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.
Veratrum. The U. S. P. veratrum is either Veratrum Album or Veratrum Viride. In order to give reliable information herein and endeavor to solve the problem why the revisers class these two agents as practically one, I read up a dozen authorities, and infer that as recent investigators declare that the two plants are of similar alkaloidal content, the revisers accepted these conclusions as final and the plants identical. In my humble opinion, the history of the investigations of these two plants has always been so involved as to the alkaloidal content and the conclusions of equally able chemists so contradictory as to render it a very rash proceeding to base the therapy of such toxic agents upon them. As a matter of fact, a good deal of veratrum album grown in high, mountainous regions is very similar to veratrum viride, but the plant varies according to its habitat. Our source of supply is Europe, and we get very dry and uncertain crude white hellebore from there as a rule. Until the U. S. P. veratrum preparations are upon a much more scientific basis than at present, or until assay methods are devised that really determine something tangible about these complex drugs, it is best to not use the U. S. P. veratrum at all. I say this regretfully and against the statements of excellent authorities, but I have used a good deal of veratrum upon sick people, and that is the real test and punches holes in considerable theory and laboratory data. Read the dispensatories of a few years back upon veratrum album, with the marked cautions given therein, and you will appreciate my point of view. See "Veratrum Viride."