Description: Natural Order, Coniferae. The generic characters of savin are the same as in the common juniper. This species is naturally procumbent, though commonly met with as a low, bushy, straggling shrub, three to eight feet high, compact with numerous branches. Leaves quite small, oval, somber-green, lying close to the branches, and following one another in four imbricated rows. Branches round, tough, with a reddish-brown bark. Fruit small, oval, very smooth, almost black. The young twigs, with their leaves, are used in medicine. They contain an essential oil, which gives them a strong and rather unpleasant terebinthinate odor; and an acrid, bitter, and disagreeable taste. They impart their virtues to warm water and diluted alcohol.
Properties and Uses: The twigs and leaves are strongly stimulating, exciting the kidneys, uterus, and skin. They are sometimes used by infusion to promote the menstrual flow; but act so powerfully, and with so much irritation both to the stomach and uterus, as to be an injudicious and even a dangerous emmenagogue. The same may be said of their action on the kidneys.
The oil acts as do the leaves, but is the more irritating in proportion as it is more concentrated. It and the leaves are sometimes used as abortives; but are liable to provoke inflammation of the stomach and uterus, and to cause death, without accomplishing the criminal design. The real nature of the plant may be seen in the fact that a cerate formed with it will indefinitely keep open a sore caused by a blister of Spanish flies.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com