Ground Laurel, May Flower, Gravel Weed, Trailing Arbutus.
Description: Natural Order, Ericaceae. A trailing plant, of little woody fiber, closely allied to the uva ursi. Stem ten to twenty feet long, prostrate, covered with rusty and bristling hairs. Leaves evergreen, rounded heart-shaped, alternate, on slender petioles, two or two and a half inches long, one and a half inches wide. Flowers light rose-colored, in small axillary clusters subtended by scaly bracts and on short peduncles, appearing early in Spring, and with a rich spicy fragrance. Corolla salver-form, limb spreading and five-parted, tube hairy within; calyx of five long, slender, scale-like and nearly distinct sepals; stamens ten; pod globular, flattened, five- celled, many-seeded.
This shrubby and trailing evergreen prefers poor and rocky soils and northern hill-sides, especially through pine woods. It is rather common through all the British American provinces; and is found in abundance in some parts of New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. The leaves are used in medicine, and were introduced to the profession largely through the warm commendations of Prof. Rafinesque; but have been a valued family remedy in Canada from the earliest settlements of that country. Water and alcohol extract their virtues.
Properties and Uses: These leaves resemble those of the uva ursi, and are used in the same classes of cases, though somewhat more diuretic. They strengthen the kidneys, at the same time that they soothe and promote their function. They are of much value in sluggish renal action with aching of the back, catarrh of the bladder, congestion and aching of the prostate gland, leucorrhea, and gonorrhea. In gonorrhea, formed into a sirup with mitchella and a small portion of hydrastis, it will be found an excellent agent; and in my hands this has nearly superseded the use of copaiva, much to the satisfaction of my patients' stomachs. Combined with celastrus, mitchella, and the leaves of hollyhock, it makes an admirable compound for irritation of the bladder, and for some forms of spermatorrhea. Its mild astringency makes it a serviceable agent in the chronic dysentery and diarrhea of children; but it is much better, suitably compounded, in the treatment of leucorrhea. For leucorrhea and uterine prolapsus, in forms not connected with costiveness nor of much degeneracy, but presenting general laxity of fiber and nervous languor, I would commend to the profession the following preparation, which I have used with much success: Epigea, mitchella, and aralia racemosa, each, four ounces; leonurus and populus tremuloides, each, two ounces; orange peel, half an ounce. Make into two quarts of sirup in the same manner as in compound sirup of mitchella, using alcohol of not over fifty per cent.
This article is not used in powder, but mostly by infusion, fluid extract, or compound sirups. The fluid extract is prepared and used as that of cypripedium.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com