Leptandra Virginica. (Black Root.)

Botanical name: 

For general use prepare a tincture of the Leptandin, ℥viij. to Oj., using Alcohol of 50°. For some purposes the infusion would be preferable, but is so nauseous that most persons object to it. The dose of the tincture as above will vary from gtts. ij. to gtts. xx.

The Leptandra exerts a gentle stimulant influence upon the entire intestinal tract, and its associate viscera, and in medicinal doses strengthens functional activity. Its action in this direction is so persistent that it might be called a gastro-intestinal tonic. There are some functions not well understood, as of the liver and spleen, and it would not much improve our knowledge to say that it acted upon these. But it exerts a marked influence in those diseases in which there is enfeebled portal circulation, and tendency to stasis of blood. Thus in some cases of typhoid fever occurring in malarial localities the Leptandra has proven a very valuable medicine.

We do not believe there is any remedy that acts upon the liver, according to the old idea of medicine, It has been conclusively proven that preparations of Mercury do not, and that Podophyllin does not; and it is probable that we will have to give up the idea of cholagogues entirely. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that Leptandra does influence the function of the liver; not always to increase secretion of bile, but rather to bring the organ back to normal functional activity, whatever may have been the deviation.

Associated with the milder bitter tonics the Leptandra improves the digestive function, and stimulates normal excretory action from the bowels. This latter influence sometimes makes it a valuable adjunct to those remedies called alterative.

It has been employed in the treatment of intermittent fever with excellent results. Dr. Rolph writes, that "for many years my father's family employed it exclusively, and though living in a malarial region they were entirely exempt from ague. They used a tincture of the recent root, taking it before each meal." Quite a number of my acquaintances employ it after the chill has been broken with Quinine, and claim that its influence in preventing a recurrence is more decided than any other remedy.


The best Leptandrin of the market is a dried alcoholic extract, the strongest is obtained by adding a portion of Podophyllum before tincturing. The resin is nearly worthless. The dried extract proves a very good remedy in many cases, and may be used for the same purposes as named for the tincture or infusion.

Specific Medication and Specific Medicines, 1870, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.