Xanthorrhiza is a Civil War word that starts with the letter "x." Patented during the war, Xanthorrhiza is the pharmaceutical name for a natural medication created from the root of Xanthorrhiza apiifolia, also known as "yellow root" due to its distinctive coloring. Administered in powdered or liquid form with alcohol to mask its bitter taste, the tonic was used for the treatment of battlefield wounds, infections and injuries.
Out of the estimated 620,000 soldiers who lost their lives during the Civil War, approximately two-thirds died as a result of disease and not enemy fire. The need to fight disease and treat large numbers of wounded soldiers during the Civil War prompted improvements in American health care and ultimately lead to the modern era of medicine that began in the 20th century.
As the needs of the sick and injured spurred technological advances in health care, makeshift hospitals were replaced with pavilion and field hospitals. These updated, more-efficient hospital systems facilitated the keeping of medical records and reports, which helped spread knowledge and encourage beneficial treatments over bad practices. By the end of the war, thanks to clean, properly ventilated hospitals and improved medical treatment practices, the mortality rate for hospitalized patients was just 8 percent.