Magic And Wicca - Herbal Encyclopedia - G
Herbs & Oils
~ G ~
(Alpinia officionalis or A. galanga)
Also known as Low John the Conquerer or Siamese Ginger. Galangal has dark green, sword-shaped leaves, white flowers with pink veins, round red seed capsules, and a rhizomous rootstalk that smells of ginger and camphor. The rhizome has a spicy, gingerlike flavor used in Southeast Asia soups and curries. The young shoots and flowers are eaten raw and the flowers can be boiled or pickled. The rhizome yields an essential oil, essence d'Amali, used in perfumes.
Magical Uses: Use tincture for luck, money, protection, exorcism and psychic development. Ginger can be substituted.
This evergreen shrub or small tree has exquisitely scented white double flowers and orange-red fruits, with glossy, dark green leaves.
Parts Used: Flower
Magical Uses: Health, Healing; Love; Peace; Psychic Awareness; Spirituality. Place fresh blossoms in sick rooms or on healing altars to aid the process. Add dried petals to healing mixtures. Dried gardenia is scattered around a room to induce peaceful vibrations. Add to Moon incenses. Gardenias are used in love spells, and to attract good spirits during rituals. They have very high spiritual vibrations.
Garlic has a clustered bulb made up of several bulblets (cloves) enclosed in a papery tunic. It has a single stem with long, thin leaves and an ubmel of edible, rose-tinted white summer flowers and a bulb whose flavor increases the more it is sliced or crushed. Cooking with fresh ginger prevents the slight nausea some experience with Garlic. Garlic repels insects and can be applied to their bites and stings. The cloves add flavor to savory dishes, especially in hot countries where the plants develop the best flavor. Garlic purifies the blood, helps control acne, and reduces blood pressure, cholesterol, and clotting. Tests confirm antibiotic activity against samples of candida, cholora, staphylococcus, salmonella, dysentery, and typhus: and a mild antifungal action. Garlic clears phlegm, thus providing treatment for colds, bronchitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, and whooping cough. New tests suggest it has a role in treating lead poisoning, some carcinomas and diabetes. It's said that growing garlic around potatoes reduces potato blight.
The garlic bulb is one of the great herbal "polycrests" - herbs of many uses. Fresh garlic is a preventative and a cure for intestinal worms. It is generally taken in one-teaspoon doses, three to six times a day, with some grated fresh ginger root. Garlic is a natural antibiotic for internal and external use. Mash it and use as a wound dressing. For a sore throat, lightly roast unpeeled cloves in a dry frying pan, peel them when they grow soft, and eat them. For pinworms, a slightly smashed fresh clove can be inserted into the rectum with olive oil. For vaginal infections, smash a few cloves and wrap them in cheese cloth. Insert directly into the vagina. Fresh raw garlic is more effective than the powdered and extracted forms available for sale. Garlic has been shown to be more effective than tetracycline as an antibiotic.
CAUTION: Pregnant women and persons with "hot and fiery" temperaments should avoid overuse of garlic.
Parts Used: Bulb
Magical Uses: In the home, braids of garlic guard against evil, repel thieves, and turn away the envious. And of course, garlic protects against vampires. It is a very effective blessing for a new home. Garlic was eaten on festival days to Hecate and was left at a crossroads as a sacrifice in Her name. Garlic was once worn to guard against the plague. It is still used to absorb diseases. Simply rub fesh, peeled cloves of garlic onto the afflicted part of the body tehn throw into running water. An old spell utilized garlic in protecting against hepatitis. To do this, simply wear thirteen cloves of garlic at the end of a cord around the neck for thirteen days. On the last day, in the middle of the night, walk to a corner of an intersection of two streets, remove the necklace, throw it behind you and run home without looking back
Garlic is also extemely protective. Sailors carry some while on board ship to protect against its wrecking. Soldiers wore garlic as a defense in the middle ages, while Roman soldiers ate it to give them courage.
Worn, garlic guards against foul weather (mountaineers wear it) as well as monsters, and it also shields you from the blows of your enemies.
When evil spirits are about, bite into garlic to send them away, or sprinkle powdered garlic on the floor (if you don't mind smelling it for some time.) Garlic is placed beneath children's pillows to protect them while asleep, and brides once carried a clove of garlic in the pocket for good luck and to keep evil far from her on her big day. Rubbed onto pots and pans before cooking, it removes negative vibrations which might otherwise contaminate the food.
When eaten, garlic acts as a lust-inducer, and when a magnet or lodestone is rubbed with garlic it loses its magical powers.
Ginger has an aromatic rhizome, erect stems of two ranks, lance-shaped leaves, and spikes of white flowers. The rhizome is used fresh, dried, pickled and preserved. Essential to Asian dishes. Crystalized or infused Ginger suppresses nausea. Ginger tea eases indigestion and flatulence, and reduces fever.
the root is warming to the body, is slightly antiseptic, and promotes internal secretions. Chop about two inches of the fresh root, cover with one cup of water, and simmer for about twenty minute, or one-half teaspoon of the powdered root can be simmered in one cup of water. Add lemon juice, honey, and a slight pinch of cayenne. A few teaspoons of brandy will make and even more effective remedy for colds. This preparation treats fevers, chest colds, and flu. A bath or a foot-soak in hot ginger tea is also beneficial. The tea without additives helps indigestion, colic, diarrhea, and alcoholic gastritis. Dried ginger in capsules or in juice is taken to avoid carsickness and seasickness. Use about one half teaspoon of the powder. It works well for pets and children!
Parts Used: Root
Magical Uses: Powerfully spicy, Ginger essential oil is useful in sexuality; love; courage; and money attracting blends. Eating Ginger before performing spells will lend them power, since you have been "heated up" by the Ginger; this is especially true of love spells. Ginger is also used in Success spells, or to ensure the success of a magical operation.
In the Pacific the Dobu islanders make much use of ginger in their magic. They chew it and spit it at the "seat" of an illness to cure it, and also spit chewed ginger at an oncoming storm, while at sea, to halt it.
Aromatherapy Uses Arthritis; Fatigue; Muscular Aches and Pains; Poor Circulation; Rheumatism; Sprains; Strains; Catarrh; Congestion; Coughs; Sinusitis; Sore Throat; Diarrhea; Colic; Cramp; Flatulence; Indigestion; Loss of Appetite; Nausea; Travel Sickness; Chills; Colds; Flu; Fever; Infectious Disease; Debility; Nervous Exhaustion. Key Qualities: Tonic; Aphrodisiac; Stimulating; Warming; Cephalic; Comforting
or North American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) roots older than two years are a famous yang stimulant (North American less so than Oriental). Rather than treating specific problems, Ginseng strengthens the body by increasing the efficiency of the endocrine, metabolic, circulatory, and digestive systems. It reduces physical, mental, and emotional stress by increasing oxygen-carrying red blood cells and immune strengthening white blood cells and eliminating toxins. Warning-Ginseng should not be taken continuously.
Parts Used: Root
Magical Uses: Lust; Creative Work; Love; Wishes; Beauty; Protection; Can be substituted for Mandrake. The root is carries to attract love, as well as to guard one's health, to draw money, and to ensure sexual potency. Ginseng will also bring beauty to all who carry it.
Botanical: Alpinia officinarum (HANCE.)
Family: N.O. Zingaberaceae or Scilaminae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Galanga. China Root. India Root. East India Catarrh Root. Lesser Galangal. Rhizoma Galangae. Gargaut. Colic Root. Kaempferia Galanga.
---Part Used---Dried rhizome.
---Habitat---China (Hainan Island), Java.
---Description---The genus Alpinia was named by Plumier after Prospero Alpino, a famous Italian botanist of the early seventeenth century. The name Galangal is derived from theArabic Khalanjan, perhaps a perversion of a Chinese word meaning 'mild ginger.'
