Chapter from My PhD Thesis
Eclectic Physician’s Notes
Chapter from my PhD Thesis
Part Used: Bark of recent root
Chemical Constituents: Significant phytochemicals include atropurol, atropurpurin, dulcitol, and euonic acid, euonymol, and euonysterol. (11)
The drug was used by Native Americans and became a domestic remedy during the colonial period. In the 1800′s the drug passed from domestic remedy to official medicine. Euonymus was introduced into the Secondary List of the U.S.P. in 1860 and became official in the 1880 edition. It remained official until it was dropped from the 1910 edition.
There is an odd medical fad story attached to this drug. A resinoid called euonomin was extracted from Euonymus during the US resinoid craze of the middle 1800′s. The drug was only mildly popular during that time in America . Oddly, twenty-five years later, an unexplained craze for euonomin developed in England . This sudden demand for the resinoid from abroad resurrected interest at home for the crude drug. The English Craze lasted for ten years and supplies were nearly exhausted before it ended. (9, 10)
Eclectic uses (1–10)
Tonic, laxative, alterative, diuretic, expectorant, anti-periodic, aperient, stomach tonic, cholagogue, in large doses cathartic, stimulates the nutritive processes and improves digestion, imparts tone to the stomach, promotes action of bowels without inducing debility, improves secretion of liver, aides digestion in convalescence from intermittent fevers, increases amount of bile secreted, improves condition of mucous membrane and patients strength, stimulates absorption and increases activity of kidneys, stimulant and tonic to urinary organs.
“Prostration with irritation of the nerve centers; periodical diseases, to supplement the action of quinine; anorexia, indigestion, and constipation, due to hepatic torpor.” (7)
Intermittent fever, malarial diseases, malarial diseases after the fever has broken, chronic malarial poisoning, chronic ague with constipation and torpid liver, syphilis, tuberculosis, weakness, dropsy, dropsy with great atony.
Dyspepsia, torpid liver, constipation, indigestion complicated with constipation, atonic dyspepsia, indigestion based on torpid liver, obstinate constipation, constipation amongst those with laxative dependence, hepatic and gastro-intestinal abnormalities where there is depression of function.
Scanty urine production, debility of the urinary organs, dropsy.
Pulmonary affections, catarrh, bronchitis, phthisis.
The drug from Selye’s perspective
State of Resistance
The drug was used to raise resistance to tuberculosis, syphilis and malaria.
State of Exhaustion
The drug was used when resistance failed and State of Exhaustion set in. Conditions causing State of Exhaustion included syphilis, malaria and tuberculosis. Signs of State of Exhaustion treated with the drug included dropsy with great atony, fever, weight loss, phthisis, weakness, depressed digestive function, depressed excretion, dyspepsia, depressed urinary function, kidney failure, liver failure, bronchitis, anorexia, and mucous membrane abnormalities.
From Selye’s perspective, the drug was used to augment the GAS, which suggests it increases adaptation energy. The drug was used to raise resistance to chronic debilitating infections such as syphilis, malaria, and tuberculosis. It was administered to prolong State of Resistance . The drug was administered when resistance failed and State of Exhaustion set in. When chronic disease stripped a patient of vital energy, and physiological function was thereby depressed, the drug was used.
Brekhman’s Adaptogen Criterion
An adaptogen should be innocuous and cause minimal disorders in the physiological functions of an organism.
The drug was considered innocuous in the Eclectic literature. (1–10)
The action of an adaptogen should be non-specific i.e. it should increase resistance to adverse influences of a wide range of factors of physical, chemical, and biological nature.
Clinically, the drug was used to raise resistance to chronic infections such as syphilis, tuberculosis, and malaria. (1–10) Experimentally, a compound it contains, dulcitol, has been demonstrated to increase resistance to tumours. (12)
An adaptogen may possess normalising action irrespective of the direction of the foregoing pathological changes.
Clinically, the drug was used to normalise perverted physiological function associated with State of Exhaustion . (1–10)
The drug exhibits properties consistent with Brekhman’s definition of an adaptogen. It is innocuous, it raises resistance to a wide assortment of biological threats, and it normalises physiological function.
