(From the colon, and moveo, from its active purging powers). Bitter apple. Also called alhandala, colocynthidis medulla, coloquintida. Bitter or wild gourd. It is the dried pulpy part of a species of gourd; the cucumis colocyn-this Lin. Sp. Pi. 1435. Nat. order cucurbitaceae: differing from the common sort only in the leaves being deeper jagged, and the fruit not eatable. It is brought from Aleppo, and grows in many parts of Turkey. It is very light, white, and of a fungous texture, composed as it were of membranaceous leaves, with a number of roundish seeds lodged in the cavities.
The seeds are unctuous and sweetish, like those of cucumbers, but not purging: the fungous medulla, freed from the seeds, is acrid, nauseous, and bitter to the taste, and is a strong irritating cathartic. It is commended also, in less doses, as an alterative in chronical disorders. It is rarely used alone, though ten or twelve grains will purge violently, frequently producing violent colic, bloody discharges, and even disordering the whole system; but if mixed with other purgatives, it quickens their operation.
When boiled in water, it gives out a large quantity of gluten; to proof spirit it does the same: the watery decoction, inspissated to an extract, purges briskly, but with less irritation than the colocynth it-self in half its weight. Mr. Bolduc thinks that the active matter resides in its salts, which far exceed the resin and the oil in quantity, and that water is its best menstruum. But the most effectual method of abating its virulence, without diminishing its purgative quality, seems to be by triturating it with gum, farinaceous Substances, or the oily seeds; by which means its resinous particles are prevented from adhering to the membranes of the intestines, so as to irritate and inflame them.