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VERONICA BECCABUNGA BROOKLIME.
Class II. Diandria. Order I. Monogynia.
Spe. Char. Capsule biocular. Leaves ovate, plain. Stalk upright.
Brooklime is a native of the United States, although found in some parts of Europe. It grows by the side of brooks, and in moist lands, and sometimes in the water. This plant, although very common in America, has, I think, never been accurately described by any American botanist whatever; yet some of the works speak of it, but not as being officinal.
The root is perennial, creeping, jointed, and sends forth from each joint numerous long slender fibres; the leaves are thick, oval, smooth, obtusely serrated, of a pale green color, and stand upon the stem in pairs, either sessile, or upon very short footstalks; the stem is round, jointed, creeping, smooth, succulent, and usually of a reddish brown color, rising from one to two feet in height; the raceme or Jlowerspilics are lateral, opposite, bracteated, and terminated by the flowers, which are of a faint blue color, and divided into four small roundish leaves; the cahjx is quadrifid.
Medical Properties and Uses. The leaves and stem of Brooklime have a bitter, warm, and somewhat astringent taste; it has been considered diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, and tonic, and is said to have been employed with considerable success in pectoral and nephritic complaints, haemorrhages, and diseases of the skin; it has been employed in the fresh state in purifying the blood, and as a remedy in scurvy. Woodville, in describing this plant, says, "that by a chemical analysis they appear to be subacid, and possess some degree of astringency, but that these qualities are common to almost all fresh vegetables, and afford no proof of their medical powers."
This plant was formerly considered useful in several diseases, and was applied externally to wounds and ulcers; but if it possesses any peculiar efficacy, it is to be derived from its anti-scorbutic virtue. The juice is used as a mild refrigerant where an acrimonious state of the fluids prevail, indicated by purient eruptions upon the skin, or scurvy; it is ordered in the London Pharmacopoeia as an ingredient in the success cochliariae compositus, probably with a view to correct the pungency of the cress. We must, however, acknowledge, that we should expect equal benefit from the same quantity of any other bland fresh vegetable matter taken into the system. To derive any advantage from it, the juice ought to be used in large quantities, or the fresh plant eaten as food.