Euonymus is most usually regarded as a bitter stimulant, activating all the organs of digestion to increased secretion and action. The drug is bitter which stimulates the cells of the gastro-intestinal tract to produce their necessary products. However, the Eclectics used the drug when sluggish digestion was a part of a bigger problem. Namely, the drug was used when chronic disease had depleted vital energy to the extent all vital physiological functions were performed below par. The drug was used to invigorate vital energy, which in turn invigorated physiological function. From the Ecletic perspective, the drug was a life force stimulant, which in turn affected other systems.
Potential Clinical Applications
The drug may be of use when chronic disease or chronic stress diminishes physiological function. Specifically, the drug may be of use in malaria related debility.
• Effects Euonymus atropurpureus on the GAS. The drug should be tested in the animal model to determine its specific effects on the GAS.
• Euonymus atropurpureus and chronic debilitating infection. The drug was used when chronic infectious disease caused State of Exhaustion . Its role in raising resistance to State of Exhaustion in problematic infections like HIV and Hepatitis C should be examined.
• Euonymus atropurpureus and malaria. The Eclectics reported the drug augmented the effects of quinine. Its role in raising resistance to malaria when used in conjunction with quinine should be examined.
The drug is available in the wild and easily grown.
• King, John. The American Eclectic Dispensatory. Moore , Wilstach, and Keys. Cincinnati . 1854. P. 454.
• Scudder, J. M. Specific Medication and Specific Medicines. Revised. Fifth Edition. Wilstach, Baldwin and Company. Cincinnati . 1874. P. 132.
• Scudder, J. M. the American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Published by the Author. Cincinnati . 1883. P. 452.
• Felter, Harvey Wickes and Lloyd, John Uri. Kings’ American Dispensatory. Volume one and Volume two. Ohio Valley Company. Cincinnati . 1898. P. 736.
• Webster, HT. Dynamical Therapeutics—A work devoted to the Theory and Practice of Specific Medication with special references to the newer remedies. Webster Medical Publishing Company. Oakland . Second Edition. 1898. P. 350.
• Watkins, Lyman. An Eclectic Compendium of the Practice of Medicine. John M.Scudder’s Sons. Cincinnati . 1895. P. 435.
• Felter, Harvey. Syllabus of Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Compiled from notes taken from the lectures of F.J.Locke. Edited with pharmacological additions by H.W.Felter. Second edition, with appendix. Scudder Brothers Company. Cincinnati.1901. P. 165.
• Fyfe, John William. Pocket Essentials of Modern Materia Medica and Therapeutics. The Scudder Brothers Company. 1903. P. 115.
• Lloyd, JU. History of the Vegetable Drugs of the Pharmacopoeia of the United States . Bulletin number 18: pharmacy number 4. 1911. P. 36.
• Lloyd, John Uri. Origin and History of all the Pharmacopeial Vegetable Drugs, Chemicals and Preparations. Volume 1: Vegetable Drugs. The Caxton Press. Cincinnati . 1921. P. 135.
• Dr. Dukes Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Agricultural Research Service. USDA.
• Lloyd Brothers. Dose book of Specific Medicines. Lloyd Brothers. Cincinatti. 1930.
Notes from the Eclectic Physicians
1854: JOHN KING – EUONYMUS ATROPURPUREUS – WAHOO
Properties and Uses – These plants have been in use among Eclectics for a long time. The bark is tonic, laxative, alterative, diuretic, and expectorant; in infusion, syrup, or extract, it has been successfully used in intermittents, dyspepsia, torpid liver, constipation, dropsy and pulmonary affections. Dose of the saturated tincture, from one to four fluidrachms, of the syrup, from one to two fluidounces; of the hydroalcoholic extract, from five to fifteen grains; of the powder, from twenty to thirty grains. The seeds are purgative and emetic.
1874: J.M. Scudder
Preparation – Prepare a tincture from the bark of the recent root, in the proportion of 3viij. to Alcohol 76degree Oj. Dose, gtts. x. to 3j.
The Euonymus stimulates the nutritive processes, and in some cases improves digestion. Usually, however, it will need to be combined with a pure bitter, as the hydrastis, to get its full action in this direction.
It exerts a marked influence in malarial diseases, and deserves the name of an antiperiodic, though it is much feebler than Quinine. It may, however, be used in these cases with marked advantage, after the fever has been once broken.
1883: Scudder: (tonic)
The bark of the root euonymus atropurpureus ‑ U.S.
Preparation: Tincture of Enonymus. Dose: From five drops to one drachm.
