Source and Composition. The root of Aristolochia Serpentaria, and Aristolochia reticulata, plants of the nat. ord. Aristolochiaceae, indigenous to the United States. It contains a Volatile Oil, a Camphor-resin, and Aristolochine, a bitter principle, soluble in both alcohol and water.
Preparations. They should be of the fresh root.
- Extr. Serpentariae Fluid., ♏x-xxx.
- Tinctura Serpentariae, ℨss-ℨij.
- Tinctura Cinchona Composita, ℨj-ℨij;—has 2 parts of Serpent. in 100.
Physiological Action. Serpentaria is a stimulant tonic and expectorant, also a cardiac stimulant, as well as diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, aphrodisiac, and somewhat antiperiodic. Its taste is warm and pungent, its odor characteristic. Small doses promote appetite and digestion, increase the bronchial and intestinal secretions, the action of the heart, the cutaneous circulation, and the surface temperature; and produce considerable mental exhilaration.
Large Doses are irritant, causing nausea and vomiting, vertigo and headache, with colic, borborygmi, rectal tenesmus, flatulent distention, and frequent but not watery stools. The irritant action seems to produce gas rather than fluid. Itching of the anus and hemorrhoids are occasionally caused by its use.
Therapeutics. Serpentaria is chiefly used as a vehicle for other stimulant drugs, but has many uses of its own. In—
- Bronchial Affections, it is exceedingly valuable as a stimulant expectorant, and may be combined with other expectorants.
- Pneumonia of typhoid form,—it is a good vehicle for Ammonii Carbonas.
- Exanthemata, when depression exists,—it is a good stimulant.
- Typhoid Conditions generally,—Serpentaria is well indicated.
- Amenorrhoea of anaemia and chlorosis,—it is a useful emmenagogue.
- Functional Impotence,—it will often restore the waning sexual power.
- Remittent Fever,—as a vehicle for Cinchona it acts well.
- Bilious Vomiting,—it checks the nausea and settles the stomach.
- Diphtheria, Scarlatina, etc.,—An Infusion is excellent as a gargle.
A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.