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 NAME. Indian Cup-plant.
MEDICINAL PART. The root.
Description. -- This plant has a perennial, horizontal, pitted rhizome, and a large smooth herbaceous stem, from four to seven feet high. The leaves are opposite, ovate, from eight to fourteen inches long by four to seven wide. The flowers are yellowish, and the fruit a broadly ovate winged achenium.
History. -- This plant is common to the Western States, and is found growing in rich bottoms, bearing numerous yellow flowers, which are perfected in August. It has a large, long, and crooked root, which is the part used medicinally, and which readily imparts its properties to alcohol or water. It will yield a bitterish gum, somewhat similar to frankincense, which is frequently used to sweeten the breath.
Properties and Uses. -- It is tonic, diaphoretic, and alterative. A strong infusion of the root, made by long steeping, or an extract, is said to be one of the best remedies for the removal of ague-cake, or enlarged spleen. It is also useful in intermittent and remittent fevers, internal bruises, debility, ulcers, liver affections, and as a general alterative restorative. The gum is said to be stimulant and antispasmodic. The spleen is an organ whose functions the very best of the old-school physicians cannot define; but that it is the seat of very many most distressing diseases is a fact which not one of them will pretend to deny. It is, as nearly as can be ascertained by the most laborious research, a dependent of the liver and stomach, and what deranges it deranges both the stomach and the liver.
SILPHIUM GUMMIFERUM, or Rosin-weed, and SILPHIUM LACINIATUM, or Compass-weed, are used in intermittent fever, and are beneficial in dry, obstinate coughs. They often cure the heaves in horses.