X. Clava-Herculis, in consequence partly of being sometimes called, like the latter, prickly ash. Its bark is nearly smooth externally, is beset with slender prickles in transverse rows and has a taste different from that of F. Clava-Herculis. Besides the official trees, the bark of F. flava (Vahl), Frug. and Urban (X. caribaeum S. Wats.), the satin-wood of semi-tropical Florida and the West Indies, has appeared in commerce under the name of yellow Hercules club or yellow thorn. This bark is thin, with an odor like that of Angustura bark, a bitter, disagreeable, acrid taste, and a canary-yellow color, which it imparts to the saliva when chewed. It would seem, also, that under the name of prickly yellow wood, yellow wood, or fustic, the products of other West Indian xanthoxylums and allied plants find their way into commerce.
Xanthoxylum veneficum Bailey, of Australia is, according to J. H. Maiden, a violent convulsive poison, 5 grains of the extract being a fatal dose for a cat. Xanthoxylum scandens is said to be used by the natives of Java as a fish poison, and according to Van der Haar, contains an alkaloid. (P. J., 71, 134; 73, 814.)
Properties.—Although the bark of the Southern prickly ash was not recognized by the U. S. Pharmacopoeia until the revision of 1880, as long ago as 1864 Bridges pointed out that it had entered commerce, and gave the physical characteristics separating it. (Proc. A. Ph. A., xii, p. 270.) The characteristics of the two barks are very well given in the following official description.
"Northern Prickly Ash Bark.—In transversely curved fragments or quills, from 2 to 15 cm. in length; bark from 0.5 to 2 mm. in thickness; outer surface light gray to brownish-gray with grayish patches of foliaceous lichens bearing numerous small black apothecia; longitudinally wrinkled and with numerous whitish lenticels; the cork occasionally abraded, showing the yellowish or orange inner bark; inner surface yellowish-white, finely longitudinally striate and usually with numerous, bright, shining crystals; fracture short, uneven; odor slight; taste bitter, acrid, becoming pungent. Under the microscope, transverse sections of Northern Prickly Ash Bark show an outer corky layer consisting of from 4 to 20 rows of cells, the tangential walls being more or less thickened and lignified; a wide strata of collenchyma inside of the cork cambium composed of from 8 to 10 rows of tangentially elongated cells, with very thick walls and containing plastids; a more or less indistinct row of endodermal cells beneath which occur small groups of primary bast-fibers; the inner bark consists of numerous parenchyma cells among which are included large oil-secretion reservoirs, separated by medullary rays which are mostly one cell in width; the parenchyma cells as well as the oil-secretion reservoirs contain numerous colorless oily globules. Scrapings from either the inner or outer surface show numerous rod-shape crystals and flat prisms, from 0.015 to 0.25 mm. in length, which polarize light with a display of bright colors.
"Southern Prickly Ash Bark.—In transversely curved or irregular, oblong, flattened pieces, or in quills from 2 to 40 cm. in length, bark from 1 to 4 mm. in thickness; outer surface light gray to brownish-gray, marked by numerous large, barnacle-shaped projections of cork, from 0.5 to 3.5 cm. in thickness, otherwise with numerous grayish patches of foliaceous lichens, bearing' blackish apothecia, and numerous, elliptical lenticels; inner surface light yellowish-brown to' olive brown, obscurely longitudinally striate and free from crystals; odor and taste as in Northern Prickly Ash Bark. Under the microscope, transverse sections of Southern Prickly Ash Bark show a strong development of lignified cork occurring in the form of rings, the successive layers being separated by several rows of narrow tabular cells strongly thickened on the tangential walls; beneath the cork cambium occurs a thin layer of collenchyma followed by the outer tissues of the primary cortex and consisting of small groups of rather large stone cells and occasional, scattered groups of bast-fibers and parenchyma; the inner bark consists of parenchyma, a more or less indistinct leptome or sieve tissue among which are numerous, large, light yellowish oil-secretion reservoirs, medullary rays from 1 to 2 cells in width and occasional groups of stone cells and bast-fibers; starch grains numerous, nearly spherical, from 0.002 to 0.01 mm. in diameter, and occurring in the parenchyma cells and medullary rays; calcium oxalate chiefly in mono-clinic prisms from 0.01 to 0.025 mm. in diameter, occurring in crystal fibers and in parenchyma cells of the primary cortex. Powdered Xanthoxylum is light grayish-brown, under the microscope it shows mostly irregular fragments of cork cells, nearly colorless and strongly lignified, fragments of parenchyma containing either small starch grains, oily globules or monoclinic prisms of calcium oxalate; stone cells in small groups with thick, colorless walls and containing frequently a reddish-brown substance; bast-fibers few and non-lignified. In the Northern Prickly Ash, the stone cells are usually absent, and the calcium oxalate crystals and the fragments of cork are relatively few." U. S.
