Polemonium Reptans. Greek Valerian; Blue-Bells, Jacob's Ladder.
Description: Natural Order, Polemoniaceae. In the same Family with wild and garden phlox. Perennial roots; with small, weak, annual stems, six to ten inches high, diffusely branched. Leaves alternate, pinnate; pinnae seven to eleven, ovate-lanceolate, acute, sessile, an inch and a quarter long, thin and smooth, with entire edges. Flowers in small terminal corymbs, regularly five-parted; calyx bell-shaped, five-cleft; corolla bell-shaped, five-cleft, bright blue, convolute in bud, slightly nodding; stamens of five long filaments, equally inserted at the summit of the very short corolla tube, declined, hairy appendaged at the base. (Gray.) Fruit a three-celled capsule, each cell usually three seeded. May. A pretty little herb, common in good soils by shaded banks and through open woods. The roots are a mass of slender fibers four to six inches long, springing from a small collum, grayish-white, of a mild aromatic smell, and a warming and slightly bitter taste. Water and diluted alcohol extract their virtues.
Properties and Uses: The roots of polemonium are diffusibly stimulating and relaxing, leaving a gentle tonic impression. Their influence is expended with moderate promptness toward the surface and throughout the nervous system, a warm infusion securing a rather free perspiration and a fuller circulation in the capillaries. For this effect they are used in recent colds, pleurisy, the tardy appearance of measles or small-pox, and in typhoid and similar conditions; being among the most efficient of the mildly stimulating diaphoretics, and at the same time sustaining the nervous peripheries. They have a wide repute for ejecting the virus of snakes. In lingering parturition, with fatigue of the nervous system, they are quite serviceable. They exert a distinct influence on mucous membranes, elevating their circulation, promoting the discharge of tenacious accumulations, arid toning (but not astringing) them. This action makes them of use in sub-acute and chronic bronchitis, to which they have an excellent adaptation; also in tardy and painful menstruation. As diffusives to the nervous system, they are moderately antispasmodic, being of service to allay the restlessness of typhoid. The usual method of employment is by warm infusion, an ounce to a quart of water; of which from one to two fluid ounces may be given every two hours or hour. They are usually combined with an excess of asclepias, or similar agent.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com