The rhizome of Eryngium yuccaefolium, Michaux (Eryngium aquaticum, Jussieu).
COMMON NAMES: Eryngo, Water eryngo, Buttonsnake root, Rattlesnake's master, Corn snakeroot.
Botanical Source.—This plant is an indigenous perennial herb, with a single stem, from 1 to 5 feet in -height. The root is tuberous. Its leaves are from 1 to 2 feet long, by 1/2 an inch to 1 1/2 inches wide, broadly-linear, parallel veined, taper-pointed, grass-like, ciliate, and armed with remote soft spines. The bracts are tipped with spines, those of the involucels being entire and shorter than the heads. The flowers, which are white or pale and inconspicuous, are disposed in ovate-globose heads, which are pedunculate, and from 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter. The calyx is 5-parted and permanent; the styles slender; the petals connivent, oblong and emarginate, with a long, inflexed point. The fruit is scaly, top-shaped, and bipartile (W.—G.).
History and Description.—This plant is a native of the United States, growing in swamps and low, wet lands, from Virginia to Texas, and especially on the prairie lands. It flowers in August. The root is the medicinal part. It has a dark-brown, very knotty rhizome, wrinkled horizontally with many fibers of the same color, growing downward, furrowed or wrinkled longitudinally, and from a line to a line and. a half in thickness. Internally it is yellowish-white, of a peculiar odor, somewhat resembling that of Iris versicolor, and a faintly-sweetish, mucilaginous, aromatic taste, succeeded by bitterness, some degree of pungency affecting the fauces, and a very sligit astringency. It is easy to pulverize. Water or spirit extracts its properties. It has not been analyzed, but is worthy of attention.
Eryngo was one of the earliest known remedies, and was declared by Dioscorides to be a specific against flatulence, hence the name eryngium, derived from the Latin erynge—Greek erugge (to eruct, to belch). Its common names are water eryngo, button snakeroot, corn snakeroot, and rattlesnake's master. It was formerly lauded as an effective agent for the cure of rattlesnake-bites, hence the name rattlesnake's master and button snakeroot applied to it. It was likewise used for other bites and stings. A piece of the root was chewed and applied to the wound; at the same time a portion of the juice was swallowed. Much was claimed for it, but probably its virtues were very much overrated.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Eryngium is diuretic, expectorant, diaphoretic, and sialogogue. Large doses will cause emesis. The root, when masticated, produces a copious flow of saliva. As an expectorant and diaphoretic, it is useful in chronic laryngitis and bronchitis, when there is free and abundant discharge of muco-pus. It has been recommended as a substitute for senega. It relieves chronic pharyngitis, when associated with laryngeal irritation. In general debility and dyspepsia it may be employed to improve the appetite and gastric functions. It is indicated here by persistent irritation with red and tender tongue, nausea, and easily provoked disgust for food. The diarrhoea of dentition, when most largely mucus, is controlled by eryngium. It has been a favorite drug in renal disorders, especially gravel, chronic nephritis, and atonic dropsy, when dependent on renal irritation. It lessens irritation of the reproductive organs of both the male and the female. By lessening the erectile power, it is valuable in those cases of nocturnal emissions accompanied by erection and urethral irritation, pain in the testes, and irritation of the bladder. It is frequently indicated in gonorrhoea, gleet, and leucorrhoea.
While a good remedy for the above-named purposes, it is as a remedy for vesical and urethral irritation that the drug is entitled to its high rank among specific medicines. It may be employed in acute or chronic inflammatory or irritative conditions, when accompanied by burning and itching in the bladder or the prostatic and spongy portions of the urethra. Uneasy sensations throughout the vesical, prostatic, and urethral portions of the urinary tract, which might lead to serious consequences, are relieved by it. Dull, aching, tenesmic pain is relieved by it combined with gelsemium. In acute cystitis it should be used with the indicated sedative. Reproductive disorders of women, with vesical complications, are readily controlled by it, being of special value where there is a burning, tenesmic pain—a condition frequently encountered in gynecological practice. It is particularly valuable in dysuria from irritation, and in cases marked by determination of blood to the bladder. It relieves the painful urination incident to gonorrhoea. Like gelsemium, it is a first-class remedy for spasmodic urethral stricture. In chronic cystitis it is valuable when the secretions are scanty and when triple phosphates are present. It is a good remedy for vesical catarrh. It is always indicated in renal diseases with deep-seated burning, or burning pain. Urethral inflammation, with difficult micturition and irritable urethra in the aged, are conditions to which it is particularly adapted. It is said to relieve renal colic, dependent on the passage of renal calculi. Its power here is not important, except when combined with other indicated remedies.
As with a large number of remedies, it has not escaped mention as a remedy for syphilis and scrofula. The pulverized root, in doses of 2 or 3 grains, has proved very effectual in hemorrhoids and prolapsus ani. Two ounces of the pulverized root, added to 1 pint of good Holland gin, has effected cures in obstinate cases of gonorrhoea and gleet; to be administered in doses of 1 or 2 fluid drachms 3 or 4 times a day. By some practitioners this root is employed as a specific in gonorrhoea, gleet, mucus diarrhoea, and leucorrhoea; used internally in syrup, decoction, or tincture, and the decoction applied locally by injection. Dose of the powder, from 20 to 40 grains; of the decoction, which was formerly principally used, from 2 to 4 fluid ounces, several times daily. The best preparation is specific eryngium, the dose of which may range from 1 to 20 drops, administered in water.
Specific Indications and Uses.—The indications for eryngium are burning pain with vesical, renal, or urethral irritability; uterine irritation, with bladder disorders; painful micturition; frequent desire to urinate; frequent, scanty, and scalding urination; cystic uneasiness; pain in the bladder extending to the loins; scanty urine, with frequent and ineffective attempts to empty the bladder; vesical catarrh; mucous diarrhoea; dyspepsia, with persistent gastric irritation.