Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Duboisa hopwoodii

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Duboisia Hopwoodii, F. von Mueller.
This is the Australian Pitury, also known as piturie, pedgery, pitchiri, pitchery, and bedgery. It has long been known that the natives of Central Australia use the leaf of some shrub in order to invigorate themselves, after long marches, or when they are desirous of undergoing great fatigue, as during a battle. This leaf is used as a masticatory by the Australians in a manner similar to that of the coca leaves by the South Americans. It is asserted that when the natives chew pitury "in company," the quid is passed from one to another until all are satisfied, when one of the number preserves it by sticking it behind his ear (Maiden, Australian Useful Plants). Dr. Bancroft, of Brisbane, in 1872, made some physiological experiments with authentic specimens of pituri; yet the source of the drug was unknown until 1877, when Baron von Mueller identified it from a specimen of the leaves of the plant submitted to him by Mr. W. O. Hodgkinson; accordingly, the pitury is Duboisia Hopwoodii, F. Mueller, a shrub found sparingly "from the Darling River and Barcooto to West Australia." But little is known of this shrub, as it grows in a country difficult of access. Staiger is probably the first who isolated from Duboisia Hopwoodii piturine, an alkaloid with which the "duboisine" of F. von Mueller and F. Rummel (see above), is most probably identical. A. W. Gerrard, in 1880, independently discovered the alkaloid piturine in this plant (Pharm. Jour. Trans., 1880). When fresh it smells like nicotine, but when older has a smell of pyridine. Its vapors affect the mucous membranes and cause violent headache. Some authorities (e. g., Petit, Jour. Pharm. Chim., 1879, p. 338), consider piturine identical with nicotine. Prof. Liversidge, however, points out some differences in their reactions, but otherwise they are quite similar (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1881, p. 357). Piturine (C12H16N2), was obtained by him in the amount of 1.0 and 2.4 per cent. It is a colorless alkaloid, volatile at ordinary temperatures, changing to yellow and brown rapidly when exposed to air and sunlight. It is soluble in water, alcohol, and ether, is slightly heavier than water, and forms salts with acids, which, with oxalic acid, are capable of crystallizing. Its salts gradually lose the alkaloid by evaporation. Piturine is reported to antagonize the action of muscarine on the heart, but not so promptly as atropine. Dr. Bancroft states that this drug arrests the respiration of animals, and thus causes their death. The action of pitury is essentially different from that of duboisia. Applied to the eye, it first contracts, and then widely dilates the pupils; internally, small doses contract the pupils, while large doses produce a wide dilatation. Faintness, giddiness, trembling, pallor, quickened and shallow breathing, increased heart action, and sweating, are induced by it, and if the dose be large, drowsiness, ptyalism, spasmodic muscular twitching, and spasmodic rigidity of the limbs are among its effects.