Asagrae'a officina'lis, Sabadilla, Cevadilla; Veratrina, Veratrine, Veratria, N.F. -- A misture of alkaloids obtained from the seed; Mexico. Bulvous perennial herb; bulb ovoid covered with black scales; scape 1.2-1.5 M. (4-5 degrees) high; fruit 3-celled capsule (follicle). Seed 6 Mm (1/4') long, dark brown, fusiform; contains veratrine (cevadine, veratridine, cevadilline, sabadine, sabadinine), angelic acid, methyl-crotonic acid, cevadic acid, veratric acid, fixed oil, ash 3.5 p.c.
Veratrina. Veratrine, CHON. -- This mixture of alkaloids is obtained by exhausting seed with alcohol, evaporating to syrupy consistency, adding water to remove resin, oil, coloring matter, etc., precipitating the filtrate containing veratrine veratrate with ammonia water in excess; or may boil alcoholic extract in acidulated water (HEI or HSO), decompose with magnesium oxide, take up alkaloids with acidified alcohol, evaporate, filter through animal charcoal, precipitate with ammonia water. Commercial or medicinal veratrine usually consists of veratrine, cevadine (most important, sternutatory, with potassium hydroxide splitting into methyl-crotonic acid and amorphous cevine, CHON, veratridine, cevadilline (amorphous, insoluble in ether, benzene), sabadine (non-sternutatory, crystallizes from ether in needles and, like the preceding alkaloids, is colored yellow, then red by sulphuic acid), sabadinine (resembles sabadine, but turns red at once with sulphuric acid), and their derivatives. It is a white, grayish-white, amorphous powder, odorless, but causing intense irritation and sneezing; slightly hygroscopic, soluble in water (1760), hot water (1345), alcohol 2.8), chloroform (.7), ether (4.2), insoluble in purified petroleum benzin; alcoholic solution alkaline; with sulphuric acid--yellow, orange-red, greenish fluorescence, intensified by sulphuric acid; alcoholic solution + platinic chloride T.S.--clear (abs. of foreign alkaloids). Sedative, powerful irritant, sternutatory, errhine, great depressant, reduces force and rate of pulse; externally--muscular and articular rheutmatism, neuralgia, sciatica, headache, pneumonia. Poisoning: same as aconite. Must be cautious in handling it--never use on abraded surface, and should be kept dark, in well-closed containers. Dose, gr. 1/32-1/12 (.002-.005 Gm.--seldom given internally); 1. Oleatum Veratrinae, 2 p.c.; 2. Unguentum Veratrinae, 4 p.c.
Asagraea officinalis: a, Fruit-bearing stem; b, root, bulb, and leaves. Sabadilla: a, fruit, natural size; b. seed and longitudinal section, magnified.