Description: Natural Order, Euphorbiaceae. An indigenous, herbaceous plant, with perennial roots, and an annual, smooth, and upright stem two to three feet high. Leaves alternate, nearly sessile, oblong-lanceolate, minutely serrate, with two glandular stipules at the base. Flowers monoecious, in terminal spikes, without corollas, yellow; the male flowers of a two-cleft calyx or crenulate little cup, with two stamens on elongated filaments united at the base; female flowers few, at the lower part of the spike, with a three-cleft calyx, thick style, and three-cleft stigma. Fruit a three-lobed, three-celled, and three-seeded pod. April to July. Juice milky.
This plant is found on sandy soils through the south-eastern and Southern States. The root is medicinal; and is large, somewhat woody, yellowish-brown without, grayish-yellow within, coming to market in cylindrical pieces half an inch or more in thickness. Its taste is bitterish and rather acrid. Water and alcohol extract its virtues; though it contains an oil in limited quantities, which is not acted on except by strong alcohol or ether.
Properties and Uses: This root is prominently and almost acridly stimulant, with a fair portion of relaxant influence, of much power, acting with much persistency. Large doses prove cathartic, and sometimes emetic, acting slowly, and leaving a burning sensation through the stomach and bowels. It is employed for its steady influence on the glandular structures, all of which it stimulates to more vigorous action, at the same time opening the bowels and elevating the general circulation some- what. The chief use made of it is in secondary syphilis, and chronic diseases of the skin accompanying hepatic derangement; also internally for indolent and syphilitic ulcers, mercurial cachexy, and low grades of scrofula. As usual, the Eclectics claim it as peculiarly their remedy, though it was fully described by Dr. Simons as early as 1828, has been a standard Allopathic remedy ever since, and the third edition of Dr. King's Dispensatory copied (almost word for word) the description given of it in the U. S. Dispensatory, without credit.
This article is generally used in sirup or decoction; and is most commonly combined with less exciting and more relaxing agents. Sensitive and irritable stomachs do not bear it, and it is suitable only to quite languid conditions. The strength of from ten to twenty grains may be given three times a day.
Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Extract. A hydro-alcoholic extract is prepared after the usual method, and makes a powerful preparation, not often used on account of its concentrated stimulation, yet an efficient ingredient to incorporate with relaxing extracts. Dose one to two grains.
II. Fluid Extract. Macerate one pound of well-crushed stillingia for two days in seventy-five percent alcohol; transfer to a percolator, and add alcohol of the same strength till six fluid ounces have passed, which set aside; continue the percolation with hot water till the strength of the root is exhausted, evaporate to ten fluid ounces on a water bath, and mix with the first product. This is an extremely active preparation, usually relieved by the addition of twenty-five drops of oil of caraway to the first drippings. From two to five drops are given as a dose, in some demulcent; but it is too harsh to be a good remedy.
III. Sirup. Three pounds of stillingia, and a pound and a half of prickly ash berries, are crushed and macerated with seventy-five percent alcohol for three days; then percolated with hot water till five pints pass, which are reserved; the percolation continued to exhaustion with hot water; eighteen pounds of sugar added to this, and it evaporated to six and a half quarts, and the first product added. It is a most unwise combination of two intense stimulants, (§262,) and one that is scarcely usable in any but the most rare cases of prostrated rheumatism.
IV. Compound Sirup. Root of stillingia and root of dicentra, (turkey-corn,) each, one pound; blue flag root, elder flowers, and pipsissewa leaves, each, half a pound; coriander seeds and prickly-ash berries, each, four ounces. Crush, macerate with seventy-five (or, better for a clear sirup, fifty) percent alcohol for two days. Transfer to a percolator, and treat with hot water, reserving the first quart that passes, till exhausted. Evaporate the watery solution to six quarts, dissolve in this sixteen pounds of sugar, evaporate till seven quarts remain, and when cold add the reserved quart of tincture. This also is a powerful preparation, highly stimulating, and of much efficacy in secondary syphilis and low cutaneous affections. Sensitive persons can not well use it. Dose, half a fluid ounce in water. Judicious therapeutics (§262) does not allow a combination of four such intense stimulants as stillingia, dicentra, iris, and xanthoxylum berries; and the modifying qualities of the elder flowers and coriander are nearly destroyed by the heat that must be used. A far pleasanter and more extensively useful compound sirup can be made by the following formula, kindly furnished us by Dr. J. Overholt, of Columbus City, Iowa: Stillingia, four ounces; sarsaparilla, seeds of arctium lappa, bark of cornus circinata, and leaves of chimaphila, each, three ounces. Crush the articles thoroughly, and macerate them for two days in a quart of diluted alcohol; place in a percolator, and treat with hot water, reserving the first pint that passes; exhaust with water, add two and a half pounds of white sugar, and evaporate to three pints. When cold, add ten drops of oil of sassafras by trituration; and then add the reserved tincture. Dose, half to a whole fluid ounce three times a day.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com