Caulophyllum. Blue Cohosh.
Natural Order Berberideae, Tribe Berbereae.
COMMON NAMES.—The correct common name for this plant is Blue Cohosh, and by this name it is usually designated in the drug trade. It was introduced by Rafinesque m 1828. The plant having been used by the Indians was called Cohosh [Regarding the meaning of this word in the Indian language, Mr. W. R. Gerard writes as follows:
"The Algonkin word, Cohosh, applied by the whites to several plants, smooth in all their parts, means 'it is rough' (with hairs). Among the Montagnais of Canada this name is applied to the bristly fruit of Ribes lacustre. I cannot conjecture why the Indians should have applied it to the plants that now bear it, and I very much doubt whether they ever did so."] in common with a number of other plants. Pursh (1814) states to this effect, and the name, Cohosh, is used by Barton in 1818. Through the series of Eaton's Manuals (1816-40) it is called False Cohosh, Eaton designating as Cohosh, Cimicifuga racemosa, now known as black cohosh. Rafinesque suggested that the name Blue Cohosh was the most suitable name for the plant, it having a blue aspect and blue berries, and the name cohosh having been fixed by the Indians. Gray's and Wood's Manuals adopted this name and it has become established, and as stated before, is now the name usually used in the drug trade.
Next in importance to this name is Squaw Root or Pappoose Root (spelled also Poppoose Root) names that were introduced by Smith, * an "Indian doctor," who states that the squaws owe the facility of their parturition to the constant use of this rhizome for two or three weeks before their confinement. These names are now also occasionally used in commerce.
Only these three names are of any importance, but in addition we find the following occasionally applied to the plant; Blueberry, by which Rafinesque states the plant was called in some sections and the application of which is natural from the deep blue berries; Yellow Ginseng and Blue Ginseng, names given to the rhizome from a supposed resemblance to Ginseng, but which are not warranted by facts and now luckily are not continued; Lion's foot a literal translation of the old generic name, used by Forester (1777) who merely copied the name from the Greek species of Leontice, but it has no application or sense when applied to the American plant; Columbine-leaved Leontice and Meadow-Rue Leontice are names used in old botanical works, translations of the botanical names, but are never applied now.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—Blue Cohosh grows about two feet high, and is found in rich, open woods. It does not form patches, but the plants are generally few together, and distributed through the woods at the bases of trees and similar rich, shady situations.
The plant in April produces a terminal cluster of small greenish-yellow flowers, which being about the same hue as the leaves are not likely to attract much attention. At that time the leaves are only partly grown, but they mature rapidly, and before the plant is out of bloom they are full size.
The rhizome is the portion used in medicine. It is knotted, branched, and has numerous fibrous roots. It sends up in early spring, one, sometimes more, simple, erect stems, naked below, excepting a sheath at the base, and bearing above two [Some writers describe the plant as usually only having one leaf, but we have never noticed a specimen where both leaves were not present.] ternately compound leaves and a small terminal raceme of flowers. It appears as though the stem was merely the leaf stalk. [Michaux who named it, states in substance that the name is from the leaf, being as it were, the continuation of the petiole-formed stem.]
The lower leaf is much the larger, triternate, and usually with no common petiole. [Sometimes we have found a short common petiole.] The stem above this leaf is much smaller than below and appears to proceed from the leaf. The leaflets are one to two inches long, obovate-cuneate, tapering and entire to the base, three-lobed above. The lobe subequal, terminating in short abrupt points.
The side lobes are usually entire, the middle lobe two-toothed. The leaves as well as the stem and all portions of the plant are perfectly smooth, and covered especially beneath with a glaucous, blue, bloom, which gives the plant a bluish aspect, and, hence, it is called Blue Cohosh.
The flowers are in a terminal panicle about two inches long. They are one-third of an inch in diameter, and yellowish green color, and are borne each on a short slender bracted pedicle.
