(A lot of the Boraginaceae contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These alkaloids were unknown when this book was written. More info here: Livertoxic PAs --Henriette.)
The leaves and root of Cynoglossum officinale, Linné.
COMMON NAME: Hound's tongue.
Botanical Source.—This is a biennial plant, with an erect, silky-pubescent stem, growing from 1 to 2 feet in height. The leaves are hoary, with soft down on both sides, lanceolate, acute, and entire-radical ones alternate at the base, petiolate; cauline ones sessile, clasping, with rounded or slightly heart-shaped bases. The flowers are in terminal, panicled clusters, recurved at the end; the calyx downy and 5-parted; the corolla reddish-purple, short, funnel-form, and vaulted; the throat or orifice closed by 5 converging, convex scales. Stamens shorter than the corolla. Achenia depressed, fixed laterally to the style; seeds rough, with hooked prickles (W.—G.).
History.—This plant is met with in Europe and this country, growing in waste grounds and road-sides; its name is derived from the peculiar form of the leaf; it bears purple flowers in June and July. The root is preferred to the leaves; it has a heavy, mouse-like, unpleasant odor, which is removed by desiccation, and a mawkish, amarous taste. The fresh plant is much more active than the dried.
Chemical Composition.—Prof. Schlagdenhauffen and E. Reeb, in 1892 (see Amer. Jour. Pharm.), found the constituents of roots, stems, leaves, and seeds of Cynoglossum officinale identical with those of Heliotropium europaeum. The roots yielded by extraction with hot petroleum ether a red coloring matter identical with that from alkanna. An alkaloid, cynoglossine, was found to exist in the alcoholic extracts of the roots and the seeds of both plants, but not in the stems or the leaves. The authors could not establish for it any curarine-like physiological properties, as claimed by others.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Anodyne, demulcent, and astringent, and has been used in coughs, catarrhs, hemoptysis, diarrhoea, and dysentery. Ɣ Externally, in the form of a poultice, it has been found highly beneficial in scrofulous tumors, burns, goitre, and may be applied to recent contusions or inflammations with much advantage; also to remove the pain and soreness attending irritated, bruised, or chafed parts, giving complete and immediate relief, especially in excoriation of the feet from much traveling. The tincture, or the application of bruised fresh leaves will remove the swelling and ecchymosis consequent upon severe blows or bruises. Paralyzing effects are said to be produced by it in the vertebrate animals.
Cynoglossum Morisoni, De Candolle, called Virginia mouse-ear, Beggar's-lice, and Dysentery-weed, has been variously classed by botanists, as Rochelia Virginiana, Myosotis virginica, and Echinospermum virginicum. It is an annual plant, with an erect, hairy, furrowed, very broadly branched and leafy stem, from 2 to 4 feet in height. Leaves from 3 to 4 inches long, oblong-lanceolate, acuminate, entire, remote, tapering at the base, thin, minutely downy underneath, scabrous above, lower ones petioled. Branches slender and remote, each terminating in a centrifugal, divaricate, dichotomous, hairy, paniculate raceme, leafy-bracted at the base. Flowers very small, white or pale-blue; pedicels nodding in fruit. Fruit convex, densely covered with prickles having barbed points. This plant is common throughout the United States, growing in rocky grounds and among rubbish, flowering in July (W.). The whole plant has an unpleasant odor. The root is the part used, and imparts its virtues to water. It is mucilaginous, tonic, and astringent, and has been found very efficient in diarrhoea and dysentery. From its excellent effect in these diseases, it has acquired the popular name of dysentery-root. It has also been used with marked advantage in cholera infantum, gastro-intestinal irritation of continued fever, and as a mild tonic during convalescence from acute disease. As a diuretic, it has been useful in cystitis, nephritis, and other diseases of the urinary organs. The root may be chewed, or given in powder or infusion ad libitum. It will probably be found useful in other diseases, where such a combination of properties is indicated.
