This section is from the book "A Text Book Of Materia Medica, Being An Account Of The More Important Crude Drugs Of Vegetable And Animal Origin", by Henry G. Greenish. Also available from Amazon: A Text Book of Materia Medica : Being an Account of the More Important Crude Drugs of Vegetable and Animal Origin.
Kamala consists of the glands and hairs that cover the fruits of Mallotus philippinensis, Muller Argoviensis (N.O. Euphorbiaceoe), a small tree widely distributed throughout India, Ceylon, the Malay Archipelago, Australia, etc.
The drug, which has probably been used in India for many centuries as a dye-stuff, was known to the Arabian physicians of the tenth century, and at the present time still retains in the Indian bazaars its Arabic name, wars. It was introducd into European medicine as a vermifuge about 1858. It is collected chiefly in Orissa (south-west of Calcutta), Bengal, and Bombay.
The tree produces three-celled capsular fruits about the size of a large pea, and more or less completely covered with a red powder. These fruits are gathered, dried, and thrown into a basket, where they are shaken and rubbed with the hands; the red powder covering them is detached, and, falling through the basket, is caught on a cloth placed beneath it. This powder, which consists of the stalked glands and stellate hairs from the surface of the fruits, constitutes the drug.
Kamala is a fine, granular, mobile powder of a dull red or madder colour, without odour and almost tasteless, floating when thrown on to the surface of water. Alcohol, ether, chloroform, and caustic alkalies are coloured deep red by it, but water has little action on it. That it is not a homogeneous powder can easily be seen by gently shaking it, when a greyish portion (hairs) will aggregate on the surface.
Examined with a microscope, after the removal of most of the colouring matter by solution of potash, kamala will be seen to consist of glands and hairs. The former, which are much smaller than lupulin glands, are of a depressed globular shape; they are filled with a deep red resin, and contain a number of club-shaped secreting cells radiating from a common centre. The hairs are thick-walled, curved, and usually arranged in small groups.
The most important constituent of kamala is rottlerin (from Rottlera, a former generic name of the tree), C33H30O9, which crystallises in thin salmon-coloured plates. By treatment with hot caustic alkalies rottlerin yields methylphloroglucin; by reduction with caustic soda and zinc dust dimethylphloroglucin is produced. The same substances may be obtained from kosotoxin and also from filmarone by similar means, thus showing a remarkable analogy between these three vermifuge substances, all of them being derivatives of phloroglucin. The drug also contains a yellow crystalline substance, a red and a yellow resin, and wax. Isorottlerin (Perkin) appears to be impure rottlerin.
Fig. 228. - Fruits of Mallotus philippinensis. Natural size. (Vogl).
Fig. 229. - Kamala, showing glands with their secreting cells and grouped hairs. Magnified. (Moeller).
If quite pure, kamala yields about 1.5 per cent. of ash, but this amount is usually exceeded by the commercial drug, even when of good quality, from which from 3 to 5 or even 10 per cent. may be obtained.
Kamala is often grossly adulterated with ferric oxide or with a ferruginous sand, or with brick dust, inferior qualities of the drug yielding 50 per cent. or even more ash. Its quality may be roughly judged by throwing a little on to the surface of water; kamala will float, but most adulterants will sink. Substitutes for kamala consisting of ground safflower (florets of Carthamus tinctorius, Linne), dyed starch, etc, have been observed, but are easily detected by the microscope.
Kamala is an efficacious remedy for tapeworm, expelling the worm and producing free purgation.
True wars or wurus, a drug analogous to kamala, is obtained in southern Arabia and Africa from the fruits of Flemingia congesta, Roxburgh (N.O. Leguminosoe). The drug has a dull purplish colour, and is seen under the miscroscope to consist of glands composed of several tiers of elongated cells (not radiating from a common centre), mixed with which are single (not grouped) hairs; it is therefore easily distinguished from kamala. It contains flemingin, which is analogous to, but not identical with, rottlerin; red and orange brown resins and homoflemingin are also present in it.
FIG. 230. - Glands (a and b) and hairs (c) of a species of Flemingia. Magnified 140 diam. (Vogl).