There are three small linear bracts, appressed to the flower. The sepals are six, equal spreading, one-quarter of an inch long, obtuse, yellowish green color, and are arranged in two series. Opposite each sepal and at its inner base there is a thick, wedge-shaped, gland-like organ, called the petal by most recent botanists. These are very much smaller and shorter than the sepals and they secrete the honey. [Botanists have different views and names for the floral envelopes of this plant. By some the three linear outer are sepals, the next six large leaves are petals, and the six inner organs, glands, called by Nuttall "lepanthia," and by Linnaeus "nectaries." Recent writers describe them as we have given them, the exterior three, bracts, the large leaves, sepals, and the gland-like organs, petals.]
The stamens are six, small, about the length of the petals. They have short thick filaments and two oblong anther cells attached extrorsely, and opening by two valves hinged at the top. The stamens are opposite the petals, and, hence, in the flower we have sepals, petals and stamens, equal in number and opposite each other, an arrangement that is very rare.
The pistil is solitary. It consists of a globose one-celled ovary, with a short-pointed stigma. The ovules are two, and erect, borne on separate seed-stalks (funiculi) from the base of the ovary.
Shortly after flowering the thin walls of the ovary are ruptured by the growing ovules and shrivel away. The seeds therefore ripen naked without any covering, a peculiar arrangement that was first noticed by an observing English botanist, Robert Brown. This is a very peculiar habit, and does not occur to our knowledge in any other native plant, [Many plants with what are called naked seeds are in reality perfect fruit with the pericarp cohering with the seed and called a caryopsis, or with the pericarp hard, indehiscent, and appearing like a seed and called an achene.] excepting of course, the gymnosperms, or coniferous trees, in which the pericarp is entirely wanting. Our figure 162 [Copied, as are also Figs. 163-164, from "Gray's Genera," plate 32.] shows the ovaries at the stage of rupture. When the seed mature they are of a deep blue color, perfectly round and borne on the thickened seed stalks. They have every appearance of a drupe and were so described by the earliest botanists. The albumen is horny and a vertical section has a reniform appearance.
BOTANICAL HISTORY.—In order to obtain a clear idea of the generic history of this plant we have to begin with the work of Tournefort (1700), who established a genus which he called Leontopetalon and included two plants native of the Levant and Greece, known to botanists now as Leontice Chrysogonum and Leontice Leontopetalon. [Tournefort had a personal acquaintance with both of these plants having spent two years traveling in the Levant. His plate (484) very accurately shows the six petaled flowers and the inflated triangular pod containing about four seeds.] It was from the latter that the name was derived from a fancied resemblance of the leaflet to a lion's foot. [From a lion λεων, a lion, and πους, a foot. This same name in Greek was applied by Pliny to some plant which can not be identified from his descriptions.] The American plant was not then known, but no doubt would have been included by Tournefort in this genus.
Linnaeus (1737) [Genera Plantarum, edition 1st, p. 94.] substituted the name Leontice for the genus. This name in Greek was used by Dioscorides, Pliny and other ancient writers, but the plant to which it was applied is not now known. We can not say whether Linnaeus contracted Tournefort's name Leontopetalon to Leontice as stated by some, or whether he took the name Leontice from Greek or Latin writers and substituted it; the latter is, we think, the more probable.
That Linnaeus was then acquainted with the American plant is likely, as specimens had previously been sent over by Clayton, [See note *, p. 30, also following note.] but it is evident that he was not familiar with its fruit, as he describes the fruit of the genus as "Capsule large, globose, sharp, inflated, one-celled, sub-succulent," which applies to the two European species but not to our plant.
The genus belongs and was placed in the Linncean class, "Hexandria Monogynia" which brings with it many Liliaceous and other endogenous genera, a most unnatural alliance according to our present classification.
The first published record of the plant is by Gronovius (1739) [Flora Virginica, p. 151, under the name "Leontice foliis supra decompositis." The plant was sent to Gronovius by Clayton (see note *, p. 30), under the name Christophoriana which was a kind of family name applied by old writers to a number of plants with triternate leaves. (See vol. i, p. 233.)], the next by Colden (1743). [Plantae Coldenghamiae, published in 1743-4 in the transactions of the Royal Society of Science at Upsal.
