Family Fumariaceae A P de Candolle 1821 nom conserv the Fumitory Family

Physical description: The family Fumariaceae consists of about 20 genera and 400 species of poisonous perennial herbs, growing mainly in the Northern temperate regions and in South Africa. The stems are often slender and juicy. The leaves are simple, alternate or subopposite, without stipules and often dissected. The inflorescences are cymose or racemose. The flowers are perfect, zygomorphic, and hypogynous. The calyx comprises of a pair of small and deciduous sepals, and the corolla consists of 4 petals.The petals are imbricate, the outer 2 often saccate or spurred at the base, and the inner 2 narrower and sometimes coherent to the apex. The andrecium consists of 4 free stamens facing the petals, or 6 stamens united in 2 bundles. The gynecium comprises of a pair of carpels united to form a compound and unilocular ovary, containing a pair of anatropous ovules attached to the parietal placentas. The style is long and thin, and the stigma is lobed. The fruits are capsular. The seeds are glossy, crested or nude. Several handsome garden plants belong to family Fumariaceae, most notably, Dicentra spectabilis (L.) Lemaire (bleeding heart) and Dicentra cucullaria (L.) Bernh. (Dutchman's breeches).

Pharmaceutical interest: The dried tubers of Dicentra canadensis (squirrel or turkey corn) and Dicentra cucullaria (L.) Bernh. (Corydalis, British

Pharmaceutical Codex, 1934) have been used to invigorate and to promote urination (dose 0.3 g-1 g) in Western medicine.

Isoquinoline alkaloids: Corydalis, Dicentra and Fumaria species are toxic on account of isoquinoline alkaloids such as bulbocapnine, protopine, and bicu-culline. Bulbocapnine is a dopaminergic antagonist which has been used as a sedative in postencephalitic conditions, Meniere's syndrome, and for tremors of various origins (dose 100 mg, orally or subcutaneously, once or twice daily). Protopine, is the principal alkaloid of jaundice herb or Fumaria officinalis L. (Common fumitory,French Pharmacopoeia, 10th edition) which has been used to treat liver disorders and to invigorate. This protoberberine is spasmolytic, anticholinergic, antiarrhytmic, antibacterial and increases the binding of y-aminobutyric acid to its central receptor. Bicuculline, like picrotoxin, is a specific GABA receptor blocking agent which impedes the GABAergic presynaptic inhibition of excitatory transmission of primary afferent neurones of the spinal cord resulting in epileptiform convulsions, myosis, and dyspnea with more or less prolonged apnea (Fig. 45). Approximately 20 plants classified within the family Fumariaceae, including Corydalis incisa (Thunb.) Pers., are mostly used in the Asia-Pacific to assuage pain, counteract putrefaction of the skin and to heal hemorrhoids.

HO^ HO* Dopamine

Bulbocapnine (dopaminergic antagonist)

Protopine (cholinergic antagonist)

Protopine (cholinergic antagonist)

y- Aminobutyric acid (GABA)

Acetylcholine O-

Acetylcholine O-

Bicuculline (GABAergic antagonist)

Bicuculline (GABAergic antagonist)

Fig. 45. Note the similitude of chemical structure of bulbocapnine, protopine and bicuculline with dopamine, acetylcholine and y -aminobutyric acid.

Continue reading here: Corydalis incisa Thunb Pers

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