Eupatorium (U. S. P.)—Eupatorium.
"The leaves and flowering tops of Eupatorium perfoliatum, Linné"—(U. S. P.) (Eupatorium connatum, Michaux).
COMMON NAMES: Thoroughwort, Boneset, Indian sage.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 147.
Botanical Source.—Boneset, or Thoroughwort, as it is also called, is an indigenous perennial herb, with a horizontal, crooked root. The stems are round, stout, rough, hairy, and from 1 to 5 feet high. The leaves are opposite, connate-perfoliate, each pair resembling a single leaf centrally perforated bythe stem, and placed at right angles to it; they are rough, rugose, serrate, tapering to a long point, very veiny, downy beneath, and both combined are from 8 to 14 inches in length. The flowers, which are numerous and white, are arranged in dense fastigiate, terminal corymbs; the heads are about 12-flowered; the scales of the cylindrical, imbricated involucre linear-lanceolate; the florets tubular, with 5-spreading segments, and a rough, down-like pappus, and the anthers blue or black, and included. The style is filiform, and divided into 2 filiform, acuminate branches, which project beyond the corolla. The fruit or seeds are oblong, black, prismatic, acute at base, and supported on a naked receptacle (W.—G.—L.).
History and Description.—This is a well-known plant, growing in low grounds and on the borders of swamps, streams, etc., throughout the United States, flowering in August and September. The tops and leaves are the parts used. Alcohol or boiling water extracts its medicinal properties. Boneset is officially described as follows: "Leaves opposite, united at the base, lanceolate, from 10 to 15 Cm. (4 to 6 inches) long, tapering, crenately serrate, rugosely veined, rough above, downy and resinous-dotted beneath; flower-heads corymbed, numerous, with an oblong involucre of lance-linear scales, and with from 10 to 15 white florets, having a bristly pappus in a single row; odor weak and aromatic, taste astringent and bitter"—(U. S. P.).
Chemical Composition.—Mr. W. Peterson (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1851, p. 209), isolated from the aqueous extract of the leaves of Eupatorium perfoliatum, by successive treatment with alcohol, subacetate of lead and ether, a micro-crystalline (feathery), very bitter substance, soluble in ether, but slightly soluble in water. Chlorophyll, gum, tannic acid, Yellow coloring matter, salts, and lignin were also observed by him. Mr. Parsons (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1879, p. 343), found over 18 per cent of bitter extractive "soluble in water and alcohol, insoluble in ether." In the following year, Mr. George Latin (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1880, p. 392), found in the alcoholic extract made of the leaves and the tops of the plant, a crystallizable body, probably wax or resin, and eupatorin, the bitter principle which he proved to be a glucosid, soluble in alcohol, chloroform, ether, and boiling water. It develops a raspberry-like odor when heated with diluted sulphuric acid (Latin), or with diluted hydrochloric acid (Franz). A volatile oil was also observed. A complete analysis of the leaves alone is recorded by F. W. Franz (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1888, p. 77), while the root has been analyzed by H. F. Kaercher, who found nearly 5 per cent of inulin to be present (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1892, p. 511). C. H. Shamel obtained eupatorin both in amorphous and crystalline states by extracting an alcoholic extract with acidulated water, and abstracting the bitter principle with ether after neutralization with sodium carbonate. This substance, which is free from nitrogen, forms a well-crystallizable nitrate of the formula C20H25H36.HNO3 (Amer. Jour. Pharm., from Amer. Chem. Jour., 1892, p. 224).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—This is a very valuable medicinal agent. The cold infusion, or extract is tonic and aperient; the warm infusion diaphoretic and emetic. As a tonic, it is useful in remittent, intermittent, and typhoid fevers, dyspepsia, and general debility, and combined with bitartrate of potassium and camphor, the powdered leaves have been serviceable in some forms of cutaneous disease. In intermittent fever, a strong infusion, as hot as can be comfortably swallowed, is administered for the purpose of vomiting freely. This is also attended with profuse diaphoresis, and sooner or later by an evacuation of the bowels. During the intermission, the cold infusion or extract is given every hour as a tonic and antiperiodic. It is not well adapted to ordinary cases of ague which may be cured with quinine, but is more particularly useful in the irregular cases which that drug does not seem to reach. The chill and succeeding fever is slight, the skin dry, and not, as a rule, followed by perspiration; there are "pains in the bones, praecordial oppression, and great thirst. If, however, the case is one in which the fever lasts all day, a slight sweating may follow at night. Another indication in ague is vomiting, especially of much bile" (Locke). Eupatorium given as above, or sometimes in small doses, may relieve headache of intermittent character when the intermissions are irregular. In epidemic influenza the warm infusion is valuable as an emetic and diaphoretic, likewise in febrile diseases, catarrh, colds, with hoarseness and pleuritic pains, and wherever such effects are indicated. In influenza it relieves the pain in the limbs and back. Its popular name, "boneset," is derived from its well-known property of relieving the deepseated pains in the limbs which accompany this disorder, and colds and rheumatism. Often this pain is periosteal, and if neuralgic in character, or due to a febrile condition, eupatorium will relieve it. But it is not a remedy for periosteal pain due to inflammation or to organic changes in the periosteum. On the other hand, when given until the patient sweats, and then continued in 5-drop doses of specific eupatorium, it has relieved the severe nocturnal muscular and "bone pains" of syphilis. In pneumonia, if an emetic is indicated in the early stage, this agent is as efficient as any that may be used; but it is of greater value in the latter stage when given as a syrup. This is kindly received by the stomach, improves digestion, and allays the irritable cough. It is a remedy for the cough of the aged, that cough in which there is an abundance of secretion, but lack of power to expectorate. The cough of measles, common colds, of asthma, and hoarseness are also relieved by it. Unless given in excess it acts as a good tonic to the gastric functions, increasing the appetite and power of digestion. The stomach disorders of the inebriate are, in a measure corrected by the use of small, tonic doses of eupatorium. Although slightly stimulant, it is of service in most inflammatory states, administered according to the indications given below. The warm infusion may be administered to promote the operation of other emetics. Externally, used alone or in combination with hops or tansy, etc., a fomentation of the leaves applied to the bowels has, been useful in inflammation, spasms, and painful affections. Dose of the powder, from 10 to 20 grains; of the extract, from 2 to 4 grains; of the infusion, from 2 to 4 fluid ounces; of the syrup (1 pint of the decoction of 1 ounce of the herb sweetened with 2 pounds of white sugar), 1 to 4 drachms; specific eupatorium, 1 to 60 drops. As an emetic administer the warm infusion freely.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Pulse full and large, the current exhibiting little waves; skin full and hot with a tendency to become moist, even during the progress of fever, cough, embarrassed breathing, and pain in the chest; urine turbid and urination frequent; deep-seated aching pains in muscles and periosteum.