Zanthoxylum. Zanthoxylum americanum. Zanthoxylum clava-herculis.
Synonym—Xanthoxylum, Prickly ash.
- Zanthoxylin, volatile oil, resin, bitter principle, tannin, sugar.
- Extractum Zanthoxyli Fluidum, Fluid Extract of Zanthoxylum. Dose, from half a dram to one dram.
- Specific Medicine Zanthoxylum. Dose, from five to six minims.
Physiological Action—This agent is a stimulant to the nerve centers, and through these centers it increases the tonicity and functional activity of the different organs. It is diffusible, producing a warm glow throughout the system and nervous tingling, as if a mild current of electricity was being administered.
It has a direct tonic effect upon the heart, and it mildly stimulates the capillary circulation throughout the entire body, overcoming blood stasis and congestion. In diseases of an exanthematous character it causes the rash to appear promptly and prevents its recession. It will sustain the vital forces through any crises that may occur.
Zanthoxylum in certain lines acts similarly to strychnine; in others it is superior to strychnine, having a wider action. In its effects on the capillary circulation it resembles belladonna or atropia, without the toxic properties. It must be well known to be thoroughly appreciated.
Specific Symptomatology—It is a specific when there is lack of tone in the nervous system—a general torpidity with sluggish circulation; in enervation and relaxation of mucous membranes, with imperfect circulation, or hypersecretion. It is thus valuable in catarrhal conditions of any mucous surface, as it restores the tone and normal functional activity.
In all conditions of the bowels where tympanites is present it is specific, quickly relieving this condition. King used it extensively in the cholera epidemic of 1849 with excellent results.
Therapy—It is a remedy for catarrhal gastritis. In general atonic conditions of the digestive apparatus, combined with hydrastis canadensis, it has no superior. It has a powerfully tonic influence upon the stomach and digestion, and improves the general nutritive functions of the system. Whitford gives it as a tonic in all conditions of weakness, depending upon malnutrition, accompanied with chronic dyspepsia, especially if catarrhal gastritis be present. The following is his method of combining the remedy:
Rx—Powdered hydrastis, two drams; precipitated carbonate of iron, one dram; tincture of zanthoxylum, one-half ounce; simple elixir, sufficient quantity to make four ounces. Take a teaspoonful after meals and at bedtime. The writer has used a similar combination, the active constituents in a capsule, every three -hours with most excellent results. This formula is especially applicable as a restorative after debilitating fevers and after prostrating diarrheas, or after dysentery. It works promptly and satisfactorily with children. The alkaloid hydrastine may be substituted for the powdered hydrastis, where prescribed in capsules.
This agent, with the older practitioners, was considered a most valuable remedy in rheumatism. Its stimulating diaphoretic action, with its restorative and tonic influence, placed it high in the estimation of many as a remedy in this condition. It is valuable in combination with such remedies as colchicum and cimicifuga.
As an alterative it had a wide use at one time. It was usually combined with stillingia, yellow dock or phytolacca, and often the iodide or acetate of potassium was added. It serves an excellent purpose in scrofula, and in some cases of chronic skin disorder, from disordered blood.
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.