This is probably Osborn’s panacea or cure all–his miracle cure. The ingredients represent a strong blending of local botanical medical history with certain European traditions. The first three botanicals mentioned are American, with Lignum vitae (wood of life) coming from Central and South America. The powder of rattle snake could be refering to actual dried, chopped and powdered snake flesh, but could also represent the use of one or more of the local snake root medicines.
Reasons for the use of dried animal flesh pertain to metaphysical principles. Reasons related to the use of an American Indian Snake root remedy pertain to the philosophical transition Europeans engaged in when trying to assign menaing and value to the use of this local plant as a medicine. Native American utilization for snake roots rely upon a belief in animal spirit invasion; the snake root serves to drive out this spirit once an individual is possessed by it following a bite. The European philosophy assigns value to this herb for other reasons.
The state of Decay, “Old diseases of the hectic kind” and fever have a correlation here that Osborn mentions. It can be likened to a fermentation process taking place within the blood and body (after all, Osborn did favor fermenting his recipes and “bears” on the side), a theory for illness popularized by Dutch physician and iatrochemist Hermann Boerhaave the century before. This along with several of Osborn’s other formulas, statements and implied theories suggest he is well versed in local belief systems, particularly those having to do with Dutch medical philosophy and tradition, in spite of his primarily English upbringing.