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. Seneca Snake-Root.
MEDICINAL PART. The root.
Description. -- This indigenous plant has a perennial, firm, hard, branching root, with a thick bark, and sends up several annual stems, which are erect, smooth, from eight to fourteen inches high, occasionally tinged with red. The leaves are alternate, nearly sessile, lanceolate, with a sharpish point, smooth; flowers white; calyx consists of five sepals, corolla of three petals; and capsules are small, two-celled and two-valved.
History. -- It is found in various parts of the United States, in rocky woods and on hill-sides, flowering in July. It is more abundant in the West and South than in the East. The officinal root varies in size from two to four or five lines in diameter, crooked, and a carinate line extends the whole length of it. Its chemical constitutents are polygalic, virgineic, pectic, and tannic acids, coloring matter, an oil, cerin, gum, albumen, salts of alumina, silica, magnesia, and iron.
Properties and Uses. -- In large doses emetic and cathartic; in ordinary doses it stimulates the secretions, acting particularly as a sialagogue, expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic, and emmenagogue. In active inflammatory diseases it should not be employed. In protracted pneumonia, commencing stages of croup, humoral asthma, etc., it is a good expectorant.
Dose. -- Powder, five to twenty grains; infusion or syrup, half an ounce to two ounces; polygalic acid, one-fourth to one-half grain.