Description: Natural Order, Nymphaeaceae. This family of plants grows only in the water; and is noted by their large and floating leaves, and very large flowers. Root (stem) two to four inches in diameter, rather fleshy, dull-yellow, horizontal in beds of mud in ponds. Leaves four to seven inches in diameter, home on petioles from one to ten feet in length, (according to the depth of the water,) nearly round, cleft at the base one-third their diameter, to the point where the petiole is inserted on the under side, very dark green, smooth and shining above, reddish and strongly vined beneath, floating on the water so that only their upper surface is seen. Flowers solitary, floating; sepals four, large, green outside, whitish or rose-blush within; petals numerous, two inches long, narrow, inserted in several rows all over the surface of the ovary, pure white, (occasionally rose-colored,) fragrant, not unfrequently becoming stamens; stamens numerous, often with their filaments like petals. These flowers are very large and beautiful, often three inches in diameter. Fruit a large, somewhat globular pod, depressed, ripening under water, crowned with the radiate stigmas and covered with the bases of the decayed petals, with fifteen to twenty cells, partially closing in the afternoon; seeds numerous, enveloped by a sort of aril, attached to the sides and back of the cells. Flowering from June to the last of August.
The large root (really the trunk) of these plants is sometimes farinaceous; becomes light and somewhat spongy by drying, and contains a fair amount of mucilage with tannic acid, a little resin, and a moderately bitter extractive. It comes to market cut in thin horizontal slices, which have a mild and sweetish odor, and yield a light and slightly yellowish powder.
NUPHAR ADVENA, known as Spatterdock, Frog-lily, and Yellow Pond-lily, is another genus in the same family with the above. Its habits of growth are the same, though it prefers stagnant water. Leaves eight to twelve inches long, somewhat oval. Sepals six, three outer yellow within, three inner wholly yellow. Petals numerous, small, yellow, inserted on an enlargement of the receptacle under the ovary, along with the numerous small stamens. Fruit ovoid, naked; seeds without arils. Flowers two Indies broad, not fragrant. The roots possess nearly identical qualities with those of the nymphea.
Properties and Uses: These roots are mildly and very pleasantly astringent, slightly stimulating, leaving behind a tonic impression, and with just enough mucilage to make their action rather soothing. The yellow is rather more stimulating than the white. Their influence is expended upon mucous membranes, excessive discharges from which are lessened by them; while tenacious discharges are loosened, ulcerative conditions healed, and the tone of the structures improved. Their action is quite gentle, but persistent; and they never leave behind that dry condition incident to the use of geranium and astringents of that class. Sub-acute dysentery and diarrhea are the maladies for which they have been most used, and they are truly excellent in such cases; but they may be employed with equal, if not greater, advantage in all mild forms of leucorrhea and prolapsus, with a tendency to ulceration of the cervix. I would especially commend them to the attention of the profession in these cases, both by the stomach and as a vaginal injection. Also in catarrh of the bladder, lingering congestion and aching of that organ, and chronic irritation of the prostate gland with gummy discharges, they are valuable. I have also used their decoction in gonorrhea, as an injection; and in gleet; and think well of it, especially for females. Sub-acute and chronic ophthalmia, of the milder forms, and aphthous ulcerations, will also find a useful remedy in these roots. Like the geum virginianum, they influence the assimilative organs; and may be employed to great advantage in those forms of scrofula which present weakness of the bowels and a tendency to curdy diarrhea. Prof. Rafinesque, who spoke very favorably of the nymphea, classed it as anodyne in action; and this has led many practitioners to reject it for inward use. This idea is erroneous; for while it is soothing in its impressions, the relief given is not that of narcotism, but of sustaining enfeebled and congested structures. The article deserves much more attention than is usually given to it, its very mildness being greatly in its favor. Externally, it is an agent of great value on weak and scrofulous ulcers, and those with an irritable surface and foul discharge; though not stimulating enough to meet indolent and phagedrenic ulcers. I have used it to excellent advantage, in powder, upon irritable chancres, and excoriations of the prepuce and vulva; or even upon hunterian chancres, in company with a trifle of capsicum.
The form of infusion is the best for internal administration, in most cases; made by pouring a pint of boiling water on two drachms of the root, of which one or two fluid ounces may be given every two hours. An advantage is gained, when using it for diarrhea and scrofulous laxity of the bowels, by boiling it for a few minutes in milk. When employed for leucorrhea, it may be formed into a sirup; or combined with such agents as liriodendron and mitchella, either in sirup or wine tincture. No iron implement should be used while preparing it. I think the white is preferable for internal use, and the yellow for outward applications.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com