Active Ingredients. - The odor of cubebs is peculiar, campho-raceous, and aromatic; the taste is hot and peppery. They contain a volatile oil, a resin, and a substance called cubebine.

The volatile oil, Oleum cubebae, C15H14, is colorless, or pale greenish yellow, and, like that of black pepper, lighter than water, the sp. gr. being 0.929. It yields the odor and possesses the flavor of cubebs, and evaporates on exposure to the atmosphere. Upon this volatile oil the active properties mainly depend; cubebs, therefore, should not be pulverized for medicinal use until actually wanted. The powder is dark in color and presents an oily appearance.

The resin is soft and acrid; the cubebine, C33H34O19, is neutral, and analogous to piperine. It crystallizes in small needles.

Physiological Action. - Cubebs, though possessing all the ordinary characteristics of common black pepper, are devoid of the agreeable flavor which recommends the last named for use as a condiment. Their properties have relation more especially to the mucous membrane of the genito-urinary apparatus; they have others which entitle them to be classed with acrid substances. Experiments upon rabbits show that with these animals the oil acts as a poison, the symptoms induced being particularly like those which ensue upon the administration of copaiva, but manifested yet more strongly. In man, the operation of the oil is shown especially in the region indicated. It quickens the action of the kidneys, causes vascular injection of those organs, and gives an albuminous character to the urine, which also acquires the peculiar odor of cubebs.

In addition to these more striking effects, under the influence of cubebs the peritoneum becomes affected; the gastric mucous membrane becomes injected; and, if the dose be large, there are nausea and vomiting. Tried in small or experimental quantities, the oil induces thirst and heat in the throat, which, on increasing the dose, are followed by feverishness, nausea, eructation, and headache. Taken when the stomach is in an irritated or inflammatory condition, the results are nausea, vomiting, burning pain, griping, and even diarrhoea. In some instances the use of cu-bebs has caused an eruption upon the skin resembling urticaria.

Compared with the operation of copaiva, it is to be observed that continued resort to cubebs in small doses is unattended by the hurtful effects in regard to the digestive functions and to the appetite which ensue upon the use of the former. The tendency is rather to energize them, so that cubebs have decidedly the advantage when copaiva, for any reason, may be objectionable.

Therapeutic Action. - At what period cubebs were first employed is uncertain, but that they were known in England at least five hundred years ago appears to be well established.

Practically, at the present day, the principal use made of this drug is in the treatment of gonorrhoea, for which disorder cubebs were recommended in 1818, and still more urgently during the two or three following years. Though unquestionably efficacious, it must be confessed that they have sometimes induced conditions very distressing to the patient. Haemorrhoids, haematuria, and deep-seated headaches result in certain constitutions from the use of cubebs, while in others there is concomitant diarrhoea. The nausea is occasionally so severe as to forbid perseverance with the medicine. The stimulant operation of cubebs upon the bladder is well illustrated in a case described by Sir Benjamin Brodie.1 They are good for catarrh of this organ, and for leucorrhoea.

The utility of cubebs is not limited to their action upon the mucous membrane of the genito-urinary organs. They have proved useful in catarrhal affections of the air-passages, especially when the secretion is copious and the system relaxed. They are valuable in all cases of inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the bronchial tubes and the intestinal canal. When so employed, it has been recommended by some that oxide of bismuth should be conjoined. Originally they seem to have been resorted to as a gastric stimulant and carminative in atonic dyspepsia. In India they are still accounted useful as a stomachic. Rheumatism has likewise been treated with cubebs, but the success has been very questionable.

Preparations and Dose. - Cubebae, 3 ss. - ij. (2.- 8.); Extr.

Cubebae Fl., 3 ss. - j. (2.- 4.); Tinct. Cubebae, 3 j - ij. (4.- 8.); Oleum Cubebae, mv. - xx. (.25 - 1.); Oleoresina Cubebae, gr. v. - xx. (.30 - 1.20).