The root of Helleborus niger.—Europe.
Preparations.—The powdered root. Tincture of Hellebore.
Dose.—Of the powder, from grs. j. to grs. xx. Of the tincture, gtt. j. to gtt. x.
Therapeutic Action.—The black hellebore is cathartic, emetic, emmenagogue, and in over doses acro-narcotic. In its recent state it is a very drastic, hydragogue cathartic. That met with in the shops in this country, is not so active and powerful as when first dug, owing to loss of strength, by long keeping. If it is taken in over-dose, it may cause hyperemesis and hypercatharsis, and dangerous gastro-intestinal inflammation, terminating in vertigo, cramp, burning pain in the stomach, cold sweat, paralysis, violent convulsions, and even death. There can be no doubt of its acro-narcotic properties.
It was employed by the ancients mostly in diseases of the nervous system, as in mania, epilepsy, melancholia, etc., and often it is said with great success. It is supposed to have given relief by virtue of its powerful derivative action. It was also employed as an alterative, in some inveterate cutaneous diseases, and as a hydragogue cathartic in dropsy. At the present time it is not often used in any of these affections, though occasionally employed in chronic rheumatism with gum guaiacum, and other agents valuable in that disease.
It is mostly used at the present time as an emmenagogue. Whether it acts specifically on the uterus, is a question not yet decided; the major part of the profession incline to the negative, believing that the uterus in case of its administration, is indirectly and sympathetically acted upon, through the bowels.