This section is from the book "A Practitioner's Handbook Of Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Thos. S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: A Practitioner's handbook of Materia Medica and Therapeutics.
Gelsemium T his official drug comes into prominence through the efforts of the eclectics, who have always maintained that the recent root should be employed in making extracts and tinctures. They probably overstate the matter, but the present author has made almost daily use of gelsemium for sixteen years (it being a favorite drug with me), and I am satisfied that green root fluid-extracts of gelsemium give better results, if not more marked physiologic reactions, than does the U. S. P. preparation. There is a peculiar honey-like odor to green gelsemium largely dissipated by drying. The alkaloids extracted from gelsemium do not represent the therapeutic values of the drug itself, but possess a certain usefulness. Merck's Gelseminine is an antispasmodic and antineuralgic used in doses of 1-120 to 1-30 gr. An initial dose of 1-10 gr., followed by smaller ones, is a good physiologic antidote for strychnia poisoning. The U. S.P. f.e. and tr. are very representative preparations of the dried, and the ec. tr. and @ of the green gelsemium. Gelsemium directs its action principally to the central nervous system. By inhibiting nerve action it tends to diminish the blood supply to the brain and cord. It inhibits excessive nerve action, relieving irritation in sthenic conditions, but doing harm in asthenic states. The indication for gelsemium is acute cerebral hyperemia manifested by a flushed face, bright eyes, contracted pupils, and increased heat of the head. In the acute fevers of infants and children this agent is very generally indicated, and is most prompt and yet safe in its effects. Aconite could with great advantage be displaced by gelsemium in many of these cases. If there is a spasmodic tendency manifested, pretty good doses can be given to a babe. Gelsemium is, like aconite, useful in the early stage of acute inflammation, but more particularly when there is hyperemia of the brain or cord. Never give it in asthenic congestions. With adults the early stages of cerebral, spinal, or meningeal inflammations usually call for gelsemium, and it should be used in place of the bromides in a great many such states. Nervous wakefulness or nervous headache are often relieved by it at once. The surgeon finds it useful in the nervous excitation incident to peritonitis, salpingitis, and puerperal fever.
Acute colds, some spasmodic coughs, acute nephritis from colds as well as post-diphtheritic or post-scarlatinal nephritis, spasmodic pain in the genito-urinary tract, and spasmodic urethral stricture, the first stages of gonorrhea, spasmodic ovarian neuralgia, uterine colic, a rigid os uteri in labor, excessive after-pains, hysteria, initial stages of tetanus, chorea, facial neuralgia, torticollis, rheumatic fever, the irritable heart of hysteria, and many other conditions call for gelsemium as a part at least of the indicated medication. Dose, adults, f.e., 1/2 to 5 I.; tr., 5 to 30 I.; ec. tr., 1/2 to 5 I.; 8, 3 to 20 I.. Maximum single dose, f.e. or ec. tr., 10 I. In small doses. The therapeutics of this drug being so sharply defined by its rather circumscribed physiologic action, we have not attempted to separate the consideration into two groups of diseases since the actions of large and small doses differ only in degree. It is proper to state that successful homeopaths use it in the first dilution for its physiologic indications and in higher dilution for its homeopathic indications, viz., "prostration, loss of muscular power, drowsiness, lassitude, dullness, and vertigo."