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



Description:  Natural Order, Urticaceae.  One of the nettle family, found in Mexico, West Indies, Brazil, and contiguous countries.   “This plant has a perennial, fusiform, branching, rough,  compact root or rhizoma, which sends  up  several  leaves of an irregular shape, about four inches in length, lobed and pointed, and placed upon long radical foot-stalks, which are winged toward the leaves.  The flower-stems are also radical, rise several inches in height, and support irregular quadrangular receptacles, which contain male and female flowers the former having two stamens, the latter a single style.  The capsules, when ripe, possess an elastic power, by which the seeds are thrown out with considerable force."  (U. S. Disp.)

The root comes to market in pieces an inch or two in length, It is dull reddish-brown on the outside, and paler within, hard; rough, and solid, with many slender and yellowish fibers all attached.  The medical properties reside chiefly in the thick portion, which is slightly aromatic, with  a pungent and bitterish taste.  Alcohol, diluted alcohol, and boiling water, extract its virtues.

Properties and Uses:  This root is diffusibly stimulating, with mild tonic properties; and yields a considerable quantity of mucilage when treated with hot water.   It sustains the outward capillary circulation, warms the surface, and gently promotes diaphoresis.  The bowels and kidneys also feel its impressions and its diffusive action sustains the nervous peripheries.  It is used in measles, small-pox, and other exanthems when tardy also in typhoid and nervous forms of fever; and it is truly an excellent article in all these connections.  Its influence in promoting eruptions, and for sustaining the frame against the depression of animal poisons as of scarlatina, erysipelas, typhoid putrescence and snake virus is quite decided, and especially when combined with a more permanent stimulant like capsicum.

 Medical Herbalism journal and