This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics - Vegetable Kingdom", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica And Therapeutics: Vegetable Kingdom.
Active Ingredients. - When bruised, the chimaphila evolves a powerful odor; the leaves, while fresh, possess considerable acridity, though in taste warm and somewhat pungent and astringent. In the dried state the plant smells like tea. The chief ingredients appear to be a bitter extractive matter, in which is contained a yellow crystalline principle called chimaphiline, discovered by Fairbank, a resin, also tannin, and, perhaps, a little gallic acid.
Physiological Action. - The freshly gathered leaves, if bruised and applied to the skin, act as a rubefacient and vesicant. The decoction of the dried plant is tonic, producing agreeable sensations in the stomach, exciting the appetite, and assisting digestion. All the secreting organs, the kidneys in particular, receive a degree of stimulus from it, and it is said to check the secretion of lithic acid.
Therapeutic Action. - The chimaphila was found to be in use among the aborigines of North America almost as early as the first settlement there of Europeans; but it was not until 1803 that the notice of the medical profession was directly drawn to it.1 In 1817 Dr. Wolff, of Gottingen, published a treatise, "De Pyrola Umbellata," but in England it has never received the attention it would seem to deserve.
In several forms of chronic nephritic disease, attended by albuminuria, it unquestionably has power. It is useful, also, as a diuretic in dropsy (especially when the disease is accompanied by loss of appetite and great debility). Chronic catarrhal affections of the urinary organs are likewise amenable to it, as are haematuria, ischuria, dysuria, and gonorrhoea.
As a remedy for scrofula, the chimaphila holds a certain amount of reputation. As a tonic, it may be exhibited with advantage. Externally it has been found useful in tumors and ulcers of various kinds.
Chimaphila may be expected to prove a useful remedy in gout and rheumatism, especially if, as above stated, it has the power of checking the secretion of lithic acid.
Preparations And Dose. - Extract. Chimaphilae Fluidum, m xv. xv. - 3 j. (1. - 4.); Decoct. Chimaph.,
(1 This is a mistake: both the Pyrola umbellata and P. maculata are mentioned by Schoepf (Mat. Med. Arner., 1787). Of the latter he says: "Infusum foliorum, ante annos aliquot, sub nomine Pipsisseva, frequentissime ad Febres intermittentes exhibe-batur in Pennsylvania." In the " Reports of the Medical Society of the City of New-York, on Nostrums or Secret Medicines" (1827) Chimaphila is mentioned as a probable ingredient of Swaim's panacea, a then celebrated nostrum.)
- iv. (30. - 120.).