The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869    



Synonyms:  Laurus Benzoin of Linnaeus.

Description:  Natural Order, Lauraceae. Genus BENZOIN: Shrubs five to twelve feet high. Flowers dioecious; calyx six-cleft, open, yellow; corolla wanting; sterile flowers with nine stamens in three bands; fertile flowers fifteen to sixteen rudiments of stamens; deciduous scale-like bracts, four. Inflorescence in clusters, made up of umbels of four to six honey-scented flowers. Leaves appearing after the flowers, deciduous, entire. B. ODORIFERUM:  Leaves two to four inches long, half as wide, obovate-lanceolate, veinless, entire, pale beneath. Flowers in small, sessile umbels. Drupes red. Common to moist woods in America. Whole plant spicy, aromatic, resembling benzoin. May.

Properties and Uses:  The bark of this shrub is a diffusive relaxant, with mild stimulating properties. A warm infusion, of an ounce to a pint of water, may be used freely; and is a mild diaphoretic in recent colds, tardy appearance of the eruption of measles and small-pox, and in the early stages of typhus. Also used in chicken-pox, colic, and similar affections. The berries possess the same general properties in a large degree. They have been used in recent rheumatic fever; and applied as a poultice in chronic rheumatism. The article is among the mild ones of the Materia Medica, but is a peculiarly agreeable one; and may be used to advantage in all cases of moderate circulatory and nervous depression. It can be combined with asclepias, effectively; and makes a grateful and useful adjunct to tonic and alterative preparation. The berries, boiled in milk, are said by Dr. H. Howard to be of value in the second stages of dysentery; and Rafinesque says the oil of the berries is an excellent agent for colic, rheumatism, bruises, etc.

 Medical Herbalism journal and