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



Description:  Natural Order, Zingiberaceae. This species of the ginger family is a native of the East Indies, through both the main land and the islands. Root tuberous, perennial, as large as one’s finger, forming a subterranean stem, hard, rather brittle, deep yellow within. The leaves all rise from the root, are large, lanceolate, and sheathing at the base. Flower stalks short, thick, arising from the midst of a cluster of leaves, with a spike of numerous and crowded bract- scales, between which the flowers are borne. The root is the medical part, and has a warm, slightly aromatic, and rather unpleasant bitter taste. It tinges all fluids a deep yellow color, and is used for dyeing; but its color is variously changed by acids and alkalies, and can not be depended on.

Properties and Uses:  This root is a stimulant, allied to ginger in its impression, but more bitter and tonic. Formerly it enjoyed much repute as a cordial and stomachic, and was commended in jaundice; but its action is too transient to be of much consequence It may be used as an adjuvant to cathartic and tonic remedies; but at present is rarely employed, except to color tinctures, liniments, and ointments. From ten to twenty grains of the powder may be given; or an infusion made with an ounce to ten ounces of water.

 Medical Herbalism journal and