The fresh root and plant Collinsonia canadensis, Linné.
COMMON NAMES: Stone-root, Rich-weed, Rich-leaf, Knob-weed, Knob-root, Horsebalm, Horse-weed, and improperly as Hardhack and Heal-all.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Meehan's Native Flowers and Ferns, II, 165; Millspaugh's American Medicinal Plants, Pl. 119.
Botanical Source.—Collinsonia is a perennial herb, having a square stem, smooth, or slightly pubescent, somewhat branching at the top, and growing from 2 to 4 feet high. The leaves are large, coarsely serrated, ovate, acuminate, lower ones petiolate, upper ones nearly sessile. The flowers, appearing in summer and early fall, are greenish-yellow, and are arranged in a terminal paniculate raceme. The corolla, funnel-shaped, is 2-lipped, with throat expanded, the lower lip being larger and fringed. The stamens, usually 2, are much exserted. The flowers exhale a balsamic odor, somewhat suggestive of the lemon, and the whole plant when bruised also gives this odor, which is rather disagreeable, especially in the root.
History.—Collinsonia is found in damp, shady situations, and in rich, moist woods, from Canada to Florida, and flowering from July to September. The whole plant has a peculiar, lemon-like, balsamic odor, rather disagreeable in the root, and a spicy, pungent taste. The fresh root, which is the part chiefly employed in Eclectic medicine, is exceedingly hard, requiring to be crushed in an iron mortar, in order to prepare it for pharmaceutical manipulation. It has a sharp, spicy taste. Water and alcohol extract its virtues, but boiling destroys its medicinal properties, as its active principle is evanescent. It is most familiar under the name Stone-root, because of the hardness of its root, and not, as stated by Johnson (Med. Bot.), on account of its having been formerly used in calculous affections. This plant was named in honor of Peter Collinson, an English merchant, botanist, and antiquarian, who introduced many American trees, shrubs, and plants into English gardens.
Chemical Composition.—Collinsonia has been analyzed by Mr. Lochman (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1885), and was found to contain resin, starch, tannin, wax in all parts of the plant, mucilage in the root, and volatile oil in the leaves. The therapeutic constituent or constituents of collinsonia have never been recorded if determined. The old Eclectic concentration (or resinoid), has long since become obsolete in the practice of modern Eclectics. It is a mixture of uncertain composition.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Collinsonia is said to be alterative, tonic, stimulant, and diuretic. It acts principally on the venous system and mucous tissues, and undoubtedly has a marked action on the vagus, relieving irritation in parts to which that nerve is distributed. Minute doses of the green plant will promptly provoke emesis. The warm infusion will induce perspiration. It has long teen a popular domestic remedy for various disorders. The bruised leaves were applied as a poultice in burns, bruises, wounds, ulcers, sores, sprains, contusions, and for internal abdominal ailments. The root was used in female complaints, piles, urinary diseases, and gastro-intestinal affections.
The remedy has been used with varying degrees of success by the profession in female disorders, as amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia, vicarious menstruation, prolapsus uteri, leucorrhoea, threatened abortion, and pruritis vulvae, dependent on varicosis.
Stone-root, being diuretic and tonic, was formerly much used in genito-urinary troubles. It was highly thought of in calculous diathesis. While very much overrated, it is probable that it was not without beneficial results in toning the renal organs and allaying irritation consequent upon the presence of gravel. It is certainly a good remedy in vesical catarrh. Good results have come from its employment in spermatorrhoea and varicocele, when accompanied by piles. Catarrhal conditions, whether of renal, vesical, or genito-urinary organs, or of the respiratory mucous surfaces, are speedily, benefited by it. Even the cough of phthisis is rendered much less harassing by its administration.
One of the first uses of collinsonia by Eclectics was in the treatment of that form of laryngitis known as "minister's sore throat." For this condition it is the best agent we possess. It is equally valuable in other forms of chronic laryngitis, pharyngitis, and in some cases of chronic bronchitis, and tracheitis. It is an excellent remedy for aphonia, resulting from vascular hyperemia, or from congestion. In throat troubles: Rx Specific collinsonia, flʒii to fl℥j; simple syrup, q. s., fl℥iv. Mix. Sig. Teaspoonful every 3 or 4 hours.
