This section is from the book "Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by W. Hale White. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics..
Synonyms. - Cochineal Bug. Red Scale Insect. The dried female of Coccus cacti Linne (class Insecta; order Hemiptera).
Mexico and Central America; upon Opuntia cochinillifera, Miller and other species.
About 5 mm. long, of a purplish-gray or purplish-black color; somewhat oblong and angular in outline; flat or concave beneath; convex above; transversely wrinkled; easily pulverizable, yielding a dark red powder; odor faint; taste slightly bitterish.
The chief constituents are - (1) Carminic Acid, C17H18 O10, 10 per cent., a glucoside. (2) Coccerin, a wax. (3) Fat, consisting of myristin, and fatty acids. Sulphuric acid and several other reagents precipitate from its decoction the well-known coloring matter carmine.
Cochineal is contained in Tinctura Cardamomi Composita.
Uses of Cochineal.