Description: Natural Order, Gentianaceae. In the same Family with frasera, gentiana, and menyanthes. A neat and trim-looking plant, with an erect, slender, and four-angled stem two feet high. Branches many, opposite, erect, giving the plant a corymbose outline. Leaves opposite, ovate, five-nerved, half-clasping at the base, an inch or more long, smooth, entire. Flowers many, on long and terminal peduncles; calyx of five slender sepals; corolla five-parted, tubular wheel-shaped, an inch and a half in diameter, fine rose-colored; stamens five, erect, short. Fruit a one-celled capsule, with many seeds.
Properties and Uses: This herb, which should be gathered when in full bloom, is an active tonic, of the more stimulating class, with moderate and somewhat diffusive relaxing qualities, allied to the American gentian, but rather milder. Its chief power is exerted upon the stomach, gall-ducts, and spleen; and the general circulation and uterus feel it moderately. A warm infusion gently promotes the menstrual secretion, in cases of debility. Cold preparations increase appetite and digestion in weak and flaccid conditions of the stomach, and may be used for chronic dyspepsia and general debility. By maintaining the portal circulation somewhat vigorously, it proves of eminent service for the intermediate treatment of agues; and though not a nervine stimulant and antiperiodic as cinchona is, it is of decided value against intermittents where the cinchona preparations (and similar antiperiodics) prove too exciting to the nerve centers. In cases of this class, I have several times arrested ague paroxysms by the fluid extract of this plant alone, with suitable daily hepatics; yet it is not strong enough to meet the chills of deeply-prostrated or congested cases. It makes an excellent tonic addendum to such agents as fraxinus, angustura, or euonymus, in treating chronic biliousness with indigestion; and may be used to advantage with caulophyllum, convallaria, and similar uterine remedies, in chronic prolapsus, leucorrhea, hysteria, etc. Its sustaining influence is shown to excellent advantage in the treatment of night sweats, exhaustion from excessive purulent discharges, recovery from malignant scarlatina, and other prostrated conditions. Some use it for worms, as a tonic. Usually given by infusion, made by digesting an ounce of the herb in a pint of hot water; of which a fluid ounce may be given every two or three hours during the intermission of an ague, or half a fluid ounce every three hours as a tonic.
Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Decoction. Digest two ounces of the herb in a quart of hot water for half an hour; strain with pressure, and carefully evaporate to eight fluid ounces. Dose, half a fluid ounce or more, every two hours, for ague; which may be rendered more stimulating by adding a grain of capsicum to each dose for six or eight hours before an anticipated chill.
II. Fluid Extract. A pound of the herb may be made into a pint of this preparation, with diluted alcohol, after the manner for fluid extract of boneset. It is a very efficient article in doses of half to a whole fluid drachm.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com