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



Description:  Natural Order, Rhamnaceae.  A shrub six to eight feet high, common in Europe, and found in limited quantities  through  the  Middle  and  New England States,  and now cultivated for hedges.  Leaves ovate, minutely serrate, in clusters.   Flowers  dioecious,  small,  greenish;  calyx,  petals,  and stamens, each, four; petals like small scales.  Fruit a black, berry- like, shining drupe, with four seed-like nutlets.  Branches numerous, armed with thorns.

Properties and Uses:  The berries are used in medicine, their juice being the officinal part.  This juice, when expressed, is of a dark green color and a bitter taste; which is reddened by the acids, and by the alkalies is lightened into a color known by painters as sap-green.  They are stimulating and active cathartics, severe in their operation, and causing nausea, griping, watery stock, and dryness of the mouth and fauces.  They are too harsh for general use; and can be employed only in limited quantities as an addition to milder agents in extreme cases.  A sirup is formed by taking four pints of the clear juice, adding six drachms each of ginger and allspice, and four pounds of sugar, treating with a gentle heat, straining, and when cold adding six fluid ounces of diluted alcohol.   The common direction is, to set aside the juice for three days, and then strain it; but in such time the juice is liable to fermentation, and the sirup formed from it is much more acrid and harsh than that from the fresh juice. Dose, half a fluid ounce, or even less; though most authors direct more.

 Medical Herbalism journal and