Feb 19, 2014
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LADIES’ SLIPPER

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Cypripedium pubescens. N.O. Orchidaceae.

Synonym ► American Valerian, Mocassin flower, Nerveroot, Noah’s Ark. Habitat ► United States of America.

Features ► Flower supposed to resemble a lady’s shoe in form. Rhizome about quarter- inch diameter, many cupshaped scars on top surface; wavy, thickly-matted roots underneath. Fracture short and white.

Part used ► Rhizome.

Action ► Antispasmodic, tonic, nervine.

Combined with other tonics in the relief of neuralgia, and to allay pain

generally. Of use in hysteria and other nervous disorders. Dose, 1 drachm of the powdered rhizome. Like other medicines of a similar nature, it is of little use unless the cause of the nervous excitement is traced and removed.

The remarks of Rafinesque, then Professor of Medical Botany in the University of Transylvania, are interesting in view of the “orthodox” attitude towards remedies of the herbalists ► “I am enabled to introduce, for the first time, this beautiful genus into our materia medica ; all the species are equally remedial. They have long been known to the Indians, who called them moccasin flower, and were used by the empyrics of New England, particularly Samuel Thomson. Their properties, however, have been tested and confirmed by Dr. Hales, of Troy; Dr. Tully, of Albany, etc.

. . . They produce beneficial effects in all nervous diseases and hysterical affections by allaying pain, quieting the nerves and promoting sleep. They are preferable to opium in many cases, having no baneful or narcotic effect.”

Professor Rafinesque, however, goes even further than would Thomson and his successors when he announces that “all the species are equally remedial.”

Article Categories:
Herbal Manual

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