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.
MEDICINAL PART. The root.
Description. -- Columbo, so important in the present practice of medicine, is a climbing plant, with a perennial sort which is quite thick and branching. The root is covered with a thin brown skin, marked with transverse warts. The stems, of which one or two proceed from the same root, are twining, simple in the male plant, branched in the female, round, hairy, and about an inch or an inch and a half in circumference. The leaves stand on rounded glandular hairy footstalks, and are alternate, distant, cordate, and have three, seven, or nine lobes and nerves. The flowers are small and inconspicuous.
History. -- This plant inhabits the forests near the southeastern coast of Africa, in the neighborhood of Mozambique, where the natives call it Kalumb. The root is dug up in the dry season in the month of March, and is cut in slices, strung on cords, and hung up to dry. The odor of Columbo is slightly aromatic; the taste bitter, and also mucilaginous. The root is easily pulverized, but spoils by keeping after having been reduced to a powder. It is best to powder it only as it is required for use. The active principle of Columbo is called Columbin. The root also yields Berberin, an excellent stomachic, which is produced from the Barberry.
Properties and Uses. -- It is one of the purest bitter tonics in the world, and in dyspepsia, chronic diarrhoea, and dysentery, as well as in convalescence from febrile and inflammatory diseases, it can hardly be surpassed as a remedial agent. It is most useful in the remittent and intermittent fevers of hot climates. It is used in many combinations, according to indications.
Dose. -- Of the powder, ten to thirty grains; of the infusion, one or two ounces; of the tincture, from one to two drachms.