The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
BUCK-BEAN, BOG-BEAN, WATER SHAMROCK, MARSH TREFOIL
Description: Natural Order, Gentianaceae. An odd member of the Gentian family, found in the swamps of Europe, and from Pennsylvania northward and westward, in America. It is a plant with a perennial, creeping root-stalk, half an inch in diameter, dark reddish-brown, sending off numerous small fibers from its under surface; jointed in appearance, and sheathed with the membranous bases of the long petioles. Leaves on petioles six to twelve inches high, springing from the end of the rhizoma, each bearing at its summit three oval-oblong, obtuse, smooth, green leaflets. Flower-stalks (scapes) also rising from the root, a foot high, naked, round, smooth, bearing a raceme of pale flesh-colored flowers a-top. Calyx five-parted; corolla tubular or short funnel-form, with the margin deeply five-cleft, white below, flesh-red on the margins, white-hairy within; stamens five, with red anthers. Fruit an oval, juicy pod, with two valves, a single cell, and numerous small and shining seeds.
Properties and Uses: The root of buck-bean is relaxing and stimulating, of the tonic character the stimulating property predominating. Its action is allied to that of the gentiana ochroleuca, but is not so intense. Its main influence is expended on the glandular structures, promoting the flow of bile and urine, acting fairly on the bowels and skin, and in large quantities sometimes proving emetic, as boneset does. The principal use made of it is as a tonic in company with alterants for such maladies as dropsy, scrofula, jaundice, and general biliousness. Considerable doses will so effectually purge the liver, gall cyst, and bowels, at the same time sustaining the strength and the outward circulation, that it is a quite popular remedy for intermittents through Michigan and other sections where it abounds, and was formerly in much repute in Europe. The article deserves more attention than has recently been paid to it by the profession. Dose of the powder, as a tonic and gentle hepatic laxative, five to ten grains three times a day. Water and diluted alcohol extract its virtues; and it is probable that a fluid extract would be an excellent preparation. The solid extract in doses of five grains, is still valued highly as an antiperiodic, in Germany.
It seems almost superfluous to put stress upon the use of any agent in ague, for which almost every person has a sure cure. The buck-bean, however, is worthy of investigation; for while it is not an antiperiodic in the sense of cinchona, it sustains the liver, spleen, and portal circulation to decided advantage in those cases where bark and its preparations cause too great cerebral excitement.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com