Spotted Geranium, Alum Root.
Description: Natural Order, Geraniaceae. This plant is common throughout the United States, thriving on woody hillsides and in open thickets, blooming from the last of April through May. Stem one to two feet high, erect, round, forking, retrorsely-pubescent. Leaves two at each fork of the stem, spreading, palmate-veined, usually divided into three or five deep and wedge-shaped lobes, cut and serrate at the ends; lower leaves long-petiolate, middle ones opposite, short-petiolate and reflexed, upper ones nearly sessile. Flowers usually in pairs; calyx of five ciliated sepals; petals five, spreading, half an inch long, light blue-purple, delicate and attractive, bearded at the claw. Stamens ten, each alternate one shortened, the five longer ones alternate with the petals and glandular at the base; styles five, cohering to a central and prolonged axis, from which they separate and curl backward at maturity. Fruit five small capsular pods, cohering to shallow excavations at the base of the prolonged axis.
The root of this plant is medicinal. It is perennial, horizontal, knobbed, umber-brown externally, dull gray within. Water and alcohol extract its virtues; and it contains tannic acid among its elements, as also a resinous substance.
Properties and Uses: This root is a superior astringent with tonic properties; rather positive, yet not powerful; operating slowly and persistently, somewhat soothing in its impression, and usually quite acceptable to the stomach. It is not so intense as oak or catechu, but much stronger than rubus or hamamelis; and is among the most useful agents of its class, not so suddenly drying the mucous membranes as some agents do. It is employed for its astringing and tonic influence on mucous membranes in sore-mouth, leucorrhea, gleet, catarrhal ophthalmia, and the latter stages of dysentery and diarrhea, both as a drink and by injection. It is a good local styptic to small blood-vessels; and is used inwardly in spitting of blood, bleeding from the nose, flooding, and menorrhagia, when the tissues are in a flaccid condition; and is then of much value, if combined with such stimulants as xanthoxylum and a small portion of capsicum. In such combination, it is good for elongated palate and ulcerated sore throat; and is a useful application to weak ulcers and bleeding granules. It has been commended in diabetes, especially in company with helonias; but probably without good ground. From five to fifteen grains of the powder may be given at a dose. It is generally made into an infusion of an ounce to a quart, and given to suit the case in hand.
Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Geraniin. This preparation was introduced by W. S. Merrill & Co., of Cincinnati. It is prepared from a saturated alcoholic tincture, of which three-fourths are evaporated, and the remainder treated as for podophyllin. It yields a dark reddish-brown, brittle, shining, resinous powder, strongly impregnated with tannin, and of slight acidulous reactions. It is a strong astringing tonic, not so intensely drying as tannin, and an agent of much usefulness in its own limited sphere. Like other active astringents, it is liable to be over-used. Dose, one to three grains.
GERANIUM ROBERTIANUM, or herb robert, is a European species, occasionally found in the United States. It has succulent red stems, and small purplish-white flowers. The whole plant has a strong and unpleasant smell. It is a stimulating astringent; and has long been a popular remedy in England for hemorrhages, jaundice, and nephritic complaints. It is seldom used in this country.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com