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..
C20H28O5=347.20. A neutral principle obtained from Elaterium, a substance deposited by the juice of the fruit of Ecballium Elaterium (Linne) A. Richard (nat. ord. Cucurbitaceae). Synonym. - Squirting Cucumber.
Western Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Europe; cultivated.
Exhaust Elaterium with Chloroform. Add Ether, wash the resulting precipitate with Ether; purify by re-crystallization with Chloroform.
Minute, white, hexagonal scales, or prismatic crystals, without odor, and having a slightly acrid, bitter taste; permanent in the air.
In 4250 parts of water, and in 337 parts of Alcohol; also soluble in 543 parts of Ether, or in 2.4 parts of Chloroform.
Dose, 1/20 to 1/12 gr.; .003 to .005 gm.
Elaterin, 10; Sugar of Milk, 90.
Dose, 1/2 to 1 gr.; .03 to .06 gm.
Elaterin is violently purgative, producing profuse watery evacuations, attended with griping and much prostration. It acts like colocynth, and except that it is much more energetic, the description of that drug will apply to it. It increases the salivary secretion. When injected subcutaneously it purges. It is the most powerful hydragogue purgative in the Pharmacopoeia.
Elaterin should not be given in ordinary constipation, as it is too violent in its effects, but on account of the large amount of fluid it brings away it is in suitable cases very useful in ascites and in Bright's disease. The same cautions as were enumerated for colocynth are still more necessary here. It should not be given, or only with great care, in heart disease, on account of the depression produced.