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. - Bitter Apple. Bitter Gourd. Bitter Cucumber. The fruit of Citrullus Colocynthis, Schrader (nat. ord. Cucurbitaceae), deprived of its rind.
Southern and Western Asia, Northern and Southern Africa, Greece and Spain.
From 5 to 10 cm. in diameter; globular; white or yellowish-white; light, spongy; readily breaking into three wedge-shaped pieces, each containing near the rounded surface, many flat, ovate, brown seeds; inodorous; taste intensely bitter. The pulp only should be used, the seeds being separated and rejected.
Seeds and cortex.
The chief constituents are - (1) Colocynthin, C56H84O23 about 2 per cent., an amorphous or crystalline, bitter, active glucoside, readily soluble in water and Alcohol. (2) Resinous matter having the names of Citrullin, Colocynthein and Colocynthitin, insoluble in water.
Dose, 2 to 8 gr.; .12 to .50 gm.
1. Extractum Colocynthidis. - Extract of Colocynth. By maceration with Diluted Alcohol, expression and straining; percolation and evaporation.
Dose, 1/2 to 2 gr.; .03 to .12 gm.
2. Extractum Colocynthidis Compositum. - Compound Extract of Colocynth. Extract of Colocynth, 160; Purified Aloes, 500; Cardamom, 60; Resin of Scammony, 140; Soap, 140; Alcohol, 100. By melting, straining and reducing to powder.
Dose, 5 to 15 gr.; .30 to 1.00 gm.
3. Pilulae Catharticae Compositae. - See Mercury, p. 212.
4. Pilulae Catharticae Vegetabiles. - Vegetable Cathartic Pills. Compound Extract of Colocynth, 60; Extract of Hyoscyamus, 30; Extract of Jalap, 30; Extract of Leptandra, 15; Resin of Podophyllum, 15 gm.; Oil of Peppermint, 8 c.c.; Water, to make 1000 pills.
Dose, 1 to 5 pills.
In small doses colocynth acts as a simple bitter, increasing the gastric and intestinal secretions and improving the appetite. In larger doses it augments considerably the flow of bile and suc-cus entericus, stimulates the muscular coat, causes a little griping, and leads to the evacuation of a watery motion. In still larger doses the hypersecretion is excessive and the griping is severe because the muscular coat is powerfully irritated, and several abundant watery motions result. The drug may therefore be called drastic, hydragogue, and cathartic. The depression produced may be considerable.
Colocynth should never be given alone, because of the griping it causes. In the colocynth and hyoscyamus pill, 1 part of colocynth, 2 parts of hyoscyamus, which is often prescribed, the hyoscyamus prevents this painful result. Colocynth is an excellent purgative for producing a single abundant evacuation of the bowels in chronic constipation, such as that so often met with in persons suffering from hepatic disorder, and in those confined to bed. Because of the watery character of the motions it may be given in ascites or Bright's disease, but jalap or scam-mony is usually preferred. It is too irritant for habitual use. It should never be administered if there is any suspicion of intestinal or gastric inflammation, nor in pregnancy. It is often combined with milder purgatives. A diuretic action has been claimed for it, but this is unimportant.