Ecballium Elaterium Classification Essay

Ecballium is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cucurbitaceae containing a single species, Ecballium elaterium,[1] also called the squirting cucumber or exploding cucumber (but not to be confused with Cyclanthera explodens). It gets its unusual name from the fact that, when ripe, it squirts a stream of mucilaginous liquid containing its seeds, which can be seen with the naked eye. It is thus considered to have rapid plant movement.

It is native to Europe, northern Africa, and temperate areas of Asia.[2] It is grown as an ornamental plant elsewhere, and in some places it has naturalized.[2][3]

It is suspected to provide food for the caterpillars of the tortrix mothPhtheochroa rugosana.

This plant, and especially its fruit, is poisonous, containing cucurbitacins.[4] In the ancient world it was considered to be an abortifacient.[5]

Elaterium[edit]

Elaterium is the plant extract used as a purgative. It is extracted from the juice of the fruit of Ecballium elaterium.

To prepare the extract, the fruit is sliced lengthwise and slightly pressed, the greenish and slightly turbid juice obtained is strained and set aside, and the deposit of elaterium formed after a few hours is collected on a linen filter, rapidly drained, and dried on porous tiles at a gentle heat. Elaterium has been produced in light, thin, friable, flat or slightly incurved opaque cakes, of a greyish-green color, bitter taste and tea-like smell. The extract is soluble in ethanol, but insoluble in water and diethyl ether. The official dose used to be ​1 12 grain, and the British pharmacopeia at the beginning of the 20th century directs that the drug is to contain from 20 to 25% of the active principle elaterinum or elaterin. A resin in the natural product aids its action.

Elaterin is extracted from elaterium by chloroform and then precipitated by ether. It has the formula C32H44O7. It forms colorless scales which have a bitter taste, but it is highly inadvisable to taste either this substance or elaterium. The British pharmacopeia contained a useful preparation, the Pulvis Elaterini Compositus, which contains one part of the active principle in 40.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica 1911, the action of this extract resembles that of the saline aperients, but is much more powerful. It was known as the most active hydragogue purgative known, "causing also much depression and violent griping". When injected subcutaneously it is inert, as its action is entirely dependent upon its admixture with the bile. The drug was said to be valuable in cases of dropsy and Bright's disease,[medical citation needed] and also in cases of cerebral haemorrhage,[medical citation needed] threatened or present. It must not be used except in urgent cases, and must invariably be employed with the utmost care, especially if the state of the heart is unsatisfactory.

References[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ecballium.

External links[edit]

Ecballium elaterium, also called the squirting cucumber or exploding cucumber (but not to be confused with Cyclanthera explodens), is a plant in the cucumber family. It gets its unusual name from the fact that, when ripe, it squirts a stream of mucilaginous liquid containing its seeds, which can be seen with the naked eye. It is thus considered to have rapid plant movement.

It is native to Europe, northern Africa, and temperate areas of Asia.[1] It is grown as an ornamental plant elsewhere, and in some places it has naturalized.[1][2]

It is suspected to provide food for the caterpillars of the tortrix mothPhtheochroa rugosana.

This plant, and especially its fruit, is poisonous, containing cucurbitacins. In the ancient world it was considered to be an abortifacient.

In Turkey, the fresh fruit juice of this plant is directly applied into the nostrils for the treatment of sinusitis as an herbal medicine. Clinical tests on voluntary patients revealed that the healing rate of double-high dosage application is higher than that of the single-low dosage (71.0 and 56.6%, respectively). In addition, total relief from the main symptoms is observed in 20% of the patients, although the sinuses are not completely drained off on x-ray examination.[3]

References[edit]

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