Oil Anemopsis (Barnes), a new remedy of value in catarrhal conditions.

Botanical name: 


Historical.—The plant Anemopsis Californica, of the natural order Piperaceae, is a native of Southern California, Mexico, and some parts of Central and South America. Its medicinal properties and healing and curative virtues are well understood and it is much used by the natives of the sections in which it grows; and as the "Yerba del Mansa," the "mild herb," or "herb that mitigates," that is, cures, it has been used for years by the Mexicans as a domestic remedy for colds, coughs and bowel troubles. Under the name of water plantain it was first brought to the attention of the Eclectics of Southern California, by Dr. Ovid S. Laws, sometime professor of specific medication and diagnosis in the California Eclectic Medical College, Los Angeles, California, and was introduced into Eclectic medicine by Dr. J. A. Munk, as a new remedy for catarrh, and through his efforts was added to the list of specific medicines.

On the strength of Dr. Munk's article, "Anemopsis Californica," read before the Los Angeles County Eclectic Medical Society and published in the California Eclectic Medical Journal, February, 1909, I began the use of the remedy in my private practice and college clinic, and while I became enthusiastic as to its value, I was not satisfied with the aqueous, glycerinated, and oily solutions of the tincture which we were then using for local application, because of their somewhat irritating action in some cases and slightly painful or unpleasant sensations in others, due, I believe now, to the menstruum and not to the remedy. Later, during a talk with Prof. S. O. Barnes, botanist and chemist of Gardena, I spoke of the above disadvantages and discussed with him the possibility of overcoming them. As a result of my suggestions. Prof. Barnes took the matter personally in hand and in due time perfected a bland non-irritating emollient preparation, oil anemopsis (Barnes), which I have been using with the utmost satisfaction the past two years in my nose, throat and lung work.

Preparations.—Oil anemopsis (Barnes) is made by digesting and processing for a definite period the powdered dried root of Anemopsis Californica—Spanish Yerba del Mansa—with a neutral petroleum oil of high grade at a temperature of between 65° to 71° C., 150° to 160° F.

Besides oil anemopsis (Barnes), an anemopsis lozenge or wafer, which will be found convenient for throat troubles and for internal administration, is manufactured. Both preparations are put up and supplied to the profession by Sewall O. Barnes & Sons, manufacturers of physicians' supplies and pharmaceutical specialties, Gardena, Cal.

Properties.—Oil anemopsis (Barnes), is antiseptic, anti-blennorrhagic, bactericidal, deodorant and emollient, with soothing, healing, mildy stimulating and slightly astringent properties when applied to inflamed and congested mucous membranes, granulating surfaces, old sores, and open and bleeding wounds. It is a stimulating expectorant, a mild diuretic and diaphoretic, a urinary antiseptic and vesical sedative, an aromatic and tonic stomachic, carminative and sialagogue, and especially valuable as an anti-fermentative and intestinal antiseptic.

Action.—Dr. Munk, who probably is more familiar with the medicinal properties and therapeutic action of anemopsis as a whole, than any of us at the present time, gives the following as its action, manner of use and indications in nasal catarrh:

"When the spray first touches the Schneiderian membrane, it causes a decidedly warm, not to say painful, sensation—the painful or irritant action is absent when oil anemopsis (Barnes) is used, which excites a copious secretion and discharge of mucus from the nose. The unpleasant feeling of irritation soon passes away and with it the full, stuffy sensation in the head, which always accompanies catarrh or colds. The nostrils are thus cleansed of secretion, the congested pituitary membrane relieved and breathing by the nasal route re-established. It is indicated in all colds of the head and in catarrh of the nose and throat, either acute or chronic. I keep an atomizer constantly charged, ready to use in emergencies, and employ it promptly and freely on the first hint of a cold, which usually ends the attack. From one to half a dozen applications can be made during the day, according to the nature of the case. As a rule, an acute attack yields quickly to the remedy, but a chronic case naturally requires more time to effect a cure. In applying the spray, the head should be thrown slightly backward and the spray snuffed up the nose until it is felt or tasted in the throat. Sometimes it needs to be used with a suitable tube and tip through the mouth, and the spray thrown directly into the post-nasal space, pharynx and larynx. The taste of the medicine is not unpleasant and if any of it is swallowed during the act of spraying, no harm can possibly result, as it is intended for both local and internal use. I have administered anemopsis almost exclusively for catarrh of the nose, but do not doubt that it is healing to all mucous surfaces. I also give it internally for cough and cold in the chest, with good results, and I find it beneficial in catarrhal conditions of the alimentary tract."

While the foregoing quotation from Dr. Munk's article referred to the use of anemopsis in the form of an aqueous, glycerinated, or oily solution of an alcoholic tincture of the remedy, it applies equally well and even better to oil anemopsis (Barnes), which has all the virtues with additions, and none of the previously mentioned disadvantages for local use of the older preparations; and its field of application and beneficial results are, therefore, correspondingly enlarged and increased.

