USES.—The root is vesicant and is used by the natives for this purpose. (P. rosea, L., common in India, is more powerful. The Pharmacopoeia of India states that both species are worthy of further investigation.) According to the Sanscrit authors it increases the appetite and is useful in dyspepsia, piles, dropsy, diarrhoea and skin diseases. The Filipinos use the infusion locally for itch with good results. A favorite medicine of the Hindoos for flatulence is the old recipe of Susrutas, composed of equal parts of the following substances in powder: Leadwort root, root of Cissampelos Pareira, Picrorrhiza kurroa,1 Aconitum heterophyllum,1 and Terminalia Chebula in dose of 4 grams a day.
Dr. Oswald has employed the alcoholic tincture of leadwort in the intermittents, with satisfactory results, and claims that it is a powerful diaphoretic.2 The mashed root is mixed with rice flour and made into a caustic paste to apply to buboes, destroy warts, etc. Women also use the scraped root to induce abortion, introducing it through the vagina into the os uteri. This practice should be strongly condemned on account of its dangerous consequences—metritis, peritonitis and often death.
The chemical composition of the root has been studied by Dulong.3 It includes a non-nitrogenous principle, plumbagin, existing in the form of orange-yellow needles, bitter, acrid, volatile, neutral, slightly soluble in cold water, more soluble in ether, alcohol and hot water. The aqueous solution becomes cherry-red on the addition of an alkali, which color is changed to yellow by acids. Basic acetate of lead causes the same color change.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—Plant with stem declined, angular. Leaves lanceolate, entire, rather downy. Petioles at their base embrace the stem. Flowers white, in axillary spikes. Individual involucres, 3 oval leaflets, the lower larger. Calyx long, cleft almost to the base in 5 lineal parts thickly set with small glands, exuding a sticky gum. Corolla salver-shaped, the tube long, square, throat bare, limb divided into 5 obovate parts, ending in stylets. Stamens 5, inserted near the base of the corolla, almost as long as the tube. Style a little shorter than the stamens. Stigma, 5 parts. One long seed enclosed within the calyx, pentangular, covered with a membranaceous skin.
HABITAT.—In Tanauan (Batangas).
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