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. Vine-maple, Moonseed.
MEDICINAL PART. The root.
Description. -- This plant has a perennial, horizontal, very long woody root, of a beautiful yellow color. The stem is round and climbing, and about a foot in length The leaves are roundish, cordate, peltate, smooth, glaucous green above, paler below, entire, and four or five inches in diameter. The flowers are in clusters, and are small and yellow. The fruit, a drupe, is about the third of an inch in diameter, and one-seeded.
History. -- Yellow Parilla grows in moist woods and hedges, and near streams, from Canada to Carolina, and west to the Mississippi. It flowers in July. The root, which is the part used, has a bitter, lasting, but not unpleasant acrid taste, and yields its virtues to water and alcohol. It is called, not without justice, American Sarsaparilla, and its active principle, known as menispermin, shows that it might have received a name less expressive of its merits.
Properties and Uses. -- The authors of herbalist dispensatories have set down Yellow Parilla as "tonic, laxative, alterative, and diuretic," and it seems to possess all these qualities. Every plant of medicinal value, however, possesses one virtue which is paramount to all others. Yellow Parilla is essentially and particularly anti-syphilitic, anti-scrofulous, anti-scorbutic, and anti-mercurial. As a purifier of the blood, it is equal to the imported sarsaparilla as we get the latter, and its active principle, menispermin, may be used with great good effect in all diseases arising from either hereditary or acquired impurities of the system. It exerts its influence principally on the gastric and salivary glands, and is found expressly beneficial in cases of adhesive inflammation, and where it is found necessary to break up organized deposits, and hasten disintegration of tissue. I use it principally for those diseases arising from a vitiated condition of the blood, but sometimes apply it to dyspepsia. A decoction of the plant may be used to advantage as an embrocation in gouty, rheumatic, and cutaneous affections. The dose of the menispermin is from one to four grains. When it produces vomiting reduce the dose.