Herbal Encyclopedia - A
Herbs & Oils
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ACACIA: (Acacia senegal)
Also known as gum arabic, gum senegal and gum acacia; produced by a tree that grows in North Africa. The species of acacia that produces gum arabic and gum acacia are so closely related that one can be used for the other.
flowers, leaves, stems, root, bark, resin, seeds, and essential oil
(Herb and Oil) Burn for altar offerings or purification; aids psychic powers, meditation, platonic love, psychic awareness; purification; inspiration; wisdom; visions; anointing; protection; prophetic dreams; spirituality; money. A sprig place over the bed wards off evil.
AGRIMONY: (Agrimonia eupatoria)
The dried herb has an apricot scent and is used in sachets and potpourri. Also called "Church Steeples".
flowers, leaves, stem, and root
Magical Uses :
(Herb and Oil) Use in all protection sachets and spells, also to banish negative energies and spirits. Returns spells to sender; Promotes sleep.
ALLSPICE: (Pimemta dioica)
Tropical evergreen with aromatic bark, leaves, and berries and bunches of greenish white flowers with a pervading scent. The berries, picked when mature but still green, are dried and ground to create the familiar spice.
Parts Used: leaves, fruit and essential oil
Magical Uses: (Herb and Oil) Burn for prosperity, courage, healing/health, luck, determination, magical power, energy, strength.
ALMOND: (Prunus dulcis)
The Sweet Almond tree has dark-colored bark, rose to white flowers in early spring, and dry-fleshed fruit with a pitted stone containing the nut. Almonds flavor many dishes. Almond oil is a fixed oil pressed from the Sweet Almond seeds and is used in cosmetics, massage oils, and medicines.
Almonds must be chewed well and slowly. The whole raw almond had been described as a cancer preventative. Arabs crossing vast deserts live on only almonds, dates and water. One ounce of almonds can be soaked overnight in four ounces of water and blended in the morning to make a milk substitute. Peeled almonds can relieve heartburn. Ground almonds make a wonderful facial scrub. The oil relieves coughs and hoarseness. Almonds have very little starch, and the butter and flour of the nuts is recommended for diabetics.
Caution: Almonds contain hydrocyanic acid and can be toxic if eaten in large amounts (over 50 kernels for an adult, ten for a child)
Parts Used: Seed and wood
(Wood) Burn for money, riches and wisdom. Almond wood makes a nice magickal wand. Sweet Almond Oil is one of the primary carrier oils for ritual and anointing blends.
In an old fable, Phyllis was deserted by her lover Demophoon and died of grief. The gods changed her into a barren almond tree. When Demophoon returned and embraced the tree, it burst into leaf and flower - a symbol of true love transcending death.
(Oil)Great base for massage, bath, body and skin-care products. Sweet Almond oil is scentless and nourishing to the skin.
ALOE: (Aloe vera or Aloe ssp.)
This plant has remarkable qualities. Two parts are used: the clear, gel-like central leaf pulp, and the yellow-green juice from the green part of the leaf. The gel is used in creams to soothe, heal, and moisturize the skin, and in shampoos for dry, itchy scalps. It cools the skin, protects it from airborne infections and fungi, and reduces scarring. It speeds cell regeneration, and so treats radiation burns, coral wounds, and dermatitis. It can be scraped from split leaves for first aid treatment of small burns, cuts, chapped skin, sunburn, eczema and Poison Ivy rash. Compounds in the leaf juice are added to sunscreens from protection against UV rays and have shown anticancer activity.
Part Used: Pulp or juice from the leaves
A protective house plant. It guards against evil influences and prevents household accidents. In Africa, the aloe is hung over houses and doors to bring good luck and drive away evil.
Aromatherapy Uses :
Aloe vera gel is used in cosmetic recipes where a cream or lotion isn't appropriate.
ANGELICA: (Angelica archangelica)
Also called "Angel's Food". This three-year "biennial" has a taproot, divided leaves, and umbels of green-white flowers in its third year, then it seeds and dies. Crushed leaves in car interiors reduce travel nausea. The oil is distilled from the root or seeds.
Used in infusion or tincture, the root raises body temperature and promotes digestion, making it an ideal herb for older folks. It also helps bring down the menses. Use it for colds and flu, to induce a sweat and warm the body. The decoction of the dried root is said to remove the tast for alchohol. Simmer two teaspoons of the root in two cups of water for twenty minutes; take one cup twice a day.
Caution: Do not exceed the indicated amounts, or the heart, blood pressure, and respiration can be affected.
Use the root in salves for skin problems and rheumatic pains. The tincture can be used in doses of ten to thirty drops, four times a day.
Parts Used: Root, essential oil and seeds
Sprinkle crushed leaves around the 4 corners of a house to ward negativity and purify the home, burn for meditation, protection, divination, exorcism, healing/health and visions. The leaves can be smoked in herbal "tobacco" formulas. (Oil) Use for anointing.
Coughs, Colds, Fevers, Flatulence, Indigestion, Skin Care, Circulation. Do not use during pregnancy or if diabetic.
Anise has sweetly, aromatic leaves, rounded at the base and narrower on the stem, with umbels of flowers followed by aromatic fruits. The flowers and leaves are used in fruit salads, the stem and roots in sweet soups. In cooking or infused as a tea, the seeds aid digestion, quell nausea, and ease flatulence and colic. Anise is used in cough mixtures, as it is expectorant and soothes spasms of irritant coughs and bronchial problems. It promotes estrogen production and is used to encourage breast milk, ease childbirth, and stimulate libido. Tiny amounts of the essential oil, produced from the seeds, are added to toothpaste, perfumes and mouthwashes, and are used to mask bitter medicines, but in large amounts Anise is highly toxic. The seeds are carminative (they move gas out of the intestinal tract). Used in tea or as lozenges, they soothe a hard cough. For the tea, steep one teaspoon of the seeds in one cup of boiled water for ten minutes. Take up to one and half cups a day. The seeds can also be tinctured using two ounces of seed per on-half quart of brandy and some lemon peel. Let the mixture sit for twenty days. The dose is one teaspoon as needed. The seeds are make into a liqueur called anisette, which is mixed with hot water as a remedy for bronchitis and asthma. Anise seed tea is sweetened with honey and given to children with lung colds. Epilepsy, colic, and smoker's cough are treated with anise. For colic, simmer one teaspoon of the seed in one-half pint of mild for ten minutes, strain, and take it hot. Oil of anise is a natural insecticide.
Parts Used: Seeds and essential oil
Anis seeds are an herb of protection said to avert all evil. In ancient Roman times, they were baked into a cake that was served at the end of the wedding feast. Purification, Protection; entices spirits to aid in spells; divination; psychic awareness; youth; In a pillow it wards off nightmares.
Muscular aches and pains; Rheumatism; Bronchitis; Colds and coughs; Colic, Cramps, Flatulence; Indigestion.
A Druid sacred tree. The apple is a symbol of immortality, A branch of the apple which bore buds, flowers and fully ripened fruit (sometimes known as the Silver Bough), was a kind of magical charm which enabled its possessor to enter into the land of the Gods, the underworld, in Celtic Mythology.
Apples clean the liver, cure constipation, and tone the gums. When baked they can be applied as a warm poultice to sore throats and skin inflammations. The cooked apple is especially laxative. The peeled raw apple helps with diarrhea. The cider corrects intestinal flora, reduces stomach acidity, corrects gas, and helps the kidneys; take three or four cups a day.
Apple cider vinegar and water make a rinse to restore hair, scalp and skin; use equal parts of vinegar and water. Blondes should use white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, water, and honey aid digestion when taken with meals; use two teaspoons of vinegar to a glass of water, add honey to taste. This was one of my great-grandmothers favorite cures for a sore throat.
Parts Used: Whole fruit (cooked or raw, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and wood
Magical Uses: Wiccan altars are often piled high with apples during Samhain for the apple is considered to be one of the foods of the dead. For this very reason Samhain is sometimes known as "Feast of Apples". Apples are considered symbols of life and immortality.
The apple has long been used in spells of love. The blossoms are added to love sachets, brews and incenses, and they are infused in melted pink wax, then strained out to make candles suitable to burn for attracting love.
Use apple cider in place of blood where it is called for in old recipes.
Apples and apple blossoms are symbolic of love, healing and immortality. Burn the blossoms as incense, wear the perfume, and make them into herb candles for a handfasting rite.
ASAFETIDA:(Ferula asafoetida Also called Stinking Gum)
The pungent gum is extracted from the living rootstock by notching the plant at soil level. It was a popular Roman condiment. (If you can imagine that!) Research suggests the plant is anticoagulant and lowers blood pressure. Used to treat stomach ailments such as intestinal flu, gas, and bloating. Add a pinch to beans as they cook.
The herb is good in cases of Candida albicans. Has been used for asthma, broncitis, and whooping cough because of it's antispasmodic properties and is a good herb for croup and colic in babies (newborns should get it through their mother's milk). Another method is to give it to infants via the rectum - make an emulsion with four parts asafetida to one hundred parts water and insert. It has been used as a sedative for hysteria and convulsion.
Please Note: This herb tastes awful and is perhaps best taken in capsule form, one hundred millegrams to one gram being the dose.
Parts Used: Resin of the root
Use for prophetic dreams, exorcism, and protection. Worn in a bag around the neck, asafetida dispels diseases and evils of all kinds. (It literally repels evil spirits!) Add a clove of garlic to enhance the effect. Asafetida is a classic for exorcism and purification rites. Use it to smudg a ritual space with smoke. Unfortunately, though asafetida is powerful, it also has a horrible odor. Just the slightest whiff of the fragrance has been known to cause vomiting. Use with Care!
ASH TREE: (Fraxinus americana or excelsior)
A Druid sacred tree. This spring-flowering deciduous tree has smooth gray bark and showy, scented flowers, although the scent is unpleasant to some. The bark of the ash can be used as a substitute for quinine in intermittent fevers. It is reputed to clear obstructions from the spleen and liver. Simmer two tablespoons of bark for twenty minutes in one cup water; take a quarter-cup four times a day. The leaves are laxative and can be used as a substitute for senns (tree leaves are always gathered beforemidsummer). Steep two tablespoons of the leaf in one cup of water for twenty minutes; take one quarter cup four times a day.
Parts Used: Bark and Leaf
Ash is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. Ash wood makes a traditional Yule log. Druid wands were often made of ash and carved with decorations. Ash wands are good for healing, general and solar magic. Put fresh ash leaves under your pillow to stimulate psychic dreams and prosperity. An herb of the sun, ash brings light into the hearth at the winter solstice.
Botanical: Polemonium reptans
Family: N.O. Polemoniaceae
Medicinal Action and Usages
American Greek Valerian. Blue Bells. False Jacob's Ladder. Sweatroot.
This plant grows 7from New York to Wisconsin, in woods, damp grounds, and along shady river-banks. It has creeping roots, by which it multiplies very quickly. The stems are 9 to 10 inches high, much branched, bearing pinnate leaves with six or seven pairs of leaflets. The nodding, blue flowers are in loose, terminal bunches.
The slender rootstock, when dried and used as the drug, is 1 to 2 inches long and 1/8 inch in diameter, with the bases of numerous stems on the upper surface, and tufts of pale, slender, smooth, wiry, brittle roots on the underside. The rootstock has a slightly bitter and acrid taste.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Astringent, alterative, diaphoretic, expectorant. The drug has been recommended for use in febrile and inflammatory eases, all scrofulous diseases, in bowel complaints requiring an astringent, for the bites of venomous snakes and insects, for bronchitis and laryngitis and whenever an alterative is required. It is reported to have cured consumption; an infusion of the root in wineglassful doses is useful in coughs, colds and all lung complaints, producing copious perspiration.
The tincture of the root is made of whisky.
1 to 2 fluid ounces, two or three times a day.
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Acacias (nat. order, Leguminosae) are composed of handsome trees and shrubby bushes scattered over the warmer regions of the globe. The flowers are arranged in rounded or elongated clusters, the leaves generally compoundly pinnate, i.e. divided into leaflets up to the mid-rib and each leaflet similarly cut into narrow segments.
In several of the Australian species the leaflets are suppressed and the leaf stalks, vertically flattened serve the purpose of leaves. Some species afford valuable timber: the black wood of Australia, which is used for furniture because it takes such a high polish, is the wood of the . melanoxylon. The bark of another Australian species, known as Wattles, is rich in tannin and forms a valuable article of export. The pods of other species are employed in Egypt and Nubia for their tannin. The pods of the A. Concuine are used by Indian women in the same way as the soapnut for washing the head; and the leaves of the same tree are employed in cookery for their acidity.
Certain tribes on the Amazon use the seeds of another species, the Acacia Niopo, for snuff combined with lime and cocculus. Various species of acacia yield gum; but the best gum arabic used in medicine is an exudation from the A. Senegal. This species grows abundantly in East and West tropical Africa, forming forests in Senegambia north of the River Senegal. Most of the gum acacia collected in Upper Egypt and the Sudan is produced by the A. verek, and is known locally as Hachah.
Botanical: Acacia decurrens, Acacia arabica
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Acacia Bark, known as Wattle Bark, is obtained from the chief of the Australian Wattles, A. decurrens (Willd.), the Black Wattle, and, more recently, A. arabica has been similarly used in East Africa for its astringency.
The bark is collected from wild or cultivated trees, seven years old or more, and must be allowed to mature for a year before being used medicinally.
The bark of A. decurrens is usually in curved pieces, externally greyish brown, darkening with age, often with irregular longitudinal ridges and sometimes transverse cracks. Inner surface longitudinally striated, fracture irregular and coarsely fibrous. It has a slight tan-like odour and astringent taste.
The bark of A. arabica is hard and woody, rusty brown and tending to divide into several layers. The outer surface of older pieces is covered with thick blackish periderm, rugged and fissured. The inner surface is red, longitudinally striated and fibrous. Taste, astringent and mucilaginous.
Acacia Bark contains from 24 to 42 per cent. of tannin and also gallic acid.
Its powerful astringency causes it to be extensively employed in tanning.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Medicinally it is employed as a substitute for Oak Bark. It has special use in diarrhoea, mainly in the form of a decoction, the British Pharmacopoeia preparation being 6 parts in 100 administered in doses of 1/2 to 2 fluid ounces. The decoction also is used as an astringent gargle, lotion, or injection.
A liquid extract is prepared from the bark of A. arabica, administered in India for its astringent properties in doses of 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm, but the use of both gum and bark for industrial purposes is much larger than their use in medicine. The bark, under the name of Babul, is used in Scinde for tanning, and also for dyeing various shades of brown.
Botanical: Robinia pseudacacia
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Used
In common language, the term Acacia is often applied to species of the genus Robinia which also belongs to the family Leguminosae, though to a different section.
R. pseudacacia, the False Acacia or Locust Tree, one of the most valuable timber trees of the American forest, where it grows to a very large size, was one of the first trees introduced into England from America, and is cultivated as an ornamental tree in the milder parts of Britain, forming a large tree, with beautiful pea-like blossoms.
The timber is supposed to unite the qualities of strength and durability to a degree unknown in any other kind of tree, being very hard and close-grained. It has been extensively used for ship-building, being superior for the purpose to American Oak, and is largely used in the construction of the wooden pins called trenails, used to fasten the planks to the ribs or timber of ships. Instead of decaying, it acquires an extraordinary degree of hardness with time. It is also suitable for posts and fencing and other purposes where durability in contact with the ground is essential, and is used for axle-trees and other mechanical purposes, though not for general purposes of construction.
The roots and inner bark have a sweetish, but somewhat offensive and nauseating taste, and have been found poisonous to foraging animals.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The inner bark contains a poisonous proteid substance, Robin, which possesses strong emetic and purgative properties. It is capable of coagulating the casein of milk and of clotting the red corpuscles of certain animals.
Tonic, emetic and purgative properties have been ascribed to the root and bark, but the locust tree is rarely, if ever, prescribed as a therapeutic agent.
Occasional cases of poisoning are on record in which boys have chewed the bark and swallowed the juice: the principal symptoms being dryness of the throat, burning pain in the abdomen, dilatation of the pupils, vertigo and muscular twitches; excessive quantities causing also weak and irregular heart action.
Though the leaves of Robinia have also been stated to produce poisonous effects careful examination has failed to detect the presence of any soluble proteid or of alkaloids, and by some the leaves have been recorded as even affording wholesome food for cattle.
The flowers contain a glucoside, Robinin, which, on being boiled with acids, is resolved into sugar and quercetin.
Botanical: Acacia nilotica (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Acacia Nilotica (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Gummy Exudation from stem.
ACACIA NILOTICA (LINN.)
All the gum-yielding Acacias exhibit the same habit and general appearance, differing only in technical characters. They are spiny shrubs or small trees, preferring sandy or sterile regions, with the climate dry during the greater part of the year.
The gum harvest from the various species lasts about five weeks. About the middle of November, after the rainy season, it exudes spontaneously from the trunk and principal branches, but the flow is generally stimulated by incisions in the bark, a thin strip, 2 to 3 feet in length and 1 to 3 inches wide being torn off. In about fifteen days it thickens in the furrow down which it runs, hardening on exposure to the air, usually in the form of round or oval tears, about the size of a pigeon's egg, but sometimes in vermicular forms, white or red, according to whether the species is a white or red gum tree.
About the middle of December, the Moors commence the harvesting. The masses of gum are collected, either while adhering to the bark, or after it falls to the ground, the entire product, often of various species, thus collected, is packed in baskets and very large sacks of tanned leather and brought on camels and bullocks to the centres of accumulation and then to the points of export, chiefly Suakin, Alexandria, or - in Senegambia - St. Louis. It is then known as 'Acacia sorts,' the term being equivalent to 'unassorted Acacia.' The unsorted gums show the widest variation as to size of fragments, whiteness, clearness, freedom from adhering matter, etc. It is next sorted or 'picked' in accordance with these differences.
There are many kinds of Acacia Gum in commerce:
KORDOFAN CUM, collected in Upper Egypt and the Sudan, in Kordofan, Dafur and Arabia, and exported from Alexandria, is considered the best and is the kind generally used in pharmacy. It consists of small, irregular pieces, commonly whitish, or slightly tinged with yellow, and is freer from impurities than most other commercial varieties. But those known in commerce as 'Turkey sorts' and 'Trieste picked,' which are brought from the Sudan by way of Suakin, are equally suitable for medicinal use.
SENEGAL GUM, of two varieties, produced by two different trees, one yielding a white, the other a red gum, is usually in roundish or oval unbroken pieces of various sizes, larger than those of Turkey Gum, less brittle and pulverizable, less fissured and often occurs in long, cylindrical or curved pieces.
The term 'Gum Senegal' is not, strictly speaking, synonymous with Gum Acacia, though it is commonly so used. Gum Acacia is the name originally pertaining to Sudan, Kordofan or wiccan (hashabi) Gum, which possesses properties rendering it superior and always preferred to any other known to commerce. During the political and military disturbances in Egypt between 1880 and 1890, this gum became so nearly unobtainable that occasional packages only were seen in the market. Among the many substitutes then offered, the best was Gum Senegal, which was adopted as the official equivalent of Gum Acacia. In this way, it came about that the names were regarded as synonymous. In 1890, the original Acacia again came into the market and eventually became as abundant as ever, but it is no longer possible to entirely separate the two names. Most of the characteristically distinct grades of Acacia Gum are now referred to particular species of the genus Acacia. Most works state that both the Kordofan and Senegal Gums are products of A. Senegal (Willd.), the range of which is thus given as Senegambia in West Africa, the Upper Nile region in Eastern Africa, with more or less of the intervening central region.
A. glaucophylla (Staud.) and A. Abyssinica (Hochst.) are said to yield an equally good gum, but little of it is believed to reach the market.
Mogadore Gum, from A. gummifera (Willd), a tall tree found in Morocco and in the Isle of Bourbon, occurs in rather large pieces, closely resembling Kordofan Gum in appearance.
Indian Gum, the product of A. arabica, the Gum Arabic tree of India. The gum of this and other Indian species of Acacia is there used as a substitute for the official Gum Acacia, to which it is, however, inferior. Indian Gum is sweeter in taste than that of the other varieties, and usually contains portions of a different kind of gum.
Cape Gum is also imported. It is of a pale yellow color and is considered of inferior quality.
AUSTRAILIAN GUM, imported from South Australia, is in elongated or globular pieces, rough and even wrinkled on the surface and of a violet tint, which distinguishes it from other varieties. It is not entirely soluble in water, to which it imparts less viscidity than ordinary Gum Acacia. It frequently contains tannin.
Gum Acacia for medicinal purposes should be in roundish 'tears' of various sizes, colorless or pale yellow, or broken into angular fragments with a glass-like, sometimes iridescent fracture, often opaque from numerous fissures, but transparent and nearly colorless in thin pieces; taste insipid, mucilaginous; nearly inodorous. It should be almost entirely soluble in water, forming a viscid neutral solution, or mucilage, which, when evaporated, yields the gum unchanged. It is insoluble in alcohol and ether, but soluble in diluted alcohol in proportion to the amount of water present. It should be slowly but completely soluble in two parts of water: this solution shows an acid reaction with litmuspaper. The powdered gum is not colored blue (indicating absence of starch) or red (indicating absence of dextrin) by the iodine test solution. It should not yield more than 4 per cent of ash.
Adulteration in the crude state is confined almost wholly to the addition of similar and inferior gums, the detection of which requires only familiarity with the genuine article.
In the ground condition it is adulterated oftenest with starch and dextrins, tests for which are given in the official description. Tannin is present in inferior gums and can be detected by the bluish-black coloration produced on adding ferric chloride. Gums of a yellow or brown color usually contain tannin, and these, together with such as are incompletely soluble in water and which yield ropy or glairy solutions, should not be used for medicinal purposes.
Gum Acacia consists principally of Arabin, a compound of Arabic acid with calcium, varying amounts of the magnesium and potassium salts of the same acid being present. It is believed, also, that small amounts of other salts of these bases occur. (Arabic acid can be obtained by precipitating with alcohol from a solution of Acacia acidulated with hydrochloric acid.) The gum also contains 12 to 17 per cent of moisture and a trace of sugar, and yields 2.7 to 4 per cent of ash, consisting almost entirely of calcium, magnesium and potassium carbonates.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Gum Acacia is a demulcent and serves by the viscidity of its solution to cover and sheathe inflamed surfaces.
It is usually administered in the form of a mucilage - Mucilago Acaciae, British Pharmacopoeia and United States Pharmacopoeia made from small pieces of Gum Acacia dissolved in water and strained (1 in 8.75).
in syrup, 1 to 4 drachms of the gum. Mucilage of Acacia is a nearly transparent, colorless or scarcely yellowish, viscid liquid, having a faint, rather agreeable odour and an insipid taste. It is employed as a soothing agent in inflammatory conditions of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tract, and is useful in diarrhoea and dysentery. It exerts a soothing influence upon all the surfaces with which it comes in contact. It may be diluted and flavoured to suit the taste. In low stages of typhoid fever, this mucilage, sweetened, is greatly recommended. The ordinary dose of the mucilage is from 1 to 4 fluid drachms.
In dispensing, Mucilage of Acacia is used for suspending insoluble powders in mixtures, for emulsifying oils and other liquids which are not miscible with water, and as an ingredient of many cough linctures. The British Pharmacopoeia directs it to be used as an excipient in the preparation of troches. Compound Mucilage of Acacia - Pill-coating Acacia - is made from Gum Acacia, 1 in 10, with tragacanth, chloroform and water, and is used for moistening pills previous to coating.
Gum Acacia is an ingredient of the official Pilula Ferri, Pulvis Amygdalae compositus, Pulvis Tragacanthae compositus, all the official Trochisci, and various syrups, pastes and pastilles or jujubes.
Acacia Mixture, Mistura Acaciae of the British Pharmacopoeia Codex, is made from Gum Acacia (6 in 100) with syrup and diluted orange-flower water, employed as a demulcent in cough syrups and linctures.
1 to 4 fluid drachms. Syrup of Acacia, British Pharmacopoeia Codex, used chiefly as a demulcent in cough mixtures, is freshly prepared as required, from 1 part of Gum Acacia Mucilage and 3 of syrup, the dose, 1 to 4 fluid drachms.
The United States Pharmacopoeia Syrup of Acacia, though regarded as a useful demulcent, is chiefly employed as an agent for suspending powders in mixtures.
The French Pharmacopoeia has a Syrup of Acacia and a potion gommeuse made from powdered Acacia, syrup and orange-flower water.
As a dry excipient, powdered Acacia is employed, mixed in small proportion with powdered Marsh Mallow root, or powdered Liquorice root. A variation of this is a mixture of Acacia, 50 parts; Liquorice root, 34 parts; Sugar, 16 parts, all in fine powder. Another compound Acacia Powder used sparingly as an absorbent pill excipient, is made of equal parts of Gum Acacia and Tragacanth.
Gum Acacia is highly nutritious. During the time of the gum harvest, the Moors of the desert are said to live almost entirely on it, and it has been proved that 6 oz. is sufficient to support an adult for twenty-four hours. It is related that the Bushman Hottentots have been known in times of scarcity to support themselves on it for days together. In many cases of disease, it is considered that a solution of Gum Arabic may for a time constitute the exclusive drink and food of the patient.
Steadman Shorter's Medical Dictionary, Poisons & Antidotes: Aconite
Botanical: Aconitum Napellus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaciae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poisoning from, and Antidotes
Monkshood. Blue Rocket. Friar's Cap. Auld Wife's Huid.
The whole plant.
Lower mountain slopes of North portion of Eastern Hemisphere. From Himalayas through Europe to Great Britain.
Aconite is now found wild in a few parts of England, mainly in the western counties and also in South Wales, but can hardly be considered truly indigenous. It was very early introduced into England, being mentioned in all the English vocabularies of plants from the tenth century downwards, and in Early English medical recipes.
The plant is a hardy perennial, with a fleshy, spindle-shaped root, palecolored when young, but subsequently acquiring a dark brown skin. The stem is about 3 feet high, with dark green, glossy leaves, deeply divided in palmate manner and flowers in erect clusters of a dark blue color. The shape of the flower is specially designed to attract and utilize bee visitors, especially the humble bee. The sepals are purple - purple being specially attractive to bees - and are fancifully shaped, one of them being in the form of a hood. The petals are only represented by the two very curious nectaries within the hood, somewhat in the form of a hammer; the stamens are numerous and lie depressed in a bunch at the mouth of the flower. They are pendulous at first, but rise in succession and place their anthers forward in such a way that a bee visiting the flower for nectar is dusted with the pollen, which he then carries to the next flower he visits and thereby fertilizes the undeveloped fruits, which are in a tuft in the centre of the stamens, each carpel containing a single seed.
In the Anglo-Saxon vocabularies it is called thung, which seems to have been a general name for any very poisonous plant. It was then called Aconite (the English form of its Greek and Latin name), later Wolf's Bane, the direct translation of the Greek Iycotonum, derived from the idea that arrows tipped with the juice, or baits anointed with it, would kill wolves - the species mentioned by Dioscorides seems to have been Aconitum lycotonum. In the Middle Ages it became Monkshood and Helmet-flower, from the curious shape of the upper sepal overtopping the rest of the flower. This was the ordinary name in Shakespeare's days.
The generic name is said to have been derived from <AKONTION, a dart, because it was used by barbarous races to poison their arrows, or from akone, cliffy or rocky, because the species grow in rocky glens. Theophrastus, like Pliny, derived the name from Aconae, the supposed place of its origin. The specific name, Napellus, signifies a little turnip, in allusion to the shape of the roots.
The chief collecting centres for foreign Aconite root have been the Swiss Alps, Salzburg, North Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Much was also formerly collected in Germany. Supplies from Spain and Japan are imported, so that the demand for English Aconite is somewhat restricted. The official Aconite is directed by the British Pharmacopceia to be derived only from plants cultivated in England, and a certain amount of home-grown Aconite has been regularly produced by the principal drug-farms, though good crops are grown with some difficulty in England, and cultivation of Aconite has not paid very well in recent years.
Aconite prefers a soil slightly retentive of moisture, such as a moist loam, and flourishes best in shade. It would probably grow luxuriantly in a moist, open wood, and would yield returns with little further trouble than weeding, digging up and drying.
In preparing beds for growing Aconite, the soil should be well dug and pulverized by early winter frosts - the digging in of rotten leaves or stable manure is advantageous.
It can be raised from seed, sown 1/2 inch deep in a cold frame in March, or in a warm position outside in April, but great care must be exercised that the right kind is obtained, as there are many varieties of Aconite- about twenty-four have been distinguished - and they have not all the same active medicinal properties. It takes two or three years to flower from seed.
Propagation is usually by division of roots in the autumn. The underground portion of the plants are dug up after the stem has died down, and the smaller of the 'daughter' roots that have developed at the side of the old roots are selected for replanting in December or January to form new stock, the young roots being planted about a foot apart each way. The young shoots appear above ground in February. Although the plants are perennial, each distinct root lasts only one year, the plant being continued by 'daughter' roots.
This official Aconite is also the species generally cultivated in gardens, though nearly all the species are worth growing as ornamental garden flowers, the best perhaps being A. Napellus, both white and blue, A. paniculatum, A. Japonicum and A. autumnale. All grow well in shade and under trees. Gerard grew four species in his garden: A. lyocotonum, A. variegatum, A. Napellus and A. Pyrenaicum.
Collection and Drying. The leaves, stem, flowering tops and root: the leaves and tops fresh, the root dried. The leaves and flowering tops are of less importance, they are employed for preparing Extract of Aconitum, and for this purpose are cut when the flowers are just breaking into blossom and the leaves are in their best condition, which is in June.
The roots should be collected in the autumn, after the stem dies down, but before the bud that is to produce the next year's stem has begun to develop. As this bud grows and forms a flowering stem, in the spring, some of the lateral buds develop into short shoots, each of which produces a long, slender, descending root, crowned with a bud. These roots rapidly thicken, filled with reserve material produced by the parent plant, the root of which dies as the 'daughter' roots increase in size. Towards the autumn, the parent plant dies down and the daughter roots which have then reached their maximum development are now full of starch. If allowed to remain in the soil, the buds that crown the daughter roots begin to grow, in the late winter, and this growth exhausts the strength of the root, and the proportion of both starch and alkaloid it contains is lessened.
On account of the extremely poisonous properties of the root, it is considered desirable that the root should be grown and collected under the same conditions, so that uniformity in the drug is maintained. The British Pharmacopceia specifies, therefore, that the roots should be collected in the autumn from plants cultivated in Britain and should consist of the dried, full-grown 'daughter' roots: much of the Aconite root that used to come in large quantities from Germany was the exhausted parent root of the wild-flowering plants.
When the roots are dug up, they are sorted over, the smallest laid aside for replanting and the plumper ones reserved for drying. They are first well washed in cold water and trimmed of all rootlets, and then dried, either entire, or longitudinally sliced to hasten drying.
Drying may at first be done in the open air, spread thinly, the roots not touching. Or they may be spread on clean floors or on shelves in a warm place for about ten days, turning frequently. When somewhat shrunken, they must be finished more quickly by artificial heat in a drying room or shed near a stove or gas fire, care being taken that the heated air can escape at the top of the room. Drying in an even temperature will probably take about a fortnight or more. It is not complete till the roots are dry to the core and brittle, snapping when bent.
Dried Aconite root at its upper extremity, when crowned with an undeveloped bud, enclosed by scaly leaves, is about 3/4 inch in diameter, tapering quickly downwards. It is dark brown in color and marked with the scars of rootlets. The surface is usually longitudinally wrinkled, especially if it has been dried entire. The root breaks with a short fracture and should be whitish and starchy within. A transverse section shows a thick bark, separated from the inner portion by a well-marked darker line, which often assumes a stellate appearance. Aconite root as found in commerce is, however, often yellowish or brownish internally with the stellate markings not clearly shown, probably from having been collected too early. It should be lifted in the autumn of the second year.
Aconite root is liable to attack by insects, and after being well dried should be kept in securely closed vessels.
Aconite root contains from 0.3 to 1 per cent alkaloidal matter, consisting of Aconitine - crystalline, acrid and highly toxic - with the alkaloids Benzaconine (Picraconitine) and Aconine.
Aconitine, the only crystallizable alkaloid, is present to the extent of not more than 0.2 per cent, but to it is due the characteristic activity of the root. Aconite acid, starch, etc., are also present. On incineration, the root yields about 3 per cent ash.
The Aconitines are a group of highly toxic alkaloids derived from various species of Aconite, and whilst possessing many properties in common are chemically distinguishable according to the source from which they are obtained. The Aconitines are divided into two groups: (1) the Aconitines proper, including Aconitine, Japaconitine and Indaconitine, and (2) the Pseudaconitines - Pseudaconitine and Bikhaconitine.
This disparity between Aconites is a very important matter for investigation, though perhaps not so serious from a pharmaceutical point of view as might at first appear, since in the roots of several different species the alkaloid is found to possess similar physiological action; but this action varies in degree and the amount of alkaloid may be found to vary considerably. It is considered that the only reliable method of standardizing the potency of any of the Aconite preparations is by a physiological method: the lethal dose for the guinea-pig being considered to be the most convenient and satisfactory standard. Tinctures vary enormously as to strength, some proving seven times as powerful as others.
The Aconite which contains the best alkaloid, A. Napellus, is the old-fashioned, familiar garden variety, which may be easily recognized by its very much cut-up leaves, which are wide in the shoulder of the leaf - that part nearest the stem - and also by the purplish-blue flowers, which have the 'helmet' closely fitting over the rest of the flower, not standing up as a tall hood. All varieties of Aconite are useful, but this kind with the close set in helmet to the flower is the most valuable.
The Aconite derived from German root of A. Napellus appears to possess somewhat different properties to that prepared from English roots. The German roots may be recognized by the remains of the stem which crown the root. They are also generally less starchy, darker externally and more shrivelled than the English root and considered to be less active, probably because they are generally the exhausted parent roots.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Anodyne, diuretic and diaphoretic. The value of Aconite as a medicine has been more fully realized in modern times, and it now rank as one of our most useful drugs. It is much used in homoeopathy. On account of its very poisonous nature, all medicines obtained from it come, however, under Table 1 of the poison schedule: Aconite is a deadly poison.
Both tincture and liniment of Aconite are in general use, and Aconite is also used in ointment and sometimes given as hypodermic injection. Preparations of Aconitc are employed for outward application locally to the skin to diminish the pain of neuralgia, lumbago and rheumatism.
The official tincture taken internelly diminishes the rate and force of the pulse in the early stages of fevers and slight local inflammations, such as feverish cold, larnyngitis, first stages of pneumonia and erysipelas; it relieves the pain of neuralgia, pleurisy and aneurism. In cardiac failure or to prevent same it has been used with success, in acute tonsilitis children have been well treated by a dose of 1 to 2 minims for a child 5 to 10 years old; the dose for adults is 2 to 5 minims, three times a day.
The tincture of Aconite of the British Pharmacopoeia 1914 is nearly double the strength of that in the old Pharmacopoeia of 1898.
Externally the linament as such or mixed with chloroform or belladonna liniment is useful in neuralgia or rheumatism.
---Poisoning from, and Antidotes---
The symptons of poisoning are tingling and numbness of tongue and mouth and a sensation of ants crawling over the body, nausea and vomiting with epigastric pain, laboured breathing, pulse irregular and weak, skin cold and clammy, features bloodless, giddiness, staggering, mind remains clear. A stomach tube or emetic should be used at once, 20 minims of Tincture of Digitalis given if available, stimulants should be given and if not retained diluted brandy injected per rectum, artificial respiration and friction, patient to be kept lying down.
All the species contain an active poison Aconitine, one of the most formidable poisons which have yet been discovered: it exists in all parts of the plant, but especially in the root. The smallest portion of either root or leaves, when first put into the mouth, occasions burning and tingling, and a sense of numbness immediately follows its continuance. One-fiftieth grain of Aconitine will kill a sparrow in a few seconds; one-tenth grain a rabbit in five minutes. It is more powerful than prussic acid and acts with tremendous rapidity. One hundredth grain will act locally, so as to produce a well-marked sensation in any part of the body for a whole day. So acrid is the poison, that the juice applied to a wounded finger affects the whole system, not only causing pains in the limbs, but a sense of suffocation and syncope.
Some species of Aconite were well known to the ancients as deadly poisons. It was said to be the invention of Hecate from the foam of Cerberus, and it was a species of Aconite that entered into the poison which the old men of the island of Ceos were condemned to drink when they became infirm and no longer of use to the State. Aconite is also supposed to have been the poison that formed the cup which Medea prepared for Theseus. (Note---Aconite and Belladonna were said to be the ingredients in the witches' 'Flying ointments.' Aconite causes irregular action of the heart, and Belladonna produces delirium. These combined symptoms might give a sensation of 'flying.'---EDITOR)
Various species of Aconite possess the same narcotic properties as A. Napellus, but none of them equal in energy the A. ferox of the East Indies, the root of which is used there as an energetic poison under the name of Bikh or Nabee. Aconite poisoning of wells by A. ferox has been carried out by native Indians to stop the progress of an army. They also use it for poisoning spears, darts and arrows, and for destroying tigers.
All children should be warned against Aconite in gardens. It is wiser not to grow Aconite among kitchen herbs of any sort. The root has occasionally been mistaken for horse-radish, with fatal results - it is, however, shorter, darker and more fibrous - and the leaves have produced similar fatal results. In Ireland a poor woman once sprinkled powdered Aconite root over a dish of greens, and one man was killed and another seriously affected by it.
In 1524 and 1526 it is recorded that two criminals, to whom the root was given as an experiment, quickly died.
The older herbalists described it as venomous and deadly. Gerard says: 'There hath beene little heretofore set down concerning the virtues of the Aconite, but much might be saide of the hurts that have come thereby.' It was supposed to be an antidote against other poisons. Gerard tells us that its power was 'So forcible that the herb only thrown before the scorpion or any other venomous beast, causeth them to be without force or strength to hurt, insomuch that they cannot moove or stirre untill the herbe be taken away.' Ben Jonson, in his tragedy Sejanus, says:
'I have heard that Aconite
Being timely taken hath a healing might
Against the scorpion's stroke.'
Linnaeus reports Aconite to be fatal to cattle and goats when they eat it fresh, but when dried it does no harm to horses, a peculiarity in common with the buttercups, to which the Aconites are related. Field-mice are well aware of its evil nature, and in hard times, when they will attack almost any plant that offers them food, they leave this severely alone.
Japanese Aconite - syn. Aconitum Chinense - is regularly imported in considerable quantities. It used formerly to be ascribed to A. Fischer (Reichb.), but is now considered to be derived from A. uncinatum, var. Faponicum (Regel.) and possibly also from A. volubile (Pallas). It has conical or top-shaped, gradually tapering tuberous roots, 1 to 2 inches long, 1/3 to 1 inch in thickness at the top, externally covered with a brown, closely adhering skin internally white. Dried roots do not contain much alkaloid, if steeped when fresh in a mixture of common salt, vinegar and water. The poisonous alkaloid present is called Japaconitine, to distinguish it from the official Aconitine and the Pseudaconitine of A. laciniatum. Japaconitine is similar in constituents and properties with the Aconitine of A. Napellus.
Indian Aconite root or Nepal Aconite consists of the root of A. laciniatum (Staph.). It is also called Bikh or Bish, and is collected in Nepal. It is much larger than the English variety, being a conical, not suddenly tapering root, 2 to 4 inches long and an inch or more at the top, of a lighter brown than the official variety, the rootlet scars much fewer than the official root. Internally it is hard and almost resinous, the taste intensely acrid and is much shriveiled longitudinally. This root yields a very active alkaloid, Pseudoaconitine, which is allied to Aconitine and resembles it in many of its properties; it is about twice as active as Aconitine. Indian Aconite root was formerly attributed to A. ferox (Wall). Their large size and less tapering character sufficiently distinguish these from the official drug.
Other varieties of Aconite are A. chasmanthum (Staph.), known in India as Mohri, which contains Indaconitine, and A. spicatum, another Indian species containing Bikhaconitine, resembling Pseudaconitine.
Russian Aconite, A. orientale, grows abundantly in the Crimea and Bessarabia. It has a small, compact, greyish-black root with a transverse section similar to that of A. Napellus. Its taste is hot and acrid. When treated by a process which gave 0.0526 per cent of crystalline Aconitine from a sample of powdered root of A. Napellus, the dried root of A. orientale yielded 2.207 per cent of total alkaloids, which were, however, amorphous. The total alkaloid has not yet been investigated further.
A. heterophyllum (Wall), Atis root, is a plant growing in the Western temperate Himalayas. This species does not contain Aconitine and is said to be non-poisonous. Its chief constituent is an intensely bitter alkaloid - Atisine - possessing tonic and antiperiodic principles. A. palmatum, of Indian origin, yields a similar alkaloid, Palmatisine.
The province of Szechwen in West China grows large quantities of medicinal plants, among them A. Wilsoni, which is worth about 4s. per cwt., of which 55,000 lb. a year can be produced in this province; A. Fischeri, about four times the price, of which rather less are yearly available, and A. Hemsleyan, about the same price as the latter, of which about 27,000 lb. are available in an average year.
