The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
Description: Natural Order, Rhamnaceae. Genus BERCHEMIA: Calyx five-parted, petals five, inclosing the five stamens; fruit an oblong drupe, sitting deeply into the disk, with a bony, two-celled nut. B. VOLUBILIS: Climbing and woody shrubs, growing in the damp, alluvial soils through the Southern States; stem an inch or more in diameter, twining about trees to the height of ten or twenty feet, with a smooth, reddish bark, and very tough wood; leaves two inches long, ovate, with straight veins; flowers small, greenish-white, in panicles; nut small and very hard.
Properties and Uses: I have repeatedly been told by responsible men, that the root of this plant has a peculiar and powerful action on the urinary organs; and that it has rare efficacy in curing lingering gonorrhea and gleet. Several highly respectable gentlemen, long resident in Arkansas and Louisiana, have separately spoken to me about it, as having seen the negro physicians use it with unvarying success in cases that seemed nearly hopeless. One gentleman says he obtained the following recipe, at considerable cost, from a negro who used it to cure secondary syphilis, and whose success attracted whites as well as blacks from many counties: Roots of berchemia, one pound; menispermum, half a pound; roots of the palmetto tree, two ounces. Prepared in a sirup, with enough whisky to preserve it; and given in suitable doses three times a day. It is probable that this plant deserves investigation.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com