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..
A resinous exudation from the living root of Convolvulus Scammonia, Linne (nat. ord. Covolvulaceae).
In irregular, angular pieces or circular cakes, greenish-gray or blackish, internally porous, and breaking with an angular fracture, of a resinous lustre; odor peculiar, somewhat cheese-like; taste slightly acrid; powder gray or greenish-gray.
Chalk and Starch.
The chief constituents are - (1) The resin (see below), 75 to 80 per cent. (2) Gum, 10 to 20 per cent. (3) Starch.
Dose, 5 to 15 gr.; .30 to 1.00 gm.
Yellowish-brown or brownish-yellow masses or fragments, breaking with glossy, resinous fracture, translucent at the edges; or a yellowish-white or grayish-white powder, having a faint peculiar odor, and a slight, peculiar taste.
In Alcohol in all proportions; also wholly soluble in Ether and in Oil of Turpentine.
The chief constituent is Scammonin, C88H156O42, probably the same as Jalapin, see p. 502.
Resin of Scammony is contained in Extractum Colocynthidis Com-positum.
Dose, 1 to 8 gr.; .06 to .50 gm.
Gastro-intestinal tract. - Scammony has no effect till it reaches the duodenum. With the bile it forms a strongly purgative compound, powerfully stimulating the intestinal glands and causing a profuse secretion of intestinal fluids. There is some exaggeration of vascularity, some irregular stimulation of the muscular coat, but these are comparatively slight, and there is little if any addition to the biliary flow. As a result of these actions, in about four hours there is a profuse watery evacuation of the bowels. The drug is, therefore, a powerful hydragogue cathartic, and, in large doses, a strong gastrointestinal irritant. Its action is attended with some griping. It produces no effect if injected into the blood, and therefore acts only locally on the intestine. It is anthelmintic to both roundworms and tape-worms.
Scammony being a prompt purgative, obstinate constipation in either children or adults may be treated with it. It may also be given as an anthelmintic.