Colchicum is an annual herb with very narrow leaves, broadening towards the tip, brownish fleshy underground stems, large yellow flowers and fruits with recurved tips.
The chief constituent of colchicum is the alkaloid, colchicines, which occurs in the form of yellow flakes, crystals or as whitish yellow amorphous powder. Its odor resembles the hay when dampened and warmed.
Botanical Name: Colchicum luteum
Indian Name: Hirantutiya
Below are some of the medicinal properties of colchicum:
- The active principle colchicines contained in the corms is beneficial in relieving pain and inflammation of gout. Clinical experiments with colchicum in small doses over a long period have shown success in about 60 percent of patients. The seeds, chiefly the rind also contain colchicines, and may be used in the treatment of gout in the same manner as the corms.
- Colchicum is useful in the treatment of rheumatic swelling. A paste made with saffron and egg can be applied beneficially to rheumatic and other swellings.
- Dried and powdered root of the plant is useful in the healing of wounds. It should be sprinkled on the affected area.
It has a very bitter taste and darkens on exposure to light. It has similar action as cochicine, but the latter is more active and toxic. When taken in large doses, colchicine causes intestinal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. The use of the drug can cause severe irritation in the intestines. To counteract this, it is advisable to use the drug with belladonna or dyoscyamus (khurasana ajwain).