Perennial herbaceous plant with an unpleasant mouse smell. Rhizome long, branched, creeping, almost horizontal. Stem erect, simple or branched, whitish-pubescent. The leaves are trifoliate, grayish-green, with large stipules, like the leaves, lanceolate. The flowers are yellow, irregular (butterfly), large, in racemes. Fruits – beans, linear, with a spout. Blooms in June-July. Seeds ripen in August-September.
It occurs in the steppe regions of the South-East, in the Volga region and other areas. Grows in wet solonetsous meadows, steppes, grassy slopes, fields.
Medicinal raw materials are grass and seeds. The grass is harvested during flowering, and the seeds are harvested when ripe.
Collection and drying should be done with care, remembering that the plant is highly poisonous.
Raw materials are stored in compliance with the rules for storing poisonous plants.
The grass contains alkaloids, thermopsin, homothermopsin, methylcytisine, cytisine, pachycarpine (d-sporte-in), anagirin. In addition to alkaloids, an ester is contained – thermopsilancin, which splits during hydrolysis into aglucone and glucose, saponins, tannins, resins, mucus, traces of essential oil and ascorbic acid (within 285 mg%). The seeds contain alkaloids (2-3%), represented mainly by cytisine. The main active ingredients are thermopsin, cytisine and pachycarpine.
Thermopsis lanceolate is partially a substitute for imported ipecac and lobelin.
The preparation from the herb as a whole has an expectorant, in large doses – an emetic effect (along with ipecac products). The alkaloids contained in the plant have a versatile effect. So cytisine (to a lesser extent methylcytisine) excites respiration, increases blood pressure, pahikarpin inhibits the nodes of the autonomic nervous system, increases muscle tone; thermopsin excites the vomiting center (small doses have an expectorant effect, and large doses cause vomiting). Another alkaloid, anagirin, in the experiment exhibits an action similar to cytisine and has curare-like properties.
In medical practice, thermopsis products (infusion, powder and dry extract from the herb) are used as an expectorant for all kinds of inflammatory diseases of the respiratory tract. The deepening and increased respiration observed when taking thermopsis, in turn, helps to remove sputum.
A solution of the alkaloid cytisine (cytiton) is used to stimulate respiration. Pahikarpin is prescribed for spasms of peripheral vessels, hypertension and to accelerate labor. Dry plant powder has insecticidal properties, being a poison of contact action; there are indications that herbal decoctions are used as an antihelminthic.
In folk medicine, thermopsis is used as an expectorant for catarrhs of the upper respiratory tract; with inflammation of the lungs and, in addition, as an anthelmintic, with influenza, fever, intestinal atony, headache.
When prescribing thermopsis products, care must be taken, as they are highly active substances (list B). The highest doses of thermopsis grass (for adults): single – 0.1 g, daily – 0.3 g.
Decoction or eight-hour infusion: 0.6 g per 200 ml; i.e. 1/10 teaspoon per glass of water; use 1 tbsp. spoon 3-5 times every day.
Decoction for babies: 0.2 g per 100 ml; 1 teaspoon 3-4 times daily.
Herb powder: adults – 0.1 g 3 times every day; children under 2 years of age – 0.032 g each.
Herbal infusion: 0.6-1 g per 180-200 ml of water; 1 st. spoon 3-4 times every day.