SenegAe Radix. The Root of Polygala Senega. Seneka. Snake-root. Nat. Ord. Polygalaceae. Linn. Syst. Diadelphia Octandria. Hab. North America.
Med. Prop. and Action. Stimulant, expectorant, diuretic, and emmena-gogue, in doses of gr. x. - xl., every three or four hours; in larger dotes it proves emetic and cathartic. It is best given in the form of infusion or decoction (Ph. L.) in doses of fl. oz. j. - fl. oz. ij,, three or four times daily. It is a powerful stimulant of the absorbent system; it increases all the secretions, particularly the urine and saliva; indeed, in some instances, a copious and troublesome salivation occurs during its prolonged use. It diminishes any irregularity of the heart's action, renders the pulse slower and firmer, and imparls a tone to the digestive organs, and to the general system. Its activity depends upon Senegin or Polygalic Acid, which, in doses of gr. viij., has proved fatal to dogs in three hours. As its name indicates, it was formerly esteemed in the treatment of the bites of snakes; * but its use in this character is now discontinued. It is contra-indicated in all active inflammatory states, particularly of the lungs.
Offic. Prep. 1. Infusum 8enegae (Senega bruised oz. ss.; Boiling Distilled Water fl. oz. x. Infuse one hour and strain). Dose, fl. oz. j. - fl. oz. ij.
iiss.; Proof Spirit Oj. Prepared by maceration and percolation). Dose, xxx. - fl. drs. ij.
Dose of Powdered Senega, gr. x. - xl.
In Pneumonia, when the inflammatory symptoms have subsided, and any amount of debility, with weak pulse, cool skin, cough, and dyspnoea remains, Dr. C. B. Williams recommends the use of the decoction of Senega. He considers that, besides its tonic property, it acts specifically upon the lungs and absorbent system. He states that he has seen cases of this kind, which had resisted other remedies, almost immediately improved by its use. In a few hours the pulse has become slower, the breathing more free, the tongue cleaner, and the strength is improved. In Chronic Catarrh, it has also been found highly serviceable; and in Chronic Bronchitis, Dr. Stoke6 prefers it to all other remedies, particularly when given in combination with Carbonate of Ammonia. It has also been recommended in Humoral Asthma.
2484. In Croup, in the second stage, when the object is to cause the expulsion of the membrane or lymph which has been thrown out during the first or active stage of the disease, Dr. Dewees strongly advises Senega, as a powerful and certain emetic. He directs ss. of the powdered root to be boiled in Oss. of water, until the quantity is reduced to one-half. Of this one or two teaspoonfuls are to be given every fifteen or twenty minutes, until it causes vomiting. Dr. Archer§ advises it to be conjoined with the use of Calomel.
2485. In Gastro-enteritis, complicated with Disease of the Lungs, Senega is highly spoken of by Dr. Stokes. || He states, that if
* See Catesby'8 Nat. Hist. of Carolina, Introduction.
Cyc. Pract. Med., vol. iii. p. 445. X On the Management of Children,
&c., 7th Ed., p. 479.
§ Duncan's Annals of Med., vol. iv. p. 511.
|| Cyc. Pract. Med., vol. ii. p. 339.
given before ptyalism is produced, its virtues are small; but that after this has been effected, it will seldom disappoint the practitioner. He advises the following formula: - Decoct. SenegAe fvij., T. ScillAe, T. Opii Camph. āā f3j., Amnion. Carb. gr.v. - j., M. capiat. coch. amp. j. secundis horis.
2486. In Ascites and Dropsical Affections occurring after Fevers, and other Debilitating Diseases, the influence of Senega is often very marked. It not only greatly increases the urinary secretion, but improves the tone of the digestive organs and the system generally. It may be given in doses of fl. oz. ij. of the infusion with Squills, &c, three or four times a day; and in order to increase its diuretic effect, diluents should be employed, and the surface of the body kept cool.
2487. In Palpitations connected with Disease of the Heart, Lombard,* of Geneva, observes that Senega is a valuable remedy, in doses of gr. xij. - xxiv. of the Extract, or j. of the root infused in fiv. of water. The daily administration of this remedy appears to diminish the frequency and irregularity of the heart's action, as well as the consequent sanguineous congestion, in individuals suffering from disease of the heart, with dilatation of the cavities. In Hysterical Palpitations, it also proves highly serviceable, combined with Henbane, the carbonates, &c.
2488. In Amenorrha and Dysmenorrha, Senega, as an em-menagogue, was first recommended by Dr. Hartishorne, of Philadelphia. He found it chiefly useful in recent cases, and began to administer it a fortnight before the expected appearance of the discharge; giving Oj. of a saturated decoction daily, until the medicine disagreed, or the discharge appeared. Dr. Chapman found it particularly useful where a membrane was habitually discharged, and combined it with an alterative course of Mercury.