The Anthora, or Wholesome Aconite described by Culpepper, is a small plant about a foot high, with pale, divided green leaves, and yellow flowers - a native of the Alps. Its stem is erect, firm, angular and hairy; the leaves alternate and much cut into. The flowers are large, hooded with fragrant scent, growing on top of the branches in spikes of a pale yellow color, smaller than the ordinary Monkshood and succeeded by five horn-like, pointed pods, or achenes, containing five angular seeds. It flowers in July and the seeds ripen at the end of August. The root is tuberous.
Culpepper tells us that the herb was used in his time, but not often. It was reputed to be very serviceable against vegetable poisons and 'a decoction of the root is a good lotion to wash the parts bitten by venomous creatures.' . . . 'The leaves, if rubbed on the skin will irritate and cause soreness and the pollen is also dangerous if blown in the eyes .'
As a matter of fact, this species of Aconite by no means deserves its reputation of harmlessness, for it is only poisonous in a less degree than the rest of the same genus, and the theory that it is a remedy against poison, particularly that of the other Aconites, is now an exploded one.
Parkinson, speaking of the Yellow Monkshood, calls it:
'The "counter-poison monkeshood" - the roots of which are effectual, not only against the poison of the poisonful Helmet Flower and all others of that kind, but also against the poison of all venomous beasts, the plague or pestilence and other infectious diseases, which raise spots, pockes, or markes in the outward skin, by expelling the poison from within and defending the heart as a most sovereign cordial.'
The so-called Winter Aconite, Aeranthis hyemalis, is not a true Aconite, though closely allied, being also a member of the Buttercup family, whose blossoms it more nearly resembles.
Adder's Tongue (American)
Botanical: Erythronium Americanum (KER-GAWL)
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Serpent's Tongue. Dog's Tooth Violet. Yellow Snowdrop.
---Habitat---Eastern United States of America, from New Brunswick to Florida, and westwards to Ontario and Arkansas.
The American Dog's Tooth Violet or Adder's Tongue, Erythronium Americanum (Ker Gawl), is a very beautiful early spring flower of the Eastern United States of America, belonging to the Lily family. It grows in damp, open woodlands from New Brunswick to Florida and westwards to Ontario and Arkansas.
The plant, which is quite smooth, grows from a small, slender, ovoid, fawn-colored corm, 1/3 to 1 inch long which is quite deeply buried in the soil and is of solid, firm consistence and white and starchy internally.
The stem is slender, a few inches high, and bears near the ground, on footstalks 2 to 3 inches long, a pair of oblong, dark-green, purplish-blotched leaves, the blades about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 inch wide, minutely wrinkled, with parallel, longitudinal veins. The stem terminates in a handsome, large, pendulous, lily-like flower, an inch across, with the perianth divisions strongly recurved, bright yellow in color, often tinged with purple and finely dotted within at the base, and with six stamen. It flowers in the latter part of April and early in May.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The constituents of the plant have not yet been analysed. The fresh leaves and corm, and to a lesser degree the rest of the plant, are emetic.
The fresh leaves having emollient and anti-scrofulous properties are mostly used in the form of a stimulating poultice, applied to swellings, tumours and scrofulous ulcers.
The infusion is taken internally in wineglassful doses. It is reputed of use in dropsy, hiccough and vomiting.
The recent bulbs have been used as a substitute for colchicum. They are emetic in doses of 25 to 30 grains.
Adder's Tongue (English)
See under FERNS.
See HELLERBORE (FALSE).
Botanical: Cyperus articulatus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cyperaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The drug Adrue is the tuberous rhizome of the Guinea Rush (Cyperus articulatus Linn.), a tall sedge, common in Jamaica, and on the banks of the Nile.
The blackish-red, somewhat top-shaped tubers are 3/4 to 1 inch long, 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter, sometimes in a series of two or three, connected by an underground stem 1/8 inch in diameter and 1 to 2 inches long. Internally, the tubers are pale in color, a transverse section showing a central column with darker points indicating vascular bundles. The dried tubers often bear the bristly remains of former leaves on their upper ends. The drug has a bitterish, aromatic taste, recalling that of Lavender. The odour of the fresh tubers has been likened to that of the Sweet Sedge, Calamus aromaticus.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Carminative, sedative, very useful in vomiting of pregnancy.
The aromatic properties of the drug cause a feeling of warmth to be diffused throughout the whole system and it acts as a sedative in dyspeptic disorders.
A fluid extract is made from the tubers. Dose, 10 to 30 minims.
Botanical: Gelidium Amansii (KUTZ)
Family: N.O. Algae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Dosage and Preparations
The mucilage dried, after boiling the seaweed.
Japan, best variety; Ceylon and Macassar.
A seaweed gathered on the East Indian coast and sent to China, it is derived from the various species of Sphaerococcus Euchema and Gelidium. It is brownish-white in color with thorny projections on its branches; the best variety, known as Japanese Isinglass, contains large quantities of mucilage. The seaweed after collection is spread out on the shore until bleached, and then dried; it is afterwards boiled in water and the mucilaginous solution strained, the filtrate being allowed to harden, and then it is dried in the sun. The time for collection of the Algae is summer and autumn when the bleaching and drying can take place, but the final preparation of Agar-Agar is carried out in winter from November to February. The Japanese variety is derived from several kinds of Algae and comes into European commerce in two forms: (1) In transparent pieces 2 feet long, the thickness of a straw, prepared in Singapore by treating it in hot water. (2) In yellowish white masses about 1 inch wide and 1 foot long. The latter is the form considered the more suitable for the culture of bacteria.
Agar-Agar contains glose, which is a powerful gelatinizing agent. It is precipitated from solution by alcohol. Glose is a carbohydrate. Acetic, hydrochloric and oxalic acids prevent gelatinization of Agar-Agar.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Agar-Agar is widely used as a treatment for constipation, but is usually employed with Cascara when atony of the intestinal muscles is present. It does not increase peristaltic action. Its therapeutic value depends on the ability of the dry Agar to absorb and retain moisture. Its action is mechanical and analogous to that of the cellulose of vegetable foods, aiding the regularity of the bowel movements. It is sometimes used as an adulterant of jams and jellies.
---Dosage and Preparations---
It is usually administered in small shreds mixed with fruit, milk or any convenient vehicle. It is not wise to give it in powder, as this gives rise to irritation in some cases. 1/2 to 1 ounce may be taken at a time. 1 ounce to a pint of boiling water makes a suitable jelly for invalids and may be flavoured with lemon.
Ceylon Agar-Agar, or Agal Agal, which is the native name of Gracillaria lichenoides, is largely used in the East for making soups and jellies. Gigartina speciosa, a variety found on the Swan River, was erroneously supposed to have formed the edible swallow's nest, but it has been ascertained that this delicacy comes from a peculiar secretion in the birds themselves. Macassar Agar-Agar comes from the straits between Borneo and Celebes and consists of impure Euchema Spinolum incrusted with salt.
Agaric and Larch Agaric
Botanical: Agrimonia Eupatoria (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Common Agrimony. Church Steeples. Cockeburr. Sticklewort. Philanthropos.
---Part Used---The herb.
The plant is found abundantly throughout England, on hedge-banks and the sides of fields, in dry thickets and on all waste places. In Scotland it is much more local and does not penetrate very far northward.
Agrimony has an old reputation as a popular, domestic medicinal herb, being a simple well known to all country-folk. It belongs to the Rose order of plants, and its slender spikes of yellow flowers, which are in bloom from June to early September, and the singularly beautiful form of its much-cut-into leaves, make it one of the most graceful of our smaller herbs.
From the long, black and somewhat woody perennial root, the erect cylindrical and slightly rough stem rises 1 or 2 feet, sometimes more, mostly unbranched, or very slightly branched in large specimens. The leaves are numerous and very rich in outline, those near the ground are often 7 or 8 inches long, while the upper ones are generally only about 3 inches in length. They are pinnate in form, i.e. divided up to the mid-rib into pairs of leaflets. The graduation in the size and richness of the leaves is noticeable: all are very similar in general character, but the upper leaves have far fewer leaflets than the lower, and such leaflets as there are, are less cut into segments and have altogether a simpler outline. The leaflets vary very considerably in size, as besides the six or eight large lateral leaflets and the terminal one, the mid-rib is fringed with several others that are very much smaller than these and ranged in the intervals between them. The main leaflets increase in size towards the apex of the leaf, where they are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. They are oblong-oval in shape, toothed, downy above and more densely so beneath.
The flowers, though small, are numerous, arranged closely on slender, terminal spikes, which lengthen much when the blossoms have withered and the seed-vessels are maturing. At the base of each flower, which is placed stalkless on the long spike, is a small bract, cleft into three acute segments. The flowers, about 3/8 inch across, have five conspicuous and spreading petals, which are egg-shaped in form and somewhat narrow in proportion to their length, slightly notched at the end and of a bright yellow color. The stamens are five to twelve in number. The flowers face boldly outwards and upwards towards the light, but after they have withered, the calyx points downwards. It becomes rather woody, thickly covered at the end with a mass of small bristly hairs, that spread and develop into a burr-like form. Its sides are furrowed and nearly straight, about 1/5 inch long, and the mouth, about as wide, is surmounted by an enlarged ring armed with spines, of which the outer ones are shorter and spreading, and the inner ones longer and erect.
The whole plant is deep green and covered with soft hairs, and has a slightly aromatic scent; even the small root is sweet scented, especially in spring. The spikes of flowers emit a most refreshing and spicy odour like that of apricots. The leaves when dry retain most of their fragrant odour, as well as the flowers, and Agrimony was once much sought after as a substitute or addition to tea, adding a peculiar delicacy and aroma to its flavour. Agrimony is one of the plants from the dried leaves of which in some country districts is brewed what is called 'a spring drink,' or 'diet drink,' a compound made by the infusion of several herbs and drunk in spring time as a purifier of the blood. In France, where herbal teas or tisanes are more employed than here, it is stated that Agrimony tea, for its fragrancy, as well as for its virtues, is often drunk as a beverage at table.
The plant is subject to a considerable amount of variation, some specimens being far larger than others, much more clothed with hairs and with other minor differences. It has, therefore, by some botanists, been divided into two species, but the division is now scarcely maintained. The larger variety, having also a greater fragrance, was named Agrimonia odorata.
The long flower-spikes of Agrimony have caused the name of 'Church Steeples' to be given the plant in some parts of the country. It also bears the title of 'Cockeburr,' 'Sticklewort' or 'Stickwort,' because its seed-vessels cling by the hooked ends of their stiff hairs to any person or animal coming into contact with the plant. It was, Gerard informs us, at one time called Philanthropos, according to some old writers, on account of its beneficent and valuable properties, others saying that the name arose from the circumstance of the seeds clinging to the garments of passers-by, as if desirous of accompanying them, and Gerard inclines to this latter interpretation of the name.
The whole plant yields a yellow dye: when gathered in September, the color given is pale, much like that called nankeen; later in the year the dye is of a darker hue and will dye wool of a deep yellow. As it gives a good dye at all times and is a common plant, easily cultivated, it seems to deserve the notice of dyers.
Sheep and goats will eat this plant, but cattle, horses and swine leave it untouched.
The name Agrimony is from Argemone, a word given by the Greeks to plants which were healing to the eyes, the name Eupatoria refers to Mithridates Eupator, a king who was a renowned concoctor of herbal remedies. The magic power of Agrimony is mentioned in an old English medical manuscript:
'If it be leyd under mann's heed,
He shal sleepyn as he were deed;
He shal never drede ne wakyn
Till fro under his heed it be takyn.'
Agrimony was one of the most famous vulnerary herbs. The Anglo-Saxons, who called it Garclive, taught that it would heal wounds, snake bites, warts, etc. In the time of Chaucer, when we find its name appearing in the form of Egrimoyne, it was used with Mugwort and vinegar for 'a bad back' and 'alle woundes': and one of these old writers recommends it to be taken with a mixture of pounded frogs and human blood, as a remedy for all internal haemorrhages. It formed an ingredient of the famous arquebusade water as prepared against wounds inflicted by an arquebus, or hand-gun, and was mentioned by Philip de Comines, in his account of the battle of Morat in 1476. In France, the eau de arquebusade is still applied for sprains and bruises, being carefully made from many aromatic herbs. It was at one time included in the London Materia Medica as a vulnerary herb, but modern official medicine does not recognize its virtues, though it is still fully appreciated in herbal practice as a mild astringent and tonic, useful in coughs, diarrhoea and relaxed bowels. By pouring a pint of boiling water on a handful of the dried herb - stem, leaves and flowers - an excellent gargle may be made for a relaxed throat, and a teacupful of the same infusion is recommended, taken cold three or four times in the day for looseness in the bowels, also for passive losses of blood. It may be given either in infusion or decoction.
Agrimony contains a particular volatile oil, which may be obtained from the plant by distillation and also a bitter principle. It yields in addition 5 per cent of tannin, so that its use in cottage medicine for gargles and as an astringent applicant to indolent ulcers and wounds is well justified. Owing to this presence of tannin, its use has been recommended in dressing leather.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Astringent tonic, diuretic. Agrimony has had a great reputation for curing jaundice and other liver complaints. Gerard believed in its efficacy. He says: 'A decoction of the leaves is good for them that have naughty livers': and he tells us also that Pliny called it a 'herb of princely authoritie.' Dioscorides stated that it was not only 'a remedy for them that have bad livers,' but also 'for such as are bitten with serpents.' Dr. Hill, who from 1751 to 1771 published several works on Herbal medicine, recommends 'an infusion of 6 oz. of the crown of the root in a quart of boiling water, sweetened with honey and half a pint drank three times a day,' as an effectual remedy for jaundice. It gives tone to the system and promotes assimilation of food.
Agrimony is also considered a very useful agent in skin eruptions and diseases of the blood, pimples, blotches, etc. A strong decoction of the root and leaves, sweetened with honey or sugar, has been taken successfully to cure scrofulous sores, being administered two or three times a day, in doses of a wineglassful, persistently for several months. The same decoction is also often employed in rural districts as an application to ulcers.
Fluid extract dose, 10 to 60 drops.
In North America, it is said to be used in fevers with great success, by the Indians and Canadians.
In former days, it was sometimes given as a vermifuge, though that use; of it is obsolete.
In the Middle Ages, it was said to have magic powers, if laid under a man's head inducing heavy sleep till removed, but no narcotic properties are ascribed to it.
Green (Universal Herbal, 1832) tells us that 'its root appears to possess the properties of Peruvian bark in a very considerable degree, without manifesting any of its inconvenient qualities, and if taken in pretty large doses, either in decoction or powder, seldom fails to cure the ague.'
Culpepper (1652) recommends it, in addition to the uses already enumerated, for gout, 'either used outwardly in an oil or ointment, or inwardly, in an electuary or syrup, or concreted juice.' He praises its use externally, stating how sores may be cured 'by bathing and fomenting them with a decoction of this plant,' and that it heals 'all inward wounds, bruises, hurts and other distempers.' He continues: 'The decoction of the herb, made with wine and drunk, is good against the biting and stinging of serpents . . . it also helpeth the colic, cleanseth the breath and relieves the cough. A draught of the decoction taken warm before the fit first relieves and in time removes the tertian and quartian ague.' It 'draweth forth thorns, splinters of wood, or any such thing in the flesh. It helpeth to strengthen members that are out of joint.'
There are several other plants, not actually related botanically to the Common Agrimony, that were given the same name by the older herbalists because of their similar properties. These are the COMMON HEMP AGRIMONY, Eupatorium Cannabinum (Linn.) called by Gerard the Common Dutch Agrimony, and by Salmon, in his English Herbal (1710), Eupatorium Aquaticum mas, the Water Agrimony- also the plant now called the Trifid Bur-Marigold, Bidens tripartita (Linn.), but by older herbalists named the Water Hemp, Bastard Hemp and Bastard Agrimony. The name Bastard Agrimony has also been given to a species of true Agrimony, Agrimonium Agrimonoides, a native of Italy, growing in moist woods and among bushes.
Botanical: Eupatorium Cannabinum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Holy Rope. St. John's Herb.
The Hemp Agrimony, Eupatorium Cannabinum, belongs to the great Composite order of plants. It is a very handsome, tall-growing perennial, common on the banks of rivers, sides of ditches, at the base of cliffs on the seashore, and in other damp places in most parts of Britain, and throughout Europe.
The root-stock is woody and from it rises the erect round stems, growing from 2 to 5 feet high with short branches springing from the axils of the leaves, which are placed on it in pairs. The stems are reddish in color, covered with downy hair and are woody below. They have a pleasant aromatic smell when cut.
The root-leaves are on long stalks, but the stem-leaves have only very short root-stalks. They are divided to their base into three, more rarely five, lance-shaped toothed lobes, the middle lobe much larger than the others, the general form of the leaf being similar to that of the Hemp (hence both the English name and the Latin specific name, deriven from cannabis, hemp). In small plants the leaves are sometimes undivided. They have a bitter taste, and their pungent smell is reminiscent of an umbelliferous rather than of a composite plant. All the leaves bear distinct, short hairs, and are sparingly sprinkled with small inconspicuous, resinous dots.
The plant blooms in late summer and autumn, the flower heads being arranged in crowded masses of a dull lilac color at the top of the stem or branches. Each little composite head consists of about five or six florets. The corolla has five short teeth; though generally light purple or reddish lilac, it sometimes may be nearly white; it is covered with scattered resinous points. The anthers of the stamens are brown, and the very long style is white. The crown of hairs, or pappus, on the angled fruit is of a dirty white color.
We sometimes find the plant called 'St. John's Herb,' and on account of the hempen-shaped leaves, it was also formerly called, in some districts, 'Holy Rope,' being thus named after the rope with which the Saviour was bound.
The leaves contain a volatile oil, which acts on the kidneys, and likewise some tannin and a bitter chemical principle which will cut short the chill of intermittent fever.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Alternative and febrifuge. Though now little used medicinally, herbalists recognize its cathartic, diuretic and anti-scorbutic properties, and consider it a good remedy for purifying the blood, either used by itself, or in combination with other herbs. A homoeopathic tincture is prepared, given in frequent small well-diluted doses with water, for influenza, or for a similar feverish chill, and a tea made with boiling water poured on the dry leaves will give prompt relief if taken hot at the onset of a bilious catarrh or of influenza.
In Holland it was used by the peasants for jaundice with swollen feet, and given as an alternative or purifier of the blood in the spring and against scurvy. The leaves have been used in infusion as a tonic, and in the fen districts where it prevails, such medicines are very necessary. Country people used to lay the leaves on bread, considering that they thus prevented it from becoming mouldy.
Fluid extract, 10 to 60 drops.
According to Withering, an infusion of a handful of the fresh herb acts as a strong purgative and emetic. Boerhaave, the famous Dutch physician (1668-1738), recommends an infusion of the plant for fomenting ulcers and putrid sores, and Tournefort (Materia Medica, 1708) affirmed that the fresh-gathered root, boiled in ale, purges briskly, but without producing any bad effects, and stated that there were many instances of its having cured dropsy.
It had also the reputation of being a good wound herb, whether bruised or made into an ointment with lard.
Goats are said to be the only animals that will eat this plant.
Botanical: Bidens tripartita (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The Water Agrimony, now called the Bur Marigold is an annual flowering in late summer and autumn, abounding in wet places, such as the margins of ponds and ditches, and common in England, but rather less so in Scotland.
The root is tapering, with many fibres attached to it. The erect stem grows about 2 feet high, sometimes more, and is wiry and nearly smooth, angular, solid and marked with small brown spots, so as to almost give it the dark purple appearance described by Culpepper. It is very leafy and the upper portion branches freely from the axils of the leaves, which are placed opposite one another and are of a dark green color 2 to 3 inches in length. All except the uppermost are narrowed into winged foot-stalks at the bases, which are united together across the stem. They are smooth and sharp-pointed, with coarsely toothed margins, and are divided into three segments (hence the specific name of the plant), occasionally into five, the centre lobe much larger and also often deeply three-cleft. The uppermost leaves are sometimes found undivided.
The composite flowers are in terminal heads, brownish-yellow in color and somewhat drooping, usually without ray florets the disk florets being perfectly regular. The heads are surrounded by a leafy involucre, the outer leaflets of which, about eight in number, pointed and spreading, extend much behind the flower-head. The fruits have four ribs, which terminate in long, spiky projections, or awns, two of which, as well as the ribs, are armed with reflexed prickles, causing them to cling to any rough substance they touch, such as the coat of an animal, thus helping in the dissemination of the seeds. From these burr-like fruits, the plant has been given the name it now universally bears. These burrs, when the plant has been growing on the borders of a fish-pond, have been known to destroy gold fish by adhering to their gills. The flower-heads smell rather like rosin or cedar when burnt.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
This plant was formerly valued for its diuretic and astringent properties, and was employed in fevers, gravel, stone and bladder and kidney troubles generally, and was considered also a good stypic and an excellent remedy for ruptured blood-vessels and bleeding of every description, of benefit to consumptive patients.
Culpepper tells us that it was called Hepatorium 'because it strengthens the liver':
'it healeth and drieth, cutteth and cleanseth thick and tough humours of the breast and for this I hold it inferior to few herbs that grow . . . it helpeth the dropsy and yellow jaundice; it opens the obstruction of the liver, mollifies the hardness of the spleen, being applied outwardly. . . it is an excellent remedy for the third day ague; . . . it kills worms and cleanseth the body of sharp humours which are the cause of itch and scab; the herb being burnt, the smoke thereof drives away flies, wasps, etc. It strengthens the lungs exceedingly. Country people give it to their cattle when they are troubled with cough or are broken-winded.'
It has sometimes been employed on the Continent as a yellow dye, but the color yielded is very indifferent. The yarn or thread must be first steeped in alum water, then dried and steeped in a decoction of the plant and afterwards boiled in the decoction.
A nearly-allied species, Bidens bipinnata (Linn.), popularly called Spanish Needles, is a native of North America, where the roots and seeds have been used as emmenagogues and in laryngeal and bronchial diseases.
MARIGOLD (NODDING). Another species of Bidens, called B. cernua, popularly known as the Nodding Marigold. The flowers are somewhat larger than B. tripartita,and have a much more decided droop, hence the name 'Nodding.' The leaves are not made up of three leaflets but are of lanceolate form, deeply serrated. It is found by streams and ditches, and flowers during the later summer and autumn.
Alder, Black American
Botanical: Prinos Verticillatus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Aquiloliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Ilex Verticillata. Black Alder Winterberry. Deciduous Winterberry. Virginian Winterberry. P. Gronovii. P. Confertus. Fever Bush. Apalachine a feuilles de Prunier.
The fresh bark and fruit.
The United States, from western Florida northwards.
This shrub is the most ornamental of the American deciduous hollies. It grows from 6 to 1O feet in height, with thin, oval or lanceolate leaves, white flowers and bright scarlet berries the size of a large pea, causing it to be very conspicuous in the autumn, when the surrounding vegetation is leafless.
The bark is found in thin fragments, the outer surface brownish, with whitish patches and black dots and lines, the cork layer easily separating from the pale-greenish or yellowish white inner tissue. The fracture is short, the odour almost imperceptible, and the taste bitter and slightly astringent.
It was widely used by the aborigines of North America for its astringent properties.
The bark contains about 4-8 per cent tannin, two resins, the one soluble and the other insoluble in alcohol, albumen, gum, sugar, and a bitter principle and a yellow coloring matter not yet isolated. There is no berberine.
The fresh bark and fruit are gathered before the first autumnal frost.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Cathartic, antiseptic, tonic, and astringent bitter. The decoction of the bark is prepared by boiling 2 ounces of bark in 3 pints of water down to 2 pints, this being given internally in diarrhoea and malarial disorders, and externally in indolent sores and chronic skin disease. The berries should not be used as a substitute for the bark. In intermittent fever it can be used like Peruvian Bark, and is valuable in jaundice, gangrenous affections, dropsy, and when the body is devitalized by discharges. The bark is well known as an ingredient in several alternative syrups.
The berries are cathartic, and with Cedar apples form a mild anthelmintic for children.
An observed case, after eating twenty-five berries, had a sensation of nausea, not interfering with appetite, vomiting of bile without retching, painless and profuse evacuation of the bowels, followed by a second evacuation in half an hour, and as a result, a feeling of great lightness and well-being, with appetite and digestion better than usual.
For dyspepsia, 2 drachms of the powdered bark, and 1 drachm of powdered Golden Seal infused in a pint of boiling water, taken, when cold, in the course of one day in wine-glassful doses, will be found very helpful.
Of the decoction, 2 to 3 fluid ounces. Of the powdered bark, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Botanical: Alnus Glutinosa (GAERTN.)
Family: N.O. Betulaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The bark and the leaves.
Europe south of the Arctic Circle, including Britain, Western Asia, North Africa.
-The English Alder is a moderately-sized tree or large shrub of dark color, usually growing in moist woods or pastures or by streams. The leaves are broadly ovate, stalked, and usually smooth. The catkins are formed in the autumn, the fruiting ones having scales rather like a tiny-fir-cone; the flowers appear in early spring, before the leaves are fully out. The woody, nearly globular female catkins are the so-called 'berries.' The trees are often grown in coppices, which afford winter shade for stock on mountain grazings without appearing to injure the grass beneath, and can be cut down for poles every nine or ten years.
The wood is much used. When young it is brittle and very easily worked. When more mature it is tinted and veined; in the Highlands of Scotland it is used for making handsome chairs, and is known as Scottish mahogany. It has the quality of long endurance under water, and so is valuable for pumps, troughs, sluices, and particularly for piles, for which purpose it is said to have been used in sixteenth-century Venice and widely in France and Holland. The roots and knots furnish good material for cabinet-makers, and for the clogs of Lancashire mill-towns and the south of Scotland the demand exceeds the supply, and birch has to be used instead. It is also used for cart and spinning wheels, bowls, spoons, wooden heels, herring-barrel staves, etc. On the Continent it is largely used for cigar-boxes, for which its reddish, cedar-like wood is well adapted. After lying in bogs the wood has the color but not the hardness of ebony. The branches make good charcoal, which is valuable for making gunpowder.
The bark is used by dyers, tanners, leather dressers, and for fishermen's nets.
The bark is used as a foundation for blacks, with the addition of copperas. Alone, it dyes woollens a reddish color (Aldine Red). The Laplanders chew it, and dye leathern garments with their saliva. An ounce dried and powdered, boiled in three-quarters of a pint of water with an equal amount of logwood, with solution of copper, tin, and bismuth, 6 grains of each, and 2 drops of iron vitriol, will dye a deep boue de Paris.
Both bark and young shoots dye yellow, and with a little copper as a yellowish-grey, useful in the half-tints and shadows of flesh in tapestry. The shoots cut in March will dye cinnamon, and if dried and powdered a tawny shade. The fresh wood yields a pinkish-fawn dye, and the catkins a green.
The leaves have been used in tanning leather. They are clammy, and if spread in a room are said to catch fleas on their glutinous surface.
The bark and young shoots contain from 16 to 20 per cent of tannic acid, but so much coloring matter that they are not very useful for tanning. This tannin differs from that of galls and oak-bark, and does not yield glucose when acted upon by sulphuric acid, which, it is stated, resolves it into almine red and sugar.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Tonic and astringent. A decoction of the bark is useful to bathe swellings and inflammations, especially of the throat, and has been known to cure ague.
Peasants on the Alps are reported to be frequently cured of rheumatism by being covered with bags full of the heated leaves.
Horses, cows, sheep and goats are said to eat it, but swine refuse it. Some state that it is bad for horses, as it turns their tongues black.
Botanical: Alnus serrulata (WILLD.)
Family: N.O. Betulaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Alnus rubra (obsolete). Smooth Alder. Red Alder.
---Parts Used---Bark. Cones.
United States and Europe.
A well-known shrub, growing in clumps and forming thickets on the borders of ponds or rivers, or in swamps. It bears flowers of a reddish-green color in March and April. The bark is blackish grey, with small, corky warts, the inner surface being orange-brown, striated. The taste is astringent and somewhat bitter. It is almost odourless.
The name Alnus rubra should no longer be applied to Alnus serrulata, though some authorities retain it. That is the correct name of the Oregon Alder.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Alterative, tonic, astringent, emetic. A decoction or extract is useful in scrofula, secondary syphilis and several forms of cutaneous disease. The inner bark of the root is emetic, and a decoction of the cones is said to be astringent, and useful in haematuria and other haemorrhages.
When diarrhoea, indigestion and dyspepsia are caused by debility of the stomach, it will be found helpful, and also in intermittent fevers.
It is said that an excellent ophthalmic powder can be made as follows: bore a hole from 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter, lengthwise, through a stout piece of limb of Tag Alder. Fill the opening with finely-powdered salt, and close it at each end. Put into hot ashes, and allow it to remain until the Tag is almost charred (three to four days), then split it open, take out the salt, powder, and keep it in a vial. To use it, blow some of the powder upon the eye, through a quill.
Of fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Infusion of 1 OZ. of bark in 1 pint of boiling water - in wineglassful doses. Almim, 4 to 10 grains.
See (Black) Lovage.
Botanical: Alkanna tinctoria (TAUSCH.), Lithosfermum tinctorium (VAH L.)
Family: N.O. Boraginaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Anchusa. Dyer's Bugloss. Spanish Bugloss. Orchanet.
The name Anchusa is derived from the Greek anchousa=paint, from the use of the root as a dye.
The species are hispid or pubescent herbs, with oblong, entire leaves, and bracteated racemes, rolled up before the flowers expand. The corolla is rather small, between funnel and salver-shaped; usually purplish-blue, but in some species yellow or whitish; the calyx enlarges in fruit. The root, which is often very large in proportion to the size of the plant, yields in many of the species a red dye from the rind.
Alkanet (A. tinctoria) is cultivated in Central and Southern Europe for its dye, which is readily extracted by oils and spirit of wine. It is employed in pharmacy to give a red color to salves, etc., and in staining wood in imitation of rosewood, or mahogany. This is done by rubbing it with oil in which the Alkanet root has been soaked. About 8 to 10 tons were annually imported from France and Germany. The plant is sometimes also cultivated in Britan, but by far the greater portion of the Alkanet used here is imported either from the Levant or from the neighbourhood of Montpellier, in France.
Though Alkanet imparts a fine deep red color to oily substances and to spirit of wine, it tinges water with a dull brownish hue. Wax tinged with Alkanet, and applied to the surface of warm marble, stains it flesh-color and sinks deep into the stone. It is also used in coloring spurious 'port-wine,' for which purpose it is perfectly harmless.
Our British species, the Common Alkanet (A. officinalis), is a soft, hairy plant with an angular stem, narrow, lanceolate leaves; and forked, one-sided cymes of violet flowers; calyx longer than the funnel-shaped corolla. It is an occasional escape from gardens. It is a biennial, and flowers from June to July.
The Evergreen Alkanet (A. sempervireus) is also found in Great Britain. This is a stout bristly plant, with deep green, ovate leaves, and long-stalked axillary, crowded clusters of rather large flowers, which are of an intense azure blue and have a short tube to the corolla. It is not generally considered a native, but it is not an uncommon hedgeplant in Devonshire. It is a perennial and flowers from May to August.
Parkinson says that the French ladies of his day colored their faces with an ointment containing anchusa and the color did not last long.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Culpepper says:
'It is an herb under the dominion of Venus, and indeed one of her darlings, though somewhat hard to come by. It helps old ulcers, hot inflammations, burnings by common fire and St. Anthony's fire . . . for these uses your best way is to make it into an ointment also if you make a vinegar of it, as you make a vinegar of roses, it helps the morphy and leprosy . . . it helps the yellow jaundice, spleen, and gravel in the kidneys. Dioscorides saith, it helps such as are bitten by venomous beasts, whether it be taken inwardly or applied to the wound, nay, he saith further, if any that hath newly eaten it do but spit into the mouth of a serpent, the serpent instantly dies.... It also kills worms. Its decoction made in wine and drank, strengthens the back, and easeth the pains thereof. It helps bruises and falls, and is as gallant a remedy to drive out the smallpox and measles as any is; an ointment made of it is excellent for green wounds, pricks or thrusts.'
Botanical: Pimento officinalis (LINDL.)
Family: N.O. Myrtaceae
Medicinal Action and Use
Concentrated Pemento Water of the British Pharmacopoeia Codex
Pimento. Jamaica Pepper.
Fruit, particularly the shell.
Pimento, or Jamaica Pepper, familiarly called Allspice, because it tastes like a combination of cloves, juniper berries, cinnamon and pepper, is the dried full-grown, but immature fruit of Pimento officinalis (Lindl.), or Eugenia Pimenta, an evergreen tree about 30 feet high, a member of the natural order Myrtaceae, indigenous to the West Indian Islands and South America, and extensively grown in Jamaica, where it flourishes best on limestone hills near the sea. In this country, it only grows as a stove plant.
It is also cultivated in Central America and surrounding states, but more than half the supply of the spice found in commerce comes from Jamaica, where the tree is so abundant as to form in the mountainous districts whole forests, which require little attention beyond clearing out undergrowth.
The tree begins to fruit when three years old and is in full bearing after four years. The flowers appear in June, July and August and are quickly succeeded by the berries.
The special qualities of the fruit reside in the rind of the berries. It loses its aroma on ripening, owing to loss of volatile oil, and the berries are therefore collected as soon as they have attained their full size, in July and August, but while unripe and green.
Gathering is performed by breaking off the small twigs bearing the bunches; these are then spread out and exposed to the sun and air for some days, after which the stalks are removed and the berries are ready for packing into bags and casks for exportation.
The spice is sometimes dried in ovens (Kiln-dried Allspice), but the method by evaporation from sun-heat produces the best article, though it is tedious and somewhat hazardous, requiring about twelve days, during which the fruit must be carefully guarded against moisture, being housed at night and during rainy and damp weather.
The green color of the fresh fruit changes on drying to reddish brown. If the fruit is allowed to ripen, it loses almost the whole of its aromatic properties, becoming fleshy sweet and of a purple-black color. Such pimento, to render it more attractive, is then often artificially colored with bole or brown ochre, a sophistication which may be detected by boiling for a few seconds with diluted hydrochloric acid, filtering and testing with potassium ferrocyanide; the liquid should assume at most a bluish-green color.
The fruits as found in commerce are small nearly globular berries, about 3/10 inch in diameter, somewhat like black pepper in appearance, with a rough and brittle surface and crowned by the remains of the calyx teeth, surrounding the short style. The fruit is two-celled, each cell containing a single, kidney-shaped seed. The remains of the calyx crowning the fruit and the presence of two single-seeded cells are features that distinguish Pimento from Cubebs, the fruit of which is one-celled, one-seeded and grey and from Black Peppercorns, which are also one-celled and one-seeded.
The spice derives its name from the Portuguese pimenta, Spanish pimienta==pepper, which was given it from its resemblance to peppercorns.
The chief constituent of Pimento is from 3 to 4.5 per cent of a volatile oil, contained in glands in the pericarp of the seeds and obtained by distillation from the fruit.
It occurs as a yellow or yellowish-red liquid, becoming gradually darker on keeping and having a pleasant aromatic odour, somewhat similar to that of oil of cloves, and a pungent, spicy taste. It has a slightly acid reaction. It is soluble in all proportions of alcohol. The specific gravity is 1.030 to 1.050. Its chief constituent is the phenol Eugenol, which is present to the extent of 60 to 75 per cent, and a sesquiterpene, the exact nature of which has not yet been ascertained. The specific gravity to some extent indicates the amount present; if lower than 1.030, it may be assumed that some eugenol has been removed, or that the oil has been adulterated with substitutes having a lower specific gravity than that of eugenol. The eugenol can be determined by shaking the oil with a solution of potassium hydroxide and measuring the residual oily layer. The United States Pharmacopoeia specifies that at least 65 per cent by volume of eugenol should be present. On shaking the oil with an equal volume of strong solution of ammonia, it should be converted into a semisolid mass of eugenol-ammonium.
The clove-like odour of the oil is doubtless due to the eugenol, but the characteristic odour is due to some other substance or substances as yet unknown. A certain amount of resin is also present, but the oil has not yet been fully investigated.
Bonastre obtained from the fruit, a volatile oil, a green fixed oil, a fatty substance in yellowish flakes, tannin, gum, resin, uncrystallizable sugar, coloring matter, malic and gallic acids, saline matter and lignin. The green fixed oil has a burning, aromatic taste of Pimento and is supposed to be the acrid principle. Upon this, together with the volatile oil, the medicinal properties of the berries depend, and as these two principles exist most in the shell, this part is the most efficient. According to Bonastre, the shell contains 1O per cent of the volatile and 8 per cent of the fixed oil; the seeds only 5 per cent of the former and 2.5 of the latter. Berzelius considered the green fixed oil of Bonastre to be a mixture of the volatile oil, resin, fixed oil and perhaps a little chlorophyll.
On incineration, the fruits yield from 2.5 to 5 per cent of ash.
They impart their flavour to water and all their virtues to alcohol. The infusion is of a brown color and reddens litmus paper.
The leaves and bark abound in inflammable particles.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The chief use of Pimento is as a spice and condiment: the berries are added to curry powder and also to mulled wine. It is popular as a warming cordial, of a sweet odour and grateful aromatic taste.
The oil inaction resembles that of cloves, and is occasionally used in medicine and is also employed in perfuming soaps.
It was formerly official in both the British and United States Pharmacopoeias. Both Pimento Oil and Pimento Water were official in the British Pharmacopoeia of 1898, but Oil of Pimento was deleted from the British Pharmacopceia of 1914, though the Water still has a place in the British Pharmacopceia Codex.
Pimento has also been dropped from the United States Pharmacopoeia, but admitted to the National Formulary IV. Pimento is one of the ingredients in the Compound Tincture of Guaic of the National Formulary IV.
Pimento is an aromatic stimulant and carminative to the gastro-intestinal tract, resembling cloves in its action. It is employed chiefly as an addition to tonics and purgatives and as a flavouring agent.
The Essential Oil, as well as the Spirit and the distilled Water of Pimento are useful for flatulent indigestion and for hysterical paroxysms. Two or three drops of the oil on sugar are given to correct flatulence. The oil is also given on sugar and in pills to correct the griping tendencies of purgatives: it was formerly added to Syrup of Buckthorn to prevent griping.
Pimento Water (Aqua Pimentae) is used as a vehicle for stomachic and purgative medicines. It is made by taking 5 parts of bruised Pimento to 200 parts of water and distilling down to 100, the dose being 1 to 2 fluid ounces.
---Concentrated Pimento Water of the British Pharmacopoeia Codex---
Oil of Pimento 1 fl. oz.
Alcohol 12 fl. oz.
Purified Talc 1 oz.
Distilled Water up to 20 fl. oz.
Dissolve the oil in the alcohol, contained in a suitable bottle, add the water gradually shaking after each addition; add the talc shake, allow to stand for a few hours, occasionally shaking, and filter.
One part of this solution corresponds to about 40 parts of Pimento Water.
The powdered fruit: dose, 10 to 30 grains. Fluid extract: dose, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Oil: dose, 2 to 5 drops.
Pimento is one of the ingredients of Spice Plaster. An extract made from the crushed berries by boiling them down to a thick liquor is, when spread on linen, a capital stimulating plaster for neuralgic or rheumatic pains.
The fruits of four other species of the genus Pimento, found in Venezuela, Guiana and the West Indies, are employed in their native countries as spices.
The 'Bay Rum,' used as a toilet article, is a tincture scented with the oil of the leaves of an allied species, P. acris, commonly known as the Bayberry tree.
Although ground Pimento is sometimes used to adulterate powdered cloves, it is itself little subject to adulteration in the entire condition, though the ground article for household consumption as a spice is subject to the same adulteration as other similar substances, it is sometimes adulterated with the larger and less aromatic berries of the Mexican Myrtus Tobasco, Mocino called Pimienta de Tabasco.
At one time the fruit of the common American Spice Bush, 'Benzoin ' was used for this purpose. The powdered berries of this American plant, a member of the natural order Lauracece, Lindera Benzoin, occurring in damp woods throughout the Eastern and Central States, were used during the War of Independence by the Americans as a substitute for Allspice and its leaves as a substitute for tea, hence the plant was often called 'Wild Allspice.' All parts of the shrub have a spicy, agreeable flavour, which is strongest in the bark and berries. The leaves and berries are also used in decoction in domestic practice as a febrifuge and are considered to have tonic and also anthelmintic properties. A tincture prepared from the fresh young twigs before the buds have burst in the spring, is still used in homoeopathy, but no preparation is employed officially.
The 'Carolina Allspice,' or Sweet Bush (Calycanthis foridus, Lindl), is a shrub 6 to 8 feet high, which inhabits the low, shady woods along the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina and in Tennessee. The whole plant is aromatic, having the odour of strawberries when crushed.
It is asserted that the shrub is important as a source of poisoning to cattle and sheep. The alkaloid it contains exercises a powerfully depressant action upon the heart.
It has been used as an antiperiodic, in fluid extract.
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
The Almond tree is a native of the warmer parts of western Asia and of North Africa, but it has been extensively distributed over the warm temperate region of the Old World, and is cultivated in all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. It was very early introduced into England, probably by the Romans, and occurs in the Anglo-Saxon lists of plants, but was not cultivated in England before 1562, and then chiefly for its blossom.
