105. Spigelia marilandica. Perennial worm-grass, or, Indian Pink.
Synonyma. Spigelia. Pharm. Lond. & Edinb.
Periclymeni virginiani flore coccineo planta marilandica, spica erecta, foliis conjugatis. Catesby Carol. vol. ii. p. 78.
Lonicera marilandica spicis terminalibus, foliis ovato-oblongis acuminatis distinctis sessilibus. Sp. Plant. p. 249.
Spigelia marilandica fol. ovatis oppositis spica secunda terminali. Walter Flor. Carol. p. 92. Vide Mantiss. Lin. ii. p. 338. Ess. Phys Obs. Phys. & Lit. vol. iii. p. 151. Curt. Bot. Mag. 80.
Class Pentandria. Ord. Monogynia. Lin. Gen. Plant. 209.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Cor. infundibulif. Caps. didyma, 2-locularis, polysperma.
Spec. Char. S. caule tetragono, foliis omnibus oppositis.
The root is perennial, unequal, simple, sends off many slender fibres, and grows in an horizontal direction: the stalk is simple, erect, smooth, obscurely quadrangular, of a purplish colour, and commonly rises above a foot in height: the leaves are ovate, sessile, somewhat undulated, entire, of a deep green colour, and stand in pairs upon the stem: the flowers are large, funnel-shaped, and terminate the stem in a spike: the calyx divides into five long narrow pointed smooth segments: the corolla is monopetalous, consisting of a long tube, gradually swelling towards the middle, of a bright purplish red colour, and divided at the mouth into five pointed segments, which are yellow on the inside: the five filaments are about the length of the tube, and crowned with halberd-shaped antherae: the germen is small, ovate, placed above the insertion of the corolla, and supports a round style, which is longer than the corolla, furnished with a joint near its base, and bearded towards the extremity, which is supplied with an obtuse stigma: the capsule is double, two-celled, and contains many small angular plano-convex seeds. It is a native of America, and flowers in July and August.
Linnaeus first supposed this plant to be a Lonicera, or Honey-suckle, but afterwards he ascertained its characters, and called it Spigelia, in honour of the botanist Spigelius, whose first work was published in 1606. [Adriani Spigelii in rem herbariam Isagoge, Patavii.]
Two species of Spigelia are now known to botanists, viz. S. Anthelmia and marilandica; they have both been used as anthelmintics; the effects of the former are noticed by Dr. Browne in the Gentleman's Magazinine for the year 1751, and in his History of Jamaica; [P. 156.] also by Dr. Brocklesby, [Oec. & Med. Observations, p. 282.] and several foreign writers. But the accounts of the vermifuge virtues of Spigelia, given by Drs. Linning [See Ess. & Observ. Physical & Literary, vol. i. p. 386.] and Garden, [L.c.] from Charlestown, South Carolina, evidently refer to the latter species, which is here figured; and as the anthelmintic efficacy resides chiefly in the root of the plant, that of the Anthelmia, or Annual Spigelia, which is very small, must be incomparably less powerful than the root of the marilandica, which is perennial. Dr. Garden, in his first letter to Dr. Hope, which was written about the year 1763, says, "About forty years ago, the anthelmintic virtues of the root of this plant were discovered by the Indians; since which time it has been much used here by physicians, practitioners, and planters; yet its true dose is not generally ascertained. I have given it in hundreds of cases, and have been very attentive to its effects. I never found it do much service, except when it proved gently purgative. Its purgative quality naturally led me to give it in febrile diseases, which seemed to arise from viscidity in the prima viae; and, in these cases, it succeeded to admiration, even when the sick did not void worms.
"I have of late, previous to the use of the Indian Pink, given a vomit, when the circumstances of the case permitted it; and I have found this method answer so well, that I think a vomit should never be omitted. I have known half a dram of this root purge as briskly as the same quantity of rhubarb; at other times I have known it, though given in large quantities, produce no effect upon the belly: in such cases, it becomes necessary to add a grain or two of sweet mercury, or some grains of rhubarb; but it is to be observed, that the same happy effects did not follow its use in this way, as when it was purgative without addition. The addition however of the purgative renders its use safe, and removes all danger of convulsions of the eyes, [This root, when taken in large doses, and not readily passing off by stool or vomiting, is observed not only to affect the head but in a peculiar way the muscles which move the eyes; an effect which is noticed both by Linning and Garden, and is to be removed by administering a cathartic.] although neither ol. rutae, sabinae, or any other nervous substance, is given along with it. It is, in general, safer to give it in large doses than in small; for, from the latter more frequently the giddiness, dimness of the light, and convulsions, &c. follow; whereas, from large doses, I have not known any other effect than its proving emetic or violently cathartic. To a child of two years of age, who had been taking ten grains of the root twice a-day, without having any other effect than making her dull and giddy, I prescribed twenty-two grains morning and evening, which purged her briskly, and brought away five large worms. [According to Linning, "thirty large worms, the teretes, were at once voided" by a Negro girl from the use of this root. l. c.] After some months an increased dose had the same good effects. I prefer the root to the other parts of the plant, of which, when properly dried, I gave from twelve to sixty or seventy grains in substance. In infusion it may be given to the quantity of two, three, or four drams twice a day. I have found that, by keeping, the plant loses its virtue in part; for forty grains of the root which has not been gathered above two months, will operate as strongly as sixty which has been kept for fifteen months." [As this plant seems to be received into the Materia Medica principally on the authority of Dr. Garden, we have judged it proper to give his account in his own words.]
In Dr. Garden's subsequent letters, addressed to Dr. Hope in the years 1764 and 1766, the efficacy of this root in worm cases is further confirmed, and he observes, that the root keeps better than he at first thought, having lately used it several years old with great success. In what he calls continued or remitting low worm fevers, he found its efficacy promoted by the addition of rad. sepentar. virg.
Medical Botany, 1790-1794, was written by William Woodville, M. D., and illustrated by James Sowerby.