Frasera Carolinensis. American Columbo.

Botanical name: 

Description: Natural Order, Gentianaceae. This fine member of the Gentian family is indigenous to America; and grows from New York westward and southward, and especially abounds in some of the north-western States. The stem is perennial, from four to seven feet high, erect, perfectly straight, one to two inches in diameter at the base, often with short and erect branches above, dark-purple. Leaves in whorls of from four to six, at intervals of a foot or less along the stem; sessile, smooth, dark-green, oblong-lanceolate, the lower ones often a foot long by three inches broad, gradually getting smaller toward the top of the stem. Flowers in a compound pyramidal panicle at the top of the stem, verticillate in the axils of reduced leaves; panicle one to four feet long; corolla of four oblong, greenish petals, spreading, with blue dots, united below, and a purple gland near the base, deciduous; stamens four, short; style one, with two distinct stigmas. Fruit an oval, yellowish, one-celled capsule, with but a few flat and marginate seeds. June and July. Flowering in the third year of the plant, at which age the stem for the first time appears; and the plant usually dies after once flowering.

The root is the medicinal part. It is fleshy, an inch or more in diameter, one to two feet long, sometimes horizontal, but oftener more directly descending, frequently branched, rough, hard, and with not many fibers. The outer covering is grayish-red; and the inner substance grayish- yellow. It usually comes to market in flat, circular pieces, cut transversely off the root; rather hard, and with coarse rays running from the center to the circumference, but without the concentric rings of the cocculus. It has no especial aroma; and the taste is at first rather sweetish, but afterwards quite bitter. It yields its virtues to alcohol, diluted alcohol, and water.

Properties and Uses: This root is among the reliable tonics, with relaxing and gently stimulating properties first manifested, and leaving behind a mild and pleasant astringent impression. It is quite bitter, but by no means so intense as any of the gentians; neither is it so strong as cocculus, sabbatia, or hydrastis, but holds an intermediate position between these strong tonics and the milder populus and liriodendron. It improves appetite and digestion; strengthens the biliary apparatus and smaller intestines, hence improving the alvine function when costiveness is dependent on ordinary debility; and acting to peculiar advantage in prolapsus, leucorrhea, and other forms of female weakness. It is usually well received by the stomach; but is not suitable to chronic gastritis, costiveness with inward feverishness, or distinct obstructions of the gall-ducts. Neither is it strong enough for conditions of profound atony; but is a most efficient tonic for the large class of intermediate cases requiring such an influence. Indigestion with colicky pains, will usually find much relief from it. Some practitioners discard it altogether, because its action is not intense; But its moderation in power fits it for a great number of. cases to which too strong tonics are at present inappropriately applied.

Dose of the powder, ten to twenty grains three times a day. Immense doses, as sixty grains, are often written about; but this is a closet prescription, and not the advice of an actual practitioner. It is rarely given in powder, but usually is exhibited in some prepared form. The fresh root acts as a mild cathartic, and is quite nauseating.

Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Decoction. One ounce of crushed frasera, digested for half an hour in a quart of boiling water, strained, and then evaporated till a pint remains, forms an excellent decoction. Half a fluid ounce may be given three or four times a day.

II. Extract. The solid extract, made from the watery decoction, is a good concentrated form in which to exhibit this article. The dose may range from three to eight grains.

III. Fluid Extract. To make this preparation, a pound of crushed frasera may be treated in the percolator with diluted alcohol till eight fluid ounces have passed; then treated with water till all the strength of the drug is obtained; the latter product evaporated to eight fluid ounces, and then added to the first product. Dose, half a fluid drachm.

IV. Compound Wine of Columbo. Frasera, leonurus, camomile, cypripedium, each two ounces; coriander, cinnamon and orange peel, each half an ounce. Crush the materials, and macerate them for a week in two quarts of Sherry or other good wine. This is a very agreeable and effective tonic compound, with carminative and superior nervine properties. The presence of camomile does not adapt it to cases where the menses or lochia are too free; but under all other circumstances where a mild tonic is required for either gastric or nervous debility, it will be found of superior efficacy. Dose, a fluid ounce or less three times a day.

V. Woman's Friend. Crushed columbo, six ounces; hydrastis and helonias, each two ounces; myrica and orange peel, each half an ounce; capsicum, ten grains. Macerate for two days, in a covered vessel with one pint of Sherry wine; transfer to a percolator, and add thirty percent alcohol till two pints have passed; then add water till another pint has passed, and in the whole product thus obtained dissolve two pounds of sugar without heat. I commend this as a superior stimulating and astringing tonic for degenerate leucorrhea, prolapsus and indigestion, and for passive menorrhagia, and other distinctly atonic conditions of the stomach, uterus, and vagina. Dose, from two to six fluid drachms three times a day.

It is not liable to induce costiveness in the above conditions.

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