This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol1", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
Wild ginger is the root (rhizome) of Asarum Canadense, a very small, perennial indigenous plant, growing in wooded grounds, from Canada to Georgia. All parts of the plant have an agreeable aromatic odour, which is strongest in the root. This is in long, somewhat contorted pieces, of the medium thickness of a crowquill, hard and brittle, externally wrinkled and brownish, internally whitish, and often furnished with short radicles. Its taste is aromatic, bitterish, and grateful, bearing some resemblance to that of cardamom. The active principles are a volatile oil. and a bitter acrid resin. Water extracts them partially, alcohol completely.
Wild ginger is a stimulant aromatic, with tonic and diaphoretic properties, somewhat analogous to serpentaria in its operation, but with less of the characteristic effects of the simple bitters, and approaching more nearly the subdivision of tonics in which it is here placed. It may be used as a gentle stimulant and diaphoretic in low fevers; but I should be more disposed to employ it for the same purposes as ginger, for which the country people are said occasionally to substitute it, and its affinity for which is indicated by one of its common names. It might be appropriately used as an adjuvant of tonic and purgative infusions, in debilitated states of the alimentary canal. The dose of the powder is twenty or thirty grains. It may be given also in infusion, made with half an ounce of the root and a pint of boiling water, in the dose of two fluid-ounces. It would form an elegant tincture, which might be made by macerating four ounces in two pints of diluted alcohol, and used, as an addition to tonic infusions, in the quantity of one or two fluidrachms for each dose.