Related entry: Serpentaria
Aristolochia.—There are several species of the genus Aristolochia which are found in the herbalists' stores of India but do not enter commerce. Of these A. bracteata Retz is employed as an emmenagogue. Aristolochia of the Br. Add. was the dried stem and root of Aristolochia indica L. As sold in commerce this drug consists chiefly of stems with attached roots and is employed for the cure of snake bite and to produce abortion. The possession by it of any distinct medicinal properties is very doubtful. Later investigation has shown A. rotunda L. to contain aristolochine, C32H22N2O13, which has been used in Europe as a general tonic in febrile debility. The Br. Add. recognized the concentrated liquor (1 in 2 of 20 per cent. alcohol) (Liquor Aristolochiae Concentratus, Br. Add.), dose, one-half to two fluidrachms (1.8-7.5 mils); the tincture (1 in 5 of 70 per cent. alcohol) (Tinctura Aristolochiae, Br. Add.), dose, one-half to one fluidrachm (1.8-3.75 mils). Among the other species of Aristolochia, which have been used medicinally A. Clematitis L., A. longa L., A. rotunda L., are still retained in official catalogues of the continent of Europe, where they are indigenous. A. Pistolochia L. of Southern Europe appears to have been the aristolochia of Pliny and is still used under the name of Pistolochia. The rhizome of A. Clematitis is very long, cylindrical, about 5 mm. in diameter, as a goose-quill or thicker, variously contorted, beset with the remains of the stems and roots, of a grayish-brown color, a strong, peculiar odor, and an acrid, bitter taste; that of A. longa L. is spindle-shaped, from 5 cm. to 3 dm. in length, about 2 cm. in thickness, fleshy, very brittle, grayish externally, brownish-yellow within, bitter, and of a strong, disagreeable odor when fresh; that of A. rotunda L. is tuberous, roundish, heavy, fleshy, brownish on the exterior, grayish-yellow internally, and similar to the preceding in odor and taste; that of A. Pistolochia L. consists of numerous slender yellowish or brownish rootlets, attached to a common head, and possessed of an agreeable aromatic odor, with a taste bitter and somewhat acrid.
Many species of aristolochia, growing in the West Indies and Southern America, have been used medicinally. A. cymbifera Martius, known, in Brazil as milhommen, jarra, jarrinha, and in Mexico as guaco, is said to have medicinal properties similar to those of the official species, but Butte affirms that it is depressant to the sensory nerve centers and is useful in neuralgia and pruritus. In the Argentine Republic the root of A. argentina is used as a diuretic and diaphoretic, especially in rheumatism. In the East Indies A. indica L. is employed for similar purposes with the European and American species, and the Arabians are said by Forskhal to use the leaves of A. sempervirens as a counter-poison. A. foetida Kunth, of Mexico, or Yerba del Indio, is used as a local stimulant to foul ulcers. A number of species of aristolochia are employed as a remedy for snake-bites in various parts of the world, as A. Serpentaria L., in North America; A. maxima L. (the rhizome of which is called Guaco or Contra Capitano), in South America; A. anguicida L., in the Antilles; A. brasiliensis Mart. et Zucc.; A. cymbifera Mart. et Zucc.; A. macroura Gom.; A. trilobata L., etc. There is no sufficient reason for supposing that any one of them is effective.