Catalpa Bignonioides. Catalpa.
Description: Natural Order, Bignoniaceae. This is the beautiful spreading tree so common in the South, and cultivated widely in the Middle and Northern States as an ornamental shade tree. Its very large and nearly heart-shaped leaves, with its long panicles of large and nearly white flowers, at once attract the eye and make it a favorite. As cultivated, it commonly attains a height of thirty feet; and blooms during the latter part of June and early July in this latitude.
Properties and Uses: The bark of this tree is a strong bitter, and is among the positive and rather permanent stimulating tonics. It has been pronounced poisonous, but this is not my opinion. It arouses the stomach, and ultimately stimulates the circulation; and the entire list of secernent organs, but especially the skin, is steadily excited to better action under its use. These qualities fit it for cases of extreme languor and debility, where such an alterative tonic is required; and it is my impression that it will there be found equal to the more valued articles of the Materia Medica. Lindley, in his Medical Flora, says a Brazilian species of catalpa is considered in that country to be one of the most powerful remedies against malignant syphilitic swellings; and it is my opinion, from limited experience, that the bark of our native species will be found valuable in the same connection. Two ounces may be boiled in a quart of water, till a pint of decoction is obtained; of which two fluid ounces may be given four times a day. It may also be made into a sirup.
A decoction of the pods is demulcent, with mild relaxant and stimulant properties; and may be used in dry, irritable, and asthmatic coughs, and shortness of breath. The leaves are said to form a soothing and emollient poultice, and have been used in irritable ulcers.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com