Therapeutic Action: The euonomous is tonic, aperient, alterative, pectoral, and antiperiodic. It is known to but few as a medicinal plant, and its properties are, as yet, we believe, but imperfectly known to any; nevertheless, we believe it is destined, at no distant period, to occupy a high place among our indigenous therapeutic agents.
From our own experience we believe it to be a valuable tonic and laxative. It imparts tone of the stomach, facilitates chylosis, and if there is a torpid state of the bowels, no better agent can be administered to promote their action without inducing their debility.
It would likewise seem, from the testimony of good authority, to be possessed of antiperiodic powers of no small importance.
1898: Webster: Euonymus aids digestion and improves the secretory functions of the liver. It proves a good aid to digestion in convalescence from intermittent fevers, as it combines some anti-malaria qualities with its action on the digestive and biliary organs. Another important property is its mild aperient effect, which doubtless contributes to its value in indigestion complicated with constipation.
Goss declares that euonymin, an active principle of this agent, increases the amount of the bile secreted, its function, it seems to me, resembling that of chionanthus, with which Professor Goss combines it.
Form for Administration- The specific medicine.
Dose- From the fraction of a drop to thirty drops.
1895: Watkins: EUONYMUS, SP MED:
Anorexia, indigestion, constipation, weakness, malarial infection. Ten to thirty drops three times a day.
1901 : Harvey W Felter (Tonics) – EUONYMUS – WAHOO
SYNONYMS – Burning Bush, Spindle Bush.
BOTANICAL ORIGIN – The bark of the root of Euonymus atropurpureus , Jacquin; Nat. Ord., Celastrinae . Indigenous to the United States , growing in the Northern and Western States .
SPECIFIC EUONYMUS – This is made of the root bark. Inferior preparations of Euonymus are made of the bark of the shrub and of the entire roots.
This is native shrub from five to ten feet high, having a light gray bark and dropping capsules of a crimson color, giving it a very beautiful appearance, and from this fact being called the Burning Bush. The bark of the root is used in medicine. It is tonic, laxative, alternative, and diuretic, and in large doses cathartic.
There are but few good stomach tonics, and this agent is one of them. It may, therefore, be used with advantage in atonic dyspepsia. In indigestion, dependent upon torpor of the liver, it will improve the condition by increasing the flow of bile.
In cases of chronic ague attended with constipation and torpid liver this is a very good remedy. Generally in such cases, with atony of the digestive organs, this increases the tone of the intestinal tract and gently stimulates it. It is also a remedy for this complaint when associated with obstinate constipation, and for those who have been in the habit of taking cathartics. Give tonic dose.
It is a good remedy in catarrh, bronchitis, phthisis, etc. It improves the condition of the mucous membrane as well as the patient’s general strength. As an alternative it is useful in syphillis and scrofula.
It is valuable in some cases of dropsy with great atony. It stimulates absorption and increases the activity of the kidneys. Use one ounce of the root bark to eight ounces of Holland gin to make a tincture. Dose, a tablespoonful three or four times a day. This tincture is also stimulant and tonic to the urinary organs. Dose of specific Euonymus, form five to twenty drops.
1909: Felter and Lloyd: EUONYMUS (U.S.P.) – EUONYMUS
History – there are two species of Euonymus used in midicine – the spindle-tree, E. Atropurpureus , and the burning bush, or E. americanus, to both of which the term Wahoo is indiscriminately applied. They grow in many sections of the United States , in woods an dthickets, and in river bottoms, and flower in June. The bark of the root is the medicinal part. It has a bitter, and somewhat unpleasant taste. Water or alcohol extracts its virtues.
Action, Medical Uses and Dosage – Euonymus has been in use among physicians for a long time. The bark is tonic, laxative, alterative, diuretic, and expectorant; the seeds are cathartic and emetic. In infusion, syrup, or extract, it has been successfully used in intermittents, dyspepsia, torpid liver, constipation, dropsy, and pulmonary affections. Prof. Locke states “there are but few good stomach tonics, and this agent is one of them.” It stimulates the biliary flow, an dhas considerable anti-malarial influence, and may be used in intermittents after the chill has been broken with quinine. It stimulates the nutritive processes and improves the appetite. It may beused with advantage in atonic dyspepsia, an din indigestion due to hepatic topor or following malarial fevers. It is a remedy for chronic ague, and the consequent obstinate constipation and gastric debility accompanying or following it. A gin tincture (root 3j to gin fl3viij), is not without value in some cases of dropsy, particularly when associated with hepatic and renal inactivity. Dose of the tincture (3viij to alcohol 76 per cent Oj), from 1 to 4 fluid drachms; of the syrup, from 1 to 2 fluid ounces; of the hydro-alcoholic extract from 5 to 15 grains; of the powder, from 20 to 30 grains; of specific euonymus, 1 to 30 drops.
