Notes upon the isolation of the alkaloidal constituent of the drug "Channa" or "Kougoed" (Mesembryanthemum anatomicum and M. tortuosum)

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Abstract:

The "Kougoed" of the Bushmen of Namaqualand is a preparation compounded of the dried, over-ground portions of the plants Mesembryanthemum anatomicum and Mesembryanthemum tortuosum. It is chewed and is said to exert a strongly narcotic action in many respects resembling that of cocaine (Watt and Breyer-Brandwyk, 1932. Juritz (1905) observed dilation of the pupil. Zwicky (1914) examined the preparation and extracted a crude alkaloid which he named "Mesembrin". Neither the free base nor any of its derivatives ·were obtained in the crystalline state; however, on the grounds of elementary analyses, Zwicky put forward the formula C16 H19 NQ4 for the alkaloid. Certain colour reactions were described. Since the alkaloids of the Aizoaceae have received very little attention, a reinvestigation of the "Kougoed" seemed highly desirable . Through the kindness of Dr. W. Jordan, in placing at our disposal about l · 5 kilos of a preparation consisting of the dried plants, secured by him recently in Namaqualand, we were enabled to make a preliminary study of the alkaloidal constituents of the drug and to obtain crystalline salts of Mesembrin which establish its correct formula as C17 H23 N0. The present paper is a preliminary note upon the isolation and properties of this substance.