Ceanothus Americanus. Red Root, New Jersey Tea, Wild Snowball.

Botanical name: 

Description: Natural Order, Rhamnaceae. Genus CEANOTHUS: A shrubby plant, three to four feet high, slender, thornless, with numerous smooth and reddish branches. Calyx tubular-campanulate, five-cleft; petals five, arched and clawed; capsule obtusely triangular, three-celled, three-seeded. Flowers small, white, numerous, crowded in axillary panicles on elongated branches. Leaves oblong-ovate, serrate, three-veined, downy, with soft hairs beneath. This delicate little shrub is common in dry copses throughout the United States, flowering profusely in June. The leaves have the odor and taste of some of the black teas, and were used for a similar purpose during the Revolution. The thick root is red, and makes a fair dye. It yields its properties readily to water.

Properties and Uses: The root of this plant is medicinal, but is not very powerful or reliable. It is a mild stimulating astringent, with slight tonic qualities, and reported to be nervine and expectorant. It is principally useful as awash in sore mouth and weak ulcers; and also in chronic diarrhea as an injection for chronic gonorrhea and leucorrhea, and as a local application (by powder) on mild chancres. It is spoken of in syphilis, asthma and bronchitis, but is of doubtful efficacy in these cases, though a good alterant for milder cases. A decoction is made with an ounce of the root in a pint of boiling water; of which one to two fluid ounces may be given two or three times a day. It is sometimes used in compound alterant sirups.

Dr. J. Overholt, of Columbus City, Iowa, informs me that the leaves are an excellent tonic expectorant, with some demulcent properties. He uses them in recent and long-standing coughs; in bronchitis, and convalescence from pleurisy and pneumonia; and in all other cases where there is cough with irritability; dryness and feebleness of the respiratory organs. Dr. Overholt is an old and skillful practitioner, and is entitled to the confidence of the profession. He furnishes the following formula from his experience, and commends it to notice as a sirup that he has used to the greatest advantage in pulmonary complaints: Leaves of ceanothus, and roots of asclepias tuberosa, each, four ounces; symphytum officinalis, marrubium, and root of glycyrrhiza, crushed, each, two ounces; roots of inula, one ounce. Macerate for twenty-four hours in a sufficient quantity of forty percent alcohol to saturate thoroughly. Transfer to a percolator, and add water till one pint has passed; set this aside, and add water till two more pints have passed, to which add four pounds of sugar, and evaporate till two pints remain. Now mix the two products, and add four ounces tincture of cimicifuga and one ounce essence of anise. Dose, from half a fluid drachm to two fluid drachms every two hours or oftener. Tincture of lobelia may be further added for cases that require it.

The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com