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.
Hydrastis, Golden Seal. This highly useful but expensive drug has many preparations. The fluidextract well represents its activities. The U. S. P. gives the average dose as 30 I. Personal experience leads me to believe it would be wise to divide this figure by three. It can be given in diluted and flavored glycerine or in some simple elixir. The U. S. P. tincture is preferable in some regards. Dose, 20 to 60 I . The ec, tr. is an alcoholic fluidextract containing a bitter coloring principle, berberine, the so-called white alkaloids, hydrastine, canadine, resin, and oily principles. Use m half the fluid-extract dose. Lloyd's colorless hydrastis is non-alcoholic and contains the colorless alkaloids, inorganic salts, and considerable glycerine. Hydrastine is given in doses of from 0 to 3 gr. as usually made, but the hydrastine (alkaloid) as made by Merck and others in one-third this dose. Merck's hydrastine hydrochlorate is given in doses of 1/4 to I gr. It is a white powder, whereas Merck's hydrastinine hydrochlorate is a yellow, crystalline powder, and the maximum dose is 0 gr. The alkaloids are very high in price, and are apt to disappoint in practice when given internally. Where something cheaper will do plants containing considerable berberine, such as berberis aquifolium, or else berberine phosphate, serve very nicely. Really, hydrastis is overrated to-day and berberis is not sufficiently appreciated. Berberis combines in ordinary mixtures much better than does hydrastis. In physiologic action hydrastis stimulates the nervous system in a manner somewhat similarly to brucine. Strychnine, brucine, and hydrastis are a descending scale in intensity of nerve stimulation, but each successive step downward is one toward more prolonged action. They bear the same relationship as do nitroglycerine, dynamite, and gun powder.
Hydrastis stimulates respiration and circulation; it stimulates muscle tonus and inhibits fatty and other degenerative muscle changes. In the gastro-intestinal region it stimulates peristalsis and increases normal secretions. The therapy naturally divides into three headings. When the nerve and muscle stimulating properties are called for, give large doses; to influence secretion, small doses as a rule. It is also used locally. In large doses it is employed in chronic alcoholism in conjunction with gold, strychnine, gentian, and capsicum. It is useful in general debility with defective assimilation and nerve atony. In this connection it operates in harmony with iron, quinine, and ignatia. In uterine sub-involution and passive post-partum hemorrhage give in large doses with other indicated remedies. Large doses are recommended in night sweats and in altered states of the heart muscle. In marked atonic dyspepsia with jaundice large doses are demanded at first.
In small doses it applies to many functional disorders of the stomach, especially when catarrhal in character. Capsules containing the powdered drug act well in this connection. It may be combined with laxatives, digestants, and bismuth. In irritable states of the stomach the fluid preparations, especially the colorless hydrastis, probably act better. In dilatation of the stomach, long-continued use of small doses of hvdrastine hvdrochlorate is effective. The homeopathic's 2x tablet triturates seem to act nicely. In chronic constipation with hepatic congestion it acts nicely combined with leptandra, and, when there is nausea or sick headache, iris or chionanthus. In the second stage of gonorrhea and when ulcers upon the skin resist local treatment give hydrastis. In all catarrhal conditions characterized by a thick. yellow, ropy secretion, no difference where located, give small doses of hydrastis. (F.e., 3 to 5 I.)
Locally, in varying strength, to relaxed and unhealthy mucous membranes and as a gargle in ulcerated sore mouth, colorless hydrastis in 5 to 30% solution. Hydrastine hydrochlorate (Merck) in conjunctivitis, 1-10 to 1-5% solution; gonorrhea, 1/4 to 1/2% solution; in skin diseases, I %. The glycerite of hydrastis is used in cervical erosions.