"The bark of Viburnum prunifolium, Linné"—(U. S. P.).
COMMON NAMES: Black haw, Sloe, Stag bush, Sloe-leaved viburnum.
Botanical Source.—This shrub or tree, also known by the name of Sloe, is indigenous to this country, growing to the height of from 10 to 20 feet. Its branches are spreading, some of them often stinted and naked, giving the plant an unthrifty aspect. The leaves are about 2 inches long, nearly as wide, roundish-ovate, smooth, shining above, obtuse at both ends, acutely serrate, with uncinate teeth, and situated on short petioles, slightly margined with straight, narrow wings. The flowers are white, in large, terminal, sessile cymes. The fruit consists of ovoid-oblong, sweet, edible, blackish berries (W.—G.). It contains a single stony nut. There is a variety in the south called the Possum haw (V. prunifolium var. ferrugineum), differing from the black haw in having lance-oval leaves, rusty beneath, and tasteless fruit.
History and Description.—Viburnum prunifolium belongs to the honey-suckle family—an extensive family, numbering about 80 species, distributed over North and South America, Europe, and Asia. About 12 species are indigenous to the United States, forming, in the northern states, a considerable portion of the undergrowth of woods. The V. prunifolium, the most valuable of the genus Viburnum, is popularly known as the Black haw, the Sloe-leaved viburnum, and the Sloe. It grows from Connecticut to Illinois, and in the south, where it is most abundant. It thrives in dry woods and thickets, and on rocky hillsides in fertile soil, reaching a height of from 10 to 20 feet. The branches are spreading, somewhat stunted, and often give to the shrub an unthrifty appearance. It flowers from March to June, and presents, at this time, a very handsome appearance. It is usually found in woods and thickets. The bark of the roots, stem, and branches are medicinal, but that of the root is preferred by Eclectics. It is fawn-colored externally, with a feeble odor, and a very bitter, slightly aromatic taste. As described by the U. S. P., viburnum occurs "in thin pieces or quills, glossy purplish-brown, with scattered warts, and minute black dots; when collected from old wood, grayish-brown; the thin, corky layer easily removed from the green layer; inner surface whitish, smooth; fracture short; inodorous, somewhat astringent, and bitter"—(U. S. P.). Water or alcohol extracts its properties. The leaves of the black haw have been used for tea. The bark is readily pulverized when dry, and affords a reddish-colored powder, tinged with gray. (As to its distinction from V. Opulus, see literature indicated under the latter; also see Chemical Composition, below.)
Chemical Composition.—According to analysis by Herman Van Allen (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1880, pp. 439-443), the bark of V. prunifolium contains a brown, bitter resin; a greenish-yellow, bitter resin, identical with Krämer's viburnin (see V. Opulus); a volatile acid, answering to all the tests of valerianic acid; tannic, oxalic, citric, and malic acids, sulphates and chlorides of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. Prof. L. E. Sayre (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1895, p. 392) reports on the quantity of chloroformic extract obtainable from V. Opulus (5.98 per cent) and V. prunifolium (9.46 per cent), and their solubilities toward water, petroleum spirit, and alcohol (80 per cent), successively employed. Water extracted only about 0.1 per cent in both cases; petroleum spirit removed from the former 1.66 per cent, from the latter, 7.8 per cent; alcohol then extracted 2.44 per cent of resin from the former, and only 0.75 per cent from the latter.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Of the physiological action of this agent little is known. To the taste it is bitter, and slightly aromatic. Large doses sometimes produce nausea and vomiting, and by some observers is said to produce contraction of the uterine muscular tissue. That it has a decided affinity for the female reproductive organs is well established. By Dr. D. L. Phares, of Mississippi, who brought the remedy forward, it was described as having nervine, antispasmodic, tonic, astringent, and diuretic properties. To these Prof. King adds alterative. Decoctions of the drug were formerly used as a gargle in aphthae, as a wash in indolent ulcers, and in various ophthalmic disorders. By its astringency it has proved of value in diarrhoea and dysentery. It has been recommended in jaundice, but we have a better agent in chionanthus. Palpitation of the heart is said to have been relieved by it. Such cases are sympathetic disturbances, generally near the menstrual period. Its principal use at the present day is in disorders of the female organs of reproduction. As a uterine tonic it is unquestionably of great utility. It restores normal innervation, improves the