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Aletris.

Botanical name:

Aletris. N. F. IV. Unicorn Root. Star Grass. Aletris farinosa L. Blazing Star. Mealy Starwort. Colic Root. Ague Root. Aletris farineux. Unicorn Root true, Fr. Mehlige Aletris, G. (Fam, Liliaceae.)—It is described in the N. F. as "the dried rhizome and roots of Aletris farinosa Linne (Fam. Liliaceae). Rhizome horizontal or slightly oblique, nearly cylindrical or laterally compressed above, from 2 to 4 cm. in length and from 5 to 12 mm. in diameter; externally grayish-brown, upper portion with circular stem scars from 3 to 7 mm. in diameter and with numerous leaf bases, the sides and lower portion with numerous tough, wiry, whitish or reddish-brown roots which are more or less flexuose and provided with short branches; fracture short: internally light brown, cortex from 1 to 2 mm. in thickness, central cylinder with numerous twisted and branching fibre-vascular bundles. Odor slight, acetous; taste sweetish, somewhat bitter. Examined microscopically, the greater part of the drug is found to consist of parenchyma cells filled with spherical or ellipsoidal starch grains from 0.008 to 0.016 mm. in diameter. Some of the parenchyma cells contain raphides, the latter being from 0.025 to 0.04.5 mm. in length. The tracheae are reticulate or provided with simple pores and around these are several layers of lignified cells with thick walls and simple, large oblique pores. The endodermis is composed of several layers of thick-walled and closely-lamellated cells of a deep yellow color and the cortex is readily separated. Aletris yields not more than 16 per cent. of ash." N. F. An indigenous perennial plant, the leaves of which spring immediately from the rhizome, and spread on the ground in the form of a star. This drug is often contaminated with other drugs collected by mistake for it, being most frequently confused with Helonias species. The bitterness is extracted by alcohol, and the tincture becomes turbid upon the addition of water. The decoction is moderately bitter, but much less so than the tincture. It affords no precipitate with the salts of iron. (Bigelow.) In small doses of about ten grains (0.65 Gm.), it appears to be a simple, bitter tonic. In very large doses, it is said to be cathartic and emetic. It has been employed, with asserted benefit, in colic, dropsy and chronic rheumatism. Aletrin, a resinoid, is prepared by exhausting the drug with alcohol and evaporating the percolate to dryness, treating with water, and drying the residue; it is asserted to be a uterine stimulant in doses of from one to two grains (0.065-0.13 Gm.). Dose, of aletris, thirty grains (1.9 Gm.).


The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.



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