Boldo fragrans

"Liver Cures with Boldo," by Dr. Laureano Olivera, of Havana, Cuba. (HomRec, 1907 Aug, vol. 22, no. 8, p. 358.)
Mrs. M. M. de B„ 52 years of age, native of the city of Matanzas, contracted a malarial fever during the war of 1895, from which a liver complaint was developed. After taking no end of allopathic medicines from several physicians and getting no help, she came to me with the following symptoms:

Burning pain on the liver side, so much so that she used to pull off her garments every now and then as if they were too heavyto bear. Sensation of weight, pain at the stomach and afeeling of something hard that she thought was atumor. No appetite, mouth bitter, constant headache, constipation, insomnia, sadness and weeping all the time; for eight years could not bend the right knee. Her face had a yellow-clay look, languid, glazy eyes, tired feeling while walking, with dysnpea. Such was the condition of this good lady; rather a hopeless one, no doubt, after going around the hands of so many allopathic brethren.

I gave her one-eighth ofa grain of Podophyllum and two grains of Aloe 1c, that moved her bowels pretty freely, and after one day's rest commenced with two drops mother tincture of Boldo, three times a day, for the first week two drops, twice a day, the second week; two drops, one in the morning and one in the evening, the third week, and one drop in the morning the fourth week. Then one week rest, and the following another series of doses in the same way with a week rest at the end until she took five series of four weeks’ treatment with one week between for resting, when she was completely cured.

At the end of the second week of the first series all the symptoms had completely disappeared, with the exception of a little weight over the liver side, which disappeared on the third week – very seldom in the course of one’s life you could have met a happier and more contented person than this lady was when her cure was completed. She blessed the little drops of Boldo as something coming from heaven.

Now to the Boldo -1 have never used anything higher than mother tincture -1 had two more cases that were given up by allopathic doctors and cured them, using the Boldo mother tincture all the time and in the same way, with the exception that no Podophyllum nor Aloes was given.

One of these last mentioned cases had an abscess that on the third day after commencing the Boldo he vomited, and the improvement set in from that moment until he got well in four weeks, but took the series just the same to drive away any tendency that might be left.

The other case was a man left to die in a miserable country hut. He was bloated and cyanotic, with such a deliriousfeverthatl thought he could not live six hours longer – left the medicine and told the family to send for the certificate of death at anytime. Never heard anymore of the case and I really thought the man dead and buried long ago, when, to my surprise, one day I was confronted by a man telling me I had saved his life from a sure death; of course, I thought the fellow was crazy; for I had forgotten all about him; but he said that after the second dose he went to sleep and woke up after eight hours of a sound, heavy nap, with no fever at all, and feeling a great deal easier. He kept on taking the medicine at the rate offour drops a day until he completely recovered; at the end of the six weeks, having no relapse since, and doing hard country work every day in all kinds of weather.

By the way, let me inform you that the Boldo was the first introduced into Cuba some thirty years ago by a homeopathic doctor coming from Chile on his way to Europe, who told the homeopathic druggist, Joaquin Catala, now dead, that the Indians gathered that plant on the Andes mountains, using the leaves for themselves and their cattle whenever they had a liver complaint.

"Boldo and Boldine," by Eduardo Fornias. (HomRec, vol. 23, no. 5, p. 204. May, 1908.)

Pharmacology. The Chilean shrub Boldo is the Peumus Boldus of Molina (1782); Peumus fragrans, Pers; Boldea fragrans, C. Gay, also Juss.; Ruizia fragrans, Ruiz and Pavon. – (see Bentley and Trimen, Medicinal Plants, 217.) – Synon.; Laurel de Chile; Laurelia aromatica. Sp. Nat. ord. Monimiaceae. Note: There seems to exist some dissent about the botanical classification of Boldo, for while the majority consider the plant the Peumus Boldus of Molina, a few regard it a tetra nth era (four anthers), Jacq.; of the Nat. ord. Lauraceae.

