The root of Helleborus niger, Linné (Nat. Ord. Ranunculaceae.) Subalpine woods of central and southern Europe. Dose, 1 to 10 grains.
Common Names: Black Hellebore, Christmas Rose.
Principal Constituents.—Two toxic glucosides, helleborin (acting upon the heart and as a drastic cathartic), and helleborein (narcotic).
Preparation.—Specific Medicine Helleborus. Dose, 1/10 to 3 drops.
Action and Therapy.—Hellebore is a powerful gastro-intestinal and nerve poison, and produces death by convulsions and exhaustion. Small doses stimulate the heart. Large doses are drastically cathartic, and in this way it exerts also emmenagogue effects. Helleborus was once largely used as a revulsive in various types of insanity, but is no longer employed for such a purpose. In minute doses it may be employed to increase cardiac power and arterial tension and slow rapid action of the heart. It increases renal activity and has caused rapid disappearance of non-compensatory symptoms in heart disorders. It is also suggested when there are jelly-like passages in bowel affections. Scudder advised it as an emmenagogue when the patient is annoyed by flashes of heat, burning of the surface of the thighs and nates, and sensitiveness of the pelvic and perineal tissues. Properly used it might prove of advantage in hypochondria dependent upon reproductive atony. The dose should be fractional. Rx Specific Medicine Helleborus, 5 drops; Water, 4 fluidounces. Mix. Sig.: One teaspoonful every two to four hours.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.