Lily of the Valley, Convallaria majalis, is recorded as one of the earliest of domestic remedies, being accepted by Dr. Squibb (610a) as "continuously used in medicine for several hundred years" (Ephemeris, January, 1884). In The British Medical Journal, November, 1883, Dr. Edward Drummond, of Rome, states that in a book of Commentaries on the Materia Medica of Dioscorides, Venice, 1621, Dr. Pietro Andrea Matthioli (414) speaks as follows of its use in cardiac diseases:
The Germans use lily of the valley to strengthen the heart, the brain, and the spiritual parts, and also give it in palpitation, vertigo, epilepsy, and apoplexy, etc.
This article led Dr. Squibb, in connection with some private information in a letter from "a very careful and close observer" (Squibb), to favor the drug as a hopeful remedy that in specific and restricted directions would be better employed than digitalis. To such an extent was he impressed in its favor as to lead him to write (1879) :
It is to be hoped that the revision committee will recognize it in the forthcoming issue of the U. S. Pharmacopeia.
The commendations of Dr. Squibb were probably instrumental in obtaining for convallaria this honor, for in 1900 it obtained official recognition.
In Russia convallaria was investigated by the medical profession as early as 1880, having long before been used in dropsy by the people. About 1883, as already stated, it became fashionable elsewhere, being generally commended as a substitute for digitalis in certain specific directions.
A study of the chemistry of the drug antedated "authority" in medicine, for in 1858 G. P. Walz published an analysis in the N. Jahrbuch f. Pharm., describing two "most important constituents," viz., convallarin and convallamarin. He states that his experiments were made long before their publication. It is to be seen that the empirical use of convallaria unquestionably prevailed centuries before its exploitation as a "fashionable" remedy by the licensed profession of medicine (1883), the chemist also anticipating its probable employment in orthodox therapy.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.