In diseases of the gastro-intestinal tract, it is beneficial in relieving irritation, improving the appetite, promoting the flow of gastric juice, and in exerting a decided tonic effect upon the organs involved. It is more clearly indicated when piles are present as a complication. It is a good remedy in indigestion, irritative dyspepsia, chronic gastritis, chronic gastric catarrh, diarrhoea, dysentery, colic, and spasmodic conditions of the stomach and intestines. By its tonic action upon the bowels, it is a valuable remedy for constipation. Perhaps one of the most direct indications for collinsonia, is a hemorrhoidal and constipated state due to vascular engorgement of the pelvic viscera. The most marked symptoms calling for it will be a sense of constriction, heat, and weight in the rectum, with dry, scybalous feces. Under these conditions the remedy gives marked relief, especially in pregnant women. In rectal ailments give the small dose: Rx Specific collinsonia, gtt. x to xv; aqua, fl℥iv. Mix. Sig. Teaspoonful every 3 or 4 hours. It is useful also in hemorrhoids where there is rectal irritation, with the feces partly scybalous and partly semi-fluid, no constipation being present. Prof. Scudder has found it to effect cures in doses of 1 or 2 drops of specific collinsonia in water, repeated 3 or 4 times a day. Subacute proctitis, the tenesmus accompanying dysentery, and dysenteric cholera infantum, rectal pain and inflammation following surgical operations in that region, irritation attending anal fistulae, rectal ulcers and pockets are all relieved by collinsonia, the latter conditions, however, being only palliated by it. It relieves neurotic pains in the rectal region, though no appreciable lesion be observed, and certain forms of hypogastric pain are relieved by it when not due to bladder trouble. All of these pains are more amenable to it when associated with rectal capillary congestion. Prof. J. M. Scudder valued this agent very highly as a stimulant and tonic in cases of atonic dyspepsia, and in chronic disease with feeble digestion, increasing secretion from the kidneys and skin, and in a marked manner relieving irritation of the nervous system and increasing innervation. In chronic diseases of the respiratory apparatus it relieves pulmonary irritation and acts as a stimulating expectorant. In irritation of the pneumogastric nerve, heart disease, and that peculiarly distressing asthma simulating, and sometimes attending phthisis, he has observed more particularly its superior influence in quieting irritation, giving increased strength and regularity to the heart's action, and increasing the strength of the patient. Collinsonia acts upon the tissues and valves of the heart, relieving irritation, increasing its power to act, and regulating its contractions. It is a serviceable drug in hydropericardium, rheumatic heart troubles, and functional disturbances due to irritation of the stomach. Mitral regurgitation and the distressing cough of heart disease, are greatly benefited by its administration. Rx Specific collinsonia, gtt. iij every hour. Lack of tonicity of the blood vessels is overcome by collinsonia. In short, passive vascular engorgement with dilated capillaries, torpid portal circulation, and lack of muscular tonicity, call for stone-root. The keynote is a sense of weight and constriction in the part affected.
Foltz uses collinsonia in ear diseases with increased secretions non-purulent in character, failing to get good results after suppuration ensues; be also employs it in the early stage of middle ear disorders when follicular pharyngitis and hypertrophied Luschka's glands are complications.
Other species of Collinsonia probably possess similar virtues. Dose of the infusion, from ½ to 2 fluid ounces. Webster prefers a strong tincture of the green plant to that of the root, in doses of a fraction of a drop to 5 drops in acute cases, 4 or 5 times a day in chronic troubles; specific collinsonia (root), 1/10 to 15 drops, the smaller dose being preferable in hemorrhoids; tincture, 10 to 30 drops 4 times a day.
Collinsonin.—This concentration is a light-brown powder resembling snuff in appearance, and has a slightly bitter, sharp taste. It is but little used.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Prof. Scudder points out as indications for this drug, "a sense of constriction, with irritation in throat, larynx, or anus; a sense of constriction with tickling in throat, with cough arising from use of the voice; a sensation as if a foreign body were lodged in the rectum, with contraction of sphincter, and contracted and painful perineum." Sticking pain in the larynx, heart, or bladder; contracted abdomen; vesical tenesmus; minister's sore throat.