Populus. Populus tremuloides.

Botanical name: 

Synonyms—American poplar, White poplar, Quaking aspen.

The important constituents are populin and salicin, a resin and essential oil. The buds contain an acid resin.


Powdered bark. Dose, one dram two or three times a day.
Saturated tincture of the bark, from one-half to twenty drops.
Populin, one-tenth of a grain.

Therapy—The older writers were enthusiastic concerning the tonic and antiperiodic properties of this drug. They claimed that it would replace quinine in the treatment of intermittency. It has never come into general use. A recent writer says that he soon learned that a strong infusion of the bark would cure those forms of intermittent fever, of a chronic or irregular character. At the same time the pathological lesions of the liver, spleen and kidneys which accompanied the chronic disorder, would gradually disappear with the ultimate complete restoration of their physiological functions. These results were accomplished without the unpleasant effects that occur after the protracted use of quinine. This writer, passing through an epidemic of severe malarial disease, found that malarial hematuria was very common and very hard to cure. He put his patients upon the infusion of cottonwood bark, and found the symptoms to yield rapidly, not only the hemorrhage, but the icterus, and other conditions depending upon disarrangement of the liver and-stomach. He found that results obtained by this remedy were more permanent than those obtained by the use of quinine in some cases.

Protracted fevers, with debility and emaciation, are greatly benefited by the use of this remedy, and the conditions remaining in early convalescence are quickly overcome. The agent is a tonic to the kidneys, increasing their functional activity, relieving vesical and urethral tenesmus. it will also overcome prostatic hypertrophy in some cases, and is available in uterine congestion. It is of service in impaired digestion, either gastric or intestinal, chronic diarrhoea, with general debility. Other specific remedies may here be given in conjunction with it. Dr. Alter says that it corrects errors of physiological metabolism, induced by malarial toxemia. It is a most powerful antiperiodic. It will not cause deafness. It will not cause abortion, but on the contrary will prevent abortion, which is threatened by the presence of malarial conditions. It shows its influence best where there is general debility, very marked, with impairment of the nutritive functions of the body.

Dr. Fearn says, concerning populus, this remedy is a powerful stimulant, tonic, and diuretic. And this statement fixes its place in treatment, in the hands of the true specific medicationist. When we use this remedy as a tonic or diuretic, we should never use it in cases accompanied with irritation whether it be of the stomach, bowels, uterus, bladder, or prostate. In atonic conditions of all these different organs where we desire to stimulate and tone up the organ, populus is a grand remedy. When first I began to use this Sampson among remedies of its class, I had to use decoctions of the bark—it was a nasty, bitter dose. How much better to use the specific medicine in from five to twenty drop doses.

Dr. Howe reported a case where a soldier had chronic diarrhea which may have been caused by malaria. Howe put him on populus for a time and made a complete cure. If a little of the poplar bark be put into a cup and covered with boiling water, this will make a strong enough infusion for many conditions, taking only a teaspoonful or two at a time.

Dr. Alter of Arkansas has given it for many years for swamp fever. He also uses it in the irregularities of women. He thinks it acts somewhat as hydrastis in promoting a physiological action of all organs, and increasing the vital force within the system. It may be well given in conjunction with hydrastis. Dr. Alter used it very widely whether it was strictly indicated or not, and became convinced of its active therapeutic property.

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.