Description: Natural Order, Rubiaceae. Shrubs, common in wet places, throughout the United States and Canada, five to fifteen feet high. Leaves opposite, or sometimes in whorls of three, without stipules; ovate-oblong, acute at both extremities, on short red petioles, with a tumid base; two to four inches in length. Flowers terminal, in densely aggregated, globose heads; creamy white; calyx tubular, four-toothed; corolla tubular, four-toothed. Blossoms in July and August, when its pretty and somewhat fragrant heads of flowers, more than an inch in diameter, make an attractive appearance. The bark is quite bitter, and yields its properties to water, and to water and alcohol.
Properties and Uses: The bark is a slow, but quite decided tonic, of the stimulating and moderately relaxing class. It gives vigor to the stomach and bowels in atonic conditions, and slightly promotes the alvine and hepatic functions, and also that of the kidneys. In some sections a very strong decoction of it is a popular remedy in intermittents, both to sustain the portal circulation and secure a laxative action of the bowels. Several intelligent gentlemen have told me that it is much depended on as an antiperiodic in the southwestern States; and some observations of my own assure me that it will prove an excellent tonic in the treatment of agues. A warm decoction promotes the action of the skin, much as boneset does. In my earlier practice, I noticed some New England farmers gave it to their cattle, to hasten the ejection of the placenta; and this led me to its use in uterine weakness and prolapsus, with leucorrhea, for all which I have found it decidedly valuable. It has been commended for weakness of the kidneys, achings in the small of the back, and chronic coughs. I am fully satisfied that this article will be found a desirable one, and would respectfully urge its investigation by the profession.
In using it an ounce of the bark may be boiled in a pint of water, strained, and evaporated to half a pint. Of this two fluid drachms may be given three times a day, to promote digestion; or a fluid ounce every second hour, commencing eight hours before the chill, as an antiperiodic. I once prepared a Fluid Extract, in the same manner as for boneset, and found it a serviceable preparation.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com