PODOPHYLLIN, a drug obtained from the rhizome of the American mandrake or may apple, Podophyllum peltatum, an herbaceous perennial belonging to the natural order Berberidaceae, indigenous in woods in Canada and the United States.
Podophyllin is a resinous powder obtained by precipitating an alcoholic tincture of the rhizome by means of water acidulated with hydrochloric acid.
Alkalis decompose it into picro-podophyllic acid and picro-podophyllin, minute traces of both of which occur in a free state in the rhizome.
The acid is inert, but picro-podophyllin is the active principle.
The properties of podophyllin resin vary with the reaction of the tissue with which it is in contact; where this is acid the drug is inert, the picro-podophyllin being precipitated.
The best method of prescribing podophyllin is in pill form.
In toxic doses podophyllin causes intense enteritis, with all its characteristic symptoms, and severe depression, which may end in death.