The bark of the root and the hairs of the seed of Gossypium herbaceum, Linné, and of other species of Gossypium (Nat. Ord. Malvaceae). An Asiatic plant extensively cultivated, especially in southern United States. Dose, 5 to 60 grains.
Common Names: (1) Cotton-Root Bark; (2) Cotton, Cotton Wool.
Principal Constituents.—The root-bark yields a red resin called gossypic acid (8 per cent) and volatile oil and tannin.
Preparations.—1. Specific Medicine Gossypium. Dose, 5 to 60 drops.
2. Gossypium Purificatum, Purified Cotton (Absorbent Cotton). (Cotton freed from impurities and deprived of fatty matter.)
3. Oleum Gossypii Seminis, Cottonseed Oil. A pale, yellow, odorless or nearly odorless oil, having a bland taste; slightly dissolved by alcohol and miscible with ether, chloroform, petroleum, and benzin. Dose, ½ to 2 fluidounces.
Specific Indications.—(Uterine inertia; preparations of fresh root-bark—large doses.) Tardy menstruation with backache and dragging pelvic pain; fullness and weight in the bladder, with difficult micturition; sexual lassitude with anemia; hysteria, with pelvic atony and anemia.
Action and Therapy.—External. Absorbent cotton is of mechanical use only in practice. A cotton jacket is preferred by many to poultices and magmas for use in acute lung diseases. It maintains an even protection from changes of temperature, and slight moisture usually accumulates under it, thus making it serve the purpose, without the weight and dangers, of the poultice. Cotton is widely used in surgical practice for sponging and dressings, to take up secretions, to protect painful surfaces in burns and scalds, and to prevent the ingress of atmospheric microbic invasion. It is a comforting application to rheumatic joints, usually being applied over some oleaginous application. Upon raw surfaces oils or some lubricant should be first applied and then the parts encased in cotton. If allowed to become stiff and hard it acts as any other foreign body. Cotton is used for vaginal tampons, but they should be removed after a few hours use, as they become exceedingly foul and veritable hotbeds of infection. For packing wounds and cavities and similar surgical uses gauze is preferred to cotton. Cotton is a good medium by which to apply antiseptic and dusting powders.
Internal. Fresh cotton-root bark is emmenagogue. It is useful in tardy menstruation, with much backache and dragging pelvic pain. Owing to its undoubted power upon the uterine musculature it is of value in uterine subinvolution and is asserted to have reduced the size of fibroids. It probably acts much in the same manner as ergot, though far less powerfully. It has the advantage, however, of being practically non-poisonous. In uterine inertia during labor it is said to act well, though it is seldom brought into requisition. The reputed use of the decoction as an abortifacient by the cotton-district negresses is common knowledge. Fortunately the fresh root is not everywhere available, if it really possesses ecbolic properties, for old bark is said to be valueless for any purpose.
Webster employs gossypium in hysteria in children and adults. He reports it efficient in screaming children, morose women, and girls with uncontrollable laughter, as well as in those assuming muscular rigidity. These adult cases undoubtedly depend upon menstrual derangements.
Cotton Seed Oil. This is a bland, nutritious, and wholesome digestible oil, used as a food and emollient; and employed in pharmacy, medicine, and surgery for many of the purposes for which olive oil is used. (See Oleum Olivae.)