Cadwallader Colden was of Scotch descent, his father being a minister in the church of Scotland. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh, learning there the rudiments of botany. His father intended him for a minister, but the salary being small he studied medicine. He had a sister in Philadelphia, and in 1710 he emigrated to this country to try his fortune. He became acquainted with General Hunter, of New York City, who tendered him a public position in 1718 which he accepted, moving his family to New York. He settled about the year 1739 in the wilds along the Hudson on a tract of land to which he had secured a government patent under the name Coldingham. This was then on the very frontier to the Indians and an absolute wilderness.
Although always of a philosophical turn of mind he gave no special attention to plants until about 1740, when coming in to possession of the then recent Genera Plantarum of Linnaeus, he became much interested in studying the plants growing around his neighborhood, the methods of Linnaeus affording an easy means of classification. In 1742 he made a collection and description of the plants and sent them to Gronovius who in turn transmitted them to Linnaeus who published the first part of it (to the end of class Polyandria) in the Transactions of the Royal Society at Upsal, for the years 1743-4, under the title "Plantae Coldinghamia; in Provincia Noveboracensi Americae sponte crescentes, etc." The remainder of the work was never published but is preserved in the Banksian library. In this effort to classify American plants, Colden was unassisted by previous work or co-worker and considering the difficulties under which it was written it is a remarkable production.
In the latter part of his life, Colden was elected Governor of New York State. He died at the age of eighty-nine years.]
In the first edition of Species Plantarum, [Species Plantarum, Linnaeus, 1743, ed. 1, p. 312.] the plant was called Leontice thalictroides, [This name has reference to the resemblance of the leaves to those of the genus Thalictrum. It was applied by Linnaeus as a specific name also to Anemone thalictroides for the same reason.] and with three other species constituted the genus. [These are Leontice Chrysogonum and Leontice Leontopetalon (previously refered to), and a plant from India called Leontice Leontopetaloides by Linnaeus but which now we are unable to locate. It is however no longer included in the genus Leontice.] Under this name the plant was described in all botanical works up to the beginning of the present century.
In 1803 there was published in Paris the Flora Boreali-americana, a description of the plants collected by the elder Michaux in America, and in this work there was established for the plant a new genus Caulophyllum [The derivation of the name Caulophyllum given by its author is from καυλος, a stem and φυλλον, a leaf, the leaf stem is apparently a continuation of the stem of the plant.] differing from the Leontice of Linnaeus in the character of the fruit. It seems that Michaux observed that the mature fruit was not a membranous capsule as the fruit of the genus is described in the Genera Plantarum of Linnaeus, but as he supposed a drupe, and he called the plant Caulophyllum thalictroides. It is worthy of note that this is an incorrect view of this fruit (See description; page 143), and that this genus was founded under a misapprehension of its nature and now that this is understood it is a question whether there is any structural reason for continuing the genus.
Nuttall, Pursh, Barton, Eaton aud other writers immediately following Michaux, adopted his nomenclature of the plant, but in 1816, in a paper read before the Linnaean Society, ["On some remarkable Deviations from the usual structure of Seeds and Fruits," By Robt. Brown, F. R. S. Read before the Linnaean Society, London, March 5, 1816, and published in the Transactions of the Linnaean Society, Vol. XII., 1818, p. 143.] Robert Brown demonstrated the erroneous views of Michaux, and showed that the plant only differed from the genus of Linnaeus in the duration of the pericarp and questioned whether this alone was sufficient to entitle it to generic rank, especially when other plants are known with fruit characters intermediate between it and the typical genus. [These are Leontice Eversmanni Bge. and Leontice altaica Pall. The capsules break open at the top in these species when the fruit is only half grown, and the seeds ripen naked, the only difference between them and our species is that they are surrounded by the sides of the bursted capsule and in our species the capsule being ruptured earlier, the seeds ripen entirely naked.] De Candolle, Endlicher, Baillon and most botanists of Europe, and Torrey of this country, have reunited the plant with the Linnaean genus; Bentham and Hooker, Gray, Watson, and other American botanists consider it distinct. Several botanists seem to have been undecided how to classify it. Wood in first edition of his manual, Gray in first edition of his class book, Darlington in first edition of Flora Cestrica, all call it Leontice, in latter editions however all change to Caulophyllum.
