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Botanical: Picraena excelsa (LINDL.)
Family: N.O. Simarubeae
Constituents of Jamaica Quassia
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
Bitter Wood. Jamaica Quassia. Bitter Ash. Quassia Amara (Linn.). Quassia Lignum, B.P.
Wood of trunks and branches.
A tree growing 50 to 100 feet, erect stem over 3 feet in diameter. Bark smooth and greyish. Leaves alternate, unequally pinnate, leaflets opposite, oblong, acuminate, and unequal at the base. Flowers small pale yellowish green, blooming October and November. Fruit three drupes size of a pea (maturing its fruit December and January), black, shining, solitary, globose, with a thin shell. The wood of this tree furnishes the Quassia of commerce. It is imported in large logs varying from a foot or more in diameter and 1 to 8 feet in length, occasionally much bigger, then it is split into quarters, retaining a friable and feebly attached cortex which has the same medicinal qualities as the wood, which is very tough, close grained and white, but changes to yellow on contact with the air. It is odourless and very bitter, the bark is thin and dark brown or thick greyish brown transversed by reticulating lines.
Quassia Amara, or Surinan Quassia, as found in commerce, is in much smaller billets than the Jamaica Quassia, and is used in its place on the Continent, and is easily recognized from the Jamaica one, which it closely resembles, by its medullary rays, which are only one cell wide, and contain no calcium oxalate.
---Constituents of Jamaica Quassia---
Volatile oil, quassin, gummy extractive pectin, woody fibre, tartrate and sulphate of lime, chlorides of calcium, and sodium, various salts such as oxalate and ammoniacal salt, nitrate of potassa and sulphate of soda. Quassia, U.S.P., may be either Jamaica or Surinan Quassia.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Quassia, found in the shops in the form of chips or raspings, has no smell but an intense bitter taste, which will always distinguish the pure drug from adulterations; the infusion of these by persalt of iron gives a bluish-black color, but as the blue Quassia chips contain no tannic acid, no result is produced in the infusion. Quassia wood is a pure bitter tonic and stomachic; it is also a vermicide and slight narcotic; it acts on flies and some of the higher animals as a narcotic poison. It is a valuable remedy in convalescence, after acute disease and in debility and atonic dyspepsia; an antispasmodic in fever. Having no tannic acid, it is frequently given with chalybeates and therefore can be preseribed with salts of iron; as an aromatic bitter stomachic it acts in the same way as calumba. In small doses Quassia increases the appetite large doses act as an irritant and cause vomiting; its action probably lessens putrefaction in the stomach, and prevents the formation of acid substances during digestion. A decoction used as an injection will move ascarides; for an enema for this purpose, 3 parts Quassia to 1 part mandrake root are used, and to each ounce of the mixture, 1 fluid drachm of asafoetida or diluted carbolic acid is added; for a child up to three years, 2 fluid ounces are injected into the rectum twice daily. Cups made of the wood and filled with liquid will in a few hours become thoroughly impregnated and this drink makes a powerful tonic. The infusion is made by macerating in cold water for twelve hours 3 drachmsof the rasped Quassia to 1 pint of cold water, 2 OZ. of the infusion alone, or with ginger tea, taken three times a day, proves very useful for feeble emaciated people with impaired digestive organs. The extract can be made by evaporating the decoction to a pilular consistence, and taken in 1 grain doses, three or four times daily, this will be found less obnoxious to the stomach than the infusion or decoction. Quassia with sulphuric acid acts as a cure for drunkenness, by destroying the appetite for alcoholics.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Fluid extract, 15 to 30 drops. Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Conc. Solut., B.P., 1/2 drachm. Powdered Quassia, 30 grains. The infusion for killing flies should be sweetened with sugar.
Botanica: Aspidosperma quebracho-blanco
Family: N.O. Apocynaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Quebracho Bark. Quebracho-blanco.
Chile and Argentina, Bolivia, Southern Brazil.
Quebracho is an evergreen tree which sometimes rises to 100 feet, with an erect stem and wide-spreading crown. The wood of all the species of this genus is valuable, and the name is due to its hardness, being derived from two Spanish words, quebrar and hacha, meaning 'the axe breaks.' It is used for tanning.
The bark was not introduced into Europe until 1878, though was for long used in South America as a febrifuge. Commercially, it is met with in large, thick pieces covered on the outside with a very thick and rough, corky layer of a greyish-brown color, and deeply divided by furrows and excavations. The inner bark is greyish or yellowish, smooth or somewhat fibrous, and often with small, black spots. The taste is very bitter, but there is scarcely any odour.
Two other plants are known as Quebracho: Schinopsis Lorenzii, the wood of which is sold in commerce as 'quebracho wood,' and Iodina rhombifolia, 'quebracho flojo,' the wood and bark of which are sometimes substituted for the 'quebracho colorado.'
Contains six alkaloids: Aspidospermine, Aspidospermatine, Aspidosamine, Quebrachine, Hypoquebrachine and Quebrachamine. All agree that quebrachine is the most active.
Two new sugars, quebrachite and laevogyrate inosite, tannin and starch have also been extracted.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Tonic, febrifuge and anti-asthmatic.
When a preparation of Quebracho or Aspidosperma is injected into the circulation, the rate and depth of the respiration increases largely, apparently due to direct action on the respiratory centre, and the blood-pressure falls.
Aspidosperma is used in medicine for the relief of various types of dyspnoea, especially in emphysema and in asthma. It is not generally useful to interrupt the paroxysm, but, as a rule, if used continuously, it will reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.
Under the name of amorphous aspidospermine, a mixture of the various alkaloids has become known in commerce.
Quebracho Colorado, or S. Lorenzii, has been used as a substitute), but is essentially different, being probably a simple and gastrointestinal stimulant, though it has been said to be a much weaker form of quebrachoblanco.
Of amorphous aspidospermine, 1/4 to 1 grain. Of crystalline aspidospermine, 1/40 to 1/20 grain. Of aspidospermine, 15 grains, but it is not used in the crude state. Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1/2 drachm.
Botanical: Stillingia sylvatica (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Queen's Root. Silver Leaf. Also Sapium Sylvaticum Yaw Root.
In the southern United States of America from Virginia to Florida and westward to Texas.
A perennial herb, with an angled glabrous stem, growing to 4 feet high, with a milky sap. The leaves are sessile, leathery and tapering at the base. Flowers yellow on terminal spike. Fruit a three-grained capsule. The plant was named after Dr. B. Stillingfleet. It flowers from April to July; a milky juice exudes from the plant or root when cut or broken. This should be used when fresh as it deteriorates if kept. As found in commerce, the root is 1 to 4 inches long and 1 inch or more thick, covered with a bark wrinkled longitudinally, greyish brown externally, and reddish-brown or rose-colored internally, odour peculiar, oleaginous, taste bitter and unpleasant, followed by a persistent pungent acridity in mouth and throat. Fracture fibrous, short, irregular, and shows a pithy soft, yellowish-pink interior porous woody portion. The inner bark and medullary rays with brown resin cells, its best solvent is alcohol.
Its resinous acrid constituent is Sylvacrol, an acrid fixed oil, volatile oil, tannin, starch, calcium oxalate. Woody fibre, coloring matter extractive.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
In large doses it is emetic and purgative causing a disagreeable, peculiar, burning sensation in the stomach or alimentary canal with considerable prostration of the system; in smaller doses it is an excellent alterative, and influences the secretory functions; it has almost a specific action in the different forms of primary and secondary syphilis, also in skin diseases, scrofula and hepatic affections, acting with most successful results. The fluid extract combined with oils of anise or caraway, proves very beneficial in chronic bronchitis and laryngitis. Some pieces of fresh root chewed daily have permanently and effectually cured these troubles, it is also useful for leucorrhoea. The oil is too acrid for internal use uncombined with saccharine or mucilaginous substance, for internal use the fluid extract or syrup is sufficiently efficacious. As an external stimulating application in most cases the oil will be found very valuable. For croup 1 drop on the tongue three or four times daily, has been found successful for severe attacks. The dried root is said to be inferior in strength to the fresh one, but some chemists consider it more powerful. It may be given either alone or combined with sarsaparilla and other alteratives. It acts reflexly as a sialagogue and expectorant. It is often given for syphilitic complaints in place of mercury.