The drug has been known in Europe for seven centuries longer than its botanical origin, for it was only recognized in 1870, when specimens were examined that had been found near Tung-sai, in the extreme south of China, and later, on the island of Hainan, just opposite. The name of Alpinia officinarum was given to the herb, as the source of Lesser Galangal. The Greater Galangal is a native of Java (A. Galanga or Maranta Galanga), and is much larger, of an orange-brown color, with a feebler taste and odour. It is occasionally seen at London drug sales, but is scarcely ever used. There is also a resemblance to A. calcarata.The herb grows to a height of about 5 feet, the leaves being long, rather narrow blades, and the flowers, of curious formation, growing in a simple, terminal spike, the petals white, with deep-red veining distinguishing the lippetal.
The branched pieces of rhizome are from 1 1/2 to 3 inches in length, and seldom more than 3/4 inch thick. They are cut while fresh, and the pieces are usually cylindrical, marked at short intervals by narrow, whitish, somewhat raised rings, which are the scars left by former leaves. They are dark reddish-brown externally, and the section shows a dark centre surrounded by a wider, paler layer which becomes darker in drying. Their odour is aromatic, and their taste pungent and spicy. They are tough and difficult to break, the fracture being granular, with small, ligneous fibres interspersed throughout one side. The drug is exported, chiefly from Shanghai, in bales made of split cane, plaited, and bound round with cane. The root has been used in Europe as a spice for over a thousand years, having probably been introduced by Arabian or Greek physicians, but it has now largely gone out of use except in Russia and India. Closely resembling ginger, it is used in Russia for flavouring vinegar and the liqueur 'nastoika': it is a favourite spice and medicine in Lithuania and Esthonia. Tartars prepare a kind of tea that contains it, and it is used by brewers. The reddishbrown powder is used as snuff, and in India the oil is valued in perfumery.
---Constituents---The root contains a volatile oil, resin, galangol, kaempferid, galangin and alpinin, starch, etc. The active principles are the volatile oil and acrid resin. Galangin is dioxyflavanol, and has been obtained synthetically. Alcohol freely extracts all the properties, and for the fluid extract there should be no admixture of water or glycerin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant and carminative. It is especially useful in flatulence, dyspepsia, vomiting and sickness at stomach, being recommended as a remedy for sea-sickness. It tones up the tissues and is sometimes prescribed in fever. Homoeopaths use it as a stimulant. Galangal is used in cattle medicine, and the Arabs use it to make their horses fiery. It is included in several compound preparations, but is not now often employed alone.
The powder is used as a snuff for catarrh.
---Dosage---From 15 to 30 grains in substance, and double in infusion. Fluid extract, 30 to 60 minims.
Botanical: Ferula Galbaniflua (BOISS. ET BUHSE)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosage
---Part Used---Gum resin.
---Habitat---Persia; also Cape of Good Hope.
---Description---There are two kinds of Galbanum in commerce, viz. Levant Galbanurn and the Persian Galbanum. The latter is softer than the Levant, has a more terebinthic odour, has the smell and consistency of Venice turpentine, and contains fruit and fragments of stalks in place of bits of sliced roots. Several species of Ferula are used as a source for commercial Galbanum, but the official plant is Ferula galbaniflua, a perennial, with smooth stem, and shining leaflets, ovate, wedge-shaped, acute and finely serrated on the edges. The umbels of flowers are few, the seeds shiny.
The whole plant abounds with a milky juice, which oozes from the joints of old plants, and exudes and hardens from the base of the stem after it has been cut down, then is finally obtained by incisions made in the root. The juice from the root soon hardens and forms the tears of the Galbanum of Commerce. The best tears are palish externally and about the size of a hazel nut and when broken open are composed of clear white tears. The taste is unpleasant, bitterish, acrid, with a strong, peculiar, somewhat aromatic smell. The common kind is an agglutinated mass, showing reddish and white tears, this is of the consistency of firm wax, and can easily be torn to pieces and softened by heat; when cold it is brittle, and mixed with seeds and leaves, when imported in lumps it is often considered preferable to the tears as it contains more volatile oil. Distilled with water it yields a quantity of essential oil, about 6 drachms, to 1 lb. of gum. It was well known to the ancients and Pliny called it 'bubonion.' Galbanum under dry distillation yields a thick oil of a bluish color, which after purification becomes the blue color of the oil obtained from the flowers of Matricaria Chamomilla.
---Constituents---Gum resin, mineral constituents, volatile oil, umbelliferine, galbaresino-tannol.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, expectorant in chronic bronchitis. Antispasmodic and considered an intermediate between ammoniac and asafoetida for relieving the air passages, in pill form it is specially good, in some forms of hysteria, and used externally as a plaster for inflammatory swellings.
---Preparations and Dosage---In pill form 10 to 20 grains, or as an emulsion, mixed with gum, sugar and water.
---Other species---In Beyrout the people use the root of F. Hermonic, commonly known as Zalou root, as an aphrodisiac.
Botanical: Myrica Gale (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Myricaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Bayberry. English Bog Myrtle. Dutch Myrtle. Herba Myrti Rabanitini. Gale palustris (Chevalier).
---Parts Used---Leaves, branches.
---Habitat---Higher latitudes of Northern Hemisphere; Great Britain, especially in the north; abundant on the Scottish moors and bogs.
---Description---The badge of the Campbells. A deciduous, bushy shrub, growing to 4 feet high. The wood and leaves fragrant when bruised. The leaves, not unlike a willow or myrtle, are oblanceolate, tapering entire at the base, toothed and broadest at the apex, the upper side dark glossy green, the underside paler and slightly downy, under which are a few shining glands. The male plant produces flowers in May and June in crowded, stalkless catkins. The fruit catkins about the same size, but thicker, are closely-set, resinous nutlets, the flowers being borne on the bare wood of one year's growth. The sexes are on different plants. The leaves are often dried to perfume linen, etc., their odour being very fragrant, but the taste bitter and astringent. The branches have been used as a substitute for hops in Yorkshire and put into a beer called there 'Gale Beer.' It is extremely good to allay thirst. The catkins, or cones, boiled in water, give a scum beeswax, which is utilized to make candles. The bark is used to tan calfskins; if gathered in autumn, it will dye wool a good yellow color and is used for this purpose both in Sweden and Wales. The Swedes use it in strong decoction to kill insects, vermin and to cure the itch. The dried berries are put into broth and used as spice. In China, the leaves are infused like tea, and used as a stomachic and cordial.
---Constituents---Said to contain a poisonous volatile oil and to have properties similar to those of Myrica cerifera.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The leaves have been used in France as an emmenagogue and abortifacient.
M. Gale, var. tomentosa. The young wood and leaves on both sides are very downy and specially so on the underside.
Botanical: Garcinia Hanburyii (HOOK)
Family: N.O. Guttiferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Gutta gamba. Gummigutta. Tom Rong. Gambodia. Garcinia Morella.
---Part Used---Gum resin.
---Habitat---Siam, Southern Cochin-China, Cambodia, Ceylon.
---Description---The commercial Gamboge is obtained from several varieties, though Garcinia Hanburyii is the official plant, an almost similar gum is obtained from Hypericum (St. Johnswort). The Gamboge tree grows to a height of 50 feet, with a diameter of 12 inches, and the gum resin is extracted by incisions or by breaking off the leaves and shoots of the trees, the juice which is a milky yellow resinous gum, resides in the ducts of the bark and is gatheredin vessels, and left to thicken and become hardened. Pipe Gamboge is obtained by letting the juice run into hollowed bamboos, and when congealed the bamboo is broken away from it. The trees must be ten years old before they are tapped, and the gum is collected in the rainy season from June to October. The term 'Gummi Gutta,' by which Gamboge is generally known, is derived from the method of extracting it indrops. Gamboge was first introduced into England by the Dutch about the middle of the seventeenth century; it is highly esteemed as a pigment, owing to the brilliancy of its orange color. It has no odour, and little taste, but if held in the mouth a short time it gives an acrid sensation. The medicinal properties of Gamboge are thought to be contained in the resin. It is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
---Constituents---Resin gum, vegetable waste, garonolic acids; the gum is analogous to gum acacia.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A very powerful drastic hydragogue, cathartic, very useful in dropsical conditions and to lower blood pressure, where there is cerebral congestion. A full dose is rarely given alone, as it causes vomiting, nausea and griping, and a dose of 1 drachm has been known to cause death. It is usually combined with other purgatives which it strengthens. A safe dose is from 2 to 6 grains, but in the treatment of tapeworm the dose is often as much as 10 grains. It provides copious watery evacuations with little pain, but must be used with caution. Dose, 2 to 5 grains in an emulsion or in an alkaline solution.
