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Collinsonia Canadensis.

Botanical name:

By HENRY POVALL, M. D., Mount Morris, New York.

Common Names.—Horse-Balm, Stone-Root.

Description.—Calyx two-lipped, the upper lip three-toothed, the lower two-cleft; corolla greenish yellow, somewhat two-lipped; the throat expanded; the upper lip nearly equally four-lobed, the lower much larger, the margin fringed; stamens two, rarely 4, much exserted.

A perennial herb: Stem two to three feet high, somewhat branching above; leaves three to eight inches long and three to four inches broad, ovate, serrate, acuminate, the lower on long petioles, the upper almost or quite sessile. Flowers racemose, the racemes disposed in a large panicle; they appear in summer.

Habitat.—In rich, moist woods; common to United States.

Parts Used.—The root and herb—not official.

Constituents.—When bruised this plant has a strong, somewhat disagreeable odor, faintly suggestive of a lemon or lime. Like other labiates its chief important constituent is a volatile oil.

Preparations.—Employed in infusion, tincture and fluid extract.

Medical Properties and Uses.—It is said to be diuretic and tonic, and, as its name implies, useful in calculous affections. The late Robert S. Newton, M. D., gives his experience of its properties and uses in a paper contained in Transactions of the Eclectic Medical Society of the State of New York, Vol. V., 1870-71. After referring to the American Dispensatory, in which it is classified as a stimulant and irritant, exerting an "influence on the mucous surfaces," "beneficial in chronic catarrh of the bladder," "fluor albus and debility of stomach," besides many other properties, he adds: "My own experience with the use of this remedy has induced me to think that it has little or no effect upon mucous surfaces, nor does it possess the ordinary diffusible stimulant property. Its physiological action is almost entirely upon the pneumogastric plexus; so much so that in many conditions attended with high arterial excitement and cardiac irritation, it almost instantly overcomes this excitement. It is only through this medium that it acts upon the mucous surface of the stomach and other tissues of the body. In any organic disease it produces little or no effect, nor can it be relied upon in cardiac, pulmonary or gastric difficulties, but only in cases of functional derangement. In the latter it has been successfully used, but in the former it possesses little or no value. Even under the most favorable circumstances, if given in large doses, it produces great prostration. In some peculiar organisations we have observed, even where there was no organic difficulty, a degree of nervous prostration to follow its use, requiring prompt and active stimulants to overcome its effects." Dr. Brown, of Pittsburgh, Pa., informed him (Dr. Newton) that after taking the third dose of twenty drops of Merrell's fluid extract, the nervous system became so prostrated, his hands and feet so cold, as to require active stimulants to produce reaction.

Dr. N. says that he had observed the same effect in some cases to follow the administration of every preparation of this article which circumstances had called him to use. The fluid extract acts with great certainty, but much remains to be learned concerning its rage of application; one thing is certain, however, namely: that the dose varying from ten to thirty drops four or five times a day, as recommended, of the "concentrated tincture" is too large; better results having been obtained from doses of five drops four times a day, "In the irregularities of heart-action dependent on hysteria, chlorosis and angina pectoris, it will be found of great benefit.. In pain attending digestion, or congestion of the liver, and during incipient stages of diarrhea and dysentery, it has a soothing effect. Combined with Dioscorea and Gelsemium it acts promptly and beneficially in bilious colic."

"Collinsonia," says J. M. Scudder, (Specific Medication, p. 116.) "is a specific in minister's sore throat; administered in the proportion of: Rx. Fluid Ext. of Collinsonia, simple syrup, each of equal parts to make half a teaspoonful to a teaspoonful four times a day. It proves beneficial in other cases of chronic laryngitis, in chronic bronchitis, and phthisis, allaying irritation and checking cough." "Collinsonia (he continues) is a specific in the early stages of hemorrhoids, and will sometimes effect a cure in the advanced stages of the disease."

John V. Shoemaker, A. M., M. D., Philadelphia, (This paper was read by Dr. Shoemaker at the "Eighth International Medical Congress" so called, September, 1887, and appeared in the Medical Times, of which he is editor. He describes Collinsonia as being much employed in "domestic," by which he means Eclectic Practice.) in an article which recently appeared in the British Medical Journal, extols Collinsonia very highly and says: "Acute cystitis can be more quickly relieved by it, combined with aconite and morphia, than by the administration of any other remedial agent." "Spasms of sphincter ani and vaginismus can be readily and safely relieved without resorting to the ludicrous or painful methods narrated in the text-books, by the continued employment of rectal and vaginal suppositories of Collinsonia, combined with narcotics, selected as the case may demand."

"The antispasmodic properties of Collinsonia render it of value in flatulent colic, infantile colic, and biliary colic. It is especially serviceable in the latter affection, if given in the form of warm infusions so as thoroughly relax the biliary passages and facilitate the onward movement of the irritative calculi."

"Collinsonia is equal, if not superior, to Cimicifuga in the treatment of chorea, and may be substituted for arsenic with advantage in many cases of that disease occurring in infancy and early childhood."

"Externally it constitutes an excellent application to contused and incised wounds. Ascarides may be effectually destroyed by rectal injections composed of fluid extract diluted with four parts of water."

With such commendations Collinsonia is certainly entitled to a careful and intelligent use and a further elucidation of its properties.


Transactions of the National Eclectic Medical Association, Vol. XVI, 1888-89, edited by Alexander Wilder.



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