The whole plant Lachnanthes tinctoria, Elliott.
COMMON NAMES: Red root, Spirit weed.
Botanical Source.—This is a perennial plant, introduced into practice by the Homoeopaths. It has a red fibrous root, and an erect stem, strict, 18 to 24 inches high, clothed with white wool above. The leaves are mostly radical, fleshy, equitant, sword-shaped, 3 to 4 inches wide, and nearly as high as the stem; the cauline leaves remote and bract-like. The corymb is terminal, close, 15 to 30-flowered; the flowers densely clothed with white wool outside, glabrous and yellow within. Perianth woolly outside, 6-parted down to the adherent ovary. Calyx lobes exterior, of 3 linear sepals, as long as the 3 lance-oblong petals. Stamens 3, opposite the sepals; filaments long, exserted; anthers linear, bright-yellow. Style thread-like, exserted, declined; stigma minutely 2-lobed. Capsule globular, truncated, 3-celled, many-seeded; seeds few on each fleshy placenta, flat and rounded, fixed by the middle (W.—G.).
History.—This plant is a native of the United States, growing in sandy swamps and along borders of ponds, near the Atlantic coast, from Rhode Island to Florida, flowering in July. The root has been used for dyeing purposes, and, according to Dr. Byron, has been used among the Florida Indians to produce a brilliancy of the eye, a flushed and swollen face, a bold appearance, and eloquent speaking; after these peculiar stimulating effects pass off, the person becomes stupid and very irritable. The method of employing it is to make the whole plant into a saturated tincture.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Large doses of lachnanthes produce dilatation of the pupils, impaired vision, dizziness, and other unpleasant symptoms, somewhat similar to those produced by belladonna. Lachnanthes has been more particularly recommended in pneumonia, nervous and typhus fevers, some diseases of the brain, in the delirium of fever, in morbid conditions of the brain and nervous system, especially when in these several maladies redness of the cheeks and brilliancy of the eyes are accompanying symptoms. It has also been efficient in rheumatic wry neck, hoarseness, laryngeal cough, tinnitus aurium, and in nervous headache. A fluid drachm of the tincture added to 4 fluid ounces of water, and administered in fluid drachm doses, every 3 or 4 hours, is the proper method of administering it.