Salix Nigra.—Black Willow.

Botanical name: 

Related entries: Salix.—Willow - Methyl Salicylas (U. S. P.)—Methyl Salicylate - Betula Lenta.—Black Birch - Oleum Betulae Volatile (U. S. P.)—Volatile Oil of Betula - Gaultheria.—Wintergreen - Oleum Gaultheriae (U. S. P.)—Oil of Gaultheria

The bark and aments of Salix nigra, Linné.
Nat. Ord.—Salicaceae.
COMMON NAMES: Black willow, Pussy willow.

Botanical Source.Salix nigra, Black or Pussy willow, is a tree growing from 15 to 25 feet high, covered with a rough, blackish bark, and found on the banks of rivers, especially in New York and Pennsylvania. The leaves are narrowly lanceolate, pointed and tapering at each end, serrulate, smooth and green on both sides; the petioles and midveins, tomentose. The stipules are small, deciduous, and dentate; the aments erect, cylindric, and villous; the scales oblong, and very villous. Sterile aments 3 inches long; glands of the sterile flowers 2, large, and deeply 2 or 3-cleft. Stamens 4 to 6, often but 3 in the upper scales; filaments bearded at base. The ovary is pedicellate, smooth, and ovoid; the style very short; the stigmas bifid. The branches are pale-yellow, and brittle at base, and are much used for the manufacture of baskets and other kinds of wickerwork (G.—W.).

History.—The medicinal part of the black willow, according to the older authors, and particularly Michaux, is the bark of the root. The bark of the tree has also been employed (compare Salix Alba). But the value of salix nigra bark as a remedy has been shown by Eclectic physicians to be of little value as compared with preparations of the fresh aments. It is these preparations that have given salix nigra its place as a remedy for sexual disorders. The greatest of care is necessary in the production of the fluid preparations of the aments, absolutely fresh aments, gathered about the first of May, being requisite to produce a preparation of any medicinal value. Dried aments produce inferior, if not worthless, products, and especial care should be exercised by the physician that he procure the preparations of the fresh aments and not of the bark when a sexual sedative and tonic is demanded.

Ɣ Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—The bark of black willow is recommended as a poultice in gangrene, and as an external application to foul and indolent ulcers and rhus poisoning, in which it stands unrivaled. It is made by simmering the powdered bark in cream. It has also been successfully used in various swellings of the neck. Internally, the root is a bitter tonic, effectual in intermittents. Some have highly recommended it in asthma and gout. At the present day the bark is seldom employed and the aments now furnish the preferred drug. Ɣ A decoction of the black willow buds or aments, taken internally and applied locally, is useful in gangrene; and drank freely it proves a powerful anaphrodisiac, suppressing venereal desires for a long time, and is highly recommended in the treatment of spermatorrhoea. The last statement, written years ago by Prof. King, has been abundantly verified in the last few years by practitioners of all schools of medicine. The drug is not only anaphrodisiac, but by controlling genital irritability it becomes a marked sexual sedative and tonic. As Prof. Bloyer has aptly remarked, it is not a remedy for physiological losses nor is a beneficial action to be expected in cases requiring operative measures at the hands of the orificial surgeon. Its field of action is in those functional wrongs of the reproductive organs due most largely to undue irritability of the parts, and thought to be less due to mental or emotional causes. However, sexual passion from any functional cause is moderated by it, and it is especially adapted to the disorders of the sexually, intemperate male or female, and of the youth, subject day or night to libidinous suggestions and lascivious dreams terminating in pollutions, while for those extreme forms of sexual perversion, satyriasis, erotomania, and nymphomania, it is more nearly specific than any other agent. Not only does salix nigra act as a check to sexual passion and misuse, but it proves a useful tonic and sedative to many conditions following in the wake of sexual intemperance, among which may be mentioned spermatorrhoea in its varied forms, prostatitis, cystitis, and ovaritis. Specific Salix nigra is the preparation most largely used by Eclectic practitioners, and is to be preferred, for the fresh aments can not be procured at all times for the preparation of the decoction. The dose is from 10 to 60 drops, 3 or 4 times a day.

Specific Indications and Uses.—To moderate sexual erethism, irritability, and passion; lascivious dreams; libidinous thoughts; nocturnal emissions; nymphomania and satyriasis; cystitis, urethral irritation, prostatitis, cystitis, ovaritis, and other sexual disorders arising from sexual abuse or excesses.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.