Description: Natural Order, Umbelliferae. This is a perennial plant, with a tuberous root and herbaceous stem; growing in moist grounds, (but not in water, as the old name, Eryngium aquaticum, suggested;) reaching a height of from two to four feet; branching by forks of two or three, looking much like an endagen. Leaves grass-like, one to two feet long, rigid, nerved, fringed with soft bristles. Flowers very small, whitish, in pedunculate and globose heads half an inch in diameter; bracts spinose; calyx five-parted. July.
This plant is found in nearly all sections of the United States. The rhizoma is knotty, wrinkled, dark-brown without and yellowish-white within, of a sweetish-aromatic taste, leaving behind a slight bitterness.
Properties and Uses: This is another of the plants introduced to the notice of medical men by Prof. Rafinesque. It combines stimulating and relaxing properties, the stimulant rather predominant; its action is moderately diffusive; and all the secernent organs feel its influence more or less. Thus it promotes the flow of saliva, expectoration, perspiration, and urine; and large doses of it will prove emetic to some persons, and muco-cathartic to others. These rather general and somewhat transient influences make this a suitable agent to use in combinations for dropsy, chronic torpor of kidneys, chronic congestion of the bladder, gleet, and chronic coughs associated with debility. It is also useful in compounds for scrofula; and especially so in secondary syphilis, where the depression of the system is not excessive. The case for which it is to be used, will determine the articles of its association–the eryngium itself being stimulating enough to give promptness and pungency to more relaxing articles, and at the same time to leave behind a slightly toned condition. By such usage, it will be found a good remedy. Used both externally and internally, Rafinesque says it is unsurpassed for the bites of poisonous serpents, and no doubt it would be excellent to aid in the elimination of viri; and I have found a warm infusion of it quite valuable to promote the tardy eruption in scarlatina, small-pox, and other exanthems, though not such a distinct diaphoretic as Rafinesque supposed it to be. It is best used in decoction, prepared by macerating two ounces of the root in a quart of hot water for half an hour. Dose of the decoction, two fluid ounces four times a day. When combined with other agents, it is made into sirup or tincture in the usual way. Dr. T. A. Wells, of Cincinnati, tells me its combination with agrimony forms a superior tonic diuretic; and he commends it highly for all nephritic maladies.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com