The Boldo leaves, which are the parts chiefly used in medicine, are opposite, on short pistils, coraceous, about 2 inches (5 cm.) long, broadly oval or oval-oblong, very obtuse at the apex, entire or somewhat undulate on the margin, with numerous glands upon their surfaces, rough on both sides, glossy above, and pale and hairy beneath. When dry they are reddish-brown, fragrant, and of a refreshing aromatic pungent taste. The bark is usually employed in tanning and to perfume wine casks; the wood is esteemed for charcoal making, and the seeds are said to be eaten by the Chileans.

It is in the intercellular spaces ofthe leaves that a large amount of an aromatic volatile oil has been found, and it was Claude Verne (1875) who first obtained from them about 2 percent, of this oil. Boldo leaves also contain about 10 percent, of an alkaloid called Boldine, discovered by Bourgoin and Verne (1873), and which on account of its toxic effects should be employed with caution. It imparts to water a bitter taste, and is soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, etc. It is an hypnotic and local anesthetic, whose dose is 2-4 grs. (0.133-0.266). More recently Chapoteaut found the glucosid Boldoglucin (C30H52O8), which is also hypnotic and narcotic, and it has been given in capsules in doses of 20-60 gr.

Verne was the firstto propose a tincture of Boldo, made with 20 parts ofthe leaves and 100 parts of 60 percent, alcohol. There is also a wine made with 3 parts ofthe leaves and 100 of Madeira, as well as an aqueous and alcoholic extract of Boldo, the latter prepared by evaporating the tincture. The mother tincture, prepared according to our methods, can be obtained at Boericke & Tafel’s pharmacies.
Physiological Action.

1) Boldo seems to owe its properties to its alkaloid Boldine, and like ginger, cardamons and mint is an aromatic stimulant. Like all plants which contain an essential oil, Boldo in moderate doses is an active stimulant ofthe nervous and circulatory systems. (Stille.)

2) Boldo, and chiefly Boldoglucin, in moderate doses excite the biliary function and provoke sleep. At a very high dose Boldo becomes toxic, producing burning in the stomach, vomiting, purging, etc.

3) Fifteen grains ofthe extract of Boldo dissolved in 14 cm. of alcohol, were injected into a dog, and the dose renewed at the end of an hour, when the animal could not stand on his legs and was sleepy, and his temperature had fallen a degree or two. (Early theoretical critics claimed that these effects were, in a great measure, due to the alcohol, but this opinion is not supported by later researches. We know today that the alkaloid Boldine is an hypnotic and local anesthetic, similar to Cocaine, and that even the glucoid boldo glucin has hypnotic and narcotic properties.)

4) Among the symptoms following the administration ofthe volatile oil to a large dog, none referable to the nervous system were observed, but the urine acquired a strong smell, the stomach was disturbed by vomiting, and the bowels affected with diarrhea. (Stille and Maisch.)

5) In man even the tincture is represented by some, as not to have produced cerebral or spinal phenomena (a perverted statement), but only a glow in the mouth, fauces and stomach, and some quickening ofthe pulse. It is also claimed that in the dose of 30 or 40 eg. ofthe oil, in capsules, only some burning at the epigastrium, nausea and eructations were produced, which, as well as the smell ofthe urine, lasted for not less than twelve hours.. In still larger doses only a higher degree occurred ofthe same phenomena, with the addition of diarrhea.

6) Experiments upon himself by Verne (1882) showed that Boldo affects neither the circulation, the temperature, nor the secretion ofthe urine, butthat it augments the discharge of urea. (Bull, de then, Oil, 286.) There we have a clear evidence ofthe influence of Boldo on hepatic metabolism.
7) More recent investigations place Boldo not only among the tonics, but among the antirheumatics and antifebriles.