The tree G. Morella is the Indian Gamboge; a gum resin is obtained from it; it has a similar action to Gamboge and is used as its equivalent in India and Eastern Colonies. Dose, 1/2 to 2 grains.
Botanical: Allium sativum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonym---Poor Man's Treacle.
The Common Garlic a member of the same group of plants as the Onion, is of such antiquity as a cultivated plant, that it is difficult with any certainty to trace the country of its origin. De Candolle, in his treatise on the Origin of Cultivated Plants, considered that it was apparently indigenous to the southwest of Siberia, whence it spread to southern Europe, where it has become naturalized, and is said to be found wild in Sicily. It is widely cultivated in the Latin countries bordering on the Mediterranean. Dumas has described the air of Provence as being 'particularly perfumed by the refined essence of this mystically attractive bulb.'
---Description---The leaves are long, narrow and flat like grass. The bulb (the only part eaten) is of a compound nature, consisting of numerous bulblets, known technically as 'cloves,' grouped together between the membraneous scales and enclosed within a whitish skin, which holds them as in a sac.
The flowers are placed at the end of a stalk rising direct from the bulb and are whitish, grouped together in a globular head, or umbel, with an enclosing kind of leaf or spathae, and among them are small bulbils.
To prevent the plant running to leaf, Pliny (Natural History, XIX, 34) advised bending the stalk downward and covering it with earth, seeding, he observed, may be prevented by twisting the stalk.
In England, Garlic, apart from medicinal purposes, is seldom used except as a seasoning, but in the southern counties of Europe it is a common ingredient in dishes, and is largely consumed by the agricultural population. From the earliest times, indeed, Garlichas been used as an article of diet.
---History---Garlic was placed by the ancient Greeks (Theophrastus relates) on the piles of stones at cross-roads as a supper for Hecate, and according to Pliny garlic and onion were invocated as deities by the wiccans at the taking of oaths.
It was largely consumed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as we may read in Virgil's Eclogues. Horace, however, records his detestation of Garlic, the smell of which, even in his days (as much later in Shakespeare's time), was accounted a sign of vulgarity. He calls it 'more poisonous than hemlock,' and relates how he was made ill by eating it at the table of Maecenas. Among the ancient Greeks, persons who partook of it were not allowed to enter the temples of Cybele. Homer, however, tells us that it was to the virtues of the 'Yellow Garlic' that Ulysses owed his escape from being changed by Circe into a pig, like each of his companions.
Homer also makes Garlic part of the entertainment which Nestor served up to his guest Machaon.
There is a Mohammedan legend that:
'when Satan stepped out from the Garden of Eden after the fall of man, Garlick sprang up from the spot where he placed his left foot, and Onion from that where his right foot touched.'
There is a curious superstition in some parts of Europe, that if a morsel of the bulb be chewed by a man running a race it will prevent his competitors from getting ahead of him, and Hungarian jockeys will sometimes fasten a clove of Garlic to the bits of their horses in the belief that any other racers running close to those thus baited, will fall back the instant they smell the offensive odour.
Many of the old writers praise Garlic as a medicine, though others, including Gerard, are sceptical as to its powers. Pliny gives an exceedingly long list of complaints, in which it was considered beneficial, and Galen eulogizes it as the rustics' Theriac, or Heal-All. One of its older popular names in this country was 'Poor Man's Treacle,' meaning theriac, in which sense we find it in Chaucer and many old writers.
A writer in the twelfth century - Alexander Neckam - recommends it as a palliative for the heat of the sun in field labour, and in a book of travel, written by Mountstuart Elphinstone about 100 years ago, he says that-
'the people in places where the Simoon is frequent eat Garlic and rub their lips and noses with it when they go out in the heat of the summer to prevent their suffering from the Simoon.'
Garlic is mentioned in several Old English vocabularies of plants from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries, and is described by the herbalists of the sixteenth century from Turner (1548) onwards. It is stated to have been grown in England before the year 1540. In Cole's Art of Simpling we are told that cocks which have been fed on Garlic are 'most stout to fight, and 50 are Horses': and that if a garden is infested with moles, Garlic or leeks will make them 'leap out of the ground presently.'
The name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, being derived from gar (a spear) and lac (a plant), in reference to the shape of its leaves.
---Cultivation---The ground should be prepared in a similar manner as for the closelyallied onion.
The soil may be sandy, loam or clay, though Garlic flourishes best in a rich, moist, sandy soil. Dig over well, freeing the ground from all lumps and dig some lime into it. Tread firmly. Divide the bulbs into their component 'cloves' - each fair-sized bulb will divide into ten or twelve cloves - and with a dibber put in the cloves separately, about 2 inches deep and about 6 inches apart, leaving about 1 foot between the rows. It is well to give a dressing of soot.
Garlic beds should be in a sunny spot. They must be kept thoroughly free from weeds and the soil gathered up round the roots with a Dutch hoe from time to time.
When planted early in the spring, in February or March, the bulbs should be ready for lifting in August, when the leaves will be beginning to wither. Should the summer have been wet and cold, they may probably not be ready till nearly the middle of September.
The use of Garlic as an antiseptic was in great demand during the past war. In 1916 the Government asked for tons of the bulbs, offering 1s. per lb. for as much as could be produced. Each pound generally represents about 20 bulbs, and 5 lb. divided up into cloves and planted, will yield about 38 lb. at the end of the growing season, so it will prove a remunerative crop.
The following appeared in the Morning Post of December 12, 1922:
'A Dog's Recovery
'Mr. W. H. Butlin, Tiptree, records the following experience: A fox-terrier, aged 14 years, appeared to be developing rapidly a pitiable condition, with a swollen neck and an ugly intractable sore at the root of the tail, and dull, coarse coat shedding abundantly. I administered "Yadil Antiseptic" in his drinking water and in less than a month the dog became perfectly sound and well, a mirabile dictu, his coat became firm, soft, and glossy.' (Yadil is a patent medicine said to contain Garlic.)
'In cases of arterial tension, MM. Chailley-Bert, Cooper, and Debrey, at the Society of Biology, recommended about 30 drops of alcoholic extract as a remedy. To be administered by the mouth or intravenously.'
Although only the cultivated Garlic is utilized medicinally, all of the other species have similar properties in a greater or less degree. Several of the species of Allium are natives of this country.
The CROW GARLIC (A. vineale) is widely distributed and fairly common in many districts, but the bulbs are very small and the labour of digging them would be great. It is frequent in pastures and communicates its rank taste to mike and butter, when eaten by cows.
NOTE.--Professor Henslow calls A. vineale the Field Garlic, and A. oleraceum the Crow Garlic.
RAMSONS (A. ursinum) grows in woods and has a very acrid taste and smell, but it also has very small bulbs, which would hardly render it of practical use.
Ransoms is also very generally known as 'Broad-leaved Garlic.'
The FIELD GARLIC (A. oleraceum) is rather a rare plant. Both this and the Crow Garlic have, however, occasionally been employed as potherbs or for flavouring. It is an old country notion that if crows eat Crow Garlic, itstupefies them.