circulation, and corrects impaired nutrition of these organs. In the hyperaesthetic, or irritable condition of the uterus incident to highly nervous women, or as the result of overwork, it will be found an admirable agent. It is called for in weakened conditions of the body, with feeble performance of the uterine functions. In dysmenorrhoea, with deficient menses, uterine colic, and in those cases where there are severe lumbar and bearing-down pains, it will prove an efficient drug. Helonias is also an excellent agent in the latter condition. It is specifically indicated in cramp-like menstrual pains—pains decidedly expulsive and intermittent in character and in the various painful contractions of the pelvic muscles, so common to disorders of women. Uterine congestion and chronic uterine inflammation are often greatly relieved by specific black haw. It acts promptly in spasmodic dysmenorrhoea, especially with excessive flow. Menorrhagia due to malaria is promptly met with Viburnum prunifolium. It is a good remedy for uterine hemorrhage, attending the menopause. In amenorrhoea in pale, bloodless subjects, the menses are restored by it. Cramps of limbs attending pregnancy yield to both black haw and cramp bark. It is considered almost specific for cramp in the legs, not dependent on pregnancy, especially when occurring at night. The condition for which black haw is most valued is that of threatened abortion. It is the most prompt drug in the materia medica to check abortion, provided the membranes have not ruptured. In all cases of habitual abortion it should be given in small doses for a considerable length of time. The abundant testimony as to its value in this condition alone gives it a high place among drugs. By its quieting effects upon the irritable womb, women who have previously been unable to go to full term have been aided by this drug to pass through the pregnancy without mishaps which would otherwise have proven disastrous to both child and mother. Small doses of the specific black haw should be administered throughout the dangerous period, and may be continued with good results until parturition. Dr. Phares, who introduced it as all antiabortive, states that it will prevent abortion, whether habitual or otherwise-whether threatened from accidental cause or criminal drugging. He considered it to completely neutralize the effect of the cotton bark when this is used for the purpose of causing abortion. It was for a long time customary for planters to compel their female slaves "to drink an infusion of black haw daily whilst pregnant to prevent abortion, from taking the cottonroot" (Scudder, Spec. Med., 266). It has been used to control postpartum hemorrhage, but is less effective than ergot and cinnamon. It assists in reducing the size of the womb in subinvolution of that organ. Viburnum is of some value in nervous disorders, and has been advised in chorea, hysteria, hystero-epilepsy, petit mal, and paralysis agitans. It is of service only when these troubles are associated with menstrual wrongs. Viburnum Opulus resembles this agent very closely in its effects, and may be used in the above-named conditions, for which the black haw is useful.
Black haw is said to be of value in sterility. Some cases of spermatorrhoea are benefited by it. False pains of pregnancy are readily controlled, and for after-pains it is nearly as valuable as macrotys, or actaea. Black haw promptly allays ovarian irritation. The late Prof. Howe considered it one of the very best uterine tonics, and incorporated it with wild cherry and aromatics in his Black Haw Cordial. This he recommended to allay the pangs of dysmenorrhoea; to arrest leucorrhoea, and to alleviate pelvic discomfort; and as a remedy of value in chlorosis and the debility of the second climacteric. Prof. Howe compounded the cordial to meet the wants of the alcoholic tippler. It allays the gnawing sensations in the stomach, and relieves the faucial discomfort met with in the inebriate. Specific black haw, in drop doses, is a valuable drug in obstinate singultus. The black haw is steadily growing in favor with all schools of medicine. The usual prescription is: Rx Specific black haw, ℨss to ℨi, aqua ℥iv. Mix. Sig. Teaspoonful every 1 to 4 hours, according to case under treatment. The infusion may be given in 1/2-fluid-ounce doses, several times a day; or the tincture in doses of 1 fluid drachm, 4 or 5 times a day. The powder may be given in 1/2 or 1-drachm doses; specific black haw, 1/10 to 30 drops; Howe's black haw cordial, 1 to 2 fluid drachms.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Uterine irritability, and hyperaesthesia; threatened abortion; uterine colic; dysmenorrhoea, with deficient menses; severe lumbar and bearing-down pains; cramp-like, expulsive menstrual pain; intermittent, painful contractions of the pelvic tissues; after-pains and false pains of pregnancy; obstinate hiccough.