8) According to Pascaletti (Therapia Moderna, 1891) Boldine when injected hypodermically paralyzes both the motor and sensory nerves, and also attacks the muscle fibre. As a local anesthetic he believes itsuperiorto Caffeine, butinferiorto Cocaine. When given internally in toxic doses it produces great excitement, with exaggeration ofthe reflexes and ofthe respiratory movements, increased diuresis, cramps, disorder of coordination, convulsions, and finally death from centric respiratory paralysis, the heart continuing to beat long after the arrest of respiration, and finally stopping in diastole.

9) Boldoglucin acts on the lower animals as a narcotic. Fifteen drops ofthe oil cause in man some warmth in the epigastrium; in half drachm doses, much gastric irritation, with pain and vomiting, and the passage ofthe urine smelling strongly ofthe oil. Larger doses than 5 drops ofthe tincture are apt to vomit and purge. (Wood.)

10) All the clinical researches and physiological experiments made, says Houde, agree as to the influence of Boldine on the liver and on hepatic affections. All its therapeutic activity is concentrated on this organ.

A careful analysis ofthe above observations readily show that Boldo and its derivatives act with energy, not only on digestive and hepatic metabolism, but on the motor and sensory nerves and the brain.

Therapeutics. Much ofthe knowledge I have of Boldo today I owe to my friend, Dr. Saaverio, of Havana, who, besides supplying me with sufficient and valuable data, informs me that in Chile, vulgar therapeutics employs both the bark and leaves against rheumatism and dropsy.

There seems to be no doubt that Boldo acts favorably upon hepatic congestion, especially when attended with painful phenomena, and it is claimed that it has been efficacious in hepatic colic. The enthusiasm of some goes sofar as to declare it a wonderful agent to combat diseases ofthe liver, particularly ascites due to atrophy. Moreover, our opponents assert that Boldo has proved serviceable not only as a tonic but as an antirheumatic and antifebrile. Boldine as an hypnotic and local anesthetic. Boldoglucin as a narcotic and hypnotic. The bark has also been used for the cure of dysentery. The oil for gonorrhea and chronic cystitis.

From the current literature on Boldo we still take additional commendations. This remedy has been recommended in alcoholic and vinous solution for anemia, dyspepsia and general debility, and the oil has been proposed for the relief of catarrh, especially ofthe urogenital organs. (Stille.) Dujardin Beaumetz recommends Boldo as a stimulant tonic and in affections ofthe liver; he found the oil, in 5 drop doses, a useful remedy in genito-urinary inflammations. (Bull. gen. de. Therap., 1875.)

According to Chernoviz Boldo (boldea fragrans) has been extolled against blenorrhea and liver troubles. The same authority recommends the alcoholic tincture of Boldine for dyspepsia and chloroanemia, and during the convalescence of serious fevers. He also refers to the good effects obtained with Boldo in acute and chronic cystitis. (Guia Medica, 4th ed.) Potter states that Boldo is chiefly used as a substitute for quinine, and as a tonic for cases of chronic hepatic torpor, and that in S. America is employed for gonorrhea and chronic cystitis. (Memoranda on New Remedies.) Verne (1883) employed this remedy with success as a tonic in chronic hepatic torpor, and in hepatitis. (Doses higher than 5 drops ofthe tincture often produced vomiting and purging.) Rene Juranvillec employed Boldoglucin, with asserted success, as a hypnotic and calmative remedy in insanity. The dose was from 20 to 60 gr. in capsules. (Wood.)

To Haude, of Paris, however, we are indebted for the highest encomium of Boldine as a hepatic remedy. He states that "in cases of chronic hepatitis, jaundice, hypertrophy ofthe liver, hepatic colic, and diseases ofthe liver contracted in the Colonies, Boldine gives rapid and conclusive results, often determining a complete cure." He says, in addition, "that due to its properties the constipation, the bilious vomiting, the headache, the jaundice, the dyspnea, all disappear with notable success. The morbid symptoms are dispersed, the hepaticsensitiveness vanishes, the urine, which is at first ofthe color of coffee, becomes clear and leaves no sediment, and there is a cessation ofthe fever, chills and sweating. He makes also reference to other notable changes, namely, the decrease in the volume ofthe liver, the return ofthe appetite and the gradual gain of strength, thus, slowly and progressively attaining the cure." (The dose he uses is a granule of one milligram, six times a day.)

