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. - Rhatany-root owes its powerful styptic qualities to the presence of krameric acid, C24H12O11, a dark-red, shining, amorphous substance, little soluble in cold water; a large quantity of tannin; and a substance called rhatanine, which is dissolved out in the watery extract, and crystallizes in coherent masses of slender and fragile crystals; formula C10H13NO3 It is said to be identical with angeline, the resinous alkaloid of the leguminous plant Fereira spectabilis.
Physiological Action. - This has not yet been investigated with any exactness. (According to Trousseau and Pidoux, the extract of rhatany given in doses of eight to sixteen grains causes a painful sensation of weight in the stomach, with sharp pricking pains; digestion is interfered with and constipation induced. After some hours general malaise with embarrassed respiration.)
Therapeutic Action. - Rhatany is a very valuable tonic in cases of indigestion arising from direct debility, and is particularly serviceable when the habit is flaccid or leuco-phlegmatic. Dr. Percival, the celebrated Manchester physician, strongly recommended it in advanced stages of typhus fever, stating that it possesses all the good qualities of port wine without the disadvantage of containing alcohol. Sir Henry Halford was accustomed to prescribe it for fluor albus, and with marked success. He gave it also for passive uterine and other haemorrhages.
Rhatany is an excellent tonic also to associate with diuretics, cathartics, and absorbent stimulants, in cases of dropsy arising from debility. By reason, too, of its tonic qualities, when Peruvian bark, in any of its preparations, disagrees with the stomach, it may be substituted for that drug with the most beneficial results. Unfortunately, it is itself apt to be rejected by the stomach until after three or four doses have been taken, but in such cases of course it may be ordered in the shape of pills instead of extract. Administered in diabetes, rhatany diminishes the quantity of urine; but the secretion of sugar, and other morbid phenomena, remain unaltered. Ipecacuanha and its preparations are incompatible with rhatany, as with other vegetable astringents.
Externally employed, the extract of rhatany is styptic. It operates powerfully upon certain kinds of tumors, resolving the parts, and restoring tone to them. It also corrects and cures many kinds of ulcers when applied in plasters. (Boyer introduced the use of rhatany in treatment of fissure of the anus. Trousseau recommends that it be used in this disease in the following manner: let the patient take an ordinary enema in the morning; then, after the bowels have been moved inject a mixture composed of extract of rhatany, fifteen to forty grains, tincture of the same fifteen minims, water two ounces. This to be retained for a moment and the injection repeated night and morning.)
Preparations and Dose. - Tinct. Krameriae, 3 ss. - 3 ij. (2. - 8.); Ext. Krameriae, gr. ij. - v. (.12 - .30); Ext. Kram. Fl., m v. - xx. (.30 - 1.20); Syrup. Kram., 3 ss. - 3 ij. (2.50 - 10.); Infus. Kram.
(15. - 60.).