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 bark of the vine.
Description. -- Cundurango, or Condor Vine, a name derived from two words, cundur and angu, whose marvellous medicinal properties have lately been made known to the world, and which is now so greatly interesting the medical profession, is a climbing vine, resembling much in its habits the grape vine of our forests. The vines are from three to five inches in diameter. They are quite flexible when fresh, but when dry very brittle. The bark is externally of a greenish-gray color, and has numerous small, warty excrescenccs. The leaves are large, sometimes reaching six inches in length by five in breadth, opposite, simple, entire, dentate, cordate, and of a dark green color. The flowers are small, arranged in complete umbels; stamens five; petals five; sepals five; and filaments small. The fruit is a pair of pods, and seeds numerous and dark brown. It should be more properly called Cundurangu, as there is no o in the language of the Incas.
History. -- This plant is a native of the Andes Mountains in South America, especially the southern portion of Equador, and found most plentifully in the mountains surrounding the city of Loja. It is generally found on the western exposure of the Andes, at an altitude of 4,000 or 5,000 feet. Its virtues were known to the Indians of the locality for a long time. The tradition is that it was regarded by them as poisonous, and that an Indian woman unintentionally cured her husband, who suffered from a very painful cancer, giving him to drink bowlfuls of decoction of Cundurango, believing and hoping it would prove fatal. It was introduced into medical practice by Dr. Egulguren, brother of the Governor of the province of Loja, both of whom cured many cases of syphilis and cancerous ulcers in the trial of it. The subject was brought to the notice of our government by our minister at Quito. The Department of State, at once realizing the value of the discovery and the intense interest with which our people would seek after information concerning it, published a circular, setting forth its great value as a remedy. This action of the government at once inspired that confidence to which the plant is entitled. It was tested in a case of cancer afflicting the mother of Vice-President Colfax, and at once asserted its value. It has since been used by progressive physicians, and the success it has given in cancerous and syphilitic affections renders it worthy of the name of a specific, equally as much so as cinchona. It is a singular coincidence that these two specific products of the herbal world should grow in the same regions. The natives insist that there are two varieties of the bark, the amarillo, or yellow, and blanco, or white; but upon inspection I find they are the same, the difference in color depending upon the strong rays of the sun. When freshly cut the vines give an abundance of milky, viscous juice or sap, the odor of which is balsamic, and flavor decidedly bitter and aromatic.
Its price is exceedingly high, but this has not deterred me from using it where I deemed it necessary in special cases. I can furnish it by mail, put up in sealed bags, at $5.00 per half pound, with directions for making it into syrup (which is the best method of preparing it), with dose, etc. The fluid extract is much higher, $3.00 per ounce.
Properties and Uses. -- An unequalled remedy for cancer, syphilis, ulcers, etc. In a short period, when taken, the typical symptoms subside, the pain is diminished, the discharge thickens and becomes less offensive, the tumor becomes softer, the deposits lessen, the expression improves, and a cure is speedily effected. It has also diuretic and tonic powers, and cures many nervous diseases. I have given this remedy competent trials in cases of cancer and syphilis, and the results were so satisfactory as to surprise me.
Dose. -- Of the powder, one to two drachms; fluid extract, one drachm. (Much that is spurious is sold in the market.)