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WARNING: All medicines, drugs, plants, chemicals or medicial precedures below are for historical reference only. Many of these treatments are now known to be harmful and possibly fatal. Do not consume any plant, chemical, drug or otherwise without first consulting a licensed physician that practices medine in the appropriate field.

Felter's Materia Medica on Corallorhiza

   The root of Asclepias tuberosa, Linné (Nat. Ord. Asclepiadaceae). United States and Canada. Dose, 5 to 60 grains. Common Names: Pleurisy Root, Butterfly Weed, Orange Swallow-wort. Principal Constituents.—Resins and a glucoside. Preparation.—Specific Medicine Asclepias. Dose, 1 to 60 drops. (Usual form of administration: Specific Medicine Asclepias, 20 drops to 2 fluidrachms; Water, 4 ounce. Mix. Sig. One teaspoonful every 1 or 2 hours.) Specific Indications.— “Pulse strong, vibratile; skin moist; pain acute, and seemingly dependent on motion” (Scudder). Skin hot and dry, or inclined to moisture; urine scanty; face flushed; vascular excitement marked in the area supplied by the bronchial arteries; inflammation of serous tissues; gastro-intestinal catarrhs due to recent colds. Action.—The physiological action of asclepias is not extensive, but important. Asclepias slows the action of the heart and lowers arterial tension. It especially relieves local hyperemia by vaso-motor control. Through some unexplained, though probably circulatory regulating action upon the sweat-glands it produces a true diaphoresis, including the elimination of both solids and liquids, the latter sparingly and almost insensibly. Its regulation of the true secretion of the skin more nearly resembles that of normal or insensible perspiration than that caused by any other diaphoretic, corallorhiza possibly excepted. Therapy.—Asclepias is one of the most important medicines for broncho-pulmonic inflammations and catarrhs, and an agent for reestablishing suppressed secretion of the skin. It is the most perfect diaphoretic we possess, so completely does it counterfeit the normal process of insensible perspiration. When the secretion of sweat is in abeyance it restores it; when colliquative it restrains it through its effect of promoting normal functioning of the sudoriparous glands. It may be indicated even though the patient be freely perspiring, for sometimes when the liquid excretion is abundant there is a retention of the solid detritus, the removal of which is one of the effects of asclepias. By softening and moistening the skin, temperature is safely reduced. Asclepias never causes an outpouring of drops of sweat. If such occurs, it is due to bundling with bed-clothing, or the too copious administration of either hot or cold water with. it. Given in alcoholic preparations, in the usual small doses, it merely favors the reestablishment of natural secretion. While asclepias is serviceable when the temperature is high, it does its best work when heat is but moderately exalted, and when the skin is slightly moist, or inclined to moisture, and the pulse is vibratile and not too rapid. In fact, in febrile and inflammatory disorders asclepias is not a leading remedy, but is largely a necessary accessory. If the pulse be rapid and small, aconite should be given with it; if rapidly bounding, large and strong, veratrum. While useful in disorders of adults, especially old persons, asclepias will be most often indicated in diseases of infants and children. While it acts best when strictly indicated, it is almost never contraindicated in acute respiratory affections. In acute chest diseases asclepias is useful to control cough, pain, temperature, to favor expectoration, and restore checked perspiration. When cough is dry and there is scant bronchial secretion, asclepias stimulates the latter and thus relieves the irritation upon which the cough depends. In chest disorders requiring asclepias our experience verifies the classic indications for it. The asclepias condition in broncho-pulmonic disorders shows either a hot and dry skin, or there is pungent heat of the skin with inclination to moisture, the pulse is usually full and active and even may be bounding, much as when veratrum is indicated. The face is flushed, there is, in children particularly, marked restlessness, and more or less febrile reaction. In chest disorders there is pain upon motion— pleural pain—and the cough is short, hacking, barking, rasping, and nervous-and restrained as much as possible on account of the pain and soreness it occasions. Bronchial secretion is arrested, though that of the skin may be in evidence. The early Eclectics were neither dreaming nor romancing when they voiced their verdict concerning the great value of pleurisy root in pleuritic and other chest affections. With the conditions named asclepias is of the very greatest value in acute coryza, la grippe, acute bronchitis, pleuro-pneumonia, and pneumonia, both catarrhal and croupous. Its use should be begun early, usually in association with other agents sure to be indicated, and continued through the active stage; and if a dry cough persists it should still be continued and used freely. There is no kindlier cough medicine than asclepias, and when fever is present it is an ideal aid to the special sedatives. Asclepias should form an important part of the medication in acute pleurisy and pleurodynia, conditions in which it is most efficient and in which it first earned a therapeutic reputation. It may need to be fortified by the intercurrent use of aconite or bryonia, or both, and in any case it will enhance the value of these agents. In pneumonia and in bronchitis asclepias is best adapted to the acute stage, where the lesions seem to be extensive, taking in a large area of the parenchyma of the lung or the bronchial structures and the mucosa. Webster declares it best adapted to control vascular disturbances in the area supplied by the bronchial arteries, and suggests that by reserving it for this use we shall lessen its liability to confusion with other appropriate remedies. In the convalescent stage of pneumonia and other respiratory lesions, when expectoration is scanty and dyspnea threatens, small doses of asclepias are helpful. It renders a similar service in dry, non-spasmodic asthma. The dose for these purposes should be about 5 drops of the specific medicine. Asclepias is an admira1