This is a sweeping claim which should be received with caution, and yet there seems to be a consensus of opinion as to the valuable influence of Boldo upon the liver, a gland so greatly concerned in metabolic activity, in the breaking down of albuminoids, in the elaboration of urea, and in the blood making process; an organ which suffers, more or less, in all general diseases, where many ofthe symptoms are due to hepatic disturbance; and as we know that Boldo, in moderate doses, excites the biliary function and induces sleep, we may anticipate good results from its use in torpidity ofthe liver with its train of distressing symptoms. Moreover, its toxic effect, when given in large doses, are chiefly translated by great excitement, with aggravation ofthe reflexes and ofthe respiratory movements, increased diuresis, cramps, disorder of coordination, convulsions, and even cardiac failure, which together with the gastric burning, vomiting and purging which also produces may become indications of value in many diseases of centric, medullary and gastro-enteric origin.

We should also notice that Boldine paralyzes both the motor and sensory nerves, attacks the muscular fibres, and produces anesthesia, a symptom which may arise from organic disease ofthe brain, cord, or nerves, or from functional nervous disease, as hysteria.

We have also clear enough evidences ofthe effects ofthe Oil of Boldo upon the genito-urinary tract to suggest its application to gonorrhea and cystitis. It has been compared with Terebinthina, which in excessive doses deranges the stomach and bowels, and produces oliguria, albuminuria and even hematuria, and is eliminated chiefly by the urine, as Cubeba. Cubeba, like Boldo, produces gastro-intestinal irritation, with nausea, vomiting, griping and diarrhea. Copaiba is another similar remedy.

The hypnotic and narcotic properties of its active principle, lead us to infer that the sensorium is profoundly affected by this drug, which may prove a useful remedy in any morbid condition attended by drowsiness or stupor with gastric or hepatic irritation, and as atony ofthe stomach, acute yellow atrophy, acute alcoholismjaundice, lithemia, etc.

Of course, any use we may make of this drug, at present, will be empirical or experimental, and it seems indeed officious and unwarrantable to run after unproved remedies, of doubtful origin, when we have at our disposal so many therapeutic agents of admitted value to combat not only liver troubles, but all classes of disease; drugs with a long clinical history, well experimented upon the healthy human organism, strictly confirmed and sanctioned by experience. And yet we cannot afford to ignore the claims of honest men, especially in an age in which the impossible no longer exists, and surely, in this case, we should suspend adverse judgment as to the value of Boldo in liver disorders, for, if the clinical symptoms of Dr. Olivera's cases published in The Recorder, for August, 1907, should ever be verified, we will then have good reasons to undertake the proving of a plant, which really seems to own valuable properties.

The synthetic syndrome of Dr. Olivera's cases can be laconically expressed as follows: 1) "Burning pain in the region ofthe liver, with inability to bear the weight of her garments. Sensation of weight, pain in the stomach, and a feeling of something hard, that she thought was a tumor. No appetite, mouth bitter, constant headache, constipation, insomnia, sadness and weeping all the time; for eight years could not bend the right knee. (Probably a hysterical symptom.) Her face had a yellow-clay look, languid, glazy eyes, tired feeling while talking, with dyspnea. 2) Hepatic abscess, with vomiting of pus. 3) Bloated, cyanotic countenance, with high delirious fever. ”

It is to be regretted that Dr. Olivera omitted to give us his thermometrical and hematic observations, as well as to tell if there was or not a history of malaria in all his cases; and important would have been also to know, if in the study of his cases, he did consider such drugs as Sepia, Kali carb., Pulsat., Nat. mur., Sulphur., Arg. nit., Chelid., Hydras., Phosph., and Mercurius, etc.