Eupatorium Ageratoides. White Snakeroot, Pool Root.
Description: Natural Order, Compositae. A member of the boneset family, and a very common plant through open woods and along fences in all sections of the United States and Canada. Stem smooth, two feet or more in height, branching, slender-looking, and quite a pale green, (or greenish-yellow.) Leaves opposite, ovate, acuminate, subcordate at base, coarsely dentate, three-veined, smooth, thin, very pale green, three to five inches lung by one and a half to three inches broad, standing well out from the stem and brandies on smooth petioles two to three inches long. Flowers snow-white, in numerous heads, which are aggregated by small clusters into terminal and pretty large corymbs, which are quite attractive; florets all tubular, ten to fifteen in each compact head, slightly fragrant, and with the long-exserted styles making a light fringe a-top. The whole plant presents a graceful appearance, as the upper branches gradually extend beyond the lower ones, and form an open and spreading head with the clusters of pure white flowers upon the extremities. In bloom during August and September. Roots numerous, small, grayish-white, in close tufts of fibers on a knotty center root.
Properties and Uses: Dr. H. Howard first called attention to the roots of this plant, which were recommended in gravel, and were used by the Indians as a remedy in ague. In 1852, not then having seen Dr. Howard's work, or known any thing of this article, its beauty attracted my attention; and I investigated its properties, and made reports upon them in different journals which reports were subsequently copied without giving credit. The root is quite pungent, but rather pleasant; stimulating properties predominating, and relaxant moderately well marked; prompt and diffusive in its first action, but manifesting quite a permanent influence on the system. Its influence is quite general; and the benefits to be obtained from it, like those from the boneset, will depend materially upon the form in which it is exhibited. Used in cold infusion or decoction, it warms the stomach, excites appetite, promotes the salivary flow, increases expectoration from the lungs, and finally exalts the renal flow. Its stimulating properties forbid its use in irritable or even sensitive conditions; but it acts well in languor of the stomach, dryness of the mouth, and chronic prostration of the lungs. Its action on the kidneys is scarcely valued, unless it be to give intensity to such relaxing diuretics as eupatorium purpureum; and then it will be of use in sluggish cases. Given in warm infusion, it manifests a strong action upon the surface and the nervous system—securing an abundant and warm perspiration, sustaining the nerves under circumstances of depression, and securing a full outward flow of blood that greatly relieves the heart and brain from congestive pressure. In the peculiar nervousness, restlessness, and headache that attend intermittents, simple ague, congestive chills, and bilious intermittents, I know of no one article that will so effectually give relief by sustaining both the nerves and blood-vessels. It is under such circumstances that I value the agent most; and it maintains just that outward flow and action which are so valuable in cutting short all forms of intermitting disease. In receding small-pox, or measles, or spotted fever, it will quickly and powerfully promote the eruption; and may be used to advantage in typhoid, typhoid pneumonia, and the incipient collapse peculiar to approaching abscess of the lungs and effusion into the pleurae. It exerts an antispasmodic action of the stimulating grade in hysteria, and painful or suppressed menstruation; and will exert a marked influence upon the uterus in tardy labor with coldness and depression. I am aware that this is high praise; but am also convinced by experience that the agent deserves it all. Its pungently-stimulating action must not be overlooked; else it might be given in conditions where such firm stimulation was not needed. It is in no sense so permanent as capsicum, nor even so biting as xanthoxylum; but is more stimulating and tonic than ginger, and commonly needs to be combined with such relaxants as asclepias in excess.
The most common mode for its exhibition is by infusion. Half an ounce to a quart of warm water will readily yield their properties; and of this from one to two ounces may be given at intervals of an hour. A tincture, made of an ounce of the roots in eight ounces of thirty percent alcohol, forms a good addendum to sirups of either relaxing tonics or relaxing diuretics. When carefully kept within its proper sphere, this agent will be found valuable.
The eupatorium aromaticum is closely allied to this plant, but is rough with scattered hairs, bears its leaves on shorter petioles, and has aromatic flowers. Probably the roots of the two species are about the same.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com