The dried rhizome 1 and rootlets of the May apple, a perennial herb of the Northern and Middle United States. An alkaloid, berberine, and two resins, are the active principles.
Podophyllum is an active cathartic with chola-gogue properties. Its actions are shown not only when taken internally, but also when applied to a broken surface or given hypodermically. It has a bitter, acrid taste, and causes slight salivation, irritation of the stomach, nausea, and griping pains. In large doses it causes severe colic. The purgative action is very slow, requiring ten hours or more, and is due to stimulation of the intestinal glands and of the muscular coats of the intestine; also to a stimulant action on the liver, with a decided increase in the flow of bile.
1 Root stock.
In large quantities it may cause poisoning. Cases of poisoning in children have happened, with vomiting, purging, epileptiform convulsions, coma, and collapse.
Average dose, as a laxative, gr. 1/12-0.005 Gm. As a purgative, gr. 1/6-0.01 Gm.
Average dose, viii.-0.5 mil.
Podophyllum used externally is irritant, and may inflame the eyes if carelessly handled.