It seems to us that the views can be classified into four distinct eras. First, the Linnaean, from its discovery to 1803, when the plant was classified from characters drawn from European species.
Second, the era of Michaux, 1803 to 1816, when it was classified from an erroneous view of the nature of its fruit.
Third, the era of Brown, 1816 to about 1856, when it was mostly reunited with Leontice, because theoretically there is no structural difference.
Fourth, the era of Gray, beginning with the second edition of his manual 1856, and extending to the present day, and considering the early rupture of the pericarp and the maturing of the naked seed sufficient for generic rank.
As thus viewed the genus includes, as far as known, only this one species native of this country, and also of Japan.
GEOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION.—Blue Cohosh is of wide range in this country, extending from New Brunswick on the north to the southern limit of the Allegheny mountains and the Mississippi Valley on the west. It is generally distributed over this country where conditions are found suitable to its growth, which are rich, shady woods, and deep loam. It is absent from low, flat, marshy districts, along the coast and from prairie regions.
In Canada, it occurs sparingly in New Brunswick, and is found along the St. John's River. It is abundantly in the southern portion of Ontario.
In the New England States it is found in the hilly and mountainous districts, but is absent from the open country along the ocean. [It is marked "common" in Perkin's Flora of Vermont, and is mentioned in other New England lists but it, must be rare over in the New England Stales, as it was not reported by any of twenty-five botanists in these States who favored us with indigenous lists of plants. The inquiry was made, however, under the name, Leontice thalictroides, a name that is not familiar to the present average botanist, which may be the reason some failed to report it.]
Throughout New York and Pennsylvania it is found in woods, and is common in the hilly and mountainous districts. [It does not occur on Long Island, and is very rare in the valley of the Hudson, though found in the mountains adjacent. It is rare in southeastern Pennsylvania, and around Philadelphia.]
In New Jersey and Delaware it is only found, and but rarely, in the eastern and northern sections. It is entirely absent from the peculiar swamp regions of New Jersey.
It is abundant throughout the Allegheny mountains, extending south, but with the exceptions of these mountains and their connecting spurs and hills, it is not found in the Southern States, being absent from the gulf and coast regions.
Over Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and the southern portion of Michigan, it is common, being usually found in woods suited to its growth.
Throughout Illinois and lower Wisconsin it is rare, or absent, especially from prairie districts. It is found in a few eastern localities in Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota, but does not occur west of these States.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRUG.—The part used in medicine is the dried rhizomes with the attached roots. As found in commerce, they are usually two to four inches long (sometimes larger), and one-quarter of an inch thick. They are much curved, and irregular in shape, and are marked on the upper side, at irregular intervals, with large cup-shaped scars, left by fallen stems and leaves. These scars are usually ragged from the woody zone of the base of the stems. The rhizome breaks with a tough, woody fracture, and is light colored within. The wood zone is separated by large medullary rays into separate, splinter-like, thin, flattened bundles, which make the fracture of the drug irregular, and these wood bundles are easily separated from each other. The rhizome bears many fibrous roots; these are slender, sparingly branched, light brown color, and are always found in large numbers attached to the rhizome of commerce. They are not brittle, and do not easily rub off.
The impression imparted by chewing the drug is an intense acridity, and the dust irritates the mucous membranes of the nostrils and eyes, exciting secretions from those surfaces and violent sneezing. From sensible resemblance of the drug to that of saponin yielding plants, and from the similarity of one of its constituents to saponin, writers have been led to assert that the acrid principle is saponin. [See chemical constituents, p. __.]
