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



Description:  Natural Order, Cupuliferae.  In the same family with oak, beech, and chestnut.   Slender trees, with very dense and tough wood, twenty to thirty feet high, in rich woods, with a brownish and finely furrowed bark, much like the carpinus,  (blue beech.)   Flowers dioecious;  sterile in drooping aments, of about twelve stamens in the axil of a scale-like bract, filaments somewhat united; fertile numerous in a short terminal catkin, with small deciduous bracts, the involucre enlarging so as to form a sort of bladdery sac inclosing the fruit, and a number of these forming a cone-like strobile much resembling the strobile of the hop.   Leaves oblong-ovate, tapering, doubly serratured, downy upon the under surface.  Blooming in April and May, and ripening its peculiar fruit in August.  The carpinus, a smaller tree with smooth gray bark and nearly white wood is also  called horn-beam, but  is not of similar properties with ostrya.

Properties and Uses:  The bark and the inner or heart-wood of this tree are used in medicine.   They are stimulating and moderately astringing, slow and permanent in action, and quite  bitter.   Their action is of the alterative  tonic order.   Among  the people, this tree is in considerable repute as an antiperiodic, and is accredited with powers of an excellent order in the treatment of intermittents.  This reputation is partly confirmed by  several physicians; and Prof. J. E. Roop tells me he has several times used the heart-wood to good advantage in lingering cases, where more of a tonic than a nervine stimulant action was needed.  The stomach receives it well, and it is not so exciting to the nerve centers as cinchona and its salts.   It may  also be used in periodic neuralgia; and as a tonic in dyspepsia and scrofula of a low grade.  The powder makes a good application to indolent chancres and other degenerate sores, especially if combined with ginger; and, like other tonics of an astringent tendency, makes a good injection in foul leucorrhea.  The most common mode of using it is in strong sirup, or in a decoction made by boiling one ounce in a pint of water, so as to obtain six fluid ounces, of which one ounce may be given every six hours, or at intervals of two hours when used for antiperiodic purposes.  A good preparation may be formed by carefully drying the extract and reducing it to a powder, of which from five to ten grains, with half a grain or more of capsicum, may be given every three hours as an antiperiodic.

 Medical Herbalism journal and