Description: Natural Order, Cruciferae. A member of the mustard family, closely allied to the cresses. Genus DICENTRA (should be DENTARIA): Perennial herbs, with long, horizontal and toothed rootstalks, of a pungent taste. Stems low, and bearing two or three leaves about their middle; leaves compound and petioled; a single raceme of flowers terminating the stem. Flowers large, and white or purple; pod lanceolate, flat, nerveless, and opening by valves. D. DIPHYLLA: Rootstalk five to ten inches long, one-fourth to one-half an inch in diameter, yellowish-white, toothed, crisp, tasting like water-cress. Stem with two leaves, close together, each of three rhombic-ovate and coarsely-toothed leaflets. Flowers white. Frequent on hill-sides of rich woods from Maine to Kentucky. May.
Properties and Uses: The root of this little plant is a diffusive and somewhat pungent stimulant, when dried; and also possesses a mild tonic power. Its principal influence is expended upon the nervous peripheries, and moderately upon the capillaries. It is of the antispasmodic class of nervines; and is useful in hysterical nervousness and spasms of the more acute form, painful and tardy menstruation, flatulent colic, and similar maladies requiring a diffusive stimulant. It warms the surface, and secures gentle perspiration. It is agreeable in taste, but its influence is rather transient. Dr. Ritta, of Dayton, claims to have used it for many years with unvarying success in epilepsy. I do not think it can be of more than secondary value in such cases; yet it is a humble article that certainly deserves attention. The better method of giving it is a tincture prepared by macerating four ounces of the roots in a quart of diluted alcohol, straining and pressing; of which two to three fluid drachms may be given every four or two hours.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com