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. Wake Robin, Indian Turnip, Jack in the Pulpit, etc.
MEDICINAL PART. The cormus or root.
Description. -- This plant has a round, flattened, perennial rhizome; the upper part is tunicated like an onion. The leaves are generally one or two, standing on long, sheathing footstalks; leaflets oval, mostly entire, acuminate, smooth, and paler on the under side.
History. -- It inhabits North and South America, is found in wet locations, and flowers from May to June. The whole plant is acrid, but the root is the only part employed. It is of various sizes, turnip-shaped, dark and corrugated externally, and milk-white within, seldom exceeding two and a half inches in diameter. When first dug it is too fiercely acrid for internal employment, as it will leave an impression upon the tongue, lips, and fauces, like that of a severe scald, followed by inflammation and tenderness, which, however, may be somewhat mollified by milk. It exerts no such influence upon the external skin, except upon long and continued application. The root loses its acrimony by age, and should always be used when partially dried. In addition to its acrid principle, it contains a large proportion of starch, with a portion of gum, albumen, and saccharine matter. When the acrid matter is driven off by heat, the root yields a pure, delicate, amylaceous matter, resembling arrow-root, very white and nutritive.
Properties and Uses. -- It is acrid, expectorant, and diaphoretic, used in asthma, whooping-cough, chronic bronchitis, chronic rheumatism, pains in the chest, colic, low stages of typhus, and general debility; externally in scrofulous tumors, scald-head, and various skin diseases.
Dose. -- Of the grated root in syrup or mucilage, ten grains, three or four times a day.