Calumba. - Synonym. - Columbo. The root of Jateorrhiza palmata (Lamarck) Miers (nat. ord. Menispermaceae).


Eastern Africa; cultivated in some East Indian Islands.


In nearly circular disks, 3 to 6 cm. in diameter, externally greenish-brown and wrinkled, internally yellowish or grayish-yellow, depressed in the centre, with a few interrupted circles of projecting wood-bundles, distinctly radiate in the outer portion; fracture short, mealy; odor, slight; taste mucilaginous, slightly aromatic, very bitter.


The chief constituents are - (1) Calumbin, C21H22O7, a neutral, bitter principle crystallizing in white needles. (2) Berberine C20 Ii17no4, an alkaloid (q. v.), giving the yellow color. (3) Calumbic acid, C21H22O6. (4) Starch, 33 per cent. No Tannic Acid is present, so Calumba can be prescribed with iron salts.

Dose, 5 to 30 gr.; .30 to 2.00 gm.


1. Extractum Calumbae Fluidum. - Fluid Extract of Calumba. By maceration and percolation in Alcohol and Water and evaporation.

Dose, 5 to 30 m.; .30 to 2.00 c.c.

2. Tinctura Calumbae. - Tincture of Calumba. Calumba, 100, by maceration and percolation in Alcohol and Water to 1000.

Dose, 1 to 4 fl. dr.; 4. to 15. c.c.

Action Of Calumba


Calumba is a mild antiseptic and disinfectant. Internal. - Mouth. - Calumba is a typical bitter; the appetite is sharpened because the gustatory nerves are stimulated; this reflexly leads to dilatation of the gastric vessels and to an increase in the gastric and salivary secretions.

Stomach. - The effects on the gastric mucous membrane which were brought about reflexly by the stimulation of the gustatory nerves are further exaggerated by the arrival of the saliva in the stomach, and by the direct action of the calumba on it, for although the immediate effect of a bitter in the stomach is to diminish the flow of gastric juice, it is rapidly absorbed, and after absorption it has the power to quickly increase the flow of gastric juice. The result of these actions is to cause a feeling of hunger, an extra secretion of gastric juice and greater vascular dilatation, and all this helps the digestion of the food. Peristalsis in the stomach and intestine is made slightly more active, and thus calumba is carminative. Large doses have a paralytic effect on the secretion, and are very powerful. The long continued use of bitters leads to gastric catarrh and consequent indigestion.

Most of these substances, like volatile oils, cause an increased migration of leucocytes from the intestinal glands into the blood.

Injected into the rectum bitters are anthelmintic, destroying the threadworm.

Therapeutics Of Calumba

Calumba is only employed to stimulate the gastric functions and improve the appetite in cases of chronic indigestion due to a general weakness of action on the part of the stomach. It is thus a type of the large class of stomachics. It is especially valuable in that form of dyspepsia in which the stomach participates in a general feebleness of all the organs of the body, such as we see in anaemia, starvation, convalescence from acute diseases, tuberculosis and general exhaustion. Bitters should never be used when there is acute or subacute gastritis, a gastric ulcer or pain. They will obviously make all these conditions worse. They must not be too concentrated, nor given for too long a time, lest they should over-irritate the stomach. They should always, as far as possible, be combined with modes of treatment designed to relieve the cause of the dyspepsia. Often they are called tonics; all that is meant by this is that, as they render the digestion of food more easy, the general health will improve. Most bitters, when given as rectal injections administered when the patient is in the knee-chest position, are anthelmintics for the Oxyuris vermicularis. Half a pint 250. c.c. of the infusion B. P., Calumba, 1; cold water (to avoid extracting the starch), 20; may be thrown into the rectum of an adult.