This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics - Vegetable Kingdom", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica And Therapeutics: Vegetable Kingdom.
Active Ingredients. - The wood of the picraena owes its qualities to a peculiar neutral principle called quassine, or quassite, C10H12O3. When separated it appears in the form of small, white, prismatic crystals, destitute of odor, but intensely bitter; fusible readily, soluble in alcohol, but very slightly so in either water or ether. There is no tannin or gallic acid in the bark.
Physiological Action. - On this subject nothing is accurately known, except that quassia is a poison to flies and to fish. The experiments that have been made on warm-blooded animals are too equivocal and self-contradictory in their results to be of any value.
Therapeutic Action. - It must be owned that at the present day there are not many cases in which quassia is likely to be especially useful.
As a Vermicide Enema, to be injected into the rectum of patients who are infested with ascarides, it is very useful indeed; in fact there are many cases in which alternate injections of lime-water and of infusion of quassia will suffice for the cure.
As a General Tonic, and as a Stomachic Tonic, quassia is now generally believed to be inferior to gentian.
As an Antipyretic, and as an Antiperiodic, it is but a feeble agent, and not to be compared with the cinchonas.
In the Dyspepsia of Intemperance it is, perhaps, one of the best remedies, but here again it is doubtful whether quinine is not superior.
In Hysteric Affections the unquestionable repulsiveness of quassia is probably a powerful aid to its medicinal effects.
Preparations and Dose. - Extract. Quassiae, gr. j. - v. (.06-
.30); lnfus. Quassiae,
- ij. (15. - 60.); Tinct. Quassiae, m xv. - 3 j.
(1. - 4.).