The stem-bark of Prunus serotina, Ehrhart or Prunus virginiana, Miller, collected in the autumn and carefully dried (Nat. Ord. Rosaceae). Woods of eastern half of the United States. Dose, 5 to 60 grains.
Common Names: Wild Cherry, Wild Black Cherry Bark.
Principal Constituents.—Amygdalin (acted upon by water yields hydrocyanic acid, oil of bitter almond, and glucose); emulsin (destroyed by heating), and tannic acid.
Preparations.—1. Specific Medicine Prunus. Dose, 5 to 60 drops.
2. Syrupus Pruni Virginianae, Syrup of Wild Cherry. Dose, 1 to 2 fluidrachms.
Specific Indications.—Weak, rapid circulation; continuous irritative cough, with profuse muco-purulent expectoration; cardiac palpitation from debility; cardiac pain; dyspnea; loss of appetite and gastric irritability.
Action and Therapy.—Wild cherry is an excellent sedative and tonic, quieting irritation of the mucosa, terminal nerves, and lessening violent cardiac action dependent upon weakness. When a tonic and sedative is desired that will not unduly excite the circulation, wild cherry is a most useful drug. As such it may be used in atonic dyspepsia, and in convalescence from fevers and inflammations, especially after pleurisy, pneumonia, and la grippe. While the syrup is an effectual and popular preparation, the cold infusion is better for these purposes.
Wild cherry in syrup is an admirable sedative for cough, acting much like hydrocyanic acid and even better, besides it is more controllable. For the cough of phthisis it is one of the most satisfactory agents, and the syrup is in common use as a vehicle for other cough remedies. In phthisis it not only relieves irritation and cough, but it gives a certain amount of power, and restrains colliquative sweating and diarrhoea. Wild cherry may be used in most cases of irritation of the mucosa with or without hypersecretion in any part of the body—pulmonic, gastro-intestinal and renal.
Wild cherry is very efficient in uncomplicated palpitation of the heart, and where digitalis is required it lessens the irritative action of the latter upon the stomach. Wild cherry would be more valued if properly prepared. The cold infusion (sweetened, if desired) should be preferred; boiling temporarily destroys its value, and unless a good quality of bark, carefully preserved, is used, the syrup may have little value.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.