Related entry: Leptandra (U. S. P.)—Leptandra
The tops and leaves of Veronica officinalis, Linné.
Botanical Source.—This is a roughish-pubescent plant, the stem of which is prostrate, rooting at the base, and from 6 to 12 inches long, with ascending branches. The leaves opposite, vary from ovate to obovate, generally elliptical, short-petioled, obtuse, serrate, mostly narrowed to the base, and 1 inch or 1 ½ inches long. The flowers are pale-blue, in long, axillary, erect, dense, many-flowered, pedunculate racemes, the pedicles being shorter than the calyx. Calyx 4-parted; corolla rotate. The pods or capsules are puberulent, obovate-triangular, emarginate, strongly flattened, and several-seeded (W.).
History, Description, and Chemical Composition.—Speedwell is a native of Europe, and now very common in North America, growing on dry hills, and in woods and open fields, flowering from April to August. The leaves and tops are employed; they have a faint odor, and a slightly bitter and aromatic taste; water extracts its virtues. J. B. Enz (Wittstein's Vierteljahrsschrift, 1858, p. 182; also see F. F. Mayer, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1863, p. 299) found the fresh juice and extract from the herb to contain a bitter principle soluble in water and alcohol, but scarcely in ether; precipitable by salts of lead, but not by tannin; an acrid principle and a red coloring matter, all contained in the precipitate with neutral acetate of lead, together with malic, tartaric, and citric acids; also, acetic and lactic acids, and a tannin striking a green color with iron; a crystallizable, apparently fatty acid, soluble in alcohol and ether; a soft, dark-green, bitter resin, and mannit. Prof. Mayer found in the dry herb an alkaloid, and obtained a very small yield of a saponaceous principle.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Speedwell is an expectorant, alterative, tonic, and diuretic. It was formerly administered in coughs, catarrhs, renal, and skin diseases, jaundice, etc. Likewise reputed beneficial in scrofula, and other diseases where alteratives are indicated, especially the V. peregrina; to be given internally, and used as a wash.
Related Species.—Veronica Beccabunga, Linné, or Brook-lime, is found in most of the eastern and northern states, growing in small streams and near water-courses; this, together with the Veronica Americana, Schweinitz; V. Anagallis, Linné; V. scutellata, Linné; V. agrestis, Linné, Neckweed; and V. peregrina, Linné, possess somewhat similar properties. They all impart their virtues to water. V. parviflora, Vahl, indigenous to New Zealand, yields a drug called koroniko, which J. Jardine (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1883, p. 576) praises as being useful in chronic dysentery. Veronica Beccabunga is antiscorbutic, diuretic, febrifuge, and emmenagogue, and is said to be beneficial in cases of amenorrhoea, scurvy, dyspepsia, fevers, and coughs. It relieves irritation in several chronic skin diseases. The decoction of the plants may be used freely. Brook-lime has no odor, but a saline, bitterish, feebly pungent taste.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.