Ramsons, the wild Wood Garlic, but for its evil smell would rank among the most beautiful of our British plants. Its broad leaves are very similar to those of the Lily-of-the-Valley, and its star-like flowers are a dazzling white, but its odour is too strong to admit of it being picked for its beauty, and many woods, especially in the Cotswold Hills, are spots to be avoided when it is in flower, being so closely carpeted with the plants that every step taken brings out the offensive odour.
There are many species of Allium grown in the garden, the flowers of some of which are even sweet-smelling (as A. odorum and A. fragrans), but they are the exceptions, and even these have the Garlic scent in their leaves and roots.
---Constituents---The active properties of Garlic depend on a pungent, volatile, essentialoil, which may readily be obtained by distillation with water. It is a sulphide of the radical Allyl, present in all the onion family. This oil is rich in sulphur, but contains no oxygen. The pecular penetrating odour of Garlic is due to this intensely smelling sulphuret of allyl, and is so diffusive that even when the bulb is applied to the soles of the feet, its odour is exhaled by the lungs.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant. Many marvellous effects and healing powers have been ascribed to Garlic. It possesses stimulant and stomachic properties in addition to its other virtues.
As an antiseptic, its use has long been recognized. In the late war it was widely employed in the control of suppuration in wounds. The raw juice is expressed, diluted with water, and put on swabs of sterilized Sphagnum moss, which are applied to the wound. Where this treatment has been given, it has been proved that there have been no septic results, and the lives of thousands of men have been saved by its use.
It is sometimes externally applied in ointments and lotions, and as an antiseptic, to disperse hard swellings, also pounded and employed as a poultice for scrofulous sores. It is said to prevent anthrax in cattle, being largely used for the purpose.
In olden days, Garlic was employed as a specific for leprosy. It was also believed that it had most beneficial results in cases of smallpox, if cut small and applied to the soles of the feet in a linen cloth, renewed daily.
It formed the principal ingredient in the 'Four Thieves' Vinegar,' which was adapted so successfully at Marseilles for protection against the plague when it prevailed there in 1722. This originated, it is said, with four thieves who confessed, that whilst protected by the liberal use of aromatic vinegar during the plague, they plundered the dead bodies of its victims with complete security.
It is stated that during an outbreak of infectious fever in certain poor quarters of London, early last century, the French priests who constantly used Garlic in all their dishes, visited the worst cases with impunity, whilst the English clergy caught the infection, and in many instances fell victims to the disease.
Syrup of Garlic is an invaluable medicine for asthma, hoarseness, coughs, difficulty of breathing, and most other disorders of the lungs, being of particular virtue in chronic bronchitis, on account of its powers of promoting expectoration. It is made by pouring a quart of water, boiled hot, upon a pound of the fresh root, cut into slices, and allowed to stand in a closed vessel for twelve hours, sugar then being added to make it of the consistency of syrup. Vinegar and honey greatly improve this syrup as a medicine. A little caraway and sweet fennel seed bruised and boiled for a short time in the vinegar before it is added to the Garlic, will cover the pungent smell of the latter.
A remedy for asthma, that was formerly most popular, is a syrup of Garlic, made by boiling the bulbs till soft and adding an equal quantity of vinegar to the water in which they have been boiled, and then sugared and boiled down to a syrup. The syrup is then poured over the boiled bulbs, which have been allowed to dry meanwhile, and kept in a jar. Each morning a bulb or two is to be taken, with a spoonful of the syrup.
Syrup made by melting 1 1/2 OZ. of lump sugar in 1 OZ. of the raw expressed juice may be given to children in cases of coughs without inflammation.
The successful treatment of tubercular consumption by Garlic has been recorded, the freshly expressed juice, diluted with equal quantities of water, or dilute spirit of wine, being inhaled antiseptically.
Bruised and mixed with lard, it has been proved to relieve whooping-cough if rubbed on the chest and between the shoulder-blades.
An infusion of the bruised bulbs, given before and after every meal, has been considered of good effect in epilepsy.
A clove or two of Garlic, pounded with honey and taken two or three nights successively, is good in rheumatism.
Garlic has also been employed with advantage in dropsy, removing the water which may already have collected and preventing its future accumulation. It is stated that some dropsies have been cured by it alone.
If sniffed into the nostrils, it will revive a hysterical sufferer. Amongst physiological results, it is reported that Garlic makes the eye retina more sensitive and less able to bear strong light.
The juice of Garlic, and milk of Garlic made by boiling the bruised bulbs in milk is used as a vermifuge.
---Preparations---Juice, 10 to 30 drops. Syrup, 1 drachm. Tincture, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Wine of Garlic - made by macerating three or four bulbs in a quart of proof spirit is a good stimulant lotion for baldness of the head.
Used in cookery it is a great aid to digestion, and keeps the coats of the stomach healthy. For this reason, essential oil is made from it and is used in the form of pills.
If a very small piece is chopped fine and put into chicken's food daily, it is a sure preventative of the gapes. Pullets will lay finer eggs by having garlic in their food before they start laying, but when they commence to lay it must be stopped, otherwise it will flavour the eggs.
Mrs. Beeton (in an old edition of her Household Management, 1866) gives the following recipe for making 'Bengal MangoChutney,' which she states was given by a native to an English lady who had long been a resident in India, and who since her return to England had become quite celebrated amongst her friends for the excellence of this Eastern relish.
Ingredients. 1 1/2 lb. moist sugar, 3/4 lb. salt, 1/4 lb. Garlic, 1/4 lb. onions, 3/4 lb. powdered ginger, 1/4 lb. dried chillies, 3/4 lb. dried mustard-seed, 3/4 lb. stoned raisins, 2 bottles of best vinegar, 30 large, unripe, sour apples.
Mode. The sugar must be made into syrup; the Garlic, onions and ginger be finely pounded in a mortar; the mustard-seed be washed in cold vinegar and dried in the sun; the apples be peeled, cored and sliced, and boiled in a bottle and a half of the vinegar. When all this is done, and the apples are quite cold, put them into a large pan and gradually mix the whole of the rest of the ingredients, including the remaining half-bottle of vinegar. It must be well stirred until the whole is thoroughly blended, and then put into bottles for use. Tie a piece of wet bladder over the mouths of the bottles, after which they are well corked. This chutney is very superior to any which can be bought, and one trial will prove it to be delicious.
Steadman Shorter's Medical Dictionary, Poisons & Antidotes: Gelsemium
Botanical: Gelsemium nitidum (MICH.)
Family: N.O. Loganiaceae
Description of Drug
Poisoning by Gelsemium
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Yellow Jasmine. Gelsemium Sempervirens (Pers.). False Jasmine. Wild Woodbine. Carolina Jasmine.
---Habitat---Gelsemium is one of the most beautiful native plants of North America, occurring in rich, moist soils, by the sides of streams, along the seacoast from Virginia to the south of Florida. extending into Mexico.
The important drug Gelsemium, official in the principal Pharmacopoeias, is composed of the dried rhizome and root of Gelsemium nitidum (Michaux), a climbing plant growing in the southern States of North America and there known as Yellow Jasmine, though it is in no way related to the Jasmines, and is best distinguished as Caroline Jasmine, as it belongs to the Loganiaceae, an order that forms a connecting link between the orders Gentianaceae, Apocynaceae, Scrophulariaceae and Rubiaceae. The plant is not to be confounded with the true Yellow Jasmine (Jasminum odoratissimum), of Madeira, which is often planted in the southern States for the sake of its fragrant flowers and has also been known there under the name of Gelseminum; this has only two stamens, while Gelsemium has five.
---Description---Its woody, twining stem often attains great height, its growth depending upon its chosen support, ascending lofty trees and forming festoons from one tree to another. It contains a milky juice and bears opposite, shining and evergreen lanceolate leaves and axillary clusters of from one to five large, funnel-shaped, very fragrant yellow flowers, which during its flowering season, in early spring, scent the atmosphere with their delicious odour. The fruit is composed of two separable, jointed pods containing numerous, flat-winged seeds.
