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 feculence of the juice of the fruit.
Description. -- This hispid and glaucous plant has several stems growing from the same root. The leaves are cordate, somewhat lobed, and on long stalks. Flowers monoecious and yellow. Fruit oblong, obtuse at each end, separating from its stalk with violence, and expelling its seeds and mucus with considerable force, in consequence of the sudden contraction of the sides.
History. -- This plant is indigenous to the south of Europe, growing in poor soils, in waste places, and flowering in July. The juice around the seeds is the officinal part, and which, when properly prepared, forms the Elaterium of commerce. It must be collected a little before the period of ripening.
Properties and Uses. -- It is an energetic hydragogue cathartic, operating with great violence in doses of a few grains, and very apt to cause diffuse inflammation of the stomach and bowels, characterized by vomiting, griping pain, and profuse diarrhoea. It is used chiefly in obstinate dropsy, and as a revulsive in cerebral affections, or wherever a revellent effect is desired. Owing to its active cathartic properties, it is always best to commence with very small doses, from the uncertainty of the preparation.
Dose. -- From one-eighth to one-half a grain.