Asiatic Penny-wort. Vullarei (Tam.). Nat. Ord. UmbelliferAe. Linn. Syst. Pentan-dria Digynia. Hab. East Indies and other tropical countries.
Med. Prop. and Action. Tonic and alterative. "The first effect produced by;his medicine," observes Dr. A. Hunter, "i3 a sense of beat or tingling in the kin, especially in the hands and feet. This is followed in a few days by a general glow over the skin of the trunk, which amounts in some cases to a sense of intolerable itching, and occasionally a slight papidar redness of the skin supervenes. The general capillary circulation is accelerate'), and the pulse becomes fuller and stronger. After the medicine has been taken about a week, the appetite becomes sensibly increased, in a few instances almost voracious. The visceral functions do not appear to be interfered with, even when the medicine is given in large doses. After a time the skin begins to feel softer and smoother, the cuticle gradually desquamates in small scales, the perspiration is restored, and the secretions are increased in quantity." M. Lepine obtained on analysis a thick, pale oil, or extractive, which appears to be the active principle: this he named Vellarine, from its native Tamul name. In preparing the plant for use, the leaves and stalks must be carefully separated as soon as possible after the plant is gathered. They should be spread on a mat, and dried in the shade, but not exposed to the sun or to artificial heat, as they are thus deprived of their colour and aroma. When thoroughly dry, they must be powdered, sifted, and kept in a closely-stoppered bottle. The ordinary dose of this powder is about gr. viij. thrice daily, the dose being gradually increased. This is the best form for administration. The infusion (gr. x., Aq. fl. oz. ij.)and decoction are not efficacious, the application of heat appearing to dissipate the oil, in which the efficacy of the plant resides. The powder sprinkled on ulcerated surfaces often stimulates them to healthy action. Cataplasms of the bruised green leaves often exercise a most salutary influence. Dr. Buileau and M. Lepine employ baths to which lb. iij. of the green plant are ad led; also vapour baths, with lb. v. of leaves to each. They likewise advise a syrup and an extract, but these forms are objectionable, from their entailing the application of heat, which dissipates the active principle of the plant. Dose of powdered leaves, gr. viij., upwards.
In Leprosy, especially in the Anaesthetic form of the disease, it was first introduced by Dr. Boileau, of the Mauritius, under the name of Bevilacqua. The results were stated to be so satisfactory, that it attracted the notice of Indian practitioners; and M. Lepine, at Pondicherry, and Dr. A. Hunter, at Madras, submitted it to a rigorous trial. The reports of the former quite bore out the statements of Dr. Boileau; but from those of the latter it appears that, though it possesses no right to the title of specific, yet that the benefits derived from it are sufficiently well marked to entitle it to the character of an efficacious remedy. My own experience with the remedy, which has been somewhat extensive, tends to bear out the same conclusion. In some cases of anaesthetic Leprosy, the improvement was both rapid and decided: old ulcers rapidly healing, the digestion assuming a healthy tone, the skin becoming softer and clearer, and the general appearance greatly improving; in some the improvement was less marked, whilst in others it seemed to have little effect, the patients objecting to its use on account of the violent irritation it caused over the surface of the body. Its effects in Tubercular Leprosy are not nearly so well marked as in the anaesthetic variety. At the same time that it is administered internally, it should be locally applied to the ulcerations, either in the form of cataplasms of the green plant, or in powder sprinkled over a rice poultice.
* On Phlegmasia Dolens, &c. London, 1862'.
Commentaries, op. cit.
Madras Med. Rep. 1855, pp. 356,375.
1530. In Secondary and Constitutional Syphilis, it is a remedy of great value, especially in old-standing cases, when the skin and subjacent cellular tissue are the seat of the disease. On this point, Dr. Hunter observes, "The diseases in which it has been found peculiarly efficacious are Ulcers, Syphilis, and Scrofula. Nearly all ulcers have been found to heal under a course of this medicine; and amongst the successful cases, even many which had long resisted other modes of treatment. Lupus and Cancerous Ulcers do not appear to heal under its employment, though some cases derive temporary benefit from it. Simple Ulcers and common Cutaneous Eruptions are in general speedily cured by its use. Syphilitic Ulcers are also much benefited, and Sloughing Ulcers are frequently stimulated to healthy action by its use." Its employment has also been found to improve some forms of chronic Rheumatism.