Habitat. W. Asia (Syria, Asia Minor, Anatolia), Greece (Archipelago); cultivated.
Syn. Scam. Rad.; Fr. Racine de Scammonee; Ger. Scammoniawurzel, Scam-moniawinde, Purgierwinde, Scammony-bindweed.
Con-vol'vu-lus. L. bindweed, see etymology, page 489, of Convolvulaceae.
Scam-mo'ni-a. L. fr. Gr.
crooked - i. e., its stems are crooked;
classic name, rers. origin.
Plant. - Perennial twining herb, stems numerous from crown of root, slender, 6-9 M. (20-30°) long; leaves sagittate, bright green, petioles long; flowers, July-Sept., large, numerous, pale yellow, funnel-shaped, 4-5 Cm. (1 3/5 - 2') broad, on long stalks; fruit capsule, ovate, 12 Mm. (1/2') long, 4-seeded. Root, vertical, cylindrical, somewhat tapering, 10-25 Cm. (4-100 long, 1-4.5 Cm. (2/5-1 4/5') thick, grayish-brown, reddish-brown, usually distinctly twisted, deeply longitudinally furrowed, distinct root-scars, otherwise nearly smooth except for lenticels and abraded cork, upper portion terminated generally by a number of short stem branches; hard, heavy; fracture tough, irregular with projecting wood-fibres; internally mottled, showing yellowish, porous, wood-wedges separated by whitish parenchyma, containing starch and resin, bark thin; odor slight, jalap-like; taste very slightly sweet and acrid. Powder, light grayish-brown, microscopically - starch grains, .003-.018 Mm. (1/8325-1/1375') broad, monoclinic prisms of calcium oxalate, fragments of leptomes or sieve with resin cells, tracheae, short wood-fibres, stone cells, few lignified cork cells. Solvents: alcohol; ether. Dose, gr. 5-20 (.3-1.3 Gm.).
Commercial. - Plant twines around near objects, and is richest in resin just before flowering, when the root should be dug, properly prepared and dried for market. The once official (1820-1910) gum-resin, scammonium; scammony, was subject to much adulteration and irregularity in consequence of which it has been discarded. It is still an article of commerce under its two varieties: 1. Genuine, best; 2, Virgin (Smyrna, Aleppo), being collected very similar to asafetida by laying bare and slicing upper portion of root, catching in mussel shells the creamy exudate, which contains resin 70-90 p. c, gum 3-8 p. c;
Fig. 325. - Convolvulus Scammonia: a, blooming plant; b, fruiting twig; c, root (J natural size); also flower, anther, pistil, fruit, seed, diagram of flower, enlarged.
in drying often undergoes fermentation rendering it porous, dark, moldy, and of cheesy odor.
Constituents. - Resin 3-10 p. c, gum, tannin 3 p. c, sugar 15 p. c, starch, extractive.
Resin, C34H56O16. - Identical with orizabin (jalapin of Ipomoea orizabensis - False or Mexican Scammony Root), being an ether-soluble glucosidal resin, anhydride of scammonic acid, into which it is converted by alkalies, thence becoming soluble in water.
Preparations. - 1. Resina Scammonioe. Resin of Scammony. (Syn., Res. Scamm., Scammonin; Br. Scammoniae Resina; Fr. Resine de Scammonee; Ger. Scammoniaharz.)
Manufacture: Macerate, percolate 100 Gm. with alcohol until percolate when dropped into water only produces slight turbidity, reclaim alcohol until percolate the consistence of thin syrup, and pour this slowly, constantly stirring, into hot water 100 Ml. (Cc), let precipitate subside, decant supernatant liquid, wash precipitate twice by decantation, each time with hot water 100 Ml. (Cc), dry on water-bath. It is in brownish, translucent masses, fragments, breaking with glossy, resinous fracture, odor characteristic, agreeable, soluble in alcohol; 95 p. c. soluble in ether (dist. from resins of jalap and false scammony - orizaba). Impurities: Guaiac, rosin, resin of jalap, resin of orizaba; ash 1 p. c; does not yield green emulsion with water (dif. from gum-resin of scammony). Dose, gr. 3-8 (.2-.5 Gm.).
Prep.: 1. Extractum Colocynthidis Compositum, 14 p. c. (resin).
Unoff. Preps.: Pilula Scammonii Composita, resin + jalap resin, each 16 p. c, dose, gr. 4-8 (.26-.5 Gm.). Pulvis Scammonioe Compositus (Br.), resin 50 p. c. + jalap 35, ginger 15, dose, gr. 10-20 (.6-1.3 Gm.). Emulsion. In pill-form usually inactive, unless in combination.
Properties. - Hydragogue, cholagogue cathartic; only acts locally on the upper intestine, consequently resembles jalap, but is a more active irritant, causing much griping, owing to which it is combined generally with potassium sulphate, calomel, colocynth, jalap, aromatics, demulcents, etc.
Uses. - Dropsies, cerebral affections, torpid intestines with slimy mucus. Gum-resin somewhat uncertain in action, owing to frequent impurities and difficult solubility in the system, yet the small dose and slight taste commend it for administration to children; the root, or even calomel, jalap, or gamboge, is to be preferred. It was known to the Greeks, Romans, and Arabians as a purgative, remedy for skin diseases, and as a fatal irritant.
Poisoning: Same as for aloes, colocynth, etc.