The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
BEECH-DROPS, CANCER ROOT
Description: Natural Order, Orobanchaceae. This is the Linnaean name of this plant, which is now usually classed in the genus Epiphegus. The family to which it belongs are all parasites growing upon the roots of trees, have no green foliage whatever; but are low and fleshy herbs, quite pale and nearly colorless, with scales instead of leaves. The genus EPIPHEGUS (orobanche) have slender, succulent, and much branched stems, six to ten inches high, lurid-brownish in color, and almost invariably growing on the exposed roots of beech trees. Flowers scattered on spicate-racemes, terminal on the branches; upper ones sterile, tubular, half an inch long, four-toothed, whitish purple, with long filaments and style; lower ones with a very short corolla which seldom opens, but is forced off from the base by the growth of the pod; stamens and style very short. The article described under this head is not the beech-drops, but (in part) the conopholis americana, which grows in clusters among the leaves of oak woods. Both genera are probably the same in qualities.
Properties and Uses: This singular herb has a popular reputation in the treatment of cancer, being used locally as well as internally. This repute is not sustained by experience; but the plant is a stimulating astringent, has a good influence in arousing indolent ulcers and arresting gangrene, whence it may be employed to some little advantage in scirrhus difficulties. It may be used as a wash for aphthous sores of a low grade, and probably putrid sore throat; also in leucorrhea. An infusion used inwardly acts slowly on the capillary circulation, and usually arrests passive menorrhagia and other hemorrhages.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com