Geum Virginianum. Avens, Chocolate Root, Throat Root.
Description: Natural Order, Rosaceae. The genus GEUM is made up of perennial herbs, with either pinnate or lyrate leaves, flowers of five spreading sepals and petals, as in the wild rose; stamens many; styles long-persistent, often jointed, and forming a mass of curious-looking tails on the many achenia which are heaped together on the conical receptacle. In the species VIRGINIANUM, the stout stem and whole plant are bristly-hairy, one to two feet high, of a purplish color, and somewhat paniculate-branched above. Lower leaves deeply pinnate, on hairy petioles, four or five inches long, rounded or lobed; upper ones few, smaller, and usually three-parted; stipules small. Flowers small, white or yellowish-white, with the petals inserted upon the half bell-shaped calyx. June to August.
This plant is common in low grounds and the edges of woods in the Northern States and Canada. The root is small, contorted, brown, hard, and with a clove-like aroma when fresh. Hot water and diluted alcohol readily act upon it. The Geum rivale, called water avens and purple avens, grows in bogs, has purplish-orange petals, and much larger flowers than the above species. The roots of both are used indiscriminately in medicine.
Properties and Uses: This root is a mild astringent, of a pleasant taste, and soothing and tonic in action. It is not so drying as it is strengthening to the mucous membranes; and this fact, together with its mildness and pleasantness, makes it an article of peculiar worth. It is employed to better advantage than most astringents in the second stage of dysentery and diarrhea; and in leucorrhea, catarrh of the bladder, spitting of blood, passive menorrhagia, aphthous ulcerations, and gleet. It has been commended for phthisis, and intermittents, but probably without good cause; though it is certainly excellent in debilitated cough with local weakness, excessive expectoration, and a tendency to pulmonary hemorrhage. In those forms of indigestion which arise from debility of the duodenum, pancreas and mesenteries–connected with pains and laxity of the bowels, curdy stools, and slow loss of flesh–it is a peculiarly valuable article; and may be used freely, especially when boiled in milk and used as a sort of chocolate. From this action, it has been set down as useful in dyspepsia, whereas it is insignificant in that malady of the stomach. Its action on the duodenum and mesenteries fits it for a class of cases to which few articles are applicable; and I am decidedly of the opinion that it will be found useful in tabes mesenterica, and in those forms of scrofulous looseness of the bowels which are dependent upon defective assimilation, and which often pass roughly as chronic diarrhea. This distinction between tonics to the digestive and to the assimilative apparatus, is one that has not heretofore been made; but it is one of importance, and those which act on the assimilative organs are so few as to deserve especial notice.
This article is generally used in decoction, which is made by boiling an ounce of the crushed root in a pint of water down to half a pint. Dose, one to two fluid ounces every four or three hours. Sometimes it is boiled in milk, or milk may be added to this decoction.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com