Chionanthus. Chionanthus virginica.

Botanical name: 

Synonym—Fringe Tree.

Chionanthin, saponin.
Specific Medicine Chionanthus. Dose, ten to twenty minims.

Specific Symptomatology—The specific influence of the agent is exerted upon the liver. It is a remedy for hepatic engorgement; jaundice more or less pronounced; pain over the region of the gall bladder; pain in the epigastrium; pain radiating from the navel over the abdomen; soreness in the region of the liver, extending to the umbilicus; enlargement of the liver, determined by percussion; nausea; occasional vomiting; constipation with dry feces; temperature slightly above normal; skin usually yellow. This latter indication—a distinctly yellow skin—has always been my immediate suggestion for chionanthus and I have rarely been disappointed.

Therapy—It is a cholagogue cathartic in full doses, but its best influence is in acute congestion of the liver with imperfect discharge of bile, or catarrh of the common bile duct. We have no agent more certain in its action when indicated. The indications are acute jaundice evidenced by yellowness of the conjunctiva first, subsequently of the skin, with distress in the right hypochondrium, with cramp-like pains in the abdomen.

It overcomes catarrh, liquefies the bile, prevents the formation of calculi, and promotes the discharge of those formed. It is a remedy for chronic forms of liver disease, but its influence is not so plainly apparent, being much slower in its operations. It is not indicated in jaundice from permanent occlusion of the duct, from impacted gall stones or foreign and malignant growths.

Bilious headaches resulting from liver faults especially if irregular or periodical are cured by chionanthus.

The action of chionanthus in the treatment of tobacco habit must be studied. It has an influence in many cases.

It will quickly overcome the jaundice of childhood and infancy, and especially sure in the jaundice of the pregnant term. It is an excellent remedy for malarial conditions with atonicity of the stomach and intestinal apparatus. It can be given during the chill and fever, and it assists greatly in the relief of both. The agent may be pushed to the maximum dose and given with full confidence when indicated, as it is absolutely certain in its action. It is sometimes best given in infusion.

Dr. Fearn claimed to have early made the discovery of the use of chionanthus in reducing the quantity of sugar in the urine. Patients with no appetite, losing flesh, listless, increasingly anemic with a little sugar in the urine were those to whom he first gave it, ten drops four times a day. Later he used it in severe cases of diabetes mellitus. Dr. A. P. Hauss, of New Albany, Ind., has had many years' experience in the observation of this remedy in the treatment of this disease. He has much confidence in it.

Dr. Halbert of Nashville confirms this influence.

Probably in those cases in which this remedy is beneficial in diabetes there is functional disease of the liver.

Whether the remedy would be equally beneficial in cases in which no liver fault could be diagnosed, might be questionable, and yet Hauss, says that he has never treated a case of diabetes mellitus along the lines indicated that has not yielded to this treatment. He prescribes from ten to fifteen drop doses of chionanthus, four times daily. If no febrile condition is present or if there is general atonicity, with nervous depression, he adds from one-half to one drop of nux vomica. He has the patient drink from one to two pints of hot water each morning, before breakfast, to which he adds a small teaspoonful of the sulphate of magnesium, or in preference one-half wine glass of French Lick Pluto water in a pint of hot water. This treatment, with proper dietary, he claims, has a rapid effect upon the glycosuria, immediately reducing the specific gravity of the urine.

The agent is beneficial in chronic splenitis, pancreatic disease and disease of the other glandular organs; also in the incipient stages of nephritis. In the line of its symptomatology, it is an exceedingly satisfactory remedy. It influences the stomach in the process of digestion; it exerts a beneficial, stimulating effect upon the entire glandular apparatus.

Prof. Ralph Morrill gives the following as important in the application of this remedy: In the obstruction of the bile ducts, due to inflammation of the duodenum, this remedy is directly indicated. He gives it as an intestinal antiseptic in typhoid fever. He believes its influence is exercised by its stimulating effect upon the flow of the bile. He has had clinical evidence of its undoubted value in many difficulties of the gastro-intestinal tract, which are cured by this important influence. He combines it in some cases of gastro-intestinal atony, with nux vomica and podophyllum, in the following prescription: Nux vomica, fifteen drops; chionanthus, two and a half drams, podophyllum, one and a half drams; elixir of lactated pepsin, sufficient quantity to make four ounces. Of this give one dram three times a day.

In perverted functional action of the liver, resulting in the excretion of an abnormal quantity of uric acid, which interferes with the evolution of proper metabolism present in the formation of urea, and its products, it is a valuable remedy. It is thus of much importance in the treatment of acute lithemia—toxemia, from excess of urea or uric acid, and the rheumatic diathesis.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.