Brayera anthelmintica. Kousso. Cossoo.
Nat. Ord. — Rosaceae. Sex. Syst. —
Description. — This is a tree growing about twenty feet high, with round, rusty, tomentose-villose branches, marked by the annular cicatrices of the fallen leaves. The leaves are crowded, alternate, interruptedly imparipinnate, and sheathing at the base ; leaflets oblong, or elliptical-lanceolate, acute, serrate, villose at the margin and on the nerves of the under surface. Stipules adnate to the petiole, which is dilated at the base, and amplexicaul. Flowers dioecious, small, greenish, and becoming purple ; repeatedly dichotomous ; the pedicles with an ovate bract at the base. The so-called male flowers may be regarded as hermaphrodite flowers, inasmuch as the carpels are well developed. The female flowers are somewhat different in their structure. The outer segments of the calyx are much more developed than in the female flowers, and are four or five times larger than those of the inner row, and are placed somewhat below them ; the petals are entirely wanting ; the stamina are rudimentary and sterile. The ripe fruits are unknown.
History. — This plant was introduced into notice by a pharmacien of Paris, and its properties as an anthelmintic were investigated by the Academy of Medicine, as early as 1847 ; who, with the Academy of Sciences, made a favorable report. It grows in Abyssinia, the flowers being the parts of the plant used ; they are reduced to a fine powder, which is brownish, like jalap, bitter, somewhat nauseous, and an odor similar to scammony. The plant is named in honor to Dr. Brayer, who first made its virtues known in Europe. Bruce, in his travels, vol. vii, appendix, gives a minute description of the plant, and calls it, in testimony of esteem for a friend, "Banksia Abyssinica." Dr. Kirk, in the appendix to the second volume of the "Highlands of Ethiopia," by Sir W. C. Harris, calls it "Hagenia Abyssinica," and states "that a cold infusion of the dried flowers and capsules, constitutes the famous drasticum purgans and anthelminticum of the Abyssinians."
Properties and Uses. — Purgative and anthelmintic. Used by the Abyssinians for tapeworm, to which they are very subject, and it is said they will not travel without having some of the Kousso with them. The dose of the flowers in powder is a small handful, or about four drachms and a half, which is to be macerated in about three gills of lukewarm water for fifteen minutes. The infusion, with the powder suspended in it, is taken either in one, two or three doses, quickly following each other. It is recommended that lemon-juice, or tamarind water, should be taken freely before and after the Kousso. The patient must be prepared by low diet for one or two days previously, and by a dose of castor oil, or other purgative, and the Kousso is to be taken on an empty stomach before breakfast. The clear infusion has the color, and a somewhat similar taste, to very weak senna tea. Its operation is safe, speedy, and most effectual, rarely causing any annoyance or uneasiness, except a slight nausea, and this but seldom ; occasionally emesis takes place, or diuresis. A gentle cathartic after its operation is also advisable. As far as it has been used, it has not failed to kill and expel the worm.