The rhizome and rootlets of Veronicastrum virginicum (L.) Farw., (Leptandra virginica, Nuttall), (Nat. Ord. Scrophulariaceae). A tall perennial plant indigenous to the eastern half of the United States. Dose, 10 to 60 grains.
Common Names: Culver's Root, Black Root, Culver's Physic, Bowman Root, Tall Speedwell, etc.
Principal Constituents.—A resinoid called leptandrin, formerly used but now largely discarded by Eclectic practitioners, and a bitter principle.
Preparation.—Specific Medicine Leptandra. Dose, 1 to 60 drops.
Derivative.—Leptandrin (Resinoid). Dose, 1/4 to 2 grains.
Specific Indications.—Tenderness and heavy pain in the region of the liver, with drowsiness, dizziness, and mental depression; skin, yellow; tongue coated white; bitter taste, nausea, frontal headache and cold extremities; thirst with inability to drink; diarrhea with half-digested passages, or clay-colored stools; enfeebled portal circulation, with lassitude, gloom, and mental depression.
Action and Therapy.—Leptandra is a gastro-hepatic and intestinal stimulant. The fresh root is viciously cathartic and has produced bloody stools and abortion. Drying, however, deprives the drug of its drastic quality and it becomes a safe cholagogue, laxative, and cathartic. Apparently in ordinary doses it strengthens the functional activity of the intestinal glands, does not debilitate nor produce large stools, and if the circulation is feeble, with a tendency to stasis, it has a decidedly tonic effect.
Leptandra is a remedy for intestinal atony—especially duodenal atony associated with hepatic torpor. It has been employed in dysentery and chronic diarrhoea, dependent upon constipation of the upper bowel, or upon imperfect elaboration of the food. These cases are accompanied by dizziness, headache, visceral pain, mental depression and cold extremities. In atony of the stomach and liver with the preceding and the following symptoms it is decidedly stimulant and tonic. There is a dry, hot skin, with cold feet, abdominal plethora, pale, white coated or furred broad and thick tongue, heavy or dull aching in the hepatic region and the left shoulder, and a bitter, disagreeable taste. In fact with any of the preceding symptoms—and yellowness of the skin and conjunctiva and nausea, leptandra will prove very useful in atonic dyspepsia, acute hepatitis, acute duodenal catarrh, diarrhea of half-digested aliment, muco-enteritis, and chronic enteritis. It will be evident from the guides given that leptandra, is a remedy for the complex known as "biliousness". It aids chionanthus, and sometimes podophyllin to dissipate jaundice. In the early period of Eclectic medicine it was valued in typhoid fever, when ushered in with constipation and before marked involvement of Peyer's patches had become established. It is questionable whether any laxative should be resorted to in such conditions—an enema is to be preferred. But for pre-typhoid symptoms, not amounting to enteric fever, its use is justifiable and even beneficial. Leptandra is better as a laxative in malarial fever and prepares the system for the more kindly reception of antiperiodic medication. It is no longer employed in anasarca and ascites, better agents having supplanted it. It is a good medicine and its field of usefulness has narrowed down to gastro-hepato-duodenal atony, and attendant or resulting disorders, in which it proves an admirable stimulant and corrective. It acts well with hydrastis, podophyllum, chionanthus, dioscorea, or chelidonium when these are also indicated. It is especially valuable in the diarrhoea of dentition. The nervous irritability may be controlled with matricaria and the following administered: Rx Compound Syrup of Rhubarb and Potassa, 3 fluidrachms; Specific Medicine Leptandra, 1 fluidrachm. Mix. Ten to 20 drops every hour until the diarrhea ceases. Glyconda may be substituted for the neutralizing cordial, if sugar is contraindicated.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.