This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Pheasants' Eye, False Hellebore, adonis ver-nalis. Not official in the U. S., but is in Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, and Switzerland. Consequently the drug must be assigned a degree of importance. The National Formulary lists it.
Certain acrid properties in the fresh plant are reputed to produce abortion; they disappear on drying.
Adonis is a member of the digitalis group, partaking of the general properties of digitalis itself; but it is more prompt in action, slowing and strengthening the beats and raising arterial blood-pressure. In consequence it is diuretic. It is rapidly eliminated. In toxic doses it causes paralysis of the cardiac motor nerves.
Similar to digitalis, but not, in general, so reliable. It is a good substitute when digitalis disagrees or has become cumulative. Also, in severe cases, it may be given with digitalis until after the system comes under the slower-acting digitalis. It is a prompt remedy in dyspnea and cardiac dropsy. In my experience, it is too potent a drug to use in functional derangements of the heart, raising blood-pressure rapidly and causing much discomfort. Never give to children or persons with high or normal blood-pressure.
It is administered in 1- to 2-drop doses of the fl. every 2 to 4 hours.
Adonidin is a very bitter glucosid derived from adonis, and partaking quite fully of its properties. It is used principally in mitral and aortic regurgitation, dyspnea, and nicotine poisoning. Dose, 1-16 to 1/4 grain in the form of a tablet triturate. Be very careful with this energetic agent.
Adonis and adonidin achieved some reputation in the treatment of asthma, and then it was thought to be useful in other spasmodic affections, inclusive of epilepsy. I have given the drug thorough clinical trial and believe it to be of no value in epilepsy or spasmodic asthma; but it does aid in cardiac asthma. I have also observed it to be useful in conditions of the circulation with engorged veins and leading to varicose ulcers, in which cases quite small doses should be given for a long period.
This energetic drug should be given more detailed study. I believe it possesses virtues distinct enough to give it a defined place in therapeutics. I have employed it for many years with good results.