The stem often runs underground for a considerable distance, and these portions (the rhizome) are used indiscriminately with the roots in medicine, and exported from the United States in bales.
The plant was first described in 1640 by John Parkinson, who grew it in his garden from seed sent by Tradescant from Virginia; at the present time it is but rarely seen, even in botanic gardens, in Great Britain, and specimens grown at Kew have not flowered.
---Description of the Drug---The drug in commerce mostly consists of the undergroundstem or rhizome, with occasional pieces of the root. The rhizome is easily distinguished by occurring in nearly straight pieces, about 6 to 8 inches long, and 1/4 to 3/4 inch in diameter, having a small dark pith and a purplish-brown, longitudinally fissured bark. The root is smaller, tortuous, and of a uniform yellowish-brown color, finely wrinkled on the surface.
Both rhizome and root in transverse section exhibit a distinctly radiate appearance, the thin cortex or bark enclosing a large, pale, yellowish-white wood, which consists of narrow bundles with small pores, alternating with straight, whitish, medullary rays about six or eight cells in thickness. In the case of the rhizome, a small pith, frequently divided into four nearly equal parts, is also present, particularly in smaller and younger pieces.
The drug is hard and woody, breaking with an irregular splintery fracture, and frequently exhibits silky fibres in the bast, which are isolated, or occur in groups of two or three and form an interrupted ring, whereas in the aerial stem, they are grouped in bundles.
The drug has a bitter taste, due to the presence of alkaloids, which occur chiefly in the bark. The slight aromatic odour is probably due to the resin in the drug.
---Collection---Adulterations. The drug is commonly collected in the autumn and dried.Though consisting usually of the dried rhizomes with only the larger roots attached, sometimes smaller roots are present, and it is often adulterated with the aerial portions of the stem, which can be easily detected by the thinness and dark-purplish color of the latter. It is stated to be destitute of alkaloid and therefore of no medicinal value.
Similar roots of Jasmine, especially those of Jasminum fruticans, are sometimes intermixed, and can be distinguished by the absence of indurated pith cells, which occur in Gelsemium, by the abundance of thin-walled starch cells in the pith and in the medullary ray cells (those of Gelsemium being thickwalled and destitute of starch), and by the bast fibres round the sieve tubes.
---Constituents---Gelsemium contains two potent alkaloids, Gelseminine and Gelsemine.
Gelseminine is a yellowish, bitter andpoisonous amorphous alkaloid, readily soluble in ether and alcohol, forming amorphous salts.
The alkaloid Gelsemine is colorless, odourless, intensely bitter and forms crystalline salts. It is only sparingly soluble inwater, but readily forms a hydrochloride, which is completely so. This alkaloid is not to be confounded with the resinoid known as 'Gelsemin,' an eclectic remedy, a mixture of substances obtained by evaporating an alcoholic extract of Gelsemium to dryness.
The rhizome also contains Gelsemic acid a crystalline substance which exhibits an intense bluish-green fluorescence in alkaline solution; it is probably identical with methylaesculatin or chrysatropic acid found in Belladonna root.
There are also present in the root 6 per cent of a volatile oil, 4 per cent of resin and starch.
---Poisoning by Gelsemium---The drug is a powerful spinal depressant; its most marked action being on the anterior cornus of grey matter in the spinal cord.
The drug kills by its action on the respiratory centre of the medulla oblongata. Shortly after the administration of even a moderate dose, the respiration is slowed and is ultimately arrested, this being the cause of death.
Poisonous doses of Gelsemium produce a sensation of languor, relaxation and muscular weakness, which may be followed by paralysis if the dose is sufficiently large. The face becomes anxious, the temperature subnormal, the skin cold and clammy and the pulse rapid and feeble. Dropping of the upper eyelid and lower jaw, internal squint, double vision and dilatation of the pupil are prominent symptoms. The respiration becomes slow and feeble, shallow and irregular, and death occurs from centric respiratory failure, the heart stopping almost simultaneously. Consciousness is usually preserved until late in the poisoning, but may be lost soon after the ingestion of a fatal dose. The effects usually begin in half an hour, but sometimes almost immediately. Death has occurred at periods varying from 1 to 7 1/2 hours.
The treatment of Gelsemium poisoning consists in the prompt evacuation of the stomach by an emetic, if the patient's condition permits; and secondly, and equally important, artificial respiration, aided by the early administration, subcutaneously, of ammonia, strychnine, atropine or digitalis.
An allied species, G. elegans (Benth.) of Upper Burma, is used in China as a criminal poison, its effects are very rapid.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Antispasmodic, sedative, febrifuge, diaphoretic.
The medical history of the plant is quite modern. It is stated to have been brought into notice by a Mississippi planter, for whom, in his illness, the root was gathered in mistake for that of another plant. After partaking of an infusion, serious symptoms arose, but when, contrary to expectations, he recovered, it was clear that the attack of bilious fever from which he had been suffering had disappeared. This accidental error led to the preparation from the plant of a proprietary nostrum called the 'Electric Febrifuge.' Later, in 1849, Dr. Porcher, of South Carolina, brought Gelsemium to the notice of the American Medical Association. Dr. Henry, in 1852, and after him many others, made provings of it the chief being that of Dr. E. M. Hale, whose Monograph on Gelsemium was an efficient help to the true knowledge of the new American drug.
In America, it was formerly extensively used as an arterial sedative and febrifuge in various fevers, more especially those of an intermittent character, but now it is considered probably of little use for this purpose, for it has no action on the skin and no marked action on the alimentary or circulatory system.
It has been recommended and found useful in the treatment of spasmodic disorders, such as asthma and whooping cough, spasmodic croup and other conditions depending upon localized muscular spasm. In convulsions, its effects have been very satisfactory.
It is, at present, mainly used in the treatment of neuralgic pains, especially those involving the facial nerves, particularly when arising from decaying teeth.
It is said it will suspend and hold in check muscular irritability and nervous excitement with more force and power than any known remedy. While it relaxes all the muscles, it relieves, by its action on the general system, all sense of pain.
The drug is also said to be most useful in the headache and sleeplessness of the drunkard and in sick headache.
It has been used in dysmenorrhoea, hysteria, chorea and epilepsy, and the tincture has been found efficacious in cases of retention of urine.
Some recommend its use in acute rheumatism and pleurisy, in pneumonia and in bronchitis, and it has been advocated, though not accepted by all authorities, as of avail in the early stages of typhoid fever.
Botanical: Teucrium scorodonia (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Wood Sage. Large-leaved Germander. Hind Heal. Ambroise. Garlic Sage.
---Habitat---Sage-leaved Germander (Teucrium scorodonia) is a common woodland plant in healthy districts. It is a native of Europe and Morocco, found in woody and hilly situations among bushes and under hedges, where the soil is dry and stony. It is frequent in such places in most parts of Great Britain, flowering from July to September.
---Description---The roots are perennial and creeping, the stems square, a foot or two in height, of a shrubby character, with opposite greyish-green, sage-like leaves, in form somewhat oblong heart-shaped, the edges coarsely toothed, very much wrinkled in texture like those of the Sage, hence its familiar names, Wood Sage and Sage Germander.
The whole plant is softly hairy or pubescent. The small labiate flowers are in onesided spike-like clusters, the corollas greenish-yellow in color, with four stamens, which have yellow anthers, and very noticeable purple and hairy filaments. The terminal flowering spike is about as long again as those that spring laterally below it from the axils of the uppermost pair of leaves.
The generic name of Teucrium was bestowed by Linnaeus, it has been suggested, from a belief that this plant is identical with the plant that Dioscorides says was first used medicinally by an ancient king of Troy, named Teucer, but it is also said that Linnaeus named the genus after a Dr. Teucer, a medical botanist.
