Related entry: Aesculus hippocastanum
The bark and fruit of Aesculus glabra, Willdenow (Nat. Ord. Sapindaceae). A small fetid tree common to the central portion of the United States.
Common Names: Ohio Buckeye, Smooth Buckeye, Fetid Buckeye.
Principal Constituents.—The glucoside aesculin (C15H16O9) (displays a blue fluorescence in water and more strongly in the presence of alkalies); aesculetin (C9H6O4); a peculiar tannin and saponin. Starch is abundant and a rich yellow oil is present.
Preparation.—Specific Medicine Aesculus. (Made from the ripe fruit.) Dose, 1 to 15 minims. The smaller doses are to be preferred.
Specific Indications.—Sense of constriction, tightness, or uneasiness in the rectum, with or without hemorrhoids; intestinal irritation with constriction and colicky pain near the umbilicus; dyspnea and constriction of the respiratory tract with spasmodic cough.
Action.—The dried, powdered fruit of the buckeye causes violent sneezing. Buckeye acts powerfully upon the nervous and circulatory systems. Its action is probably strongest on the spinal nerves, and in some respects resembles that of strychnine. The cerebrum is also impressed by it. Toxic symptoms include dizziness, fixation of the eye, impaired vision, vomiting, wry-neck, opisthotonos, stupor, and tympanites. In lethal doses these symptoms are increased, coma comes on, and the victim dies. Cattle are often killed by eating buckeyes; if not fatal, a condition known as "blind staggers" is produced.
Therapy.—Aesculus is sedative, somewhat narcotic, and has a special control over the portal circulation, relieving venous congestion. When the circulation is rapid and the constrictive sensation prominent and dyspnea prolonged, it relieves such conditions as continuous asthmatic breathing. There is a sense of constriction back of the upper portion of the sternum, with or without irritative cough, that is relieved by it. It is useful in intestinal irritability with the contractive colic-like pain centering in the umbilical region, probably dependent most largely upon hepatic or portal congestion and associated with chronic constipation. Its chief value, however, lies in its power to relieve hemorrhoids due to faulty hemorrhoidal circulation. The sense of fullness and tightness rather than marked pain is the indication for it. It often succeeds admirably, and as often completely fails to relieve. Its action upon visceral disorders is practically the same as that mentioned under Hippocastanum (which see).
Aesculus sometimes relieves uterine congestion with full tumid and enlarged cervix and too frequent and profuse menstruation. This would suggest its possible value in uterine subinvolution. It has a domestic reputation for the cure of rheumatism, but this has not been verified to any great degree in professional practice. It has been suggested as a spinal stimulant in paralysis. If so used it should be used like strychnine after active symptoms have ceased, and to stimulate the unimpaired nervous tissue. Aesculus deserves further study to determine its status as a remedy for nervous disorders, and especially its control over visceral neuralgias.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.