Coptis trifolia. Gold Thread.
Nat. Ord. — Ranunculaceae. Sex. Syst. — Polyandria Polygynia.
Description. — This plant, also termed Mouthroot, has a small and creeping, perennial root, of a bright-yellow color ; the stems are round, slender, and furnished at the base with a number of ovate, acuminate, yellowish, imbricated scales. The leaves are evergreen, radical, ternate, on long, slender petioles ; the leaflets are rounded or obovate, sessile, acute at base, smooth, firm, much veined, with a lobed and acuminately crenate margin. The scape or flower-stem is slender, round, rather longer than the leaves, bearing one small, starry, white flower, with a minute, mucronated bract at some distance below. The corolla has from five to seven white, oblong, concave, nectariform petals; the nectaries inversely conical, hollow, and yellow at the top. The calyx is from five to seven-sepalled ; sepals oblong, concave, white. The stamens are numerous, white, with capillary filaments, and adnate, globose anthers. The ovaries are from five to eight, stipitate, oblong, compressed ; styles short and recurved, with acute stigmas. Capsules stalked, oblong, rostrate, compressed, on long divaricate pedicels, and containing many small, black, oval seeds attached to the inner side.
History. — Goldthread is found growing in the northern parts of the United States, and in Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and Siberia; it grows in dark shady swamps and boggy woods, flowering from early in the spring to July. The root, as found in the shops, is in loosely -matted masses, consisting of long, thread like, orange-yellow roots, frequently mixed with the leaves and stems of the plant; it is inodorous, of a pure bitter taste, without aroma or astringency. They should be gathered in autumn, and carefully dried. Its properties are imparted to water, but more perfectly to alcohol, and the solutions are precipitated by nitrate of silver, and acetate of lead. It does not appear to contain resin, gum, or tannin, its virtues depending, probably, on a bitter extractive substance.
Properties and Uses. — Goldthread is a pure and powerful bitter tonic, somewhat resembling quassia, gentian, and Colombo, without any astringency. It may be beneficially used in all cases where a bitter tonic is admissible, and is decidedly efficacious, as a wash or gargle, when in decoction, in aphthous and other ulcerations of the mouth. In dyspepsia, and in chronic inflammation of the stomach, equal parts of goldthread and golden-seal made into a decoction, with elixir vitriol added in proper quantity, will not only prove effectual, but in many instances of the latter kind, will permanently destroy the appetite for alcoholic beverages. Dose of the powder or tincture from half a drachm to a drachm ; of the decoction, from two to six fluidrachms ; the tincture made by adding an ounce of the powdered root to a pint of diluted alcohol is preferable to the powder.
Of. Prep. — Decoctum Coptis.