The tree has always been a favourite, and in Shakespeare's time, as Gerard tells us, Almond trees were 'in our London gardens and orchards in great plenty.' There are many references to it in our early poetry. Spenser alludes to it in the Fairy Queen:
'Like to an Almond tree ymounted hye,
On top of greene Selinis all alone,
With blossoms brave bedecked daintly;
Whose tender locks do tremble every one
At everie little breath that under Heaven is blowne.'
Shakespeare mentions it only once, very casually, in Troilus and Cressida: - 'The parrot will not do more for an Almond' - 'An Almond for a parrot' being an old simile in his days for the height of temptation.
The early English name seems to have been Almande: it thus appears in the Romaunt of the Rose. Both this old name and its more modern form came through the French amande, derived from the late Latin amandela, in turn a form of the Greek amygdalus, the meaning of which is obscure.
The tree grows freely in Syria and Palestine: it is mentioned in Scripture as one of the best fruit trees of the land of Canaan, and there are many other biblical references to it. The Hebrew name, shakad, is very expressive: it signifies 'hasty awakening,' or 'to watch for,' hence 'to make haste,' a fitting name for a tree, whose beautiful flowers appearing in Palestine in January, herald the wakening up of Creation. The rod of Aaron was an Almond twig, and the fruit of the Almond was one of the subjects selected for the decoration of the golden candlestick employed in the tabernacle. The Jews still carry rods of Almond blossom to the synagogues on great festivals.
As Almonds were reckoned among 'the best fruits of the land' in the time of Jacob we may infer they were not then cultivated in Egypt. Pliny, however, mentions the Almond among wiccan fruit-trees; and it is not improbable that it was introduced between the days of Jacob and the period of the Exodus.
Almonds, as well as the oil pressed from them, were well known in Greece and Italy long before the Christian era. A beautiful fable in Greek mythology is associated with the tree. Servius relates that Phyllis was changed by the gods into an Almond tree as an eternal compensation for her desertion by her lover Demophoon, which caused her death by grief. When too late, Demophoon returned, and when the leafless, flowerless and forlorn tree was shown him, as the memorial of Phyllis, he clasped it in his arms, whereupon it burst forth into bloom - an emblem of true love inextinguishable by death.
During the Middle Ages, Almonds became an important article of commerce in Central Europe. Their consumption in medieval cookery was enormous. An inventory, made in 1372, of the effects of Jeanne d'Evreux, Queen of France, enumerates only 20 lb. of sugar, but 500 lb. of Almonds.
The ancients attributed many wonderful virtues to the Almond, but it was chiefly valued for its supposed virtue in preventing intoxication. Plutarch mentions a great drinker of wine, who by the use of Bitter Almonds escaped being intoxicated, and Gerard says: 'Five or six, being taken fasting, do keepe a man from being drunke.' This theory was probably the origin of the custom of eating salted Almonds through a dinner.
The Almond belongs to the same group of plants as the rose, plum, cherry and peach, being a member of the tribe Prunae of the natural order Rosaceae. The genus Amygdalus to which it is assigned is very closely allied to Prunus (Plum) in which it has sometimes been merged; the distinction lies in the fruit, the succulent pulp attached to the stone in the plum (known botanically as the mesocarp) being replaced by a leathery separable coat in the almond which is hard and juiceless, of a dingy green tinged with dull red, so that when growing it looks not unlike an unripe apricot. When fully ripe, this green covering dries and splits, and the Almond, enclosed in its rough shell (termed the endocarp) drops out. The shell of the Almond is a yellowish buff color and flattened-ovoid in shape, the outer surface being usually pitted with small holes; frequently it has a more or less fibrous nature. Sometimes it is thin and friable (soft-shelled Almond), sometimes extremely hard and woody (hard-shelled Almond). The seed itself is rounded at one end and pointed at the other, and covered with a thin brown, scurfy coat. The different sorts of Almonds vary in form and size, as well as in the firmness of the shell. The fruit is produced chiefly on the young wood of the previous year, and in part on small spurs of two and three years growth.
The tree is of moderate size, usually from 20 to 30 feet high, with spreading branches the leaves lance-shaped, finely toothed (or serrated) at the edges. The flowers are produced before the leaves - in this country early in March; and in great profusion. There are two principal forms of the Almond the one with entirely pink flowers, Amygdalus communis, var. dulcis, producing Sweet Almonds; the other, A. communis, var. amara, with flowers slightly larger, and the petals almost white towards the tips, deepening into rose at the base, producing Bitter Almonds. Botanically, they are considered merely variations of the one type, and the difference in variety has been supposed originally to be mainly owing to climate, the Bitter Almond being a native of Barbary. The Sweet Almond is the earliest to flower, and is cultivated more largely than the Bitter Almond. It is valuable as a food and for confectionery purposes, as well as in medicine, being rich in a bland oil, and sustaining as a nutriment: the staying power conferred by a meal of Almonds and raisins is well known. It is only the Bitter Almond in the use of which caution is necessary, especially with regard to children, as it possesses dangerous poisonous properties.
The early, delicate flowers of the Almond give it a unique position among ornamental trees, and it should have a place in every shrubbery, for it will flourish in any ordinary, well-drained soil, both in open and somewhat sheltered situations, and does well in town gardens.
There are several varieties, differing in color and size of the flowers: one dwarf variety, A. nana, a native of the Lower Danube, is especially decorative, and is often planted in the forefront of shrubberies. All the species are deciduous.
Sicily and Southern Italy are the chief Almond-producing countries; Spain, Portugal, the South of France, the Balearic Islands and Morocco also export considerable quantities.
In the southern counties of England it is not uncommon for the tree to produce a fair crop of fruit, though it is mostly very inferior to that which is imported, but in less favoured districts in this country the production of fruit is rare.
The tree is liable to destruction by frosts in many parts of Central Europe. In France and Belgium, when grown in gardens for its fruit, the tender-shelled varieties are preferred, and the cultivation is the same as for the peach.
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Botanical: Amygdalus communis (LINN.) var. dulcis
Medicinal Action and Uses
There are numerous varieties of the Sweet Almond in commerce, the chief being: (1) the Jordan Almonds, the finest and best of the Sweet variety. These, notwithstanding their Oriental name (derived really from the French jardin), we receive from Malaga, imported without their shells. They are distinguished from all other Almonds by their large size, narrow, elongated shape and thin skin; (2) Valentia Almonds, which are broader and shorter than the Jordan variety, with a thicker dusty brown, scurfy skin, usually imported in their shell, and sometimes called in consequence, 'Shell Almonds'; (3) and (4) Sicilian and Barbary Almonds, which closely resemble the Valentia Almonds but are rather smaller and of an inferior quality. They occasionally contain an admixture of Bitter Almonds.
The annual import of Sweet Almonds into this country is normally over 500 tons.
Sweet Almonds have a bland taste, and the white emulsion formed when they are bruised with water is characterized by no marked odour, the seeds being thus distinguished from Bitter Almonds.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Fresh Sweet Almonds possess demulcent and nutrient properties, but as the outer brown skin sometimes causes irritation of the alimentary canal, they are blanched by removal of this skin when used for food. Though pleasant to the taste, their nutritive value is diminished unless well masticated, as they are difficult of digestion, and may in some cases induce nettlerash and feverishness. They have a special dietetic value, for besides containing about 20 per cent of proteids, they contain practically no starch, and are therefore often made into flour for cakes and biscuits for patients suffering from diabetes.
Sweet Almonds are used medicinally, the official preparations of the British Pharmacopoeia being Mistura Amygdalae, Pulvis Amygdalae Compositus and Almond Oil.
On expression they yield nearly half their weight in a bland fixed oil, which is employed medicinally for allaying acrid juices, softening and relaxing solids, and in bronchial diseases, in tickling coughs, hoarseness, costiveness, nephritic pains, etc.
When Almonds are pounded in water, the oil unites with the fluid, forming a milky juice - Almond Milk - a cooling, pleasant drink, which is prescribed as a diluent in acute diseases, and as a substitute for animal milk: an ounce of Almonds is sufficient for a quart of water, to which gum arabic is in most cases a useful addition. The pure oil mixed with a thick mucilage of gum arabic, forms a more permanent emulsion; one part of gum with an equal quantity of water being enough for four parts of oil. Almond emulsions possess in a certain degree the emollient qualities of the oil, and have this advantage over the pure oil, that they may be given in acute or inflammatory disorders without danger of the ill effects which the oil might sometimes produce by turning rancid. Sweet Almonds alone are employed in making emulsions, as the Bitter Almond imparts its peculiar taste when treated in this way.
Blanched and beaten into an emulsion with barley-water, Sweet Almonds are of great use in the stone, gravel, strangury and other disorders of the kidneys, bladder and biliary ducts.
By their oily character, Sweet Almonds sometimes give immediate relief in heartburn. For this, it is recommended to peel and eat six or eight Almonds.
Almonds are also useful in medicine for uniting substances with water. Castor oil is rendered palatable when rubbed up with pounded Almonds and some aromatic distilled water.
The fixed Oil of Almonds is extracted from both Bitter and Sweet Almonds. If intended for external use, it must, however, be prepared only from Sweet Almonds.
The seeds are ground in a mill after removing the reddish-brown powder adhering to them and then subjected to hydraulic pressure, the expressed oil being afterwards filtered and bleached, preferably by exposure to light.
Almond oil is a clear, pale yellow, odourless liquid, with a bland, nutty taste. It consists chiefly of Olein, with a small proportion of the Glyceride of Linolic Acid and other Glycerides, but contains no Stearin. It is thus very similar in composition to Olive Oil (for which it may be used as a pleasant substitute), but it is devoid of Chlorophyll, and usually contains a somewhat larger proportion of Olein than Olive Oil.
It is used in trade, as well as medicinally, being most valuable as a lubricant for the delicate works of watches, and is much employed as an ingredient in toilet soap, for its softening action on the skin. It forms a good remedy for chapped hands.
'The oil newly pressed out of Sweet Almonds is a mitigator of pain and all manner of aches, therefore it is good in pleurisy and colic. The oil of Almonds makes smooth the hands and face of delicate persons, and cleanseth the skin from all spots and pimples.'
And Culpepper writes:
'The oil of both (Bitter and Sweet) cleanses the skin, it easeth pains of the chest, the temples being annointed therewith, and the oil with honey, powder of liquorice, oil of roses and white wax, makes a good ointment for dimness of sight.'
Culpepper also tells us of Almond butter, saying:
'This kind of butter is made of Almonds with sugar and rose-water, which being eaten with violets is very wholesome and commodious for students, for it rejoiceth the heart and comforteth the brain, and qualifieth the heat of the liver.'
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Botanical: Amygdalus communis (LINN.) var. amara
Adulterations and Substitutes
There are several varieties of the Bitter Almond, the best being imported from the south of France, and others from Sicily and Northern Africa (Barbary), where it forms a staple article of trade. The annual imports of Bitter Almonds to this country amount normally to about 300 tons.
The seeds are used chiefly as a source of Almond Oil, but also yield a volatile oil, which is largely employed as a flavouring agent.
Bitter Almonds are usually shorter, proportionately broader and smaller, and less regular than the Sweet Almonds. They contain about 50 per cent of the same fixed oil which occurs in the Sweet Almond, and are also free from starch. The bitter taste is characteristic.
The Bitter Almond differs from the Sweet Almond in containing a colorless, crystalline glucoside, Amygdalin, of which the Sweet are entirely destitute. This substance is left in the cake obtained after the oil has been expressed, and can be extracted from it by digestion with alcohol. Many other Rosaceous plants contain Amygdalin, such as the peach, apricot, plum, etc., not only in the seed, but also in the young shoots and flower-buds.
The Bitter Almond seed also contains a ferment Emulsin, which in presence of water acts on the soluble glucoside Amygdalin yielding glucose, prussic acid and the essential oil of Bitter Almonds, or Benzaldehyde, which is not used in medicine. Bitter Almonds yield from 6 to 8 per cent of Prussic Acid. About 5 lb. of the seeds yield on the average half an ounce of the essential oil.
The term 'prussic acid' owes its origin to the fact of its having been first obtained from Prussian blue. This acid is contained in small quantities in the leaves and seeds of some of our commonest fruits, especially in applepips. While it is a valuable remedy for some diseases, it is also a deadly poison and its action is extremely rapid.
The leaves of the Cherry-laurel (Prunus lauro-cerasus) owe their activity to the prussic acid they contain. The laurel water made by distillation is a dangerous poison, and is so variable in strength, that it is unsuited for administration as a medicinal agent. Several fatal cases have occurred from its injudicious use.
The once famous 'Macassor Oil' consisted chiefly of Oil of Almonds, colored red with Alkanet root, and scented with Oil of Cassia.
This essential volatile oil of Bitter Almonds, under the name of 'Almond flavouring' and 'Spirit of Almonds,' is used in confectionery and as a culinary flavouring, but on account of its poisonous nature, great care ought to be exercised in its use, and for the same reason, Bitter Almonds and ratifia biscuits and Marchpane (made largely of Bitter Almonds) should be eaten sparingly.
Bitter Almonds and their poisonous properties were well known to the ancients, who used them in intermittent fevers and as a vermifuge, and they were also employed by them, and in the Middle Ages as an aperient and diuretic, and as a cure for hydrophobia, but from the uncertainty of their operation and the risk attending it, we seldom see them administered now. Taken freely in substance they occasion sickness and vomiting, and to dogs, birds and some other animals, they are poisonous. A simple water, strongly impregnated by distillation with the volatile oil, will cause giddiness, headache and dimness of sight, and has been found also poisonous to animals, and there are instances of cordial spirits flavoured by them being poisonous to man.
Of the several varieties under which they exist, none in size and form resembles the long, sweet Jordan Almond, and it is to avoid Bitter Almonds being used instead of Sweet that the British Pharmacopoeia directs that Jordan Almonds alone shall be employed when Sweet Almonds are used medicinally.
Culpepper says that Bitter Almonds
'do make thin and open, they remove stoppings out of the liver and spleen, therefore they be good against pain in the sides.... The same doth likewise kill tetters in the outward parts of the body (as Dioscorides addeth) if it be dissolved in vinegar.'
He also tells us that mixed with honey, these Almonds 'are good for bitings of a mad dog.'
---Adulterations and Substitutes---
The adulteration of Bitter Almonds with Sweet Almonds is a frequent source of loss and annoyance to the pressers of Almond Oil, whose profit largely depends on the amount of volatile oil they are able to extract from the residual cake.
Apricot and peach kernels contain constituents similar to those of the Bitter Almonds. They are imported in large quantities from Syria and California, and are often used by confectioners in the place of Bitter Almonds. (A very large proportion of the so-called ground Almonds sold are prepared from peach kernels, and this is the reason why in good cookery the whole Almonds are used, though the pounding is along and tedious business.)
The fixed oil expressed from them is known as Peach Kernel Oil (0l. Amygdae Pers.). From the cake, an essential oil is distilled (0l. Amygdae Essent. Pers.), as from Bitter Almond cake.
True Oil of Almonds is frequently distinguished from these by being described as 'English,' since the bulk of it has hitherto been pressed in this country. The kernels of the peach and apricot are with difficulty distinguished from those of the Almond, and the oils obtained from them closely resemble the so-called English, and much more expensive oil.
---To make Almond Cake---(Seventeenth Century)
'Take one pound of Jordan almonds, Blanch ym into cold water, and dry ym in a clean cloth: pick out these that are nought and rotten: then beat ym very fine in a stone mortar, puting in now and then a little rose water to keep ym from oyling: then put it out into a platter, and half a pound of loaf sugar beaten fine and mixt with ye almonds, ye back of a spoon, and set it on a chafing dish of coals, and let it stand till it be hott: and when it is cold then have ready six whites of eggs beaten with too spoonfuls of flower to a froth, and mix it well with ye almonds: bake ym on catt paper first done over with a feather dipt in sallet oyle.'
---Almond Butter---(Seventeenth Century)
'Seeth a little French Barly with a whole mace and some anniseeds to sweeten but not to give any sensible tast: then blanch and beat the almonds with some of the clearest of the liquor to make the milke the thicker, and strain them, getting forth by often beating what milk you can: seeth the milke till it thicken and bee ready to rise, and turne it with the juice of a lemon or salt dissolved in rose water: spread the curd on a linnen cloath that the whey may run out, and let it hang till it leave dropping: then season the butter that is left with rose water, and sugar to your liking.'
---To make Almond Milk---(Seventeenth Century)
'Take 3 pints of running water, a handfull of Raisins of the Sun stoned, halfe a handfull of Sorrell as much violet and strawberry leaves, halfe a handfull of the topps and flowers of burrage (borage), as much of Buglass, halfe a handfull of Endive, as much Succory, some Pauncys (Pansies), a little broad time and Orgamen (Marjoram), and a branch or two of Rosemary, lett all these boyle well together; then take a good handfull of French Barley, boyling it in three waters, put it to the rest, and lett them boyle till you think they are enough, then pour the liquor into a basin, and stampe the barley and reasons, straining them thereto; then take a quarter of a pound of Sweet Almonds, blanch them and pound them thrice, straining them to the other liquor; then season it with damask rosewater to your liking.'
---A Paste for ye Hands---(Seventeenth Century)
'Take a pound of sun raysens, stone and take a pound of bitter Almonds, blanch ym and beat ym in stone morter, with a glass of sack take ye peel of one Lemond, boyle it tender; take a quart of milk, and a pint of Ale, and make therewith a Possett; take all ye Curd and putt it to ye Almonds: yn putt in ye Rayson: Beat all these till they come to a fine Past, and putt in a pott, and keep it for ye use.'
Botanical: Aloe Perryi (J. G. BAKER), Aloe vera (LINN)
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Aloes are indigenous to East and South Africa, but have been introduced into the West Indies (where they are extensively cultivated) and into tropical countries, and will even flourish in the countries bordering on the Mediterranean.
The drug Aloes consists of the liquid exuded from the transversely-cut bases of the leaves of various species of Aloes, evaporated to dryness.
They are succulent plants belonging to the Lily family, with perennial, strong and fibrous roots and numerous, persistent, fleshy leaves, proceeding from the upper part of the root, narrow, tapering, thick and fleshy, usually beset at the edges with spiney teeth. Many of the species are woody and branching. In the remote districts of S.W. Africa and in Natal, Aloes have been discovered 30 to 60 feet in height, with stems as much as 1O feet in circumference.
The flowers are produced in erect, terminal spikes. There is no calyx, the corolla is tubular, divided into six narrow segments at the mouth and of a red, yellow or purplish color. The capsules contain numerous angular seeds.
The true Aloe is in flower during the greater part of the year and is not to be confounded with another plant, the Agave or American Aloe (Agave Americana), which is remarkable for the long interval between its periods of flowering. This is a succulent plant, without stem, the leaves being radical, spiney, and toothed. There is a variety with variegated foliage. The flower-stalk rises to many feet in height, bearing a number of large and handsome flowers. In cold climates there is usually a very long interval between the times of its flowering, though it is a popular error to suppose that it happens only once in a hundred years for when it obtains sufficient heat and receives a culture similar to that of the pineapple, it is found to flower much more frequently. Various species of Agave, all of which closely resemble each other, have been largely grown as ornamental plants since the first half of the sixteenth century in the south of Europe, and are completely acclimatized in Spain, Portugal and Southern Italy, but though often popularly called Aloes all of them are plants of the New World whereas the true Aloes are natives of the Old World. From a chemical point of view there is also no analogy at all between Aloes and Agaves.
Although the Agave is not employed medicinally, the leaves have been used in Jamaica as a substitute for soap, the expressed juice (a gallon of the juice yields about 1 lb. of the soft extract), dried in the sun, being made into balls with wood ash. This soap lathers with salt water as well as fresh. The leaves have also been used for scouring pewter and kitchen utensils. The inner spongy substance of the leaves in a decayed state has been employed as tinder and the fibres may be spun into a strong, useful thread.
The fleshy leaves of the true Aloe contain near the epidermis or outer skin, a row of fibrovascular bundles, the cells of which are much enlarged and filled with a yellow juice which exudes when the leaf is cut. When it is desired to collect the juice, the leaves are cut off close to the stem and so placed that the juice is drained off into tubs. This juice thus collected is concentrated either by spontaneous evaporation, or more generally by boiling until it becomes of the consistency of thick honey. On cooling, it is then poured into gourds, boxes, or other convenient receptacles, and solidifies.
Aloes require two or three years' standing before they yield their juice. In the West Indian Aloe plantations they are set out in rows like cabbages and cutting takes place in March or April, but in Africa the drug is collected from the wild plants.
The most important constituents of Aloes are the two Aloins, Barbaloin and Isobarbaloin, which constitute the so-called 'crystalline' Aloin, present in the drug at from 1O to 30 per cent. Other constituents are amorphous Aloin, resin and Aloe-emodin. The proportion in which the Aloins are present in the respective Aloes is not accurately known.
The manner in which the evaporation is conducted has a marked effect on the appearance of the Aloes, slow and moderate concentration tending to induce crystallization of the Aloin, thus causing the drug to appear opaque. Such Aloes is termed 'livery' or hepatic, and splinters of it exhibit minute crystals of Aloin when examined under the microscope. If, on the other hand, the evaporation is carried as far as possible, the Aloin does not crystallize and small fragments of the drug appear transparent; it is then termed 'glassy,' 'vitreous,' or 'lucid' Aloes and exhibits no crystals of Aloin under the microscope.
The chief varieties of Aloes are Curacao or Barbados, Socotrine (including Zanzibar) and Cape. Other varieties of Aloes, such as black 'Mocha' Aloes, occasionally find their way to the London market. Jafferabad Aloes, supposed to be the same as 'Mocha' Aloes, is of a black, pitch-like color and a glassy, somewhat porous fracture; it is the product of Aloe Abyssinica and is imported to Bombay from Arabia. It does not enter into English commerce. Musambra Aloes is made in India from A. vulgaris. Uganda Aloes, imported from Mossel Bay, not from Uganda, is a variety of Cape Aloes produced by careful evaporation. Natal Aloes, another South African variety, is no longer a commercial article in this country. The A. Purificata of the United States Pharmacopoeia is prepared by adding Alcohol to melted Aloes, stirring thoroughly, straining and evaporating the strained liquid. The product occurs in irregular, brittle, dull- brown or reddish pieces and is almost entirely soluble in Alcohol.
Curacoa Aloes is obtained from A. chinensis (Staud.) A. vera (Linn.) and probably other species. It was formerly produced on the island of Barbados, where it was largely cultivated, having been introduced at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and is still frequently, but improperly called Barbados Aloes. It is now almost entirely made on the Dutch islands of Curacoa, Aruba and Bonaire by boiling the Aloe juice down and pouring the viscid residue into empty spirit cases, in which it is allowed to solidify. Formerly gourds of various sizes were used (usually containing from 60 to 70 lb.) but Aloes in gourds is now seldom seen. It is usually opaque and varies in color from bright yellowish or rich reddish brown to black. Sometimes it is vitreous and small fragments are then of a deep garnet-red color and transparent. It is then known as 'Capey Barbados' and is less valuable, but may become opaque and more valuable by keeping. Curacoa Aloes possesses the nauseous and bitter taste that is characteristic of all Aloes and a disagreeable, penetrating odour. It is almost entirely soluble in 60 per cent alcohol and contains not more than 30 per cent of substances insoluble in water and 12 per cent of moisture. It should not yield more than 3 per cent of ash.
Commercial Aloin is obtained usually from Curacoa Aloes.
Solutions of Curacoa and other Aloes gradually undergo change, and may after a month no longer react normally, and may also lose the bitterness natural to Aloes.
Socotrine Aloes is prepared to a certain extent on the island of Socotra, but probably more largely on the African and possibly also on the Arabian mainland, from the leaves of A. Perryi (Baker). It is usually imported in kegs in a pasty condition and subsequent drying is necessary. It may be distinguished principally from Curacoa Aloes by its different odour. Much of the dry drug is characterized by the presence of small cavities in the fractured surface, but the variety of Socotrine Aloes distinguished as Zanzibar Aloes often very closely resembles Curacoa in appearance and is usually imported in liver-brown masses which break with a dull, waxy fracture, differing from that of Socotrine Aloes in being nearly smooth and even. When it is prepared, it is commonly poured into goat skins, which are then packed into cases.
The name 'Socotrine' Aloes is officially applied to both Socotrine and Zanzibar Aloes. Its chief constituents are Barbaloin (formerly called Socaloin and Zanaloin) and B. Barbaloin, no Isobarbaloin being present in this variety of Aloes. Resin water-soluble substances other than Aloin and Aloe-emodin are also present.
Socotrine Aloes should be of a dark, reddish-brown color, and almost entirely soluble in alcohol. Not more than 50 per cent should be insoluble in water and it should yield not more than 3 per cent of ash. Garnet-colored, translucent Socotrine Aloes is not now found in commerce, though fine qualities of Zanzibar Aloes are sometimes slightly translucent. Samples of the drug which are nearly black are unfit for pharmaceutical purposes. The odour of Zanzibar Aloes is strong and characteristic, and its taste nauseous and bitter.
Cape Aloes is prepared in Cape Colony from A. ferou (Linn.), A. spicata (Thumb.) A. Africana, A. platylepia and other species of Aloe. It possesses more powerfully purgative properties than any other variety of the drug and is preferred to other varieties on the Continent, but is chiefly employed in this country for veterinary purposes only though for this purpose the Curacoa Aloes is as a rule preferred. Another form of the drug used for veterinary purposes, called Caballine or Horse Aloes, usually consists of the residue from the purification of the more valuable sorts.
Cape Aloes almost invariably occurs in the vitreous modification; it forms dark colored masses which break with a clean glassy fracture and exhibit in their splinters a yellowish, reddish-brown or greenish tinge. Its translucent, glossy appearance and very characteristic, red-currant like odour sufficiently distinguish it from all other varieties of Aloes.
Uganda Aloes is also obtained from A. ferox. It occurs in bricks or fragments of hepatic, yellowish-brown color, with a bronze gold fracture and its odour resembles that of Cape Aloes.
Cape Aloes contains 9 per cent or more of Barbaloin (formerly known as Capaloin) and B. Barbaloin. Only traces of Capalores not annol combined with paracumaric acid. Cape Aloes should not contain more than 12 per cent of water; it should yield at least 45 per cent of aquoeus extract but not more than 2 per cent of ash Uganda Aloes yields about 6 per cent of Aloin, part of which is B. Barbaloin. The leaves of the plants from which Cape Aloes is obtained are cut off near the stem and arranged around a hole in the ground, in which a sheepskin is spread, with smooth side upwards. When a sufficient quantity of juice has drained from the leaves it is concentrated by heat in iron cauldrons and subsequently poured into boxes or skins in which it solidifies on cooling. Large quantities of the drug are exported from Cape Town and Mossel Bay.
Natal Aloes. The source of this variety which is seldom imported, is not yet definitely ascertained, but it is probably prepared from one or more species of Aloe, probably including A. ferox. Natal Aloes is prepared with greater care than Cape Aloes the leaves being cut obliquely into slices and the juice allowed to exude in the hot sunshine, after which it is boiled down in iron pots the liquid being stirred until it becomes thick and then poured into wooden cases to solidify. Natal Aloes is much weaker than any other variety, having little purgative action on human beings, apparently because it contains no Emodin. It is no longer of commercial importance. It resembles Cape Aloes in odour and occurs in irregular pieces which are almost always opaque and have a characteristic, dull greenish-black or brown color. It is much less soluble than Cape Aloes. It has not a glassy fracture like that of Cape Aloes and when powdered is of a greenish color.
Good Aloes should yield 40 per cent of soluble matter to cold water.
Both Curacoa and Cape Aloes in powder give a crimson color with nitric acid, Socratine Aloes powder touched with nitric acid does not give a crimson color.
The Mahometans, especially those in Egypt, regard the Aloe as a religious symbol, and the Mussulman who has made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Prophet is entitled to hang the Aloe over his doorway. The Mahometans also believe that this holy symbol protects a householder from any malign influence.
In Cairo, the Jews also adopt the practice of hanging up the Aloe.
In the neighbourhood of Mecca, at the extremity of every grave, on a spot facing the epitaph, Burckhardt found planted a low shrubby species of Aloe whose Arabic name, saber, signifies patience. This plant is evergreen and requires very little water. Its name refers to the waiting-time between the burial and the resurrection morning.
All kinds of Aloes are admirably provided by their succulent leaves and stems against the drought of the countries where they flourish. The cuticle which covers every part of the plant is, in those which contain a great quantity of pulpy material, formed so as to imbibe moisture very easily and to evaporate it very slowly. If the leaf of an Aloe be separated from the parent plant, it may be laid in the sun for several weeks without becoming entirely shrivelled; and even when considerably dried by long exposure to heat, it will, if plunged into water, become in a few hours plump and fresh.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The drug Aloes is one of the safest and best warm and stimulating purgatives to persons of sedentary habits and phlegmatic constitutions. An ordinary small dose takes from 15 to 18 hours to produce an effect. Its action is exerted mainly on the large intestine, for which reason, also it is useful as a vermifuge. Its use, however, is said to induce Piles.
From the Chemist and Druggist (July 22, 1922):
'Aloes, strychnine and belladonna in pill form was criticized by Dr. Bernard Fautus in a paper read before the Chicago branch of the American Pharmaceutical Society. He pointed out that when given at the same time they cannot possibly act together because of the different speed and duration of the three agents. Aloin is slow in action, requiring from 10 to 12 hours. Strychnine and Atropine, on the other hand, are rapidly absorbed, and have but a brief duration of action.'
Preparations of Aloes are rarely prescribed alone, they require the addition of carminatives to moderate the tendency to griping. The compound preparations of Aloes in use generally contain such correctives, but powdered Aloes and the extracts of Aloes represent the crude drug.
Aloes in one form or another is the commonest domestic medicine and is the basis of most proprietary or so-called 'patent' pills.
There is little to choose medicinally between the Curacoa and Socotrine varieties, but the former is somewhat more powerful, 2 grains of Curacoa Aloes being equal to 3 grains of Socotrine Aloes in purgative action. The latter is more expensive, but varies much in quality.
Aloes is the purgative in general uses for horses, it is also used in veterinary practice as a bitter tonic in small doses, and externally as a stimulant and desiccant.
Aloes was employed by the ancients and was known to the Greeks as a production of the island of Socotra as early as the fourth century B.C. The drug was used by Dioscorides, Celsus and Pliny, as well as by the later Greek and Arabian physicians, though it is not mentioned either by Hippocrates or Theophrastus.
From notices of it in the Anglo-Saxon leech-books and a reference to it as one of the drugs recommended to Alfred the Great by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, we may infer that its use was not unknown in Britain as early as the tenth century. At this period the drug was imported into Europe by way of the Red Sea and Alexandria. In the early part of the seventeenth century, there was a direct trade in Aloes between England and Socotra, and in the records of the East Indian Company there are notices of the drug being bought of the King of Socotra, the produce being a monopoly of the Sultan of the island.
The word Aloes, in Latin Lignum Aloes, is used in the Bible and in many ancient writings to designate a substance totally distinct from the modern Aloes, namely the resinous wood of Aquilaria agallocha, a large tree growing in the Malayan Peninsula. Its wood constituted a drug which was, down to the beginning of the present century, generally valued for use as incense, but now is esteemed only in the East.
A beautiful violet color is afforded by the leaves of the Socotrine Aloe, and it does not require a mordant to fix it.
Fluid extract: dose, 5 to 30 drops. Powdered extract: dose, 1 to 5 grains. Comp decoc., B.P.: dose, 1/2 to 2 OZ. Tincture B.P.: dose, 1/4 to 2 drachms. Tincture aloes myrrh, U.S.P.: dose, 30 drops.
Botanical: Alstonia scholaris (R. BR.)
Family: N.O. Apocynaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
Echites scholaris (Linn.). Dita Bark. Bitter Bark. Devil Tree. Pale Mara.
India and the Philippines.
The tree grows from 50 to 80 feet high, has a furrowed trunk, oblong stalked leaves up to 6 inches long and 4 inches wide, dispersed in four to six whorls round the stem, their upper side glossy, under side white, nerves running at right angles to the mid-rib. The bark is almost odourless and very bitter, in commerce it is found in irregular fragments 1/8 to 1/2 inch thick, texture spongy, fracture coarse and short, outside layer rough uneven fissured brownish grey and sometimes blackish spots; inside layer bright buff, transverse section shows a number of small medullary rays in inner layer.
It contains three alkaloids, Ditamine, Echitamine or Ditaine, and Echitenines, and several fatty and resinous substances- the second is the strongest base and resembles ammonia in chemical characters.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The bark is used in homoeopathy for its tonic bitter and astringent properties; it is particularly useful for chronic diarrhoea and dysentry.
---Preparations and Dosages---Infusion of Alstonia, 5 parts to 100 parts water. Dose, 1 fluid ounce. Powdered bark, 2 to 4 grains.
In India the natives use the bark for bowel complaints. In Ceylon its light wood is used for coffins. In Borneo the wood close to the root of the same species is very light and of white color and is used for net floats, household utensils, trenchers, corks, etc.
A bark called Poele is obtained from Alstonia spectabilis, habitat Java; it contains the same alkaloids as dita and an additional crystalline, Alstonamine.
Botanical: Alstonia constricta (F. MUELL.)
Family: N.O. Apocynaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
Fever Bark. Australian Quinine.
The dried bark.
New South Wales and Australia.
The name is derived from Alston, a professor of botany in Edinburgh. In commerce the bark is usually in curved pieces or quills 2 1/2 inches wide and 1/2, inch thick. Periderm 1/10 to 1/4 of an inch; rusty brown, rugose, deeply fissured recticulations; internally the bark is cinnamon brown with strong coarse longitudinal stripes. Transverse section shows dark brown periderm covering the inner orange-brown tissues. Fracture short granular in outer layers and fibrous inner ones, slight aromatic odour, very bitter taste.
Contains three alkaloids Alstonine, Porphrine and Astonidine, and traces of others.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Used for chronic diarrhoea, dysentery and in intermittent fever; also as an anthelmintic. Scientific investigation has failed to show why it is of such service in malaria, but herbalists consider it superior to quinine and of great use in convalescence, also much used by homoeopaths.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Powdered bark 2 to 8 grains. Fluid extract, 4 to 40 minims.
Botanical: Amaranthus hypochondriacus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Amaranthaceae
Medicial Action and Uses
Love-Lies-Bleeding. Red Cockscomb. Velvet Flower.
The Amaranths are met with most abundantly in the tropics, especially in tropical America, but are not plentiful in cold countries.
Many species are widely distributed as pernicious weeds. Their economic importance is slight, their properties chiefly proteid nutrient. Many abound in mucilage and sugar and many species are used as pot-herbs, resembling those of Chenopodiaceae. Many, also, are excellent fodder-plants, though not cultivated.
Their constituents are indefinite; none are poisonous, none possess very distinct medicinal properties, though many have use in native practice as alteratives, and as antidotes to snake-bite, etc.
---Medical Action and Uses---
Some species have slightly astringent properties, others are diaphoretics and diuretics, and a few are tonics and stimulants.
In ancient Greece, the Amaranth was sacred to Ephesian Artemis: it was supposed to have special healing properties and as a symbol of immortality was used to decorate images of the gods and tombs. The name, from the Greek signifying unwithering, was applied to certain plants which from their lasting for ever, typified immortality.
Some of the species are old favourites as garden flowers, viz., Amaranthus hypochondriacus, known as Prince's Feather, an Indian annual - with deeply-veined, lance-shaped leaves, purple on the under side with deep crimson flowers, densely packed on erect spikes, and A. caudatus (Jacq.) (Love-lies-bleeding), a native of Africa and Java, a vigorous hardy annual with dark purplish flowers crowded in handsome drooping spikes. It is considered astringent and a decoction of the flowers has been administered in spitting of blood and various haemorrhages and has been said to be so energetic that it may be used in cases of menorrhagia. With several other species belonging to the closely allied genus Aeva, natives of India, it has also been used as an anthelmintic.
A. spinosa (Linn.), A. campestris (Willd.) and many others are used in India as diuretics. A. oleraceus (Linn.) is used in India in diarrhoea and menstrual disorders and the young leaves and shoots are also eaten as a vegetable, similarly to spinach. A. polygonoides, a common garden weed in India, is also used as a pot-herb and considered so wholesome that convalescents are ordered it in preference to all other kinds.
Botanical: Amaranthum blitum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Amaranthaceae
Amaranthum blitum (Linn.), the wild Amaranth admitted to the list of British plants, is an inconspicuous weed, often mistaken for an Orache or Goosefoot, sometimes found on rubbish-heaps near towns and probably a remnant of ancient cultivation as a pot-herb.
It is an annual, with trailing stems a foot or two in length and more or less oval leaves with long stalks. The numerous green flowers are clustered in the angles between leaf and stem and are unisexual, without petals, both male and female flowers occurring on the same plant.
The female flower develops into a juicy, crimson capsule containing a single seed. The clusters of these fruits have in some localities suggested the name of Strawberry Blite for the plant.
It flowers in August.
In France, its leaves are still eaten in the same way as spinach.
Culpepper, speaking of the garden Amaranths and especially of the Love-lies-bleeding, which he calls Flower Gentle, Flower Velure, Floramor and Velvet flower, says:
'The flowers dried and beaten into powder stops the terms in women, and so do almost all other red things. And by the icon or image of every herb, the ancients at first found out their virtues. Modern writers laugh at them for it- but I wonder how the virtues of herbs came at first to be known, if not by their signatures, the moderns have them from the writings of the ancients; the ancients had no writings to have them from. -The flowers stop all fluxes of blood, whether in man or woman, bleeding either at the nose or wound.'
In modern herbal medicine, a fluid extract is employed, the dose being 1/2 to 1 drachm and also a decoction taken in wineglassful doses, which is used externally as an application in ulcerated conditions of the throat and mouth and as an injection in leucorrhoea, and as a wash for ulcers, sores, etc. For its astringency it is much recommended in diarrhoea, dysentery and haemorrhages from the bowels.
Botanical: Dorema ammoniacum (D. DON.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
The gum resin exuding from the flowering and fruiting stem of Dorema ammoniacum and probably other species.
Persia, extending into Southern Siberia.
The plant grows to height of about 7 feet and in spring and early summer contains a milky juice. It is visited by numbers of beetles which puncture the stem and thus cause an exudation, part of which dries on the stem, the rest falling to the ground where it becomes mixed with stones and other impurities found in the gum collected by the natives. The gum resin is found in special cavities in the tissues of the stem, root and petioles of the leaves. The name of the drug is said to be derived from the Temple of Jupiter Ammon in the Libyan Desert where it was collected by the ancients. The gum resin occurs in commerce in two forms, tear ammoniacum and lump or block ammoniacum. The former alone is official in England and consists of pale yellow nodular masses varying in size from a pea to a walnut, brittle when cold but softens on warming, fractured surface, milky white or pale brown in color. The lump ammoniacum, which is that collected from the ground, is used sometimes but is not official in medicine. The odour of the drug is slight, taste acrid and persistent.
The drug contains volatile oil resin and gum. The resin consists of an indifferent resene associated with ammoresinotannol combined with salicylic acid.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Taken internally, it acts by facilitating expectoration and is of value in chronic bronchitis, especially in the aged when the secretion is tough and viscid. The resin has a mild diuretic action. It is antispasmodic and stimulant and is given sometimes as a diaphoretic and emmenagogue, used as a plaster for white swellings of the joints and for indolent tumours. Its use is of great antiquity and is mentioned by Hippocrates.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Ammoniacum mixture, B.P. 4 to 8 drachms. Ammoniacum in powder, 1 part; syrup of balsam of tolu, 2 parts; distilled water, 30 parts. Dose, 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce. Dose of the powdered gum, 5 to 15 grains, B.P.C. Dose of the powdered gum, 10 to 30 grains, U.S.P.
African Ammoniacum or 'feshook,' from Ferula Communis is not a commercial article. The Mahommedans use if for incense; this variety grows well in the author's garden at Chalfont St. Peter.
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
The Anemones are represented in our native British flora by only two species, the dainty little Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa) and the Pasque Flower (A. pulsatilla), both possessing medicinal properties, though the former is little used now.
There are, however, about seventy species in the genus Anemone, including the subgenus Hepatica, now also reckoned as Anemones, though formerly ranking as a separate genus, the chief representative of which, A. hepatica, is of some considerable medicinal value. A. pratensis, a continental species, is employed medicinally for the same purposes as A. pulsatilla, and the number of species familiar to us as garden flowers is very great, the most popular among these being, perhaps, the Poppy or Garden Anemone, A. coronavria a native of the Levant and Southern Europe, introduced here in 1596, and the Star Anemone, A. hortensis, a native of Italy, brought to England from Holland about the same time. A. apennina and A. blanda are also particularly charming the latter with large flowers of various shades of blue being the earliest to open.
The distinguishing characteristics of the genus Anemone are the presence of three entire leaflets arranged in a whorl just under the flowers, forming an involucre, and the fact that the flowers themselves have no real petals, but a calyx of six to eight petal-like sepals. All species share the acrid and bitter nature of almost all plants of the Ranunculus order to which they belong, and the leaves and flowers should not be eaten. The toxic principle has been extracted from three species: the two British species and one foreign one, though no actually fatal results have been recorded. A yellow-flowered foreign species, A. ranunculoides, found in almost all parts of the Continent, has been used for poisoning arrows, and in France, swelling and blistering of the hands has resulted from using the juice as a stimulant to ulceration.
