USES.—This plant has a reputation in the Philippines as a hæmostatic of great efficiency, for which purpose the whole plant is crushed and applied as a poultice over the wound. Like all members of this family it abounds in milky juice. We have had no occasion to employ it as a hæmostatic, but do not doubt its action in view of the effect that it exercises on the circulation and the heart when given internally. In toxic doses experiment has demonstrated that it kills animals by suspension of the respiratory movements and those of the heart, which at first beats faster but gradually more slowly. It has no effect upon any other organ and is eliminated by the liver.
Matheson recommends it as an antispasmodic and has employed it also in dyspnoea of cardiac origin. I have used it in both these conditions in Manila with highly satisfactory results. I have found the most convenient form of administration to be the tincture in doses of 15–40 drops a day given in an infusion of althæa every 3 or 4 hours; the vehicle should be used liberally as it diminishes the irritant action of the euphorbia on the stomach. A decoction of 15 grams of the plant to 2 liters of water may be given in doses of from 6 to 12 tablespoonfuls daily. A proper dose of the alcoholic extract is 10 centigrams in 24 hours. Dr. Daruty, of Mauritius, gives the following formula: Euphorbia pilulifera dried in the shade 30 grams.
Water 1½ liters.
Boil till reduced to 1 liter, cool and add: Rum or cognac 30 grams.
DOSE.—1 wineglassful 3 times a day.
This decoction relieves the most obstinate asthma, as well as cough and bronchial irritation. It is necessary to use the entire plant. The decoction is usually given in the morning, fasting, in the middle of the afternoon and at bedtime. In very stubborn cases another dose may be given in the middle of the night. Frequently the relief is immediate and in some cases a liter of the decoction is enough to effect a cure. If the symptoms return, it is easy to abort them; they are less distressing and, according to the statements of patients, the medicine “gives them air.” Dr. Hicks Bunting found, in an analysis of the drug, 60 per cent. of insoluble residue, wax, “caucho,” resin, tannin, sugar, albuminoids, oxalate of calcium and other salts.
Dr. Marsset states that the active principle is soluble in water, in dilute alcohol; insoluble in ether, chloroform, bisulphide of carbon, and turpentine, but does not give the reaction.
The toxic dose is 1 gram of dried plant for each kilogram of weight of the animal.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A small creeping plant with milky juice. Stem 1–2° high, cylindrical, hairy and reddish in color. Leaves opposite, obliquely ovate, rhomboid, serrate, hairy. Petioles very short. Two pointed stipules at the base.
Flowers yellowish in hemispherical umbels of 5 divisions, each subdivided in 2.
Involucre universal. Calyx bell-shaped, laciniate, in 5 parts. Corolla, 5 petals, inserted on the divisions of the calyx, fleshy, orbicular, with an orbicular appendix at the base, concave and differing from the corolla in color. Stamens 8, inserted on the base of the calyx; filaments unequal in length, each bearing 2 anthers. Four filaments lacking anthers. Ovary with stalk longer than the flower, curved downward. Styles 3, bifid. Stigmas simple. Seed vessels 3, united, hairy, 3-angled, each bearing 1 red globose seed with a wrinkled surface.
HABITAT.—Common in all parts of the islands and well known to the natives. The name by which it is best known in Manila is “golondrina..
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