082. Cissampelos pareira. Pareira brava cissampelos.
Synonyma. Pareira brava. Pharm. Lond.
Clematis baccifera glabra et villosa, rotundo & umbelicato folio. Plumier, Plantes de l'Amer. 78. t. 93. Sloane's Jamaica, vol. i. p. 200. Cat. 85.
Caapeba folio orbiculari umbelicato & tomentoso. Plum. Gen. 33.
Cissampelos scandens, foliis peltatia orbiculato-cordatis villosis; floribus masculinis racemosis, femininis spicatis, spicis foliolatis. Browne's Jamaica, p. 357.
Class Dioecia. Ord. Monadelphia. Lin. Gen. Plant. 1138.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Masc. Cal. 4-phyllus. Cor. o. Nectarium rotatum. Stam. 4: filamentis connatis.
Fem. Cal. monophyllus, ligulato-subrotundus. Cor. o. Styli 3. Bacca 1-sperma.
Spec. Char. C. foliis peltatis cordatis emarginatis.
The root is perennial, long, thick, woody, composed of distinct fibres, of a dull yellowish hue, and covered with furrowed bark of a brown colour: the stalks are numerous, shrubby, slender, very long, covered with a whitish bark, and climb round the neighbouring trees for support: [In Jamaica "this plant grows in great plenty, commonly amongst the ebony trees, climbing about them." Long's Jam. vol. iii. p. 760.] the leaves are roundish, indented at the top, about an inch and a half long, two inches broad, entire, covered with soft downy hairs, [From this villous covering of the leaf, it is usually called Velvet leaf.] and hang upon round simple downy footstalks, which are inserted into the back of the leaf: the flowers are extremely minute, of a greenish colour, placed in clusters upon long axillary spikes, and are male and female in different plants: the calyx of the male flower is divided into four small oval segments: it has no corolla, but the nectary is wheel-shaped and membranous: the filaments are four, very small, united, and furnished with broad flat anthers: of the female flower the calyx is strap-shaped or ligulated: the germen is roundish, and supports three short styles, furnished with pointed stigmata: the fruit is a small one-celled berry, containing a roundish rough compressed seed. It is a native of S. America and the West Indies.
The plant, which we have here represented, was drawn from a dried specimen in the possession of Mr. Aiton at Kew, to which a separate display of the parts of fructification was intended to have been introduced, but from their extreme minuteness and dryness it was found to be impracticable: the general appearance of the plant is however so characteristic as in some measure to compensate for this deficiency.
The medicinal use of the roots of this plant was first learned from the Brazilians, who infused them in water, which they drank freely in all obstructions in the urinary passages; [According to Browne, it is still used with this intention by the negroes at Jamaica. Vide l. c.] and towards the end of the last century these roots were brought into Europe by the Portuguese, who recommended them to physicians as the most effectual remedy hitherto discovered in all calculous and gravelly complaints; and various accounts of their efficacy were soon after published. ["Parisios per Regis Galliae legatum, Amelot, a. 1688. pervenit (Hist. de l'Acad. des Scien. de Paris, 1710, p. 56.) tumque varii medici Galli ejus usum fecere, interque hos Helvetius, qui in Traite des maladies les plus frequentes et des remedes specifiques, ejus mentionem aliquoties honorificam injicit." In Germania nondum initio seculi famam excitaverat, sed multum ibidem ad ejusdem existimationem contulit Lochnerus (Schediasma de Pareira brava Norimb. 1719. Ed. 2. in 4.) casibus potius distincte prolatis, quam luxuriantis eruditionis ornamentis, quibus obvelantur." Vide Murray App. Med. v. i. 345.] This root "has no remarkable smell; but to the taste it manifests a notable sweetness of the liquorice kind, together with a considerable bitterness, and a slight roughness covered by the sweet matter. It gives out great part both of the bitter and sweet substance to watery and spirituous menstrua: in evaporating the watery decoction a considerable quantity of resinous matter separates, which does not mingle with the remaining extract, nor dissolve in water, but is readily taken up by spirit; whence spirit appears to be the most perfect dissolvent of its active parts. Both the spirituous tincture and extract are in taste stronger than the watery." [Lewis Mat. Med. p. 480.]
The facts adduced on the utility of radix pareirae bravae in nephritic and calculous cases, are principally those by Helvetius, Geoffrey, and Lochner: [Vide l. c. in Murray Ap. Med., earlier] the first seems to think that it acts as a lithontriptic, but Geoffroy attributes its virtues to its power of dissolving the indurated mucus to which the fabulous matter adheres. It has also been recommended in ischuria, ulcers of the bladder, fluor albus, rheumatism, jaundice, asthma, and some other chronic diseases. The accounts given of the successful employment of this root by the French writers, induced physicians to try its effects in this country; but we find no remarkable instances of its efficacy recorded by British practitioners; and as a proof of its being fallen into disrepute, the Edinburgh College has expunged it from the Materia Medica. [And Bergius says, "Certe vidi ego calculosos, arthriticos & rheumaticos plures, qui satis diu usum ejus absque successu continuarunt." Mat. Med. p. 815.] The dose of the powdered root is from one scruple to two. Geoffroy directs two or three drams of the root to be bruised and boiled in a pint and a half of water till only a pint remains, which is to be divided into three doses.