Anemones flourish best in a rich, sandy loam, but will thrive in any garden soil which is well-drained and tolerably light, it should also be enriched with decayed manure. Sea sand, or a little salt mixed with the soil is a good preventive of mildew.
Propagation is by division of the rootstocks and cuttings of the root in autumn and early spring - from October to the end of March - and also from seed, which should be sown within a month of ripening, as it deteriorates with keeping. Sow thinly in lines on the surface and merely rake the seeds in with a very light hand. Germination is slow. Thin the plants to 6 inches apart. Thinnings will bear transplanting if carefully handled and helped with water afterwards. The first flowers are generally produced the first spring after sowing, but soil and situation have always a great effect on them.
Some persons take up Anemone tubers as soon as the leaf has died down, and replant in the early part of the year, but this is not necessary: those that have been two or three years in the ground attain a large size - they are solid, flattened masses, not unlike ginger. When planting, cover with soil to the depth of 3 inches.
Most garden Anemones can be treated in this way. The best time for transplanting A. pulsatilla is considered to be directly after it has flowered, or at any rate during the summer, while it is in growth; autumn is a bad time and early spring not much better.
Botanical: Anemone pulsatilla (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Part used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
Pasque Flower. Wind Flower. Meadow Anemone. Passe Flower. Easter Flower.
Anemone pulsatilla is found not in woods, but in open situations. It grows wild in the dry soils of almost every Central and Northern country of Europe, but in England is rather a local plant, abounding on high chalk downs and limestone pastures, mostly in Yorkshire, Berkshire, Oxford and Suffolk, but seldom found in other situations and other districts in this country.
It has a thick and somewhat woody root-stock, from which arises a rosette of finely-divided, stalked leaves, covered with silky hairs, especially when young, the foot-stalk often being purplish. The flowers, which are about 1 1/2 inches across, are borne singly on stalks 5 to 8 inches in height, with an involucre of three sessile (i.e stalkless) deeply-cut leaflets or bracts. The sepals are of a dull violet-purple color, very silky on the under surfaces. The seed- vessels are small, brown hairy achenes, with long, feathery tails, like those of the Traveller's Joy or Wild Clematis.
The whole plant, especially the bases of the foot-stalks, is covered with silky hairs. It is odourless, but possesses at first a very acrid taste, which is less conspicuous in the dried herb and gradually diminishes on keeping. The majority of the leaves develop after the flowers; they are two to three times deeply three-parted or pinnately cleft to the base, in long, linear, acute segments.
The juice of the purple sepals gives a green stain to paper and linen, but it is not permanent. It has been used to color the Paschal eggs in some countries, whence it has been supposed the English name of the plant is derived. Gerard, however, expressly informs us that he himself was 'moved to name' this the Pasque Flower, or Easter Flower, because of the time of its appearance, it being in bloom from April to June. The specific name, pulsatilla, from pulsc, I beat, is given in allusion to its downy seeds being beaten about by the wind.
Varieties of pulsatilla when cultivated in this country like a well-drained, light, but deep soil, and will flourish in a peat or leaf soil, with the addition of lime rubble.
---Part used Medicinally---
The drug Pulsatilla, which is of highly valuable modern curative use as a herbal simple, is obtained not only from the whole herb of A. pulsatilla, but also from A. pratensis, the Meadow Anemone, which is closely allied to the Pasque Flower, differing chiefly in having smaller flowers with deeper purple sepals, inflexed at the top. It grows in Denmark, Germany and Italy, but not in England. It is recommended for certain diseases of the eye, like Pulsatilla, and is used in homoeopathy, but has been considered somewhat dangerous. The whole plant has a strong acrid taste, but is eaten by both sheep and goats, though cows and horses will not touch it. The leaves when bruised and applied to the skin raise blisters. A. patens, var. Nutalliana is also used for the same purpose as A. pulsatilla.
In each case, the whole herb is collected, soon after flowering, and should be carefully preserved when dried; it deteriorates if kept longer than one year.
The fresh plant yields by distillation with water an acrid, oily principle, with a burning, peppery taste, Oil of Anemone. A similar oil is obtained from Ranunculus bulbosus, R. flammula and R. sceleratus, which belong to the same order of plants. Its therapeutic value is not considered great. When kept for some time,this oily substance becomes decomposed into Anemonic acid and Anemonin. Anemonin is crystalline, tasteless and odourless when pure and melts at 152ø. The action of Pulsatilla is virtually that of this crystalline substance Anemonin, which is a powerful irritant, like cantharides, in overdoses causing violent gastro-enteritis. It is volatile in water vapour and is then irritative to the eyes and mouth. The Oil acts as a vescicant when applied to the skin. Anemonicacid appears to be inert. Anemonin sometimes causes local inflammation and gangrene when subcutaneously injected, vomiting and purging when given internally. It is, however, uncertain whether these symptoms are due to Anemonin itself or to some impurity in it. The chief action of pure Anemonin is a depressant one on the circulation, respiration and spinal cord, to a certain extent resembling that of Aconite. The symptoms are slow and feeble pulse, slow respiration, coldness, paralysis and death without convulsions. In poisoning by extract of Pulsatilla, convulsions are always present. Their absence in poisoning by pure Anemonin appears to be due to its paralysing action on motor centres in the brain.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Nervine, antispasmodic, alterative and diaphoretic.The tincture of Pulsatilla is beneficial in disorders of the mucous membrane, of the respiratory and of the digestive passages. Doses of 2 to 3 drops in a spoonful of water will allay the spasmodic cough of asthma, whooping-cough and bronchitis.
For catarrhal affection of the eyes, as well as for catarrhal diarrhoea, the tincture is serviceable. It is also valuable as an emmenagogue, in the relief of headaches and neuralgia, and as a remedy for nerve exhaustion in women.
It is specially recommended for fair, blue-eyed women.
It has been employed in the form of extract in some cutaneous diseases with much success; it is included in the British Pharmacopoeia and was formerly included in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
In homoeopathy it is considered very efficacious and even a specific in measles. It is prescribed as a good remedy for nettlerash and also for neuralgic toothache and earache, and is administered in indigestion and bilious attacks.
Fluid extract, 5 to 10 drops. Parkinson says of this species: 'There are five different kinds of Pulsatilla, which flower in April: they are sometimes used for tertian ague and to help obstructions.'
The bed of the Mississippi.
Flowers pale purple; odour of flowers camphoraceous; taste sweetish; of leaves, sweetish and astringent.
Grape sugar, gum resin, an alkaloid and anemonic acid, sulphate of potash, carbonate of potash, chlorate of potassium, carbonate of lime, magnesia and 'proto salt of iron.'
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Amenorrhoea; has also proved successful in warding off colds, and in rheumatism of the knees.
Botanical: Anemone nemorosa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Crowfoot. Windflower. Smell Fox.
Root, leaves, juice.
The Wood Anemone is one of the earliest spring flowers.
It has a long, tough, creeping root-stock, running just below the surface; it is the quick growth of this root-stock that causes the plant to spread so rapidly, forming large colonies in the moist soil of wood and thicket. The deeply-cut leaves and star-like flowers rise directly from it on separate unbranched stems. Some distance below the flower are the three leaflets, often so deeply divided as to appear more than three in number and very similar to the true leaves. They wrap round and protect the flower-bud before it unfolds, but as it opens, its stalk lengthens and it is carried far above them.
The flower has no honey and little scent, and apparently relies little on the visits of insects for the fertilization of its one-celled seed-vessels, which are in form like those of the butter-cup, arranged in a mass in the centre of the many stamens, and are termed achenes. As in all the Anemones, there are no true petals, what seem so are really the sepals, which have assumed the coloring and characteristics of petals. They are six in number, pure white on the upper surfaces and pale rose-colored beneath.
In sunshine, the flower is expanded wide, but at the approach of night, it closes and droops its graceful head so that the dew may not settle on it and injure it. If rain threatens in the daytime, it does the same, receiving the drops upon its back, whence they trickle of harmlessly from the sepal tips. The way the sepals then fold over the mass of stamens and undeveloped seed-vessels in their centre has been likened to a tent, in which, as used fancifully to be said by country-folk, the fairies nestled for protection, having first pulled the curtains round them.
The plant is very liable to attack from certain fungi: at times, a species of Puccinia settles on it, the result being that the stalks of infected leaves grow rapidly, high above the others, though the leaves themselves dwindle and lose their divisions. A species of Sclerotinia attacks the swollen tubers of the root, doing still more harm, for in the spring there arise not the delicate white flowers, but the ugly fructifications of the fungus.
Though so innocent in appearance, the Wood Anemone possesses all the acrid nature of its tribe and is bitter to the tongue and poisonous. Cattle have been poisoned, Linnaeus tells us, by eating it in the fresh state after having been underfed and kept on dry food during the winter, so that they were ready to browse on the first leaves they saw. A vinegar made from the leaves retains all the more acrid properties of the plant, and is put in France to many domestic purposes: its rubifacient effects have caused it to be used externally in the same way as mustard.
The wiccans held the Anemone as the emblem of sickness, perhaps from the flush of color upon the backs of the white sepals. The Chinese call it the 'Flower of Death.' In some European countries it is looked on by the peasants as a flower of ill-omen, though the reason of the superstition is obscure. The Romans plucked the first Anemones as a charm against fever, and in some remote districts this practice long survived, it being considered a certain cure to gather an Anemone saying, 'I gather this against all diseases,' and to tie it round the invalid's neck.
Greek legends say that Anemos, the Wind, sends his namesakes the Anemones, in the earliest spring days as the heralds of his coming. Pliny affirmed that they only open when the wind blows, hence their name of Windflower, and the unfolding of the blossoms in the rough, windy days of March has been the theme of many poets:
'Coy anemone that ne'er uncloses
Her lips until they're blown on by the wind.'
Culpepper also uses the word 'windflower.' In Greek mythology it sprang from the tears of Venus, as she wandered through the woodlands weeping for the death of Adonis -
'Where streams his blood there blushing springs a rose
And where a tear has dropped, a wind-flower blows.'
The old herbalists called the Wood Anemone the Wood Crowfoot, because its leaves resemble in shape those of some species of Crowfoot. We also find it called Smell Fox. The specific name of nemorosa refers to its woodland habits.
['Anemone nemorosa, Varieties in,' by E. J. Salisbury (Ann. Bot., October 1916, Vol. XXXX, No. CXX: figs.) - Two varieties distinct from the common form are mentioned as being fairly numerous in some of the Hertfordshire woodlands, and for which the author has proposed the names A. nemorosa, var. robusta and A. nemorosa, var. apetala. The former differs from the normal type in the lighter green color and larger size of the vegetative organs and in the perianth segments, which are broadest above the middle and rounded towards the apex. The latter bears inconspicuous flowers, which are small purplish-green structures, and it is noted that these plants are usually associated with the more deeply shaded situations, but as this character is maintained when the coppice in which the variety grows is felled, it is not considered a mere effect of inadequate illumination. - G.D.L.]
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Though this species of Anemone has practically fallen out of use, the older herbalists recommended application of various parts of the plant for headaches, tertian agues and rheumatic gout. Culpepper practically copies verbatim the some half-dozen uses of the Anemone that Gerard gives, saying:
'The body being bathed with the decoction of the leaves cures the leprosy: the leaves being stamped and the juice snuffed up the nose purgeth the head mightily; so doth the root, being chewed in the mouth, for it procureth much spitting and bringeth away many watery and phlegmatic humours, and is therefore excellent for the lethargy.... Being made into an ointment and the eyelids annointed with it, it helps inflammation of the eyes. The same ointment is excellent good to cleanse malignant and corroding ulcers.'
Culpepper also advises the roots to be chewed because it 'purgeth the head mightily'; he adds, 'And when all is done let physicians prate what they please, all the pills in the dispensary purge not the head like to hot things held in the mouth.'
'there is little use of these (the Anemones) in physic in our days, either for inward or outward diseases; only the leaves are used in the ointment called Marciatum, which is composed of many other hot herbs.... The root by reason of the sharpness is apt to draw down rheum if it be tasted or chewed in the mouth.'
Modern authorities would, however, hesitate to recommend the chewing of the root on account of the acrid, irritant poison known to be present in it.
Linnaeus noticed that in Sweden the Wood Anemone flowered at the same time as the return of the swallow, and that the Marsh Marigold was contemporaneous with the cuckoo. A British naturalist in this country has also remarked this. Another naturalist who took an annual account of the days on which various flowers came into bloom in spring, found that the Wood Anemone never blossomed earlier than March 16, and never later than April 22. His observations were made each spring during thirty years.
The English name is derived from its Greek signification (wind) and is due to the fact that so many of its species grow on elevated places exposed to high winds; other writers attribute the name to the trembling of the flower before the blasts of spring.
Botanical: Angelica Archangelica (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Actions and Uses
Garden Angelica. Archangelica officinalis.
root, leaves, seeds.
By some botanists, this species of Angelica is believed to be a native of Syria from whence it has spread to many cool European climates, where it has become naturalized. It is occasionally found native in cold and moist places in Scotland, but is more abundant in countries further north, as in Lapland and Iceland. It is supposed to have come to this country from northern latitudes about 1568, There are about thirty varieties of Angelica, but this one is the only one officially employed in medicine.
Parkinson, in his Paradise in Sole, 1629, puts Angelica in the forefront of all medicinal plants, and it holds almost as high a place among village herbalists to-day, though it is not the native species of Angelica that is of such value medicinally and commercially. but an allied form, found wild in most places in the northern parts of Europe. This large variety, Angelica Archangelica (Linn.), also known as Archangelica officinalis, is grown abundantly near London in moist fields, for the use of its candied stems. It is largely cultivated for medicinal purposes in Thuringia, and the roots are also imported from Spain.
Its virtues are praised by old writers, and the name itself, as well as the folk-lore of all North European countries and nations, testify to the great antiquity of a belief in its merits as a protection against contagion, for purifying the blood, and for curing every conceivable malady: it was held a sovereign remedy for poisons agues and all infectious maladies. In Couriand, Livonia and the low lakelands of Pomerania and East Prussia, wild-growing Angelica abounds; there, in early summer-time, it has been the custom among the peasants to march into the towns carrying the Angelica flower-stems and to offer them for sale, chanting some ancient ditty in Lettish words, so antiquated as to be unintelligible even to the singers themselves. The chanted words and the tune are learnt in childhood, and may be attributed to a survival of some Pagan festival with which the plant was originally associated. After the introduction of Christianity, the plant became linked in the popular mind with some archangelic patronage, and associated with the spring-time festival of the Annunciation. According to one legend, Angelica was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the plague. Another explanation of the name of this plant is that it blooms on the day of Michael the Archangel (May 8, old style), and is on that account a preservative against evil spirits and witchcraft: all parts of the plant were believed efficacious against spells and enchantment. It was held in such esteem that it was called 'The Root of the Holy Ghost.'
Angelica may be termed a perennial herbaceous plant. It is biennial only in the botanical sense of that term, that is to say, it is neither annual, nor naturally perennial: the seedlings make but little advance towards maturity within twelve months, whilst old plants die off after seeding once, which event may be at a much more remote period than in the second year of growth. Only very advanced seedlings flower in their second year, and the third year of growth commonly completes the full period of life. There is another species, Angelica heterocarpa, a native of Spain, which is credited as truly perennial; it flowers a few weeks later than the biennial species, and is not so ornamental in its foliage.
The roots of the Common Angelica are long and spindle-shaped, thick and fleshy - large specimens weighing sometimes as much as three pounds - and are beset with many long, descending rootlets. The stems are stout fluted, 4 to 6 feet high and hollow. The foliage is bold and pleasing, the leaves are on long stout, hollow footstalks, often 3 feet in length, reddish purple at the much dilated, clasping bases; the blades, of a bright green color, are much cut into, being composed of numerous small leaflets, divided into three principal groups, each of which is again subdivided into three lesser groups. The edges of the leaflets are finely toothed or serrated. The flowers, small and numerous, yellowish or greenish in color, are grouped into large, globular umbels. They blossom in July and are succeeded by pale yellow, oblong fruits, 1/6 to a 1/4 inch in length when ripe, with membraneous edges, flattened on one side and convex on the other, which bears three prominent ribs. Both the odour and taste of the fruits are pleasantly aromatic.
Our native form, A. sylvestris (Linn.), is hairy in stalk and stem to a degree which makes a well-marked difference. Its flowers differ, also, in being white, tinged with purple. The stem is purple and furrowed. This species is said to yield a good, yellow dye.
Angelica is unique amongst the Umbelliferae for its pervading aromatic odour, a pleasant perfume, entirely differing from Fennel, Parsley, Anise, Caraway or Chervil. One old writer compares it to Musk, others liken it to Juniper. Even the roots are fragrant, and form one of the principal aromatics of European growth- the other parts of the plant have the same flavour, but their active principles are considered more perishable.
In several London squares and parks, Angelica has continued to grow, self-sown, for several generations as a garden escape; in some cases it is appreciated as a useful foliage plant, in others, it is treated rather as an intruding weed. Before the building of the London Law Courts and the clearing of much slum property between Holywell Street and Seven Dials, the foreign population of that district fully appreciated its value, and were always anxious to get it from Lincoln's Inn Fields, where it abounded and where it still grows. Until very recent years, it was exceedingly common on the slopes bordering the Tower of London on the north and west sides; there, also, the inhabitants held the plant in high repute, both for its culinary and medicinal use.
Cultivate in ordinary deep, moist loam, in a shady position, as the plant thrives best in a damp soil and loves to grow near running water. Although the natural habitat is in damp soil and in open quarters, yet it can withstand adverse environment wonderfully well, and even endure severe winter frost without harm. Seedlings will even successfully develop and flower under trees, whose shelter creates an area of summer dryness in the surface soil, but, of course, though such conditions may be allowable when Angelica is grown merely as an ornamental plant, it must be given the best treatment as regards suitable soil and situation when grown for its use commercially. Insects and garden pests do not attack the plant with much avidity: its worst enemy is a small twowinged fly, of which the maggots are leafminers, resembling those of the celery plant and of the spinach leaf.
should not be attempted otherwise than by the sowing of ripe, fresh seed, though division of old roots is sometimes recommended, and also propagation by offshoots, which are thrown out by a two-yearold plant when cut down in June for the sake of the stems, and which transplanted to 2 feet or more apart, will provide a quick method of propagation, considered inferior, however, to that of raising by seed. Since the germinating capacity of the seeds rapidly deteriorates, they should be sown as soon as ripe in August or early September. If kept till March, especially if stored in paper packets, their vitality is likely to be seriously impaired. In the autumn, the seeds may be sown where the plants are to remain, or preferably in a nursery bed, which as a rule will not need protection during the winter. A very slight covering of earth is best. Young seedlings, but not the old plants, are amenable to transplantation. The seedlings should be transplanted when still small, for their first summer's growth, to a distance of about 18 inches apart. In the autumn they can be removed to permanent quarters, the plants being then set 3 feet apart.
The roots and leaves for medicinal purposes, also the seeds.
The stems and seeds for use in confectionery and flavouring and the preparation of liqueurs.
The dried leaves, on account of their aromatic qualities, are used in the preparation of hop bitters.
The whole plant is aromatic, but the root only is official in the Swiss, Austrian and German Pharmacopoeias.
Angelica roots should be dried rapidly and placed in air-tight receptacles. They will then retain their medicinal virtues for many years.
The root should be dug up in the autumn of the first year, as it is then least liable to become mouldy and worm-eaten: it is very apt to be attacked by insects. Where very thick, the roots should be sliced longitudinally to quicken the drying process.
The fresh root has a yellowish-grey epidermis, and yields when bruised a honeycolored juice, having all the aromatic properties of the plant. If an incision is made in the bark of the stems and the crown of the root at the commencement of spring, this resinous gum will exude. It has a special aromatic flavour of musk benzoin, for either of which it can be substituted.
The dried root, as it appears in commerce, is greyish brown and much wrinkled externally, whitish and spongy within and breaks with a starchy fracture, exhibiting shining, resinous spots. The odour is strong and fragrant, and the taste at first sweetish, afterwards warm, aromatic, bitterish and somewhat musky. These properties are extracted by alcohol and less perfectly by water.
If the plants are well grown, the leaves may be cut for use the summer after transplanting. Ordinarily, it is the third or fourth year that the plant develops its tall flowering stem, of which the gathering for culinary or confectionery use prolongs the lifetime of the plant for many seasons. Unless it is desired to collect seed, the tops should be cut at or before flowering time. After producing seed, the plants generally die, but by cutting down the tops when the flower-heads first appear and thus preventing the formation of seed, the plants may continue for several years longer, by cutting down the stems right at their base, the plants practically become perennial, by the development of side shoots around the stool head.
The whole herb, if for medicinal use, should be collected in June and cut shortly above the root.
If the stems are already too thick, the leaves may be stripped off separately and dried on wire or netting trays.
The stem, which is in great demand when trimmed and candied, should be cut about June or early July.
If the seeds are required, they should be gathered when ripe and dried. The seedheads should be harvested on a fine day, after the sun has dried off the dew, and spread thinly on sailcloth in a warm spot or open shed, where the air circulates freely. In a few days the tops will have become dry enough to be beaten out with a light flail or rod, care being taken not to injure the seed. After threshing, the seeds (or fruits) should be sieved to remove portions of the stalks and allowed to remain for several days longer spread out in a very thin layer in the sun, or in a warm and sunny room, being turned every day to remove the last vestige of moisture. In a week to ten days they will be dry. Small quantities of the fruits can be shaken out of the heads when they have been cut a few days and finished ripening, so that the fruits divide naturally into the half-fruits or mericarps which shake off readily when quite ripe, especially if rubbed out of the heads between the palms of the hands. It is imperative that the seeds be dry before being put into storage packages or tins.
The chief constituents of Angelica are about 1 per cent. of volatile oil, valeric acid, angelic acid, sugar, a bitter principle, and a peculiar resin called Angelicin, which is stimulating to the lungs and to the skin. The essential oil of the roots contains terebangelene and other terpenes; the oil of the 'seeds' contains in addition methyl-ethylacetic acid and hydroxymyristic acid.
Angelica balsam is obtained by extracting the roots with alcohol, evaporating and extracting the residue with ether. It is of a dark brown color and contains Angelica oil Angelica wax and Angelicin.
Angelica is largely used in the grocery trade, as well as for medicine, and is a popular flavouring for confectionery and liqueurs. The appreciation of its unique flavour was established in ancient times when saccharin matter was extremely rare. The use of the sweetmeat may probably have originated from the belief that the plant possessed the power of averting or expelling pestilence.
The preparation of Angelica is a small but important industry in the south of France, its cultivation being centralized in ClermontFerrand. Fairly large quantities are purchased by confectioners and high prices are easily obtainable. The flavour of Angelica suggests that of Juniper berries, and it is largely used in combination with Juniper berries, or in partial substitution for them by gin distillers. The stem is largely used in the preparation of preserved fruits and 'confitures' generally, and is also used as an aromatic garnish by confectioners. The seeds especially, which are aromatic and bitterish in taste, are employed also in alcoholic distillates, especially in the preparation of Vermouth and similar preparations, as well as in other liqueurs, notably Chartreuse. From ancient times, Angelica has been one of the chief flavouring ingredients of beverages and liqueurs, but it is not a matter of general knowledge that the Muscatel grape-like flavour of some wines, made on both sides of theRhine, is (or is suspected to be) due to the secret use of Angelica. An Oil of Angelica, which is very expensive, was prepared in Germany some years ago: it is obtained from the seeds by distillation with steam, the vapour being condensed and the oil separated by gravity. One hundred kilograms of Angelica seeds yield one kilolitre of oil, and the fresh leaves a little less, the roots yielding only 0.15 to 0.3 kilograms. Like the seeds themselves, the oil is used for flavouring. Besides being employed as a flavouring for beverages and medicinally, Angelica seeds are also used to a limited extent in perfumery.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The root stalks, leaves and fruit possess carminative, stimulant, diaphoretic, stomachic, tonic and expectorant properties, which are strongest in the fruit, though the whole plant has the same virtues.
Angelica is a good remedy for colds, coughs, pleurisy, wind, colic, rheumatism and diseases of the urinary organs, though it should not be given to patients who have a tendency towards diabetes, as it causes an increase of sugar in the urine.
It is generally used as a stimulating expectorant, combined with other expectorants the action of which is facilitated, and to a large extent diffused, through the whole of the pulmonary region.
It is a useful agent for feverish conditions, acting as a diaphoretic.
An infusion may be made by pouring a pint of boiling water on an ounce of the bruised root, and two tablespoonsful of this should be given three or four times a day, or the powdered root administered in doses of 1O to 30 grains. The infusion will relieve flatulence, and is also of use as a stimulating bronchial tonic, and as an emmenagogue. It is used much on the Continent for indigestion, general debility and chronic bronchitis. For external use, the fresh leaves of the plant are crushed and applied as poultices in lung and chest diseases.
The following is extracted from an old family book of herbal remedies:
'Boil down gently for three hours a handful of Angelica root in a quart of water; then strain it off and add liquid Narbonne honey or best virgin honey sufficient to make it into a balsam or syrup and take two tablespoonsful every night and morning, as well as several times in the day. If there be hoarseness or sore throat, add a few nitre drops.'
A somewhat similar drink, much in use on the Continent in the treatment of typhus fever, is thus prepared:
'Pour a quart of boiling water upon 6 oz. of Angelica root cut up in thin slices, 4 oz. of honey, the juice of 2 lemons and 1/2 gill of brandy. Infuse for half an hour.'
Formerly a preparation of the roots was much used as a specific for typhoid.
Angelica stems are also grateful to a feeble stomach, and will relieve flatulence promptly when chewed. An infusion of Angelica leaves is a very healthful, strengthening tonic and aromatic stimulant, the beneficial effect of which is felt after a few days' use.
The yellow juice yielded by the stem and root becomes, when dry, a valuable medicine in chronic rheumatism and gout.
Taken in medicinal form, Angelica is said to cause a disgust for spirituous liquors.
It is a good vehicle for nauseous medicines and forms one of the ingredients in compound spirit of Aniseed.
Gerard, among its many virtues that he extols, says 'it cureth the bitings of mad dogs and all other venomous beasts.'
Fluid extract, herb: dose, 1 drachm. Fluid extract, root: dose, 1/4 to 1 drachm.
To Preserve Angelica. Cut in pieces 4 inches long. Steep for 12 hours in salt and water. Put a layer of cabbage or cauliflower leaves in a clean brass pan, then a layer of Angelica, then another layer of leaves and so on, finishing with a layer of leaves on the top. Cover with water and vinegar. Boil slowly till the Angelica becomes quite green, then strain and weigh the stems. Allow 1 lb. loaf sugar to each pound of stems. Put the sugar in a clean pan with water to cover; boil 10 minutes and pour this syrup over the Angelica. Stand for 12 hours. Pour off the syrup, boil it up for 5 minutes and pour it again over the Angelica. Repeat the process, and after the Angelica has stood in the syrup 12 hours, put all on the fire in the brass pan and boil till tender. Then take out the pieces of Angelica, put them in a jar and pour the syrup over them, or dry them on a sieve and sprinkle them with sugar: they then form candy.
Another recipe (from Francatelli's Cook's Guide):
'Cut the tubes or stalks of Angelica into sixinch lengths; wash them, then put them into a copper preserving-pan with hot syrup; cover the surface with vine-leaves, and set the whole to stand in the larder till next day. The Angelica must then be drained on a sieve, the vine-leaves thrown away, half a pint of water added to the syrup, in which, after it has been boiled, skimmed, and strained into another pan, and the copper-pan has been scoured clean, both the Angelica and the boiling syrup are to be replaced and the surface covered with fresh vine-leaves, and again left to stand in this state till the next day- this process must be repeated 3 or 4 days running: at the end of which time the Angelica will be sufficiently green and done through, and should be put in jars without breaking the tubes. After the syrup has been boiled and skimmed, fill up the jars, and when they are become cold, cover them over with bladder and paper, and let them be kept in a very cool temperature.'
Another way of preserving Angelica:
Choose young stems, cut them into suitable lengths, then boil until tender. When this stage is reached, remove from the water, and strip off the outer skin, then return to the water and simmer slowly until the whole has become very green. Dry the stems and weigh them, allowing one pound of white sugar to every pound of Angelica. The boiled stalks should be laid in an earthenware pan and the sugar sprinkled over them, allowing the whole to stand for a couple of days- then boil all together. When well boiling, remove from the fire and turn into a colander to drain off the superfluous syrup. Take a little more sugar and boil to a syrup again, then throw in the Angelica, and allow it to remain for a few minutes, and finally spread on plates in a cool oven to dry.
If a small quantity of the leaf-stalks of Angelica be cooked with 'sticks' of rhubarb, the flavour of the compound will be acceptable to many who do not relish plain rhubarb. The quantity of Angelica used may be according to circumstances, conditions and individual taste. If the stems are young and juicy, they may be treated like rhubarb and cut up small, the quantity used being in any proportion between 5 and 25 per cent. If the stalks are more or less fully developed, or even rather old and tough, they can be excellently used in economically small quantities for flavouring large quantities of stewed rhubarb, or of rhubarb jam, being added in long lengths before cooking and removed before sending to table. The confectioner's candied Angelica may be similarly utilized, but is expensive and not so good, whilst the home-garden growth in spring-time of fresh Angelica, with thick, stout leaf-stalks, and of still stouter flowering stems, is very easy to use and cheap. If this flowering stem be cut whilst very tender, early in May, later leafstalks will be plentifully available for use with the latter part of the rhubarb crop.
A well-known jam maker and confectioner, the late Mr. Robertson, of Chelsea, won considerable reputation by reason of his judicious blending of Angelica in jam-making and its combination in other confections, including temperance beverages. A pleasant form of Hop Bitters is made by taking 1 OZ. of dried Angelica herb, combined with 1 OZ. of Holy Thistle, and 1/2 oz. of hops, infused with 3 pints of boiling water and strained off when cold, a wineglassful being taken several times a day before meals, forming a good appetiser.
A delicious liqueur which is also a digestive, preserving all the virtues of the plant, is made in this way: 1 OZ. of the freshly gathered stem of Angelica is chopped up and steeped in 2 pints of good brandy during five days 1 OZ. of skinned bitter almonds reduced to a pulp being added. The liquid is then strained through fine muslin and a pint of liquid sugar added to it.
Angelica is used in the preparation of Vermouth and Chartreuse.
Though the tender leaflets of the blades of the leaves have sometimes been recommended as a substitute for spinach, they are too bitter for the general taste, but the blanched mid-ribs of the leaf, boiled and used as celery, are delicious, and Icelanders eat both the stem and the roots raw, with butter. The taste of the juicy raw stems is at first sweetish and slightly bitter in the mouth and then gives a feeling of glowing warmth. In Lapland, the inhabitants regard the stalks of Angelica as a great delicacy. These are gathered before flowering, the leaves being stripped off and the peel removed, the remainder is eaten with much relish. The Finns eat the young stems baked in hot ashes, and an infusion of the dried herb is drunk either hot or cold: the flavour of the decoction is rather bitter, the color is a pale greenish grey and the odour greatly resembles China Tea. It was formerly a practice in this country to put a portion of the fresh herb into the pot in which fish is boiled.
The Norwegians make bread of the roots.
Angelica may be made much use of in the garden by cutting the hollow stalks into convenient lengths and placing them amongst shrubs as traps for earwigs.
A drink much in use on the Continent for typhus fever: Pour a quart of boiling water on 6 oz. of Angelica root sliced thin, infuse for half an hour, strain and add juice of 2 lemons, 4 oz. of honey and 1/2 gill of brandy.
AMERICAN ANGELICA or Masterwort (A. atropurpurea, Linn.), also used in herbal medicine in North America, grows throughout the eastern United States. The root has a strong odour and a warm aromatic taste. The juice of the fresh root is acrid and said to be poisonous, but the acridity is dissipated by drying.
The root, though lighter and less branched, is similar in appearance to that of A. Archangelica, with nearly allied constituents and properties, and the medicinal virtues of the whole plant are similar, so that it has been employed as a substitute, but it is inferior to the European Angelica, being less aromatic.
WILD ANGELICA (A. sylvestris, Linn.), yields a yellow dye.
The Angelica Tree of America (Xanthoxylum Americanum, Mill), the Prickly Ash, as it is more generally named, is not allied to the umbelliferous Angelicas. Its berries and bark are employed to prepare a tonic, and it is used in the treatment of rheumatism and skin diseases.
CHERVIL (SWEET), listed under CICELY, SWEET
Botanical: Aralia spinosa
Family: N.O. Araliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Hercules Club. Toothache Tree. Prickly Elder. Prickly Ash, though not to be confused with the better-known Prickly Ash.
Bark, root and berries.
Virginia and Japan.
Grows from 8 to 12 feet high stem and leaves prickly, leaves doubly and triply pinnate, ovate, serrated leaflets, panicles much branched, downy, numerous umbels of white flowers, blooming in August and September, berries juicy and blackish.
The bark is used officially (is thin and ashcolored), but other parts of the plant possess medical properties- odour fragrant and peculiar, slightly bitter taste.
Aralia spinosa contains a glucoside Araliin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Fresh bark causes/vomiting and purging, but dried is a stimulating alterative. A tincture made from the bark is used for rheumatism, skin diseases and syphilis. The berries in tincture form, lull pain in decayed teeth and in other parts of the body, violent colic and rheumatism, useful in cholera when a cathartic is required in the following compound: 1 drachm compound powdered Jalap, 1 drachm Aralia spinosa, 2 drachms compound rhubarb powder or infused in 1/2, pint boiling water and when cold taken in tablespoonful doses every half-hour. This does not produce choleric discharges. Also a powerful sialogogue and valuable in diseases where mouth and throat get dry, and for sore throat; will relieve difficult breathing and produce moisture if given in very small doses of the powder. The bark, root, and berries can all be utilized.
AMERICAN DWARF ELDER
Botanical: Cusparia febrifuga (D. C.)
Family: N.O. Rutaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Dosages and Preparations
Cusparia Bark. Galipea officinalis.
The dried bark.
Tropical South America.
A small tree with straight stem irregularly branched, covered with a smooth grey bark, leaves alternate, petiolate and composed of three leaflets oblong and pointed, smooth, glossy and vivid green, sometimes with small white spots on them and in their first state having a tobacco-like aroma, this odour is one of the characteristics distinguishing the true Angostura from the false which is odourless. The flowers also have a peculiar nauseous smell; salver-shaped corollas and arranged in axillary, terminal, peduncled racemes. Fruit has five two-valved capsules, two or three of which are often abortive; two seeds in each capsule, round and black, one only is generally fertile. The tree was given the name of Galipea officinalis to denote the true variety of Angostura and thus distinguish it from the very dangerous substitute and adulterant. The characteristics of the true commercial bark are flattened curved pieces or quills 4 to 5 inches long, 1 inch wide and 1/12 of an inch thick. The outer layer of bark is a yellowishgrey cork which is easily removed, often being soft, the inner surface is lighter brown and sometimes laminated, fracture short and resinous white, points being visible on broken surface; the transverse section shows numerous cells filled with circular crystals of Calcium Oxalate, small oil glands, small groups of bast fibres with a musty smell and bitte taste.
The chief bitter principle of Angostura bark is Angosturin, a colorless crystalline substance readily soluble in water alcohol or ether. The bark also contains about 2.4 per cent of the bitter crystalline alkaloids Galipine, Cusparine, Galipidine Cusparidine and Cuspareine, about 1.5 per cent. of volatile oil and a glucoside which yields a fluorescent substance when hydrolysed by heating with dilute sulphuric acid.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The bark has long been known and used by the natives of South America and West Indies as a stimulant tonic. In large doses it causes diarrhoea and is often used as a purgative. Most useful in bilious diarrhoea, dysentery, and diseases which require a tonic. Commercially it is an ingredient of bitter liqueurs. The natives also employ it to stupefy fish in the same manner as Cinchona is used by the Peruvians. Some doctors prefer Angostura Bark to Cinchona for use in fever cases; it is also used in dropsy.
---Dosages and Preparations---
Infusion Cuspariae, B.P.: Angostura Bark in powder,5 parts; distilled water, boiling, 100 parts; infuse for 15 minutes in a covered vessel and strain. Dose, 1 to 2 fluid ounces. This infusion is the most satisfactory way of taking the bark, but to obviate nausea it should be combined with aromatics. It may be given in powder, tincture or fluid extract. Dose of the powder, 5 to 15 grains. Fluid extract, 5 to 30 minims.
Dangerous substitutions are: The bark of the Nux Vomica Tree; this is known as False Angostura Bark; it is much more twisted and bent than the true, has no unpleasant smell, is not so heavy, and is more easily broken.
Copalchi Bark from Mexico, composition similar to Cascarilla Esenbeckia febrifuga (N.O. Rutaceae), contains Ovodine.
Botanical: Pimpinella anisum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
It is a native of Egypt, Greece, Crete and Asia Minor and was cultivated by the ancient wiccans. It was well known to the Greeks, being mentioned by Dioscorides and Pliny and was cultivated in Tuscany in Roman times. In the Middle Ages its cultivation spread to Central Europe.
Anise is a dainty, white-flowered urnbelliferous annual, about 18 inches high, with secondary feather-like leaflets of bright green, hence its name (of mediaeval origin), Pimpinella, from dipinella, or twicepinnate, in allusion to the form of the leaves.
In this country Anise has been in use since the fourteenth century, and has been cultivated in English gardens from the middle of the sixteenth century, but it ripens its seeds here only in very warm summers, and it is chiefly in warmer districts that it is grown on a commercial scale, Southern Russia, Bulgaria, Germany, Malta, Spain, Italy, North Africa and Greece producing large quantities. It has also been introduced into India and South America. The cultivated plant attains a considerably larger size than the wild one.
In the East Anise was formerly used with other spices in part payment of taxes. 'Ye pay tithe of Mint, Anise and Cummin,' we read in the 23rd chapter of St. Matthew, but some authorities state that Anise is an incorrect rendering and should have been translated 'Dill.'
In Virgil's time, Anise was used as a spice. Mustacae, a spiced cake of the Romans introduced at the end of a rich meal, to prevent indigestion, consisted of meal, with Anise, Cummin and other aromatics. Such a cake was sometimes brought in at the end of a marriage feast, and is, perhaps, the origin of our spiced wedding cake.
On the Continent, especially in Germany, many cakes have an aniseed flavouring, and Anise is also used as a flavouring for soups.
It is largely employed in France, Spain Italy and South America in the preparation of cordial liqueurs. The liqueur Anisette added to cold water on a hot summer's day, makes a most refreshing drink.
Anise is one of the herbs that was supposed to avert the Evil Eye.
The oil extracted from the seed is said to prove a capital bait for mice, if smeared on traps. It is poisonous to pigeons.
Turner's Herbal, 1551, says that 'Anyse maketh the breth sweter and swageth payne.' 'The seeds,' says Delamer, Kitchen Garden, 1861, 'are much used by distillers to give flavour to cordial liqueurs.' Anisette is a liqueur flavoured with aniseed. Langham, Garden Health, 1683, says: 'For the dropsie, fill an old cock with Polipody and Aniseeds and seethe him well, and drink the broth.' The leaves are useful for seasoning some dishes. The essential oil of Anise is a good preventive of mould in paste. The ground seeds form an ingredient of sachet powders.
Sow the seed in dry, light soil, on a warm, sunny border, early in April, where the plants are to remain. When they come up, thin them and keep them clean from weeds. Allow about a foot each way. The seeds may also be sown in pots in heat and removed to a warm site in May.
The seeds will ripen in England in good seasons if planted in a warm and favourable situation, though they are not successful everywhere, and can hardly be looked upon as a remunerative crop. The plant flowers in July, and if the season prove warm, will ripen in autumn, when the plants are cut down and the seeds threshed out.
The fruit, or so-called seeds. When threshed out, the seeds may be easily dried in trays, in a current of air in half-shade, out-of-doors, or by moderate heat. When dry, they are greyish brown, ovate, hairy, about one-fifth of an inch long, with ten crenate ribs and often have the stalk attached. They should be free from earthy matter. The taste is sweet and spicy, and the odour aromatic and agreeable.
The commercial varieties differ considerably in size, but the larger varieties alone are official. The Spanish Anise, sold as Alicante Anise, are the largest and the best adapted for pharmaceutical use, yielding about 3 per cent. of oil. Russian and German fruits are smaller and darker and are the variety generally used for distillation of the volatile oil. Italian Anise is frequently adulterated with Hemlock fruit.
Anise fruit yields on distillation from 2.5 to 3.5 per cent. of a fragrant, syrupy, volatile oil, of which anethol, present to about 90 per cent., is the principal aromatic constituent. It has a strong Anise odour and separates in the form of shining white crystalline scales on cooling the oil. Other constituents of the fruit are a fixed oil, choline, sugar and mucilage.
Oil of Anise, distilled in Europe from the fruits of Pimpinella anisum, Anise, and in China from the fruits of Illicium anisatum, Star Anise, a small tree indigenous to China, is colorless, or very pale yellow, with taste and odour like the fruit. The oils obtainable from these two fruits are identical in composition, and nearly the same in most of their characters, but that from Star Anise fruit congeals at a lower temperature. The powdered drug from Star Anise is administered in India as a substitute for the official fruit, and the oil is employed for its aromatic, carminative and stimulant properties. The bulk of the oil in commerce is obtained from the Star Anise fruit in China. The fruits are also often imported into France and the oil extracted there. Chinese Anise oil is harsh in taste.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Carminative and pectoral. Anise enjoys considerable reputation as a medicine in coughs and pectoral affections. In hard, dry coughs where expectoration is difficult, it is of much value. It is greatly used in the form of lozenges and the seeds have also been used for smoking, to promote expectoration.
