Description: Natural Order, Liliaceae. This article is so common, that its botanical description is unnecessary in this place. The bulbous roots are the parts used, and their virtues depend upon a volatile essential oil, which is extremely pungent. This oil may be obtained by distillation in the ordinary manner. Water, vinegar, and alcohol, extract their properties. The common onion (Allium Cepa. resembles the garlic, but is not so strong.
Properties and Uses: The bulbs have been employed as a condiment and medicine from remote antiquity. They are very stimulating, moderately relaxing, and very diffusible. They excite the mucous secretions, facilitating digestion in sluggish stomachs; improving chronic catarrh, and promoting expectoration. Considerable quantities, or a long-continued application outwardly, will excite the circulation–leading to hot skin, flushed face and headache. By its continued action on the nervous system, it exhilarates it in sudden depressions, and often proves antispasmodic–as in "worm fits" of children, and spasmodic cough. (§245.) It has a popular reputation for worms, suppressed menstruation, atonic dropsies, and hysteria; and its general excitation of the system may enable it to prove of some transient service in such cases. Applied outwardly, it is a strong counter-irritant; and is often used as a fomentation on the feet to relieve the brain in cerebral excitements. A poultice applied over the pubes has been said to relieve paralysis of the bladder; and a drop or two of the juice into the ear three times a day, has been commended in atonic deafness. It is not to be used inwardly during the existence of inflammation or acute irritation; nor outwardly near any organ in the same condition, nor for a long time. Dose, a drachm cut into slices and infused in half a pint of milk; or from half to a whole fluid drachm of the juice mixed with sugar; repeat three or four times a day. Its disagreeable odor is objectionable, and the plant is strongly suspected of being a little narcotic, though not in my opinion.
Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Sirup. Garlic, sliced and bruised, six ounces; vinegar, a pint; sugar, two pounds. Macerate the garlic in the vinegar, in a glass vessel, for four days; strain, and add the sugar. Used in spasmodic coughs and catarrhal affections of children. Dose, for a child of twelve months, a teaspoonful repeated every six hours.
II. Decoction of the bulbs of common onion, made by simmering them in milk for two or three hours, has received some excellent testimony for its usefulness in dropsies. Several large onions are made to yield a quart of decoction, and this is used in twenty-four hours. Such continued boiling, even in a covered vessel, nearly destroys the acrid properties of the article. I have myself used it as an adjunct to tonic treatment and outward stimulation; and have been much pleased with the manner in which it promoted urinary and perspiratory secretion and facilitated absorption.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com