Classic Catalpa Texts

Here you can find various classic texts that we've collected and collated from around the web.

DISCLAMIER: Some of these very old texts contain dosage and medical instructions for the Catalpa - we take absolutely no responsibility for such claims or their sources, verifiability and outcomes.  We highly recommend that you do NOT try any of this at home.  Other than poisoning, you may find yourself in harm's way or trespassing on private property.

Source: King's American Dispensatory, 1898, by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D

Botanical Source.—This handsome tree has leaves that are large, heart-shaped, opposite or disposed in whorls of 3. The flowers appear in June and July, and are produced in large, showy, terminal, compound panicles. The corollas are about an inch long, white, tinged with purple, and studded with orange spots in the tubes. They are bell-shaped, with a swollen tube, irregularly 5-lobed and 2-lipped. The fruit is a slender, 2-celled capsule, about 1 foot long, 1/4 of an inch thick, and hangs suspended until spring. The seeds are numerous and winged.

History.—This tree is a native of the southern United States, but is cultivated as an ornamental tree and frequently naturalized in the northern states. It belongs to the natural order Bignoniaceae, and, except a western states species, the Catalpa speciosa of Warder, is the only indigenous species of Catalpa, although others are found in Asia and the West Indies. The tree is called "cigar-tree," or "bean-tree," names derived from the slender fruit. The fruit and seeds have also been used.

Description.—The bark of the trunk is scaly, brown, and from 3 to 6 lines in thickness. That of the young limbs, is smooth, dark-grayish, and spotted with lighter colored excrescences. The young bark, and the inner portion of the old, is bitter. Catalpa wood is very durable, rivalling cedar. It is hard, grayish, and of coarse fiber.

Chemical Composition.—In 1870, Eugene A. Rau (Amer. Jour. Pharm.) made an examination of the inner bark of the tree, and found it to contain tannin, and a nauseating matter soluble in ether. When this substance was boiled with water and oxide of lead, and then filtered, a yellowish solution was obtained, free from alkaloids, and very bitter. The precipitate that separated with the oxide of lead, gave to boiling alcohol a crystallizable, white, neutral substance, which possessed the nauseating bitter taste of the bark, and was soluble in ether and chloroform. In addition to the above, an insipid resin and glucose were obtained. The seeds, when extracted with a mixture of alcohol, ether, and ammonia, yielded several crystallizable principles. (Brown, 1887). Sugar, tannin, resin, and fixed oil are also constituents of the seeds.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—It is stated that poisonous emanations issue from this tree, but we have no knowledge of any serious effects resulting from an exposure thereto. The pods and seeds have been employed in decoction in chronic bronchial affections, spasmodic asthma, and dyspnoea, and certain forms of functional heart disease; 6 or 8 ounces to a pint of water, and given in tablespoonful doses, repeated every 1 or 2 hours. The leaves, bruised, and applied as a cataplasm, have been used in irritable scrofulous ulcers; they appear to possess anodyne properties. The bark has been employed internally, in powder, or in decoction, in scrofulous maladies, and as an anthelmintic. The juice of the leaves, as well as of the root, has been beneficially employed as a local application in the several forms of strumous ophthalmia, as well as in certain cutaneous affections. From the statements that have been made as to the toxic properties of this tree, and which have not yet been satisfactorily demonstrated, it would be advisable to use some prudence and care in the internal administration of any of its preparations. Dose of specific catalpa, fraction of a drop to 20 drops.

Related Species.Bignonia capreolata, Linné. Southern United States. Trumpet creeper. A shrub of climbing habit, bearing large orange-colored flowers. Aqueous preparations of the stems and root of this species have been used, according to Porcher, for the same purposes as sarsaparilla—i.e., in syphilis, chronic rheumatic complaints, and other disorders dependent upon blood dyscrasia. It is reputed alterative, detergent, sudorific, and diuretic. A closely related plant is the Tecoma radicans, Jussieu, known as Trumpet flower.

Source: The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, by William Cook, M.D.

