USES.—The leaves are emollient and in the Philippines, India and the Southern States of North America they are commonly used to make poultices, as a substitute for linseed.
The decoction is prescribed internally as an emmenagogue and demulcent and externally as a lotion. It has the reputation of stimulating the growth of the hair and is used for this purpose quite commonly by the women of India.
The seeds are emollient, laxative, diuretic and emmenagogue; they contain an oil to which we shall refer presently. In some countries they form an article of diet; in the Philippines they are much used as a condiment. Waring reports good results in amenorrhoea, adding a handful of the bruised seeds to a hot sitz-bath.
Two or 3 dessert-spoonfuls of the seeds eaten fasting and washed down with a glass of water, are very efficient in chronic constipation, both by their mechanical effect and the oil they contain; being non-irritant they are especially indicated in cases of constipation with hemorrhoids.
The seeds contain up to 45% of oil known in the Philippines under the name of lana, an Ilocano word meaning “oil.” It is bright yellow, viscid, does not easily become rancid and is used for illuminating purposes in some Philippine provinces. In Japan and among the poor of India it serves as a food; in the latter country it is also very commonly used as a cosmetic, perfumed with various essences and used to anoint the hair and the body after the bath. In America it is given in place of castor oil in doses of 30–60 grams. In pharmacy it may be properly substituted for olive oil, especially in Linimentum Calcis prepared for burns.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A plant 2–4° high, stem straight, square, grooved.
Leaves trifoliate. Leaflets lanceolate, serrate, slightly downy. Common petiole long; secondary petiole very short. Flowers pinkish white, in spikes, each flower bearing 2 small glands. Calyx with 2 bracts at the base, top-shaped, monophyllous, 5 lanceolate teeth. Corolla large, 5-lobed, bell-shaped, expanded in the middle where it is spattered with small spots. Stamens didynamous.
Anthers long. Ovary downy, quadrangular. Style same length as stamens. Stigma bifid. Seed vessel quadrangular, elongated, 4 opposite grooves, 4 chambers each containing many small ovoid seeds.
HABITAT.—Universal. Blooms in October.
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