The volatile oil, mixed with spirits of wine forms the liqueur Anisette, which has a beneficial action on the bronchial tubes, and for bronchitis and spasmodic asthma, Anisette, if administered in hot water, is an immediate palliative.
For infantile catarrh, Aniseed tea is very helpful. It is made by pouring half a pint of boiling water on 2 teaspoonsful of bruised seed. This, sweetened, is given cold in doses of 1 to 3 teaspoonsful frequently.
'Aniseed helpeth the yeoxing or hicket (hiccough) and should be given to young children to eat, which are like to have the falling sickness (epilepsy), or to/such as have it by patrimony or succession.'
The stimulant and carminative properties of Anise make it useful in flatulency and colic. It is used as an ingredient of cathartic and aperient pills, to relieve flatulence and diminish the griping of purgative medicines, and may be given with perfect safety in convulsions. For colic, the dose is 10 to 30 grains of bruised or powdered seeds infused in distilled water, taken in wineglassful doses, or 4 to 20 drops of the essential oil on sugar. For the restlessness of languid digestion, a dose of essence of aniseed in hot water at bedtime is much commended.
In the Paregoric Elixir (Compound Tincture of Camphor), prescribed as a sedative cordial by doctors, oil of Anise is also included - 30 drops in a pint of the tincture.
Anise oil is a good antiseptic and is used, mixed with oil of Peppermint or Gaultheria (Wintergreen) to flavour aromatic liquid dentrifrices.
Oil of Anise is used also against insects especially when mixed with oil of Sassafras and Carbolic oil.
Botanical: Illicuim verum (HOOK, F.)
Family: N.O. Magnoliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Chinese Anise. Aniseed Stars. Badiana.
Star Anise is so named from the stellate form of its fruit. It is often chewed in small quantities after each meal to promote digestion and sweeten the breath.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Carminative, stimulant, diuretic.
The fruit is used in the East as a remedy for colic and rheumatism, and in China for seasoning dishes, especially sweets.
The Japanese plant the tree in their temples and on tombs; and use the pounded bark as incense.
The homoeopaths prepare a tincture from the seeds.
Botanical: Bixa orellana (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Bixaceae
Annotta Orellana Orleana.
The dried pulp of the fruit.
Tropical America, East and West Indies. Widely cultivated in Asia and Africa.
Botanical: Pyrus malus
Family: N.O. Pomaceae
Wild Apple. Malus communis.
The fruit and the bark.
Temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
The Apple is a fruit of the temperate zones and only reaches perfection in their cooler regions. It is a fruit of long descent and in the Swiss lake-dwellings small apples have been found, completely charred but still showing the seed-valves and the grain of the flesh. It exists in its wild state in most countries of Europe and also in the region of the Caucasus: in Norway, it is found in the lowlands as far north as Drontheim.
The Crab-tree or Wild Apple (Pyrus malus), is native to Britain and is the wild ancestor of all the cultivated varieties of apple trees. It was the stock on which were grafted choice varieties when brought from Europe, mostly from France. Apples of some sort were abundant before the Norman Conquest and were probably introduced into Britain by the Romans. Twenty-two varieties were mentioned by Pliny: there are now about 2,000 kinds cultivated. In the Old Saxon manuscripts there are numerous mentions of apples and cider. Bartholomeus Anglicus, whose Encyclopedia was one of the earliest printed books containing botanical information (being printed at Cologne about 1470), gives a chapter on the Apple. He says:
'Malus the Appyll tree is a tree yt bereth apples and is a grete tree in itself. . . it is more short than other trees of the wood wyth knottes and rinelyd Rynde. And makyth shadowe wythe thicke bowes and branches: and fayr with dyurs blossomes, and floures of swetnesse and Iykynge: with goode fruyte and noble. And is gracious in syght and in taste and vertuous in medecyne . . . some beryth sourysh fruyte and harde, and some ryght soure and some ryght swete, with a good savoure and mery.'
The Crab-tree is a small tree of general distribution in Britain south of Perthshire. In most respects it closely resembles the cultivated Apple of the orchard differing chiefly only in the size and flavour of the fruit. Well-grown specimens are not often met with, as in woods and copses it is cramped by other trees and seldom attains any considerable height, 30-foot specimens being rare and many being mere bushes. Those found in hedgerows have often sprung from the seeds of orchard apples that have reverted to ancestral type. The branches of the Crab-tree become pendant, with long shoots which bear the leaves and flowers. The leaves are dark green and glossy and the flowers, in small clusters on dwarf shoots are produced in April and May. The buds are deeply tinged with pink on the outside the expanded flowers an inch and a half across, and when the trees are in full bloom, they are a beautiful sight.
The blossoms, by their delightful fragrance and store of nectar, attract myriads of bees, and as a result of the fertilization effected by these visitors in their search for the buried nectar, the fruit develops and becomes in autumn the beautiful little Crab Apple, which when ripe is yellow or red in color and measures about an inch across. It has a very austere and acid juice, in consequence of which it cannot be eaten in the raw condition, but a delicious jelly is made from it, which is always welcome on the table, and the fruit can also be used for jammaking, with blackberries, pears or quinces. In Ireland, it is sometimes added to cider, to impart a roughness. The fruit in some varieties is less acid than in others: in the variety in which the fruit hangs down from the shoots, the little apples are exceedingly acid, but in another kind, they stand more or less erect on their stalks and these are so much less acid as to give almost a suggestion of sweetness. The fruit of the Siberian Crab, or Cherry-apple, grown as an ornamental tree, makes also a fine preserve.
Cider Apples may be considered as a step in development from the Wild Apple to the Dessert Apple. Formerly every farmhouse made its cider. The apples every autumn were tipped in heaps on the straw-strewn floor of the pound house, a building of cob, covered with thatch, in which stood the pounder and the press and vats and all hands were busy for days preparing the golden beverage. This was the yearly process - still carried out on many farms of the west of England, though cider-making is becoming more and more a product of the factories. One of the men turned the handle of the pounder, while a boy tipped in the apples at the top. A pounder is a machine which crushes the apples between two rollers with teeth in them. The pulp and juice are then taken to the press in large shovels which have high sides and are scored bright by the acid. The press is a huge square tray with a lip in the centre of the front side and its floor slopes towards this opening. On either side are huge oaken supports on which rests a square baulk of the same wood. Through this works a large screw. Under the timber is the presser Directly the pulp is ready, the farmer starts to prepare the 'cheese.' First of all goes a layer of straw, then a layer of apples, and so on until the 'cheese' is a yard high, and sometimes more. Then the ends of straw which project are turned up to the top of the heap. Now the presser is wound down and compresses the mound until the clear juice runs freely. Under the lip in the front of the cider press is put a vat. The juice is dipped from this into casks. In four months' time the cider will be ready to drink.
The demand for cider has increased rapidly of late years, chiefly on account of the dry varieties being so popular with sufferers from rheumatism and gout. As very good prices have been paid in recent seasons for the best cider apples, and as eight tons per acre is quite an average crop from a properly-managed orchard in full bearing, it is obvious to all progressive and up-to-date farmers and apple-growers that this branch of agriculture is well worthy of attention. In the last few years, with the object of encouraging this special Applegrowing industry, silver cups have been awarded to the owners of cider-apple orchards in Devon who make the greatest improvement in the cultivation of their orchards during the year, and it is hoped this will still further stimulate the planting of new orchards and the renovation of the old ones.
The peculiar winy odour is stimulating to many. Pliny, and later, Sir John Mandeville, tell of a race of little men in 'Farther India' who 'eat naught and live by the smell of apples.' Burton wrote that apples are good against melancholy and Dr. John Caius, physician to Queen Elizabeth, in his Boke of Counseille against the Sweatynge Sicknesse advises the patient to 'smele to an old swete apple to recover his strengthe.' An apple stuck full of cloves was the prototype of the pomander, and pomatum (now used only in a general sense) took its name from being first made of the pulp of apples, lard and rosewater.
In Shakespeare's time, apples when served at dessert were usually accompanied by caraway, as we may read in Henry IV, where Shallow invites Falstaff to 'a pippin and a dish of caraway,' In a still earlier Booke of Nurture, it is directed 'After mete pepyns, caraway in comfyts.' The custom of serving roast apples with a little saucerful of Carraways is still kept up at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at some of the old-fashioned London Livery dinners, just as in Shakespeare's days.
The taste for apples is one of the earliest and most natural of inclinations; all children love apples, cooked or uncooked. Apple pies, apple puddings, apple dumplings are fare acceptable in all ages and all conditions.
Apple cookery is very early English: Piers Ploughman mentions 'all the povere peple' who 'baken apples broghte in his lappes' and the ever popular apple pie was no less esteemed in Tudor times than it is to-day, only our ancestors had some predilections in the matter of seasonings that might not now appeal to all of us, for they put cinnamon and ginger in their pies and gave them a lavish coloring of saffron.
Apple Moyse is an old English confection, no two recipes for which seem to agree. One Black Letter volume tells us to take a dozen apples, roast or boil them, pass them through a sieve with the yolks of three or four eggs, and as they are strained temper them with three or four spoonfuls of damask (rose) water; season them with sugar and half a dish of sweet butter, and boil them in a chafing dish and cast biscuits or cinnamon and ginger upon them.
Halliwell says, upon one authority, that apple moyse was made from apples after they had been pressed for cider, and seasoned with spices.
Probably the American confection, Apple Butter, is an evolution of the old English dish? Apple butter is a kind of jam made of tart apples, boiled in cider until reduced to a very thick smooth paste, to which is added a flavouring of allspice, while cooking. It is then placed in jars and covered tightly.
The once-popular custom of wassailing the orchard-trees' on Christmas Eve, or the Eve of the Epiphany, is not quite extinct even yet in a few remote places in Devonshire. More than three centuries ago Herrick mentioned it among his 'Ceremonies of Christmas Eve':
'Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
You many a Plum and many a Peare:
For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
As you do give them Wassailing.'
The ceremony consisted in the farmer, with his family and labourers, going out into the orchard after supper, bearing with them a jug of cider and hot cakes. The latter were placed in the boughs of the oldest or best bearing trees in the orchard, while the cider was flung over the trees after the farmer had drunk their health in some such fashion as the following:
'Here's to thee, old apple-tree!
Whence thou may'st bud, and whence thou may'st blow,
Hats full! Caps full!
Bushel - bushel-bags full!
And my pockets full too! Huzza!'
The toast was repeated thrice, the men and boys often firing off guns and pistols, and the women and children shouting loudly.
Roasted apples were usually placed in the pitcher of cider, and were thrown at the trees with the liquid. Trees that were bad bearers were not honoured with wassailing but it was thought that the more productive ones would cease to bear if the rite were omitted. It is said to have been a relic of the heathen sacrifices to Pomona. The custom also prevailed in Somersetshire and Dorsetshire.
Roast apples, or crabs, formed an indispensable part of the old-fashioned 'wassailbowl,' or 'good brown bowl," of our ancestors.
'And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl
In very likeness of a roasted Crab'
Puck relates in Midsummer's Night's Dream.
The mixture of hot spiced ale, wine or cider, with apples and bits of toast floating in it was often called 'Lamb's wool,' some say from its softness, but the word is really derived from the Irish 'la mas nbhal,' 'the feast of the apple-gathering' (All Hallow Eve), which being pronounced somewhat like 'Lammas-ool,' was corrupted into 'lamb's wool.' It was usual for each person who partook of the spicy beverage to take out an apple and eat it, wishing good luck to the company.
Various analyses show that the Apple contains from 80 to 85 per cent. of water, about 5 per cent. of proteid or nitrogenous material, from 10 to 15 per cent. of carbonaceous matter, including starch and sugar, from 1 to 1.5 per cent. of acids and salts. The sugar content of a fresh apple varies from 6 to 10 per cent., according to the variety. In spite of the large proportion of water, the fresh Apple is rich in vitamins, and is classed among the most valuable of the anti-scorbutic fruits for relieving scurvy. All apples contain a varying amount of the organic acids, malic acid and gallic acid, and an abundance of salts of both potash and soda, as well as salts of lime, magnesium, and iron.
It has been calculated that in 100 grams of dried apples, there are contained 1.7 milligrams of iron in sweet varieties and 2.1 milligrams in sour varieties. It has also been proved by analysis that the Apple contains a larger quantity of phosphates than any other vegetable or fruit.
The valuable acids and salt of the Apple exist to a special degree in and just below the skin, so that, to get the full value of an apple, it should be eaten unpeeled.
The bark of the Apple-tree which is bitter, especially the root-bark, contains a principle called Phloridzin, and a yellow coloring matter, Quercetin, both extracted by boiling water. The seeds give Amygdaline and an edible oil.
Apple oil is Amyl Valerate or Amylvaleric Ester. An alcoholic solution has been used as a flavouring liquid, called Apple Essence.
Fresh apple-juice is employed for the N.F. Ferrated Extract of Apples.
The chief dietetic value of apples lies in the malic and tartaric acids. These acids are of signal benefit to persons of sedentary habits, who are liable to liver derangements, and they neutralize the acid products of gout and indigestion. 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away' is a respectable old rhyme that has some reason in it.
The acids of the Apple not only make the fruit itself digestible, but even make it helpful in digesting other foods. Popular instinct long ago led to the association of apple sauce with such rich foods as pork and goose, and the old English fancy for eating apple pie with cheese, an obsolete taste, nowadays, is another example of instinctive inclination, which science has approved.
The sugar of a sweet apple, like most fruit sugars, is practically a predigested food, and is soon ready to pass into the blood to provide energy and warmth for the body.
A ripe raw apple is one of the easiest vegetable substances for the stomach to deal with, the whole process of its digestion being completed in eighty-five minutes.
The juice of apples, without sugar, will often reduce acidity of the stomach; it becomes changed into alkaline carbonates, and thus corrects sour fermentation.
It is stated on medical authority that in countries where unsweetened cider is used as a common beverage, stone or calculus is unknown, and a series of inquiries made of doctors in Normandy, where cider is the principal drink, brought to light the fact that not a single case of stone had been met with during forty years.
Ripe, juicy apples eaten at bedtime every night will cure some of the worst forms of constipation. Sour apples are the best for this purpose. Some cases of sleeplessness have been cured in this manner. People much inclined to biliousness will find this practice very valuable. In some cases stewed apples will agree perfectly well, while raw ones prove disagreeable. There is a very old saying:
'To eat an apple going to bed
Will make the doctor beg his bread.'
The Apple will also act as an excellent dentifrice, being a food that is not only cleansing to the teeth on account of its juices, but just hard enough to mechanically push back the gums so that the borders are cleared of deposits.
Rotten apples used as a poultice is an old Lincolnshire remedy for sore eyes, that is still in use in some villages.
It is no exaggeration to say that the habitual use of apples will do much to prolong life and to ameliorate its conditions. In the Edda, the old Scandinavian saga, Iduna kept in a box, apples that she gave to the gods to eat, thereby to renew their youth.
A French physician has found that the bacillus of typhoid fever cannot live long in apple juice, and therefore recommends doubtful drinking water to be mixed with cider.
A glucoside in small crystals is obtainable from the bark and root of the apple, peach and plum, which is said to induce artificial diabetes in animals, and thus can be used in curing it in human beings.
The original pomatum seems to date from Gerard's days, when an ointment for roughness of the skin was made from apple pulp, swine's grease, and rosewater.
The astringent verjuice, rich in tannin, of the Crab, is helpful in chronic diarrhoea.
The bark may be used in decoction for intermittent and bilious fevers.
Cider in which horse-radish has been steeped has been found helpful in dropsy.
Cooked apples make a good local application for sore throat in fevers, inflammation of the eyes, erysipelas, etc.
Stewed apples are laxative; raw ones not invariably so.
Of infusion of the bark, 1 to 4 fluid ounces. Of phloridzin, 5 to 20 grains.
APPLE OF SODOM (Solanum sosomeum). This is a prickly species found near the Dead Sea, full of dust when ripe, the result of insects' eggs deposited in the young fruit. Some regard the name as referring to Colocynth, and others again to Calatropis procera.
ADAM'S APPLE is a variety of the Lime (Citrus limetta). Superstition relates that a piece of the forbidden apple stuck in Adam's throat, and his descendants ever after had the lump in the front of the neck which is so named.
MAY APPLE. American Mandrake, Racoonberry, Hog-apple, Devil's Apple, Indian Apple, or Wild Lemon, a purgative used in liver complaints.
THORN-APPLE. Datura stramonium, Jamestown Weed, Stinkweed, or Apple of Peru has narcotic, anodyne leaves and seeds.
CUSTARD APPLES, or Annonas, grow in hotter countries than common apples. Several species are edible, especially Annona tripetela, A. squamosa and A. glabra. A. palustris of Jamaica, also called Shiningleaved Custard Apple or Alligator Apple, is said to be a strong narcotic. The wood is so soft that it is used for corks.
PINE APPLE is the fruit of Bromelia ananas, deriving its name from its pine-cone shape.
LOVE APPLE, or Tomato Plant, is the fruit of Solanum lycopersicum or Lycopersicum esculentum.
MAD, or JEW'S APPLE is the fruit of S. esculentum.
RED ASTRACEIAN APPLE is var. Astracanica of P. malus. Var. Paradisiaca and var. Pendula are also well-known.
Varieties of Crabs are Dartmouth or Hyslop, Fairy, John Downie, Orange, Transcendent and Transparent.
MALAY APPLE is the fruit of Eugenia malaccensis.
ROSE APPLE, or Jamrosade, is the fruit of E. jambos. The bark and seeds arc employed in diarrhoea and diabetes. Dose, of fluid extract, 10 minims or more, in hot water.
THE STAR APPLE (Chrysophyllum cainito) of the West Indies has an astringent, milky juice.
APPLE OF ACAJOU is a name of Anacardium occidentale, which yields a caustic oil used like croton oil. It is used in marking-ink. It also supplies a gum like gum-arabic.
CEDAR APPLES are excrescences on the trunk of Juniperus virginiana, used as an anthelmintic in the dose of from 10 to 20 grains three times a day.
ELEPHANT APPLE is the fruit of Feronia elephantum.
KANGAROO APPLE is the fruit of S. laciniatum.
KAU, or KEL APPLE is the South African name for the fruit of Abaria Kaffra.
MAMMEE APPLE is the fruit of Mammea americana.
MANDRAKE APPLE is the fruit of Mandragora officinalis.
MONKEY APPLE is the West Indian name for Clusia flava.
OAK-APPLES are spongy excrescences on the branches of oak-trees.
OATAHETTE APPLE is the fruit of Spondias dulcis.
PERSIAN APPLE is the name by which the peach was first known in Europe.
PRAIRIE APPLE is Psoralea esculenta.
WILD BALSAM APPLE is Ehinocystis lobata.
Plain Apple Marmalade, unspiced, is made by peeling, and coring and cutting up 12 lb. of apples and cooking very gently with 6 lb. of sugar and 1 quart of cider till the fruit is very soft. Then pour through a sieve and place in glass jars. This is delicious with cream as a sweet.
It is also possible to make a very delicious preserve called Apple Honey, by boiling apples slowly for a very long time without any addition of sugar. The people of Denmark make this in hayboxes, thus saving fuel. When cooked long enough it is thick and brown, and very sweet, and will keep any length of time.
Peel some nice-shaped firm apples, and for every 3 lb. allow 1 quart of vinegar, 4 lb. of sugar, 1 OZ. of stick cinnamon, and 1/2 oz. of cloves. Boil sugar, vinegar, and spices together, then put in the apples, and let them cook until tender. Put them into a jar; boil down the syrup quite thick, and pour it over. Cover and keep for a few months in a cool place.
4 lb. apples. 3 pt. water.
4 lb. sugar. 2 OZ. essence of ginger.
Boil sugar and water until they form a syrup. Add ginger. Pare, core and quarter apples, boil them in the syrup until transparent. Place in warm, clean, dry jars. Tie down at once.
Another recipe. 3 lb. of apples, 1/4 lb. of preserved ginger. Pare apples and cut up in small pieces. Put in a basin of water till required; then put skins and cores into preserving pan, cover with water and boil till tender; strain and measure juice. To 3 pints of juice allow 2 lb. of sugar. Take next the cut apples and weigh them. To every 3 lb. allow 2 lb. of sugar. Put apples, juice, sugar and ginger all together into pan, and boil till ready.
6 lb. apples (any kind).
Wipe and cut apples in four, remove bad parts. Place in preserving pan with lemon, well cover with water. Boil to a pulp. Place in a bag, allow to drip into a clean basin all night. Return to pan, adding 1 lb. sugar to each pint of juice. Boil for 3/4 hour or until jelly will set. Pour into clean, dry, warm jar. Tie down at once.
Cook the Crab-apples with 6 cloves and an inch of ginger until the fruit is soft. Strain, boil again and add 3/4 lb. of sugar to a pint of liquid. Let boil until it jells. To make a successful jelly, the fruit should not be cooked too long, and the sugar should be added just before the strained liquid boils.
Apples Stewed Whole
Take 6 large Red apples, wash carefully and put in a fruit kettle, with just enough boiling water to cover. Cover the kettle, and cook slowly until the apples are soft, with the skins broken and the juice a rich red color. After removing the apples, boil the juice to a syrup, sweeten, and pour over the apples. A better plan is to make a syrup with sugar and water in which apples are stewed whole or sliced. Some add a clove, others the rind of lemon to improve the flavour.
Apples with Raisins
Pare, core, and quarter a dozen or more medium-sized apples. Clean thoroughly one fourth the weight of apples in raisins, and pour over them a quart of boiling water. Let them steep until well swollen, then add the apples, and cook until tender. Sugar to sweeten may be added if desired, although little will be needed unless the apples are very tart. Dried apples soaked overnight may be made much more palatable by stewing with raisins or English currants in the same way for about 40 minutes.
Cut apples into very thin slices, and lay between slices of bread and butter.
Apple and Egg Cream
Stew and strain 1 large tart apple, when cold add the well-beaten white of an egg. Serve with cream.
The following is an excellent recipe for a suitable drink for all fevers and feverish conditions:
Slice thinly 3 or 4 apples without peeling. Boil in a saucepan with a quart of water and a little sugar until the slices become soft. The apple water must then be strained and taken cold.
Mutton Baked with Apples and Onions
2 lb. of mutton cutlets from neck, salt,1 onion, 4 medium-sized apples. Prepare the meat by removing the bone and superfluous fat. Season with salt and lay in a baking dish. Cover the meat with finely-sliced sour apples and finely-chopped onions. Bake in a moderate oven until the meat is tender, which will be about 1 hour.
There is an old recipe for Apple Bread, wherein to the sponge was added one-third as much grated apple, which is perhaps worth reviving.
In some years, especially in a drought, the number of windfalls in the orchard is unusually large. They should never be allowed to lie on the ground, as most of them contain grubs which will hatch out into insect pests that ruin the fruit trees. But not a single windfall need be wasted. Those which are big enough to peel can be used for puddings or tarts. The small fruit can be used for making jelly, by cutting each in half so as to remove any grub that may be present, and then proceeding in the usual manner, as given above. The jelly will be a brilliant red color, equal to Crab-apple Jelly in taste and appearance.
Excellent chutneys, syrups, and jams can also be made from windfalls, which curiously enough so many housewives use only for stewing and baking, neglecting less humdrum methods, of which there are quite a number, of using the fruit. We give a few recipes:
2 lb. of windfall apples, 4 oz. of brown sugar, 1 gill of water, a strip of lemon peel or z or 3 cloves or an inch of stick cinnamon, 1/2 pint of custard or cream.
Wash and wipe the fruit, remove any damaged portions, and cut into quarters without peeling or coring. Put it into a pan with the sugar, water, and flavouring, bring to the boil, and simmer until the fruit is soft. If too dry add a little more water. Rub through a sieve, and mix the puree with custard or cream.
Pears (windfall) or plums of any kind may be used in the same way, or apples and pears mixed.
Apple, Pear and Plum Jam
8 lb. of each fruit, 1/2, pint of cider, 1/4 oz. of powdered cloves (no sugar is required).
Cut the windfall apples and pears in quarters (do not peel or core), put into a preserving pan with the plums, and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer until soft. Press out all the juice by pouring the fruit on to a fine hair sieve. Strain the juice through muslin, and boil it quickly in an uncovered pan until thick like a syrup. Put the syrup into bottles and cork well. Tie bladder or run sealing wax over the corks, and store in a dry, cool place.
About 30 windfall apples, 2 OZ. of salt, 3/4 Ib. of brown sugar, 4 oz. of onions, 1 clove of garlic, 3 oz. of powdered ginger, 1/2 oz. of dried chillies, 1 OZ. of mustard seeds, 4 oz. of raisins, 1 quart of vinegar.
Peel, core and slice the apples, put them into a pan with the sugar and vinegar and simmer until the apples are soft. Wash the mustard seed with vinegar and dry in a cool oven. Stone and chop the raisins. Peel and slice the garlic and onions, slice the chillies and pound them all in a mortar with the ginger and mustard seeds. When the apples are soft add the rest of the ingredients and let the mixture become cold. Mix well and put into bottles. Cork and cover like jam.
Note - Some prefer not to pound the chillies, but to add them just before putting the chutney into the bottles.
Botanical: Momordica balsamina
Family: N.O. Cucurbitaceze
Medicinal Action and Uses
Dosage and Preparation
Poisons and Antidotes
The fruit deprived of the seeds.
A climbing annual plant cultivated in gardens for the sake of its ornamental fruit, which is of a rich orange red color, ovate attenuated towards each extremity, angular, warty, not unlike a cucumber. The name is derived from Mordio, to bite, so called from the bitten appearance.
Has not been examined qualitatively.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
A liniment is made by adding the pulped fruit (without the seeds) to almond oil. This is useful for piles, burns, chapped hands, etc. The pulp is also used as a poultice. The fluid extract is used for dropsy.
Caution is required in administering - large doses resulting in death.
---Dosage and Preparation---
Dose, 6 to 15 grains.
---Poisons and Antidotes---
As for Bitter Apple.
Momordica charantia and East Indian species with bright orange yellow oblong fruits. Momordica mixta has fruit shaped like a bullock's heart, bright red in color.
Botanical: Citrullus colocynthis (SCHRAD.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbilaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Dosage and Preperation
Poison and Antidotes
Colocynth Pulp. Bitter Cucumber.
The dried pulp.
Native of Turkey abounding in the Archipelago; also found in Africa (Nubia especially), Asia, Smyrna and Trieste.
The Colocynth collected from the Maritime Plain between the mountains of Palestine and the Mediterranean, is mainly shipped from Jaffa and known as Turkish Colocynth. This is the best variety. It is an annual plant resembling the common watermelon. The stems are herbaceous and beset with rough hairs; the leaves stand alternately on long petioles. They are triangular, manycleft, variously sinuated, obtuse, hairy, a fine green on upper surface, rough and pale under. Flowers yellow, appearing singly at axils of leaves; fruit globular, size of an orange, yellow and smooth, when ripe contains within a hard coriaceous rind, a white spongy pulp enclosing numerous ovate compressed white or brownish seeds.
The pulp contains Colocynthin, extractive, a fixed oil, a resinous substance insoluble in ether, gum, pectic acid or pectin, calcium and magnesium phosphates, lignin and water.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
It is a powerful drastic hydragogue cathartic producing, when given in large doses, violent griping with, sometimes, bloody discharges and dangerous inflammation of the bowels. Death has resulted from a dose of 1 1/2 teaspoonsful of the powder. It is seldom prescribed alone. It is of such irritant nature that severe pain is caused if the powdered drug be applied to the nostrils; it has a nauseous, bitter taste and is usually given in mixture form with the tinctures of podophylum and belladonna. Colocynth fruits broken small are useful for keeping moth away from furs, woollens, etc.
---Dosage and Preparation---
Dose of the powder, 2 to 5 grains.
It is an important ingredient in Extractum Colocynthidis Compositum, Pilula Colocynthidis Composita, and Pilula Colocynthidis et Hyosiyami.
---Poison and Antidotes---
In case of poisoning by Colocynth the stomach should be emptied, opium given by mouth or rectum followed by stimulants and demulcent drinks.
Botanical: Bixa orillana
See (FALSE) DAMIANA.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Bixa orillana is a small tree 20 to 30 feet high, leaves broad, heartshape, pointed, flowers in bunches, rosecolored fruit, heart-shaped, 1 1/4 inches long, reddish brown, covered with stiff prickles. Annatto is obtained by pulping the seeds, allowing the pulp to dry spontaneously and pressing it into cakes, or the seeds are soaked in water, allowed to ferment, and when the coloring matter subsides are collected and formed into cakes. There are two forms of Annatto used in commerce, the Spanish made in Brazil, which is hard, brittle, odourless, and is usually sent over in rolls; and the French, or flag, Annatto which comes from Cayenne, and is bright yellow in color, firm, sort, and evil-smelling, owing to the fermentive process used in which urine is utilized. The French is superior as a dye. Annatto has a dull fracture, a sweetish odour and a very disagreeable saline bitterish taste. It is inflammable, but does not melt with heat; insoluble in water, though it colors it yellow.
The chief constituent is a red resinous substance named Bixin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
In the past it was used internally as medicine, but is now only employed as a coloring agent for ointments and plasters, and sometimes as a substitute for saffron. In South America it is largely used by the Caribs and other Indian tribes to paint their bodies. South American Indians are said to produce directly from the seeds, without fermentation, a brilliant carmine-like color.
In this country it is used for coloring cheese, inferior chocolate, etc., and by the Dutch as a butter coloring. It is also used as a dye for fabrics and in the manufacture of varnishes and lacquers.
Annatto is adulterated with ochre, sand gypsum, and a farinaceous matter.
See Hemp (Canadian).
Botanical: Prunus Armeniaca (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Apricock. Armeniaca vulgaris.
Although formerly supposed to come from Armenia, where it was long cultivated, hence the name Armeniaca, there is now little doubt that its original habitat is northern China, the Himalaya region and other parts of temperate Asia. It is cultivated generally throughout temperate regions. Introduced into England, from Italy, in Henry VIII's reign.
A hardy tree, bearing stone fruit, closely related to the peach. The leaves are broad and roundish, with pointed apex; smooth; margin, finely serrated; petiole 1/2 inch to an inch long, generally tinged with red. The flowers are sessile, white, tinged with the same dusky red that appears on the petiole, with five regular sepals and petals and many stamens, and open very early in the spring. The fruit, which ripens end of July to mid-August, according to variety, is a drupe, like the plum, with a thin outer, downy skin enclosing the yellow flesh (mesocarp), the inner layers becoming woody and forming the large, smooth, compressed stone, the ovule ripening into the kernel, or seed. As a rule in Britain, the fruit rarely ripens unless the tree is trained against a wall; when growing naturally, it is a medium-sized tree. It is propagated by budding on the musselplum stock. A great number of varieties are distinguished by cultivators. Large quantities of the fruit are imported from France. The kernels of several varieties are edible and in Egypt, those of the Musch-musch variety form a considerable article of commerce. Like those of the peach, apricot kernels contain constituents similar to those of the bitter almond: they are imported in large quantities from Syria and California and are oftenused by confectioners in the place of bitter almonds, which they so closely resemble as to be with difficulty distinguished.
The French liqueur Eau de Noyaux is prepared from bitter apricot kernels.
Apricot kernels yield by expression 40 to 50 per cent. of a fixed oil, similar to that which occurs in the sweet almond and in the peach kernel, consisting chiefly of Olein, with a small proportion of the Glyceride of Linolic acid, and commonly sold as Peach Kernel oil (Ol. Amygdae Pers.). From the cake is distilled, by digestion with alcohol, an essential oil (0l. Amygdae Essent. Pers.) which contains a colorless, crystalline glucoside, Amygdalin, and is chemically identical with that of the bitter almond. The essential oil is used in confectionery and as a culinary flavouring.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Apricot oil is used as a substitute for Oil of Almonds, which it very closely resembles. It is far less expensive and finds considerable employment in cosmetics, for its softening action on the skin. It is often fraudulently added to genuine Almond oil and used in the manufacture of soaps, cold creams and other preparations of the perfumery trade.
(AMERICAN) DWARF ELDER
Botanical: Andira araroba (AGUIAR.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Goa Powder. Crude Chrysarobin. Bahia Powder. Brazil Powder. Ringworm Powder. Chrysatobine. Goa. Araroba Powder. Voucapoua Araroba.
The medullary matter of the stem and branches, dried and powdered.
The powder is named Goa, after the Malabar port, and it was not realized until 1875 that the drug was Brazilian Araroba, and reached the East Indies through Portugal and her colonies. The tree from which it is obtained, Andira Araroba, is large, smooth, and quite commonly found in Bahia, Brazil. The yellowish wood has longitudinal canals and interspaces in which the powder is deposited in increasing quantity as the tree ages. It is probably due to a pathological condition. It is scraped out with an axe, after felling, sawing, and splitting the trunk, and is thus inevitably mixed with splinters and debris, so that it needs sifting, and is sometimes ground, dried, boiled, and filtered.
It irritates the eyes and face of the woodmen.
As it darkens quickly, the crude chrysarobin is changed from primrose yellow to shades of dark brown before it is met with in commerce, when it often contains a large percentage of water, added to prevent the dust from rising.
An amber skin-varnish is made with 20 parts of amber to 1 of chrysarobin in turpentine.
The powder is insoluble in water, but yields up to 80 per cent. of its weight to solutions of caustic alkalies and to benzene. It contains 80 to 84 per cent. of chrysarobin (easily convertible into chrysophanic acid), resin, woody fibre, and bitter extractive. Goa Powder is usually regarded as crude chrysarobin, while the purified chrysarobin, or Araroba, is a mixture extracted by hot benzene, which melts when heated, and leaves not more than 1 per cent. of ash when it finally burns.
Chrysarobin is a reduced quinone, and chrysophanic acid (also found in rhubarb yellow lichen, Buckthorn Berries, Rumox Eckolianus, a South African dock, etc., etc.), is a dioxymethylanthraquinone.
Chrysarobin contains at least five substances, and owes its power to one of these, chrysophanol-anthranol.
Lenirobin, a tetracetate,, and eurobin, a triacetate, are recommended as substitutes for chrysarobin, as they do not stain linen indelibly. (Benzin helps to remove the stains of chrysarobin.)
The action of chrysarobin on the skin is not due to germicidal properties, but to its chemical affinity for the keratin elements of the skin. The oxygen for its oxidation is abstracted from the epithelium by the drug.
Oxidized chrysarobin, obtained by boiling chrysarobin in water with sodium peroxide, can be used as an ointment for forms of eczema which chrysarobin would irritate too much.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The internal dose in pill or powder is a gastro-intestinal irritant, producing large, watery stools and vomiting. It is used in eczema, psoriasis, aene, and other skin diseases.
In India and South Ameriea it has been esteemed for many years for ringworm, psoriasis, dhobi's itch, etc., as ointment, or simply moistened with vinegar or saliva. The application causes the eruption to become whitish, while the skin around it is stained dark.
In the crude form it should never be applied to the head, as it may cause erythema and oedema of the face. The 2 per cent. ointment is good in ecezema (after exudation has ceased), fissured nipples, and tylosis of the palms and soles after the skin has been removed by salicylic acid plaster, etc.
A drachm of chrysarobin may be dissolved in a fluid ounce of official flexible collodion, painted over the parts with a camel's-hair brush, and the part coated with plain collodion to avoid staining the clothing; or chrysarobin may be dissolved in chloroform and the solution painted on the skin. For haemorrhoids, an ointment mixed with iodoform, belladonna, and petrolatum is recommended.
It is said to have been used as a taenifuge.
A. Inermis, or Cabbage Tree of South America and Senegambia, has a narcotic, anthelmintic bark, known as Bastard Cabbage Bark or Worm Bark. The powder, in doses of 3 to 4 grains, purges like jalap. The decoction is usually preferred.
The symptoms of an overdose are feverish delirium and vomiting, which should be counteracted with lime-juice or castor oil.
It is no longer officially used in England.
Arbutus (Strawberry Tree)
Botanical: Arbutus unede
Family: N.O. Ericaceae
In the woods at Killarney and Bantry is found growing wild the beautiful evergreen shrub, known as the Arbutus, or Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unede), which for its attractiveness should gain a place in every well-planted garden. It would, indeed, be hard to find any other ornamental shrub or tree that has such a cheerful appearance throughout the autumn and early winter, when its dense mass of greenery is mingled with a profusion of flower clusters and ruddy, round fruit resembling small strawberries. The creamy-white, bell-shaped flowers, often tinged with pink, are intermixed with the orange-scarlet rough fruit, which owing to the length of time it takes to ripen, remains on the tree for twelve months, not maturing until the autumn succeeding that in which the flower is produced.
Although a native of South Europe, and only growing wild here in the South of Ireland on the rocks at Killarney, the Arbutus will thrive almost anywhere in this country, especially in warm and coast regions, where it will grow 20 feet high, making huge, globular masses of green, though ordinarily its height is only from 8 to 10 feet. In inland districts it is liable to be cut down during exceptionally severe winters, but this rarely happens, and if large bushes are apparently killed by cold, they almost invariably send up strong shoots again. When young, it requires in order to get it established, a slight protection during winter. It grows quickly in sheltered places but dislikes shade, and seems to be most at home in a deep, light soil, flourishing best in a sandy loam.
When eaten in quantities this fruit is said to be narcotic, and the wine made from it in Spain has the same property.
The tree is common in the Mediterranean region, and the fruit was known to the ancients, but according to Pliny (who gave the tree the name of Arbutus) was not held in much esteem, as the name implies (un ede=one 1 eat), the fruits being considered so unpalatable, that no one tasting them for the first time would be tempted to repeat the experiment. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that at one time the fruit was an article of diet with the ancients. Horace praises the tree for its shade and Ovid for its loads of 'blushing fruit.' Virgil recommends the young shoots as winter food for goats and for basket-work.
Gerard speaks of it in his time as growing in 'some few gardens,' and says, 'the fruit being ripe is of a gallant red color, in taste somewhat harsh, and in a manner without any relish, of which thrushes and blackbirds do feed in winter .'
In Spain, a sugar and spirit have been extracted from the fruit and a wine made from it in Corsica.
In the neighbourhood of Algiers it forms hedges, and in Greece and Spain the bark has been used for tanning. The wood of the tree makes good charcoal.
Botanical: Epigaea repens (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ericaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Mountain Pink. May Flower. Gravel Plant. Ground Laurel. Winter Pink.
The leaves, used dried to make an infusion, and fresh to make a tincture.
The Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens, Linn.) is a small evergreen creeping shrub, found in sandy soil in many parts of North America, in the shade of pines. Its natural home is under trees, and it will thrive in this country only in moist, sandy peat in shady places. It has long been known in cultivation here as an ornamental plant, having been introduced into Great Britain in 1736. Like the common Arbutus, or the Strawberry Tree and the Bearberry, it belongs to the order Ericacece, the family of the heaths.
It grows but a few inches high, with a trailing, shrubby stalk, which puts out roots at the joints, and when in a proper soil and situation multiplies very fast. The evergreen leaves are stalked, broadly ovate, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, rough and leathery, with entire, wavy margins and a short point at the apex. Branches, leaf-stalks and nerves of the leaves are very hairy. The flowers are produced at the end of the branches in dense clusters. They are white, with a reddish tinge and very fragrant, divided at the top into five acute segments, which spread open in the form of a star. The plant flowers in April and May, but rarely produces fruit in England. It is stated to be injurious to cattle when eaten by them.
The name of the genus, Epigaea, derived from Greek words signifying 'upon the ground,' expresses the mode of growth and trailing habit of the species.
The Trailing Arbutus generally does not do well when attempts are made to take it from its natural surroundings and place it under garden conditions. It needs partial shade and very free soil, composed mainly of decayed leaves, and perfect shelter from cold winds. In short grass, just within the shelter of oak trees, the overhanging boughs of which give a certain amount of shade, it will do well and is usually found at its best in sandy loam, on a gravelly, well-drained subsoil.
In removing it from its native haunts, dense tufts of low-growing and apparently young plants should be selected. These should be lifted intact, and to such a depth, that the roots are not disturbed, and placed in conditions in the home garden exactly similar to those from which they are taken. To plant in an ordinary herbaceous border means failure. They must not be choked out with long grass or coarse weeds. In dry weather water the plants occasionally, and in winter give a little mulching of leaves .
It may be increased by seeds, but they are slow in sprouting. By carefully dividing the well-established tufts in autumn, or by layering the branches, good plants are sometimes obtained. The trailing stalks, which put out roots at the joints, may be cut off from the old plant and placed in a shady situation and a moist soil. If done in autumn, the plants may be well rooted before the spring. Cuttings of previous year's wood are more successful inserted in sandy soil, under a glass in gentle heat in spring. As soon as rooted, plants should be grown on in pots until well established, and then transferred in early autumn, or spring, to their permanent positions outside, but they will never grow so well in the open (where they will always be more or less stunted specimens), as they will under conditions which closely imitate those which the plant enjoys in the woods of New England.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Astringent and diuretic. Used in the same way as Buchu and Uva ursi for bladder and urinary troubles: of special value when the urine contains blood or pus, and when there is irritation.
