Bitter root is a native of the U.S. and flourishes in all parts of it. The ROOT is the part employed. Its taste is unpleasant and intensely bitter. It yields its medicinal properties to alcohol, but especially to water. Age impairs its medicinal quality.
Bitter root was a popular remedy among the Indians for syphilis. It is used today when the hepatic organs are sluggish.
Its influence is slow but persistent and extends through the gall ducts, gall cyst, liver tubuli and also the muscular and mucous membranes of the bowels and kidneys.
It is quite stimulating to the gall ducts, influencing the excretion of bile, and especially valuable when the stools are clay-colored, indicating a lack of bile. In jaundice, take 3 to 5 drops of the fluid extract every 2 or 3 hrs. and, if caused by occlusion, add American mandrake. If the pulse is below par, add a little capsicum. If using large doses for gall stones, add some ginger or aniseed.
Because it influences a discharge of bile and the bowels in the way it does, a soft stool will result in about 6 to 8 hrs. This is quite in order where torpid conditions are found, but is not good in irritated and sensitive conditions.
A good liver compound is made as follows: All in powder, white poplar bark and golden seal 2 oz. each, bitter root 3/2 oz., culvers root and ginger 1/2 oz. each, capsicum 1/4 oz. Mix and fill into #2 capsules and take 2 after each meal.
Bitter root is recommended in dropsy and hepatic troubles. In dropsy, combine bitter root with couch grass, gravel root, or juniper, taking 5 to 8 drops of the fluid extract every 2 to 4 hours.
As a cardiac stimulant in cardiac dropsy, take doses of 5 to 15 gr.
As a vermifuge, bitter root is most valuable; either alone or with golden seal. If taking the fluid extract, disguise the taste with a little compound syrup of rhubarb.
Used against the biting of a mad dog (Hydrophobia), this plant was given the name of Dogbane.
All parts of the plant contain a milky juice, therefore it was also given the name “milkweed.”
The down that is found in the cods of the plant was once used to make a soft stuffing for cushions and pillows.