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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

on this pageApple, Bitter
aka Colocynth pulp, Bitter cucumber
(Citrullus colocynthis)

•Death has been known to result from 1½ tsp of the powder.
•Rarely prescribed alone.
•Its irritant nature causes severe pain if the powder is applied to the nostrils.
•Has a nauseus, bitter taste and was usually given in mixture form with tincture of podophyllum and belladonna.

CONTAINS: Pulp contains Colocynthin, extractive, fixed oil, a resinous substance which is insoluble in ether. Also a gum, pectic acid or pectin, calcium phosphates, magnesium phosphates, lignin and water.

An annual plant resembling a common watermelon which is native to Turkey; also in Africa, Asia, Smyrna and Trieste. The stems are rough and hairy; leaves alternate on long petioles, triangular in shape, many-cleft, obtuse, hairy and fine green on upper surface and rough and pale beneath. Flowers are yellow, appearing singly at axis of leaves. Fruit is globular, the size of an orange, yellow and smooth when ripe and possessing a hard rind and a white spongy pulp which surrounds numerous ovate white or brownish seeds.
The product collected from the Maritime Plain between the mountains of Palestine and the Mediterranean was known as Turkish Colocynth and was considered the best variety. Was an important ingredient of Extractum Colocynthidis Compositum, Pilula Colocynthidis Composita, and Pilula Colocynthidis et Hyosiyami. An historical antidote to its poison was to empty the stomach, give a dose of opium by mouth or rectum, then follow by stimulants and demulcent drinks. It is uncertain of just how effective the treatment was.

PART USED: Dried pulp.


A powerful hydragogue cathartic which, in large doses, produces violent griping, sometimes accompanied by bloody discharges and dangerous inflammation of the bowel.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully.
POWDER = 2 to 5 grains.
TINCTURE = 1 to 2 minims.

Fruits were broken into small pieces and placed among furs and woollens to discourage moths.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH