Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Xanthoxylum fraxineum

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---Medicinal Action and Uses---It acts as a stimulant - resembling guaiacum resin and mezereon bark in its remedial action and is greatly recommended in the United States for chronic rheumatism, typhoid and skin diseases and impurity of the blood, administered either in the form of fluid extract or in doses of 10 grains to 1/2 drachm in the powdered form, three times daily.
The following formula has also become popular in herbal medicine: Take 1/2 oz. each of Prickly Ash Bark, Guaiacum Raspings and Buckbean Herb, with 6 Cayenne Pods. Boil in 1 1/2 pint of water down to 1 pint . Dose: a wineglassful three or four times daily.
On account of the energetic stimulant properties of the bark, it produces when swallowed a sense of heat in the stomach, with more or less general arterial excitement and tendency to perspiration and is a useful tonic in debilitated conditions of the stomach and digestive organs, and is used in colic, cramp and colera, in fever, ague, lethargy, for cold hands and feet and complaints arising from a bad circulation.
A decoction made by boiling an ounce in 3 pints of water down to a quarter may be given in the quantity of a pint, in divided doses, during the twenty-four hours. As a counter-irritant, the decoction may be applied on compresses. It has also been used as an emmenagogue.

The powdered bark forms an excellent application to indolent ulcers and old wounds for cleansing, stimulating, drying up and healing the wounds. The pulverized bark is also used for paralytic affections and nervous headaches and as a topical irritant the bark, either in powdered form, or chewed, has been a very popular remedy for toothache in America, hence the origin of a common name of the tree in the States: Toothache Tree.

The berries are considered even more active than the bark, being carminative and antispasmodic, and are used as an aperient and for dyspepsia and indigestion; a fluid extract of the berries being given, in doses of 10 to 30 drops.

Physiological action: Xanthoxylum stimulates the nerve centers and thus increases the functional activity of the different organs of the body. Has a tonic effect on the heart and will antagonize congestion and blood stasis. Its action on the capillaries is similar to that of belladonna but is much safer to use as there are no toxic effects from its use. When taken it causes a warmth and tingling, through the whole body.

Use: Stimulates the nerve centers and in this way increases the tone and functional activity of different organs of the body. It stimulates the heart, and capillary circulation and thus assists in overcoming congestion and blood stasis. We think of it where the circulation is sluggish, mucous membrane relaxed and there is general lack of nerve tone. In rheumatism as a gastro tonic, in atonic diarrhea and dysentery, colic, cholera morbus, Asiatic cholera, chronic atonic dyspepsia. Combined with hydrastis, it makes a valuable restorative in conditions of weakness, malnutrition, after debilitating fevers, diarrhea, dysentery, etc. It has a superior tonic influence upon the stomach and digestion and improves nutrition. A valuable remedy in chronic atonic dyspepsia.

Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Zanthoxylum may be used in the same way as Capsicum as a circulatory stimulant, although it is slower in action. It may be used where there is poor circulation, for example, chilblains, leg cramps, varicose veins and varicose ulcers. It is indicated in intermittent claudication and Raynaud's syndrome. Zanthoxylum stimulates the salivary glands and mucous membranes, reduces colic and flatulence, and is strengthening to a debilitated digestion. It is used in the treatment of chronic skin diseases and is locally counter-irritant. A liniment may be used to treat rheumatism and fibrositis. The bark was chewed in the past to relieve toothache. The berries are often used for dyspepsia and indigestion.

Combinations: Zanthoxylum may be combined with Myrica and Zingiber in poor circulation; and with Guaiacum , Menyanthes and Capsicum in rheumatic conditions.

(Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Physiologically, prickly ash acts upon the secretions, the nervous and circulator systems. The bark, when chewed, imparts an aromatic, sweetish taste, followed by bitterness and persistent acridity. Its sialagogue properties are remarkable, inducing a copious flow of saliva, together with a great quantity of mucus from the buccal glands. This is brought about both by its local and systemic action. In the stomach it creates a sense of warmth, and the flow of both gastric and intestinal juices is augmented. There is increased biliary and pancreatic activity. Under its action the kidneys become more active, and an increased urinary product results. Cardiac action is increased, the pulse becomes slightly accelerated, and the integumentary glands give out an abundant secretion. Therapeutically, the bark is sialagogue, alterative, diaphoretic, and especially stimulant to the mucous surfaces. It is also emmenagogue and carminative, and the berries are said to possess antiseptic properties. To increase its diaphoretic power, it should be administered with plenty of hot water, at the same time subjecting the patient to a warm foot-bath. Prof. King cautions us that there is a material difference, in their influence on the system, between the tincture of the bark, or that of the berries, which should always be kept in view. The properties of the bark, as given by him, are stimulant, tonic, alterative, and sialagogue; of the berries, stimulant, carminative, and antispasmodic, acting especially on mucous tissues. Prickly ash has been deservedly valued in domestic practice as a remedy for chronic rheumatism, and was once quite popular as a masticatory for the relief of toothache. It undoubtedly has some value in rheumatic complaints, and may be combined with phytolacca when the indications for that drug are present. Its value in chronic rheumatism is very likely due to its eliminative power. It is best adapted to debilitated patients, and to cases of transient and fugitive forms of rheumatism, particularly lumbago, torticollis, myalgia, and muscular rheumatism. It may be used externally and administered internally, and in many cases will assist the action of macrotys. Its use in odontalgia will be confined to those cases where there is dull, grumbling pain due to peridental inflammation, the parts being dry and shining, and the buccal secretions scanty. Owing to its eliminative powers, it has been quite extensively used in constitutional syphilis and scrofula, and as a remedy for the former ranks with guaiac, stillingia, sarsaparilla, and mezereon. It is one of the constituents of "Trifolium Compound," and other alterative mixtures. Prof. King states that "combined with equal parts of pulverized blue flag and mandrake, it will bring on salivation, and is useful on this account in the treatment of scrofulous, syphilitic, and other diseases where there is a want of susceptibility to the influence of other alterative agents; the mixture must be given in small doses, and repeated at short intervals. Externally, it forms an excellent stimulating application to indolent and malignant ulcers." Xanthoxylum is serviceable in many disorders of the mouth and throat, as well as of the entire alimentary tract. It has some reputation as a local stimulant for paralysis of the tongue, though its value here is overrated. In like manner it has been employed in neuralgia, and paralytic conditions of the vocal apparatus and organs of deglutition. That it will relieve an unpleasant dryness of the mouth and fauces is well established. It is a remedy of value in pharyngitis, especially the chronic variety, the mucous surfaces presenting a glazed, shining, dry condition, with thin, adherent scales of dried mucus. In both pharyngitis and post-nasal catarrh a decoction locally, and specific xanthoxylum (bark) internally, will be found to aid a cure in those cases having dryness of mucous membranes as a distinctive feature. Prickly ash is unmistakably an admirable gastro-intestinal tonic. It will find a place in the treatment of atonic dyspepsia and gastric catarrh. Many chronic affections of the mucous tissues are benefited by it, the cases being those of enfeeblement and relaxation, with hypersecretion. Constipation due to deficient intestinal secretion has been overcome by its use alone. It is more especially indicated when accompanied by a flatulent distension of the abdomen. As an agent for flatulence, the preparation from the berries will give the best results. Lack of secretion in any part of the intestinal tract calls for a preparation of prickly ash bark. Both the bark and the berries may be required in some instances. Icterus, the result of biliary catarrh, is specifically influenced by xanthoxylum, as well as that form resulting from malarial impression. In spasm of the bowels, colic, cholera infantum, and cholera morbus, specific xanthoxylum (berries) will be found valuable in atonic cases. It is useful to restore the bowels to their normal state after severe attacks of dysentery, and has been of particular service as a remedy for epidemic dysentery. Prof. John King introduced the saturated tincture of the berries to the profession in Cincinnati, in 1849, as a remedy for Asiatic cholera. In his article on prickly ash berries in the College Journal for 1856 (p. 86), he writes: "I have used this tincture for some years past, and had the pleasure to introduce it to the profession in this city during the year 1849, both in the treatment of tympanitic distension of the bowels during peritoneal inflammation and in Asiatic cholera. In tympanites it may be administered by mouth and by injection; internally, from 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm may be given in a little sweetened water, repeating the dose every 1/2 or 1 hour. At the same time, 1/2 fluid ounce may be added to the same quantity of water and used as an injection, repeating it every 15 or 30 minutes, according to its influence and the severity of the symptoms, and should there be pain 10 to 20 drops of laudanum may be added to every third or fourth injection. The action is usually prompt and permanent, and, as far as my experience has gone, I prefer it, in a majority of cases, to oil of turpentine and other remedies advised in this condition. In Asiatic cholera during 1849-50 it was much employed by our physicians in Cincinnati, and with great success—it acted like electricity, so sudden and diffusive was its influence over the system. In this disease the tincture was given in teaspoonful doses, and repeated, according to circumstances, every 5, 10 or 20 minutes, at the same time administering an injection, prepared as above, after each discharge from the bowels, and causing it to be retained by the bowels as long as possible." Prof. King likewise valued it in atonic diarrhoea and in typhoid conditions requiring a stimulant, believing it to have an advantage over all other drugs for that purpose. In the tympanitic conditions incident to cholera infantum and other forms of diarrhoea, he combined equal parts of olive oil and tincture of prickly ash berries and had the little patient's abdomen freely rubbed with it, in a downward direction only, for 1 or 2 hours, until the flatulent state was over, claiming thereby to have saved many a little one who would otherwise have gone to an early grave. To prevent a return of the tympanitic distension he used the tincture by mouth and per rectum. Combined with diuretics and tonics, prickly ash has been employed in dropsy and in malarial manifestations, and is in good repute as a remedy for functional dysmenorrhoea. For the latter purpose about 20 drops of specific xanthoxylum (bark) should be administered at a dose, and repeated as often as necessary. Both the bark and berries give good results in neuralgic dysmenorrhoea with marked pain and hypersensitiveness. Xanthoxylum is a valuable nerve stimulant, and may be administered for some length of time without ill effects. It is valuable in all cases of prostration, and has been recommended in "hemiplegia, locomotor ataxia, and all depressed conditions of the vital forces." Pains down the anterior portions of the thighs, as well as after-pains, accompanied with dorsal or sacral pain, are relieved by it. It relieves neuralgic pains in anemic and delicate persons. Owing to its action on blood stasis, overcoming capillary engorgement, it has been found useful in determining the rash to the surface in the eruptive diseases, and is especially serviceable in cases of retrocession of the eruption. It is a remedy that is neglected, but should be borne in mind during the prevalence of summer diseases. The dose of specific xanthoxylum (berries) is from 5 to 30 drops; of specific xanthoxylum (bark), from 2 to 20 drops; of the powder, from 10 to 30 grains, 3 times a day. The oil of xanthoxylum may be used for the same purpose as the berries, in doses of from 2 to 10 drops, in mucilage, or on sugar; and its tincture, made according to the formula below (see Preparation), may be administered in the same doses as the tincture of the berries.)