"The fruit of Chenopodium ambrosioides, Linné, and variety anthelminticum, Gray "—(U. S. P.).
COMMON NAMES: American wormseed, Wormseed.
Botanical Source.—This plant, sometimes known also by the name of Jerusalem oak, has a perennial and branched root, with an erect, herbaceous, much-branched, furrowed stem, rising from 1 to 3 feet in height. The leaves are alternate or scattered, oblong-lanceolate, toothed, sinuate, nearly sessile, distinctly veined, attenuated at both ends, of a yellowish-green color, and marked beneath with small resinous atoms. The flowers are very numerous, small, of the same color as the leaves, arranged in long, slender, axillary, or terminal, leafless racemes; calyx with 5 ovate, concave, permanent segments; stamens 5, opposite to the segments of the calyx, and about as long, with awl-shaped filaments; styles 2 or 3, short; ovary orbicular, depressed; seeds solitary, lenticular, crustaceous, and covered by the permanent, 5-angled calyx (L).
History and Chemical Composition.—Chenopodium is found growing in waste places in almost all parts of the United States, flowering from July to September, and ripening its seeds throughout the autumn, at which time they should he collected. The whole plant has a strong, unpleasant odor, which is owing to its essential oil (see Oleum Chenopodii). When first obtained, it is of a light straw color, but gradually acquires a darker hue. The seeds contain a large quantity of this oil, which is obtained from them by distillation. The whole plant is occasionally employed, but the seeds only are official. Chenopodin has been obtained from the fresh plant, in the form of a white, tasteless, inodorous powder, soluble in 11 parts of water, 202 parts of cold alcohol, and soluble in diluted acids.
Description.—"Nearly 2 Mm. (1/12 inch) in diameter, depressed-globular, glandular, dull-greenish or brownish, the integuments friable, and containing a lenticular, obtusely-edged, glossy, black seed. It has a peculiar, somewhat terebinthinate odor, and a bitterish, pungent taste "—(U. S. P.).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Anthelmintic and antispasmodic. It is used in various forms, as the expressed juice, electuary, or decoction, to expel the lumbrici in children. The dose of the juice is a tablespoonful, repeated night and morning; of the infusion, prepared by infusing 1 ounce of the recent plant in 1 pint of milk, with the addition of some aromatic, a wineglassful; of the electuary, made by thoroughly mixing the pulverized seed in honey or syrup, 20 or 40 grains. But the essential oil, on which the vermifuge properties depend is the best form, and is more generally employed. Its dose is from 4 to 8 drops mixed with sugar, or in emulsion, to be given morning and evening, for 4 or 5 days successively, and then, as with the other forms of administration, it should always be followed by a purgative. It is used in various combinations. Take of oil of wormseed and tansy, of each 1 ounce, spirits of turpentine 1 1/2 ounces, castor oil 1 pound. Mix. Dose, for a child, a teaspoonful every hour, until it operates; for an adult, a tablespoonful. Equal parts of chenopodium and jalap in decoction may be given in tablespoonful doses, on an empty stomach, 4 or 5 times a day. The oil has likewise been reputed beneficial in amenorrhoea.
Specific Indication and Use.—To expel lumbricoid worms.
Related Species.—The Chenopodium ambrosioides, Linné, which has been successfully used in chorea, and the Chenopodium botrys, Linné, which has been used with advantage in catarrh and humoral asthma, as an expectorant, are both indigenous, and though less powerful, possess somewhat similar properties; and, indeed, from the superior powers of the C. anthelminticum, it might possibly be found of more benefit in these affections than the above. The first species is official in many of the European countries where it is known as Herba botryos mexicanae or Mexican tea. It is plentiful in our middle states. Its flower-spikes are dense and leafy. The second species is strongly aromatic, the odor resembling turpentine, and is known as Oak of Jerusalem and Feather geranium. It is naturalized in this country, being a native of Europe and Asia.
Chenopodium Bonus-Henricus, Linné. A somewhat mealy plant, having a saline, mucilaginous taste; a native of Europe, but naturalized in America and known in Europe as Good King Henry. It is a domestic application for pain, and is reputed antispasmodic and expectorant.
Chenopodium vulvaria, Linné. A mealy plant of Central Europe, having the smell of fish brine on account of the trimethylamine it contains. It is known as Fetid goosefoot, and employed in Europe, both locally and internally, in many nervous disorders.
Chenopodium quinoa.—Cultivated in Chili and Peru for its seeds, which yield a flour resembling oatmeal. The seeds contain 11 per cent of albumen and other protein matter, 5 per cent of sugar, 7.5 per cent of casein, and 40 per cent of starch. A bitter principle has been isolated from the variety known as red quinoa, and this variety has been employed as an antiperiodic and emetic.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.