The infusion of 1 OZ. of the leaves to a pint of boiling water may be taken freely.
Botanical: Areca catechu (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Palmacea
Medicinal Actions and Uses
Dosages and Preparations
Betel Nut. Pinang.
East Indies, cultivated in India and Ceylon.
A handsome tree cultivated in all the warmer parts of Asia for its yellowish-red fruits the size of a hen's egg, containing the seed about the size of an acorn, conical shape with flattened base and brownish in color externally; internally mottled like a nutmeg. The seeds are cut into narrow pieces and rolled inside Betel Pepper leaf, rubbed over with lime and chewed by the natives. They stain the lips and teeth red and also the excrement, they are hot and acrid when chewed.
Areca Nut contains a large quantity of tannin, also gallic acid, a fixed oil gum, a little volatile oil, lignin, and various saline substances. Four alkaloids have been found in Areca Nut - Arecoline, Arecain, Guracine, and a fourth existing in very small quantity. Arecoline resembles Pilocarpine in its effects on the system. Arecaine is the active principle of the Areca Nut.
---Medicinal Actions and Uses---
Areca Nut is aromatic and astringent and is said to intoxicate when first taken. The natives chew these nuts all day. Whole shiploads are exported annually from Sumatra, Malacca, Siam and Cochin China. In this country Areca Nut is made into a dentrifrice on account of its astringent properties. Catechu is often made by boiling down the seeds of the plant to the consistency of an extract, but the proper Catechu used in Britain is produced from the Acacia catechu. The flowers are very sweet-scented and in Borneo are used in medicines as charms for the healing of the sick. In India the nut has long been used as a taenifuge for tapeworm. The action of Arecain resembles that of Muscarine and Pilocarpine externally, internally used it contracts the pupils.
Arecoline Hydrobromide, a commercial salt, is a stronger stimulant to the salivary glands than Pilocarpine and a more energetic laxative than Eserine. It is used for colic in horses.
---Dosages and Preparations---
Of the powdered nut for tapeworm 1 to 2 teaspoonsful. Of the Fluid Extract of Areca Nut, 1 drachm. Of the Arecoline Hydrobromide, for colic in horses, 1 to 1 1/2 grains. Of the Arecoline Hydrobromide, for human use, 1/15 to 1/10 grains .
---Other Species---In Malabar Areca Dicksoni is found growing wild and is used by the poor as a substitute for the true Betel Nut (A. aleraceae). The Cabbage Palm, which grows profusely in the West Indies, derives its name from the bud topping the tall stem; this consists of leaves wrapped round each other as in the cabbage, the heart of which is white inside. It has a delicate taste and is cut and cooked as a vegetable, many of these beautiful palms being destroyed in this way. It is said that in the empty cavity a beetle lays its eggs. These turn into maggots which are eaten with great relish by the negroes of Guiana.
Botanical: Arnica montana (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Mountain Tobacco. Leopard's Bane.
Arnica montana or Leopard's Bane is a perennial herb, indigenous to Central Europe, in woods and mountain pastures. It has been found in England and Southern Scotland. but is probably an escape.
The leaves form a flat rosette, from the centre of which rises a flower stalk, 1 to 2 feet high, bearing orange-yellow flowers. The rhizome is dark brown, cylindrical, usually curved, and bears brittle wiry rootlets on the under surface.
Arnica thrives in a mixture of loam, peat, and sand. It may be propagated by root division or from seed. Divide in spring. Sow in early spring in a cold frame, and plant out in May.
The flowers are collected entire and dried, but the receptacles are sometimes removed as they are liable to be attacked by insects.
The root is collected in autumn after the leaves have died down.
A bitter yellow crystalline principle, Arnicin, and a volatile oil. Tannin and phulin are also present. The flowers are said to contain more Arnicin than the rhizome, but no tannin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
In countries where Arnica is indigenous, it has long been a popular remedy. In the North American colonies the flowers are used in preference to the rhizome. They have a discutient property. The tincture is used for external application to sprains, bruises, and wounds, and as a paint for chilblains when the skin is unbroken. Repeated applications may produce severe inflammation. It is seldom used internally, because of its irritant effect on the stomach. Its action is stimulant and diuretic, and it is chiefly used in low fevers and paralytie affections.
Arnica flowers are sometimes adulterated with other composite flowers, especially Calendula officinalis, Inula brittanica, Kragapogon pratensis, and Scorzonera humilis.
A homoeopathic tincture, X6, has been used successfully in the treatment of epilepsy; also for seasickness, 3 X before sailing, and every hour on board till comfortable.
For tender feet a foot-bath of hot water containing 1/2 oz. of the tineture has brought great relief. Applied to the scalp it will make the hair grow.
Great care must be exercised though, as some people are particularly sensitive to the plant and many severe cases of poisoning have resulted from its use, especially if taken internally.
British Pharmacopoeia Tincture, root, 10 to 30 drops. United States Pharmacopoeia Tincture, flowers, 10 to 30 drops.
Arrachs or Oraches
Botanical: Chenopodium olidum (LINN.)
Chenopodium vulvaria (S. WATS.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Stinking Motherwort. Wild Arrach. Stinking Arrach. Stinking Goosefoot. Netchweed. Goat's Arrach.
The Wild Arrach, or Netchweed (Chenopodium olidum, Linn.), (syn. C. vulvaria S. Wats.), one of the common Goosefoots, is an annual herb, found on roadsides and dry waste ground near houses, from Edinburgh southward.
Its stem is not erect, but partly Iying, branched from the base, the opposite branches spreading widely, a foot or more in length.
The stalked leaves are oval, wedge-shaped at the base, about 1/2 inch long, the margins entire.
The small, insignificant green flowers are borne in spikes from the axils of the leaves and consist of five sepals, five stamens and a pistil with two styles. There are no petals and the flowers are wind-fertilized. They are in bloom from August to October.
The whole plant is covered with a white, greasy mealiness, giving it a grey-green appearance which when touched, gives out a very objectionable and enduring odour, like that of stale salt fish, and accounts for its common popular name: Stinking Goosefoot.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The name of 'Stinking Motherwort' refers to the use of its leaves in hysteria and nervous troubles connected with women's ailments: it has emmenagogue and anti-spasmodic properties. In former days, it was supposed even to cure barrenness and in certain cases, the mere smelling of its foetid odour was held to afford relief.
An infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb in a pint of boiling water is taken three or four times daily in wineglassful doses as a remedy for menstrual obstructions. It is also sometimes used as a fomentation and injection, but is falling out of use, no doubt on account of its unpleasant odour and taste.
The infusion has been employed in nervous debility and also for colic.
A fluid extract is prepared, the dose being 1/2, to 1 drachm.
The leaves have also been made into a conserve with sugar. Dr. Fuller's famous Electuarium hystericum was compounded by adding 48 drops of oil of Amber (Oleum Succini) to 4 oz. of the conserve of this Chenopodium. A piece of the size of a chestnut was prescribed to be taken when needed and repeated as often as required.
Chemical analysis has proved Trimethylamine to be a constituent, together with Osmazome and Nitrate of Potash.The plant gives off free Ammonia.
Culpepper speaks of two kinds of 'Arrach.' One he calls Garden Arrach, 'called also Orach; and Arage,' giving its Latin name as Atriplex hortensis. The other kind he calls 'Wild and Stinking Arrach' (A. olida), 'called also Vulvaria, Dog's Arrach, Goat's Arrach and Stinking Motherwort.' He is emphatic in his commendation of this 'Stinking Arrach' for every kind of women's diseases and troubles, though he describes its odour in his usual unvarnished language, saying: 'It smells like rotten fish, or something worse.'
The names 'Dog's Arrach,' 'Goat's Arrach' and 'Dog's Orache' point to a contemptuous scorn of its unfitness as a pot-herb compared with the true Orache (Atriplex), closely allied to it.
Botanical: Atriplex hortensis
Mountain Spinach. Garden Orache.
The Garden Orache, or Mountain Spinach (Atriplex hortensis), is a tall, erect-growing hardy annual, a native of Tartary, introduced into this country in 1548. It is not much cultivated here now, but is grown a good deal in France, under the name of Arroche, for its large and succulent leaves, as a substitute for Spinach and to correct the acidity of Sorrel.
The quality of the spinach yielded by Orache is, however, far inferior to that of Common Spinach, or even of the New Zealand Spinach.
There are several varieties of Orache of various colorings. The White and the Green are the most desirable kinds.
The plants should be grown quickly, in rich soil. They may be sown in rows, 2 feet apart, and thinned out to the same distance apart in the rows, sowings being in May, and for succession, again in June. If dry, water must be freely given so as to maintain a rapid growth.
'Orache is cooling,' says Evelyn, 'and allays the pituit humours.' Being set over the fire, neither this nor the lettuce needs any other water than their own moisture to boil them in.
The name Orache, given to this Goosefoot and others of the same tribe, is a corruption of aurum, gold, because their seeds, mixed with wine, were supposed to cure the ailment known popularly as the 'yellow jaundice.' They excite vomiting.
Heated with vinegar, honey and salt and applied, the Orache was considered efficacious to cure an attack of gout.
Botanical: Atriplex hastata
The Halberd-leaved Wild Orache (Atriplex hastata) closely resembles the Spreading Orache and is often regarded merely as a sub-species, but is, however, of a more erect character and the lower leaves are broadly triangular, the lobes widely spread.
It is a troublesome weed in gardens and cultivated ground.
The leaves have been frequently eaten instead of spinach, but Culpepper says its chief virtues lie in the seed, employed in the same manner as that of the Garden Orache.
Botanical: Atriplex patula
The Wild Orache (Atriplex patula) is a common native weed on clays and heavy ground. It has spreading stems, 2 to 3 feet long, sometimes prostrate, only occasionally erect (hence often called the Spreading Orache).
The leaves are triangular in outline, rather narrow, the lower ones in opposite pairs. The very small, green flowers are in dense clusters.
The whole plant is more or less covered with a powdery meal, often tinged red. It is distinguished from the Goosefoot genus Chenopodium, by the solitary seeds being enclosed between two triangular leaf-like valves.
'These are to be gathered when just ripe for if suffered to stand longer, they lose part of their virtue. A pound of these bruised, and put into three quarts of spirit, of moderate strength, after standing six weeks, afford a light and not unpleasant tincture; a tablespoonful of which, taken in a cup of water-gruel, has the same effect as a dose of ipecacuanha, only that its operation is milder and does not bind the bowels afterwards.... It cures headaches, wandering pains, and the first attacks of rheumatism.'
GOOD KING HENRY.
Botanical: Sagittaria sagittifolia (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Alismaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The Alismaceae group of plants in general contain acrid juices, on account of which, a number of species, besides the Water Plantain, have been used as diuretics and antiscorbutic.
Several species of Sagittaria, natives of Brazil, are astringent and their expressed juice has been used in making ink.
The rhizome of Sagittaria sagittifolia (Linn.), the Arrowhead, Wapatoo, and S. Chinensis (Is'-ze-kn) are used respectively by the North American Indians and the Chinese as starchy foods, as are some other species.
The Arrowhead is a water plant widely distributed in Europe and Northern Asia, as well as North America, and abundant in many parts of England, though only naturalized in Scotland.
The stem is swollen at the base and throws out creeping stolons or runners, which produce globose winter tubers, 1/2 inch in diameter, composed almost entirely of starch.
The leaves are borne on triangular stalks that vary in length with the depth of the water in which the plant is growing. They do not lie on the water, like those of the Water Lily, but stand boldly above it. They are large and arrow-shaped and very glossy. The early, submerged leaves are ribbonlike.
The flower-stem rises directly from the root and bears several rings of buds and blossoms, three in each ring or whorl, and each flower composed of three outer sepals and three large, pure white petals, with a purple blotch at their base. The upper flowers are stamen-bearing, the lower ones generally contain the seed vessels only.
The root tubers are about the size of a small walnut. They grow just below the surface of the mud. The Chinese and Japanese cultivate the plant for the sake of these tubercles, which are eaten as an article of wholesome food. Bryant, in Flora Dietetica, writes of them:
'I cured some of the bulbs of this plant in the same manner that saloop is cured, when they acquired a sort of pellucidness, and on boiling afterwards, they broke into a gelatinous meal and tasted like old peas boiled.'
The tubers, it has been stated, may also be eaten in the raw state.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic and antiscorbutic.
Botanical: Maranta arundinaceae (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Marantaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Indian Arrowroot. Maranta Indica. Maranta ramosissima. Maranta Starch or Arrowroot. East or West Indian Arrowroot. Araruta. Bermuda Arrowroot.
The fecula or starch of the rhizome.
Indigenous in the West Indian Islands and possibly Central America. Grows in Bengal, Tava. Philippines, Mauritius. Natal. West Africa.
The name of the genus was bestowed by Plumier in memory of Bartommeo Maranto (d. 1559, Naples), a physician of Venosa in Basilicata. The popular name is a corruption of the Aru-root of the Aruac Indians of South America, or is derived from the fact that the plant is said to be an antidote to arrow-poison.
The product is usually distinguished by the name of the place from which it is imported. Bermuda Arrowroot was formerly the finest, but it is now rarely produced, and the name is applied to others of high standard.
It was introduced into England about 1732 though it will only grow as a stove plant, with tanners' bark. The plant is an herbaceous perennial, with a creeping rhizome with upward-curving, fleshy, cylindrical tubers covered with large, thin scales that leave rings of scars. The flowering stem reaches a height of 6 feet, and bears creamy flowers at the ends of the slender branches that terminate the long peduncles. They grow in pairs. The numerous, ovate, glabrous leaves are from 2 to 10 inches in length, with long sheaths often enveloping the stem.
The starch is extracted from rhizomes not more than a year old. They are washed, pulped in wooded mortars, stirred in clean water, the fibres wrung out by hand, and the milky liquor sieved, allowed to settle, and then drained. Clean water is again added, mixed, and drained, after which the starch is dried on sheets in the sun, dust and insects being carefully excluded. The starch yield is about one-fifth of the original weight of the rhizomes. It should be odourless and free from unpleasant taste, and when it becomes mouldy, should be rejected. It keeps well if quite dry. The powder creaks slightly when rubbed, and feels firm. Microscopical examination of the starch granules is necessary for certainty of purity. Potato starch, which corresponds in chemical and nutritive qualities, is sometimes substituted, but it has a somewhat unpleasant taste, and a test with hydrochloric acid brings out an odour like French beans. Sago, rice and tapioca starches are also found occasionally as substitutes.
The jelly is more tenacious than that of any other starch excepting Tous-les-mois.
Arrowroot is often used simply in the form of pudding or blanc-mange. The roots could be candied like Eryngo.
An 1887 analysis of the root of the St. Vincent Arrowroot gave starch 27.17 per cent, fibre, fat, albumen, sugar, gum, ash, and 62.96 per cent water.
Of the starch was given: starch 83'70 per cent., fibre, fat, sugar, gum, ash and sand, and water 15.87 per cent.
The official granules, according to Pereira, are 'rarely oblong, somewhat ovate-oblong, or irregularly convex, from 10 to 70 microns in diameter, with very fine lamellae, a circular hilium which is fissured in a linear or stellate manner.'
---Medicinal Auction and Uses---
Arrowroot is chiefly valuable as an easily digested, nourishing diet for convalescents, especially in bowel complaints, as it has demulcent properties. In the proportion of a tablespoonful to a pint of water or milk, it should be prepared by being first made into a smooth paste with a little cold milk or water, and then carefully stirred while the boiling milk is added. Lemon-juice, sugar, wine, or aromatics may be added. If thick, it will cool into a jelly that usually suits weaning infants better than other farinaceous foods.
It is said that the mashed rhizomes are used for application to wounds from poisoned arrows, scorpion and black spider bites, and to arrest gangrene.
The freshly-expressed juice, mixed with water, is said to be a good antidote, taken internally, for vegetable poisons, such as Savanna.
Maranta ramosissima is the M. arundinaceae of the East Indies.
M. allouya and M. nobilis are also West Indian species. The term arrowroot is applied to other starches.
BRAZILIAN ARROWROOT, or Tapioca Meal, is obtained from Manihot utilissima (bitter) and M. palmata (sweet) . It is also called Bahia Rio, or Para-Arrowroot. See MANDIOCA.
TAHITI ARROWROOT is from Tacca oceanica (pinnatifida). It is a favourite article of diet in the tropics, being found in the Sandwich and South Sea Islands, and is said to be the best arrowroot for dysentery.
EAST INDIAN ARROWROOT is from Curcuma augustifolia, or longa.
TOUS-LES-MOIS is from Canna edulis and C. achiras, of the West Indies, called Indian Shot, from their hard, black seeds, used as beads, and Balisier, from the use of their leaves for packing, in Brazil.
OSWEGO ARROWROOT, used in America, is from Zea Mays, Indian Corn.
MEXICAN ARROWROOT is from the seeds of Dion edule.
CHINESE ARROWROOT is said to be from the tubers of Nelumbium speciosum.
PORTLAND ARROWROOT was formerly obtained from Arum maculatum, but it was acrid and not very satisfactory.
M. dichotoma has stems used, when split, for making shade mats in India.
M. Malaccensis has poisonous roots used as an ingredient in a Borneo arrow-poison.
Botanical: Helianthus tuberosus
Family: N.O. Compositae
The Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus, Linn.), now commonly cultivated in England for its edible tubers, another of the numerous Sunflowers, is a native of the North American plains, being indigenous in the lake regions of Canada, as far west as Saskatchewan, and from thence southward to Arkansas and the middle parts of Georgia.
Though it rarely blossoms in England, it flowers profusely in its native country (blooming also freely in South Africa), the flowers, however, being small and inconspicuous, produced just above the last leaves. Its name, Jerusalem Artichoke, does not, as it seems, imply that it grows in Palestine, but is a corruption of the Italian Girasola articiocco, the Sunflower Artichoke, Girasola meaning 'turning to the sun,' an allusion to the habit it is supposed to have in common with many of the Sunflower tribe. The North Italian word articiocco - modern carciofo - comes through the Spanish, from the Arabic Al-Kharshuf. False etymology has corrupted the word in many languages: it has been derived (though wrongly) in English from 'choke' and 'heart,' or the Latin hortus, a garden, and in French, the form artichaut has been connected with chaud, hot, and chou, a cabbage.
It appears to have been cultivated as an article of food by the Indians of North America before the settlement in that country of Europeans, and very soon attracted the attention of travellers. Sir J. D. Hooker, in the Botanical Magazine, July, 1897, gives the following account of its introduction:
'In the year 1617, Mr. John Goodyer, of Mapledurham, Hampshire, received two small roots of it from Mr. Franqueville of London, which, being planted, enablel him before 1621 "to store Hampshire." In October of the same year, Mr. Goodyer wrote an account of it for T. Johnson, who printed it in his edition of Gerard's "Herball," which appeared in 1636, where it is called Jerusalem Artichoke. Previous to which, in 1629, it had been figured and described under that name by Parkinson in his "Paradisus," and he also mentions it in his "Theatrum" in 1640. From the lastgiven date to the present time, the Jerusalem Artichoke has been extensively cultivated in Europe, but rather as a garden vegetable than a field crop, and has extended into India, where it is making its way amongst the natives under Hindoo, Bengali, and other native names.'
Parkinson speaks of it as 'a dainty for a queen.' When first introduced, the mode of preparation of the tubers was to boil them till tender, and after peeling, they were eaten sliced and stewed with butter, wine and spices. They were also baked in pies, with marrow, dates, ginger, raisins, sack, etc. Parkinson called them 'Potatoes of Canada,' because the French brought them first from Canada. Their flavour is somewhat sooty when cooked and not agreeable to everyone but they are very nutritious, and boiled in milk form an excellent accompaniment to roast beef.
The tuber, instead of containing starch like the potato, has the allied substance Inulin. The chief ingredients are water, 80 per cent. albuminoids, 2 per cent.; gum, known as Laevulin, 9.1 per cent.; sugar, 4.2 per cent.; inulin, 1.1 per cent.
In any odd bit of ground shaded or open, that is unsuitable for other vegetables, a crop of the tubers of Jerusalem Artichoke will always be obtained, though like other things, it pays for a good position and generous culture and the largest tubers will be produced in a light, rich soil.
The ground should be well dug over and if at all heavy, or poor, should be lightened by incorporating some sand with it enriched with well-rotted manure.
For planting, which may be done in February, but not later than March, small tubers should be chosen and indeed reserved for this purpose when the crop is taken up, but almost any part of a tuber will grow and form a plant. The sets should be planted in rows, 3 feet apart and at a distance of 18 inches from each other in the rows, they should be set at least 6 inches deep. As a rule, a great number of plants is produced from one tuber.
The ground should be kept clean by hoeing and as the plants grow in height, a little earth should be drawn up around the stem.
Cut the plants down when the leaves are decayed, but not before, otherwise the tubers will cease to grow. The tubers may be left in the ground till wanted for use. If taken up towards the end of November, they may be stored in sand or earth, but they must be covered, so that the light and air may be effectually excluded, otherwise they will be of a dark color when cooked.
The white-skinned variety, 'New White Mammoth,' is to be recommended. The tubers have a clean, white skin, instead of the purplish-red tint of the old variety. They are also rounder in shape and not so irregular in form as the tubers of the red sort. This variety is equally hardy, being in no way liable to injury from frost.
Jerusalem Artichokes afford a useful screen for a wooden fence, when planted along the foot of it, but the more open the spot, the more likely they are to prosper. When once planted, the difficulty is to get the ground clear of them again, for the smallest tuber will grow. It is desirable to change the ground allotted to their culture about once in three years, for when they are permitted to remain too long on the same spot, the tubers deteriorate in size and quality.
Botanical: Cynara Scolymus
Family: N.O. Compositae
The Globe Artichoke (Cynara Scolymus, Linn.) also has a tuberous root, but it is the large flower-buds that form the edible portion of the plant, and it is from a similarity in the flavour of the tuber of the Jerusalem Artichoke to that of the fleshy base of this flower that the Jerusalem Artichoke has obtained its name.
The expanded flower has much resemblance to a large thistle- the corollas are of a rich blue color.
It is one of the world's oldest cultivated vegetables, grown by the Greeks and the Romans in the heyday of their power. It was introduced into this country in the early sixteenth century both as a vegetable and an ornamental plant in monastery gardens.
Gerard (1597) gives a good figure of the Artichoke. Parkinson (1640) alludes to a statement of Theophrastus (fourth century B.C.) that 'the head of Scolymus is most pleasant, being boyled or eaten raw, but chiefly when it is in flower, as also the inner substance of the heads is eaten.' Though this 'inner substance' - botanically the 'receptacle' - has a delicate flavour, it contains little nutritive matter.
Tournefort (1730) says:
'The Artichoke is well known at the table. What we call the bottom is the thalamus on which the embryos of the seeds are placed. The leaves are the scales of the empalement. The Choak is the florets, with a chaffy substance intermixt (the pappus). The French and Germans boil the heads as we do, but the Italians generally eat them raw with salt, oil and pepper.'
In Italy the receptacles, dried, are also largely used in soups.
The whole plant has a peculiar smell and a strong bitter taste. It was reputed to be aperient.
It is grown either from seed sown in March, in a deep, moist, rich soil which may be greatly aided by wood-ashes and seaweed (for it is partial to saline manures, its home being the sandy shores of Northern Africa); or by planting suckers in April; the latter is preferable for a permanent plantation. Strong plants may be ensured by inserting them 4 feet each way, but market growers usually put out suckers in rows 4 1/2, feet apart, and 2 feet distant in the rows. Suckers should be planted when about 9 inches high; put in rather deep in soil and planted firmly and covered with rough mulch. If the weather be dry, they will need watering, and during hot weather water and liquid manure should be given freely to ensure a good supply of large heads.
Seedlings that are started well in a suitable bed do better than plants from suckers, especially in a dry season.
Vigorous seedlings send down their roots to a great depth. To get large heads, all lateral heads should be removed when they are about the size of a large egg. After the heads are used, the plant should be cut down.
The Artichoke is hardy on dry soils in winters of only average severity. But on moist soils - so favourable to fine heads - a severe winter will kill the plantations unless they have some kind of protection. This is usually ensured by cutting down the stems and large leaves without touching the smaller central leaves, and when severe frost threatens, to partially earth up the rows with soil taken from between, also adding dry, light litter loosely thrown over; the latter is removed in the spring and the earth dug back, and a liberal supply of manure dug in. At the end of five years a plantation is worn out; the best method being to sow a bed annually and allow it to stand for two years.
The flower-stems grow erect and attain the height of 4 to 6 feet. They are each terminated by a large globular head of imbricated oval spiny scales of a purplish-green color. These envelop a mass of flowers in the centre. These flowerheads in an immature state contain the parts that are eatable, which comprise the fleshy receptacle usually called the 'bottom,' freed from the bristles and seed-down, commonly called the 'choke,' and the thick lower part of the imbricated scales or leaves of the involucre.
Although Artichokes are a common vegetable, they are not so much in request with us as on the Continent.
In France, the bottoms are often fried in paste, and enter largely into ragouts. They are occasionally used for pickling, but for this purpose the smaller heads which are formed on the lateral shoots that spring in succession from the main stem, are generally preferred when about the size of a large egg.
The chard of Artichokes, or the tender central leaf-stalks, blanched, is by some considered to be equal to the Cardoon.
The flowers are very handsome, and are said to possess the property of coagulating milk.
Botanical: Stachvs Sieboldii
The Chinese Artichoke (Stachys Sieboldii), is a comparatively new variety of vegetable of which the edible portion is the tuber.
This plant has nothing to do with either of the well-known Artichokes both of which belong to the Compositae family, whereas this belongs to the Mint family, Labiatae, and to the same genus that is represented here by the Woundworts and Wood Betony. This species occurs wild in Northern China, where it is also cultivated, its native name being Tsanyungtzu, while in Japan it is called Chorogi. It was introduced as a culinary vegetable by the late Dr. M. T. Masters, F.R.S., in 1888. The tubers are eaten more in France than in this country.
The dietetic value resides especially in a carbonaceous substance, which reaches 16.6 per cent.; the nitrogenous ingredients amount to 3.2 per cent.; water forming 78.3 per cent. of the bulk.
It is perfectly hardy and may be left in the ground until required for use. Planting should take place in the spring and the tubers dug through the winter as required. The plants are perfectly easily grown and extraordinarily productive.
Botanical: Cardunculus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
The Cardoon (Scolymus Cardunculus, Linn.) is by some botanists regarded as merely a variety of this plant, but by others as a distinct species. The blanched inner leafstalks and the top of the stalk, the receptacle, are the only parts eaten, used in soups, stews and salads. It is more cultivated on the Continent than here. Dioscorides refers to its cultivation on a large scale near Great Carthage, and Pliny speaks of its medicinal virtues. Dodoens, in his History of Plants (1559), describes it as much more spinescent than the Articoca of Italy and less used as food.
It requires so much room that it is little grown in small gardens, and as a crop can hardly pay for the enormous extent of ground that it claims.
Its culture is very similar to that of celery, only on a rather larger scale, the trenches being made wider and slightly deeper than those for the latter, and the plants being placed about 18 inches to 2 feet apart in the rows and 6 feet between the rows. The trenches are prepared in just the same way as those for celery.
Sow three or four seeds in a 'large sixty' pot, in April, placing the pots in a gentle warmth, or in a cold frame, when the seed will soon germinate. Mice are very fond of the seed, consequently the frame must be kept close enough to prevent their entry, or the whole will be destroyed.
When the little plants appear, select the strongest plant in each pot and pull out all the others. In due course the plants are hardened off and planted out, usually in July, before they become potbound, in the previously prepared trenches, which have been well manured, about 18 inches or more apart, keeping them well supplied with water. Occasionally forking or hoeing between the plants to encourage growth and destroy weeds will be all that is required besides watering, until September or October, when they will be ready to earth up in order to blanch them.
Before doing this, it is usual to arrange the stalks upright and wind a hay-band round them closely, to within about a foot of the tops. This soil must then be earthed up nearly as high as the hay-bands. It is important that this operation should be performed on a dry day, when the hearts are free from water, or they will probably decay. No earth, also, must be allowed to fall between the leaves. When the plants have grown still further, the earthing up should be increased.
The plants will be fit for use in about a month after earthing up and may be taken up as required. Should Cardoons be in great demand, an earlier or later sowing may be made for successional crops; for spring crop, sow at midsummer. If the plants have to be kept for any length of time during winter, they must be protected from rain and frost by means of a covering of litter, or may be dug up and stored in a cool, dry place, the hay-bands being allowed to remain.
When taking up, remove the earth carefully and take up the plants by the roots, which must be cut off. The points of the leaves are also cut off to where they are solid and blanched. These latter are washed, the parts of the leaf-stalks remaining on the stem are tied to it, and they are ready for cooking.
The SPANISH CARDOON, with large solid ribs and spineless leaves, is the one most generally grown. It is not so liable to run to seed as the common variety.
In France, the TOURS CARDOON is much cultivated, but, on account of the long, sharp spines on the leaves, great care has to be exercised in working amongst them.
Cardoons are said to yield a good yellow dye, and in some parts of Spain they substitute the down of this plant for rennet in making cheese; a strong infusion is made overnight and the next morning, when the milk is warm from the cow, they put nearly half a pint of the infusion to about 14 gallons of milk.
If dried, they must be soaked, then stewed in weak gravy, and served with or without forcemeat in each. Or they may be boiled in milk, and served with cream sauce; or added to ragouts, French pies, etc.
---To Dress Artichokes---
Trim a few of the outside leaves off, and cut the stalk even. If young, half an hour will boil them. They are better for being gathered two or three days, first. Serve them with melted butter, in as many small cups as there are Artichokes, to help with each.
---To keep Artichokes for the Winter---
Artichoke bottoms, slowly dried, should be kept in paper bags.
---Artichokes à la Barigoule---
Trim some small Artichokes, and with the handle of an iron tablespoon scoop out all the fibrous part inside, Put about a pound of clean hog's-lard into a frying-pan on the fire, and when quite hot, fry the bottom of the Artichokes in it for about 3 minutes; then turn them upside down, and fry the tips of the leaves also, drain them upon a cloth to absorb all the grease, and fill them with a similar preparation to that directed for tomatoes a la Provencale; tie them up with a string, and place them in a large stewpan or fricaudeaupan; moisten with a little good stock; put the lid on; place them in the oven to simmer for about an hour; remove the strings, fill the centre of each Artichoke with some Italian sauce; dish them up with some of the sauce, and serve.
---Artichokes à la Lyonnaise---
Pull off the lower leaves without damaging the bottoms of the Artichokes, which must be turned smooth with a sharp knife; cut the Artichokes into quarters, remove the fibrous parts, trim them neatly, and parboil them in water with a little salt. Then put them in a saucepan on a slow fire to simmer very gently for about three-quarters of an hour, taking care that they do not burn; when done they should be of a deep yellow color and nicely glazed. Dish them up in the form of a dome, showing the bottom of the Artichokes only; remove any leaves that may have broken off in the sautapan; add a spoonful of brown gravy or sauce, 2 pats of butter and some lemon-juice, simmer this over the fire, stirring it meanwhile with a spoon; and when the butter has been mixed in with the sauce, pour it over the Artichokes, and serve.
Botanical: Ferula foetida (REGEL.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Dosages and Preparations
Food of the Gods. Devil's Dung.
An oleogum-resin obtained by incision of root.
Afghanistan and Eastern Persia.
A coarse umbelliferous plant growing up to 7 feet high, large fleshy root covered with bristly fibres, has been for some time successfully cultivated in Edinburgh Botanical Gardens; stem 6 to 10 feet, numerous stem leaves with wide sheathing petioles; flowers pale greeny yellow, fruit oval, flat thin, foliaceous, reddish brown with pronounced vittae, it has a milky juice and a strong foetid odour; was first found in the sandy desert of Aral in 1844, but has been known since the twelfth century. Several species of Ferula yield Asafetida. The bulk of the drug comes from the official plant, which is indigenous to Afghanistan and grows from two to four thousand feet above sealevel. These high plains are arid in winter but are thickly covered in summer with a luxuriant growth of these plants. The great cabbage-like folded heads are eaten raw by the natives. June is the month the juice is collected from plants about four years old. The roots of plants which have not flowered are exposed and slashed, then shaded from the sun for five or six weeks and left for the gummy oleoresin to leak out and harden. It is then scraped off in reddish lumps and put into leather bags and sent to Herat, where it is adulterated before being placed on the market. The fruit is sent to India for medicinal use. A very fine variety of Asafetida is obtained from the leaf bud in the centre of the root, but this does not come into European commerce, and is only used in India, where it is known in the Bazaars as Kandaharre Hing. It appears in reddish-yellow flakes and when squeezed gives out an oil.
Its chief constituent is about 62 per cent of resin, 25 per cent. of gum and 7 per cent oil. The drug also contains free ferulic acid, water, and small quantities of various impurities.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The odour of Asafetida is stronger and more tenacious than that of the onion, the taste is bitter and acrid; the odour of the gum resin depends on the volatile oil. It is much used in India and Persia in spite of its offensive odour as a condiment and is thought to exercise a stimulant action on the brain. It is a local stimulant to the mucous membrane, especially to the alimentary tract, and therefore is a remedy of great value as a carminative in flatulent colic and a useful addition to laxative medicine. There is evidence that the volatile oil is eliminated through the lungs, therefore it is excellent for asthma bronchitis, whooping-cough, etc. Owing to its vile taste it is usually taken in pill form, but is often given to infants per rectum in the form of an emulsion. The powdered gum resin is not advocated as a medicine, the volatile oil being quickly dissipated.
---Dosages and Preparations---
Emulsion, Asafetida 4 parts, water 100 parts. Tincture, 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. In pills, 3 grains of the oleogum-resin to a pill
Asafetida is admittedly the most adulterated drug on the market. Besides being largely admixed with inferior qualities of Asafetida, it has often red clay, sand, stones and gypsum added to it to increase the weight.
The Thibetan Asafetida (Narthex Asafetida) is closely allied to the Ferulas. The umbels have no involucre, the limb of the calyx is suppressed, the stylopods depressed and cup-shaped, styles recurved, fruit compressed at back, dilated at margin. This variety produces some of the Asafetida used in commerce.
Scorodosma foetida, another gigantic umbelliferous plant found on the sandy steppes of the Caspian, also supplies the market. The Persian Sagapenum, or Serapinum, a species of Ferula which was formerly imported from Bombay, is in appearance very similar to Asafetida, but does not go pink when freshly fractured, and in smell is less disagreeable than Asafetida. This species is an ingredient of Confection Rutea, British Pharmacopceia Codex.
Botanical: Asarum Europaeum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Aristolochiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Hazelwort. Wild Nard.
Root and Herb.
Asarabacca is the only British species of the Birthwort family (and perhaps not indigenous). It is a curious plant consisting of a very short fleshy stem, bearing two large, dark-green, kidney-shaped evergreen leaves, and a solitary purplish-green drooping flower.
Found in woods and very rare. Flowering in May - Perennial.
The herbs belonging to this order are chiefly plants or shrubs of a tropical habitat, very abundant in South America; but rare elsewhere.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Tonic and stimulant, sometimes acrid or aromatic. The dried and powdered leaves of Asarabacca (Asarum Europaeum) are used in the preparation of cephalic snuffs, exciting sneezing and giving relief to headache and weak eyes.
Mixed with Ribwort, this herb is used to remove mucous from the respiratory passages.
Virginian Snake-root (Aristolochia serpentaria) and other allied species are used as antidotes to the bite of venomous snakes.
The juice extracted from a South American species is said to have the power of stupefying serpents if placed in their mouths; and African species are used by wiccan jugglers for this purpose.
The British variety is said to be found wild in Westmorland and other places in the north of England.
Culpepper says of the European species:
'This herb, being drunk, not only provoketh vomiting but purgeth downward . . . both choler and phlegm. If you add to it some spikenard, with the whey of goat's milk, or honeyed water, it is made more strong; but it purgeth phlegm more manifestly than choler, and therefore doth much help pains in the hips and other parts; being boiled in whey they wonderfully help the obstructions of the liver and spleen, and are therefore profitable for the dropsy and jaundice: being steeped in wine and drank it helps those continual agues that come by the plenty of stubborn tumours; an oil made thereof by setting in the sun, with some laudanum added to it, provoketh sweating (the ridge of the back anointed therewith) and thereby driveth away the shaking fits of the ague. It will not abide any long boiling, for it loseth its chief strength thereby; nor much beating, for the finer powder doth provoke vomit and urine, and the coarser purgeth downwards. The common use hereof is to take the juice of five or seven leaves in a little drink to cause vomiting; the roots have also the same virtue, though they do not operate forcibly, they are very effectual against the biting of serpents, and therefore are put in as an ingredient both into Mithridate and Venice treacle. The leaves and root being boiled in Iye, and the head often washed therewith while it is warm, comforteth the head and brain that is ill affected by taking cold, and helpeth the memory.
'I shall desire ignorant people to forbear the use of the leaves- the roots purge more gently, and may prove beneficial to such as have cancers, or old putrefied ulcers, or fistulas upon their bodies, to take a dram of them in powder in a quarter of a pint of white wine in the morning. The truth is, I fancy purging and vomiting medicines as little as any man breathing doth, for they weaken nature, nor shall ever advise them to be used unless upon urgent necessity. If a physician be nature's servant, it is his duty to strengthen his mistress as much as he can and weaken her as little as may be.'
The root and leaves are acrid and contain a volatile oil, a bitter matter, and a substance like camphor. Asarabacca was formerly used as a purgative and emetic also to promote sneezing - but it is now rarely used, having been supplanted by safer and more certain remedies.
Family: N.O. Asclepiadaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
This genus consists of herbaceous plants with a milky juice, which are for the most part natives of America. Several species are cultivated for the sake of their showy flowers. All of them are more or less poisonous. Asclepias curassavica is employed in the West Indies as an emetic, and goes by the name of Ipecacuanha: the drug known in medicine by that name is derived from quite a different plant and must not be confused with it. A. tuberosa, the Butterfly-weed, has mild purgative properties, and promotes perspiration and expectoration. A. syriaca, a plant misnamed, as it is a native of America and Canada, is frequently to be met with in gardens; its dull red flowers are very fragrant, and the young shoots are eaten as asparagus in Canada, where a sort of sugar is also prepared from the flowers, while the silk-like down of the seeds is employed to stuff pillows. Some of the species furnish excellent fibre, which is woven into muslins, and in certain parts of India is made into paper.
In Hindu mythology, Soma - the Indian Bacchus- and one of the most important of the Vedic gods, is a personification of the Soma plant, A. acida, from which an intoxicating milky juice is squeezed. All the 114 hymns of the ninth book of the Rig Veda are in his praise. The preparation of the Soma juice was a very sacred ceremony and the worship of the god is very old. The true home of the plant was fabled to be in heaven, Soma being drunk by gods as well as men, and it is under its influence that Indra is related to have created the universe and fixed the earth and sky in their place. In postVedic literature, Soma is a regular name for the moon, which is regarded as being drunk by the gods and so waning, till it is filled up again by the Sun. In both the Rig Veda and Zend Avesta, Soma is the king of plants; in both, it is a medicine which gives health, long life and removes death.
The three species of Asclepias most used in medicine are the Calotropis procera, A. tuberosa (Pleurisy root) and A. Incarnata (Swamp Milkweed).
It is a very common roadside weed in the eastern and central states of North America, where it is called 'Silkweed,' from the silky down which surmounts the seed, being an inch or two in length, and which has been used for making hats and for stuffing beds and pillows. Attempts have been made to use it as a cotton substitute. Both in France and Russia it has had textile use. The fibres of the stem, prepared in the same manner as those of hemp and flax, furnish a very long, fine thread, of a glossy whiteness.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The plant is used medicinally in the United States for the anodyne properties of its root and its rhizome and root have been employed successfully, like those of A. tuberosa, both in powder and infusion, in cases of asthma and typhus fever attended with catarrh, producing expectoration and relieving cough and pain. It has also been used in scrofula with great success.
It has a very milky juice, which is used as a domestic application to warts. The juice has a faint smell and subacid taste and an acid reaction. It contains a crystalline substance of a resinous character, closely allied to lactucone and called Asclepione; also wax-like, fatty matter, caoutchouc, gum, sugar, salts of acetic acid and other salts.
Besides the above-named species, various other species of the genus have been used medicinally.
An indigenous North American species A. verticillata (Linn.), is used in the Southern States as a remedy in snake bites and the bites of venomous insects. Twelve fluid ounces of a saturated decoction are said to cause an anodyne and sudorific effect, followed by gentle sleep.
From A. vincetoxicum (Linn.), 'TamePoison,' besides the glucoside Asclepiadin said closely to resemble emetine in its physiological properties, the glucoside Vincetoxir has been isolated. The root of this species sometimes occurs in commercial Senega Root (Polygala Senega).
An infusion of its root was formerly recommended in dropsical cases and disorders peculiar to women, as well as for promoting perspiration in fevers, measles and other eruptive complaints, but is now much less used.
