This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics: An Introduction to the National Treatment of Disease", by John Mitchell Bruce. Also available from Amazon: The pharmacology and therapeutics of the materia medica.
The dried unripe fruit of Cubeba officinalis. Cultivated in Java.
Characters.-The size of black pepper, globular, wrinkled, blackish, supported on a stalk of rather more than its own length; has a warm camphoraceous taste and characteristic odour.
Substances resembling Cubebs: Pimento and Black Pepper, which have no stalk.
Composition.-Cubebs consists of 6 to 15 per cent. of the officinal volatile oil; 2 per cent. of a neutral, odourless, and tasteless body, insoluble in water, cubebin, C10H10O3; 6 per cent. of a resin containing cubebic acid; a fatty oil; and gum. Volatile oil of cubebs, C15H14, is colourless or pale greenish-yellow, smelling of cubebs.
Dose.-30 to 120 gr.
Oleum Cubebae. The oil distilled in Britain from Cubebs.
Dose, 5 to 20 min., with mucilage and syrup.
Tinctura Cubebae. 1 in 8. Dose, 1/2 to 2 fl.dr.
The action of cubeb pepper closely resembles that of common pepper, but different parts of the body are affected in different degrees.
Cubebs is an aromatic stomachic, in small doses ; in large doses it is apt to derange the digestion; and in very large doses it is a gastro-intestinal irritant. It is sometimes applied to the pharynx in chronic inflammation, and very rarely it is given in chronic dyspepsia.
The principal effects of cubeb pepper are produced when it is leaving the body by the kidneys and urinary passages, the skin, and the respiratory organs. In this respect it closely resembles copaiba, and is used in the same class of cases with it. Thus, it is a diuretic, acting directly on the renal cells. The cubebic acid is excreted in the urine as a salt, from which it may be precipitated by nitric acid; and stimulates and disinfects the genito-urinary passages with which it comes in contact. The sweat and the bronchial mucus are both increased, and sometimes an eruption appears on the skin.
Cubebs is rarely used except in gonorrhoea and vesical affections. It is decidedly less unpleasant than copaiba, and much less liable to disturb digestion. It is sometimes prescribed for chronic bronchitis.