NOM. VULG.—Algodón, Sp.; Bulak, Tag.; Cotton, Eng.
USES.—The root bark is antiasthmatic, emmenagogue, and according to Daruty4 is a substitute for ergot in uterine hemorrhage. The leaves are used in bronchial troubles and the seeds are sudorific. The negroes in the United States use the root bark in large doses as an abortifacient; but a dose of 60 grams to 1,200 of water in decoction is proper and useful in treating dysmenorrhoea.
For a long time the seeds went to waste but industry has learned to obtain from them a brownish-red oil which is used as a substitute for olive oil, from which it is hard to distinguish it, if the latter is adulterated by mixing the two; for both have the same density and a very similar odor and taste. For this reason the production of cottonseed oil is very considerable nowadays. It is cheap and excellent for domestic, industrial and pharmaceutic use.
The seeds are used in North America in dysentery and as a galactagogue, and the juice of the leaves as an emollient in diarrhoea and mild dysentery. The pulp of the seeds, after the oil is extracted, yields a sweet material called gossypose, which is dextrogyrous and has the formula C18H32O16 + 5H2O.
The cotton itself, the part used in commerce as a textile, is also the portion of the plant most widely employed in therapeutics; not only the fiber from this species is used, but also that of others that grow in the Philippines, the G. Barbadense, L. (nom. vulg. Pernambuko, Tag.), and the G. arboreum, L. (Bulak na bundok, Bulak na totoo, Tag.).
Cotton is used extensively in bacteriological laboratories as a filter of liquids and gases. This property possessed by cotton, of retaining in its fibers the germs of the air was utilized by the famous French surgeon Guérin in the treatment that bears his name. The denuded surfaces exposed to infection by airborne bacteria are completely protected against them when, according to the Guérin treatment, they are enveloped in large masses of fresh, raw cotton, presumably free from microörganisms. To avoid the possibility of infection by the cotton itself, it is now the practice to sterilize it either by means of chemicals such as carbolic acid, iodoform, etc., or by physical means such as high temperatures.
Raw cotton is used in compounding gun cotton or explosive cotton, also named pyroxylin, and this is used to make collodion, so extensively employed in medicine.
Pyroxylin is made by treating cotton with equal parts of nitric and sulphuric acids, then washing with water till the latter ceases to give a precipitate with chloride of baryta; then dry in the air.
Collodion is made by dissolving 5 grams of pyroxylin in the following mixture: Sulphuric ether, rectified 75 grams.
Alcohol at 95° 20 grams.
Elastic collodion: Canada Balsam 1.50 grams.
Castor oil .50 grams.
Collodion 30.00 grams.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A plant 2–3° high, of herbaceous stem, branches sparsely covered with small, black points; leaves cleft at their base, with 5 lobules and a small gland on the midrib. Petiole long with 2 stipules at the base.
Flowers axillary, solitary. Calyx double; the outer portion divided in 3 parts, heart-shaped, and each with 5–9 long, acute teeth. Corolla bell-shaped, of 5 petals, pale yellow or turning rose color, purple at the base. Stamens many, inserted on a column. Stigma in 4–5 parts. Ovary of 3–5 compartments. Seeds enveloped in the fiber.
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