Echium vulgare, Linné; Viper's bugloss, Blue-weed.—Europe, naturalized in the United States, where, in the eastern and middle states, it is fast becoming a noxious weed, destroying the usefulness of whole fields, and requiring great labor for its eradication, from the fact that the plant must be uprooted, a very difficult task, as the root is often 3 or 4 feet in length, running straight down into the ground. It resembles a raw-hide whip, and is dark brown externally and whitish within. The plant has a whorl of radical leaves, from the center of which arise several stems curved like the forms of an umbrella (reversed), and covered with sharp spines that break off easily in the fingers. The flowers form long, terminal racemes, and are of a beautiful blue color, marked with pink. The root, when properly burned, has been used as a fine-grade charcoal by artists. The plant is diuretic, besides possessing the pectoral properties of the above drug.
Anchusa officinalis, Linné; Bugloss, Ox-tongue.—This is a rough and hairy plant, bearing cymes of purple-blue flowers. Its root is white internally, and deep or blackish-brown externally, resembling in shape that of alkanna. The herb, as well as the root, has a mucilaginous taste, and both have emollient properties. A cold, or nearly cold, infusion provokes diuresis; a hot infusion provokes diaphoresis.
Pulmonaria officinalis, Linné; Lungwort.—This is a rough plant with a stem about 1 foot in height. Radical leaves ovate, cordate, scabrous; cauline ones ovate and sessile; flowers blue, in terminal clusters; calyx prismatic, 5-angled, 5-toothed, and as long as the tube of the corolla; corolla infundibuliform, with a cylindric tube, orifice hairy, in 5 lines alternating with the stamens, stigma emarginate; achenia roundish, obtuse, imperforate at base (W.). Lungwort is an herbaceous perennial, growing in Europe and this country, in northern latitudes. In Europe it is a rough-leaved plant, but in this country the whole plant is smooth. The leaves are much used in France in cough mixtures. (For uses, see next species).
Mertensia virginica, De Candolle, or Virginian lungwort, or Cowslip, is frequently employed in the United States; it is the Pulmonaria virginica of Linnaeus, and the Lithospermum pulchrum of Lehman. It is a smooth, erect, and elegant plant, about 20 inches in height; radical leaves obtuse, obovate-elliptical, become from 5 to 6 inches long, and about two-thirds as wide, many-veined; cauline long-lanceolate, sessile. Flowers blue, in terminal clusters. Calyx 5-cleft, much shorter than the tube of the corolla, limb longer than the tube; corolla nearly an inch long, funnel-form, 4 times the length of the calyx, naked in the throat, and the much-spreading border slightly 5-lobed; stamens and style included; filaments slender. Disk bearing 2 glands as long as the ovaries. The stem and leaves are usually pellucid-punctate. This plant is found in alluvial banks, growing from western. New York to Georgia and the western states, and flowering in May. Being a showy plant, it is frequently cultivated. The leaves of this plant are the parts used; they are without odor, and have a faint, astringent, somewhat viscid taste. Water extracts their properties (W.—G.). This and the preceding plant are demulcent and mucilaginous, and may be used in decoction whenever this class of agents is indicated. They have been much used in bleeding from the lungs, bronchial and catarrhal affections, and others disorders of the respiratory organs.
Borago officinalis, Linné; Borage.—Levant. Naturalized in Europe and the United States. It has a fleshy white root; the plant is hispid, and the flowers blue or reddish, and borne in terminal racemes. The plant is often cultivated in gardens, and is occasionally used for salad. When fresh the plant is saline to the taste, and has an odor faintly recalling that of the common cucumber. The whole plant has been used in medicine. Braconnot and Lampadius found the plant to contain mucilage, resin, and a large amount of salts of potassium and calcium. Potassium nitrate has been found to the extent of 3 per cent. This plant is used to some extent in France, where it is employed in fevers and pulmonary complaints attended by excessive secretions. Owing to potassium nitrate, it is diuretic, and its mucilaginous properties render it demulcent and emollient. A fomentation of the flowers is used for inflammatory swellings, and for internal use an infusion of it is prepared (1 to 2 drachms to water 1 pint).