An indigenous forest tree, butternut grows throughout most of the U.S. The hardwood is used for furniture and interior trim. The bark is used for dying wool a dark-brown color. The fruit, when half grown, is made into pickles, and when ripe, it is used as a food.
The INNER BARK is the medical portion and that of the ROOT is considered the best. It has a feeble odor and a peculiarly bitter, somewhat acrid taste. Its medicinal virtues are extracted by boiling water, except its astringency, which it yields to alcohol.
Butternut is a mild cathartic, operating without pain or irritation and resembling rhubarb in evacuating without debilitating the alimentary canal. It was highly esteemed and much employed as a laxative by the Army during the Revolutionary War.
The alcoholic extract sold by the druggist may be used in diarrhea and dysentery.
The liquid extract is very valuable in chronic constipation. It will tone the entire alvine membrane, being particularly tonic to the lower bowels, influencing peristalsis.
It is moderately slow, operating in 4 to 8 hours, but very reliable. It relieves the portal circulation, especially where the liver is engorged. It will bring about the ejection of bile and the cleansing of the hepatic and alvine accumulations, but it will not bring about watery evacuations.
It is considered of excellent service in habitual constipation and other bowel affections, particularly dysentery, in which it has acquired considerable reputation.
A simple syrup of butternut can be made as follows: Fl X butternut 1/2 oz., 4 oz. sugar, and 10 oz. boiling water. Mix and bottle. Dose is 1 T. twice daily, children in proportion.
This syrup is excellent for hemorrhoids and rectal hemorrhage. FE stone root may be added.
For tapeworm, it is considered a reliable remedy, especially for children.
The oil may be applied to irritated sores.
Butternut is usually taken in the form of decoction or extract. The extract is official, and is always preferred. The dose is from 20 to 30 gr. as a purge, from 5 to 10 gr. as a laxative.
The solid extract is used either in pills or syrup, 4 or 5 pills taken at night.