A. curas-savica (Blood-weed and Redhead) is also called in the West Indies 'Bastard Ipecacuanha.'
It is a native of the West Indies, abounding especially in Nevis and St. Kitts.
Both root and expressed juice are emetic, the former in the dose of 20 to 40 grains, the latter in that of a fluid ounce.
They are also cathartic and vermifuge in somewhat smaller doses (Amer. Journ. Ph. XIX, 19). The juice, made into a syrup, is given as a powerful anthelmintic to children in the West Indies. The plant is used by the negroes as an emetic and the root as a purgative .
According to the Kew Bulletin, 1897 this plant has insecticidal properties, being especially obnoxious to fleas. The rooms infected are thoroughly swept with rough brooms made from the weed and the pests are said to disappear. D. St. Cyr commends it in phthisis (Ph. Journ., 1903, 714).
A. Pulchra (Ehrh.), by many regarded as a variety of incarnata, from which it is distinguished by its hairiness, the other being nearly smooth, is indiscriminately used under the same names.
A. syrica (Willd.) (A. Cornuti, Decaisne), found abundantly in Syria, cultivated in some parts of Europe.
Botanical: Fraxinus excelsior (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Oleaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Common Ash. Weeping Ash.
The Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior, Linn.), a tall, handsome tree, common in Britain, is readily distinguished by its light-grey bark (smooth in younger trees, rough and scaly in older specimens) and by its large compound leaves, divided into four to eight pairs of lance-shaped leaflets, tipped by a single one, an arrangement which imparts a light feathery arrangement to the foliage. The leaflets have sharply-toothed margins and are about 3 inches long.
In April or May, according to season, and before the appearance of the leaves, the black flower-buds on the previous year's shoots expand into small dense clusters of a greenish white or purplish color, some of the minute flowers having purple stamens, others pistil only, and some both, but all being devoid of petals and sepals, which, owing to the pollen being wind-borne, are not needed as protection, or as attraction to insect visitors.
After fertilization, the oblong ovary develops into a thick seed-chamber, with a long, strap-shaped wing which is known as an Ash-key (botanically: a samara). The bunches of 'keys' hang from the twigs in great clusters, at first green and then brown as the seeds ripen. They remain attached to the tree until the succeeding spring, when they are blown off and carried away by the wind to considerable distances from the parent tree. They germinate vigorously and grow in almost any soil.
The Common Ash and the Privet are the only representatives in England of the Olive tribe: Oleaceae.
There are about fifty species of the genus Fraxinus, and cultivation has produced and perpetuated a large number of distinct varieties, of which the Weeping Ash and the Curl-leaved Ash are the best known.
As a timber tree, the Ash is exceedingly valuable, not only on account of the quickness of its growth, but for the toughness and elasticity of its wood, in which quality it surpasses every European tree. The wood is heavy strong, stiff and hard and takes a high polish; it shrinks only moderately in seasoning and bends well when seasoned. It is the toughest and most elastic of our timbers (for which purpose it was used in olden days for spears and bows and is still used for otter-spears) and can be used for more purposes than the wood of other trees.
It is known that Ash timber is so elastic that a joist of it will bear more before it breaks than one of any other tree. It matures more rapidly than Oak and as sapling wood is valuable. Ash timber always fetches a good price, being next in value to Oak and surpassing it for some purposes, being in endless demand in railway and other waggon works for carriage building. From axe-handles and spade-trees to hop-poles, ladders and carts, Ash wood is probably in constant handling on every countryside - for agricultural plenishings it cannot be excelled. It makes the best of oars and the toughest of shafts for carriages. In its younger stages, when it is called Ground Ash, it is much used, as well as for hop-poles (for which it is extensively grown), for walking-sticks, hoops, hurdles and crates, and it matures its wood at so early an age that an Ash-pole 3 inches in diameter is as valuable and durable for any purpose to which it can be applied as the timber of the largest tree. Ash also makes excellent logs for burning, giving out no smoke, and the ashes of the wood afford very good potash.
The finest Ash is that grown in the Midlands, but so little first-class Ash has been of late years obtained in England that in I 90 I the Coachbuilders' Association appealed to the President of the Board of Agriculture to try and stimulate landowners to grow more of this valuable timber, as English Ash is better in quality than that imported from other European countries or from America. Any owner of a devastated woodland or other suitable ground may demand a grant of L. 2 (pounds sterling) an acre if he is planting pine, and L. 4 (pounds sterling)if he is planting hard woods, such as Ash. The supply of standing Ash timber is also becoming limited in America.
Ash is the second most important wood used in aeroplanes, and a study of the spacious afforestation scheme now in force over the Crown Lands of the New Forest reveals the fact that especial trouble has been taken to find suitable homes for the Ash. The great bulk of the wood used in aeroplanes is Spruce from the Pacific Coast.
Ash bark is astringent and has been employed for tanning nets.
Both bark and the leaves have medicinal use and fetch prices which should repay the labour of collecting them, especially the bark.
The bark is collected from the trunk and the root, the latter being preferred.
Ash bark occurs in commerce in quills which are grey or greenish-grey externally, with numerous small grey or brownishwhite warts, the inner surface yellowish or yellowish brown and nearly smooth; fracture smooth, fibrous in the inner layer, odourslight; taste bitter and astringent.
The bark contains the bitter glucoside Fraxin, the bitter substance Fraxetin, tannin, quercetin, mannite, a little volatile oil, gum, malic acid, free and combined with calcium.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Ash bark has been employed as a bitter tonic and astringent, and is said to be valuable as an antiperiodic. On account of its astringency, it has been used, in decoction, extensively in the treatment of intermittent fever and ague, as a substitute for Peruvian bark. The decoction is odourless, though its taste is fairly bitter. It has been considered useful to remove obstructions of the liver and spleen, and in rheumatism of an arthritic nature.
A ley from the ashes of the bark was used formerly to cure scabby and leprous heads.
The leaves have diuretic, diaphoretic and purgative properties, and are employed in modern herbal medicine for their laxative action, especially in the treatment of gouty and rheumatic complaints, proving a useful substitute for Senna, having a less griping effect. The infusion of the leaves, 1 OZ. to the pint, may be given in frequent doses during the twenty-four hours.
The distilled water of the leaves, taken every morning, was considered good for dropsy and obesity.
A decoction of the leaves in white wine had the reputation of dissolving stone and curing jaundice.
The leaves should be gathered in June, well dried, powdered and kept in wellcorked bottles.
The leaves have been gathered to mix with tea and in some parts of the country are used to feed cattle, when grass is scarce in autumn, but when cows eat the leaves or shoots, the butter becomes rank.
The fruits of the different species of Ash are regarded as somewhat more active than the bark and leaves. Ash Keys were held in high reputation by the ancient physicians, being employed as a remedy for flatulence. They were also in more recent times preserved with salt and vinegar and sent to table as a pickle. Evelyn tells us: 'Ashen keys have the virtue of capers,' and they were often substituted for them in sauces and salads.
The keys will keep all the year round if gathered when ripe.
In Mexico, the bark and leaves of F. nigra (Marsh), the Black Swamp, Water Hoop or Basket Ash, are similarly employed to those of the Common Ash. In Mexico, also, the bark and leaves of F. lanceolata (Borch.), the Green or Blue Ash, are employed as a bitter tonic and the root as a diuretic.
In the United States, the bark of the American White Ash (F. Americana, Linn.) (F. acuminata, Lam.) finds similar employment. It has numerous small circular depressions externally and a slightly laminate structure.
Gerard tell us:
'The leaves and bark of the Ash tree are dry and moderately hot . . . the seed is hot and dry in the second degree. The juice of the leaves or the leaves themselves being applied or taken with wine cure the bitings of vipers, as Dioscorides saith, "The leaves of this tree are of so greate virtue against serpents as that they dare not so much as touch the morning and evening shadows of the tree, but shun them afar off as Pliny reports." '
There are many old superstitions concerning the tree. The ancient couplets connecting the flowering precedence of the Oak and Ash with the rainfall of the following summer, 'Oak choke, Ash splash,' etc., have no basis on fact.
According to another superstition, if the trunk of a sapling Ash were split and a ruptured child passed through, the sufferer would be cured.
The Ash had the reputation of magically curing warts: each wart must be pricked with a new pin that has been thrust into the tree, the pins are withdrawn and left in the tree, and the following charm is repeated:
'Ashen tree, ashen tree,
Pray buy these warts of me.'
And there was another superstition that if a live shrew mouse were buried in a hole bored in an Ash trunk and then plugged up a sprig of this Shrew Ash would cure the paralysis supposed to have been caused by a shrew creeping over the sick person's limbs.
Botanical: Picraena excelsa (SWARTZ)
Family: N.O. Simarubeae
The Bitter Ash (Picraena excelsa, Swartz), a native of the West Indies, a lofty tree somewhat resembling the Ash Tree, the wood of which is the Jamaica Quassia of commerce, is employed in the place of the original Quassia amara of Surinam and Trinidad.
It abounds in a peculiar extractive substance of great bitterness which, as a drug, is purely tonic, invigorating the digestive organs with little excitement of the circulation or increase of bodily heat.
The wood is generally sold in small chips, yellowish white, about an inch wide and 1 to 4 inches long and 1/8 to 1/12 inch thick. Their taste is extremely bitter, but there is no odour.
Exhausted Quassia chips having hardly any bitterness are sometimes met with in commerce and also chips with greyish markings due to a fungus. Neither of these are, of course, suitable for an infusion.
Sometimes cups turned out of the wood are made. These are sold as Bitter Cups, and water standing in them for a short time acquires the bitterness of the wood.
From Syrup of Quassia, made with molasses, a harmless fly-poison is prepared, with which cloth or filtering-papers are moistened.
Quassia has been used by brewers as a substitute for hops and is in general use by gardeners, mixed with soft soap, for spraying plants affected with green-fly.
---Preparations---An infusion of Quassia, 2 oz. in a pint of water, affords a valuable and safe injection for seat-worms.
The dose of the fluid extract is 15 to 30 drops; of the tincture, official in the B.Ph. and U.S.Ph., 1/2 to 1 drachm; of the U.S.Ph. powdered extract the dose is 1 grain. Of the concentrated solution of the B.Ph. the dose is 1/2 drachm. The dose of the solid extract is 1/2 to 2 grains.
Botanical: Fraxinus ornus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Oleaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Definitions of Manna In Italy
A foreign species of Ash (Fraxinus ornus, Linn.), the South European Flowering Ash, a small tree indigenous to the coasts of the Mediterranean from Spain to Smyrna, yields from its bark a sugary sap called Manna, used in pharmacy.
The tree blossoms early in summer, producing numerous clusters of whitish flowers; in this country it only attains a height of 15 or 16 feet.
To-day, the Manna of commerce is collected exclusively in Sicily, from cultivated trees, exported from Palermo. The trees are grown in plantations placed about 7 feet apart. When from eight to ten years old, when the trunk is at least 3 inches in diameter, the collection of Manna is begun. In July and August, when the trees have ceased to put forth leaves freely, a vertical series of oblique incisions are made in the bark on alternate sides of the trunk. Dry, warm weather is essential for a good crop of the Manna which exudes. The larger pieces of incrustation that form, and which are collected in September and October, when the heat has begun to moderate, are known as Flake Manna, and this is the best. It is put on the market in long pieces or granulated fragments of a whitish and pale yellow color, irregular on one side and smoother and curved on the other, rarely more than 1 inch broad and 2 to 3 inches or more long.
The pieces adhering to the stem after the finer pieces have been gathered are scraped off and form part of the small Manna of commerce. The pieces that form on the lowest incisions, or the pieces that are collected on tiles placed under the tree, and known as 'gerace,' are less crystalline, more glutinous, and are in moist adhesive masses of a dark brown color. These are less esteemed.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Manna has a peculiar odour and a sweetish taste.
It was formerly used in medicine as a gentle laxative, but is now chiefly used as a children's laxative or to disguise other medicines.
It is a nutritive and a gentle tonic, usually operating mildly, but in some cases produces flatulence and pain.
It is still largely consumed in South America and is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
It is generally given dissolved in water or some aromatic infusion, but the best Flake Manna may be administered in substance, in doses of a teaspoonful up to 1 or 2 oz.
Usually it is prescribed with other purgatives, particularly senna, rhubarb, magnesia and the neutral salts, the taste of which it conceals while it adds to the purgative effect.
For infants, a piece about the size of a hazel-nut is dissolved in a little warm water and added to the food. To children, 30 to 60 grams may be given dissolved in warm milk or a mixture prepared with syrup, or syrup of senna and dill water.
Syrups of Manna are prepared with or without other purgatives.
Manna is sometimes used as a pill excipient, especially for calomel.
Under the name of Dulcinol, a mixture of Manna and common salt has been recommended by Steinberg in 1906 as a sweetening agent in diabetes, the dose 1/2 to 1 OZ.
The Codex of the British Pharmacopceia contains a Syrup of Manna to be prescribed as a mild laxative for children, in the proportion of 1 part of Manna to 10 of water.
The Compound Syrup of Manna of the B.P. Codex is stronger than the Syrup of Manna and contains Senna and fennel in addition, the dose being 1 to 4 fluid drachms.
Manna of the best quality dissolves in about 6 parts of water, forming a clear liquid. It has no bitterness or acridity.
The chief constituent of Manna is a peculiar, crystallizable, sweet principle called Mannite or Manna Sugar, present to the extent of about 70 per cent. It also contains a fluorescent body named Fraxin, which occasionally gives a greenish color to Manna and on which is thought to depend its purgative property. Some true sugar and a small quantity of mucilage are also present.
Mannite is white, inodorous, crystallizable in semi-transparent needles of a sweetish taste, soluble in 5 parts of cold water, scarcely soluble in cold alcohol, but readily dissolved by alcohol when hot and deposited when cool. Unlike sugar, it is incapable of undergoing vinous fermentation.
---Definition of Manna in Italy---
An Italian Decree-law, dated August 12, 1927, dealing with the repression of fraud and adulteration in the preparation and trade in substances of vegetable origin, states that the name 'Manna' is reserved for the product obtained by incision into the cortex of the flowering or Manna Ash (F. ornus or F. excelsior). It is forbidden to prepare, sell, or expose for sale or introduce into trade Manna containing milk sugar, starchy matter, or containing foreign substances of whatever nature, other than those bodies which are present naturally as impurities in the normal proportions existing in the various types of Manna.
In Italy, Mannite is prepared for sale in the shape of small cones, resembling loaf sugar in shape, and is frequently prescribed in medicine instead of Manna.
The term 'Manna' is extremely old and is applied to the saccharine exudence of a number of plants, e.g. Quercus Vallones and persica (Oak Manna); Alhagi maurorum (Alhagi Manna), Tamarix gallica, var. mannifera (Tamarisk Manna); Larix Europaea (Briancon Manna).
The Manna of the present day appears to have been unknown before the fifteenth century. In the sixteenth century, it was collected in Calabria, but none is now brought into commerce from this part of Italy.
Although the name Manna, at first applied to the Manna of the Scriptures, has (as stated) also been applied to various saccharine substances of different origin, none of these corresponds in any way to the Manna of Scripture, inasmuch as they are saccharine substances and do not become corrupt in a night.
The Manna of the biblical narrative answers otherwise in its description to the Tamarisk Manna, exuded in June and July from the slender branches of Tamarisk gallica, var. mannifera, in the form of honey-like drops, which in the cool temperature of the early morning are found in the solid state. This secretion is caused by the puncture of an insect, Coccus manniparus. In the valleys of the peninsula of Sinai, this Manna is collected by the Arabs and sold by them to the monks of St. Catherine, who dispose of it to the pilgrims visiting the convent, under the name of 'gazangabin,' which means 'Tamarisk Honey.' It appears to consist of cane sugar, inverted sugar, and dextrin.
A report issued in 1927 by an expedition of entomologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem declares that Manna is not an exudation from the Tamarisk tree, as is popularly supposed, but an excretion from the bodies of the coccid insects themselves. Clear, syrup-like drops (the report states) come from the abdomen of the insects and fall to the ground, where they form grains of sugar, ranging from the size of a pinhead to that of a pea. The amount varies with the abundance or scarcity of the winter rains and the Bedouins assert that during a good season a man can collect nearly 3 1/2 lb. in a day. The expedition, which was led by Dr. Fritz Bodenheimer of the Zionist experimental agricultural station, observed Manna deposits throughout the long stretch of country which was covered by its journey. The report goes on to state that 'modern science, it seems, was equally ignorant of the true nature of manna till now, and it has been revealed by descendants of those wanderers in the wilderness.'
The only substance which in all respects seems to agree with the Manna of the Israelites is that described a few years ago by Mr. A. J. Swann, in his book on Fighting the Slave Driver in Central Africa. The Manna which he saw on the plateaux between the lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa occupied by the Ananbwi tribe Mr. Swann describes as possessing all the characters of the Manna which is said to have fallen for the benefit of the Israelites. In appearance it resembled coriander seed, was white in color like hoar-frost and sweet to taste, melted in the sun, and if kept overnight was full of worms in the morning. It required to be baked to keep it any length of time. A cake of this Manna was baked and sent to England, but no one seemed able to identify it, though there can be little doubt that it is a small fungus. The baking process would, of course, destroy its structure, and it is evident that to determine its nature, some of the Manna should be sent home in formaldehyde or corrosive sublimate, when it would be quite possible to make out its structure and classification and to describe it, if new. It does not appear to be regular in its occurrence, as travellers have reported its appearance only at long intervals.
Botanical: Pyrus Aucuparia (GAERTN.), Sorbus Aucuparia (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
American Mountain Ash
The Mountain Ash (Pyrus Aucuparia, Gaertn.) is not related to the true Ashes, but has derived its name from the similarity of the leaves.
In comparison to the true Ash, it is but a small tree, rarely more than 30 feet high. It belongs to the order Rosacece and is distinguished from its immediate relations the Pear, Crab Apple, White Beam and Wild Service Tree by its regularly pinnate, Ashlike leaves. It is generally distributed over the country in its wild state, but is also much cultivated as an ornamental tree.
All parts of the tree are astringent and may be used in tanning and dyeing black. When cut, the Mountain Ash yields poles and hoops for barrels.
Both the bark and fruit have medicinal properties.
The fruit is rather globose, with teeth at the apex and two to three seeded cells. They are used medicinally in either the fresh or the dried state.
The fruit contains tartaric acid before, citric and malic acids after ripening; two sugars, sorbin and sorbit, the latter after fermentation; parasorbic acid, which is aromatic and is converted into isomeric sorbic acid by heating under pressure with potassa; bitter, acrid and coloring matters. A crystalline saccharine principle, Sorbitol, which does not undergo the vinous fermentation, has also been found in the fruit.
The seeds contain 22 per cent. of fixed oil. It has been claimed that these seeds killed a child, apparently by prussic acid poisoning.
The bark has a soft, spongy, yellowishgrey outer layer and an inner thicker portion, with many layers of a light brown color. It has a bitterish taste, but is odourless.
It is astringent and also yields amygdalin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
In herbal medicine, a decoction of the bark is given for diarrhoea and used as a vaginal injection in leucorrhoea, etc.
The ripe berries furnish an acidulous and astringent gargle for sore throats and inflamed tonsils. For their anti-scorbutic properties, they have been used in scurvy. The astringent infusion is used as a remedy in haemorrhoids and strangury.
The fruit is a favourite food of birds. A delicious jelly is made from the berries, which is excellent with cold game or wild fowl, and a wholesome kind of perry or cider can also be made from them.
In Northern Europe they are dried for flour, and when fermented yield a strong spirit. The Welsh used to brew an ale from the berries, the secret of which is now lost .
AMERICAN MOUNTAIN ASH
Pyrus Americana (D.C.)
American Mountain Ash bark is derived from Pyrus Americana (D.C.), which has many local names.
It has similar properties to the bark of the European species and was formerly used as a tonic in fevers of supposed malarial type, where it was often substituted for cinchona bark.
No analysis of the bark of the American species has been made, though the fruit has been found to yield 4.92 to 6.6 of malic acid.
Botanical: Xanthoxylum Americanum (MILL.)
Family: N.O. Rutacea
Medicinal Action and Uses
Toothache Tree. Yellow Wood. Suterberry.
The Prickly Ash (Xanthoxylum Americanum, Mill., X. fraxineum Willd.; X. Carolinianum, Lamb.) is a small North American tree growing in the open air in this country. It has pinnate leaves and alternate branches, which are covered with sharp and strong prickles: the common footstalk is also sometimes prickly, and also the bark.
It belongs to the Yellow Wood family (Rutaceae), which all possess aromatic and pungent properties.
The berries, growing in clusters on the top of the branches, are black or deep blue and enclosed in a grey shell.
The leaves and berries have an aromatic odour similar to that of oil of Lemons, and the berries and bark have a hot, acrid taste.
The root-bark and berries are used medicinally, being official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
The barks of numerous species of Xanthoxylum and the allied genus Fagara have been used medicinally. There are two principal varieties of Prickly Ash in commerce: X. Americanum (Northern Prickly Ash) and Fagara Clava-Herculis (Southern Prickly Ashj, which is supposed to be more active. Although not absolutely identical, the two Prickly Ash barks are very similar in their active constituents. Both contain small amounts of volatile oil, fat, sugar, gum, acrid resin, a bitter alkaloid, believed to be Berberine and a colorless, tasteless, inert, crystalline body, Xanthoxylin, slightly different in the two barks. Both yield a large amount of Ash: 12 per cent. or more. The name Xanthoxylin is also applied to a resinous extractive prepared by pouring a tincture of the drug into water.
The fruits of both the species are used similarly to the barks. Their constituents have not been investigated, but they apparently agree in a general way with those of the bark.
The drug is practically never adulterated. The Northern bark occurs in commerce in curved or quilled fragments about 1/24 inch thick, externally brownish grey, with whitish patches, faintly furrowed, with some linearbased, two-edged spines about 1/4 inch long. The fracture is short, green in the outer, and yellow in the inner part. The Southern bark, which is more frequently sold, is 1/12 inch thick and has conical, corky spines, sometimes 4/5, inch in height.
Xanthoxcylin is included in the United States Pharmacopceia for the preparation of a fluid extract, the dose of which is 1/2 to 1 drachm.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
It acts as a stimulant - resembling guaiacum resin and mezereon bark in its remedial action and is greatly recommended in the United States for chronic rheumatism, typhoid and skin diseases and impurity of the blood, administered either in the form of fluid extract or in doses of 10 grains to 1/2 drachm in the powdered form, three times daily.
The following formula has also become popular in herbal medicine: Take 1/2 oz. each of Prickly Ash Bark, Guaiacum Raspings and Buckbean Herb, with 6 Cayenne Pods. Boil in 1 1/2 pint of water down to 1 pint . Dose: a wineglassful three or four times daily.
On account of the energetic stimulant properties of the bark, it produces when swallowed a sense of heat in the stomach, with more or less general arterial excitement and tendency to perspiration and is a useful tonic in debilitated conditions of the stomach and digestive organs, and is used in colic, cramp and colera, in fever, ague, lethargy, for cold hands and feet and complaints arising from a bad circulation.
A decoction made by boiling an ounce in 3 pints of water down to a quarter may be given in the quantity of a pint, in divided doses, during the twenty-four hours. As a counter-irritant, the decoction may be applied on compresses. It has also been used as an emmenagogue.
The powdered bark forms an excellent application to indolent ulcers and old wounds for cleansing, stimulating, drying up and healing the wounds. The pulverized bark is also used for paralytic affections and nervous headaches and as a topical irritant the bark, either in powdered form, or chewed, has been a very popular remedy for toothache in America, hence the origin of a common name of the tree in the States: Toothache Tree.
The berries are considered even more active than the bark, being carminative and antispasmodic, and are used as an aperient and for dyspepsia and indigestion; a fluid extract of the berries being given, in doses of 10 to 30 drops.
Xanthoxylin. Dose, 1 to 2 grains.
Both berries and bark are used to make a good bitter.
The name Prickly Ash has also been given to Aralia spinosa (Linn.), the Prickly Elder, or Angelica Tree, the bark, roots and berries of which are used as alteratives.
See ANGELICA TREE.
Botanical: Ptelea trifoliata (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rutaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Swamp Dogwood. Shrubby Trefoil. Wingseed. Hop Tree.
The Wafer Ash is a shrub growing 6 to 8 feet high, a native of North America, but cultivated here, having been introduced in 1714. In America it is also called the Swamp Dogwood, Wingseed, and Hop Tree.
The root-bark is employed medicinally, both in herbal medicine and in homoeopathy, but it has never been an official drug, though formerly it was employed to a certain extent by physicians in the western United States.
It has a peculiar, somewhat aromatic odour and a bitter, persistently pungent and slightly acrid, but not disagreeable taste.
The bark contains at least three active constituents, a powerful volatile oil, a salt, acrid resin, and an alkaloid: Berberine. The alkaloid Arginine is also stated to be present in the root.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The bark has tonic, antiperiodic and stomachic properties, and has been employed in dyspepsia and debility, and also in febrile diseases, especially in those requiring a mild, non-irritating bitter tonic, as it has a soothing influence upon the mucous membrane and promotes appetite, being tolerated when other tonics cannot be retained.
It is also useful in chronic rheumatism.
The dose of the powdered bark is 10 to 30 grains. The infusion of the bark is taken in tablespoonful doses three or four times daily.
The bark occurs in commerce in quilled or curved pieces, 1 1/2 to 3 inches long and 1 to inch in diameter, 1/8 to 3/4 inch thick, transversely wrinkled, with a whitish brown surface of thin, papery layers, the inner surface being smooth, with faintly projecting medullary layers. It breaks with a short fracture, yellowish white, the papery layer pale buff.
Botanical: Asparagus officinalis
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
This well-known table delicacy may be found wild on the sea-coast in the South-west of England, especially near the Lizard, in the Isle of Anglesea, otherwise it is a rare native. In the southern parts of Russia and Poland the waste steppes are covered with this plant, which is there eaten by horses and cattle as grass. It is also common in Greece, and was formerly much esteemed as a vegetable by the Greeks and Romans. It appears to have been cultivated in the time of Cato the Elder, 200 years B.C., and Pliny mentions a species that grew near Ravenna, of which three heads would weigh a pound.
Asparagus is noticed by Gerard in 1597, and in 1670 forced Asparagus was supplied to the London market.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The virtues of Asparagus are well known as a diuretic and laxative; and for those of sedentary habits who suffer from symptoms of gravel, it has been found very beneficial, as well as in cases of dropsy. The fresh expressed juice is taken medicinally in tablespoonful doses.
Prussian Asparagus, which is brought to some English markets, is not a species of Asparagus at all, but consists of the spikes of Ornithogalum pyrenaicum, which grows abundantly in hedges and pastures (especially in the locality of Bath). See STAR OF BETHLEHEM.
Culpepper tells us 'The decoction of the roots (Asparagus) boiled in wine, and taken is good to clear the sight, and being held in the mouth easeth the toothache.' He also tells us it helps those sinews that 'are shrunk by cramps and convulsions, and helpeth the sciatica .'
Botanical: Asphodelus Ramosus
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
White Asphodel. Asphodele Rameux. Royal Staff. Branched Asphodel. King's Spear.
---Part Used---The roots.
Middle Europe. The shores of the Mediterranean.
The plant is about 3 feet high, with large, white, terminal flowers, and radical, long, numerous leaves. It is only cultivated in botanical and ornamental gardens, though it easily grows from seeds or division of roots.
The roots must be gathered at the end of the first year.
The ancients planted the flowers near tombs, regarding them as the form of food preferred by the dead, and many poems refer to this custom. The name is derived from a Greek word meaning sceptre.
The roots, dried and boiled in water, yield a mucilaginous matter that in some countries is mixed with grain or potato to make Asphodel bread. In Spain and other countries they are used as cattle fodder, especially for sheep. In Barbary the wild boars eat them greedily.
In Persia, glue is made with the bulbs, which are first dried and then pulverized. When mixed with cold water, the powder swells and forms a strong glue.
Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Pliny said the roots were cooked in ashes and eaten. The Greeks and Romans used them in several diseases, but they are not employed in modern medicine.
An acrid principle separated or destroyed by boiling water, and a matter resembling inuline have been found. An alcohol of excellent flavour has been obtained from plants growing abundantly in Algeria.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Acrid, heating, and diuretic. Said to be useful inmenstrual obstructions and as an antispasmodic. The bruised root has been recommended for rapidly dissolving scrofulous swellings.
A. luteus, or Yellow Asphodel, Jacob'sStaff, is a native of Sicily.
A. fistulosus, or Onion-leaved Asphodel, of Southern France and Crete, is also employed.
BOG OR LACASHIRE ASPHODEL is a common name of Narthecium ossifragum. The name of 'bone-breaker' was unfortunately given, because, as It grows on wet moors and mountains, sheep pasturing there frequently suffered from foot rot, and this was attributed to their browsing on the plants.
FALSE ASPHODEL is an American name for Tofieldia.
SCOTCH ASPHODEL is a common name of Tofieldia palustris.
Botanical: Geum urbanum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Colewort. Herb Bennet. City Avens. Wild Rye. Way Bennet. Goldy Star. Clove Root.
The Avens (Geum urbanum, Linn.), belonging to the order Rosacece, its genus being nearly related to the Potentilla genus, is a common wayside plant in Great Britain, abundant in woods and hedges in England, Ireland and southern Scotland, though becoming scarcer in the north. It is common in the greater part of Europe, Russia and Central Asia.
It has thin, nearly upright, wiry stems, slightly branched, from 1 to 2 feet in height, of a reddish brown on one side. Its leaves vary considerably in form, according to their position. The radical leaves are borne on long, channelled foot-stalks, and are interruptedly pinnate, as in the Silverweed the large terminal leaflet being wedge-shaped and the intermediate pairs of leaflets being very small. The upper leaves on the stem are made up of three long, narrow leaflets: those lower on the stems have the three leaflets round and full. The stem-leaves are placed alternately and have at their base two stipules (leaf-like members that in many plants occur at the junction of the base of the leaf with the stem). Those of the Avens are very large, about an inch broad and long, rounded in form and coarsely toothed and lobed. All the leaves are of a deep green color, more or less covered with spreading hairs, their margins toothed.
The rhizomes are 1 to 2 inches long terminating abruptly, hard and rough with many light brown fibrous roots. The flowers, rather small for the size of the plant, are on solitary, terminal stalks. The corolla is composed of five roundish, spreading, yellow petals, the calyx cleft into ten segments - five large and five small - as in the Silverweed. The flowers, which are in bloom all the summer and autumn, often as late as December, are less conspicuous than the round fruitheads, which succeed them, which are formed of a mass of dark crimson achenes, each terminating in an awn, the end of which is curved into a hook.
The plant derives its name of Avens from the Latin Avencia, Mediaeval Latin, avantia or avence, a word of obscure origin and which in varieties of spelling has been applied to the plant from very early times.
The botanical name, Geum, originated from the Greek geno, to yield an agreeable fragrance, because, when freshly dug up, the root has a clove-like aroma. This gives rise to another name, Radix caryophylata, or Clove Root, and its corruption, Gariophilata.
Avens had many names in the fourteenth century, such as Assarabaccara, Pesleporis, or Harefoot, and Minarta.
It was called 'the Blessed Herb' (Herba benedicta), of which a common name still extant - Herb Bennet - is a corruption, because in former times it was believed that it had the power to ward off evil spirits and venomous beasts. It was worn as an amulet. The Ortus Sanitatis, printed in 1491, states: 'Where the root is in the house, Satan can do nothing and flies from it, wherefore it is blessed before all other herbs, and if a man carries the root about him no venomous beast can harm him.' Dr. Prior (Popular Names of English Plants) considers the original name to have probably been ' St . Benedict's Herb,' that name being assigned to such as were supposed to be antidotes, in allusion to a legend respecting the saint. It is said that on one occasion a monk presented him with a goblet of poisoned wine, but when the saint blessed it, the poison, being a sort of devil, flew out of it with such force that the glass was shivered to atoms, the crime of the monk being thus exposed. Hemlock is also known as Herb Bennet, probably for the same reason.
Goldy Star of the Earth, City Avens, Wild Rye and Way Bennet are other local names for the plant.
In mediaeval days, the graceful trefoiled leaf and the five golden petals of the blossoms symbolized the Holy Trinity and the five wounds of Our Lord, and towards the end of the thirteenth century the plant frequently occurs as an architectural decoration in the carved leafage on the capitals of columns and in wall patterns.
The roots should be dug up in spring; some of the old physicians were so particular on this point that the 25th March was fixed for procuring the root (and it was specified that the soil should be dry). At this time the root was said to be most fragrant. It loses much of its odour in drying, so must be dried with great care, and gradually, then sliced and powdered as required, as they are less likely to lose their properties in this form than when kept in slices.
Externally, the rhizome, when dried, is of a brownish to a brownish-yellow color. The fracture is short. Internally, it is of a light purplish-brown when dried. In transverse section, it shows a large pith, a narrow woody ring, with thin bark. The taste of the drug is astringent, slightly bitter and clove-like.
The principal constituent is a volatile oil, which is mainly composed of Eugenol, and a glucoside, Gein, geum-bitter, tannic acid, gum and resin. It imparts its qualities to water and alcohol, which it tinges red. Distilled with water, it yields 0.04 per cent. of thick, greenish, volatile oil.
The root has been found by Milandi and Moretti to contain one-eleventh of its weight of tannin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Astringent, Styptic, febrifuge, sudorific, stomachic, antiseptic, tonic and aromatic.
In earlier days the roots were not only used medicinally, as at present, but to flavour ale, and to put among linen to preserve from moths and to impart a pleasant odour.
The Augsburg Ale is said to owe its peculiar flavour to the addition of a small bag of Avens in each cask. The fresh root imparts a pleasant clove-like flavour to the liquor, preserves it from turning sour, and adds to its wholesome properties.
A cordial against the plague was made by boiling the roots in wine. Gerard recommends a 'decoction made in wine against stomach ills and bites of venomous beasts.' On account of its stomachic properties, chewing of the root was recommended for foul breath.
'It is governed by Jupiter and that gives hopes of a wholesome healthful herb. It is good for the diseases of the chest or breath, for pains and stitches in the sides, it dissolveth inward congealed blood occasioned by falls and bruises and the spitting of blood, if the roots either green or dried be boiled in wine and drunk. The root in the spring-time steeped in wine doth give it a delicate flavour and taste and being drunk fasting every morning comforteth the heart and is a good preservative against the plague or any other poison. It is very safe and is fit to be kept in every body's house.'
In modern herbal medicine Avens is considered useful in diarrhoea, dysenteries, leucorrhoea, sore throat, ague, chills, freshcatarrh, intermittent fevers, chronic and passive haemorrhages, gastric irritation and headache.
The infusion or decoction is made from 1/2 oz. of the powdered root or herb to 1 pint of boiling water, strained and taken cold. The infusion is the most grateful, but the decoction may be made much stronger by boiling it down to half.
The simple tincture is made by pouring a pint of proof spirit on an ounce of the bruised root and macerating it for fourteen days and then filtering through paper. Two or three teaspoonsful of this tincture in any watery vehicle, or in a glass of wine, are a sufficient dose.
An excellent compound tincture may be made as follows: Take of Avens root 1 1/2 OZ.; Angelica root, bruised, and Tormentil root bruised, of each 1 OZ.; Raisins, stoned, 2 OZ.; French brandy, 2 pints. Macerate for a month in a warm place. Filter then through paper. Dose, 1/2 oz.
The same ingredients infused in a quart of wine will form an excellent vinous tincture.
The infusion is considered an excellent cordial sudorific at the commencement of chills and catarrh, cutting short the paroxysm, and the continued use of it has restorative power in weakness, debility, etc.
Its astringency makes it useful in diarrhoea, sore throat, etc. It is taken, strained and cold, in wineglassful doses, three or four times a day.
The infusion is also used in some skin affections. When used externally as a wash, it will remove spots, freckles or eruptions from the face.
Taken as decoction in the spring, Avens acts as a purifier and removes obstructions of the liver.
The powdered root has been used both in America and Europe as a substitute for Peruvian bark and has frequently been found to cure agues when the latter has failed, a drachm of powder being given every two hours.
The dose of the fluid extract of the herb is 1 drachm, of the fluid extract of the root, 1/2 to 1 drachm. As a tonic, the usual dose of the powdered herb or root is 15 to 30 grains.
As Arnica adulterant, the rhizome is sometimes present in the imported drug.
Botanical: Dryas octopetala (LINN,)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
The Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala, Linn.) is a small plant, 2 to 3 inches high, distinguished from all other plants of the order Rosaceae by its oblong deeply-cut leaves, which are white with a woolly down beneath, and by its large, handsome, anemone-like, white flowers, which have eight petals. It blooms in the spring. It is not uncommon in the mountainous parts of the British Isles, especially on limestone.
When cultivated, it likes a sunny spot, not too dry, and prefers a little lime in the soil. It is propagated by layers or seeds, layers being the easiest method.
Although our native species are not striking enough to be made use of by the horticulturist, there are many garden varieties of Geum which are easily grown in fairly rich, loamy soil and are mostly propagated by dividing the roots in early autumn or in spring as growth commences. Seeds can be sown in the spring, either in the open or in well-drained pots or shallow boxes in cold frames.
The favourite varieties are the Scarlet Avens of Chile, Geum coccineum, the red G. sylvaticum, and the yellow-flowered G. montanum and G. elatum of the Himalayas, and G. reptans of the Alps.
Botanical: Geum rivale (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Nodding Avens. Drooping Avens. Cure All. Water Flower. Indian Chocolate.
The Water Avens (Geum rivale, Linn.) flourishes freely in the northern parts of Europe, in Canada and Siberia, and in Britain is more common in the northern counties and in Scotland than in the southern counties.
It is a lover of moist situations, found chiefly in damp woods and in ditches and among the coarse herbage fringing canals.
It is a much stouter plant than the Common Avens, the stem 1 foot high or more, scarcely branching and with few leaves, of a simpler form. The lower part of the stem is clothed with bent-back hairs and is very downy above. The radical leaves, in the form of a rosette, as in the Common Avens, are long-stalked, lobed, the terminal leaflet larger, with more numerous segments than in Geum urbanum.
The flowers are larger than those of the Common Avens, fewer in number, not a widely-spreading star, but drooping, the petals forming together a compact and belllike corolla, of a dull purplish hue with darker veins, the calyces brownish, deeply tinged with purple. The awns feathery, not hooked.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The Water Avens has similar properties to those of the Common Avens and is employed in the same way, the root having tonic and powerfully astringent action and being beneficial in passive haemorrhage and diarrhoea.
In the eastern states of North America (where it is called Indian Chocolate, Cure All and Water Flower) it is much used as a popular remedy in pulmonary consumption, simple dyspepsia and diseases of the bowels consequent on disorders of the stomach, and is valued as a febrifuge and tonic.
Botanical: Melia Azadirachta
Family: N.O. Meliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Dosages and Preparations
Bead Tree. Pride of China. Nim. Margosa. Neem. Holy Tree. Indiar. Lilac Tree.
The bark of the root and trunk; the seed.
Widely distributed through Tropics.
Under the name of Neem it grows luxuriantly in Bengal, where it was known to the author. It grows from 30 to 50 feet high, leaves bipinnate, large bunches of lilac flowers agreeably perfumed. In Southern France and Spain it is found growing in avenues. It is said to be a native of China. The bark should be new and is a rusty grey color, inside yellow and foliated, coarsely fibrous, no odour, powerfully bitter and less astringent than the outer coarser bark, if taken from old roots the outer crust must be taken off.
Margosin, a crystalline principle, and tannic acid.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The oil obtained from the fruit is used for burning, that from the bark is used medicinally and is anthelmintic and emetic; it is applied externally for rheumatism. The decoction of Azadirachta is said to be cathartic and in large doses slightly narcotic; it is also supposed to have febrifuge properties, it is used as a remedy for hysteria. The Hindu considers it a stomachic and taps it for toddy. The name Bead Tree is derived from the hard nuts which are used for making rosaries. An ointment to destroy lice is made from the pulp and is also used for scald head and other skin diseases. The oil from the nuts is useful for cramps, obstinate ulcers, etc.
---Dosages and Preparations---
The decoction is made from 2 OZ. of bark to 1 pint of water boiled down to 1/2 pint, one tablespoonful every two or three hours for a dose. This, or 20 grains of the powdered bark, is an effective dose for worms if followed by a purgative.
---Poisons---The name Azadarach implies a poisonous plant and the fruit is considered to be so.
CONSIDERING divers shires in this nation give divers names to one and the same herb, and that the common name which it bears in one county, is not known in another; I shall take the pains to set down all the names that I know of each herb: pardon me for setting that name first, which is most common to myself. Besides Amara Dulcis, some call it Mortal, others Bitter-sweet; some Woody Night-shade, and others Felon-wort.
Descript : It grows up with woody stalks even to a man's height, and sometimes higher. The leaves fall off at the approach of winter, and spring out of the same stalk at spring-time: the branch is compassed about with a whitish bark, and has a pith in the middle of it: the main branch branches itself into many small ones with claspers, laying hold on what is next to them, as vines do: it bears many leaves, they grow in no order at all, at least in no regular order; the leaves are longish, though somewhat broad, and pointed at the ends: many of them have two little leaves growing at the end of their foot-stalk; some have but one, and some none. The leaves are of a pale green color; the flowers are of a purple color, or of a perfect blue, like to violets, and they stand many of them together in knots: the berries are green at first, but when they are ripe they are very red; if you taste them, you shall find them just as the crabs which we in Sussex call Bitter-sweet, viz. sweet at first and bitter afterwards.
