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.
"As to the external and internal use of sanguinaria in tinea, we have not had occasion to test it; and the recorded facts are too few to allow of conviction; time and experience must decide. The stimulant effect of sanguinaria on the alimentary canal, and on all the other organs of the body, has occasioned its employment in various gastric affections accompanied by general debility. Given in small doses internally, it revives strength during convalescence from protracted adynamic diseases. It is of use whenever the stomach needs moderate stimulation. We have thus employed it in dyspepsia; and we have seen migraine yield to a few doses of sanguinaria: this is in cases where headache was due to a disturbance of stomach functions. Under the influence of the remedy the stomach contracts, the secretions are re-established, and digestion resumes its natural course.
"It is especially in various affections of the respiratory organs that sanguinaria has been employed successfully. In acute bronchitis it is given in doses small enough not to produce vomiting, but frequently repeated, until the rapidity of the pulse diminishes; in this manner the inflammatory irritation is checked, and expectoration becomes easy. Combined with hyoscyamus, conium, camphor, or opium, sanguinaria may be very useful in chronic bronchitis. The Americans have found it a very efficacious remedy in typhoid pneumonia, when mercurials, and especially calomel in small repeated doses, only did harm. We frequently employ it in pneumonia and pleuro-pneumonia, as a contra-stimulant, after having first reduced the hard resisting pulse, the frequent, anxious, shallow and painful breathing, by phlebotomy; in short, when the fever has somewhat abated and the graver symptoms have amended. Many American practitioners employ sanguinaria as an expectorant, or as an emetic in the treatment of whooping-cough. We believe that, combined with henbane, it may do much good in nervous spasmodic cough.
"Preparations of sanguinaria have been suggested for use in phthisis, with an idea of specific action, in which, spite of the assertions of the American practitioners, we put no faith. We believe that they may do much good; for besides helping expectoration they otherwise benefit the disease by reviving the enfeebled powers of the stomach.
1 Journal de medecine de Bruxelles, Juillet, 1868.
"Many remedies have been lauded for the treatment of croup or pseudo-membranous laryngitis. Diphtheria being a general malady with local manifestations, emetics, joined with other agents, are reckoned among the most useful remedies. The choice of a suitable emetic in this disease is an important matter; and the best emetic, so far known, is undoubtedly sanguinaria. Many American authors consider it the specific for croup; and they count on the alterative action of the remedy in this disease. For the last five years we have employed sanguinaria in different cases of croup. Always, when the disease had not made too formidable progress, we had occasion to praise its efficacy. In many cases we combined sanguinaria with ipecac: for instance, syrup of ipecac, 2 ounces; powdered sanguinaria, 20 grains; powdered ipecac, 5 grains: a teaspoonful every quarter of an hour till vomiting was produced; afterwards, a half teaspoonful every hour.
"Sanguinaria never produces diarrhoea, as tartar emetic does, with the very dangerous prostration which ensues. Dr. A. Allen, of Middleburg, U. S., says that the administration of finely powdered sanguinaria in the first stage of croup, in doses sufficient to cause vomiting, will strangle the disease. If traces of it remain, he gives a solution of acetate of sangui-narine, in as strong doses as are possible, without renewing the vomiting; he repeats the same dose every two, three, or four hours. According to Dr. Grover Coe, sanguinaria is very useful in secondary and tertiary syphilis. It is easy to understand that its stimulant action may relieve the stupor in which the whole organism is plunged under the combined influence of syphilis and the specific treatment. Sanguinaria has been recommended as a specific in gangrene; further experience is needed to decide in what cases it is likely to do good. Sanguinaria is also one of the favorite remedies of American physicians in hepatic engorgement from accumulation of secretion in the canaliculi without organic disease. A dose of 3/4 grain to 1/2 grain, every four hours, will cause the bile to resume its flow. Dr. Lee recommends the use of equal parts sanguinaria and aloes: this remedy may continue to be given for a long time without the inconveniences which attend the use of mercurials. We have used powdered sanguinaria, either alone or combined with podophyllin, in many cases of hysteria due either to profound disturbance of the nervous system from pain or from moral causes, or to chronic hepatitis: we have always obtained a speedy cure. We usually employed this formula: - Podophyllin, 3 grains; sanguinaria, 8 grains; soap, 8 grains; extract of hyoscyamus, 3 grains; make 20 pills: from two to four to be taken every day.
"Finally, Dr. Coe declares that sanguinaria holds the first rank as an emmenagogue: in cases of weakness he recommends it to be combined with tonics. We have given it in several cases of amenorrhosa, and the flux has returned. The Americans almost always combine sanguinaria with other remedies having analogous properties."1
Enough has now been said to show that the merits of sanguinaria are very positive, and that the neglect of it in English practice is a remarkable instance either of short-sightedness or of prejudice. This neglect is the more singular, because, as long ago as 1839, the researches of Probst and Reuling had shown the powerful physiological properties of chelerythrine.
(1 The writer of the above seems to have obtained most of his information from eclectic sources.)
Preparations and Dose. -
Tinctura Sanguinariae, Acetum Sanguinariae, mxv. - 3 ss..(l. - 2.).
"Sanguinarin" (not officinal), gr. 1/6 - 1/2 (.01 - .03).