Caulophyllum thalictroides. (Leontice Thalictroides.) Blue Cohosh.

Nat. Ord. — Berberidaceae. Sex. Syst. — Hexandria Monogynia.


Description. — This plant, likewise known as Squaw root, Pappoose root, is a smooth, glaucous plant, purple when young, with a high, round stem from one to three feet in hight, simple from knotted and matted rootstocks, and dividing above into two parts, one of which is a triternate leaf-stalk, the other bears a biternate leaf and a racemose panicle of small yellowish-green flowers. The leaves are biternate and triternate ; petiole trifid, and supporting nine leaflets. Leaflets oval, petiolate, unequally lobed, the terminal one equally three-lobed, paler beneath, and from two to three inches long. The flowers appear in May and June. Panicle small, shorter than the leaves. Pericarp thin, caducous, dark-blue, resembling berries on thick stipes. Seeds one or two, erect, globose, about the size of a large pea.

History. — A handsome perennial plant growing all over the United States, in low, moist, rich grounds, near running streams, in swamps, and on islands that have been overflowed with water. The seeds ripen in the latter part of the summer, and are said to form an excellent substitute for coffee, when roasted. The fruit is dry, sweetish, insipid, and resembles that of the Vaccinium. The officinal part is the root, which is sweetish, somewhat pungent and aromatic, and affords a yellow infusion or tincture. No chemical analysis of the root has been made, though it affords a resinous principle, to which I have given the name of Caulophyllin.

Properties and Uses. — This is essentially an agent peculiar to Eclectics not being employed by any other class of practitioners. It is principally used as an emmenagogue, parturient, and antispasmodic ; but it likewise possesses diuretic, diaphoretic, and anthelmintic properties. It has been successfully employed in rheumatism, dropsy, colic, cramps, hiccough, epilepsy, hysteria, uterine inflammation, etc. It is a valuable agent in all chronic uterine diseases, appearing to exert an especial influence upon the uterus, and has been found serviceable in uterine leucorrhea, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, etc. When used in decoction for several weeks previous to the parturient period, it is said to facilitate that process, acting as a preparatory parturient, and it is sometimes combined with the Mitchella Repens, and Eupatoria Aromatica, for this purpose. Combined with equal parts of powdered Hydrastis Can., made into an infusion, and sweetened with honey, it forms an elegant and effectual wash for aphthous sore-mouth and throat. In decoction, blue cohosh is preferable to ergot for expediting delivery, in all those cases where the delay is owing to debility, or want of uterine nervous energy, or is the result of fatigue. The decoction or infusion may be made by adding an ounce of the root to a pint of boiling water, and boiling or macerating for a short time ; the dose of either is from two to four fluidounces, three or four times daily. The tincture should be made by adding three ounces of the finely powdered root to a pint of alcohol, and allow it to macerate for fourteen days ; then filter. The dose is from half a fluidrachm to two fluidrachms.

Off. Prep. — Caulophyllin ; Extractum Caulophylli Hydro-alcoholicum ; Tinctura Caulophylli Composita.

The American Eclectic Dispensatory, 1854, was written by John King, M. D.