Botanical name: 

The root of Hydrastis canadensis.—U. S.

Preparations.—Powdered Hydrastis. Tincture of Hydrastis. Hydrastine.

Dose.—Of the powder, grs. ij. to grs. x. Of the tincture, gtt, j. to gtt. x. Hydrastine, gr. ⅛ to gr. ½.

Therapeutic Action.—The Hydrastis is tonic, stomachic, detergent, and laxative. It is an agent extensively employed by Eclectics, and with the greatest advantage. It seems passing strange that our Allopathic brethren have not yet their eyes open to its importance, as we believe that for the fulfilling of some indications it has no substitute.

It is a very mild, certain and permanent tonic. None with which we are acquainted exert a more decided and congenial tonic influence upon the stomach and digestive organs. In anorexia, indigestion, and general debility, arising from a languid or atonic state of the stomach, it is unsurpassed, restoring tone to the stomach, promoting the appetite, and acting as a general restorative. It may also be employed in those cases of chronic gastritis and chronic irritation of the stomach with altered secretion, which constitute the worst and most persistent forms of dyspepsia.

As a topical remedy in all diseases of mucous membranes, except acute inflammation, we believe it has no equal, as it rarely, if ever, produces irritation; but, on the contrary, it appears to quiet excitement and restore normal tonicity to the diseased parts.

The alkaloid itself is more soluble than its salts, but the sulphate is soluble in the proportion of four grains to the ounce of water; the phosphate, ten grains to the ounce.

Hydrastine possesses most of the tonic properties of the crude article, and may be used for the same purposes. As the dose is small and it is very soluble, it is easily dispensed. Five grains added to a glass of water makes an admirable tonic mixture, and may be given in doses of a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful.

We combine it with Podophyllin, giving both in small doses. One-twentieth grain of Podophyllin, and one-fourth grain of Hydrastine, make an admirable stimulant and tonic to the stomach and intestinal canal.

But it is principally as a topical remedy that we use Hydrastine and its salts. It makes an admirable collyrium in the proprotion of grs. j. to grs. iv. to water ℥j., when there is muco-purulent secretion. It is an admirable injection in the second stage of gonorrhaea in the proportion of grs. ij. to grs. x., to water ℥j. It may be used in some cases of sore throat, in chronic catarrh, and in leucorrhoea.


Hydrastine is a brilliant yellow principle, obtained from the Hydrastis Canadensis; it forms in delicate acicular crystals. It is inodorous, and possesses rather a pleasant bitter taste. It is freely soluble in cold water, but insoluble in alcohol or ether.

The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 1898, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.