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The Medical Flora of Kansas.

or, the Medical Plants Indigenous in that State.

By J. MILTON WELCH, M. D., La Cygne, Kansas.

Having for several years, from necessity, for recreation or to aid some medical friend, given what attention I could to the study of the indigenous medical agents of Kansas, I have for some time entertained a design, though indefinite, of preparing at least a preliminary list or catalogue of the Medical Flora of this State. It seems reasonable that a territory so pregnant of resources as Kansas, for the maintenance and welfare of the race, might be expected to contribute some thing of a remedial character. It will be discovered, in looking over the field, that quite a number, if not a sufficient number, of agents, to answer almost all purposes in the practice of medicine are to be found here. This action will be found to cover the entire ground of therapeutics, as ordinarily classified. While, of course, there are many agents of universal use, whose medical properties, from long investigation and employment, are fully known, that we should not like to do without,—as Veratrum, aconite, Belladonna, Gelsemium and Digitalis, in the class of sedatives, or stimulants to the nerves of the circulation,—still there are enough of a similar character and properties growing in Kansas to supply their place sufficiently to enable intelligent practitioners to do a successful and satisfactory practice. In every other department of therapeutics we are abundantly supplied. We have all but the agents to take the place of Veratrum and aconite.

Quite a number might have been added from the animated or animal kingdom,—as the Apis mellifica, the blistering beetle, quite as good as the Spanish fly; and others could have been denominated indigenous quite as appropriately as plants.

In order to avoid unnecessary repetition, the following order will be observed in the arrangement of subjects,—technical name, common name, part of the plant used, and, lastly, properties and uses.

Actinomeris helianthoides (Verbesina helianthoides (Current Latin names are in bold italics—MM)). Gravel-weed. Root. It is said by Dr I. J. M. Goss, of Georgia, to be one of the most powerful diuretics in the vegetable kingdom; also tonic to the bladder. Useful in gravel.

Aesculus glabra. Buckeye. Ripe nut; some use the bark. This is a remedy for the veins. It seems to exert a tonic influence upon the muscular fibres of the veins, and hence its successful use in hemorrhoids and congested conditions of the uterus. Like nux vomica it relieves pain in the bowels attended with flatulence, simulating colic. It also exerts a marked influence upon the nervous system, relieving vertigo, dizziness and inability to co-ordinate muscular movement.

Agrimonia eupatoria (A. gryposepala?). Agrimony. Fresh herb. This remedy exerts a tonic influence upon relaxed and feeble mucous membranes, accompanied with profuse secretion, as in chronic bronchitis, and catarrhal conditions of the bladder and kidneys, accompanied with lumbar pain or uneasiness.

Agrimonia parviflora. Large agrimony. That part of the root from which the leaves grow each succeeding year. In its general influence it resembles the A. eupatoria, but is much superior in atonic conditions of the bowels. It is one of the finest remedies in cholera morbus, cholera infantum, diarrhea, and is reported to have been used without failure in Asiatic cholera. I have used it in relaxed conditions of the bowels and in cholera morbus, with satisfaction both to myself and patients.

Alnus serrulata. Alder. Recent bark. This remedy produces retrograde metamorphosis, while at the same time it stimulates nutrition. One of the best alteratives, exerting its influence upon the skin and mucous membranes.

Alisma plantago. Water plantain. Fresh root. This agent relieves irritation of the urinary apparatus, manifested by pain in the loins and desire to micturate frequently.

Ampelopsis quinquefolia (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). Virginia creeper. Bark and twigs. Considered to be a feeble alterative.

Apocynum cannabinum. Indian hemp. Root.

Apocynum androsaemifolium. "Bitter Root." Properties identical with A. cannabinum.

Arum or Arisaema triphyllum. Indian turnip. Root. This is generally in medicine known by the first generic term, but botanists give the latter. This is a remedy for sore throat. It is a stimulant to the mucous membranes of the mouth and respiratory apparatus. It relieves cough and croup.

Aristolochia sipho (Aristolochia tomentosa?). Dutchman's pipe. Tonic and stimulant.

Anagallis arvensis. Red chickweed. This agent, as it exhibits active properties, has been praised for its influence in delirium, epilepsy and mania. It is said never to have failed to cure hydrophobia!

Artemisia frigida. Mountain sage. Herb. Said to be diuretic and diaphoretic. It seems to act directly upon the sympathetic nervous system, thus stimulating the secretions and lowering the temperature.

Artemisia vulgaris (Artemisia ludoviciana). Mugwort, wormwood. Herb. Tonic; employed in hysteria, epilepsy, amenorrhea, intermittent fevers and as an emmenagogue.

Asclepias incarnata. Flesh-colored Asclepias. A. syriaca. A. tuberosa; pleurisy root, butterfly weed. Root. The therapeutic properties of these three species of the Asclepias are familiar to all.

Asimina triloba. Pawpaw. Seed. Said to be one of the most prompt and pleasant emetics in the Materia Medica.


Transactions of the National Eclectic Medical Association, Vol. X, 1882-83, edited by Alexander Wilder.



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