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.
Ox gall is the liquid contained in the gall-bladder of the ox, Bos taurus, (Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Order Ungulata).
The gall-bladder is a pyriform bag attached to the under surface of the liver. It receives the secretion from the liver and discharges it into the duodenum; this action is continuous, but is increased by the arrival of food in the duodenum. In man the quantity secreted varies from 500 to 1000 c.c. daily. Bile appears to exercise a favourable influence upon pancreatic digestion by increasing the rate of action of the pancreatic enzymes.
Fresh ox bile is a brownish yellow or brownish green, rather viscous liquid, with an unpleasant odour and disagreeable bitter taste. It is neutral or faintly alkaline in reaction, has a specific gravity of about 1.022. and is characterised by the following reaction: To 10 c.c. of a 5 per cent. aqueous solution of ox bile add a drop of solution of sucrose (1 in 4) and then gradually sulphuric acid until the precipitate at first formed is redissolved; the mixture will acquire a carmine colour changing to violet. This reaction is due to the action of furfuraldehyde (from the sulphuric acid and sucrose) upon cholalic acid (produced by the sulphuric acid acting upon tauro-cholic and glycocholic acids).
Ox gall contains the sodium salts of taurocholic and glycocholic acids together with colouring substances (bilirubin, biliverdin), mucin, lecithin, cholesterol, fat, soaps, etc, in aqueous solution. For medicinal use the mucin is usually removed by precipitation with alcohol and the filtrate evaporated to a thick extract.
Ox gall is given in cases of deficiency of bile, but it is of doubtful medicinal value.