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---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Astringent, alterative, tonic, cathartic, emetic. Much used among the aborigines of North America in various forms of eczema, muco-sanguineous diarrhoea, and haemorrhages, also for relaxed throat and sore throat, and in the United States Eclectic Dispensatory in the form of oil and as an infusion, both herb and oil being beneficial for piles and dysentery. For its anti-spasmodic properties, it has been found useful for colic, spasms and hiccough.
Applied externally, it gives great relief in the pains of gout, rheumatism and sciatica.
Reputed an unrivaled medicine in diseases of the mucous tissues of the lungs, stomach, and bowels. A spirituous extract of the plant has been highly recommended by Dr. A. R. Wyeth, of Pennsylvania, in the treatment of cholera and dysentery, in the latter disease promptly arresting the muco-sanguineous discharges, relieving pain, and effecting a speedy cure. In the summer-complaint of children, he has found it to prove almost invariably successful, even in cases where other means had failed.
Prof. Roberts Bartholow, at the instance of the authors of Drugs and Medicines of North America, experimented physiologically and therapeutically with true oil of fireweed. He found it to possess the general characteristics of the antiseptic group. It proved to be non-irritant to the stomach, and rather to improve the appetite and digestion. On account of its stimulating effects upon the gastro-intestinal glands, and probably upon the pancreas, an abundant secretion is poured out, rendering the alvine evacuations easy, frequent, and copious, thus proving very useful in habitual constipation, and especially benefiting such cases with acid fermentation and flatulence. He states that "in membraneous enteritis, an affection difficult to cure, it has seemed to be, in a high degree, useful." It first stimulates the heart, dilates the arterioles, and sends a glow of warmth throughout the body. Secondarily, perspiration ensues, the sense of warmth is succeeded by a lowering of temperature, slowing of the pulse, and contraction of the arterioles. Following this is a rise in vascular tension. It is rapidly diffused, absorbed quickly, and quickly excreted, elimination taking place most largely by the lungs, and less so by the kidneys and skin. He concludes that its most important therapeutical action is in disorders of the parts by which it is eliminated, as chronic bronchitis, pulmonic affections, with catarrh of the air tubes, chest neuroses, and coughs of local origin. It may also be used by inhalation. Benefit was derived from its use in genito-urinary catarrh, pyelitis, gleet, cystitis, etc., the drug also allaying nervous irritability. Prof. Bartholow further suggests its value in "sciatica, muscular rheumatism, and cognate affections."
---Dosage---(Internally) 5 to 10 drops on sugar, in capsules or in emulsion.
The homoeopathic tincture is made from the whole fresh flowering plant. It is chopped, pounded to a pulp and weighed. Then two parts by weight of alcohol are taken, the pulp mixed thoroughly with one-sixth part of it and the rest of the alcohol added. After having stirred the whole, it is poured into a well-stoppered bottle and allowed to stand for eight days in a dark, cool place.
The resulting tincture has a clear, beautiful, reddish-orange colour by transmitted light; a sourish odour, resembling that of claret, a taste at first sourish, then astringent and bitter, and an acid reaction.