Properties and Uses of Piper Methysticum.

Botanical name: 

Selected writings of John King.

This is another selection from the therapeutic writings of Dr. King, being the therapy section of the article on Piper Methysticum as it appeared in the Supplement to the American Dispensatory in 1880. It was then a newly introduced agent, and the fullness of the article shows the care which the author exercised to give complete information on the newer drugs.—Ed. Gleaner.

PROPERTIES AND USES OF PIPER METHYSTICUM.—The root of Piper Methysticum has a pleasant, somewhat lilac odor, and a slightly pungent, bitter, and astringent taste, and which augments the salivary discharge. It has been employed as a pleasant remedy in bronchitis, rheumatism, gout, gonorrhea, and gleet, and has also been recommended as a powerful sudorific. It appears to exert its influence more especially upon diseased mucous membranes, and may be found useful in chronic catarrhal affections of various organs, and in chronic inflammation of the neck of the bladder. The action of the root varies, according to the amount taken; in small doses it is tonic and stimulant, while in large doses it produces an intoxication which, unlike that from alcohol, is of a reserved, drowsy character, and attended with confused dreams. The natives who use its infusion as an intoxicating beverage for a considerable length of time, are said to become affected with a dry, scaly, cracked, and ulcerated skin, and vision becomes more or less obscured. M. Dupouy, who has given considerable attention to the therapeutical virtues of this drug, arrives at the following conclusions: Given in drink, kava is a sialagogue, but it is not sudorific. In medicinal doses it acts upon the stomach, similar to the bitter stimulants, increasing the appetite, without occasioning diarrhea or constipation, and may prevent catarrhal affections of this portion of the digestive tube. It exerts a special stimulation upon the central nervous system, differing essentially from ethylic intoxication; and as its taste is agreeable, one soon becomes a proselyte to it. It has a very powerful action upon aqueous diuresis, and may be classed among the most efficacious diuretics. It does not occasion priapism, but on the contrary antagonizes it. It is endowed with remarkable and prompt blennostatic properties, augmenting the discharge previous to effecting its cure. It is of undoubted efficacy in acute vaginitis or urethritis, allaying the inflammation, causing the pain during micturition to disappear, when dysuria is present, and suppressing the muco-purulent catarrh from the vesico-urethral mucous membrane. It has, over other blennostatic agents, the marked advantages of being pleasant to take, of augmenting the appetite, of occasioning neither diarrhea nor constipation, of alleviating or entirely subduing pain during urination, of completely changing the character of the discharge, and of effecting the cure in a very short time—ten or twelve days. He can not too highly recommend its employment, especially in the treatment of gonorrhea. The anti-catarrhal action is probably due to the resin present, and the diuretic effects to the neutral crystallizable principle, methysticin or kavain. There may likewise be present some other active principle, not yet detected, to account for certain other influences following its employment. Sixty or seventy grains of the scraped root, macerated for about five minutes in a quart of water, may be taken in the course of twenty-four hours, repeating this quantity daily as long as required. The dose of the fluid extract of the root is from fifteen to ninety minims in a glass of water, repeating the dose every three or four hours.—JOHN KING, Supplement to American Dispensatory.

The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.