Though it bears no relation to salicylic acid, colchicum, because of its use in gout, may properly be mentioned here. Both the seed and the corm of Colchicum autumnale (fam. Liliaceae), a crocus-like plant, are official, the seed being required by the United States Pharmacopoeia to contain not less than 0.45 per cent. of the alkaloid colchicine, and the corm not less than 0.35 per cent.

Preparations And Doses

(a) Colchicum seed, dose, 3 grains (0.2 gm.). Fluidextract, dose, 3 minims (0.2 c.c.). Tincture, 10 per cent., dose, 30 minims (2 c.c.).

(b) Colchicum corm, dose, 4 grains (0.25 gm.).

Extract (1.25 to 1.55 per cent. of colchicine), dose, 1 grain (0.06 gm.).

(c) Colchicine, dose 1/120 grain (0.0005 gm)-

The Wine of Colchicum Root, N. F., 40 per cent., and the Wine of Colchicum Seed, N. F., 10 per cent., are also employed.


Colchicum is a gastro-intestinal irritant, the larger therapeutic doses sometimes causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In poisoning there is intense gastro-intestinal irritation, with vomiting, pain, and bloody stools; and there are irritation of the kidneys (a remote local effect), collapse, and, sometimes, an ascending paralysis, beginning in the legs. Death takes place from paralysis of respiration. It has resulted from 1/20 grain (0.003 gm) of colchicine in a case of gout with nephritis. Diarrhea calls for stoppage of the drug.

There are no constant effects upon the uric-acid excretion in gout or in health, and there is nothing in the pharmacology of colchicum that explains its use in gout. Yet it seems to have great power in the acute attack to relieve the pain and swelling of the joints and to shorten the attack. In the words of von Noorden, "Colchicum accelerates the critical outpouring of uric acid that accompanies gouty seizures, but is inert in the intervals between the attacks, and in chronic and atypical gout." But Fine and Chace, Hanzlik, and others find that any value that the drug may have in gout is entirely unrelated to uric acid excretion.