The root, cut transversely and dried, of Jateorrhiza Calumba (Cocculus palmatus, DC.) From the forests of Eastern Africa, between Ibo and Zambezi.

Fig. 178.   Calumba, half the natural size.

Fig. 178. - Calumba, half the natural size.

Characters. - Slices flat, circular, or oval, about 2 inches in diameter, from 1/6 to 1/3 of an inch thick, softer and thinner towards the centre, so as to present the appearance of bi-concave discs, greyish-yellow, bitter.

Composition. - It contains a neutral principle, calumbin, a yellow alkaloid berberine, to which it owes its colour, and calumbic acid. All these are bitter. It contains much starch, which is dissolved by hot water, so that a decoction is blackened by iodine. The infusion is consequently made with cold water to leave the starch behind, as it renders the infusion liable to decompose, especially in hot weather. It contains no tannin, and the infusion can therefore be prescribed along with salts of iron.

Preparations

B.P.

Dose.

Extractum Calumbae...................................................

2-10 gr. or more.

Infusum Calumbae (1 oz. to 1 pint).............................

1-2 fl. oz.

Tinctura Calumbae................................................

1/2-2 fl. dr.

Also contained in Mistura Ferri Aromatica.

U.S.P.

Extractum Calumbae Fluidum.......................................

15-30 min. (0.9-1.9 c.c.)

Tinctura Calumbae.........................................................

1-4 fl. dr. (3.75-15 c.c.)

Action. - Calumba is a pure bitter stomachic tonic.

Neither the berberine nor calumbin which it contains has any powerful physiological action. Berberine in doses of 1 1/2 grain given subcutaneously kills rabbits, with symptoms of prostration and fall of temperature; but a dose eight times as great given to them by the mouth has no action, and 15 grains only produce in man slight colicky pains and diarrhoea. It is said to cause contraction of the intestines and of the spleen, and to lessen oxidation in the blood. Calumbin seems to have still less action. In small doses it seems, like other bitters, to raise the blood-pressure slightly, and in large doses to lower it.

Uses. - Calumba is used as a bitter tonic in atonic dyspepsia and debility of the digestive organs. It is said to have a soothing effect, and is therefore given in irritable conditions of the stomach. It is frequently employed in combination with iron, chiefly in the form of infusion; the advantage it possesses over other bitter infusions, except quassia, for this purpose, being that it contains no tannin, and consequently does not form an inky-looking mixture. It may be used as a general tonic during convalescence from various acute diseases, and may be prescribed in combination with either acids or alkalis.