The bark of the root of Euphorbia corollata, Linné (Nat. Ord. Euphorbiaceae). Dry fields and woods of Canada and the United States.
Common Names: Large Flowering Spurge, Blooming Spurge, Milk Purslane, Snake Milk.
Principal Constituents.—Resin, caoutchouc, and probably euphorbon.
Preparation.—Specific Medicine Euphorbia. Dose, 1/10 to 10 drops.
Specific Indications.—Persistent gastric irritation; irritative diarrhea of catarrhal discharges, with debility; long-pointed tongue, with prominent papillae; uneasy sensation in the stomach; cholera infantum, with hot, tumid abdomen and constant desire to defecate, the stools being greenish and irritating; irritation of the respiratory tract, especially the glottis, with persistent cough and tough and tenacious secretion.
Action and Therapy.—In full doses euphorbia is a comparatively mild emetic; in overdoses it causes drastic emeto-catharsis. It was formerly used to fulfill the purposes of an emetic and purgative in dropsical conditions. It is now used chiefly in small doses for irritation of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. It often relieves diarrhea and dysentery, with full and tenesmic passages. It is especially useful in cholera infantum, with hot, tender abdomen and constant desire to go to stool, the discharges being greenish and irritating. Euphorbia is a good gastrointestinal sedative and tonic, and is most effective when the tongue is red, long and pointed, and there is persistent vomiting. In moderate doses it may be used in obstinate constipation, with evidence of gastric irritation. Euphorbia is contraindicated by active inflammation.
Bowles (Eclectic Medical Journal, 1921, page 459) praises Euphorbia as an excellent sedative for persistent, irritative cough following influenza, and that due to chronic catarrhal inflammation of the larynx and pharynx. The glottis seems especially irritable and the cough is exasperating—worse from riding or walking in the cold air, or is aggravated by exertion after a full meal. There is but little secretion, and that is tough, tenacious, and glutinous, and requires persistent hawking to aid in its expectoration. One or two drops may be taken upon the tongue and slowly swallowed; or 40 drops of Specific Medicine Euphorbia may be added to 4 ounces of water, and of this a teaspoonful may be taken every 2 hours. Bowles also used it, with phytolacca and phosphate of hydrastin, to reduce enlarged tonsils following tonsillitis.
The American species of Euphorbia furnish a rich field for restudy. Formerly some of them were quiet extensively used as medicines, but seem to have been crowded out by similarly-acting foreign drugs.
The chief indications for Euphorbia are: profuse mucous discharges, whether from the pulmonic, gastro-intestinal, or urino-genital mucosa; or the tough, glutinous tracheo-broncho-pulmonic secretions, with irritation.