Tincture, 1/2 to 2 drachms. Decoction, 1 to 2 fluid ounces. Powdered root, 6 to 10 grains. Solid extract, 2 to 5 grains. Stillingin, 1 to 3 grains. Fluid extract, 10 to 30 drops.
Botanical: Pyrus Cydonia (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Cydonia vulgaris (PERS.).
---Parts Used---Seeds, fruit.
The Quince has been under cultivation since very remote times. It is a native of Persia and Anatolia and perhaps also of Greece and the Crimea, though it is doubtful if in the latter localities the plant is not a relic of former cultivation. It is certain that the ancient Greeks knew a common variety, upon which they grafted scions of a better variety, which they obtained from Cydon in Crete, from which place the fruit derived its name of Cydonia, of which the English name Quince is a corruption.
Botanically, the plant used to be called Pyrus Cydonia, but modern botanists now place it in the genus Pyrus and assign it to a separate genus, to which the former specific name Cydonia has been given.
In old English literature we find the fruit called a Coyne, as in the Romaunt of the Rose and the old English Vocabularies of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, this name being adapted from the French coin, whence Middle English Coin, Quin, the plural quins, becoming corrupted to the singular Quince.
The Quinces differ from the Pyrus genus in the twisted manner in which the petals are arranged in the bud and in the many-celled ovary, in which the numerous ovules are disposed horizontally, not vertically as in the Pears. They are much-branched shrubs, or small trees, with entire leaves and large, solitary, white or pink flowers, like those of a pear or apple, but with leafy calyx lobes.
The Quince as we know it in this country is a different fruit to that of Western Asia and tropical countries, where the fruit becomes softer and more juicy. In colder climates, the fruit is of a fine, handsome shape, of a rich golden color when ripe and has a strong fragrance, by some judged to be rather heavy and overpowering. The rind is rough and woolly and the flesh harsh and unpalatable, with an astringent, acidulous taste. In hotter countries, the woolly rind disappears and the fruit can be eaten raw. This is the case not only in Eastern countries, where it is much prized, but also in those parts of tropical America to which the tree has been introduced from Europe. This explains the fact that it figured so prominently in classical legends. It was very widely cultivated in the East and especially in Palestine, and many commentators consider that the Tappuach of Scripture, always translated Apple, was the Quince. It is also supposed to be the fruit alluded to in the Canticles, 'I sat down under his shadow with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste'; and in Proverbs, 'A word fitly spoken is like Apples of gold in pictures of silver.'
Pliny, who speaks at length of the medicinal virtues of the Quince, says that the fruit warded off the influence of the evil eye, and other legends connect it with ancient Greek mythology, as exemplified by statues on which the fruit is represented, as well as by representations in the wall-paintings and mosaics of Pompeii, where Quinces are almost always to be seen in the paws of a bear.
By the Greeks and Romans, the Quince was held sacred to Venus, who is often depicted with a Quince in her right hand, the gift she received from Paris. The 'golden Apples' of Virgil are said to be Quinces, as they were the only 'golden' fruit known in his time, oranges having only been introduced into Italy at the time of the Crusades.
The fruit, being dedicated to Venus, was regarded as the symbol of Love and Happiness, and Plutarch mentions the bridal custom of a Quince being shared by a married pair. Quinces sent as presents, or shared, were tokens of love. The custom was handed down, and throughout the Middle Ages Quinces were used at every wedding feast, as we may read in a curious book, The Praise of Musicke:
'I come to marriages, wherein as our ancestors did fondly and with a kind of doating, maintaine many rites and ceremonies, some whereof were either shadowes or abodements of a pleasant life to come, as the eating of a Quince Peare to be a preparative of sweet and delightful dayes between the married persons.'
