This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Jaborandi, Pilocarpus species, official in U. S. P. IX and eight other standards; P. Jaborandi, Per-nambuco Jaborandi, in five countries, including the U. S.; P. microphyllus, Maranham Jaborandi, only in the U. S. (a very valuable species); P. pen-natifolius, Rio Jaborandi, in four countries but not in the U. S.
Pilocarpine is the active alkaloid in all. There are also small quantities of isopilocarpine, pilocarpi-dine, and pilosine. "Jaborine" has been stated to be an antagonistic alkaloid with an atropine-like action, and which occurs more in P. Jaborandi than in P. microphyllus; but the existence of this alkaloid is now denied. The hydrochloride and the nitrate of pilocarpine are official (in an average dose of 1-6 grain by mouth and 1-12 grain hypodermatically); but the nitrate is the best salt, the hydrochloride being deliquescent.
Stimulates cerebral and sacral autonomic nerves and glandular secretion from the salivary glands, the glands of the buccal mucous membrane, trachea and stomach, the pancreas, and the glands secreting the succus entericus. The action is antagonized by atropine.
Pilocarpine contracts the pupil, stimulates peristalsis, and contracts the bladder and rectum. There is cardiac inhibition (in animals), contraction of the bronchioles (in animals), and other minor action on muscle. These actions are not the same in all mammals.
In man pilocarpine causes an increased flow of saliva, sweat, and tears; it accelerates the pulse-rate and causes a feeling of fullness in the head. The heart is not inhibited in man, probably from increased adrenal activity; nor are the bronchioles constricted in man, and for the same reason. Large doses cause emesis and purgation. The pupils contract. Death, in man, is from respiratory paralysis. Central effects are more marked in man, and peripheral effects are less marked than in the lower animals.
The other alkaloids of jaborandi are not thought to antagonize the action of pilocarpine.
Externally there is no definite action from jaborandi or pilocarpine except that they are alleged to darken the hair and to stimulate its growth; and the salts have an action inferior to eserine in intraocular tension and in producing myosis.
Pilocarpine is a prompt diaphoretic but a depressing one. Its use in uremia is justified, and in dropsy of renal origin it is sometimes indicated. In cardiac dropsy it is too depressing. Generally used hypo-dermatically.
Its use in intestinal atony has been abandoned whenever hypophyseal extracts are available.
One should be very careful of its use in nephritis.
The fl., in doses of 10 to 30 minims, and a 5% infusion are given to produce diaphoresis in "colds" and bronchitis; but Dover's powder is much to be preferred. There are some - not many - cases of asthma in which it may be used, owing to its promotion of the adrenal function; but this is a very round-about way to treat asthma. Jaborandi is given to restore the lacteal secretion; but such use is rarely justified. Sometimes it acts well in myalgia; but its general use in rheumatism is not to be commended.
Jaborandi is a drug theoretically indicated in many affections; but in practice most of them do not work out well. Yet the discriminating physician will sometimes use it with good effect, even in quite small doses. Homeopathic physicians esteem minute doses in the treatment of abnormal sweats, exophthalmic goitre, and to limit the duration of mumps.