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 root of Sassafras officinale. From North America.
Characters.-In branched pieces, sometimes eight inches in diameter at the crown; bark externally greyish-brown, internally rusty-brown; of an agreeable odour, and a peculiar aromatic warm taste; wood light, porous, greyish-yellow, more feeble in odour and taste than the bark. Also in chips.
Composition.-Sassafras contains a volatile oil, consisting of a turpentine and a camphor; a resin; and a neutral crystalline body, sassafrin.
Sassafras is contained in Decoctum Sarsae Compositum.
The physiological action of sassafras is unknown. The drug is rarely used alone, but in the Compound Decoction of Sarsaparilla. It is supposed to increase the action of the skin and kidneys in syphilis, rheumatism, etc., and thus to be an alterative. See Sarsoe Radix, page 354.
Nectandrae Cortex-BebeeruBark.-The bark of Nectandra Rodiaei, the Greenheart Tree. Imported from British Guiana.
Characters.-In large flat heavy pieces, from one to two feet long, from two to six inches broad, and about a quarter of an inch thick. External colour greyish - brown; internal colour dark cinnamon-brown. Taste strongly and persistently bitter, with considerable astringency.
Composition.-The active principle of bebeeru bark is beberia or biberin, C36H4oN206, a bitter alkaloid, the sulphate of which is officinal. It also contains tannin.
From Nectandroe Cortex is made: