This section is from the book "Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by W. Hale White. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics..
Serpentaria. - Synonym. - Virginia Snakeroot. The rhizome and roots of Aristolochia Serpentaria Linne, and of Aristolochia reticulata Nuttall (nat. ord. Aristolochiaceae).
United States, in hilly woods.
The rhizome is about 25 mm. long, thin, bent; on the upper side with approximate short stem bases; on the lower side with numerous, thin, branching roots about 10 cm. long; dull, yellowish-brown, internally whitish; the wood-rays of the rhizome longest on the lower side; odor aromatic, camphoraceous; taste warm, bitterish, and camphoraceous. The roots of Aristolochia reticulata are coarser, longer, and less interlaced than those of Aristolochia Serpentaria. Resembling Serpentaria. - Veratrune Viride, (see p. 442), Arnica, (see p. 530), and Valerian, (see p. 556.)
The chief constituents are - (1) A bitter principle, Aristo-lochine in light-yellow needles. (2) A volatile oil, 1/2 per cent. containing a Terpene, and mainly C15H25O2, Borneol Ether. (3) Resin. (4) Tannic Acid in small quantity.
Serpentaria is used to prepare Tinctura Cinchonas Composita.
Dose, 10 to 30 gr.; .60 to 2.00 gm.
Dose, 10 to 30 m.; .60 to 2.00 c.c.
2. Tinctura Serpentariae. - Tincture of Serpentaria. Serpentaria, 100; by maceration and percolation with Alcohol and Water to 1000.
Dose, 1/2 to 2 fl. dr.; 2. to 8. c.c.
In the small doses in which serpentaria is given in medicine it is a bitter stomachic, acting just like calumba and cascarilla, and is used for the same class of cases. It is rarely prescribed alone. In large doses it produces vomiting and purging. Many virtues have been attributed to it which it quite likely does not possess.