Active Ingredients. - The medicinal powers of scammony depend principally upon the presence of jalapine (pararhodeoretine or scam-monine), C34H55O16, a glucoside,1 in many respects corresponding very closely with convolvuline, the active principle of jalap.

Jalapine is a resinoid body, thin pieces of which are translucent. At 30° C. it melts, resolving into a colorless fluid, destitute of taste and smell, and with faintly acid reaction. In water it is nearly insoluble, but in alcohol, hot acetic acid, chloroform, and alkaline solutions it dissolves with facility. The purest virgin scarnmony contains about 80 per cent.

1 By the action of alkalies upon the glucoside is produced jalapinic acid, the operation of which corresponds with that of jalapine.

Physiological Action. - Scammony and jalapine, taken in full doses, are powerfully and drastically purgative. This effect appears to result chiefly from a local irritant action upon the intestinal mucous membrane, since the activity of the operation is found to depend very much upon the amount of mucous secretion that may be present in the bowels. If there be a thick lining of this secretion, the purgative action is comparatively mild and painless, whereas in opposite conditions there is griping. The extreme effects are seen in numerous bloody evacuations, accompanied by painful tenesmus, colic, and enteritis. The general action is therefore much the same as that of jalap, but more powerful; while as a medicine it has the advantage over the last named in being less nauseous both in smell and taste. Compared with gamboge, scammony is decidedly less irritant.

In addition to the irritant action, there are probably other and remoter operations, especially upon the nervous system. The nature of these, however, is imperfectly known. Buchheim and Hagentorn injected animals with 7 to 8 grains of jalapinate of soda, and produced convulsions, contraction of the pupils, and oscillation of the eyeballs, followed by death in half-an-hour, the pupils dilating immediately before the fatal termination. (According to Rutherford and Vignal, scammony is a cholagogue of feeble power. - (Brit. Med. Jour., Nov. 13th, 1875.))

Therapeutic Action. - Scammony has for ages been employed in medicine. Hippocrates used it as a drastic purgative, endeavoring to modify the violence of its action by means of sulphur. The ancient Arabian physicians likewise resorted to it, but always with hesitation. Both the Greeks and the Arabians prescribed it for gout, rheumatism, and other chronic diseases; they were accustomed also to order an acetous decoction to be mixed with meal, when poultices were required for painful affections of the joints. In the materia medica of past empirics, scammony always held an important place. We read that Robert Dudley, Earl of Warwick, so strongly recommended a combination of this drug with antimony and cream of tartar, to Marcus Cornachinus, of Pisa, that the latter wrote a book in praise of it. The book passed through several editions, and conferred such renown upon its subject that, in France, scammony is known to this day by the name of Poudre Cornachine.

At the present day, scammony is found to be chiefly valuable as a smart purgative for children, on account of the smallness of the dose required to produce the desired result, also by reason of the energy, yet perfect safety of the operation, and, what is of importance in such cases, the slight taste. When administered to children, it is generally in combination with calomel. If the purgative required be only a mild one, rhubarb or sulphate of potash may be employed instead of calomel. Scammony may be used to open the bowels in cases of constipation; also to expel worms, especially when occurring in children; and again in dropsies, and in affections of the head: in the latter, acting as a hydra-gogue purgative, it brings relief on the principle of derivation. Scammony, in a word, is well adapted for all purposes which demand the employment of an active cathartic; and for torpid and languid conditions of the abdominal organs, accompanied by much slimy intestinal mucus. Hence, also, it is the appropriate purgative in mania and in hypochondriasis. When aloes produces unpleasant effects upon the haemorrhoidal vessels, scammony may be substituted with advantage; while to modify, in turn, its own occasionally too severe operation, as above mentioned, sugar, .gum, or almonds, should be combined with it; or, best of all, it should be associated with some other purgative, calomel, as above stated, or sulphate of potash.

Preparations and Dose. - Scammonium, gr. v. - x. (.30 - .60); Resin a Scammonii, gr. ij. - vj. (.12 - .36.)