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.
Life Root, Senecio Aureus. Not official anywhere, but is listed in the N. F. There are a number of the ragworts, all species of senecio, or allied to it. Cushny, in a paper in The Jour. of Pharmacol. and Exper. Med., July, 1911, attributed hepatic cirrhosis in cattle and horses in New Zealand, "pictou" in cattle grazing in Nova Scotia, and "molteno" in the cattle of South Africa, to the eating of Senecio latifolius and possibly to Senecio jacoboea, the latter called Stinking Willie. Other species are thought to be equally poisonous, but S. vulgaris is reported to be harmless. Cushny experimented with senecifoline nitrate and found it to stimulate the upper part of the central nervous axis, and after several days the animal would develop jaundice and die. Post-mortem revealed destructive disease of the liver.
Some of the species grown in Mexico are said to be active poisons.
Pilcher, Delzell, and Burman (Jour. Amer. Med. Assn., Aug. 12, 1916) reported animal experiments, using strips of uterine muscle, in the testing of several drugs used as uterine remedies. They report Senecio aureus as possessing a very weak sedative effect upon the uterus. I am unable to find any other critical studies of the drug.
Eclectic physicians recommend this drug in a number of rather dissimilar conditions, but dependent upon the proposition that senecio is diuretic, tonic, and emmenagogue. These indications are obviously derived from the Homeopathic "provings" of the drug. The dose of the fl. is from 1 to 40 minims.
In the absence of any definite data upon this rather disagreeable tasting drug, I have never employed it sufficiently to reach any conclusions concerning its clinical value. It should be studied anew, as it is evidently active and may be of real value.