The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
INDIAN PHYSIC, MEADOW SWEET, BOWMANS ROOT
Description: Natural Order, Rosaceae. Genus GILLENIA: Herbs with perennial roots; and trifoliate, doubly-serrate, and stipuled leaves. Calyx tubular-campanulate, five cleft; corolla of five long, lance-linear and unequal petals; stamens ten to fifteen, very short. G. STIPULACEA: Stems one to several from the same root, two feet high, erect, slender, smooth, a little branched above. Leaves at once noticed from their two large, half-clasping, foliaceous and jagged stipules; radical ones pinnatifid; cauline ternate, lanceolate, deeply incised, thin, light yellowish-green. Flowers axillary and terminal, few, rose-colored, on long peduncles; petals lance-linear; stamens within the corolla. June.
This plant ranges from the Alleghenies westward and southward, selecting dry situations and alluvial soil. The species triofoliata is confined to the range of the Alleghenies, and is distinguished by its bristly sepals, and its long-ovate leaves. The roots of both species are used in medicine; they are composed of numerous fibers, arising from a rough and dark-colored center. The fibers are long, about two lines in thickness, reddish-brown and wrinkled. They are acted on by water and alcohol.
Properties and Uses: This root is relaxing and stimulating, acting rather promptly, and chiefly influencing the skin and mucous membranes. In doses of thirty grains or more, repeated every fifteen minutes, it is a prompt emetic, operating mildly, and not tasting so unpleasant nor causing so much nauseous relaxation as lobelia. Vomiting induced by it is followed by free and warm perspiration, distinct softening of the pulse, and often by mild catharsis; and it may be used in this way to advantage in recent colds, catarrhal fever, and at the commencement of bilious fever and pneumonia. It is rarely used as an emetic, the lobelia superseding all other agents of this class. It acts favorably upon the skin in securing diaphoresis, when small quantities are given in warm infusion with asclepias and zingiber; and its relaxing qualities make such an employment of it good in securing relief from congestion and arterial excitement in most forms of fever, especially bilious remittents. It acts somewhat promptly on the bowels, securing thin discharges in doses of twenty or twenty-five grains. In doses of two or five grains it is somewhat promotive of digestion; the whole action of the article resembling the eupatorium perfoliatum. It has been compared to foreign ipecacuanha; but contains none of the dangerous emetia, and does not act like that deceitful article. Rafinesque speaks of it in warm terms; the late Dr. J. Masseker, of New York, valued it highly as a diaphoretic and laxative; and though my own experience with it has been limited, I think it an agent that deserves attention. Dr. W. Daily, of Louisville, commends it as a diaphoretic in acute rheumatism, dropsy, and recently obstructed menstruation. It is generally administered in warm infusion, but powder or cold infusion is the better form for securing its tonic influence.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com