This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
COMMON NAMES. Dog's-bane, Milk-weed, etc.
MEDICINAL PART. The root.
Description. -- This is a smooth, elegant plant, five or six feet high, with a large perennial root. The leaves are dark-green above, pale beneath, ovate, and about two or three inches long and an inch wide. Corolla white, calyx five-cleft, and stamens five. Fruit a follicle. Every part of the plant is milky.
History. -- This plant is indigenous to the United States, growing in dry, sandy soils, and in the borders of woods, from Maine to Florida, flowering from May to August. When any part of the plant is wounded a milky juice exudes. The large, milky root is the part used for medicinal purposes. It possesses an unpleasant amarous taste. It yields its properties to alcohol, but especially to water. Age impairs its medicinal quality.
Properties and Uses. -- Emetic, diaphoretic, tonic, and laxative. It is very valuable in all liver or chronic hepatic affections. In conjunction with Menispermin, it is excellent in dyspepsia and amenorrhoea. When it is required to promptly empty the stomach, without causing much nausea or a relaxed condition of the muscular system, the powdered root may be given in two or three scruple doses; but much prostration is apt to ensue. As a laxative it is useful in constipation. As a tonic, ten or twenty grains may be given to stimulate the digestive apparatus, and thus effect a corresponding impression on the general system. It is also useful as an alterative in rheumatism, scrofula, and syphilis.