Betula Lenta. Sweet Birch, Black Birch, Mahogany Birch.
Description: This is a noble tree, common to the uplands of the Eastern and Middle States, and often attaining a height of fifty or sixty feet, and a diameter of two to three feet. It has a strong, compact, and red wood, which has given it the name of mountain mahogany in some localities. It takes a good polish, and is much used by cabinet makers. The bark is dark-brown or reddish; and the leaves are three to four inches long, cordate at base, and ovate in outline. Both the bark and leaves have an agreeable, spicy flavor, not unlike that of wintergreen. They yield their properties to water.
Properties and Uses: The bark is a mild nervine relaxant and stimulant; promoting gentle action on the skin, if given in warm infusion; leaving behind a slightly tonic and astringent impression on the stomach and bowels. It is most serviceable in diarrhea, cholera infantum, and similar complaints of the bowels–in which it promotes perspiration, quiets the stomach, and relieves nausea, and promotes just that mild tonicity which is allowable in such cases. It may be used as a grateful adjunct to other articles, in chronic diarrhea and dysentery; and may also be given by warm infusion in convalescence from measles and typhus, when the bowels are inclined to be too loose. It has an extremely mild astringent influence, which follows the expenditure of its other powers, and is more toning than drying.
The leaves are less astringent and tonic than the bark, but promote the flow of urine, and are excellent to relieve irritability of the kidneys and bladder. Their action on the skin is at the same time favorable both in these cases and in the same cases where the bark is used. These leaves deserve far more attention than they have yet received, for their power to assuage renal and cystic irritation; and especially when such irritation is connected with too much mucous discharge, as in oxalic acid gravel, sub-acute catarrh of the bladder, etc.
Two ounces of the bark to a pint of warm (not boiling) water, make an infusion that may be used in doses of two fluid ounces every two hours, or hour. Half an ounce of the leaves may be prepared on a pint of water, and used in the same way. Heat dissipates their properties.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com