Gnaphalium Polycephalum. White Balsam, Cudweed.
Life Everlasting, Indian Posey.
Description: Natural Order, Compositae. This belongs to a genus of woolly herbs, which are peculiar for their downy and tomentose appearance. Their flowers are borne in many compact heads, closely arranged in a large terminal corymb, and all tubular. The species here spoken of is an annual, one to two feet high, the whole plant (stem, leaves, and peduncles) gray with a short and silky wool. Stem erect, branched above. Leaves alternate, three inches long by one-fourth of an inch broad, tapering at the base, sessile, margins a little wavy, smoothish above. Flowers tubular, white, in obovate heads; heads in a terminal and close panicled corymb, of a pretty appearance. Whole plant slightly fragrant. July and August.
This plant is common in old fields and pastures throughout the United States and Canada. The leaves and yellow flower-heads are used medicinally, though the whole plant is gathered. Its aroma is rather pleasant, its taste slightly bitter and aromatic, and its properties are extracted by water and alcohol. Several other species of the same genus are used indiscriminately with this one, among which may be named G. decurrens, with yellowish-white flowers and decurrent leaves; G. uliginosum, about five inches high, and with the clusters of flower-heads sitting down below the upper leaves; and G. purpureum, branching from the base, with the leaves green above, and the flowers in a wand-like terminal spike.
Properties and Uses: This plant combines relaxing and stimulating properties with a moderate portion of demulcent quality. In cold preparations, its action is mainly expended upon mucous membranes; and as it soothes and strengthens these tissues, it has been pronounced astringent, though it is faintly tonic and not drying. It has been used in sore-mouth, sub-acute coughs, feebleness of the lungs, leucorrhea, catarrh of the bladder, and the latter stages of dysentery. It is really an excellent article in such cases; and though it is too mild to be of use in degenerate conditions, it is useful for its gentle influence. In warm infusion, it promotes mild diaphoresis, and is a popular remedy in recent colds and light fever; and a strong preparation is said to relieve mumps, quinsy, the tenesmus of dysentery, and excessive menstruation. In some respects it acts on the assimilative organs much as avens root does–toning them and abating a tendency to curdy diarrhea. From being at one time over-rated, it has fallen into undeserved neglect. An ounce may be digested in a pint and a half of water till a pint remains, and two fluid ounces of this used once every two hours or oftener. It is sometimes combined with other agents in pulmonary sirups.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com