Place : They grow commonly almost throughout England, especially in moist and shady places.
Time : The leaves shoot out about the latter end of March, if the temperature of the air be ordinary; it flowers in July, and the seeds are ripe soon after, usually in the next month.
Government and virtues : It is under the planet Mercury, and a notable herb of his also, if it be rightly gathered under his influence. It is excellently good to remove witchcraft both in men and beasts, as also all sudden diseases whatsoever. Being tied round about the neck, is one of the most admirable remedies for the vertigo or dizziness in the head; and that is the reason (as Tragus saith) the people in Germany commonly hang it about their cattle's necks, when they fear any such evil hath betided them. Country people commonly take the berries of it, and having bruised them, apply them to felons, and thereby soon rid their fingers of such troublesome guests.
We have now showed you the external use of the herb; we shall speak a word or two of the internal, and so conclude. Take notice, it is a Mercurial herb, and therefore of very subtile parts, as indeed all Mercurial plants are; therefore take a pound of the wood and leaves together, bruise the wood (which you may easily do, for it is not so hard as oak) then put it in a pot, and put to it three pints of white wine, put on the pot-lid and shut it close; and let it infuse hot over a gentle fire twelve hours, then strain it out, so have you a most excellent drink to open obstructions of the liver and spleen, to help difficulty of breath, bruises and falls, and congealed blood in any part of the body, it helps the yellow jaundice, the dropsy, and black jaundice, and to cleanse women newly brought to bed. You may drink a quarter of a pint of the infusion every morning. It purges the body very gently, and not churlishly as some hold. And when you find good by this, remember me.
They that think the use of these medicines is too brief, it is only for the cheapness of the book; let them read those books of mine, of the last edition, viz. Reverius, Veslingus, Riolanus, Johnson, Sennertus, and Physic for the Poor.
It is called All-heal, Hercules's All-heal, and Hercules's Woundwort, because it is supposed that Hercules learned the herb and its virtues from Chiron, when he learned physic of him. Some call it Panay, and others Opopane-wort.
Descript : Its root is long, thick, and exceeding full of juice, of a hot and biting taste, the leaves are great and large, and winged almost like ash-tree leaves, but that they are something hairy, each leaf consisting of five or six pair of such wings set one against the other upon foot-stalks, broad below, but narrow towards the end; one of the leaves is a little deeper at the bottom than the other, of a fair yellowish fresh green color: they are of a bitterish taste, being chewed in the mouth; from among these rises up a stalk, green in color, round in form, great and strong in magnitude, five or six feet in altitude, with many joints, and some leaves thereat; towards the top come forth umbels of small yellow flowers, after which are passed away, you may find whitish, yellow, short, flat seeds, bitter also in taste.
Place : Having given you a description of the herb from bottom to top, give me leave to tell you, that there are other herbs called by this name; but because they are strangers in England, I give only the description of this, which is easily to be had in the gardens of divers places.
Time : Although Gerrard saith, that they flower from the beginning of May to the end of December, experience teaches them that keep it in their gardens, that it flowers not till the latter end of the summer, and sheds its seeds presently after.
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion of Mars, hot, biting, and choleric; and remedies what evils Mars inflicts the body of man with, by sympathy, as vipers' flesh attracts poison, and the loadstone iron. It kills the worms, helps the gout, cramp, and convulsions, provokes urine, and helps all joint-aches. It helps all cold griefs of the head, the vertigo, falling-sickness, the lethargy, the wing cholic, obstructions of the liver and spleen, stone in the kidneys and bladder. It provokes the terms, expels the dead birth: it is excellent good for the griefs of the sinews, itch, stone, and toothache, the biting of mad dogs and venomous beasts, and purges choler very gently.
Besides the common name, it is called Orchanet, and Spanish Bugloss, and by apothecaries, Enchusa.
Descript : Of the many sorts of this herb, there is but one known to grow commonly in this nation; of which one take this description. It hath a great and thick root, of a reddish color, long, narrow, hairy leaves, green like the leaves of Bugloss, which lie very thick upon the ground; the stalks rise up compassed round about, thick with leaves, which are less and narrower than the former; they are tender, and slender, the flowers are hollow, small, and of a reddish color.
Place : It grows in Kent near Rochester, and in many places in the West Country, both in Devonshire and Cornwall.
Time : They flower in July and the beginning of August, and the seed is ripe soon after, but the root is in its prime, as carrots and parsnips are, before the herb runs up to stalk.
Government and virtues : It is an herb under the dominion of Venus, and indeed one of her darlings, though somewhat hard to come by. It helps old ulcers, hot inflammations, burnings by common fire, and St. Anthony's fire, by antipathy to Mars; for these uses, your best way is to make it into an ointment; also, if you make a vinegar of it, as you make vinegar of roses, it helps the morphew and leprosy; if you apply the herb to the privities, it draws forth the dead child. It helps the yellow jaundice, spleen, and gravel in the kidneys. Dioscorides saith it helps such as are bitten by a venomous beast, whether it be taken inwardly, or applied to the wound; nay, he saith further, if any one that hath newly eaten it, do but spit into the mouth of a serpent, the serpent instantly dies. It stays the flux of the belly, kills worms, helps the fits of the mother. Its decoction made in wine, and drank, strengthens the back, and eases the pains thereof. It helps bruises and falls, and is as gallant a remedy to drive out the small pox and measles as any is; an ointment made of it, is excellent for green wounds, pricks or thrusts.
ADDER'S TONGUE OR SERPENT'S TONGUE
Descript : This herb has but one leaf, which grows with the stalk a finger's length above the ground, being flat and of a fresh green color; broad like Water Plantain, but less, without any rib in it; from the bottom of which leaf, on the inside, rises up (ordinarily) one, sometimes two or three slender stalks, the upper half whereof is somewhat bigger, and dented with small dents of a yellowish green color, like the tongue of an adder serpent (only this is as useful as they are formidable). The roots continue all the year.
Place : It grows in moist meadows, and such like places.
Time : It is to be found in May or April, for it quickly perishes with a little heat.
Government and virtues : It is an herb under the dominion of the Moon and Cancer, and therefore if the weakness of the retentive faculty be caused by an evil influence of Saturn in any part of the body governed by the Moon, or under the dominion of Cancer, this herb cures it by sympathy. It cures these diseases after specified, in any part of the body under the influence of Saturn, by antipathy.
It is temperate in respect of heat, but dry in the second degree. The juice of the leaves, drank with the distilled water of Horse-tail, is a singular remedy for all manner of wounds in the breast, bowels, or other parts of the body, and is given with good success to those that are troubled with casting, vomiting, or bleeding at the mouth or nose, or otherwise downwards. The said juice given in the distilled water of Oaken-buds, is very good for women who have their usual courses, or the whites flowing down too abundantly. It helps sore eyes. Of the leaves infused or boiled in oil, omphacine or unripe olives, set in the sun four certain days, or the green leaves sufficiently boiled in the said oil, is made an excellent green balsam, not only for green and fresh wounds, but also for old and inveterate ulcers, especially if a little fine clear turpentine be dissolved therein. It also stays and refreshes all inflammations that arise upon pains by hurts and wounds.
What parts of the body are under each planet and sign, and also what disease may be found in my astrological judgment of diseases; and for the internal work of nature in the body of man; as vital, animal, natural and procreative spirits of man; the apprehension, judgment, memory; the external senses, viz. seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling; the virtuous, attractive, retentive, digestive, expulsive, &c. under the dominion of what planets they are, may be found in my Ephemeris for the year 1651. In both which you shall find the chaff of authors blown away by the fame of Dr. Reason, and nothing but rational truths left for the ingenious to feed upon.
Lastly. To avoid blotting paper with one thing many times, and also to ease your purses in the price of the book, and withal to make you studious in physic; you have at the latter end of the book, the way of preserving all herbs either in juice, conserve, oil, ointment or plaister, electuary, pills, or troches.
Descript : This has divers long leaves (some greater, some smaller) set upon a stalk, all of them dented about the edges, green above, and greyish underneath, and a little hairy withal. Among which arises up usually but one strong, round, hairy, brown stalk, two or three feet high, with smaller leaves set here and there upon it. At the top thereof grow many small yellow flowers, one above another, in long spikes; after which come rough heads of seed, hanging downwards, which will cleave to and stick upon garments, or any thing that shall rub against them. The knot is black, long, and somewhat woody, abiding many years, and shooting afresh every Spring; which root, though small, hath a reasonable good scent.
Place : It grows upon banks, near the sides of hedges.
Time : It flowers in July and August, the seed being ripe shortly after.
Government and virtues : It is an herb under Jupiter, and the sign Cancer; and strengthens those parts under the planet and sign, and removes diseases in them by sympathy, and those under Saturn, Mars and Mercury by antipathy, if they happen in any part of the body governed by Jupiter, or under the signs Cancer, Sagitarius or Pisces, and therefore must needs be good for the gout, either used outwardly in oil or ointment, or inwardly in an electuary, or syrup, or concerted juice: for which see the latter end of this book.
It is of a cleansing and cutting faculty, without any manifest heat, moderately drying and binding. It opens and cleanses the liver, helps the jaundice, and is very beneficial to the bowels, healing all inward wounds, bruises, hurts, and other distempers. The decoction of the herb made with wine, and drank, is good against the biting and stinging of serpents, and helps them that make foul, troubled or bloody water.
This herb also helps the cholic, cleanses the breast, and rids away the cough. A draught of the decoction taken warm before the fit, first removes, and in time rids away the tertian or quartan agues. The leaves and seeds taken in wine, stays the bloody flux; outwardly applied, being stamped with old swine's grease, it helps old sores, cancers, and inveterate ulcers, and draws forth thorns and splinters of wood, nails, or any other such things gotten in the flesh. It helps to strengthen the members that be out of joint: and being bruised and applied, or the juice dropped in it, helps foul and imposthumed ears.
The distilled water of the herb is good to all the said purposes, either inward or outward, but a great deal weaker.
It is a most admirable remedy for such whose livers are annoyed either by heat or cold. The liver is the former of blood, and blood the nourisher of the body, and Agrimony a strengthener of the liver.
I cannot stand to give you a reason in every herb why it cures such diseases; but if you please to pursue my judgment in the herb Wormwood, you shall find them there, and it will be well worth your while to consider it in every herb, you shall find them true throughout the book.
It is called in some countries, Water Hemp, Bastard Hemp, and Bastard Agrimony, Eupatorium, and Hepatorium, because it strengthens the liver.
Descript : The root continues a long time, having many long slender strings. The stalk grows up about two feet high, sometimes higher. They are of a dark purple color. The branches are many, growing at distances the one from the other, the one from the one side of the stalk, the other from the opposite point. The leaves are fringed, and much indented at the edges. The flowers grow at the top of the branches, of a brown yellow color, spotted with black spots, having a substance within the midst of them like that of a Daisy. If you rub them between your fingers, they smell like rosin or cedar when it is burnt. The seeds are long, and easily stick to any woollen thing they touch.
Place : They delight not in heat, and therefore they are not so frequently found in the Southern parts of England as in the northern, where they grow frequently. You may look for them in cold grounds, by ponds and ditches' sides, and also by running waters; sometimes you shall find them grow in the midst of waters.
Time : They all flower in July or August, and the seed is ripe presently after.
Government and virtues : It is a plant of Jupiter, as well as the other Agrimony, only this belongs to the celestial sign Cancer. It heals and dries, cuts and cleanses thick and tough humours of the breast, and for this I hold it inferior to but few herbs that grow. It helps the cachexia or evil disposition of the body, the dropsy and yellow-jaundice. It opens obstructions of the liver, mollifies the hardness of the spleen, being applied outwardly. It breaks imposthumes away inwardly. It is an excellent remedy for the third day ague. It provokes urine and the terms; it kills worms, and cleanses the body of sharp humours, which are the cause of itch and scabs; the herb being burnt, the smoke thereof drives away flies, wasps, &c. It strengthens the lungs exceedingly. Country people give it to their cattle when they are troubled with the cough, or brokenwinded.
ALEHOOF, OR GROUND-IVY
Several counties give it different names, so that there is scarcely any herb growing of that bigness that has got so many. It is called Cat's-foot, Ground-ivy, Gill-go-by-ground, and Gill-creep-by-ground, Turnhoof, Haymaids, and Alehoof.
Descript : This well known herb lies, spreads and creeps upon the ground, shoots forth roots, at the corners of tender jointed stalks, set with two round leaves at every joint somewhat hairy, crumpled and unevenly dented about the edges with round dents; at the joints likewise, with the leaves towards the end of the branches, come forth hollow, long flowers of a blueish purple color, with small white spots upon the lips that hang down. The root is small with strings.
Place : It is commonly found under hedges, and on the sides of ditches, under houses, or in shadowed lanes, and other waste grounds, in almost every part of this land.
Time : They flower somewhat early, and abide a great while; the leaves continue green until Winter, and sometimes abide, except the Winter be very sharp and cold.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Venus, and therefore cures the diseases she causes by sympathy, and those of Mars by antipathy; you may usually find it all the year long except the year be extremely frosty; it is quick, sharp, and bitter in taste, and is thereby found to be hot and dry; a singular herb for all inward wounds, exulcerated lungs, or other parts, either by itself, or boiled with other the like herbs; and being drank, in a short time it eases all griping pains, windy and choleric humours in the stomach, spleen or belly; helps the yellow jaundice, by opening the stoppings of the gall and liver, and melancholy, by opening the stoppings of the spleen; expels venom or poison, and also the plague; it provokes urine and women's courses; the decoction of it in wine drank for some time together, procures ease to them that are troubled with the sciatica, or hip-gout: as also the gout in hands, knees or feet; if you put to the decoction some honey and a little burnt alum, it is excellently good to gargle any sore mouth or throat, and to wash the sores and ulcers in the privy parts of man or woman; it speedily helps green wounds, being bruised and bound thereto. The juice of it boiled with a little honey and verdigrease, doth wonderfully cleanse fistulas, ulcers, and stays the spreading or eating of cancers and ulcers; it helps the itch, scabs, wheals, and other breakings out in any part of the body. The juice of Celandine, Field-daisies, and Ground-ivy clarified, and a little fine sugar dissolved therein, and dropped into the eyes, is a sovereign remedy for all pains, redness, and watering of them; as also for the pin and web, skins and films growing over the sight, it helps beasts as well as men. The juice dropped into the ears, wonderfully helps the noise and singing of them, and helps the hearing which is decayed. It is good to tun up with new drink, for it will clarify it in a night, that it will be the fitter to be drank the next morning; or if any drink be thick with removing, or any other accident, it will do the like in a few hours.
It is called Alisander, Horse-parsley, and Wild-parsley, and the Black Pot-herb; the seed of it is that which is usually sold in apothecaries' shops for Macedonian Parsley-seed.
Descript : It is usually sown in all the gardens in Europe, and so well known, that it needs no farther description.
Time : It flowers in June and July; the seed is ripe in August.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Jupiter, and therefore friendly to nature, for it warms a cold stomach, and opens a stoppage of the liver and spleen; it is good to move women's courses, to expel the afterbirth, to break wind, to provoke urine, and helps the stranguary; and these things the seeds will do likewise. If either of them be boiled in wine, or being bruised and taken in wine, is also effectual against the biting of serpents. And you know what Alexander pottage is good for, that you may no longer eat it out of ignorance but out of knowledge.
THE BLACK ALDER-TREE
Descript : This tree seldom grows to any great bigness but for the most part abideth like a hedge-bush, or a tree spreading its branches, the woods of the body being white, and a dark red colet or heart; the outward bark is of a blackish color, with many whitish spots therein; but the inner bark next the wood is yellow, which being chewed, will turn the spittle into a saffron color. The leaves are somewhat like those of an ordinary Alder-tree, or the Female Cornet, or Dogberry-tree, called in Sussex Dog-wood, but blacker, and not so long. The flowers are white, coming forth with the leaves at the joints, which turn into small round berries, first green, afterwards red, but blackish when they are thorough ripe, divided, as it were, into two parts, wherein is contained two small round and flat seeds. The root runneth not deep into the ground, but spreads rather under the upper crust of the earth.
Place : This tree or shrub may be found plentifully in St. John's Wood by Hornsey, and the woods upon Hampstead Heath; as also a wood called the Old Park, in Barcomb, in Essex, near the brook's sides.
Time : It flowers in May, and the berries are ripe in September.
Government and virtues : It is a tree of Venus, and perhaps under the celestial sign Cancer. The inner yellow bark hereof purges downwards both choler and phlegm, and the watery humours of such that have the dropsy, and strengthens the inward parts again by binding. If the bark hereof be boiled with Agrimony, Wormwood, Dodder, Hops, and some Fennel, with Smallage, Endive, and Succory-roots, and a reasonable draught taken every morning for some time together, it is very effectual against the jaundice, dropsy, and the evil disposition of the body, especially if some suitable purging medicines have been taken before, to void the grosser excrements. It purges and strengthens the liver and spleen, cleansing them from such evil humours and hardness as they are afflicted with. It is to be understood that these things are performed by the dried bark; for the fresh green bark taken inwardly provokes strong vomitings, pains in the stomach, and gripings in the belly; yet if the decoction may stand and settle two or three days, until the yellow color be changed black, it will not work so strongly as before, but will strengthen the stomach, and procure an appetite to meat. The outward bark contrariwise doth bind the body, and is helpful for all lasks and fluxes thereof, but this also must be dried first, whereby it will work the better. The inner bark thereof boiled in vinegar is an approved remedy to kill lice, to cure the itch, and take away scabs, by drying them up in a short time. It is singularly good to wash the teeth, to take away the pains, to fasten those that are loose, to cleanse them, and to keep them sound. The leaves are good fodder for kine, to make them give more milk.
If in the Spring-time you use the herbs before mentioned, and will take but a handful of each of them, and to them add an handful of Elder buds, and having bruised them all, boil them in a gallon of ordinary beer, when it is new; and having boiled them half an hour, add to this three gallons more, and let them work together, and drink a draught of it every morning, half a pint or thereabouts; it is an excellent purge for the Spring, to consume the phlegmatic quality the Winter hath left behind it, and withal to keep your body in health, and consume those evil humours which the heat of Summer will readily stir up. Esteem it as a jewel.
THE COMMON ALDER-TREE
Descript : This grows to a reasonable height, and spreads much if it like the place. It is so generally known to country people, that I conceive it needless to tell that which is no news.
Place and Time : It delights to grow in moist woods, and watery places; flowering in April or May, and yielding ripe seed in September.
Government and virtues : It is a tree under the dominion of Venus, and of some watery sign or others, I suppose Pisces; and therefore the decoction, or distilled water of the leaves, is excellent against burnings and inflammations, either with wounds or without, to bathe the place grieved with, and especially for that inflammation in the breast, which the vulgar call an ague.
If you cannot get the leaves (as in Winter it is impossible) make use of the bark in the same manner.
The leaves and bark of the Alder-tree are cooling, drying, and binding. The fresh leaves, laid upon swellings, dissolve them, and stay the inflammation. The leaves put under the bare feet galled with travelling, are a great refreshing to them. The said leaves, gathered while the morning dew is on them, and brought into a chamber troubled with fleas, will gather them thereunto, which being suddenly cast out, will rid the chamber of those troublesome bedfellows.
To write a description of that which is so well known to be growing almost in every garden, I suppose is altogether needless; yet for its virtue it is of admirable
In time of Heathenism, when men had found out any excellent herb, they dedicated it to their gods; as the bay-tree to Apollo, the Oak to Jupiter, the Vine to Bacchus, the Poplar to Hercules. These the idolators following as the Patriarchs they dedicate to their Saints; as our Lady's Thistle to the Blessed Virgin, St. John's Wort to St. John and another Wort to St. Peter, &c. Our physicians must imitate like apes (though they cannot come off half so cleverly) for they blasphemously call Phansies or Heartsease, an herb of the Trinity, because it is of three colors; and a certain ointment, an ointment of the Apostles, because it consists of twelve ingredients. Alas I am sorry for their folly, and grieved at their blasphemy. God send them wisdom the rest of their age, for they have their share of ignorance already. Oh! Why must ours be blasphemous, because the Heathens and infidels were idolatrous? Certainly they have read so much in old rusty authors, that they have lost all their divinity; for unless it were amongst the Ranters, I never read or heard of such blasphemy. The Heathens and infidels were bad, and ours worse; the idolators give idolatrous names to herbs for their virtues sake, not for their fair looks; and therefore some called this an herb of the Holy Ghost; others, more moderate, called it Angelica, because of its angelical virtues, and that name it retains still, and all nations follow it so near as their dialect will permit.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of the Sun in Leo; let it be gathered when he is there, the Moon applying to his good aspect; let it be gathered either in his hour, or in the hour of Jupiter, let Sol be angular; observe the like in gathering the herbs, of other planets, and you may happen to do wonders. In all epidemical diseases caused by Saturn, that is as good a preservative as grows: It resists poison, by defending and comforting the heart, blood, and spirits; it doth the like against the plague and all epidemical diseases, if the root be taken in powder to the weight of half a dram at a time, with some good treacle in Carduus water, and the party thereupon laid to sweat in his bed; if treacle be not to be had take it alone in Carduus or Angelica-water. The stalks or roots candied and eaten fasting, are good preservatives in time of infection; and at other times to warm and comfort a cold stomach. The root also steeped in vinegar, and a little of that vinegar taken sometimes fasting, and the root smelled unto, is good for the same purpose. A water distilled from the root simply, as steeped in wine, and distilled in a glass, is much more effectual than the water of the leaves; and this water, drank two or three spoonfuls at a time, easeth all pains and torments coming of cold and wind, so that the body be not bound; and taken with some of the root in powder at the beginning, helpeth the pleurisy, as also all other diseases of the lungs and breast, as coughs, phthysic, and shortness of breath; and a syrup of the stalks do the like. It helps pains of the cholic, the stranguary and stoppage of the urine, procureth womens' courses, and expelleth the afterbirth, openeth the stoppings of the liver and spleen, and briefly easeth and discusseth all windiness and inward swellings. The decoction drank before the fit of an ague, that they may sweat (if possible) before the fit comes, will, in two or three times taking, rid it quite away; it helps digestion and is a remedy for a surfeit. The juice or the water, being dropped into the eyes or ears, helps dimness of sight and deafness; the juice put into the hollow teeth, easeth their pains. The root in powder, made up into a plaster with a little pitch, and laid on the biting of mad dogs, or any other venomous creature, doth wonderfully help. The juice or the waters dropped, or tent wet therein, and put into filthy dead ulcers, or the powder of the root (in want of either) doth cleanse and cause them to heal quickly, by covering the naked bones with flesh; the distilled water applied to places pained with the gout, or sciatica, doth give a great deal of ease.
The wild Angelica is not so effectual as the garden; although it may be safely used to all the purposes aforesaid.
BESIDES its common name, by which it is best known by the florists of our days, it is called Flower Gentle, Flower Velure Floramor, and Velvet Flower.
Descript : It being a garden flower, and well known to every one that keeps it, I might forbear the description; yet, notwithstanding, because some desire it, I shall give it. It runs up with a stalk a cubit high, streaked, and somewhat reddish towards the root, but very smooth, divided towards the top with small branches, among which stand long broad leaves of a reddish green color, slippery; the flowers are not properly flowers, but tuffs, very beautiful to behold, but of no smell, of reddish color; if you bruise them, they yield juice of the same color, being gathered, they keep their beauty a long time; the seed is of a shining black color.
Time : They continue in flower from August till the time the frost nips them.
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion of Saturn, and is an excellent qualifier of the unruly actions and passions of Venus, though Mars also should join with her. The flowers, dried and beaten into powder, stop the terms in women, and so do almost all other red things. And by the icon, or image of every herb, the ancients at first found out their virtues. Modern writers laugh at them for it; but I wonder in my heart, how the virtues of herbs came at first to be known, if not by their signatures; the moderns have them from the writings of the ancients; the ancients had no writings to have them from: but to proceed. The flowers stop all fluxes of blood; whether in man or woman, bleeding either at the nose or wound. There is also a sort of Amaranthus that bears a white flower, which stops the whites in women, and the running of the reins in men, and is a most gallant antivenereal, and a singular remedy for the French pox.
CALLED also Wind flower, because they say the flowers never open but when the wind blows. Pliny is my author; if it be not so, blame him. The seed also (if it bears any at all) flies away with the wind.
Place and Time : They are sown usually in the gardens of the curious, and flower in the Spring-time. As for description I shall pass it, being well known to all those that sow them.
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion of Mars, being supposed to be a kind of Crow-foot. The leaves provoke the terms mightily, being boiled, and the decoction drank. The body being bathed with the decoction of them, cures the leprosy. The leaves being stamped and the juice snuffed up in the nose, purges the head mightily; so does the root, being chewed in the mouth, for it procures much spitting, and brings away many watery and phlegmatic humours, and is therefore excellent for the lethargy. And when all is done, let physicians prate what they please, all the pills in the dispensatory purge not the head like to hot things held in the mouth. Being made into an ointment, and the eye-lids anointed with it, it helps inflammations of the eyes, whereby it is palpable, that every stronger draws its weaker like. The same ointment is excellently good to cleanse malignant and corroding ulcers.
CALLED also Orach, and Arage; it is cultivated for domestic uses.
Descript : It is so commonly known to every housewife, it were labour lost to describe it.
Time : It flowers and seeds from June to the end of August.
Government and virtues : It is under the government of the Moon; in quality cold and moist like unto her. It softens and loosens the body of man being eaten, and fortifies the expulsive faculty in him. The herb, whether it be bruised and applied to the throat, or boiled, and in like manner applied, it matters not much, it is excellently good for swellings in the throat: the best way, I suppose, is to boil it, apply the herb outwardly: the decoction of it, besides, is an excellent remedy for the yellow jaundice.
ARRACH, WILD AND STINKING
CALLED also Vulvaria, from that part of the body upon which the operation is most; also Dog's Arrach, Goat's Arrach, and Stinking Motherwort.
Descript : This has small and almost round leaves, yet a little pointed and without dent or cut, of a dusky mealy color, growing on the slender stalks and branches that spread on the ground, with small flowers set with the leaves, and small seeds succeeding like the rest, perishing yearly, and rising again with its own sowing. It smells like rotten fish, or something worse.
Place : It grows usually upon dunghills.
Time : They flower in June and July, and their seed is ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues : Stinking Arrach is used as a remedy to women pained, and almost strangled with the mother, by smelling to it; but inwardly taken there is no better remedy under the moon for that disease. I would be large in commendation of this herb, were I but eloquent. It is an herb under the dominion of Venus, and under the sign Scorpio; it is common almost upon every dunghill. The works of God are freely given to man, his medicines are common and cheap, and easily to be found. I commend it for an universal medicine for the womb, and such a medicine as will easily, safely, and speedily cure any disease thereof, as the fits of the mother, dislocation, or falling out thereof; cools the womb being over-heated. And let me tell you this, and I will tell you the truth, heat of the womb is one of the greatest causes of hard labour in child-birth. It makes barren women fruitful. It cleanseth the womb if it be foul, and strengthens it exceedingly; it provokes the terms if they be stopped, and stops them if they flow immoderately; you can desire no good to your womb, but this herb will affect it; therefore if you love children, if you love health, if you love ease, keep a syrup always by you, made of the juice of this herb, and sugar (or honey, if it be to cleanse the womb), and let such as be rich keep it for their poor neighbours; and bestow it as freely as I bestow my studies upon them, or else let them look to answer it another day, when the Lord shall come to make inquisition for blood.
To put a gloss upon their practice, the physicians call a herb (which country people vulgarly know by the name of Dead Nettle) Archangel; whether they favour more of superstition or folly, I leave to the judicious reader. There is more curiosity than courtesy to my countrymen used by others in the explanation as well of the names, as description of this so well known herb; which that I may not also be guilty of, take this short description: first, of the Red Archangel. This is likewise called Bee Nettle.
Descript : This has divers square stalks, somewhat hairy, at the joints whereof grow two sad green leaves dented about the edges, opposite to one another to the lowermost, upon long foot stalks, but without any toward the tops, which are somewhat round, yet pointed, and a little crumpled and hairy; round about the upper joints, where the leaves grow thick, are sundry gaping flowers of a pale reddish color; after which come the seeds three or four in a husk. The root is small and thready, perishing every year; the whole plant hath a strong smell but not stinking.
White Archangel hath divers square stalks, none standing straight upward, but bending downward, whereon stand two leaves at a joint, larger and more pointed than the other, dented about the edges, and greener also, more like unto Nettle leaves, but not stinking, yet hairy. At the joints, with the leaves, stand larger and more open gaping white flowers, husks round about the stalks, but not with such a bush of leaves as flowers set in the top, as is on the other, wherein stand small roundish black seeds; the root is white, with many strings at it, not growing downward but lying under the upper crust of the earth, and abides many years increasing; this has not so strong a scent as the former.
Yellow Archangel is like the White in the stalks and leaves; but that the stalks are more straight and upright, and the joints with leaves are farther asunder, having longer leaves than the former, and the flowers a little larger and more gaping, of a fair yellow color in most, in some paler. The roots are like the white, only they creep not so much under the ground.
Place : They grow almost everywhere (unless it be in the middle of the street), the yellow most usually in the wet grounds of woods, and sometimes in the dryer, in divers counties of this nation.
Time : They flower from the beginning of the Spring all the Summer long.
Government and virtues : The Archangels are somewhat hot and drier than the stinging Nettles, and used with better success for the stopping and hardness of the spleen, than they, by using the decoction of the herb in wine, and afterwards applying the herb hot into the region of the spleen as a plaister, or the decoction with spunges. Flowers of the White Archangel are preserved or conserved to be used to stay the whites, and the flowers of the red to stay the reds in women. It makes the head merry, drives away melancholy, quickens the spirits, is good against quartan agues, stancheth bleeding at mouth and nose, if it be stamped and applied to the nape of the neck; the herb also bruised, and with some salt and vinegar and hog's-grease, laid upon a hard tumour or swelling, or that vulgarly called the king's evil, do help to dissolve or discuss them; and being in like manner applied, doth much allay the pains, and give ease to the gout, sciatica, and other pains of the joints and sinews. It is also very effectual to heal green wounds, and old ulcers; also to stay their fretting, gnawing, and spreading. It draws forth splinters, and such like things gotten into the flesh, and is very good against bruises and burnings. But the Yellow Archangel is most commended for old, filthy, corrupt sores and ulcers, yea although they grow to be hollow, and to dissolve tumours. The chief use of them is for women, it being a herb of Venus.
THE hot Arssmart is called also Waterpepper, or Culrage. The mild Arssmart is called dead Arssmart Persicaria, or Peachwort, because the leaves are so like the leaves of a peach-tree; it is also called Plumbago.
Description of the mild : This has broad leaves set at the great red joint of the stalks; with semicircular blackish marks on them, usually either bluish or whitish, with such like seed following. The root is long, with many strings thereat, perishing yearly; this has no sharp taste (as another sort has, which is quick and biting) but rather sour like sorrel, or else a little drying, or without taste.
Place : It grows in watery places, ditches, and the like, which for the most part are dry in summer.
Time : It flowers in June, and the seed is ripe in August.
Government and virtues : As the virtue of both these is various, so is also their government; for that which is hot and biting, is under the dominion of Mars, but Saturn, challenges the other, as appears by that leaden colored spot he hath placed upon the leaf.
It is of a cooling and drying quality, and very effectual for putrefied ulcers in man or beast, to kill worms, and cleanse the putrefied places. The juice thereof dropped in, or otherwise applied, consumes all colds, swellings, and dissolveth the congealed blood of bruises by strokes, falls, &c. A piece of the root, or some of the seeds bruised, and held to an aching tooth, takes away the pain. The leaves bruised and laid to the joint that has a felon thereon, takes it away. The juice destroys worms in the ears, being dropped into them; if the hot Arssmart be strewed in a chamber, it will soon kill all the fleas; and the herb or juice of the cold Arssmart, put to a horse or other cattle's sores, will drive away the fly in the hottest time of Summer; a good handful of the hot biting Arssmart put under a horse's saddle, will make him travel the better, although he were half tired before. The mild Arssmart is good against all imposthumes and inflammations at the beginning, and to heal green wounds.
All authors chop the virtues of both sorts of Arssmart together, as men chop herbs for the pot, when both of them are of contrary qualities. The hot Arssmart grows not so high or tall as the mild doth, but has many leaves of the color of peach leaves, very seldom or never spotted; in other particulars it is like the former, but may easily be known from it, if you will but be pleased to break a leaf of it cross your tongue, for the hot will make your tongue to smart, but the cold will not. If you see them both together, you may easily distinguish them, because the mild hath far broader leaves.
Descript : Asarabacca appears like an evergreen, keeping its leaves all the Winter, but putting forth new ones in the time of Spring. It has many heads rising from the roots, from whence come many smooth leaves, every one upon his foot stalks, which are rounder and bigger than Violet leaves, thicker also, and of a dark green shining color on the upper side, and of a pale yellow green underneath, little or nothing dented about the edges, from among which rise small, round, hollow, brown green husks, upon short stalks, about an inch long, divided at the brims into five divisions, very like the cups or heads of the Henbane seed, but that they are smaller; and these be all the flower it carries, which are somewhat sweet, being smelled to, and wherein, when they are ripe, is contained small cornered rough seeds, very like the kernels or stones of grapes, or raisins. The roots are small and whitish, spreading divers ways in the ground, increasing into divers heads; but not running or creeping under the ground as some other creeping herbs do. They are somewhat sweet in smell, resembling Nardus, but more when they are dry than green; and of a sharp and not unpleasant taste.
Place : It grows frequently in gardens.
Time : They keep their leaves green all Winter; but shoot forth new in the Spring, and with them come forth those heads or flowers which give ripe seed about Mid-summer, or somewhat after.
Government and virtues : It is a plant under the dominion of Mars, and therefore inimical to nature. This herb being drank, not only provokes vomiting, but purges downwards, and by urine also, purges both choler and phlegm: If you add to it some spikenard, with the whey of goat's milk, or honeyed water, it is made more strong, but it purges phlegm more manifestly than choler, and therefore does much help pains in the hips, and other parts; being boiled in whey, it wonderfully helps the obstructions of the liver and spleen, and therefore profitable for the dropsy and jaundice; being steeped in wine and drank, it helps those continual agues that come by the plenty of stubborn humours; an oil made thereof by setting in the sun, with some laudanum added to it, provokes sweating (the ridge of the back being anointed therewith), and thereby drives away the shaking fits of the ague. It will not abide any long boiling, for it loseth its chief strength thereby; nor much beating, for the finer powder provokes vomits and urine, and the coarser purgeth downwards.
The common use hereof is, to take the juice of five or seven leaves in a little drink to cause vomiting; the roots have also the same virtue, though they do not operate so forcibly; they are very effectual against the biting of serpents, and therefore are put as an ingredient both into Mithridite and Venice treacle. The leaves and roots being boiled in lye, and the head often washed therewith while it is warm, comforts the head and brain that is ill affected by taking cold, and helps the memory.
I shall desire ignorant people to forbear the use of the leaves; the roots purge more gently, and may prove beneficial to such as have cancers, or old putrefied ulcers, or fistulas upon their bodies, to take a dram of them in powder in a quarter of a pint of white wine in the morning. The truth is, I fancy purging and vomiting medicines as little as any man breathing doth, for they weaken nature, nor shall ever advise them to be used, unless upon urgent necessity. If a physician be nature's servant, it is his duty to strengthen his mistress as much as he can, and weaken her as little as may be.
ASPARAGUS, SPARAGUS, OR SPERAGE
Descript : It rises up at first with divers white and green scaly heads, very brittle or easy to break while they are young, which afterwards rise up in very long and slender green stalks of the bigness of an ordinary riding wand, at the bottom of most, or bigger, or lesser, as the roots are of growth; on which are set divers branches of green leaves shorter and smaller than fennel to the top; at the joints whereof come forth small yellowish flowers, which turn into round berries, green at first and of an excellent red color when they are ripe, showing like bead or coral, wherein are contained exceeding hard black seeds; the roots are dispersed from a spongeous head into many long, thick, and round strings, wherein is sucked much nourishment out of the ground, and increaseth plentifully thereby.
PRICKLY ASPARAGUS, OR SPERAGE
Descript : This grows usually in gardens, and some of it grows wild in Appleton meadows in Gloucestershire, where the poor people gather the buds of young shoots, and sell them cheaper than our garden Asparagus is sold in London.
Time : For the most part they flower, and bear their berries late in the year, or not at all, although they are housed in Winter.
Government and virtues : They are both under the dominion of Jupiter. The young buds or branches boiled in ordinary broth, make the belly soluble and open, and boiled in white wine, provoke urine, being stopped, and is good against the stranguary or difficulty of making water; it expelleth the gravel and stone out of the kidneys, and helpeth pains in the reins. And boiled in white wine or vinegar, it is prevalent for them that have their arteries loosened, or are troubled with the hip-gout or sciatica. The decoction of the roots boiled in wine and taken, is good to clear the sight, and being held in the mouth easeth the toothache. The garden asparagus nourisheth more than the wild, yet hath it the same effects in all the aforementioned diseases. The decoction of the root in white wine, and the back and belly bathed therewith, or kneeling or lying down in the same, or sitting therein as a bath, has been found effectual against pains of the reins and bladder, pains of the mother and cholic, and generally against all pains that happen to the lower parts of the body, and no less effectual against stiff and benumbed sinews, or those that are shrunk by cramp and convulsions, and helps the sciatica.
THIS is so well known, that time would be misspent in writing a description of it; therefore I shall only insist upon the virtues of it.
Government and virtues : It is governed by the Sun: and the young tender tops, with the leaves, taken inwardly, and some of them outwardly applied, are singularly good against the bitings of viper, adder, or any other venomous beast; and the water distilled therefrom being taken, a small quantity every morning fasting, is a singular medicine for those that are subject to dropsy, or to abate the greatness of those that are too gross or fat. The decoction of the leaves in white wine helps to break the stone, and expel it, and cures the jaundice. The ashes of the bark of the Ash made into lye, and those heads bathed therewith which are leprous, scabby, or scald, they are thereby cured. The kernels within the husks, commonly called Ashen Keys, prevail against stitches and pains in the sides, proceeding of wind, and voideth away the stone by provoking urine.
I can justly except against none of all this, save only the first, viz. That Ash-tree tops and leaves are good against the bitings of serpents and vipers. I suppose this had its rise from Gerrard or Pliny, both which hold that there is such an antipathy between an adder and an Ash-tree, that if an adder be encompassed round with Ash-tree leaves, she will sooner run through the fire than through the leaves. The contrary to which is the truth, as both my eyes are witnesses. The rest are virtues something likely, only if it be in Winter when you cannot get the leaves, you may safely use the bark instead of them. The keys you may easily keep all the year, gathering them when they are ripe.
AVENS, CALLED ALSO COLEWORT, AND HERB BONET
Descript : The ordinary Avens hath many long, rough, dark green, winged leaves, rising from the root, every one made of many leaves set on each side of the middle rib, the largest three whereof grow at the end, and are snipped or dented round about the edges; the other being small pieces, sometimes two and sometimes four, standing on each side of the middle rib underneath them. Among which do rise up divers rough or hairy stalks about two feet high, branching forth with leaves at every joint not so long as those below, but almost as much cut in on the edges, some into three parts, some into more. On the tops of the branches stand small, pale, yellow flowers consisting of five leaves, like the flowers of Cinquefoil, but large, in the middle whereof stand a small green herb, which when the flower is fallen, grows to be round, being made of many long greenish purple seeds, (like grains) which will stick upon your clothes. The root consists of many brownish strings or fibres, smelling somewhat like unto cloves, especially those which grow in the higher, hotter, and drier grounds, and in free and clear air.
Place : They grow wild in many places under hedge's sides, and by the pathways in fields; yet they rather delight to grow in shadowy than sunny places.
Time : They flower in May or June for the most part, and their seed is ripe in July at the farthest.
Government and virtues : It is governed by Jupiter, and that gives hopes of a wholesome healthful herb. It is good for the diseases of the chest or breast, for pains, and stiches in the side, and to expel crude and raw humours from the belly and stomach, by the sweet savour and warming quality. It dissolves the inward congealed blood happening by falls or bruises, and the spitting of blood, if the roots, either green or dry, be boiled in wine and drank; as also all manner of inward wounds or outward, if washed or bathed therewith. The decoction also being drank, comforts the heart, and strengthens the stomach and a cold brain, and therefore is good in the spring time to open obstructions of the liver, and helps the wind cholic; it also helps those that have fluxes, or are bursten, or have a rupture; it takes away spots or marks in the face, being washed therewith. The juice of the fresh root, or powder of the dried root, has the same effect with the decoction. The root in the Spring-time steeped in wine, gives it a delicate savour and taste, and being drank fasting every morning, comforts the heart, and is a good preservative against the plague, or any other poison. It helps indigestion, and warms a cold stomach, and opens obstructions of the liver and spleen.
It is very safe: you need have no dose prescribed; and is very fit to be kept in every body's house.
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