Specific Indications and Uses – Prostration with irritation of the nerve centers; periodical diseases, to supplement the action of quinine; anorexia, indigestion, and constipation, due to hepatic torpor.
Yellowish discoloration o the tongue, chronic malarial poisoning, hepatic and gastro-intestinal abnormal conditions, when there is depression of function. Euonomous atropurpureus is tonic, laxative, alterative, diuretic, cholagogue, and expectorant.
Euonymus atropurpureus and Euonymus americanus are probably collected indiscriminately, both varieties being known by the common name Wahoo. The bark of the root is the part used. This remedy, in the form of a decoction, was once a favorite in domestic medication, and was introduced from thence to the regular medical profession, as were other American remedies of like nature. It occupied a place in all the early domestic works on medicine, and seems to be alike credited to the American Indians and the early settlers. In Eclectic medication wahoo has been a favorite since the days of Dr. Beach. Under the names “nine barks” or “seven barks” it has a domestic record transplanted to proprietary remedies that use these titles. The Eclectic “concentration” euonymin has been conspicuous in England , but has since fallen into disuse. See Bulletin of the Lloyd Library. No. XII, The Eclectic Resins, Resinoids, Oleo-Resins, and Concentrated Principles.)
Introduced, in the Secondary List, into the U.S.P. in 1860, retaining this position in the edition of 1870. It was official in the editions of 1880, 1890 and 1900, but was dropped from the 1910 edition.
Euonymus atropurpureus and Euonymus americanus are collected indiscriminately, both varieties being known by the common name “Wahoo.” The bark of the root is the part used. In the form of a decoction, this remedy was originally a favorite in domestic medicine, and was introduced from thence to the more systematic medical profession, as were other American drugs of like nature. It occupied a place in all the early domestic works on medicine, and seems to be alike credited to the American Indians, and to the early settlers. In early botanic as well as Eclectic medication, “wahoo” has been a favorite since the days of Dr. Beach. Under the names “nine barks” and “seven barks” it has a domestic record, that has been transferred to various proprietary remedies using these titles. From euonymus was derived a so-called Eclectic resinoid or “concentrate,” that during the craze for “proximate principles” had but a moderate use. Twenty-five years later, without apparent reason, came from England an abrupt demand for the drug, that made euonymus more conspicuous than ever before. From an article contributed by the writer in 1909, let us extract as follows:
“THE ENGLISH EUONYMIN CRAZE. – A quarter of a century after the resinoids of America received their deathblow at the hands of the Eclectics, a peculiar craze for Euonymin struck England . The American manufacturers’ lists quote two colors of the drug, one green and the other brown. These two forms came into English Demand, and owing largely to their exploitation by the celebrated Dr. Richardson, of London, so great was the ‘Euonymin’ craze in that country, that within a brief period American resinoid makers were overwhelmed with orders for the drug. The root, root-bark, shrub, and the shrub-bark supplies of the crude drug employed for thier manipulation became exhausted, whilst the price of all forms of crude drug doubled and trebled. We know of single orders from London for one thousand pounds, each color of Euonymin, quick delivery. From 1885 to 1890 the English Euonymin craze was at its height, and during those years the English pharmaceutical and medical press teemed with articles concerning the wonderful remedy! The various Euonymins were examined for ash, and the old question of inorganic admixture was naturally revived, especially with the green-colored drug, where aluminum hydroxide is likely to be employed to precipitate the chlorophyl-bearing structures and associated materials from the evaporated alcohol extract, said hydroxide contaminating the product. It was even reported that one lot of Euonymin contained much barium carbonate, a statement difficult to accept!”
As abruptly as it began did the English concentration fad terminate, leaving but a few energetic resinoids, such as King’s Resin of Podophyllum (representative of the class), still used in England, as it is both used as well as abused today in all parts of the civilized world, as shown in current pharmaceutical and therapeutical literature.
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