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from Greek Asklepios, god of medicine
Other Names: Asclepias decubens.
Common Names: Pleurisy-root. Butterfly-weed. Orange Milkweed. Silkweed. Colic root. Orange Apocynum.
Homeopathic Preparation/Pharmacy: Tincture of fresh root. (Murphy’s Homeopathic Remedy Guide).
N.O. Subclass: Asteridae; Order: Gentianales; Family: Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed Family)
Provings: Allen: Cyclopoedia, V. 1. Cyclop. Drug Path., V. 1. Hale: New Rem., 2d ed. Hering: Guid. symptoms, V. 2. Peters - Marcy: New Mat. Med. Sup. N. A. J. Hom., Aug., 1859. Macfarlan: High Pot. Provings.
Hale: Am. Hom. Obs., V. 3, p. 354. Mich. Hom. Inst. Tr., 1866.
Macfarlan: Hom. Phys., V. 12, p. 50; V. 13, p. 287. Hahn. Mo., V. 27, p. 221.
Nichol: Am. Hom. Obs., V. 3, p. 169.
Savary (A.): Jl. Soc. Gall., March, 1859. 2d Ser., V. 3, p. 721. A. H. Z., V. 60, pp. 143, 166. N. A. J. Hom., V. 7, p. 375. Am. Hom. Rev., V. 2, p. 406.
Description of the substance
The Asclepiadaceae are herbaceous plants with a milky juice, which are for the most
part natives of America. Asclepias tuberosa forms an exception to Asclepias in general, by being almost or entirely devoid of the acrid milky juice containing caoutchouc, that distinguishes the rest of the genus and has gained them the name of Milkweeds.
Botanical Description. The root of this variety of Asclepias is perennial, and gives origin to numerous stems, which are erect, ascending, or may be trailing, round, hairy, of a green or reddish color, branching at the top and about eighteen inches in height. (It rarely exceeds this, although it is stated to be three feet by some authorities.) The leaves are scattered, oblong, lance - shaped, very hairy, of a deep rich green color on their upper surface, paler beneath, and supported usually on short foot stalks. The flowers are of a beautiful reddish - orange color, and disposed in terminal or lateral umbels, their stems rising along the stalk, but differing in length, so as to make them all nearly on a level. The fruit is an erect, lance - shaped follicle, with flat, egg - shaped seeds, connected to a longitudinal receptacle by long silky hairs. This plant differs from other species of Asclepias in not emitting a milky juice when wounded. It flourishes from Massachusetts to Georgia, and when in full bloom, in the months of June and July, exhibits a splendid appearance. The root is the part used in medicine. This is large, irregularly tuberous, branching, often spindle - shaped, externally brown, internally white and striated, and in the recent state, of a sub - acrid nauseous taste. When dried it is easily pulverized, and has a bitter, but not otherwise unpleasant taste.
The caterpillars of monarch butterflies (they are the ones that migrate to Mexico each winter) feed only on milkwedd foliage. Adult butterflies of many species sip nectar from the beautiful blossoms of butterfly weed.
This genus consists of herbaceous plants with a milky juice, which are for the most part natives of America. Several species are cultivated for the sake of their showy flowers. All of them are more or less poisonous. Asclepias curassavica is employed in the West Indies as an emetic, and goes by the name of Ipecacuanha: the drug known in medicine by that name is derived from quite a different plant and must not be confused with it. A. tuberosa, the Butterfly-weed, has mild purgative properties, and promotes perspiration and expectoration. A. syriaca, a plant misnamed, as it is a native of America and Canada, is frequently to be met with in gardens; its dull red flowers are very fragrant, and the young shoots are eaten as asparagus in Canada, where a sort of sugar is also prepared from the flowers, while the silk-like down of the seeds is employed to stuff pillows. Some of the species furnish excellent fibre, which is woven into muslins, and in certain parts of India is made into paper.
In Hindu mythology, Soma - the Indian Bacchus- and one of the most important of the Vedic gods, is a personification of the Soma plant, A. acida, from which an intoxicating milky juice is squeezed. All the 114 hymns of the ninth book of the Rig Veda are in his praise. The preparation of the Soma juice was a very sacred ceremony and the worship of the god is very old. The true home of the plant was fabled to be in heaven, Soma being drunk by gods as well as men, and it is under its influence that Indra is related to have created the universe and fixed the earth and sky in their place. In postVedic literature, Soma is a regular name for the moon, which is regarded as being drunk by the gods and so waning, till it is filled up again by the Sun. In both the Rig Veda and Zend Avesta, Soma is the king of plants; in both, it is a medicine which gives health, long life and removes death.
The three species of Asclepias most used in medicine are the Calotropis procera, A. tuberosa (Pleurisy root) and A. Incarnata (Swamp Milkweed).
It is a very common roadside weed in the eastern and central states of North America, where it is called 'Silkweed,' from the silky down which surmounts the seed, being an inch or two in length, and which has been used for making hats and for stuffing beds and pillows. Attempts have been made to use it as a cotton substitute. Both in France and Russia it has had textile use. The fibres of the stem, prepared in the same manner as those of hemp and flax, furnish a very long, fine thread, of a glossy whiteness.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The plant is used medicinally in the United States for the anodyne properties of its root and its rhizome and root have been employed successfully, like those of A. tuberosa, both in powder and infusion, in cases of asthma and typhus fever attended with catarrh, producing expectoration and relieving cough and pain. It has also been used in scrofula with great success.