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Class XIV. DIDYNAMIA. Order I. GYMNOSPERMIA.
ovate, dentate, sometimes cordate, membranaceous. Racems,
lateral leafy. Spe. Char. Upper lip of the calyx covering the fruit like an oper
The roots are perennial, fibrous and yellow; the stem is erect, square, and rises from one to three feet in height; the branches are similar to Lobelia Inflata, the lower branches being the longest, but none of them reaching above the top of the stem; the leaves are ovate, dentate, acute, subcordate upon the stem, opposite, and supported upon long petioles; the flowers are small, of a pale blue color, and are placed on the branches which contain several small bracts or leaves; the calyx has an entire margin, which, after the corolla has fallen, is closed in with a helmet-shaped lid; the tube of the corolla is elongated, the upper lip concave and entire, the lower three-lobed; the seed-vessels are of a light green color, and somewhat in the shape of a hood—they open laterally by a valve, each one containing four seeds. • Scullcap has of late become quite celebrated for the cure of hydrophobia. Rafinesque says: “ This property was first discovered by Dr. Vandervere, about 1772, who used it with the utmost success, and until 1815, when he died : he is said to have prevented four hundred persons, and more than one thousand cattle, from becoming hydrophobic, after they were bitten by rabid ani
mals. His son is stated to have relieved or cured forty persons in three years, in the States of New York and New-Jersey, by the use of this medicine.
Medical Properties and Uses. Scullcap is ranked by those who are best acquainted with its properties, as one of the most effectual nervines in use; it can be given to all classes, and in most any stage of disease, with safety. It is highly useful in St. Vitus' dance, convulsions, locked-jaw, tremors, ague and fever, tic-doloreux, and all nervous affections. It may be given with advantage to children, where their health is impaired from the effects of teething. Besides its other good effects, it has a tendency to keep the pores open and skin moist. The U. S. Dispensatory describes this species of Scullcap as possessing but little, if any, taste or smell, or appearance of any remarkable medical virtues. It is even destitute of the aromatic properties which are found in a large portion of the labiate plants. When taken internally, it produces no obvious effects upon the system. Notwithstanding its apparent inertness, it obtained at one period extraordinary credit throughout the Union, as a preventative of hydrophobia, and was even highly recommended for the disease itself. A strong tea made of the leaves and branches of this plant was given in the dose of a wine glass full, and repeated several times a day; this was continued for three or four months after the bite was received, while the herb itself was applied to the wound. Strong testimony has been adduced in favor of its prophylactic powers; but has shared the fate of many other specifics against hydrophobia, which have been brought into temporary popularity only to be speedily abandoned. It is now nearly discarded from medical practice, and its merits have not been much investigated since. We think this plant well worthy the attention of physicians, especially with a view to ascertain its real merits. As a nervine it ranks high, and enters into various compounds prepared by some of our modern practitioners for the treatment of nervous diseases.