Quinces are mentioned among the curious recipes in Manuscripts relating to domestic life in England. Wynkyn de Worde, in the Boke of Kervynge, speaks of 'char de Quynce,' and John Russell, in the Boke of Nurture, speaks of 'chare de Quynces' - the old name for Quince Marmalade. This preserve is now practically the only use made of the Quince as an article of food, though it is sometimes added to apple-tarts, to improve their flavour, but in Shakespeare's time, Browne spoke of the fruit as 'the stomach's comforter, the pleasing Quince,' and a little later, Parkinson says:
'There is no fruit growing in the land that is of so many excellent uses as this [the Quince], serving as well to make many dishes of meat for the table, as for banquets, and much more for their physical virtues.'
The Quince is little cultivated in Great Britain, though it will thrive almost anywhere, but is best adapted to a damp spot, in a rich, high and somewhat moist soil. In Scotland, it seldom approaches maturity unless protected by a wall.
Propagation is generally by cuttings or layers, the former making the best plants, but taking longer to grow. The Quince forms a thick bush and is generally not pruned, unless required to form standard fruit-bearing trees, when it should be trained up to a single stem till a height of 5 or 6 feet is attained.
There are three principal varieties of the Quince: the Portugal, Apple-shaped and Pear-shaped. The Portugal is a taller and more vigorous grower than the others and has larger and finer fruit; the Apple-shaped, which is sometimes considered to have a finer flavour, has roundish fruit, is more productive and ripens under less favourable conditions than either of the others and earlier than the Pear-shaped variety and is therefore preferred to it.
The Quince is much used as a dwarfing stock for certain kinds of pears and for this purpose the young plants when bedded out in the quarters should be shortened back to about 18 to 20 inches. The effect is to restrain the growth of the tree, increase and hasten its fruitfulness and enable it to withstand the effects of cold.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
A syrup prepared from the fruit may be used as agrateful addition to drinks in sickness, especially in looseness of the bowels, which it is said to restrain by its astringency.
The seeds may be used medicinally for the sake of the mucilage they yield. When soaked in water they swell up and form a mucilaginous mass. This mucilage is analogous to, and has the same properties as, that which is formed from the seeds of the flax - linseed.
The seeds somewhat resemble apple-pips in size and appearance. They are of a dark brown color, flattened on two sides, owing to mutual pressure and frequently adhere to one another by a white mucilage, which is derived from the epidermal cells of the seedcoats. The seed contains two firm, yellowishwhite cotyledons, which have a faintly bitter taste resembling that of bitter almonds.
The cotyledons contain about 15 per cent fixed oil and protein, together with small proportions of amygdalin and emulsion or some allied ferment. The chief constituent of the seed is about 10 per cent mucilage, contained in the seed-coat. The pulp of the fruit contains 3 to 3.5 per cent of malic acid.
Pereira considers the mucilage peculiar to this fruit; the chemists Tollens and Kirchner regard it as a compound of gum and cellulose. It differs from Arabin in not yielding a precipitate with potassium silicate and in being soluble both in hot and cold water. It is almost free from adhesive properties.
The seeds, on account of their mucilage, have soothing and demulcent properties and are used internally in the form of Decoctum Cydoniae, an official preparation of the British Pharmacopoeia. It is prepared by boiling 2 drachms of Quince seed in a pint of water in a tightly-covered vessel for 10 minutes and straining off. Large quantities of the decoction may be drunk in dysentery, diarrhoea and gonorrhoea and it is used in thrush and irritable conditions of the mucous membrane. The decoction also forms a useful adjunct to boric-acid eye-lotions. On account of its mucilaginous character, it is not so readily washed away by the tears.
It is also used as an adjunct to skin lotions and creams.
It has been proposed to evaporate the decoction to dryness and powder the residue: 3 grains of this powder form a sufficiently consistent mucilage with an ounce of water. According to Grant (Journal de Pharmacie et de Chénie, Paris), 1 part communicates to a thousand parts of water a semi-syrupy consistence.
Mucilago Cydonice (Mucilage of Quince Seeds, B.P.) is stronger than the decoctionand has similar properties. It forms a useful suspending agent for such liquids as tincture of Benzoin, when added to toilet preparations. When used for this purpose, it is sometimes prepared with rose-water.