Sophistications.—To persons familiar with the drug, substitution is easily discovered, but, with ordinary observers, one other commercial drug would be distinguished with difficulty, if at all. We refer to the rhizome of Jeffersonia diphylla or, twin leaf, and, we know from experience, that care must be exercised to avoid admixtures, or even entire lots of one being thrust forward as the other. The drugs in the mass look very much alike, and can be distinguished only by a close examination. There is no perceptible difference in taste, both being acrid, so-called saponin yielding drugs. We therefore shall endeavor to give descriptions that will enable the reader to easily distinguish them.
|Caulophyllum. Blue Cohosh.||Jeffersonia. Twin leaf.|
|Rhizome prominent, the roots only partly concealing it. Rhizome from one-fourth to one-third an inch in diameter, and from four to six inches long.||Rhizome obscured, almost entirely covered with a mat of roots. Rhizome about one-fourth an inch in diameter, and but an inch or two in extent. It is covered with a clump of rmore extensive than surrounds the larger rhizome of Caulophyllum.|
|The broken rhizome and root are of a dead, ashy color.||The broken rhizome is distinctly yellow or greenish color.|
|The roots are smooth, evenly curred, and have but few branches.||The roots are contorted, especially near the extremity, and give rise to numbers of wiry branches which, associated with the others, nearly hide the rhizome.|
COMMERCIAL HISTORY.—There has been some little demand for Caulophyllum since 1813, but almost altogether in domestic medicine for making infusions and decoctions, until 1852; then the Eclectic Dispensatory appeared and Prof. King introduced the drug and some preparations of it. This was followed by a demand among Eclectics, which has continually increased until the present time.
Now, it is of some importance, although still practically unknown in Regular practice; probably twenty-five thousand pounds are annually consumed. It appears in commerce in bags, and, owing to the wide territory over which the plant is distributed, the drug is but little shipped, being mostly collected by local collectors near cities in which it is used. It is often of questionable value, owing to dirt adhering to the fibers and to admixtures (see adulterations.) It is principally consumed in the preparation of fluid extract of Caulophyllum, and the pharmaceutical preparations we mention in that part of this publication devoted to the subject.
PHARMACOPOEIAL HISTORY.—Throughout an increasing commercial demand for Caulophyllum, from the date of the first issue of the United States Pharmacopoeia (1820 to 1870), the drug remained unrecognized. In 1882 the committee wisely introduced it, but omitted any pharmaceutical preparation. Notwithstanding its neglect by the Regular medical profession, we feel that it is more important than some drugs considered in detail, and we trust to find the next revision of our pharmacopoeia introduce at least a process for making fluid extract of Caulophyllum.
PHARMACEUTICAL PREPARATIONS.—The only pharmaceutical preparations are those that are employed by Eclectic physicians.
Fluid Extract of Caulophyllutn.—
Take of Caulophyllum, powdered, sixteen parts;
Water, of each, a sufficient quantity.
Mix three parts, by measure, of alcohol with two parts of water; moisten the powder with this mixture and properly pack into a cylindrical percolator. Reserve the first fourteen parts of the percolate, and having continued the percolation until the drug is exhausted, evaporate the latter portion to two parts, and mix the residue with the reserved fourteen parts.
This formula has been employed by us for some years, and will give satisfaction, both as regards the pharmaceutical preparation and its therapeutic action.
Dose.—The fluid extract is administered in doses of from five to fifteen drops, in accordance with the view of the physician or the condition of the patient (See Medical Uses).
Compound Tincture of Caulophyllum. [American Dispensatory, p. 1218.]—
Take of Caulophyllum, in powder, four parts;
Water Pepper, of each two parts;
Oil of Savin, one part;
Alcohol, a sufficient quantity.
Percolate the mixed powders with alcohol, in the usual manner, until forty-eight parts of tincture are obtained. In this dissolve the Oil of Savin.
Dr King states that this forms an emmenagogue tincture, very useful in amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea and other uterine affections. The dose is from fifteen drops to a fluid drachm, two or three times a day.
This preparation was originated by Prof. King, with whom Caulophyllum is a favorite. It was more extensively employed in former years than at present, but is still used by Eclectic physicians.
