Santonica. - Synonym. - Levant Wormseed. The unexpanded flower-heads of Artemisia pauciflora Weber (nat. ord. Compositae).




From 2 to 4 mm. long, oblong-ovoid, obtuse, smooth, somewhat glossy, grayish-green, after exposure to light brownish-green, consisting of an involucre of about 12 to 18 closely imbricated, glandular scales with a broad midrib, enclosing four or five rudimentary florets; odor strong, peculiar, somewhat camphoraceous; taste aromatic and bitter.


The chief constituents are - (1) Santonin {see below). (2) A volatile oil, 2 per cent., consisting mainly of Cineol, C10H18O.

Dose, 15 to 60 gr.; 1. to 4. gm.

Santoninum. Santonin

C15H18O3=245.43. A neutral principle obtained from Santonica.


By exhausting Santonica, mixed with Lime, with Diluted Alcohol, distilling off the Alcohol, and adding Acetic Acid to the residue. The precipitated Santonin is purified by dissolving it in Alcohol, treating with Animal Charcoal, and crystallizing.


Colorless, shining, flattened, prismatic crystals, odorless and nearly tasteless when first put in the mouth, but afterwards developing a bitter taste; not altered by exposure to air, but turning yellow on exposure to light.


Nearly insoluble in water; soluble in 40 parts of Alcohol; also soluble in 140 parts of Ether, in 4 parts of Chloroform, and in solutions of Caustic Alkalies.

Dose, 1/4 to 1 gr.; .015 to .06 gm. (child), 1 to 5 gr.; .06 to .30 gm. (adult).


Trochisci Santonini. Troches Of Santonin

Santonin, 3; Sugar, 110; Tragacanth, 3 gm.; Stronger Orange Flower Water, to make 100 troches. Each troche contains about 1/2 gr.; .03 gm.

Dose, 2 (child) to 10 troches (adult).

Action Of Santonin

Santonin is anthelmintic, killing the roundworm, Ascari's lumbricoides, and according to some authorities the Oxyuris vermicularis, but this is doubtful, for it does not kill these worms outside the body, and therefore if efficient must be changed in the intestine. It has no action on tapeworms. Some of the santonin is absorbed as sodium-santoninate. Medicinal doses will usually cause the urine, if it is acid, to be a greenish-yellow or saffron color, and if it is alkaline to be purplish-red. This is due to the excretion in that fluid of some substance resulting from the changes undergone by santonin in the body. It is slightly diuretic. Often even small doses lead to xanthopsy - that is to say, everything the patient sees has a yellow tint; this is not the result of the staining of the tissues of the eye yellow, but is a direct effect on some other part of the visual path.

Therapeutics Of Santonin

Santonin is used solely to kill intestinal worms. It should be given on an empty stomach, and should be followed in two hours by a purgative, such as calomel, which acts on the small intestine, for this is the part inhabited by the worms killed by santonin. It is certainly very efficacious for the Ascaris lumbricoides. The lozenge B. P., 1 gr., .06 gm. each is not to be recommended, for it may not dissolve, and then will probably fail to kill the worm. A good way to give santonin is to suspend it and castor oil in mucilage flavored with peppermint. As already mentioned, probably it has no effect on the Oxyuris vermicularis, when given by the mouth, but a suppository made with oil of theo-broma, and containing 4 gr.; 25 gm. of santonin, is said to kill this parasite.



Several cases of fatal poisoning by santonin are on record. Cerebral symptoms are very prominent. Thus convulsions, accompanied by unconsciousness, trismus, and dilated pupils, are generally present. The surface becomes cold, there is sweating, there may be trembling, the pulse and respiration become weaker and weaker, and death takes place from cardiac and respiratory failure.


Ammonia, or strychnine sulphate hypodermatically. If the drug is given with castor oil the danger of poisoning is lessened.