Pare and core the Quinces and cut them up, putting them into water as they are cored, to prevent them from blackening. Put them into a preserving pan with 1 lb. sugar and 1 pint water for every lb. of fruit. Boil over a gentle fire until soft. Then put through a sieve, or mash with a spoon, boil up again and tie down in the same way as any other preserve.
In France, before putting the marmalade into pots, a little rosewater and a few grains of musk, mixed together, are added. This is most delicious and among the French, by whom it is called Cotiniat, has a reputation for its digestive powers.
Quince and Apple Marmalade
Take equal quantities of Apple and Quinces. Put into an earthenware jar, 2 quarts of water and, as quickly as they can be pared and sliced, 4 lb. of Quinces. Stew them gently till soft and then strain them. They must not be boiled too long, or they will become red. Boil together, for 3/4 hour, 4 lb. of sliced Apples, with the same weight of Quince juice. When it boils, take it off the fire and add 1 1/2 lb. sugar. When dissolved, put it back on the fire and boil, together with the Quinces, for another 20 minutes, stirring all the time and removing the scum. Then pot.
Pare and core some ripe Quinces, cut them up, weigh them and put them at once into part of the water in which they will be cooked. Put the Quinces on the fire, with 1 pint water to each pound of fruit and let it simmer, but not long enough to change the color to red - it should be quite pale. Strain through a jelly-bag. Weigh the juice the next day and put it in a preserving pan and boil it quickly for 15 minutes. Then take it from the fire and stir into it 12 OZ. sugar for each lb. of juice. Boil for another 15 or 20 minutes, till cooked, stirring all the time, and remove the scum.
Quinces and Apples can be mixed, making a good combination.
Botanical: Cydonia Japonica, Pyrus Japonica
The Japanese Quince, familiar in our gardens, and formerly known as Pyrus Japonica, now usually described as Cydonia Japonica, is grown for the sake of its blossoms, which vary in color from creamy white to rich red and are produced during the winter and early spring months. It is a handsome shrub, generally planted in a sheltered spot, often against a dwarf wall or a trellis, the brilliant flowers of the ordinary red variety being produced soon after the New Year. For the last hundred years it has been the chief spring ornament of English gardens and being quite hardy and easily grown is often seen covering the walls of cottages. A deep, moist loam suits it exactly. The flowers appear before the leaves, and later on in the year, old trees on warm walls will in a dry, hot summer produce a few fruits (Quinces), though it cannot be described as a fruitful tree in this country. They are nearly round and about thesize of a tangerine orange, ripening off a dull green color, very fragrant and as hard as flints. When cut up, they are found to be packed with large dark pips, around which is a broad rim of flesh of a most uninviting character and quite uneatable, the flavour being rough and styptic.
There are many varieties, differing chiefly in the color of the flowers: there is often abundance of fruit on the white variety. C. Maulei, a more recently introduced shrub from Japan, bears a profusion of beautiful orange-red flowers, followed by fruit of a yellow color and agreeable fragrance, so that when cooked with sugar, it forms a pleasant conserve.
Botanical: Asperula cynanchica (LINN.)
Quinsy-Wort was formerly esteemed a remedy for the disorder the name of which it bears. The specific name, cynanchica, is derived from the Greek Kunanchi (dog strangle), from its choking nature.
Its roots, like those of the Galiums and Rubia, yield a red dye, which has been occasionally used in Sweden.
It is no longer applied in medicine.
This is not a common British plant, except locally in dry pastures on a chalky or limehouse soil.
It is a small, smooth plant, 6 to 10 inches high, with very narrow, close-set leaves, four in a whorl, two of each whorl much smaller than the others.
The flowers are in loose terminal bunches, the corollas only 1/6 inch in diameter, pink externally and white inside, and are in bloom during June and July.
