Description: Natural Order, Menispermaceae. Woodville describes this as "A climbing shrub. Stem round, often covered with a close down, twining up and over great trees. Root woody, branching. Leaves large, roundish, peltate, sub-cordate, smooth above, covered beneath with silky pubescence. Flowers small, dioecious; male four-sepaled, four-petaled, corolla cupshaped, stamens monadelphous; female one-sepaled, one-petaled. Drupe roundish or somewhat reniform, scarlet, hispid, compressed." It is a native of the West Indies and Spanish South America; the greater portion that is found in commerce is obtained from Brazil.
The root is the medicinal portion. It comes in pieces from a few inches to a couple of feet in length, usually cylindrical or oval, sometimes split lengthwise. The bark is grayish-brown, wrinkled lengthwise, with ring-like elevations; interior yellowish-gray, porous, woody, coarsely fibrous. It has no smell; but its taste is at first sweetish and aromatic, and afterward intensely bitter. Water extracts its virtues.
Properties and Uses: The root acts mildly and somewhat slowly, first manifesting a relaxing influence with a little stimulation, and afterward exerting a gentle astringent-tonic influence. Its principal action is directed toward the kidneys and urinary passages; and it mildly increases the urinary flow, relieves lingering irritation of the bladder and urethra, and diminishes mucous discharges from the urino-genital membranes. It is employed in catarrh of the bladder, chronic gonorrhea and leucorrhea of a mild grade, and chronic congestion of the bladder and prostate. It was at one time in high repute for all forms of gravel; but it has no material connection with such maladies, except that it maintains a better action of the kidneys and relieves irritation–especially in cases of oxalic acid gravel. In most respects it is similar to the uva ursi, and some look upon it as superior to the latter article. It is not used in powder. An ounce to a pint of boiling water makes the ordinary infusion; dose, one to two fluid ounces every four hours.
Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Decoction. Pareira, one ounce; water, a pint and a half. Boil fifteen minutes, and strain. Dose, a fluid ounce or more.
II. Fluid Extract. Pareira, one pound. Macerate in water for twenty-four hours, treat by percolation till exhausted, evaporate to thirteen fluid ounces, and, when cold, add three ounces of dilute alcohol. Filter through paper. Dose, half to a whole fluid drachm. This is the method of the London and United States Pharmacopoeias; but in reality is not a fluid-extract at all, but simply a liquid extract diluted and preserved by liquor. The true fluid extract is to be prepared with diluted alcohol, as in the case of boneset. Dose, half a fluid drachm.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com