USES.—The part employed is the fruit pulp, official in all the pharmacopoeias as a very energetic hydragogue cathartic. It is seldom given alone, but in combination with other drugs to modify its energy and its action.
In large doses it causes vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and a series of nervous phenomena that may end in death. Six to ten grams constitute a toxic dose. It operates with most force upon the large intestines and sympathetically upon the uterus.
DOSE.—Extract, 0.10–0.30 gram; powder, 0.30–1.00 gram.
The pulp contains a yellow, intensely bitter substance, quite soluble in water and in alcohol, discovered by Hubschmann and named by him coloquintina. The seeds contain 17% of an insipid oil.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—An herb with long, prostrate stems covered with stiff hairs. Leaves alternate, triangular, deeply cleft in 3 lobules that subdivide.
Petioles long. The color of the leaves is pale green above, whitish or gray and covered with white hairs underneath. Flowers yellow, monoecious, solitary, axillary, with long peduncles. Staminate: receptacle cup-formed, 5 sepals and 5 free, yellow petals; 5 stamens in pairs, one free. Pistillate: the receptacle globose, covering the lower part of the ovary; 3 staminodes take the place of the stamens.
Ovary unilocular, uniovulate, with a short style bearing 3 lobules at its apex.
Fruit globose, 6–8 centimeters in diameter, smooth, greenish, later yellow with white spots; it is full of a whitish pulp that becomes dry and pithy and that contains the obovate seeds, smooth, flattened, brown, lacking albumen.
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