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of an oval figure, each contained in a membranous tunic, elongateu at both ends.
This beautiful species of winter-green is a native of the United States, and is also to be found in many of the northern parts of Europe and Asia. It is found growing mostly in shady woods, where it is protected from the solar rays, and nourished by a soil formed from the decomposition of leaves and other vegetable matter. In the northern parts of this country it is a very common plant, and known by the names of ground-holly, winter-green, pipsissewa, princespine, and by the Indians, herbe de Paigne. In Canada, it is known by the name of L' Herbe a Pisse. The genus Pyrola comprises about fifteen species, of which eight are indeginous to North America, and five to Europe. The Pyrola umbellata was introduced into medical practice about fifty years ago; but it is only within the last few years that it has excited the attention of the profession as a remedial agent. The Pyrola umbellata, Pyrola uniflora, Pyrola secunda, Pyrola picta, Pirola asarifolia, Pyrola maculata, Pyrola elliptica, Pyrola dentata, are the only varieties which have as yet been discovered in this country; although some of the English botanists have described the Pyrola menziesii, and the Pyrola occidentalis, as growing in great abundance on the northwest coast of North America.
Sensible and Chemical Properties. The whole plant has a moderately warm pungent taste, somewhat between bitter and sweet; when bruised, it exhales a strong, and rather unpleasant odor. Both water and alcohol extract its virtues, but the latter most completely. The watery infusion of the dried plant is of a brownish color; the decoction is of a deeper color, and both strike a black with the sulphate of iron. According to the experiments of Dr. Wolf, 100 parts of the herb contain about 18 of a bitter extractive principle, 2,04 of resin, 1,32 of tannin, a slight portion of gum, the rest fibrous matter and earthy salts. The resin is
adhesive, brownish, readily soluble in ether, or alkalies, burning with flame and a resinous odor, leaving a white cinder.
Medical Properties and Uses. The Pyrola umbellata is diuretic and tonic; externally stimulant. It has lately been introduced into practice as an efficacious diuretic in dropsy, and from the favorable testimony of physicians who rank high in the profession, we are warranted in recommending it to general practice, as a remedial agent, possessing most valuable diuretic and tonic powers; the proof of which seems to have been fully illustrated by Dr. W. Somerville, in a paper on this vegetable published in London. The facts presented by this physician afford satisfactory evidence of the powers of this medicine, to promote the urinal exertion, and to afford relief to patients afflicted with dropsy in its various forms. One of the most remarkable and distinguished cases presented by him, is that of Sir James Craig, the British Governor of Canada, who was labouring under general dropsy, which, in its progress, had assumed the forms of hydrothorax, anasarca, and ascites, and which was combined with different organic diseases, especially of the liver. After having tried with little or temporary success, almost every variety of diuretic and cathartic medicines, and submitted twice to the operation of tapping, the patient had recourse to a strong infusion of Pyrola, in the quantity of a pint every twenty-four hours. Although the case was altogether an unpromising one, yet the plant gave relief, not only in the first, but also in the subsequent instances of its use. It increased the urinal discharge, and, at the same time, produced an augmentation of strength, and an invigorated appetite. A great variety of cases of dropsy are detailed in Dr. Somerville's paper, in which the Pyrola was administered by himself and by other practitioners with decided advantage. Dr. Somerville found his patients remark that an agreeable sensation was perceived in the stomach soon after taking the Pyrola, and this was followed in some instances by an extrordinary increase of appetite. He considers it as having in this respect, a great advantage over other diur
etics, none of which are agreeable to the stomach, and most of them very offensive to it. He further states that no circumstance had occurred within his own experience or information, to forbid its use in any form, or to limit the dose. Sir Walter Farquhar, states that he used the Pyrola, in the case of a lady laboring under ascites in which the diuretic effect of this plant were very striking. Dr. Barton, author of "The Vegetable Materia Medica of the United States," also corroborates the accounts of the diuretic effects of this vegetable, by four cases which came under his care at the Marine's Hospital, Philadelpia, in which a strong infusion was given with the most decided advantage. Dr. Bigelow says: “I have administered this plant on various occasions, and attended to its operation. In a number of dropsical cases, when first given, it made a distinct and evident impression on the disease, communicating an increased activity to the absorbents, followed by a great augmentation of the excretion from the kidneys; but,” says he, “I found it better to omit the medicine for a time, and resume it afresh, than to continue until the system had become insensible to its stimulus." It has proved, in almost every case, a very acceptable medicine to the patient, and is prefered both for its sensible qualities and its effects on the stomach, to other diuretics and alteratives which have been prescribed. Dr. Mitchell, an American physician, relates many cases of its extraordinary success administered in fevers. We are told that the Indians administer a strong and warm decoction of this plant in rheumatism and fever; they employ the whole plant, and take it in large quantities. Many cases which have come under my own observation, in the treatment of patients, and where I have watched its effects, have satisfied me that the Pyrola umbellata possesses most highly valuable medical properties, especially in the treatment of dropsies, ulcers, tumors, scroffula, etc. As an external remedy, it has been used with success in various chronic indurated swellings.