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Traditional and historic uses of the substance.
An active astringent, and slightly tonic. It has been found useful for internal administration in chronic diarrhoea, dysentery, menorrhagia, incontinence of urine, haematuria, and passive haemorrhage from the bowels. In the form of an infusion it has been used locally in fissure of the anus, prolapsus ani, and leucorrhoea; as a gargle in relaxed, sore throat; and as an astringent wash for the mucous membrane of the eyes, nose, gums, etc.
Cold water extracts all the astringency of Ratanhia.
The powder is also used as a dentifrice when mixed with equal parts of orris rhizome and charcoal, or with prepared chalk and myrrh. (http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/mgmh.html)
Modern uses – The mother tincture has been tried in dilution as an irrigant solution post periodontal pocket debridement, as an alternative to the use of chlorhexidine.
It has also been used in the irrigation of angular cheilitis where the vertical dimension in the edentulous has collapsed.
Teste says “ It is always after sulph., Bov. or Sep that, in uterine affections, I have obtained good effects from Ratanhia.”
Nash says “ No remedy has more decided action upon the anus and one very characteristic symptom is great pain after passage of stool, even soft stool’. He walks the floor in agony of pain for an hour or two after the stool.”
For many years, the roots have been dug up after the rainy season and shipped to Portugal, where they are traded as a surrogate for red wine. Strong tinctures of the roots in brandy are still used in Portugal to give the various Port types a fuller taste.