Geum. Water Avens. Radix Caryophyllatae Aquaticae. Radix Benedictae Sylvestris. Racine de Benoite aquatique (de Benoitee des Ruisseaux), Fr. Sumpfnelkenwurzel, Wasser-Benedikten-Wurzel, G.—Several species belonging to this genus have been medicinally employed, but three or four are deserving of particular notice—Geum rivale L., which once had a place in the U. S. Secondary List, G. urbanum L., formerly recognized by the Dublin College, G. virginianum, L., an indigenous species, the root of which has been recommended in dysentery by W. A. Gibson (Med. Rec., 1868), and G. canadense Jacq. (G. album Gmel.), recommended by W. A. Spurgeon in gastric irritation and headache. (A. J. P., 1883.)
The rhizome and roots of Geum urbanum L., of Europe and Asia, are used in medicine. The rhizome is from 3 to 7 cm. in length and about 8 mm. in thickness. It is more or less branching, having on the upper surface the remains of the short stems and petiole-bases and on the lower surface numerous fibrous roots. Externally it varies from a brownish to a brownish-yellow. The fracture is short and internally it is dark brown. When quite dry it is nearly inodorous, but in the recent state has an odor like that of cloves, whence it is sometimes called radix caryophyllatae. The taste is bitterish and astringent. It imparts its virtues to water and alcohol, which it tinges red. Buchner obtained a yellow, amorphous, neutral, bitter-tasting mass, which he calls geum-bitter. Distilled with water it yields 0.04 per cent. of a thick, greenish-yellow volatile oil, consisting chiefly of eugenol, a tasteless resin, gum, bassorin, and starch. It has been much used in Europe as a tonic and astringent, in chronic and passive hemorrhages, chronic dysentery and diarrhea, leucorrhea, intermittent fever, etc. The dose is from thirty grains to a drachm (2.0-3.9 Gm.) of the powder three or four times a day, or an equivalent quantity in decoction.
Geum rivale L.—Water or purple avens, a plant growing in bogs and wet places in the northern United States, has a perennial, horizontal, jointed, scaly, tapering root, about 15 cm. long, of a reddish-brown color externally, white internally, and furnished with numerous descending yellowish fibers. The dried root is hard, brittle, easily pulverized, reddish or purplish, without odor, and of an astringent, bitterish taste. Boiling water extracts its virtues.
Water avens possesses similar therapeutic properties to avens, for which it is sometimes substituted, but is less esteemed. The dose of the powdered root is from twenty grains to a drachm (1.3-3.9 Gm.), to be repeated three times a day. Dose of the decoction (ounce to the pint), one or two fluidounces (30-60 mils). A weak decoction is sometimes used by invalids in New England as a substitute for tea and coffee.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.