Chimaphila Umbellata. Pipsissewa, Prince's Pine, Ground Holly.
Description: Natural Order, Ericaceae. Genus CHIMAPHILA: Small, shrubby-looking, evergreen, perennial, herbs. Stem six to eight inches, nearly erect, woody at the base. Flowers terminal; calyx five-parted; corolla five-petaled, spreading; stamens ten; capsule five-celled; seeds numerous. C. UMBELLATA: Leaves two to three inches long, half an inch wide, tapering at both ends, coarsely serrate, usually in whorls of fours and sixes, very dark green, tough, shining. Flowers four to seven, on an erect, terminal umbel, light purple, on nodding pedicels. The plant is common in dry woods, usually growing in tufts, flowering in July.
C. MACULATA often appears in market with the above species. Its leaves are in twos or threes, shorter and blunter at the base than in the true pipsissewa, and are always variegated in color–usually having a light stripe through the center. Flowers purplish-white. It possesses nearly the same properties as the above species, but is not so active. Both articles are sometimes called wintergreen; but this name is generally given to the fragrant gaultheria.
When fresh, this plant is acrid, and has a mild aroma. Boiling water, alcohol, and diluted alcohol, extract its properties.
Properties and Uses: The leaves are a mild but agreeable tonic and alterative, acting slowly, and leaving behind a gentle degree of astringency. They act upon the stomach and kidneys chiefly, next upon the skin, and then slightly upon the entire lymphatic system. They are more relaxing than stimulating; and the astringent principle is scarcely obtained except either by long boiling or in the presence of some alcohol. They mildly increase the flow of urine; and are useful in chronic weakness of the kidneys and bladder, cystic catarrh, weakness and aching in the prostate, and in spermatorrhea. They relieve a sense of weight and uneasiness through this entire portion of the organism; and may be combined advantageously with caulophyllum, convallaria, and similar agents, in the treatment of leucorrheal and gonorrheal difficulties. Their action on the lymphatics makes them useful in scrofula and cutaneous affections; and they enjoy with some an almost fabulous reputation for all strumous difficulties; but while this is an over-estimate, they are decidedly of much service in combination with stillingia, celastrus, rumex, and a little gentian. From their combined action on skin and kidneys, they are of service in dropsy and rheumatism; and are said to be peculiarly applicable to cases of lithic acid gravel. They are grateful to feeble stomachs, and generally improve digestion. It must be remembered that they belong to the mild class of agents, and will not meet very depressed cases.
This plant is always given in decoction, extract, or compound sirup. The decoction is prepared by boiling an ounce of the leaves in two pints of water, straining, and evaporating to one pint. From two to four fluid ounces of this may be given every three or four hours.
A fluid extract is prepared in the usual way, of which one fluid drachm would be a dose.
A better preparation would be a concentrated sirup, a pint of which might be made from eight ounces of the ground leaves, with twelve ounces of sugar; and four ounces of rectified whisky afterward added. The dose of this would be from two to four fluid drachms, three times a day. Chimaphila is an ingredient in the Compound Sirup of Stillingia.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com