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..
Convallaria. - The rhizome and roots of Convallaria majalis I.inne (nat. ord. Liliaceae). Synonym. - Lily of the Valley.
United States, in the Allegheny Mountains; Europe and Northern Asia.
Of horizontal growth and somewhat branched, about 3 mm. thick, cylindrical, wrinkled, whitish, marked with few circular scars; at the annulate joint are about eight or ten, long, thin roots; fracture somewhat fibrous, white; odor peculiar, pleasant; taste sweetish, bitter, and somewhat acrid.
The chief constituents are - (1) Convallamarin, C46H44 024, a glucoside the active principle; a white, bitter-sweet powder, soluble in water and Alcohol. (2) Convallarin, C34H31O11, a glucoside, in acrid prisms, sparingly soluble in, but foaming with water, soluble in Alcohol, but not in Ether. This is said only to purge.
By maceration and percolation with Diluted Alcohol, and evaporation.
Dose, 5 to 30 m.; .30 to 2.00 c.c
The action of convallaria is precisely that of digitalis, and it may be given in exactly the same varieties of heart disease. It is sometimes successful when digitalis has failed. It is not so powerful as digitalis, but some find it less likely to produce sickness. It is said to act more powerfully upon the right heart, but this is probably not true. A more extended experience seems to indicate that this drug is very unreliable.