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. Dragon's Claw, Coral root, etc.
MEDICINAL PART. The root.
Description. -- This is a singular, leafless plant, with coral-like root-stocks. The root is a collection of small fleshy tubers; the flowers, from ten to twenty in numer, are of a brownish-green color, and the fruit a large oblong capsule.
History. -- The plant is a native of the United States, growing about the roots of trees, in rich woods, from Maine to Florida, flowering from July to October. The entire plant is destitute of verdure. The root only is used for medical purposes. It is small, dark brown, resembling cloves, or a hen's claws; has a strong, nitrous smell, and a mucilaginous, slightly bitter, astringent taste.
Properties and Uses. -- It is probably the most powerful, prompt, and certain diaphoretic in the materia medica; but its scarcity and high price prevents it from coming in general use. It is also sedative, and promotes perspiration without producing any excitement in the system. Its chief value is as a diaphoretic in fevers, especially in typhus, and inflammatory diseases. It has proved effectual in acute erysipelas, cramps, flatulency, pleurisy, and night-sweats; it relieves hectic fever without debilitating the patient. Its virtues are especially marked in the low stages of fevers.
Combined with caulophyllin it forms an excellent agent in amenorrhoea and dysmenorrhoea, or scanty or painful menstruation, and is unsurpassed in after-pains, suppression of lochia, and the febrile symptoms which sometimes occur at the parturient period.
In fevers Crawley may be advantageously combined with leptandrin or podophyllin, when it is found necessary to act upon the bowels or liver; and mixed with dioscorein it will be found almost a specific in flatulent and billious colic.
Dose. -- From twenty to thirty grains of the powdered root, given in water as warm as the patient can drink, and repeated every hour or two, according to circumstances. The powder should always be kept in well-closed vials. It constitutes the fever powders of some practitioners.