QUEEN OF THE MEADOWS, MEADOW SWEET,
OR MEAD SWEET
The stalks of these are reddish, rising to be three feet high, sometimes four or five feet, having at the joints thereof large winged leaves, standing one above another at distances, consisting of many and somewhat broad leaves, set on each side of a middle rib, being hard, rough, or rugged, crumpled much like unto elm leaves, having also some smaller leaves with them (as Agrimony hath) somewhat deeply dented about the edges, of a sad green color on the upper side, and greyish underneath, of a pretty sharp scent and taste, somewhat like unto the Burnet, and a leaf hereof put into a cup of claret wine, gives also a fine relish to it. At the tops of the stalks and branches stand many tufts of small white flowers thrust thick together, which smell much sweeter than the leaves; and in their places, being fallen, come crooked and cornered seed. The root is somewhat woody, and blackish on the outside, and brownish within, with divers great strings, and lesser fibres set thereat, of a strong scent, but nothing so pleasant as the flowers and leaves, and perishes not, but abides many years, shooting forth a-new every Spring.
It grows in moist meadows that lie mostly wet, or near the courses of water.
It flowers in some places or other all the three Summer months, that is, June, July, and August, and the seed is ripe soon after.
Government and virtues :
Venus claims dominion over the herb. It is used to stay all manner of bleedings, fluxes, vomitings, and women's courses, also their whites. It is said to alter and take away the fits of the quartan agues, and to make a merry heart for which purpose some use the flowers, and some the leaves. It helps speedily those that are troubled with the cholic; being boiled in wine, and with a little honey, taken warm, it opens the belly; but boiled in red wine, and drank, it stays the flux of the belly. Outwardly applied, it helps old ulcers that are cankerous, or hollow fistulous, for which it is by many much commended, as also for the sores in the mouth or secret parts. The leaves when they are full grown, being laid on the skin, will, in a short time, raise blisters thereon, as Tragus saith. The water thereof helps the heat and inflammation in the eyes.
THE QUINCE TREE
The ordinary Quince Tree grows often to the height and bigness of a reasonable apple tree, but more usually lower, and crooked, with a rough bark, spreading arms, and branches far abroad. The leaves are somewhat like those of the apple tree, but thicker, broader, and full of veins, and whiter on the under side, not dented at all about the edges. The flowers are large and white, sometimes dashed over with a blush. The fruit that follows is yellow, being near ripe, and covered with a white freeze, or cotton; thick set on the younger, and growing less as they grow to be thorough ripe, bunched out oftentimes in some places, some being like an apple, and some a pear, of a strong heady scent, and not durable to keep, and is sour, harsh, and of an unpleasant taste to eat fresh; but being scalded, roasted, baked, or preserved, becomes more pleasant.
Place and Time :
It best likes to grow near ponds and water sides, and is frequent through this land: and flowers not until the leaves be come forth. The fruit is ripe in September or October.
Government and virtues :
Old Saturn owns the Tree. Quinces when they are green, help all sorts of fluxes in men or women, and choleric lasks, casting, and whatever needs astriction, more than any way prepared by fire; yet the syrup of the juice, or the conserve, are much conducible, much of the binding quality being consumed by the fire; if a little vinegar be added, it stirs up the languishing appetite, and the stomach given to casting; some spices being added, comforts and strengthens the decaying and fainting spirits, and helps the liver oppressed, that it cannot perfect the digestion, or corrects choler and phlegm. If you would have them purging, put honey to them instead of sugar; and if more laxative, for choler, Rhubarb; for phlegm, Turbith; for watery humours, Scammony; but if more forcible to bind, use the unripe Quinces, with roses and acacia, hypocistis, and some torrified rhubarb. To take the crude juice of Quinces, is held a preservative against the force of deadly poison; for it hat been found most certainly true, that the very smell of a Quince hath taken away all the strength of the poison of white Hellebore. If there be need of any outwardly binding and cooling of hot fluxes, the oil of Quinces, or other medicines that may be made thereof, are very available to anoint the belly or other parts therewith; it likewise strengthens the stomach and belly, and the sinews that are loosened by sharp humours falling on them, and restrains immoderate sweatings. The muscilage taken from the seeds of Quinces, and boiled in a little water, is very good to cool the heat and heal the sore breasts of women. The same, with a little sugar, is good to lenify the harshness and hoarseness of the throat, and roughness of the tongue. The cotton or down of Quinces boiled and applied to plague sores, heals them up: and laid as a plaister, made up with wax, it brings hair to them that are bald, and keeps it from falling, if it be ready to shed.
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