The rhizome and rootlets of Actaea alba, Bigelow (Nat. Ord. Ranunculaceae). A perennial of the United States east of the Mississippi, abounding in the rich mold of rocky forests and hillsides. Dose, 1 to 20 grains.
Common Names: White Cohosh, White Baneberry, White Beads.
Principal Constituents.—A non-acrid and non-bitter resin similar to that obtained from black cohosh (cimicifuga). Albumen, starch, sugar, and gum are present, but neither tannic nor gallic acids.
Preparation.—Specific Medicine Actaea. Dose, 1 to 20 drops. (Usual form of administration: Rx. Specific Medicine Actaea, 20 drops. Water, 4 fluidounces. Mix. Sig. One teaspoonful every 1 to 3 hours.)
Specific Indications.—Atony dependent upon nervous derangements from reproductive disturbances, with headache, insomnia, melancholia, and convulsive tendencies; extreme sensitiveness of the ovarian region; "pinkish hue of parts freely supplied by blood" (Scudder).
Action and Therapy.—Actaea is an active drug, acting in general somewhat like cimicifuga. In large doses it is emeto-cathartic, and serious gastrointestinal irritation and inflammation have resulted from overdoses of it. It deserves a more extended study than has yet been given it. Actaea acts specifically in disorders of the female reproductive organs, with atony and nervous impairment—such as the debility conducing to amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea and menorrhagia, and the irritability of weakness of the sexual system provoking choreic, hysteric, and hystero-epileptic attacks. It is only of value to correct the nervous impairment and sexual disturbances when they are underlying causes of these spasmodic disorders, and has little or no value in controlling the attacks. It has a well-sustained reputation as a remedy for after-pains; and may be used in ovarian disorders when there is pain or uneasy sensations in or around the ovaries, with extreme sensitiveness to touch or pressure. It also relieves mental aberrations arising from derangement of the reproductive organs. Like cimicifuga it is useful in atonic indigestion of the nervous dyspepsia type.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.