Taken internally, colchicum or colchicine markedly increases the amount of bile poured into the alimentary canal, being amongst the most powerful of known cholagogues.
The following, however, among others, are distributed throughout the whole, or a great part, of the range: Colchicum alpinum, Crocus vernus, Orchis globosa, Petrocallis pyrenaica, Astragalus depressus, A.
In larger doses colchicum or colchicine acts as a most violent gastrointestinal irritant, causing terrible pain, colic,vomiting, diarrhoea, haemorrhage from the bowel, thirst and ultimately death from collapse.
These assertions, and the total inadequacy of the pharmacology of colchicum, as above detailed, to explain its specific therapeutic property, show that the secret of colchicum is as yet undiscovered.
Despite the general recognition of these facts, the pharmacology of colchicum has hitherto thrown no light on the pathology of gout, and the pathology of gout has thrown no light upon the manner in which colchicum exerts its unique influence upon this disease.
In the 6th century Alexander of Tralles used colchicum for gout, iron for anaemia, and rhubarb in liver weakness and dysentery.
The chief constituents of colchicum are two alkaloids, colchicine and veratrine.
As a specific for gout colchicum was early employed by the Arabs; and the preparation known as eau medicinale, much resorted to in the 18th century for the cure of gout, owes its therapeutic virtues to colchicum; but general attention was first directed by Sir Everard Home to the use of the drug in gout.
A further curious fact, doubtless of very great significance, but hitherto lacking interpretation, is that the administration of colchicum during an acute attack of gout may often hasten the oncoming of the next attack; and this property, familiar to many gouty patients, may not be affected by the administration of small doses after the attack.
The official dose of powdered colchicum is 2 to 5 grains, which may be given in a cachet.