Parilla, Yellow

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Parilla, Yellow

Botanical Name: Menispermum Canadense (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Menispermaceae

Synonyms: Canadian Moonseed. Texas Sarsaparilla. Moonseed Sarsaparilla. Vine Maple.
Parts Used: The rhizome and roots.
Habitat: Canada and United States of America. Cultivated in Britain as a hardy, deciduous, ornamental shrub. A closely allied species is indigenous to the temperate parts of Eastern Asia.

Description: A climbing, woody plant, with a very long root of a fine yellow colour, and a round, striate stem, bright yellowgreen when young; leaves, roundish, cordate, peltate, three to seven angled, lobed. Flowers small, yellow, borne in profusion in axillary clusters. Drupes, round, black, with a bloom on them, one-seeded. Seed, crescent-shaped, compressed, the name Moonseed being derived from this lunate shape of the seed. The rhizome is wrinkled longitudinally and has a number of thin, brittle roots; fracture, tough, woody; internally reddish; a thick bark encloses a circle of porous, short, nearly square wood wedges and a large central pith. The root is the official part; it has a persistent bitter, acrid taste and is almost inodorous.

Constituents: Berberine and a white amorphous alkaloid termed Menispermum, which has been used as a substitute for Sarsaparilla, some starch and resin.

Medicinal Action and Uses: In small doses it is a tonic, diuretic, laxative and alterative. In larger doses it increases the appetite and action of the bowels; in full doses, it purges and causes vomiting. It is a superior laxative bitter; considered very useful in scrofula, cutaneous, rheumatic, syphilitic, mercurial and arthritic diseases; also for dyspepsia, chronic inflammation of the viscera and in general debility. Externally, the decoction has been applied as an embrocation in cutaneous and gouty affections.

Preparations and Dosages: Powdered root, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Saturated tincture, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Menispermum, 1 to 4 grains. Decoction, 1 to 4 fluid ounces, three times daily. Menisperine in powder is recommended as a nervine and is considered superior to Sarsaparilla, taken in doses of 1 to 3 grains, three times daily.

Other Species:
Some of the species closely allied to Menispermum have narcotic properties and are very poisonous: Anamirta paniculata yields Cocculus Indicus, illegally used to impart bitterness to malt liquor; Jateorhiza palmata supplies bitter Columba root, used as a tonic; and Cissampelos Pareira is the tonic Pareira Brava.

COLUMBA, (no listing)