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Benzoin odoriferum. Spicewood, Spicebush.

Botanical name:

Feverbush, Wild allspice, Benjamin bush.

Related entry: Styrax benzoin

Synonyms: Laurus Benzoin of Linnaeus.

Description: Natural Order, Lauraceae. Genus BENZOIN: Shrubs five to twelve feet high. Flowers dioecious; calyx six-cleft, open, yellow; corolla wanting; sterile flowers with nine stamens in three bands; fertile flowers fifteen to sixteen rudiments of stamens; deciduous scale-like bracts, four. Inflorescence in clusters, made up of umbels of four to six honey-scented flowers. Leaves appearing after the flowers, deciduous, entire. B. ODORIFERUM: Leaves two to four inches long, half as wide, obovate-lanceolate, veinless, entire, pale beneath. Flowers in small, sessile umbels. Drupes red. Common to moist woods in America. Whole plant spicy, aromatic, resembling benzoin. May.

Properties and Uses: The bark of this shrub is a diffusive relaxant, with mild stimulating properties. A warm infusion, of an ounce to a pint of water, may be used freely; and is a mild diaphoretic in recent colds, tardy appearance of the eruption of measles and small-pox, and in the early stages of typhus. Also used in chicken-pox, colic, and similar affections.

The berries possess the same general properties in a large degree. They have been used in recent rheumatic fever; and applied as a poultice in chronic rheumatism. The article is among the mild ones of the Materia Medica, but is a peculiarly agreeable one; and may be used to advantage in all cases of moderate circulatory and nervous depression. It can be combined with asclepias, effectively; and makes a grateful and useful adjunct to tonic and alterative preparation. The berries, boiled in milk, are said by Dr. H. Howard to be of value in the second stages of dysentery; and Rafinesque says the oil of the berries is an excellent agent for colic, rheumatism, bruises, etc.


The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com



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