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What is Veratrine?

Veratrine (cevadine), is a mixture of alkaloids, of variable composition, obtained from sabadilla, the dried ripe seeds of Schoenocaulon officinale, by exhausting the powdered seeds with alcohol. It is also official in the U.S.P. Veratrine occurs in the form of white or greyish-white, pulverulent masses, which are amorphous, odourless, and have a very persistent bitter and intensely acrid taste, followed by a sensation of numbness. The powder causes intense irritation of the nasal mucous membrane, and excites violent sneezing. Slightly hygroscopic in moist air. The alcoholic solution is alkaline to litmus. Its melting-point is ill-defined, and lies somewhere between 145° and 155°.

Solubility of Veratrine:

Almost insoluble in water; soluble in boiling water (1 in 1000), alcohol (1 in 3), ether (1 in 6), chloroform (1 in 3), olive oil (about 1 in 80), sparingly in glycerin; freely in diluted acids, but leaving slight traces of an insoluble, brown, resinous body; very soluble in benzene and in amyl alcohol, insoluble in petroleum benzin.

Constituents of Veratrine:

The mixed alkaloids consist chiefly of cevadine (veratrine), veratridine, sabadilline (cevadilline), sabadine, sabadinine, and sabatine, which is probably not a definite substance. Cevadine, C32H49NO9, is a crystalline alkaloid which may be decomposed by heating with alcoholic potash into methyl-crotonic acid (tiglic or cevedic acid), C5H8O2, and an amorphous base, cevedine (cevine); veratridine, C27H53NO11, is amorphous, and may similarly be decomposed into dimethyl-protocatechuic acid (veratric acid), C9H10O4, and an amorphous base, verine (veratroine), probably identical with cevine; sabadilline (cevadilline) is an amorphous base, C34H53NO8; sabadine, C29H51NO8, and sabadinine, are both crystalline bodies.

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