The specific name, scorodonia, is derived from the Greek word for Garlic, and does not appear to be particularly appropriate to this species.
It has been popularly called ' Hind Heal,' from a theory that the hind made use of it when sick or wounded, and was probably the same herb as Elaphoboscum, the Dittany taken by harts in Crete.
In taste and smell, the species resembles Hops. It is called 'Ambroise' in Jersey, and used there and in some other districts as a substitute for hops. It is said that when this herb is boiled in wort the beer becomes clear sooner than when hops are made use of, but that it is apt to give the liquor too much color.
The bitter taste is due to the presence of a peculiar tonic principle found in all the species of this genus.
There are about 100 species of Teucrium widely dispersed throughout the world, but chiefly abounding in the northern temperate and subtropical regions of the Eastern Hemisphere. Of the three other British species besides the Wood Sage, two have been used medicinally, T. Chamaedrys (Wall Germander), a famous old gout medicine, and T. Scordium (Water Germander).
---Cultivation---Wood Sage is generally collected in the wild state, but will thrive in any moderately good soil, and in almost any situation.
It may be increased by seeds, by cuttings, inserted in sandy soil, under a glass, in spring and summer; or by division of roots in the autumn.
---Part Used---The whole herb, collected in July.
---Constituents---A volatile oil, some tannin and a bitter principle.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Alterative and diuretic, astringent tonic, emmenagogue. Much used in domestic herbal practice for skin affections and diseases of the blood, also in fevers, colds, inflammations, and as an emmenagogue.
Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
It is useful for quinsy, sore throat, and in kidney and bladder trouble.
In chronic rheumatism it has been used with benefit, and is considered a valuable tonic and restorer of the system after an attack of rheumatism, gout, etc.
The infusion (freshly prepared) is the proper mode of administration, made from 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water, taken warm in wineglassful doses, three or four times a day.
Wood Sage is an appetizer of the first order, and as a tonic will be found equal to Gentian. It forms an excellent bitter combined with Comfrey and Ragwort, which freely influences the bladder.
It is also good to cleanse old sores. If used in the green state with Comfrey and Ragwort, the combination makes an excellent poultice for old wounds and inflammations in any part of the body. Culpepper tells us:
'The decoction of the green herb with wine is a safe and sure remedy for those who by falls, bruises or blows suspect some vein to be inwardly broken, to disperse and void the congealed blood and consolidate the veins. The drink used inwardly and the herb outwardly is good for such as are inwardly or outwardly bursten, and is found to be a sure remedy for the palsy. The juice of the herb or the powder dried is good for moist ulcers and sores. It is no less effectual also in green wounds to be used upon any occasion.'
A snuff has been made from its powdered leaves to cure nasal polypi.
Botanical: Teucrium Chamaedrys (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Petit Chêne. Chasse fièvre.
---Part Used---Whole herb.
The Common or Wall Germander (Teucrium Chamaedrys) is a native of many parts of Europe, the Greek Islands and also of Syria, being found near Jerusalem, but in England is scarce and hardly indigenous being chiefly found on the ruins of old buildings and in other places where it has escaped from cultivation. It was formerly much cultivated in this country for medicinal purposes.
---Description---The roots are perennial and creeping, the square stem, 6 to 18 inches high, erect, much branched, leafy. The opposite, dark green leaves are 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch long and indented, somewhat like an oak leaf, hence the name Chamaedrys, from chamai (ground) and drus (oak). The name Germander is considered also to be a corruption of Chamaedrys. The French term this plant Petit Chêne, from the shape of the leaves, as well as Chasse fièvre, from its use in medicine.
The rose-colored, labiate flowers, which bloom in June and July, are in three to six flowered whorls, in the axils of leafy bracts, and in leafy, terminal spikes. The whole plant is almost roughly hairy.
The fresh leaves are bitter and pungent to the taste and when rubbed, emit a strong odour somewhat resembling garlic.
---Cultivation---Germander will grow in almost any soil and is propagated by seeds,by cuttings taken in spring or summer, and by division of roots, in the autumn. Plant about a foot apart each way.
---Part Used---The whole herb, collected in July and dried in the same manner as Wood Sage.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic. Germander acts as a slight aperient, as well as a tonic.
The reputation of Germander as a specific for gout is of very old date, the Emperor Charles V having been cured by a decoction of this herb taken for sixty days in succession.
It has been employed in various forms and combinations, of which the once celebrated Portland Powder is one of the chief instances.
It was also used as a tonic in intermittent fevers, and is recommended for uterine obstructions.
The expressed juice of the leaves, with the addition of white wine, is held to be good in obstruction of the viscera.
Possessing qualities nearly allied to those of Horehound, a decoction of the green herb, taken with honey, has been found useful in asthmatic affections and coughs, being recommended for this purpose by Dioscorides. The decoction has also been given to relieve dropsy in its early stages.
Culpepper tells us that it is:
'most effectual against the poison of all serpents, being drunk in wine and the bruised herb outwardly applied.... Used with honey it cleanseth ulcers and made into an oil and the eyes anointed therewith, taketh away dimness and moisture. It is also good for pains in the side and cramp.... The decoction taken for four days driveth away and cureth tertian and quartan agues. It is also good against diseases of the brain, as continual headache, falling sickness, melancholy, drowsiness and dulness of spirits, convulsions and palsies.'
He further states that the powdered seeds are good against jaundice. The tops, when in flower, steeped twenty-four hours in white wine will destroy worms.
Botanical: Teucrium Scordium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The Water Germander (Teucrium Scordium) is a creeping plant growing in marshy places in various parts of Europe, but very rare in Great Britain except in the Isle of Ely. It was formerly cultivated in gardens for medicinal uses.
---Description---The square, hairy stalks, are of a dirty green color and very weak. The leaves are short, broad, woolly and soft, and indented at the edges. The flowers are small, of a purplish-rose color, in whorls, in the axils of the leaves. It flowers in July and August.
The whole plant is bitter and slightly aromatic.
The fresh leaves, when rubbed, have a penetrating odour, like Garlic, and it is said that when cows eat it through hunger, it gives the flavour of Garlic to their milk.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---It was once esteemed as an antidote for poisons and as an antiseptie and anthelmintic, but is now searcely used, though its tonic and aromatic bitter qualities and diaphoretic action make a decoction of it an excellent remedy in all inflammatory diseases, and it may be used with advantage in weak, relaxed constitutions.
The tincture in small doses is considered a good remedy for exhilarating and rousing torpid faculties.
For intermittent fever and scrofulous complaints the infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water, taken in wineglassful doses, is recommended.
The dried leaves have been employed as a vermifuge, and decoction is said to be a good fomentation in gangrenous cases.
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Botanical: Zingiber officinale (ROSC.)
Family: N.O. Zingiberaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---Said to be a native of Asia. Cultivated in West Indies, Jamaica, Africa.
---Description---Naturalized in America after the discovery of that country by the Spaniards. Francisco de Mendosa transplanted it from the East Indies into Spain, where Spanish-Americans cultivated it vigorously, so that in 1547 they exported 22,053 cwt. into Europe.
