Chenopodium Antelminticum. Wormseed, Jerusalem Oak.

Botanical name: 

Description: Natural Order, Chenopodiaceae. Genus CHENOPODIUM: Annuals, except that the species here in question has a perennial root. Flowers all perfect, bractless; calyx five-cleft, lobes somewhat keeled, more or less enveloping the depressed fruit; stamens mostly five. C. ANTHELMINTICUM: Stem erect, somewhat angular, nearly simple, nine inches to two feet. Leaves alternate, small, ovate-oblong, attenuated at base, more or less deeply toothed, lower ones almost laciniate-pinnatifid, light green, glandular beneath. Flowers very small, of the same color as the leaves, compactly crowded on long spike-like racemes that are leafless. A common plant on light soils and in dry waste places; having a grayish-green look, and a strong and peculiar aroma that is rather unpleasant. Flowers from July to September. Seeds small, somewhat lens-shaped, grayish-yellow. The C. AMBROSIOIDES is a plant of smaller size, of a yellowish-green appearance, and possessing apparently identical properties.

The qualities of this plant depend on a volatile oil, slightly lighter than water, and which it yields abundantly. This oil is distilled from the seeds; is at first a light straw color, but darkens by age.

Properties and Uses: This is an antispasmodic and vermifuge of considerable repute, and pretty generally effectual in removing the lumbrici from children. The oil is generally employed for this purpose; and may be given in doses of from ten to twenty drops, each morning. It may be dropped on sugar, or formed into an emulsion; and after using it a few days, should be followed by a full cathartic dose of leptandrin or castor oil. It is frequently mixed directly with castor oil, one ounce of the former to a pound of the latter; and this, with the addition of small portions of turpentine, forms the M'Lean, Fahnestock, and other vermifuges. In home practice, the plant is often boiled in milk, and two fluid ounces or more given morning and evening; or it is bruised and the juice expressed, and this exhibited in doses of two teaspoonfuls twice a day. Some spice is usually added to these preparations.

This agent exerts a decided influence on the nervous system and uterus. A decoction of half an ounce of the plant to a pint of water is an excellent antispasmodic in colic, uterine spasmodic action, and some forms of hysteria. It is more stimulating than relaxing, and is best used when the pulse is depressed and the surface cold. It promotes menstruation rather decidedly; and in sudden suppression following exposure, and accompanied by suffering, it makes an excellent addition to about twice its own weight of angelica, used in warm infusion. The oil will provoke uterine suffering in pregnancy.

The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at