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



Description:  Natural Order, Gentianaceae.  In the same family with the gentians, sabbatia, and frasera.  A native of the mountains in Northern Hindostan, and for a long time classed  as Gentiana chirata.   Plant annual, with numerous fibrous roots. Stem two to three feet, round, smooth, pale brown, branched. Leaves opposite, amplexicaul, cordate-ovate, very acute, entire, five to seven-ribbed.   Flowers in small, umbelled cymes; calyx four-parted, persistent, with narrow segments; corolla yellow, four-parted, rotate, withering; stamens four, on the throat of the corolla; stigmas two, short.   (Wallich.)

Properties and Uses:  The whole plant, roots and stem, are intensely bitter, and come to our market together.  Its action is very nearly the same as that of gentiana ochroleuca, though somewhat more stomachic.  It develops appetite, favors laxity of the gall-ducts and bowels, and promotes digestion.  The stomach usually receives it well; and it is a very fashionable tonic with the profession at the present time, though in no way superior to our native gentians.   Some attribute to it excellent antiperiodic qualities, and class it as the equal of quinine; but this is unquestionably a mistake, for while its hepatic-tonic  power would be good for the intermediate treatment of agues, it is not an antiperiodic in the same sense with cinchona.  Dose, in powder, from ten to fifteen grains.  An infusion is made by digesting five drachms in a pint of warm (not boiling) water for half an hour, and using from one to two fluid ounces as a dose. A tincture is prepared by macerating two ounces and a half of chiretta in a sufficient quantity of diluted alcohol for two days, then treating by percolation and pressure so as to obtain one pint of tincture.  The addition of two drachms of orange peel would make it more pleasant, and 30 percent alcohol is strong enough.  Dose, half a fluid drachm to two fluid drachms three times a day.

 Medical Herbalism journal and