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(Menispermum Canadense LINN.)
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Botanical: Menispermum Canadense (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Canadian Moonseed. Texas Sarsaparilla. Moonseed Sarsaparilla. Vine Maple.
Family: N.O. Menispermaceae
---Parts Used---The rhizome and roots.
---Habitat---Canada and United States of America. Cultivated in Britain as a hardy, deciduous, ornamental shrub. A closely allied species is indigenous to the temperate parts of Eastern Asia.
---Description---A climbing, woody plant, with a very long root of a fine yellow colour, and a round, striate stem, bright yellowgreen when young; leaves, roundish, cordate, peltate, three to seven angled, lobed. Flowers small, yellow, borne in profusion in axillary clusters. Drupes, round, black, with a bloom on them, one-seeded. Seed, crescent-shaped, compressed, the name Moonseed being derived from this lunate shape of the seed. The rhizome is wrinkled longitudinally and has a number of thin, brittle roots; fracture, tough, woody; internally reddish; a thick bark encloses a circle of porous, short, nearly square wood wedges and a large central pith. The root is the official part; it has a persistent bitter, acrid taste and is almost inodorous.
---Constituents---Berberine and a white amorphous alkaloid termed Menispermum, which has been used as a substitute for Sarsaparilla, some starch and resin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---In small doses it is a tonic, diuretic, laxative and alterative. In larger doses it increases the appetite and action of the bowels; in full doses, it purges and causes vomiting. It is a superior laxative bitter; considered very useful in scrofula, cutaneous, rheumatic, syphilitic, mercurial and arthritic diseases; also for dyspepsia, chronic inflammation of the viscera and in general debility. Externally, the decoction has been applied as an embrocation in cutaneous and gouty affections.
---Preparations and Dosages---Powdered root, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Saturated tincture, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Menispermum, 1 to 4 grains. Decoction, 1 to 4 fluid ounces, three times daily. Menisperine in powder is recommended as a nervine and is considered superior to Sarsaparilla, taken in doses of 1 to 3 grains, three times daily.
Some of the species closely allied to Menispermum have narcotic properties and are very poisonous: Anamirta paniculata yields Cocculus Indicus, illegally used to impart bitterness to malt liquor; Jateorhiza palmata supplies bitter Columba root, used as a tonic; and Cissampelos Pareira is the tonic Pareira Brava.
COLUMBA, (no listing)
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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.
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