This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Vincetoxicum, Afclepas, Hirundinaria. Afclepias albo flore C. B. Afclepias Vincetoxicum Linn. Swallow-wort, tame-poison: a plant with unbranched stalks; smooth oblong acuminated leaves set in pairs, and clusters of white mono-petalous flowers, each of which is divided into five lections, and followed by two long pods full of a white cottony matter with small brown-ish seeds: the root is large, composed of a great number of (lender firings hanging from a trans-verse head, externally browni(h, internally white. It is perennial, grows wild in gravelly grounds in some parts of England, and flowers in July.
The root of vincetoxicum has, when fresh, a moderately strong not agreeable smell, approaching to that of wild valerian, which in drying is in great part dissipated; chewed, it impresses first a considerable sweetness, which is soon succeeded by an unpleasant subacrid bitter-ishness: an extract made from it by water, is moderately sweetish, balsamic, and bitterish; the spirituous extract is stronger in taste, pro-portionably smaller in quantity, and retains a part of the specific flavour of the root. It is recommended as resolvent, sudorific, and diuretic; in catarrhal, cachectic, and scrophulous disorders, and in uterine obstructions; in doses of from a scruple to a dram or more in sub-stance, and three or four drams in infusion. It has been employed by some of the Germans as an alexipharmac, and hence received the name of contrayerva Germancrum. Some have however suspected it to possess noxious qualities, and observe that when fresh it excites vomiting. Among us it is scarcely ever made use of in any intention.
(a) Gohl, Acta medico. Berolinens. dec. I. vol ii. n. 5.