   The rhizome of Corallorhiza odontorhiza, Nuttall. (Nat. Ord. Orchidaceae.) Rich woods in eastern half of the United States. Dose, 1 drachm. Common Names: Coral Root, Chicken Toe, Crawley, Dragon's Claw. Principal Constituents.—Has not been analyzed, but probably contains potassium nitrate. Preparations.-1. Tinctura Corallorhiza, Tincture of Coral Root. (Coral root, 4 ounce; Dilute Alcohol [or Whisky] 16 fluidounces.) Dose, 1 to 2 fluidrachms. 2. Infusum Corallorhiza, Infusion of Coral Root. (Crushed rhizome, 1/2 ounce; Boiling Water, 16 ounces). Dose, 1 to 2 fluidounces. Specific Indications.—General prostration, malaise, hacking cough, loss of appetite, reduced weight, pleuritic pain, bronchial irritation and low pyrexia. Action and Therapy.—This is the most perfect diaphoretic we know of, duplicating the natural process of perspiration when given in small doses, and increasing the watery contents when administered in hot infusion. It even excels asclepias, is pleasant to the taste, acts kindly upon the stomach, and lacks the heart depressing qualities of jaborandi. It was once largely used in fevers. Its principal use is in subacute inflammatory disorders of the respiratory tract, being especially valuable in the declining stages of bronchopneumonia, of a low but inactive type, with much depression, prostration after cough or effort, copious, heavy expectoration, and general debility. For convalescence from such states and after bronchitis, la grippe, and pneumonia it is an ideal remedy. In those of a phthisical build-the hippocratic type, much hacking cough, loss of weight, lack of appetite, poor digestion, pleuritic pains, and general prostration yet not actually consumptive, it is one of the best tonics we have ever employed. The appetite is the first to respond, cough and pain cease, there is better action of the kidneys and skin, and general recuperation gradually takes place. For dry bronchial irritation, with wheezing, tightness of the chest, paroxysms of irritable cough, together with a dry or inactive skin, coral root is extremely effective. In respiratory debility corallorhiza acts slowly but surely. A hot infusion promotes menstruation and suppressed lochia and relieves after-pains, but as many other agents operate equally as well this agent is too expensive to use for these purposes. It is to be regretted that its extreme scarcity makes corallorhiza an almost unobtainable drug.1


1) Felter, Harvey Wickes, 1922, The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Cincinnati, Ohio.