Description: Natural Order, Berberidaceae. Allied to the caulophyllum and podophyllum. The root of this plant is a perennial rhizoma, with a dense and matted mass of slender fibers. The leaf rises from the root on a slender petiole eight inches high, smooth, parted above into two half- ovate leaflets, with their bases close together, four inches broad by two inches long, thin, smooth. Flowers on slender stalks, also arising from the root to the same height as the leaf stalks, about an inch in diameter, of four colored and fugacious sepals, and eight white petals. It blooms in April and May, and is found in woods and near streams on limestone soils through the Northern and Western States.
Properties and Uses: The root of this plant is a pungent and bitter stimulant, with a fair portion of relaxing properties. It acts with moderate promptness upon the mucous membranes; and afterwards influences the stomach, kidneys, circulation, and glandular system more slowly and permanently. To sensitive persons, its action upon the fauces and respiratory passages is sharp, and almost acrid, and it excites the stomach somewhat unpleasantly; hence it is not appropriate to sensitive patients or irritable conditions, but is suited only to sluggish conditions, and states of laxity and enfeebled action. It promotes expectoration in chronic coughs and hepatization; a warm infusion will elevate capillary circulation, increase the secretion of the skin, and promote the menstrual function. It is much used in depressed forms of chronic rheumatism, in sirups designed for secondary syphilis and mercurial rheumatism or cachexy, dropsy, and atonic forms of amenorrhea. It is an antispasmodic of the stimulating class; and a moderate portion of it can be used to advantage in low hysteria and uterine pains, combined with such agents as liriodendron and mitchella. An infusion makes a good gargle in mild ulcerations of the throat, and a wash for aphthous sores and semi-indolent ulcers. It is a strong agent, and deserves much consideration in prostrated conditions of the nerves and pulse, as well as in the above maladies. It is usually given by infusion; or added to other agents in the sirup form, such as dicentra, alnus, phytolacca, fraxinus, etc. When thus used, about six ounces arc commonly employed in each gallon of sirup.
Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Infusion. Crushed or powdered roots of jeffersonia, half an ounce; boiling water, ten fluid ounces. Dose, a fluid ounce every hour or two hours, according to the object sought.
II. Fluid Extract. This is prepared on 75 percent alcohol, after the usual manner of other extracts. It is a good representative of the root.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com