Xanthoxylum is practically never adulterated, and hence the drug has never been studied very exhaustively. Kraemer illustrates the inner structure of the Southern prickly ash bark in his work on "Scientific and Applied Pharmacognosy." Recently the bark of a tropical American species, X. Ochroxylum D.C., has been the subject of a pharmocognostical study by Le-prince. (Report. Pharm., 1912, xxiv, p. 215.)
W. L. Cliffe after careful examination demonstrated that the bark of Southern prickly ash exceeded that of the Northern prickly ash in active properties. (A. J. P., 1901, 562.) In 1829, Edward Staples isolated from X. americanum a crystalline xanthoxyline which was again found by J. U. Lloyd in 1876. Subsequently, from the same plant Edward T. Moffet (A. J. P., 1886, 417) obtained a supposed alkaloid in yellow crystals, soluble in alcohol and chloroform, insoluble in petroleum benzin, ether, and benzene. G. H. Colton (A. J. P., 1880, p. 191) separated from the Southern prickly ash, tasteless, colorless, silky acicular crystals, soluble in alcohol, ether, and chloroform, less soluble in benzene, and insoluble in water. The identity of all these principles was assumed until E. G. Eberhardt (A. J. P., 1890, 231) obtained from the Southern prickly ash a colorless crystalline principle agreeing in solubilities with that of Colton. On analysis it gave figures indicating the formula C20H19O6 or C30H28O9. At the same time he analyzed a sample of Lloyd's crystalline principle from X. fraxineum (X. americanum Mill.), which had been preserved in the cabinet of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, and found for it the formula C29H27O8. Numerous reactions also indicated that the two principles were different. Thus, Lloyd's crystals dissolve in concentrated sulphuric acid with light red color, and on the addition of an excess of water produce a whitish precipitate which is taken up by chloroform; the crystals from the X. Clava-Herculis, dissolve in concentrated sulphuric acid with dark red color, and on dilution separate a purplish precipitate, which is not taken up by chloroform. Lloyd's principle melts, moreover, at 129.5° C. (265.1° F.), while Eberhardt's melts at 119° C. (246.2° F.). In 1863, J. D. Perrin separated from the Caribbean Xanthoxylum Clava-Herculis an alkaloid which he considered to be berberine. This had also been described as early as 1826 by Chevallier and Pelletan under the name of xanthopicrite. X. senegalense (artar root) was analyzed by Giacosa and Soave (A. J. P., 1890, 500), who found a fixed oil, a neutral crystalline substance, melting at 120° C. (248° F.), and two alkaloids. The first of these they call artarine, and give to it the formula C20H17O4N (which makes it agree with berberine), or C21H17O4N, in which case they consider that it may be methylhydroberberine. The second alkaloid, crystallizing in blood-red needles, they did not analyze.
Uses.—Xanthoxylum is stimulant, producing, when swallowed, a sense of heat in the stomach, with more or less general arterial excitement, and a tendency to diaphoresis. It is thought to resemble mezereum and guaiac in its remedial action, and is given in the same diseases. As a remedy in chronic rheumatism, it enjoys some reputation in this country. The bark, used as a masticatory, is a popular remedy for toothache. Xanthoxylum is capable of being used as a counter-irritant, and great relief is sometimes afforded in various forms of chronic pelvic disease in women by means of a hot pack, applied to the lower part of the trunk, of two to four ounces of fluidextract of xanthoxylum and an ounce of tincture of cayenne pepper to two quarts of water. A decoction prepared by boiling an ounce in three pints of water down to a quarter may be given in the quantity of a pint (473 mils), in divided doses, during the twenty-four hours.
Dose, fifteen to thirty grains (1-2 Gm.).
Off. Prep.—Fluidextractum Xanthoxyli, U. S.; Elixir Corydalis Compositum, N. F.
Xanthoxylum Berries. Xanthoxyli Fructus. N. F. IV. Prickly Ash Berries.—"The fruit of Zanthoxylum americanum Miller (Northern Prickly Ash), or Zanthoxylum Clava-Herculis Linné (Southern Prickly Ash) (Fam. Rutaceae)." N. F. IV.
Prickly ash berries were introduced in the N. F. IV to be used as an ingredient in compound fluid-extract of stillingia N. F. IV, made with a menstruum of 25 volumes of glycerin, 50 volumes of alcohol and 25 volumes of water, finishing with diluted alcohol. The berries are described as "Capsules with short stalks (Z. americanum) or without stalk (Z. Clava-Herculis); when fresh, ellipsoidal, fleshy, gray-brown, when dry, dehiscent; carpels two, convex, summit short pointed; seeds one or two oblong, black, shining, and wrinkled from drying. The carpels have a pungent, warm, aromatic taste and on chewing leave a tingling sensation on the tongue; when breathed upon they emit a faintly aromatic odor resembling that of citral. Prickly Ash Berries yield not more than 7 per cent. of ash." N. F. IV.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.