Bittersweet Picture, flower and fruit

 Dulcamara USD 1926
Compiled and Edited by 
Ivor Hughes

DULCAMARA Dulcam. [Bittersweet]
Dulcamara is the dried stem of Solanum Dulcamara Linne (Fam. Solanaceae).
Dulcamara contains not more than 2 per cent of foreign organic matter." N. F.

Woody Nightshade; Stipites Dulcamarae; Caulis Dulcamarae; Tiges de Douceam�r, (de Morello grimpante). Douce am�rc, Fr.; Bittersűss, Bittersűss-Stengel, Hindischkraut, Alpranken, G.; Tallo de Dulcamara.

Dulcamara is a climbing shrub with a woody branching stem and purplish, cymose flowers, with lemon-yellow anthers. The bright scarlet berries remain after the falling of the leaves. The plant grows in wet places and around dwellings and is common to Europe and North America , and in the United States grows from New England to Ohio .

All portions of the plant are active. Fatal results from the eating of the berries by a child have been recorded. (P. J., 1861.) For medicinal purposes the plant should be gathered in the autumn after the fall of the leaf, and the extreme twigs should be selected. That grown in high and dry situations is said to be the best.

Description and Physical Properties.
Unground Dulcamara. In short sections about 5 mm. or less in thickness, cylindraceous, outline of transverse section somewhat angular, longitudinally striate, more or less warty; bark thin, externally pale greenish, or light greenish brown, glabrous, marked with alternate leaf scars, internally green, the greenish or yellowish wood occurring in 1 to 2 concentric rings, usually hollow in the center. Odor slight; taste bitter, afterwards sweet.

Structure. - Epidermis with a rather thick outer cuticle; several rows of cork composed of thin-walled cells and in the older stems entirely replacing the epidermis; phellogen composed of a number of rows of tangentially elongated cells; about six rows of collenchyma; a pericycle containing non-lignified fibers which are mostly in an interrupted single row; inner bark of parenchyma containing starch grains or sphenoidal micro-crystals of calcium oxalate, or groups of sieve cells; a continuous zone of cambium; a narrow zone of wood composed of numerous tracheae, tracheids, wood fibers and lignified, porous parenchyma, the latter forming medullary rays one cell in width; within the wood a narrow zone of pith parenchyma with groups of sieve cells; pith surrounding a central hollow.

  Powdered Dulcamara. - Greenish yellow; exhibits tracheee up to 0.112 mm. in diameter and with bordered pores or with spiral markings; tracheae-like cells having pointed ends, slightly lignified walls and delicate spiral or reticulate markings; lignified wood fibers with few pores; non-lignified bast-fibers with walls up to 0.015 mm. thick; fragments composed of cork cells; very few, simple, unicellular hairs up to 0.800 mm. long, and with the lumina usually distinct in the lower portions only; starch grains, spheroidal, up to 0.012 mm. in diameter; sphenoidal micro-crystals numerous, up to 0.007 mm. long." N.F.

The dried twigs are inodorous, though the stalk in the recent state emits, when bruised, a peculiar, rather nauseous odor. Their taste, which is at first bitter and afterwards sweetish, have given origin to the name of the plant. According to Davis (P. J., 1902, xv), dulcamara contains the glucosidal alkaloids solanine (see Part II) and solaneine, besides solanidine, which is a non-glucosidal alkaloid and is the hydrolytic product from solanine, and a bitter principle dulcamarin.

The picroglycion of Pfaff seems to be identical with dulcamarin. This was obtained by Blitz, in the following manner: The aqueous extract was treated with alcohol, the tincture evaporated, the residue dissolved in water, the solution precipitated with lead sub acetate, the excess of this salt decomposed by hydrogen sulphide, the liquor then evaporated to dryness, and the residue treated with acetic ether, which yielded the principle in small isolated crystals by spontaneous evaporation.

Uses. In large doses dulcamara causes burning in the throat with nausea and vomiting and dizziness; the pulse temporarily accelerated becomes slow, the pupils dilated and there often occurs general weakness with convulsive muscular movements. Formerly this drug was used in the treatment of chronic rheumatism, in chronic bronchitis, especially with an asthmatic tendency and in whooping cough. It was also attributed with anaphrodisiac properties. Today it is used almost solely in the treatment of scaly skin diseases such as lepra, psoriasis, and pityriasis.

Dose, thirty to sixty grains (2-4 Gm.).

Off. Prep. Fluidextractum Dulcamarae, N. F.