This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
So far back as 1849, Mr. Alexander Ure investigated the purgative properties of the oil of anda. The specimen with which the experiments were tried had not been freshly prepared, and had indeed been long regarded as a curiosity. Twelve ounces were alone available, and it was a yellowish oil, quite bright, about the consistence of oleum olivæ, devoid of smell, and free from the viscid qualities of castor oil. There was a small supply of anda fruits differing a good deal in appearance one from the other, but we are not aware whether these were utilized and the oil expressed; as far as our recollection serves, the subject was abandoned. It was known that the natives of Brazil used the seeds as an efficient purgative in doses of from one to three, and it was in contemplation to introduce this remedy into England, though it was by no means certain that under distinctly different climatic influences equally beneficial results might be expected. Mr. Ure determined, by actual experiment, to ascertain the value of the oil in his own hospital practice. He found that small doses were better than larger ones, and in several reported cases it appeared that twenty drops administered on sugar proved successful. Oil of anda-açu, or assu, therefore, would stand mid-way between ol. ricini and ol. crotonis. These researches seem to have been limited to the original sample, although the results obtained would appear to justify a more extended trial. M. Mello-Oliveira. of Rio Janeiro, has endeavored to bring the remedy into notice under the name of "Huile d'Anda-Assu," and possibly may not have been acquainted with the attempt to introduce it into English practice. He describes the anda as a fine tree (Johanesia princeps, Euphorbiaceæ), with numerous branches and persistent leaves, growing in different parts of Brazil, and known under the name of "coco purgatif." The fruit is quadrangular, bilocular, with two kernels, which on analysis yield an active principle for which the name "Johaneseine" is proposed. This is a substance sparingly soluble in water and alcohol, and insoluble in chloroform, benzine, ether, and bisulphide of carbon. Evidence derived from experiments with the sulphate of this principle did not give uniform results: one opinion being that, contrary to the view of many Brazilian physicians, this salt had no toxic effect on either men or animals. Local medical testimony, however, was entirely in favor of the oil. Dr. Torrès, professor at Rio Janeiro, using a dose of two teaspoonfuls, had been successful. Dr. Tazenda had obtained excellent results, and Dr. Castro, with a somewhat larger dose (3 ijss.), was even enthusiastic in its praise. It might, therefore, be desirable at a time when new remedies are so much in vogue, not to abandon altogether a Brazilian medicament the value of which is confirmed both by popular native use and by professional treatment. M. Mello-Oliveira comes to the conclusion that oleum anda assu (or açu) may be employed wherever castor oil is indicated, and with these distinct advantages: first, that its dose is considerably less; secondly, that it is free from disagreeable odor and pungent taste; and thirdly, being sufficiently fluid, it is not adherent to the mouth so as to render it nauseous to the patient. In this short abstract the spelling of the French original has been retained. As this therapeutic agent claimed attention thirty years ago, and has again been deemed worthy of notice in scientific journals, some of our enterprising pharmacists might be inclined to add it to the list of their commercial ventures. - Chemist and Druggist.