The root and tops of Gentiana ochroleuca, Froelich.
COMMON NAMES: Marsh gentian, Yellowish-white gentian, Straw-colored gentian, Sampson snakeroot, etc.
Botanical Source.—This plant has a stout, ascending stem, mostly smooth, from 1 to 2 inches in height. The leaves are from 2 to 4 inches long, 3/4 of an inch to 1 1/2 inch wide, obovate-oblong, sessile or amplexicaul, margin slightly scabrous, narrowed at the base, the lowest broadly ovate and obtuse, the uppermost somewhat lanceolate. The flowers are straw-colored, 2 inches long, 1 of an inch thick, disposed in a dense, terminal cyme, often also in axillary cymes. The calyx is 5-cleft, the lobes unequal, linear, longer than the tube, and shorter than the corolla. The corolla is clavate, connivent or slightly expanding at the top, ochroleucous or straw-colored, with green veins and lilac-purple stripes internally; the lobes are ovate and obtuse; the folds entire, acute, and. short. Anthers separate. The capsule or pod is included in the persistent corolla. The seeds are entirely wingless (W.—G.).
History. This plant is found growing in dry grounds, especially through the middle and low country of the southern states, flowering in September and October. Said likewise to inhabit Canada, and the western states, but this must be rare. The root is the medicinal part, and the tops are also often employed. They are bitter to the taste, and probably possess the medicinal properties, in a greater or less degree, of the other plants of the same family. Alcohol or boiling water extracts their virtues. None of the American Gentians seem to have been satisfactorily analyzed.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Bitter tonic, anthelmintic, and astringent. Formerly much used in dyspepsia, intermittents, dysentery, and all diseases of periodicity. To 2 ounces of the tops and roots, pour on 1 1/2 pints of boiling water, and when nearly cold, add 1/2 pint of brandy. Dose, from 1/2 to 4 fluid ounces, every 1/2 hour, gradually increased as the stomach can bear it, at the same time lengthening the intervals between the doses. Also used for bites of snakes, and in typhus fever, pneumonia, etc. This is a valuable agent, and deserves greater attention from the profession than it has received. It will be found very useful as a tonic to all enfeebled mucous tissues, and especially when there is more or less mucous discharge, as in chronic catarrhal affections, mucous diarrhoea, etc.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.