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Caulophyllum Thalictroides. Blue Cohosh, Squaw Root.

Pappoose Root, Blueberry.

Synonym: Leontice Thalictroides, as now classified.

Description: Natural Order, Berberidaceae. Genus CAULOPHYLLUM: A perennial, glabrous herb, common in moist and rich lands throughout the United States. Stem smooth, simple, naked, purplish when young, one to three feet high, rising from matted root-stalks. Leaves one to each plant, of triternate arrangement, the stem seeming to stand as a common petiole to the first three divisions, which are spreading and large; leaflets (twenty-seven on the one plant) obovate-wedge-form in three rounded and unequal lobes, one to one and a half inches long. Flowers on a terminal raceme, rising from the apex of the stem from the angle of the three petiolets, appearing in April or May, while the leaves are yet small, yellowish-green; sepals six, with three small bractlets; petals six, thick and glandlike; stamens six. Pericarp thin, bursting very early, leaving upon the thick flower-stalk from one to two seeds, about the size of a pea, smooth, round, hard, and turning a dull blue.

Properties and Uses: The root of this plant, as a popular parturient among the "medicine men" of the Indians. To Dr. Isaac Smith, of New York, is chiefly due its introduction to the profession. It is a moderate diffusive, stimulating and relaxing in about equal degrees, spending its main powers upon the nervous system. These qualities make it one of the very best of antispasmodics, to relieve nervous feebleness with irritability, as in crampings of the bowels, twitching of the muscles in typhoid and parturient cases, hysteria, painful menstruation, colic, etc. Its efficacy in these cases is remarkable; and it is also a valuable adjunct to other suitable agents in the treatment of puerperal convulsions, epilepsy, and chorea. It enjoys deserved reputation in neuralgic forms of rheumatism, especially that form which passes with some as chronic inflammation of the womb. It sustains the nervous system, but at the same time soothes it; and is of especial service in strengthening and relieving painful functional difficulties of the female generative organs. It is one of the most valuable of all parturients, when the uterine action is becoming weary; in which case it may be combined with the Composition Powder; or with cypripedium, and a very little capsicum (or bayberry) added when depression is considerable. It promotes diuresis apparently by sustaining the pelvic nerves; and in the same way strengthens the uterus in leucorrhea and insufficient menstruation; yet can not properly be classed as either a diuretic or emmenagogue. By the same kind of action, it is useful in weak kidneys, albuminous urine, chronic difficulties of the prostate, nervous restlessness during pregnancy, and previous to parturition to give tone and comfort to the uterus. For these several purposes, it is generally combined with other suitable agents, such as aralia racemosa, mitchella, uva ursi, convallaria, liriodendron, etc. The real value of this article in these varied connections, is not fully appreciated; and it is too often laid aside on the decidedly false impression that it is a stimulating emmenagogue of harmful proclivities. I commend it as one of the choicest nervines and antispasmodics of the Materia Medica. E. H. Lowe, M. D., of Sandwich, Illinois, tells me its antispasmodic virtues may be used to much advantage in asthma, especially in combination with diaphoretic relaxants. It is a good addition to hydrastis and myrica, as a wash to aphthous ulcers; to dioscorea and ginger for all colics; and may be used with prunus and nymphea on weak and irritable sores. It is rarely used in powder, but mostly by infusion. An infusion of the berries is said to be almost infallible for relieving persistent spasmodic vomiting.

Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Infusion. Caulophyllum, half an ounce; boiling water, a pint. Infuse for half an hour in a covered vessel. In parturition and painful menstruation, a fluid ounce of this may be given every sixty or thirty minutes; in hysteria, rheumatism, and other more lingering maladies, one to two fluid ounces may be repeated at intervals of from four to six hours.

II. Compound Infusion. Caulophyllum and cypripedium, each, half an ounce; trillium, two drachms; myrica, one scruple; boiling water, twenty ounces. Digest for half an hour. This is a remarkably efficient parturient preparation, sustaining, but never overdoing the uterine action, quieting the nervous system, maintaining a steady outward circulation, and anticipating hemorrhage and after-pains. It is not appropriate when the vagina is dry , the os tineae rigid, and the uterus sensitive. Dose, half to a whole fluid ounce every half hour, especially in the latter stage of labor.

III. Tincture. Crushed caulophyllum, two ounces; diluted alcohol, one pint. Macerate for twelve days, and filter. Dose, one to two fluid drachms, three times a day. A Compound Tincture may be made from the ingredients of the above compound infusion, by macerating the drugs in twelve ounces of diluted alcohol. The dose would be from a half to a whole fluid drachm, in warm water, every hour or half hour, in parturition.

IV. Caulophyllin. This is prepared after the manner of cimicifugin. It varies from a light brown to a nearly white powder, slightly soluble in water, quite soluble in alcohol. It is used for the same general purposes as the root, but is most applicable to chronic cases. It has been commended in gonorrhea and spermatorrhea. Dose, half a grain to a grain, three or four times a day.

V. Extract. This is prepared after the manner of the hydro-alcoholic extracts. It may be used as a basis for pills, where a full antispasmodic action is desired; but I have never been satisfied with any preparation I have met.


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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