Bleeding Heart Picture

Dicentra eximia, Torr 

Common Names: Bleedingheart,Turkey Corn, Squirrel Corn, Dutchmans Breeches, Stagger Weed. 

The Eclectic Dispensatory by Prof. J. King, and Prof. L. E. Jones, Materia Medica, have created much confusion by unfortunately fastening the wrong name upon this plant. They both call it corydalis formosa, whereas it has not been known by that name, nor been in that genus, since the works of Pursh, of more than half a century ago. All standard botanies class it by the name above given; which will explain to my students in botany why they can not find in their text-books the corydalis described by Dr. King. The dicentra as a genus has the marked character of two spurred sepals, while the genus corydalis has but one    prominent feature that would at once be noticed by any real botanist. This botanical blunder of Dr. King is the more inexcusable,from the fact  that Prof. J. Kost, in his Materia Medica, correctly discriminated the true genus of this plant, and showed that it is not a corydalis. The root (small tubers) varies from a yellowish-white to a dusky color externally, and a lighter yellow internally. It has a faint smell; and a bitterish, pungent, and rather persistent taste. Water extracts its virtues very well; but it contains a resinous substance that is best acted on by alcohol. 

Properties and Uses: The roots are stimulating and moderately relaxing, acting slowly but persistently, and influencing the secretory organs especially the kidneys and skin. It slowly elevates the circulation, and gives vigorous action to the entire system; and it is probably by this action upon the capillaries that it proves alterant. It does not increase perspiration so as to make it sensible, though evidently aiding in the elimination of both saline and sebaceous excreta; but the amount of urine is perceptibly increased after its use, and the solid elements of this excretion augmented. It stimulates the salivary glands, fauces, and stomach; and gives a feeling of warmth and excitement to the stomach and whole system. Yet these impressions are made rather slowly; and are not so positive as those made by guaiacum. It is suitable for languid and insensitive conditions; and is among the most valuable agents of its class for secondary syphilis, where it is most generally prized; and is an excellent combining agent to give intensity to relaxants in the treatment of scrofula and scrofulous ulcers, white swellings, herpetic eruptions, and chronic rheumatism. Thus used, it is even more valuable in the latter forms of disease than it is in syphilis. It leaves behind a good tonic influence, mainly through its influence upon the capillary circulation: but it is quite an error to pronounce it equally tonic with gentiana and frasera. From its decidedly stimulating character, it should not be used in sensitive and irritable conditions of the system; and is, at any time, best when combined with relaxing alteratives in excess. It is seldom used in any other form than infusion or other pharmaceutical preparation. Half an ounce of the crushed bulb infused for an hour in a pint of hot water, forms a preparation of which one to two fluid ounces may be given three times a day.      

Pharmaceutical Preparations:
Compound Sirup of Dicentra and Alnus. Take four ounces each of dicentra, alnus, menispermum, and the seeds of arctium lappa. Crush well; and macerate for two days, in a covered vessel, with a sufficient quantity of diluted alcohol. Transfer to a displacement apparatus, and add warm water till a pint of the spirituous tincture passes; which set aside, and continue the percolation till three pints have been obtained. Evaporate the last product to two pints, and add two and a half pounds of sugar. When cold, add the reserved pint of tincture. This is a superior alterative preparation in secondary syphilis and scrofula. I have used it largely for several years in syphilis and mercurio-syphilitic difficulties; and always with the most gratifying results. Dose, half to a whole fluid ounce three times a day.  

Abstracted and abridged from:
The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869