Related Species and Pharmaceutical Preparations.—Several species of Viburnum have been used for medicines, but at present the number is narrowed down to two—V. prunifolium and V. Opulus. The American Indians, and subsequently the Dutch, employed the V. acerifolium, Linné (Maple-leaved arrow-wood, Dockmackie), as a local application to tumors. The bark of the V. dentatum, Linné (Tily of the Indians), was used by the aborigines as a diuretic.
Viburnum dentatum, Arrow-wood or Mealy-tree, called by the former name on account of its long, straight, slender branches, or young shoots, is a somewhat smooth shrub, 6 to 12 feet in height, growing in low grounds, damp woods and thickets, throughout the United States, with roundish-ovate, dentate-serrate, furrow-plaited leaves, on long, slender petioles. The leaves are 2 or 3 inches in diameter; upper pair oval, the veins beneath prominent, parallel, pubescent in their axils; flowers white, in pedunculate cymes, appear in June; fruit small, ovoid-globose, dark-blue berries (W-G.). The bark of this tree is ash-colored, and is employed as a diuretic and detergent, and was once extolled as an internal and external agent to cure cancer; the infusion to be used freely. It may also be used in extract, pills, or plaster.
V. Lentago (Sweet viburnum, Nanny berry, Sheep berry) was formerly esteemed a valuable antiperiodic. Viburnum Lantana, Linné, of Europe, has properties analogous to those of our V. Opulus. J. B. Enz (1863) found the red berries of V. Lantana to contain iron-greening tannin, valerianic acid, acetic and tartaric acids, a bitter principle, an acrid principle, fatty oil, red coloring matter, resin, sugar, gum, etc.
Viburnum obovatum, Walter, a southern states shrub closely allied to V. prunifolium, is used by the people in malarial conditions. Its leaves are more persistently bitter than its bark (see V. Opulus).
HELONIAS CORDIAL.—This agent is prepared by the Wm. S. Merrell Chemical Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, and represents the active constituents of Helonias dioica, Viburnum Opulus, Caulophyllum thalictroides, and Mitchella repens. It is useful in a large range of functional disorders of the female reproductive organs, and reflex troubles arising therefrom.
CELERINA.—This preparation is a nerve tonic, stimulant, and antispasmodic. It represents the combined virtues of celery, kola, coca, viburnum, and aromatics. Celerina is a specialty of the Rio Chemical Co., St. Louis, Mo. It is employed in various nervous affections with loss of nerve power in any organ, and as a remedy for the exhaustion following alcoholic excesses. Dose, 1 to 2 fluid drachms, 3 times a day.
ALETRIS CORDIAL.—A specialty of the Rio Chemical Co., of St. Louis, Mo., is a preparation of Aletris farinosa, and aromatics. It is designed as a uterine tonic and restorative, and may be employed in leucorrhoea, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, sterility, and in those cases where there is a disposition to miscarriage. The dose is 1 fluid drachm, 3 or 4 times a day.
Other tomes: Howe's bio
VIBURNUM CORDIAL (HOWE).—Recent bark of root of black haw, 20 ounces; recent bark of root of wild cherry, 40 ounces; Ceylon cinnamon, 10 ounces; cloves, 5 ounces; sugar, 7 1/2 pounds; brandy, 2 gallons; water, 1 1/2 gallons. Mix the crushed drugs with the mixed brandy and water; add the sugar, and stir together for 14 days. Then express and filter. (For uses of Howe's Viburnum cordial, see above.)
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.