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



Description:  Natural Order, Ericaceae: in the same sub-order as the chimaphila.   Low herbs, with subterranean stems, evergreen root-leaves, and flowers on a racemed scape six to twelve inches high.  Leaves nearly round, from one to two inches in diameter, thick, shining, dark green, on petioles two to three inches long.  Raceme many-flowered; calyx five-parted, persistent, half as long as the corolla, lanceolate-lobed,  corolla five- petioled, nearly white, drooping, half an inch broad, fragrant; stamens ten, with the anthers somewhat horned at the apex; style longer than the corolla, turning to one side, with five stigmas.  Found in damp woods, blooming in June and July.  Fruit a five-celled and many seeded capsule.   One variety has somewhat reniform leaves and flesh-colored flowers; another has smaller reniform leaves and reddish flowers.

Properties and Uses:  The leaves are astringent and stimulant, diffusive in warm preparations, but rather tonic  in cold preparations.  They act largely on mucous structures, especially of the lungs and generative organs; promote the discharge of tenacious mucus, and leave a tonic but not particularly drying impression; and are used in debilitated coughs with viscid expectoration, leucorrhea, catarrh of the bladder, and sub-acute gonorrhea.  They promote the action of the kidneys moderately; but are especially valuable for strengthening these organs and relieving eneuresis, and I have found them of such benefit in some cases of diabetes as to think them deserving of some attention in this malady.  They may be used in chronic diarrhea, especially that of scrofulous origin, to which they seem well adapted; and are of service as a wash in chronic ophthalmia and scrofulous ulcers.  Combined with such agents as caulophyllum and helonias, they make a remedy similar to, though milder than the mitchella in female complaints.  They are mild agents, but good ones; and though not suited to very degenerate conditions, will be found of decided value in intermediate classes of cases. The usual method of administration is by decoction; an ounce of the herb being infused in a quart of warm water for an hour, strained with strong pressure, and given in doses of two fluid ounces three times a day.  A fluid extract may be prepared as in epigea.

 Medical Herbalism journal and