Burning BushBotanical Name: Dictamnus albus
Family: N.O. Rutaceae
Synonyms: Fraxinella. Bastard. False or White Dittany.
Part Used: The root.
Habitat: Germany. France. Alsace. Spain. Austria. Italy. Asia Minor.
Description: The members of this small genus are plants about 2 feet high, bearing flowers in a long, pyramidal, loose spike, varying in colour from pale purple to white. It prefers to grow in woods in warm places. The whole plant, especially when rubbed, gives out an odour like lemon-peel, and when bruised this grows more like that of a fine balsam, strongest in the pedicels of the flowers. It is due to an essential oil, which gives off an inflammable vapour in heat or in dry, cloudy weather, which also congeals as resinous wax, exuding from rusty-red glands in the flowers. This accounts for the fact that the atmosphere surrounding it will often take fire if approached by a lighted candle, without injuring the plant.
The fragrant leaves and handsome flowers cause it to be frequently cultivated in gardens.
The prepared root-bark is whitish, almost odourless, and rolled in pieces from 1 to 2 inches long.
Constituents: The acrid and resinous principles have not been analysed.
Medicinal Action and Uses: The drug is very little used to-day, though it is an ingredient in 'Orvieton' 'Solomon's Opiate,' 'Guttète Powder,' 'Balm of Fioraventi,' 'Eau generale,' 'Hyacinth Mixture,' etc. It is recommended in nervous complaints and intermittent fevers, and used to be given in scrofulous and scorbutic diseases. It is a cordial and stomachic. The distilled water is used as a cosmetic. An infusion of the leaves is regarded as a substitute for tea. The powder is combined with that of peppermint for use in epilepsy.
Dosage: Of powdered root, 4 to 8 grammes, or double the quantity in infusion.
The leaves of a plant growing in Crete and Candy were used by the Ancients for wounds, and it is still known as Dictamnus or Dittany of Crete, being Origanum Dictamnus of the Labiatae family.