Description: Natural Order, Bignoniaceae. This is the beautiful spreading tree so common in the South, and cultivated widely in the Middle and Northern States as an ornamental shade tree. Its very large and nearly heart-shaped leaves, with its long panicles of large and nearly white flowers, at once attract the eye and make it a favorite. As cultivated, it commonly attains a height of thirty feet; and blooms during the latter part of June and early July in this latitude.

Properties and Uses: The bark of this tree is a strong bitter, and is among the positive and rather permanent stimulating tonics. It has been pronounced poisonous, but this is not my opinion. It arouses the stomach, and ultimately stimulates the circulation; and the entire list of secernent organs, but especially the skin, is steadily excited to better action under its use. These qualities fit it for cases of extreme languor and debility, where such an alterative tonic is required; and it is my impression that it will there be found equal to the more valued articles of the Materia Medica. Lindley, in his Medical Flora, says a Brazilian species of catalpa is considered in that country to be one of the most powerful remedies against malignant syphilitic swellings; and it is my opinion, from limited experience, that the bark of our native species will be found valuable in the same connection. Two ounces may be boiled in a quart of water, till a pint of decoction is obtained; of which two fluid ounces may be given four times a day. It may also be made into a sirup.

A decoction of the pods is demulcent, with mild relaxant and stimulant properties; and may be used in dry, irritable, and asthmatic coughs, and shortness of breath. The leaves are said to form a soothing and emollient poultice, and have been used in irritable ulcers.

Source: The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D

The bark, pod, and seeds of Catalpa bignonioides, Walter. (Nat. Ord. Bignoniaceae). A tree of the southern United States.
Common Names: Cigar Tree, Bean Tree.

Principal Constituents.—The seeds contain tannin, resin, and fixed oil.
Preparation.—Specific Medicine Catalpa. Dose, 1 to 20 drops.

Action and Therapy.—Said to be useful in chronic bronchial affections with dyspnoea and asthma, and in functional heart disorders. Its exact therapy has not been determined.

Source: The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 59, 1887, edited by John M. Maisch

Catalpa bignonioides, Walter.—The seeds were examined by Fred. K. Brown, Ph. G., who demonstrated the presence of resin, fixed oil, tannin and sugar, and on distilling with water, obtained a distillate having somewhat of a rancid odor. Two crystalline bodies were obtained by treating the powdered seeds with a mixture of ether, alcohol and ammonia, acidulating the concentrated filtrate, removing oil and other impurities with ether, neutralizing with ammonia, and agitating with a mixture of ether and chloroform; on evaporating the ethereal solution, needles were left, which were soluble in alcohol, ether and chloroform, insoluble in water, almost tasteless and after boiling with dilute sulphuric acid did not reduce Fehling's solution. The aqueous liquid, left after treatment with ether and chloroform, yielded crystals, which must have contained ammonia sulphate, and possibly also a glucoside, since after boiling with sulphuric acid, a reaction with Fehling's solution was obtained.

Source: Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D

Catalpa.—This agent, used as a remedy, has as yet no definite field of action. The line suggested for its investigation is in the peculiar, diuretic effect it exercises, stimulating the flow of the watery portions of the urine, and at the same time exercising a pronounced soothing effect upon the entire mucous lining of the urinary tract.

This influence upon mucous membranes extends also to the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. It has been found to relieve bronchial irritation and to control asthmatic breathing, to a certain extent.

It is especially valuable in chronic bronchitis where the mucous irritation has existed for some time. Anyone who has used the remedy will confer a favor upon this editor by reporting the observations he has made upon its action. It is quite necessary that these facts be brought before the profession at large.

Source: The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others

Catalpa. Catalpa bignonioides Walt. Catalpa-tree, or Catawba-tree. Indian Bean.—This is a beautiful, indigenous, flowering tree, of the fam. Bignoniaceae, the seeds of which have been employed in asthma. Eugene O. Eau obtained from them tannin and a bitter crystalline principle. (A. J. P., xlii, 204.) F. K. Brown obtained from the seeds resin, fixed oil, tannin, sugar, and two crystalline bodies, their exact nature not being determined. (A. J. P., 1887, 230.) I. Schneck states that large doses cause nausea, vomiting, and slow, weak, intermittent pulse. He gave two fluidrachms (7.5 mils) of the tincture (1 oz. troy to 1 pint) every one to three hours.

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