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.
Cevadilla, Asagrae officinalis. The source of veratrine of the U. S. P.
Sabadilla has no place in therapeutics, as it is an uncertain and dangerous agent. Veratrine is a mixture of alkaloids, and is the most acrid and disagreeable substance in the whole range of materia medica. It is a protoplasmic poison; in small doses it possesses an aconite action and in larger doses produces vomiting, purging, and intense depression. It should never be given internally, in my opinion, although the U. S. P. VIII gave its dose as 1-30 grain and directed a 4 per cent ointment. The U. S. P. IX gives no internal dose. The ointment is used in painful affections by an occasional practitioner.
Veratrine is not derived from veratrum, q. v., and, as has been said before, is a mixture of alkaloids. Doses of 1-16 grain have produced most alarming symptoms. It has been almost wholly discarded by clinicians, and there is no reason for its retention in the Pharmacopeia. If the physician wishes to use such an agent, let him employ the relatively safe and assuredly definite veratrum viride.