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..
Podophyllum. - Synonyms. - May Apple. Mandrake. The rhizome and Roots of Podophyllum peltatum Linne (nat ord. Berberideae).
North America, in rich woods and thickets.
Of horizontal growth, consisting of joints about 5 cm. long, flattish cylindrical, about 5 mm. thick, but somewhat enlarged at the end, which has a circular scar on the upper side, a tuft of about ten, nearly simple, fragile roots on the lower side, and is sometimes branched laterally; smooth or somewhat wrinkled, orange-brown, internally white and mealy, with a circle of small wood-bundles; pith large; nearly inodorous; taste sweetish, somewhat bitter and acrid.
Dose, 5 to 20 gr.; .30 to 1.20 gm.
Dose, 2 to 10 gr.; .12 to .60 gm.
2. Extractum Podophylli Fluidum. - Fluid Extract of Podophyllum. By maceration and percolation with Alcohol and Water, distillation of the Alcohol and solution.
Dose, 5 to 20 m.; .30 to 1.20 c.c.
3. Resina Podophylli. - Resin of Podophyllum. Synonym.- Podophyllin.
By maceration and percolation in Alcohol, distillation of the Alcohol, precipitation of Resin in Hydrochloric Acid and Water; wash and dry.
An amorphous powder, varying in color from grayish-white to pale greenish-yellow or yellowish-green, turning darker when exposed to heat; having a slight, peculiar odor, and a peculiar, faintly bitter taste. Permanent in the air.
In Alcohol in all proportions; Ether dissolves 15 to 20 per cent. of it.
The Resin consists mainly of Podopkyllotoxin, C23H24O9+2H2O, which is said to be a mixture of Picropodophyllin, 75 to 80 per cent., the purgative principle, and Picropodophyllic Acid, both existing free in the rhizome; with these are associated minor resins, and Podophylloquercitin, a coloring principle.
Incompatibles. - Water precipitates it from Alcohol; acids precipitate it from Ammonia.
Resin of Podophyllum is contained in Pilulae Catharticae Vege-tabiles.
Dose, 1/8 to 1/2 gr.; .008 to .03 gm.
It has no external action unless applied to raw surfaces, from which it may be absorbed, and then it will purge.
Gastro-intestinal tract. - Podophyllin has a bitter taste. It is in large doses a powerful gastro-intestinal irritant, and has caused death. In medicinal doses it gives rise to much griping pain, perhaps some nausea, and in about ten hours there is an evacuation of the bowels; the motion, which is liquid, is deeply stained with bile. The pain shows that the muscular coat is stimulated, the liquidity that probably more intestinal fluid is secreted, and the color that more bile is poured into the intestine. In small doses podophyllin probably increases the secretion of bile, and certainly the solids in it are greater; in purgative doses it is said not to increase the quantity, although more bile is poured from the bladder into the intestine. It is thus a direct and indirect cholagogue. It probably acts after absorption, for all its effects can be produced if it is injected subcutaneously.
Podophyllum is only used for its cholagogue purgative action. An old name for this drug is Vegetable Mercury. It is especially suitable for constipation due to hepatic disorder, whether functional, as in the hepatic dyspepsia which commonly goes by the name of biliousness, or organic, as in hepatic cirrhosis and cancer. It must be remembered that as it causes much griping, it should be combined with hyoscyamus or some other drug to overcome this; that it takes a long while to act, and will therefore be swept away before it has produced any effect if given with quickly acting purgatives; and that it is better to begin with small doses, as people are very unequally affected by it. It may be advantageously combined with calomel in a pill. It is so disagreeable to the taste that it is better to dissolve the resin in aromatic spirit of ammonia (1 to 480).