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. Skunk-weed, Pole-cat weed, Meadow Cabbage.
MEDICINAL PARTS. The roots and seeds.
Description. -- This plant has been a troublesome one for botanists to classify; but the term Symplocarpus is now generally preferred. It is perennial, having a large, abrupt root, or tuber, with numerous crowded, fleshy fibres, which extend some distance into the ground. The spathe appears before the leaves, is ovate, spotted, and striped, purple and yellowish-green, the edges folded inward, and at length coalescing. The flowers are numerous, of a dull purple within the spathe, on a short, oval spadix. Calyx consists of four fleshy, wedge-shaped sepals; corolla, none; stamens, four; seeds round and fleshy, and about as large as a pea.
History. -- Skunk Cabbage is a native of the United States, growing in moist grounds, flowering in March and April, and maturing its fruit in August and September, forming a roughened, globular mass, two or three inches in diameter, and shedding its bullet-like fruit, one-third to half an inch in diameter, which are filled with a singular solid, fleshy embryo. The parts used are the seeds and roots, which have an extremely disagreeable odor. Water or alcohol extracts their virtues. Chemically it contains a fixed oil, wax, starch, volatile oil and fat, salts of lime, silica, iron, and manganese.
Properties and Uses. -- Internally it is a stimulant, exerting expectorant, antispasmodic, with slightly narcotic influences. It is successfully used in asthma, whooping-cough, nervous irritability, hysteria, fits, epilepsy, convulsions, chronic catarrh, pulmonary and bronchial affections.
Dose. -- Fluid extract, twenty to eighty drops; tincture (three ounces of root or seed to a pint of alcohol), half a teaspoonful; syrup (two ounces of fluid extract to eight ounces of simple syrup), two or three teaspoonfuls.