The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
SMALL SPIKENARD, FALSE SARSAPARILLA AMERICAN SARSAPARILLA
Description: This plant is an indigenous perennial, from Canada to the Carolinas and westward. It has no proper stem, or at best but a very short one; a single leaf-stalk and flower- stalk arise separately from a large and somewhat fleshy root. Leaf-stalk seldom two feet high; leaf large, solitary, decompound, either tri-ternate or tri-quinate; the leaflets smooth, oval and obovate, acuminate, finely serrate. Flower-stalk about a foot high, naked, terminating in three rather compact umbels of from twelve to twenty flowers each. The flowers are small, greenish- yellow; in other respects similar to A. hispida. June and July.
Properties and Uses: The root is the medicinal part; has a pleasant balsamic odor; and yields its strength to both water and alcohol. It is relaxant and gently stimulant; mild and moderately slow in action; and expending its properties chiefly upon the skin and kidneys, and moderately upon the mucous structures of the lungs and uterus. It is mainly valued for its influence upon the first-named secernents, for which it enjoys a just repute as an alterant. It is principally used in mild secondary syphilis, and in cutaneous affections connected with irritability. It is seldom employed in pulmonary difficulties; yet is good whenever the lungs need a mild expectorant with stimulation. In the same way, it may be used in simple cases of leucorrhea and weakness of the back. Boiling impairs its properties. A decoction may be made by steeping an ounce of the root in a pint of boiling water; one half of which may be used in twenty-four hours. In preparing it for sirups, it is oftenest combined with such articles as arctium, celastrus, and menispermum; and treated by percolation.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com