Black Haw. Viburnum prunifolium.

Botanical name: 

Related entry: Viburnum opulus

Part Employed—Bark of the root.

A brown resin, viburnin, valerianic, tannic, oxalic, citric and malic acids, sugar, earthy carbonates and phosphates.
Viburnin, a greenish-yellow, bitter principle, resinous, soluble in alcohol, sparingly soluble in water.
Extractum Viburni Prunifolii Fluidum, Fluid Extract of Viburnum Prunifolium. Dose from half a dram to one dram.
Specific Medicine Viburnum. Dose, from five to sixty minims.

Physiological Action—Its influence is exercised upon the womb, regulating its function and soothing irritation. The agent has not had thorough study to determine its exact physiological action. It however exercises its influence through the nervous centers, soothing nerve irritation and possessing marked antispasmodic properties. It influences the motor side of the cord, producing progressive muscular weakness, loss of reflex action and ultimate paralysis. It apparently directly influences the action of the heart, as it lowers arterial pressure to a marked degree.

Its sedative influence upon the nervous system is conveyed to the uterus and appendages and there becomes apparent. It overcomes all forms of nervous irritation, and irregular functional action in these organs. It is the direct remedy for nervous conditions of the pregnant state.

Therapy—It is the remedy for dysmenorrhea, especially that characterized by cramp-like pains of spasmodic character. It promotes normal uterine contractions and antagonizes those of an irregular character. It is valuable in menorrhagia and metrorrhagia, either of an acute or a passive character. In all of these cases its use should be begun a few days in advance of the anticipated disorder and continued through and beyond the menstrual period.

Viburnum prunifolium is especially a uterine sedative in threatened miscarriage. It is particularly indicated in habitual abortion, preventing an anticipated occurrence and permanently overcoming the habit. I have had practical experience extending over thirty years, and have perfect confidence in the agent based on repeated success. In one of my cases it caused the womb to suspend expulsive action and to retain a dead fetus for months; given in large doses after the fourth month no return of the expulsive effort occurred until the seventh, when the agent was discontinued, after which a four-months mummified fetus was expelled without detriment to the health of the patient. She had decreased in size since the fourth month and there was no fetal movement. The agent, when there is no habit of abortion, will probably accomplish the desired result if begun after hemorrhage has continued some hours, if the membranes are not detached or the sac ruptured.

Doses of one dram of the fluid extract every hour are necessary until the pain subsides or the flow ceases. The patient must be kept in a recumbent position and perfectly quiet. It is safer to begin either preceding, or with the flow in these cases.

In habitual cases it is necessary to give the agent in occasional doses for one, two or more weeks preceding the time of the miscarriage, which usually occurs each time at the same month of the fetal life. As the time approaches the patient is kept. quiet and free from excitement, and the agent is given three or four times daily. The interval is shortened to one or two hours with the first suspicious indications at the usual time. If no symptoms appear the agent is continued beyond the period, and then perhaps in daily doses only for a week or two longer. The physician should advise the patient to remain constantly on the watch for indications suggesting the necessity of an increase in the doses. The agent will stop induced miscarriage, as well as other forms, if no injury has been done to the membranes.

In small doses, it is an excellent partus preparator, materially improving the conditions when irregular and distressing symptoms are present and greatly facilitating a speedy and uncomplicated normal labor. It controls after pains and prevents post-partum hemorrhage. It insures normal involution and assists in retaining a normal position of the womb subsequently, where malposition had previously existed.

In its influence in overcoming reflex nervous disturbances, it is often most efficient in controlling the morning sickness of pregnancy and the entire train of distressing symptoms present at this time. It changes the mental condition of the patient from that of depression and despondency, to one of cheerfulness and hopefulness.

There is probably no proprietary remedy advertised for female complaints, and for promiscuous use in cases of this character, that does not contain viburnum prunifolium as the basic remedy. Its field of usefulness is a wide one as far as the genito-urinary apparatus is concerned.

It is the remedy for sympathetic disturbances of the heart, stomach and nervous system, common to sensitive ladies with irritable nervous systems, preceding or during the menstrual epoch, depending on vasomotor derangement. It must be given in advance and continued through the period.

In a number of cases, when given for menstrual irregularities, or for the distress induced by uterine displacement, in previously sterile females, pregnancy has promptly occurred, proving the influence of the agent in restoring normal functional ovarian activity.

It must not be overlooked in the treatment of irregular sudden, menstrual flow, occurring during eruptive and low continued or violent inflammatory fevers, especially in young ladies. This occurrence is not uncommon in smallpox, scarlet fever, diphtheria, measles, pneumonitis, pleuritis, phthisis and typhoid fever. It is sometimes of serious import, and masked sepsis undoubtedly occurs in the cases, with severe peritonitis or metritis, to which the patient may succumb. With antiseptic douches and disinfectant measures, viburnum internally is the surest remedy known, in this condition. it s given in conjunction with other indicated remedies, and its use must be begun promptly upon the appearance of the flow.

Viburnum is well classed among the tonics, as there is usually a general improvement in all the body functions while it is taken which is usually permanent. It has a very satisfactory effect upon derangements of the stomach and intestinal tract, especially in females when the whole system is out of tone. It restores the nerve influence, improves the circulation, supplies nutrition to the womb and ovaries. It is valuable in dysmenorrhea which is due to debility.

It is mildly efficacious in irregular muscular movements, in chorea, especially if occurring from early menstrual derangement, and in some cases of paralysis agitans.

It is advised in hysteria, hystero-epilepsy, and petit mal, but its influence is mild. It will act in harmony with cimicifuga and passiflora and the bromides in these cases. It is an agent of great usefulness, and its field broadens with every practitioner, as his knowledge of its influence increases with practical experience in its use.

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.