Compound Syrup of Mitchella (Mather's Cordial).—
Take of Mitchella, eight parts;
Caulophyllum, of each, four parts.
Percolate the mixed drugs, in form of powder, in the usual manner, with brandy, until forty-eight parts are obtained. To this add thirty-two parts of sugar, and continue the percolation with water until one hundred and twenty-eight parts in all have been obtained, including the dissolved sugar. Lastly, flavor the syrupy liquid with Essence of Sassafras, if desired. [This process is after the American Dispensatory, but modified, as has been found necessary in our hands]
Dr. King states that this preparation is a uterine tonic and antispasmodic. It may be used in all cases where the functions of the internal reproductive organs are deranged, as in amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia, leucorrhoca, and to overcome the tendency to habitual abortion. The dose is from one to four fluid ounces, three times a day.
Compound Syrup of Mitchella is in considerable demand. It is used more extensively than all other compounds of Caulophyllum, and Eclectic physicians retain it in confidence, although rapidly discarding such mixtures. It is an exclusively Eclectic remedy.
Resinoid or Concentration (Caulophyllin) [For a paper on American Concentrations or Resinoids, by J. U. Lloyd, see Pharmaceutische Rundschau, May, 1887, p. 105.].—Prof. John King discovered Podophyllin in the year 1835, and immediately following its introduction, other bodies appeared under such names as Macrotin, [See Vol. I., p. 268.] Hydrastin, [See Vol. I., p. 98.] Caulophyllin, etc. They were supposed to be produced by the method employed in making "Podophyllin," but manufacturers often found it necessary to deviate from the original plan. Some drugs furnished small precipitates, and, often the characteristic part remained in solution. Other precipitates were oily and refused to dry. Thus each maker became a law unto himself, and the names at present embrace many substances of various natures.
Caulophyllin was once supposed to have been made by precipitation of an alcoholic tincture of Caulophyllum, [See Mr. Ebert's paper, American Journal of Pharmacy, 1864, p. 203.] but we can find no evidence from a manufacturer to support that view. [We believe that the information at our command is sufficient to place beyond doubt the fact that Caulophyllia is not made by simple precipitation.] We have not been able to produce a satisfactory preparation by that method, and, we are in a position to know the demands of trade.
In order to produce a marketable preparation, it is necessary to exclude the glucose and gums of the plant, as nearly as possible, and the oily body that interferes with the drying of the product. In our hands the following process has proved acceptable, and we offer it without further comment than to say, we do not know that others use this process or method:
Preparation.—Percolate the powdered drug with alcohol, s. g. 0.820, and distil the percolate to a syrupy consistence; pour the residue into ten times its bulk of cold water. [The water dissolves the glucose, and some extractive matter.] Drain the precipitate and while in the form of magma, wash it by violent agitation in a bottle or can, with an excess (about five times its bulk) of sulphuric ether. [This separates oils and fats. Benzine has been tried by us, but the odor is persistently held by the magma, and refuses to separate even by drying.] The ethereal liquid is decanted, the precipitate drained and pressed; then it is mixed with a sufficient amount of powdered Caulophyllum to enable the operator to break it into friable fragments, and is dried by exposure to the air, and then powdered.
As thus made, Caulophyllin is in a powder of a grayish or brown color, and possesses the taste of the drug. It was once much used by Eclectic physicians, and is still in considerable demand.
*Peter Smith was an "Indian herb doctor," residing in Cincinnati during the early part of this century. He was a shrewd advertiser, and issued his "Medical Facts" from Cincinnati in 1813. His history is embraced in the above note for all our endeavors to derive further light regarding the individual have been fruitless. Doubtless he was one of the eccentric characters, typical of those now familiar, but who vanish with their advertisements.
In endeavoring to find a record of the history of this individual, the Cincinnati publications of that day were carefully examined and every endeavor made to find a person who remembered him. It is a little curious that, in this city, all trace has vanished of this man to whom Rafinesque referred to as authority. We are familiar with many persons who should bear witness, but none remember him.
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