It is now cultivated in great quantities in Jamaica and comes into this country dried and preserved. The root from the West Indies is considered the best. Also imported from Africa, there are several varieties known in commerce. Jamaica or White African is a light-brown color with short rhizome, very pungent. Cochin has a very short rhizome, coated red-grey color. 'Coated or Uncoated' is the trade term for peel on or skinned. Green Ginger is the immature undried rhizome. Preserved Ginger is made by steeping the root in hot syrup. Ratoon is uncultivated Ginger. Ginger is a perennial root which creeps and increases underground, in tuberous joints; in the spring it sends up from its roots a green reed, like a stalk, 2 feet high, with narrow lanceolate leaves; these die down annually. The flowering stalk rises directly from the root, ending in an oblong scallop spike; from each spike a white or yellow bloom grows. Commercial Ginger is called black or white, according to whether it is peeled or unpeeled; for both kinds the ripened roots are used, after the plant has died down. The black are scalded in boiling water, then dried in the sun. The white (best) are scraped clean and dried, without being scalded. For preserve young green roots are used- they are scalded and are washed in cold water and then peeled. The water is changed several times, so that the process takes three or four days. The tubers are then put into jars and covered with a weak syrup; this is changed after a few days' soaking for a stronger syrup, which is again changed for a still stronger one. The discarded syrups are fermented and made into a liquor called 'cool drink'; a few drops of chloroform or chloride are generally added to the preserve to prevent insects breeding in it. Ginger flowers have an aromatic smell and the bruised stem a characteristic fragrance, but the root is considered the most useful part of the plant, and must not be used under a year's growth. The peeling has to be done very thinly or the richest part of the resin and volatile oil is lost. It is sometimes soaked in lime-juice instead of plain water, and the color is improved by a final coating of chalk. The Chinese fresh Ginger is grated into powder. African and Cochin Ginger yield the most resin and volatile oil. The root must be kept in a dry place, or it will start growing and is then spoilt. The odour of Ginger is penetrating and aromatic, its taste spicy, hot and biting; these properties are lost by exposure. The most common adulterants are flour, curcuma, linseed, rapeseed, the hulls of cayenne pepper and waste ginger.
---Constituents---Volatile oil, acrid soft resin, resin insoluble in ether and oil, gum, starch, lignin, vegeto matter, asmazone, acetic acid, acetate of potassa, sulphur.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, carminative, given in dyspepsia and flatulent colic excellent to add to bitter infusions; specially valuable in alcoholic gastritis; of use for diarrhoea from relaxed bowel where there is no inflammation. Ginger Tea is a hot infusion very useful for stoppage of the mensesdue to cold, externally it is a rubefacient. Essence of Ginger should be avoided, as it is often adulterated with harmful ingredients.
---Dosage---Infusion: 1/2 oz. bruised or powdered root to 1 pint boiling water is taken in 1 fluid ounce. Dose, 10 to 20 grains.
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 10 to 20 drops. Tincture, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Syrup, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Oleoresin, U.S.P., 1/2 grain.
Botanical: Asarum Canadense (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Aristolochiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Canada Snakeroot. Indian Ginger. Coltsfoot.
---Parts Used---Rhizome dried and roots.
---Habitat---North America, North Carolina, Kansas.
---Description---An inconspicuous but fragrant little plant, not over 12 inches high, found growing in rich soil on roadsides and in woods. A stemless perennial, much resembling the European Asarum, but with larger leaves, provided with a short spine, leaves usually only two, kidney-shaped, borne on thin fine hairy stems, dark above and paler green under-surface, 4 to 8 inches broad, strongly veined. A solitary bell-shaped flower, dull brown or brownish purple, drooping between the two leaf stems, woolly, the inside darker than the outside and of a satiny texture, the fruit a leathery six-celled capsule. It has a yellowish creeping rootstock, slightly jointed, with thin rootlets from the joints. In commerce the rootstock is found in pieces 4 to 5 inches long, 1/8 inch thick, irregular quadrangular, brownish end wrinkled outside, whitish inside, showing a large centre pith hard and brittle, breaking with a short fracture. Odour fragrant, taste aromatic, spicy and slightly bitter--it is collected in the autumn.
---Constituents---A volatile oil once largely used in perfumery, also resin, a bitter principle called asarin, mucilage, alkaloid, sugar and a substance like camphor.
The plant yields its properties to alcohol and to hot water.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, carminative, diuretic, diaphoretic. Used in chronic chest complaints, dropsy with albuminaria, painful spasms of bowels and stomach.
---Dosage---1/2 oz. of the powdered root in 1 pint of boiling water, taken hot, produces copious perspiration.
Dry powder, 20 to 30 grains.
As an adjuvant to tonic mixtures or infusions, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
---Synonyms---Hazlewort, Wild Nard, very similar in properties to above).
---Part Used---Root and leaves dried.
---Description---A European plant growing in most hilly woods, flowering from May till August. The root smells like pepper, with a spicy taste and gives an ash-colored powder. The leaves give a green powder and have the same properties as the root.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Emetic, cathartic and errhine, for which latter purpose it is principally used in affections of the brain, eyes, throat, toothache and paralysis of the mouth. In France drunkards use it as an emetic, and it promotes sneezing and is therefore helpful for colds in the head.
---Dosage---Powder, 10 to 12 grains. As anemetic, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
A. ARIFOLIUM yields an oil with the odour of sassafras.
Botanical: Panax quinquefolium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Araliaceae
Harvesting, Preparation for Market
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Aralia quinquefolia. Five Fingers. Tartar Root. Red Berry. Man's Health.
---Habitat---Ginseng is distinguished as Asiatic or Chinese Ginseng. It is a native of Manchuria, Chinese Tartary and other parts of eastern Asia, and is largely cultivated there as well as in Korea and Japan.
Panax, the generic name, is derived from the Greek Panakos (a panacea), in reference to the miraculous virtue ascribed to it by the Chinese, who consider it a sovereign remedy in almost all diseases.
It was formerly supposed to be confined to Chinese Tartary, but now is known to be also a native of North America, from whence Sarrasin transmitted specimens to Paris in 1704.
The word ginseng is said to mean 'the wonder of the world.'
---Description---The plant grows in rich woods throughout eastern and central North America, especially along the mountains from Quebec and Ontario, south to Georgia. It was used by the North American Indians. It is a smooth perennial herb, with a large, fleshy, very slow-growing root, 2 to 3 inches in length (occasionally twice this size) and from 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness. Its main portion is spindle-shaped and heavily annulated (ringed growth), with a roundish summit, often with a slight terminal, projecting point. At the lower end of this straight portion, there is a narrower continuation, turned obliquely outward in the opposite direction and a very small branch is occasionally borne in the fork between the two. Some small rootlets exist upon the lower portion. The color ranges from a pale yellow to a brownish color. It has a mucilaginous sweetness, approaching that of liquorice, accompanied with some degree of bitterness and a slight aromatic warmth, with little or no smell. The stem is simple and erect, about a foot high, bearing three leaves, each divided into five finely-toothed leaflets, and a single, terminal umbel, with a few small, yellowish flowers. The fruit is a cluster of bright red berrles.
The plant was first introduced into England in 1740 by the botanist Collinson.
Chinese Ginseng is a larger plant, but presents practically the same appearance and habits of growth. Its culture in the United States has never been attempted, though it would appear to be a promising field for experiment.
Father Jartoux, who had special privileges accorded him in the study of this plant, says that it is held in such esteem by the natives of China, that the physicians deem it a necessity in all their best prescriptions, and regard it as a remediable agency in fatigue and the infirmities of old age. Only the Emperor has the right to collect the roots. The prepared root is chewed by the sick to recover health, and by the healthy to increase their vitality; it is said to remove both mental and bodily fatigue, to cure pulmonary complaints, dissolves tumours and prolongs life to a ripe old age.
Father Jartoux was satisfied that its praise was justified, and he adds his own testimony to its efficacy in relieving fatigue and increasing vitality. The roots are called, by the natives of China, Jin-chen, meaning 'like a man,' in reference to their resemblance to the human form. The American Indian name for the plant, garantoquen, has the same meaning.
Owing to the enormous demand for the root in China recourse was had to the American species, Panax quinquefolium (Linn.), and in 1718 the Jesuits of Canada began shipping the roots to China, and the first shipment from North America to Canton yielded enormous profits. In 1748 the roots sold at a dollar a pound in America and nearly five in China. Afterwards, the price fluctuated, but the root is still eagerly purchased by Chinese traders for export to China, and at the present time commands a yet higher price in the American markets, though it is not an official medicine and has only a place in the eclectic Materia Medica. The American Consul at Amoy stated a few years ago that it is possible to market twenty million dollars worth of American Ginseng annually to China, if it could be produced; but since its collection for exportation, it has been so eagerly sought that it has become exterminated in many districts where it was formerly abundant.
