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Gnaphalium.—White Balsam.

[image:13137 align=left hspace=1]Related entry: Antennaria.—Pearly Everlasting

The herb of Gnaphalium polycephalum, Linné.
Nat. Ord.—Compositae.
COMMON NAMES: Indian posy, Sweet-scented life-everlasting, Old field balsam.

Botanical Source.—This plant is indigenous, herbaceous, and annual, with an erect, whitish, woolly, and much-branched stem, from 1 to 2 feet in height. The leaves are alternate, sessile, linear-lanceolate, acute, entire, scabrous above, and whitish tomentose beneath. The flowers are tubular and yellow, borne in heads clustered at the summit of the panicled-corymbose branches, ovate-conical before expansion, then obovate. The involucre is imbricate, with whitish, ovate, and oblong, rather obtuse scales. Florets of ray, subulate-of disk, entire. The receptacle is flat and naked, the pappus pilose and scabrous capillary (W.—G.).

History.—White balsam is found in Canada and various parts of the United States, growing in old fields and on dry, barren lands, and bearing whitish-yellow flowers in July and August. The leaves have a pleasant, aromatic smell, and a slightly bitter and astringent, but rather agreeable taste. They yield their properties to water. No analysis has been made of them. The Antennaria Margaritacea, R. Brown, formerly Gnaphalium Margaritaceum, Linné, or pearl-flowered life-everlasting, a perennial plant, possesses similar properties to the above (see Antennaria).

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Astringent. The leaves and blossoms chewed, and the juice swallowed, have proved beneficial in ulcerations of the mouth and throat. A warm infusion (℥ss to water Oj), may be used in fevers to produce diaphoresis, and is of service in quinsy, pulmonary complaints, leucorrhoea, etc.; it may be used internally and as a local application. Likewise used as an infusion in diseases of the bowels, and hemorrhages, and applied in fomentations to bruises, indolent tumors, and other local affections. Prof. Scudder suggests investigation to determine its influence upon the reproductive and urinary structures, in acute and chronic ulcerations, and in digestive disorders. The fresh juice is reputed an aphrodisiac.


King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.



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