[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
July 1982

Colchicine: New Uses of an Old, Old Drug

Arch Dermatol. 1982;118(7):453-457. doi:10.1001/archderm.1982.01650190007008

Colchicine is an alkaloid found in the crocuslike plant, Colchicum autumnale, named for the land of Colchis at the eastern tip of the Black Sea. The first detailed descriptions and drawings of the plant, known then as "Colchicon," were recorded in the first century AD, by Dioscorides of Anazarbos, a botanist-pharmacologist. He warned that Colchicon was a dangerous poison, but recommended that Ephemeron (Colchicum lingulatum), now known to contain less potent concentrations of colchicine, be used for certain medical purposes. In the sixth century AD, Alexander of Tralles first advocated the use of Colchicum to alleviate pain of articular origin, and it was then used intermittently for various forms of arthritis until the 13th century. Its renewed use by Baron Anton von Storck of Vienna, in 1763, demonstrated the plant's specificity for gout and ushered in the modern era of Colchicum therapy. Von Storck's experimental studies of Colchicum's effects