Active Ingredients. - From an alcoholic extract of the bark, Fraser obtained by Stas's process an alkaloid which he named akazgia, and which he proved to represent all the physiological powers of the bark. Akazgia is a white, amorphous substance, but may be crystallized with some difficulty from an alcoholic solution, in small prisms. It is very insoluble in water; very soluble in alcohol of 85 per cent.; less so in absolute alcohol; very soluble in ordinary, less so in absolute ether; and has an alkaline reaction. It is probably the only alkaloid in existence which presents the same remarkable series, of reactions (color-tests) to sulphuric acid, with bichromate of potash, or peroxide of lead, as those of strychnia. Akazgia, and the neutral salts which it readily forms with acids, are bitter tasting, but the bitterness is far less intense and lasting than that of strychnia and its salts.

Physiological Action. - There is a strong general resemblance between the action of akazgia and that of strychnia, but not so strong as its likeness to that of brucia and igasuria. Fraser found that for a rabbit of 3 lb. weight the minimum fatal dose was 6/10 grain, subcutaneously injected. With this quantity the reflex movements were evidently exalted at the end of nine minutes; tetanus occurred a minute later, and death at eleven minutes after the administration. Smaller doses than this produced at first serious effects, but the animals slowly recovered. Pecholier and Saint Pierre concluded that akazgia acts in the same manner as strychnia, i. e., its chief effects are on the sensory nervous system, producing, first, exaggerated sensibility, then tetanic convulsions, and at last paralysis and death, and that it only acts secondarily upon the motor-muscular system. Fraser remarks on the interesting fact that a certain quantity of the poison is able to produce a condition which as nearly as possible approaches death, and that an extremely small augmentation of this dose is capable of quickly causing violent symptoms and a rapidly fatal termination.

Therapeutic Action. - Nothing satisfactory is known upon this subject at present; but the above description of the physiological action of the plant and its alkaloid gives considerable room to hope that akazgia may have special therapeutic virtues of its own. It appears probable, for instance, that in many cases where strychnia in small doses is employed for a considerable time, but with the inconvenience of producing a nervous erythism, which from time to time obliges us to suspend its use, the milder akazgia would prove more practically manageable.

Preparations And Dose. - Of course nothing can be precisely stated. It remains to be seen how far akazgia can be obtained commercially in sufficient quantities; and we cannot tell how far the production of the alkaloid, which seems a difficult process, would allow of its being sold at anything like a moderate price.