The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
SWAMP MILKWEED, SWAMP SILKWEED, WHITE INDIAN HEMP
Description: Natural Order, Asclepiadaceae. Stem erect, nearly smooth, two or three feet high, paniculately branching, two downy lines above, very leafy. Leaves opposite, four to seven inches long by six to fourteen lines wide, tapering very acutely at apex, on petioles half an inch long, slightly tomentose. Flowers in compact, erect, terminal umbels; umbels two to six together, an inch or more in diameter; ten to twenty reddish-purple, sweet-scented flowers in each umbel; peduncles two to three inches long. Pods not warty nor prickly. Common in wet places every-where. June to August. Root from two to six lines in diameter, lightish-yellow, imparting its properties to water. Usually confounded in commerce and by physicians with apocynum cannabillum. This species has several varieties.
Properties and Uses: The root is a relaxant and mild stimulant; affecting the mucous membranes and fibrous structure of the bowels, and apparently acting on most of the secreting organs. It will secure soft and relaxed stools; and in considerable quantities is said to provoke emesis. Its principal use is as a mild cathartic in worm preparations, for which purpose it is often combined with santonine, chenopodium, and other anthelmintics. It is also reputed excellent in dropsies and visceral obstructions. Prof. Tully speaks favorably of it in dry asthma and syphilis; while others ascribe to it narcotic properties. I have used it little, but think it free from narcotism. Usually given in powder, ten to twenty grains three times a day. Information on this plant will be thankfully received.
Asclepias fibrosa, called cotton-weed, has narrow and pointed leaves, and dusky-yellow flowers, in terminal umbels. An infusion is said to be an excellent diureto-cathartic.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com