Chionanthus: Eclectic Materia Medica by Wm Bloyer

by William E. Bloyer

We continue our reprint of excerpts of the comments on materia medica of Professor William Bloyer of the Eclectic Institute in Cincinnati during the last years of the nineteenth century, in the 1898 volume of the Eclectic Medical Journal

There is no more prompt and positive medicine in the materia medica than chionanthus. When given in functional liver difficulties due to some wrong of the mucous surface of its ducts, it seldom fails. It will not cure all cases of jaundice, but it will cure nearly all in which there is no structural disease of the liver. It may be said to be specifically indicated by clay-colored stools, yellowness of the skin and conjunctiva, high colored, even brown urine, with uneasiness or pain in the right hypochondrium of the liver, or with abdominal pain or colic, and great prostration. It is another remedy that acts dynamically. Under older classification, chionanthus was said to be aperient, alterative, diuretic, narcotic, tonic to the stomach and bowels, and particularly emphasized as a cholagogue.

We believe that it does stimulate the liver to more and better work, and that it awakens and tones up the digestive tract generally. It is the remedy for jaundice due to functional disorders of the liver. It may be given alone or in combination with podophyllin, nux, leptandrin, or dioscorea, all of which are closely related to chionanthus when judged by their actions on hepatic functions. They are all antitorpor liver remedies - liver stirrers. Chionanthus will materially assist in the prevention of the formation of gall stones, and is of undoubted benefit in their expulsion. Acute dyspepsia is frequently relieved by chionanthus. It is of great work in hepatitis, both acute and chronic, but is not a specific in the jaundice of hepatitis. It often settles the irritable or refractory liver of the dipsomaniac.

Chionanthus has few qualms in many cases of bilious, remittent and obstinate intermittent fever. It is very beneficial in overcoming the slow convalescence that frequently follows exhausting disease. Bilious colic has a conqueror in specific chionanthus. It relieves many cases of hypertrophic liver due to obstruction of its ducts and of a malarial character. The dose of specific medicine chionanthus is from five to ten drops well diluted and frequently repeated. Chionanthus has strong recommendations for efficiency as a local application in the form of cataplasms of poultices in inflammations, in severe ulcers, and we rely upon it in certain lines, and we are not disappointed.

Specific chionanthus has a very rank odor, a dark amber color, and although it occasionally precipitated a heavy sediment, it does not deteriorate. W.E.B.


Chionanthus is a largely forgotten remedy in modern North American herbal practice, failing to earn even a mention in most modern herbals. By comparison, the Lloyd Brothers pharmacy reported in the year 1921 that chionanthus was second only to echinacea products in sales by that company, which supplied the Eclectic medical profession. It was used primarily as a liver remedy, with some broader uses described above. Liver conditions might be classified along a polarity of sluggishness on one pole to inflammation on the other, with a different therapeutic approach necessary at the extremes. Bloyer, when stating that chionanthus is not a specific for the jaundice of hepatitis, is placing it among the remedies best used for sluggishness without inflammation. Thus it might be useful in conditions such as hepatitis C during remissions, but might be avoided during inflammatory exacerbations, when its stimulating effects might further injure the swollen and inflamed liver. That condition call for a modification of general liver therapy to emphasize hepatoprotective or anti-inflammatory herbs such as milk thistle seed or turmeric. Paul Bergner

See the related article and case studies on liver therapy by Christopher Hedley, M.N.I.M.H.
  Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner

click below
                    to search site


Medical Herbalism. Introductory, Advanced, Clinical. CE Available.

FIRST COURSE IN MEDICAL HERBALISM With Resources Kit. Learn 14 herbs, Make your own herbal medicines.

CLASSROOM EDUCATION Medical Herbalism. Advanced and Clinical Programs. Occupational Certification.