Colchicum autumnale L. of Liliaceae family.
Description. A perennial herb with an underground modified stem- corms. Leaves are broadly lanceolate and remain fresh almost all summer. Flowers are pale pink-purple, large, in the bottom form a long and thin tube and come directly from the corm, and at the top of six-laciniate; 6 stamens; pistil is composed of three carpels, with the top-celled ovary and 3 thread-like style. The flowers develop in the autumn and the leaves next spring. The fruit, which is taken shape next spring and ripened in summer, first green, then forms a brown, leathery, shriveled little boll containing a set of black seeds.
Distribution. It grows in the meadows and pastures, along grassy places among bushes, everywhere in Bulgaria, and in some mountain meadows due to the mass distribution has become a very dangerous weed.
The characteristic properties. The flowers, leaves, seeds in particular, have a very bitter, unpleasant taste and are extremely poisonous!
Used organs. Corms (Bulbus Col chici) and seeds (Semen Colchici).
The content. Seeds contain 0, 2-1, 44% (significantly fewer bulbs) colchicine alkaloid, which does not form salts with acids, and are water soluble. A very strong poison! But the cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals are not affected during the so-called “hibernation”. Seeds contain, in addition, 17% of fatty oils, sugar and some tannin substance in its seed coat.
Action and use. Colchicine in small doses dilates the capillaries and probably this is due to its therapeutic effect (tincture of seeds) gout and rheumatic diseases. The use of products containing colchicine for gout is really effective, but risky, because the range between therapeutic and toxic doses is very small. The dose should not exceed 0.0001 g 3-4 times a day (calculated against colchicine). Treatment with drugs containing colchicine, should only be done under the direct supervision of a physician.
Colchicine is a mitotic poison. It delays splitting of chromosomes than hinders cell division. This property of colchicine was tested to delay the development of malignant neoplasms. The experiments showed that colchicine stops the development of tumors, but an obstacle to its use in the clinic is the high toxicity of this drug.