Gold Thread

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Gold Thread

Botanical Name: Coptis trifolia (SALIS.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae

Synonyms: Helleborus triflius or trilobus. Helleborus pumilus. Coptis. Anemone grcenlandica. Coptide. Mouthroot. Vegetable Gold. Chrusa borealis.
Parts Used: The dried rhizome, with roots, stems, and leaves.
Habitat: Northern America and Asia. Greenland and Iceland.

Description: The name of the genus Coptis is suggested by the form of the leaflets, and means 'to cut.' The popular name is derived from the thin, creeping, gold-coloured rhizome, which yields a yellow dye. The solitary, yellowish flowers, and obovate, evergreen leaves grow in tufts with yellow scales surrounding the base. The herb is a small perennial, usually found creeping in swamps or damp, sandy places. In commerce, the dried herb is found in loose masses, odourless, and with a pure, bitter taste. The powder is yellowish-green. It resembles gentian and quassia in its properties.

The Coptis family is closely linked to that of the Hellebores.

Constituents: Its bitterness is imparted to both water and alcohol, but more readily to the latter. As there is neither tannic nor gallic acid, the activity is due to berberia or berberine, which is associated with another alkaloid called Coptine or Coptina, resembling hydrastia. It also contains albumen, fixed oil, colouring matter, lignin, extractive, and sugar. Authorities differ as to the presence of resin.

Medicinal Action and Uses: It may be used as other pure bitters. In New England it is valued as a local application in thrush, for children.

It is stated to be good for dyspepsia, and combined with other drugs is regarded as helpful in combating the drink habit.

Dosage: Of powder, 10 to 30 grains. Of tincture of 1 OZ. of root to a pint of diluted alcohol, 1 fluid drachm. Of fluid extract, 30 minims.

Other Species and Substitutes:
Statice monopetala, used as an astringentin the United States, sometimes used to adulterate C. trifolia.

Coptis Teeta, or Coptidis Rhizoma, Coptidis Radix, Mahmira, Tita, Mishmi Bitter, Mishmi Tita, Hwang-lien, Honglane, Chuen-lien, Chonlin, Mu-lien, is official in the Pharmacopoeia of India. It grows in the Mishmi Mountains, East Assam, is imported into Bengal in little rattan bags, and is thus sold in the Indian bazaars. Large quantities have been sold in London. It contains a higher percentage of berberia than any other drug, and is much used as a tonic in India and China, especially for the stomach, and in Scind for inflammation of the eyes.

The Chinese and Japanese variations (var. chinensis and C. anemonaefolia) imported into Bombay are thinner and duller than the Assam rhizomes. In Japan, the last variety is used for intestinal catarrh.