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..
The bark of Prunus serotina Ehrhart (nat ord. Rosacea), collected in autumn.
North America, westward to Minnesota and Louisiana; in woods.
In curved pieces or irregular fragments, 2 mm. or more thick, outer surface greenish-brown, or yellowish-brown, smooth and somewhat glossy, marked with transverse scars; if the bark is collected from old wood and deprived of the corky layer, the outer surface is nut-brown and uneven; inner surface somewhat striate or fissured. Upon maceration in water it develops a distinct bitter-almond odor; its taste is astringent, aromatic and bitter.
1) Amygdalin, which yields with water, Glucose, Hydrocyanic Acid and the Essential Oil of Bitter Almond. (2) Emulsin, probably identical with the emulsin of Bitter Almond. The action of this ferment is destroyed at a boiling temperature. (3) Tannic Acid.
Dose, 1/2 to 1 dr.; 2. to 4. gm.
Dose, 1/2 to 1 fl. dr.; 2. to 4. c.c.
2. Infusum Pruni Virginianae. - Infusion of Wild Cherry. Wild Cherry, 40. By maceration and percolation to 1000.
Dose, 1 to 2 fl. oz.; 30. to 60. c.c.
3. Syrupus Pruni Virginianae. - Syrup of Wild Cherry. Wild Cherry, 150; Sugar, 700; Glycerin, 150; Water to 1000. By maceration and percolation.
Dose, 1 to 4 fl. dr.; 4. to 15. c.c.
When this drug is treated with water diluted hydrocyanic acid is formed, and that is probably the reason why it is efficacious in relieving cough, especially a hacking cough, by which nothing is expectorated, for hydrocyanic acid diminishes reflex excitability. Wild cherry is a very favorite remedy, and the syrup is a very useful flavoring agent for cough mixtures. It also, as a vehicle for tincture of digitalis, renders it less likely to produce gastric disturbance.