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June. The leaves have a heavy, resinous, strong, unpleasant odor, and a hot, bitter taste. They afford by distillation with water a considerable proportion of colorless essential oil, possessing the smell and taste of Savine. Water extracts the activity from the leaves, but alcohol is considered much the best; both water and spirituous extracts possess considerable pungency and warmth, but they retain scarcely any of the odor of the plant.
Medical Properties and Uses. Savine is a powerful stimulant, acting upon the skin, bowels, and uterus, and has long been considered the most efficacious in the Materia Medica for producing a determination to the uterus, and thereby proving emmenagogue; it heats and stimulates the whole system, and is said to promote the fluid secretions. The power which this plant possesses in opening uterine obstructions, is considered to be so great, that it has frequently been employed with too much success, for purposes the most infamous and unnatural. Cases of this kind are not uncommon from the deleterious effect of this plant. Dr. Cullen observes: “Savine is a very acrid and heating substance, and I have often on account of these qualities been prevented from employing it in the quantity perhaps necessary to render it emmenagogue. I must own, however, that it shows a more powerful determination to the uterine vessels than any other plant I have ever employed; but,” says he, “I have frequently been disappointed in this, and its healing qualities always require great caution.” In over doses it is capable of producing dangerous gastro-intestinal inflammation, and should never be given when much general or local excitement exists. It is most conveniently administered in the form of powder, of which the dose is from five to fifteen grains, repeated three or four times a day.