This valuable vegetable grows in meadows and in hedges, and in appearance is something like buckwheat, having similar white blossoms ; when the stalk is broken it discharges a milky substance; it has two small pods about the size of the cabbage seed pods, with a silky substance.
This herb is wandering, that is, the roots run about under ground to a considerable distance and produce many stalks, which grow up from different parts of the root to the height of about two feet. The kind that is commonly known by the name of wandering milk-weed grows only on upland. There is another kind which grows near rivers and on islands where high water flows over it; this differs some from the other in appearance; the roots run deep in the sand, it has leaves and pods like the first, and both are good for medicine. The bark of the root is used. The roots should be dug and dried, and when perfectly dry may be pounded in a mortar, when the bark is easily separated from the woody part. This root is very bitter, and is one of the greatest correctors of the bile I know of, and is an excellent medicine to remove costiveness, as it will cause the bowels to move in a natural manner. A strong decoction of this root, made by steeping it in hot water, if drank freely, will operate as a cathartic, and sometimes as an emetic, and is most sure to throw off a fever in its first stages. It should be used in all cases of costiveness.
For jaundice, gall-stones and chronic sluggish conditions of the liver, bitter root is unexcelled; but it should not be employed in irritable conditions of the stomach. Apocynin is a concentrated preparation of bitter root and is the best form to use in chronic cases.
Dose of the Alkaloidal extract, known as Apocynin is from I to 2 grains twice a day. The dose of the Fluid Extract is ten drops every six hours.