Veratrum viride, Aiton. The dried rhizome and roots, with not more than 5 p.c. stems or other foreign organic matter, yielding not more than 4 p.c. acid-insoluble ash.

Habitat. N. America, Canada to Georgia, in rich, wet woods, swamps.

Syn. Verat. Vir., Green Hellebore, American Hellebore, American White Hellebore, Swamp or False Veratrum (Hellebore), Devil's Bite, Duckretter, Bugbane, Bugwort, Earth Gall, Indian Poke (their ordeal poison). Tickle (Itch) Weed (to bare-legged boys); Veratri Viridis Rhizoma; Fr. Veratre vert; Ger. Gruner Germer.

Ve-ra'trum. L. vere, truly, + ater, black, dark -- i.e., the color of the roots of some species.

Vir'i-de. L. viridis, green -- i.e., flowers are greenish.

Plant

Large, luxuriant, perennial herb; stem annual .6-2 M. (2-7 degrees) high, stout, cylindrical, solid, nearly smooth, pale green, unbranched except in the inflorescence; leaves 12.5-20 Cm. (5-8') long, oblong, acuminate, sheathing the stem, plaited, nerved, pubescent; flowers May-July, many polygamous, nearly sessile, greenish-yellow, racemes with downy peduncles, sepals petaloid; fruit of 3 nearly distinct follicles 2.5 Cm. (1') long, pericarp dry, brown, ventral dehiscence; seed flat, about 12 in each carpel.

Rhizome

upright, obconical, usually cut longitudinally into 2-4 pieces, 2-7 Cm. (4/5-3') long, 1.5-3 Cm. (3/5-1 1/5') thick, brownish, frequently numerous thin leaf-bases closely arranged at the summit, otherwise rough, wrinkled, somewhat annulate from scars of bud-scales; inodorous; taste bitter, acrid. Roots numerous, nearly cylindrical, 3-8 Cm. (1 1/5-3') long, 1- 4 Mm. (1/25-1/6') thick, usually brittle, whitish, more or less starchy.

Powder

grayish-brown -- strongly sternutatory, numerous starch grains .003-.02 Mm. (1/8325-1/1250') broad, raphides of calcium oxalate, tracheae scalariform or reticulate, often with lemon-yellow contents, lignified porous fibers; few reddish-brown cork fragments. Solvent: alcohol. Dose, gr. 1-4 (.06-.26 Gm.).

Adulterations

Rhizome of allied plants, also those of Spathyema (Symplocarpus) foetida.

Commercial

Rhizome is collected chiefly in autumn, sometimes just before flowering, washed, dried, entire or sliced, and, owing to likely deterioration, should not be kept more than a year. Fresh leaves in contact with the skin often produce itching, and when carelessly gathered and cooked, as spinach, in place of marsh marigold (cowslip--Cal'tha palus'tris), cause very serious results.

Constituents

Protoveratrine .03 p.c., Jervine .1 p.c., Rubijervine .005 p.c., Pseudojervine, Protoveratridine (decomposition product), Cevadine, veratramarin (bitter glucoside), jervic acid, fat, resin, gum, starch; veratroidine no longer considered an alkaloid, but a mixture of amorphous bases.

Protroveratrine, CHON. -- Most important; white shining crystals, soluble in chloroform, hot alcohol; solution greenish with HSO, changing to blue, violet.

Jervine, CHON. -- Most abundant; white crystals, tasteless, non-sternutatory, slightly toxic, soluble in alcohol, acetone, chloroform.

Rubijervine, CHON.HO. -- White prisms, distinguished from jervine by the ready solubility of its nitrate and sulphate; almost inert.

Pseudojervine, CHON. -- White crystals, soluble in alcohol; almost inert.

Preparations

1. Tinctura Veratri Viridis.  Tincture of Veratrum Viride.  (Syn., Tr. Verat. Vir., Tincture of Green (American) Hellebore; Fr. Teinture de Veratre vert; Ger. Grun Nieswurzeltinktur.)

Manufacture

10 p.c.  Moisten 10 Gm. with sufficient alcohol, transfer to percolator without pressing, let stand, well-covered, for 6 hours, pack firmly, add alcohol to saturate and cover, macerate for 24 hours, pack firmly, add alcohol to saturate and cover, macerate for 24 hours, percolate with alcohol q.s. 100 cc.  Dose, mij-10 (.13-.6 cc.).

Unoff. Preps.: Extract, dose, gr. 1/8-1/4 (.008-.016 Gm.)  Fluidextract, dose, mj-4 (.06-.24 cc.).  Dr. Norwood's Tincture, 50 p.c., saturated, being the same strength as the U.S.P. tincture of 1870, dose, mv-8 (.3-.5 cc.)

Properties

Sedative, emetic, diaphoretic, irritant, sternutatory, errhine.  This resembles aconite very closely in action, being a cardiac depressant and spinal paralyzant.  It diminishes the frequency and force of cardiac contractions, by depressing heart muscle, and stimulating inhibition (vagus), lowers arterial and blood-pressure, depresses spinal cord, causing muscular relaxation, induces cutaneous relaxation, hence free sweating; large doses produce rapid but very feeble pulse, cold, clammy skin, vomiting, debility, giddiness, impaired vision, partial unconsciousness; it is eliminated by the bowels.  Protoveratrine, the most active heart content, slows the pulse by its powerful stimulating influence upon the vagus nerve, while jervine, constituting more than one-half of the total alkaloids, plays an important part in lowering arterial tension by depressing powerfully the heart and vasomotor center; the so-called veratroidine depresses the cord, paralyzes respiration, and causes emetocatharsis, thereby often preventing fatal results.

Uses

To reduce arterial excitement, spinal spasms, pneumonia, cardiac diseases, typhoid fever.  Always given in the commencing or inflammatory stages, heart disease, nervous palpitation, puerperal and epileptiform convulsions, tetanus, chorea, mania-a-potu, diphtheria.

Poisoning, Incompatibles, Synergists: Same as for aconite.

Allied Plants

Veratrum al'bum, White Hellebore (Veratrum). -- The rhizome, U.S.P. 1820-1870; Europe -- Alps, Pyrenees, Balkans.  Plant nearly identical with the official, slight variations being due possibly to climate and soil; constituents same in character and name, except there is no cevadine; the veratralbine of former writer is no longer considered an alkaloid, but a mixture of amorphous bases.  Properties and uses precisely as the official.