The fresh corm of Arisaema triphyllum, Torre (Nat. Ord. Araceae). Common in damp woods and wet situations in North and South America.
Common Names: Indian Turnip, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Dragon Root.
Principal Constituents.—Starch, potassium and calcium salts, particularly raphides of calcium oxalate and possibly another acid principle.
Preparation.—Tinctura Arisaemae, Tincture of Arisaema (Corm, 8 ounces; Dilute Alcohol, 16 ounces). Dose, 1 to 5 drops. Only the tincture of the fresh corm is of any value.
Action.—The fresh corm has no effect upon the unbroken skin. When bitten or chewed it is fiercely irritant, causing a persistent and intensely acrid impression on the tongue, lips, and fauces, something like that of a severe scald, with considerable pricking. Slight inflammation and tenderness may follow. This effect is thought to be due to the raphides of calcium oxalate present. Milk mitigates the distressing sensation.
Therapy.—Arisaema has been recommended for a variety of disorders, chiefly of the respiratory tract, and as a stimulant in low forms of fever, when delirium is marked and the membranes are inflamed and the tongue red, painful and swollen. It is seldom used for these purposes. It is, however, of real value in severe forms of sore throat, intensely painful, swollen and fetid, with deep or purplish-red membranes similar to that of the angina of scarlet fever. It is also useful in chronic laryngitis aggravated by singing or public speaking, and accompanied by hoarseness and loss of voice, burning and sense of constriction in the throat, and thin ichorous discharge from the nose. A strong tincture of the fresh corm may be given in drop doses every half to one hour, and a throat wash of one drachm of the tincture to a half glass of water may be used freely.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.