Uses.—Oil anemopsis (Barnes), has its most useful field in diseases of the mucous membranes, especially in catarrhal conditions of the respiratory tract. For nasal affections it can be used freely as a spray or nebula or on tampons and packings. As a dressing and post-operative treatment after intranasal operations, I have found it invaluable. In atrophic rhinitis and ozena, it has given me more satisfaction than any other treatment I have thus far used. It is in these troubles its disinfectant, antiseptic, stimulant, deodorant and healing qualities are so well demonstrated. In such cases, for the removal of scabs, crusts, etc., I pack the nasal cavities carefully with gauze or cotton saturated with the oil and allow it to remain from fifteen to twenty minutes. On removal of the packing or tampon. the nasal mucosa will be found bathed in secretion, which has loosened the crusts and scabs and made their removal without trauma or abrasion, easy. The nasal passages being now thoroughly cleansed and freed of all diseased and irritating material, I carefully massage the mucous surfaces with a cotton-wound applicator dipped in the oil, after which the cavities are thoroughly sprayed with a heavy oil spray and the patient is instructed to use the oil spray at home twice or three times daily, reporting at the office once or twice a week for the more thorough treatment.

In all forms of rhinitis, whether acute or chronic, I have found oil anemopsis (Barnes), most valuable as an adjunct to whatever other treatment is indicated or used.

For colds, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, it should be used as a spray or nebula in nose and throat, and, in addition, the anemopsis wafer (Barnes), should be dissolved slowly in the mouth, one every fifteen minutes to two hours, as indicated. For coughs, croup, bronchitis, asthma, etc., in addition to the above, it should be inhaled as a vapor from a cup, or steam kettle, and from two to ten drops of the oil on sugar should be given every thirty minutes to two hours, thus obtaining its diuretic, diaphoretic and expectorant action as may be required.

In hay fever it is especially valuable, in my opinion. While my experience with it in this trouble has not been extensive, in the cases treated I have noted its action about as follows: It reduces congestion, lessens the hyperesthesia, controls and modifies the acrid, watery discharge, allays the irritability of the mucosa and the peripheral nerves supplying it, rapidly promoting their restoration to normal, and seemingly raising their resisting-powers to dust, odors, pollen and irritating substances. When used early and freely, it greatly modifies and lessens the severity and length of the attacks, and appeared to me to prevent recurrences, thus suggesting to my mind the possibility of its being a preventive of this most distressing condition, if we knew how or when to apply it for such a purpose.

While my personal experience with anemopsis has been limited to the foregoing, according to Dr. Chas. H. Ervin, who has used the remedy extensively, oil anemopsis (Barnes), is invaluable in intestinal troubles of a fermentative and catarrhal nature, and he substitutes and uses it in all cases and conditions for which the Russian petroleum oil has been exploited or is indicated. And according to Dr. Clinton Roath, it has a definite value and place in the treatment of catarrhal conditions of the genito-urinary tract.


DR. CHARLTON: Is there any similarity between the action of this drug and eucalyptus?

DR. BARBRICK: Yes, I think there is quite a similarity in many ways, but I think its field of action in catarrhal conditions is better as far as my experience has gone than it has been with the straight oil of eucalyptus, or the diluted oil that we get at the present time. There is an oil of eucalyptus that we are working on now that has been suggested by this oil, an oil made from the blooms digested in petroleum oil in this same way, but I have not had enough experience to speak of it yet.

DR. H. T. WEBSTER (Oakland): One point Dr. Barbrick did not bring out I would like to emphasize, and that is the marked antiseptic character of this remedy. I have a bottle standing in my office now that I prepared over a year ago, about ten or fifteen drops to an ounce of water, and it is good yet, just as good as when I prepared it.

DR. COATES: Has the doctor had any experience with this remedy in the treatment of acute otitis media? We frequently are besieged for the treatment of this condition, and the method we have used is to reach the condition through the nasal passages. From the description the doctor gives of the remedy it strikes me it should be valuable as a remedy in this condition.

DR. FLORENCE STIR SMITH (Newark, Ohio): I wonder if that remedy is a local remedy. I tried it a few years ago but did not get results, and I would like to know if any one in the Central States has used it.

DR. BARBRICK: Replying to the doctor's question, I have not had any experience with this remedy in otitis media. We all get into a rut, probably, and I have other treatments that serve me well in such cases and I have been going along with those. Our work with this has been slow—I have been two years digging out what I presented this morning.

In reply to the lady I would say that she probably refers to the remedy in the form of a tincture. It was because of the unsatisfactory results that we got from the older preparations that we have endeavored to produce a new one, and I think in this remedy we have overcome a great many of the unsatisfactory things that attended the older preparations.

DR. BEST: Will you tell us where this can be obtained ?

DR. BARBRICK: S. O. Barnes & Son, Gardena, Cal.

National Eclectic Medical Association Quarterly, Vol. 7, 1915-16, was edited by William Nelson Mundy, M.D.