This has led to its cultivation and to various devices for preserving the natural supply. In Canada a fine is imposed for collecting between January and the 1st of September. Among the Indians, it is customary to collect the root only after the maturity of the fruit and to bend down the stem before digging the root, thus providing for its propagation. Indian collectors assert that a large number of such seeds will germinate, and that they have been able to increase their area of collection by this method.
In 1876, 550,624 lb. were exported at an average price of 1 dollar 17 cents; the amount available for export since then has steadily decreased and the price has gone up in proportion, till in 1912 the export was only 155,308 lb., at an average price of 7 dollars 20 cents per pound.
---Cultivation---On account of the growing scarcity of the American Ginseng plant, experiments have been made by the State of Pennsylvania to determine whether it can be grown profitably, resulting in the conclusion that in five years, starting with seeds and one year plants (or sooner if a start were made with older plants), an acre of ground would yield a profit of 1,500 dollars, without allowance for rental, but many precautions are necessary for success. The cultivated plants produced larger roots than those of the wild plant.
In 1912 it was estimated that the acreage of cultivated Ginseng in the United States was about 150 acres, and it is calculated that to supply China with twenty million dollars' worth of dry root would require the American growers to plant 1,000 acres annually for five years, before this estimated annual supply could be sold. The cultivation of Ginseng would therefore appear to offer a rich field to American agriculture. It presents, however, considerable difficulty, owing to the great care and special methods required and to the fact that it is a very slow-growing crop, so that rapid returns can hardly be anticipated, and it is doubtful if its cultivation can be carried on profitably except by specialists in the crop. None the less, the percentage returns for the industrious, patient and painstaking farmer are large, and the demand for a fine article for export is not at all likely to be exceeded by the supply.
For successful cultivation of Ginseng in America, it is stated that a loose, rich soil, with a heavy mulch of leaves and about 80 per cent shade - generally provided artificially is necessary.
It is difficult to cultivate it here with success. A rich compost is necessary. Most of the species of this genus need greenhouse treatment in this country. Propagation by cuttings of the roots is the most successful method, the cuttings being placed in sand, under a handglass. Seeds, generally obtained from abroad, are sown in pots in the early spring and require gentle heat. When the plants are a few inches high, they must be transplanted into beds or sheltered borders. They require a good, warm soil, but much shade. To grow on a commercial basis is not considered feasible in this country.
---Harvesting, Preparation for Market---The root should be collected only in the autumn, in which case it retains its plump and handsome appearance after drying. It is much more highly prized when of a fine light color, which it is more apt to assume when grown in deep, black, fresh mould.
The best root is said to be that collected by the Sioux Indian women, who impart this white appearance by rotating it with water in a partly-filled barrel, through which rods are run in a longitudinal direction. In no other way, it is said, can the surface be so thoroughly and safely cleansed.
The structure of the root is fleshy and somewhat elastic and flexible, and it is of a firm, solid consistence if collected at the proper time and properly cured. The bark is very thick, yellowish-white, radially striate in old roots and contains brownishred resin cells. The wood is strongly and coarsely radiate, with yellowish wood wedges and whitish rays.
The best roots for the Chinese market are sometimes submitted before being dried to a process of clarification, which renders them yellow, semi-transparent and of a horny appearance and enhances their value. This condition is gained by first plunging them in hot water, brushing until thoroughly scoured and steaming over boiling seed. Its commercial value is determined in a high degree by its appearance. The roots are valued in accordance with their large size and light color, their plumpness and fine consistence, their unbroken and natural form, and above all by the perfectly developed condition of the branches.
---Constituents---A large amount of starch and gum, some resin, a very small amount of volatile oil and the peculiar sweetish body, Panaquilon. This occurs as a yellow powder, precipitating with water a white, amorphous substance, which has been called Panacon.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Panax is not official in the British Pharmacopoeia, and it was dismissed from the United States Pharmacopceia at a late revision. It is cultivated almost entirely for export to China.
In China, both varieties are used particularly for dyspepsia, vomiting and nervous disorders. A decoction of 1/2 oz. of the root, boiled in tea or soup and taken every morning, is commonly held a remedy for consumption and other diseases.
In Western medicine, it is considered a mild stomachic tonic and stimulant, useful in loss of appetite and in digestive affections that arise from mental and nervous exhaustion.
A tincture has been prepared from the genuine Chinese or American root, dried and coarsely powdered, covered with five times its weight of alcohol and allowed to stand, well-stoppered, in a dark, cool place, being shaken twice a day. The tincture, poured off and filtered, has a clear, light-lemon color, an odour like the root and a taste at first bitter, then dulcamarous and an acid reaction.
---Substitutes---A substitute for Ginseng, somewhat employed in China, is the root of Codonopsis Tangshen, a bell-flowered plant, used by the poor as a substitute for the costly Ginseng.
Ginseng is sometimes accidentally collected with Senega Root (Polygala Senega, Linn.) and with Virginian Snake Root (Aristolochia Serpentaria, Linn.), but is easily detected, being less wrinkled and twisted and yellower in color. It is occasionally found with the collected root of Cypripedium parviflorum (Salis) and Stylophorum diphyllum (Nuttall).
Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides, Linn.) is often called locally in the United States 'Blue' or 'Yellow Ginseng,' and Fever Root (Triosteum perfoliatum, Linn.) also is sometimes given the name of Ginseng.
Botanical: Lycopus Europaeus
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Water Horehound. Gipsy-wort. wiccan's Herb.
Common Gipsyweed (Lycopus Europaeus), frequent throughout Europe, yields a black dye, stated to give a permanent color to wool and silk. As its name implies, it was formerly used by gipsies to stain their skins darker. It is common by the banks of streams, flowers from July to September, and is an erect plant with scarcely branched stems, about 2 feet high, with deeply-cut, pointed leaves and small, pale flesh-colored flowers, growing in crowded whorls in the axils of the upper leaves.
Anne Pratt says it received its old name of wiccan's Herb 'because of the rogues and runnegates which call themselves wiccans, and doe color themselves black with this herbe.'
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Astringent, sedative.
Botanical: Iris foetidissima (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Iridaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Gladwin. Spurge Plant. Roast Beef Plant.
Stinking Gladwyn is found only locally in England, but is common in all the southwestern counties, growing in woods and shady places, on hedgebanks and sloping grounds.
---Description---The creeping rhizomes are thick, tufted and fibrous. The leaves are firm, deep green, sword-shaped, shorter, narrower and less rigid and of a darker green than those of the Yellow Flag, and are evergreen in winter. When bruised or crushed, they emit a strong odour, at a distance not unlike that of hot, roast beef, hence its country name of 'Roast Beef Plant.' On closer acquaintance, the scent becomes disagreeable, hence the more usual common name 'Stinking Gladwyn,' and the Latin specific name.
It flowers from June to August, but sparingly, and the corollas, of a dull, livid purple color, rarely bluish or yellowish, are smaller than those of the other flags and not fragrant at night.
The flowers are followed by triangular seed-vessels, which, when ripe, open, disclosing beautiful orange-red colored seeds.
---Cultivation---Stinking Gladwyn flourishes in moist and partially-shaded places, in ordinary garden soil. Seeds scattered in semiwild places soon make good plants and plants may also be increased by division of the rhizomes. The brilliant seeds in their gaping capsules make it an effective garden plant in autumn.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Antispasmodic, cathartic, anodyne. Iris foetidissima has been employed for the same medicinal purposes as the Yellow Flag and is equally violent in its action. A decoction of the roots acts as a strong purge. It has also been used as an emmenagogue and for cleansing eruptions. The dried root, in powder or as an infusion, is good in hysterical disorders, fainting, nervous complaints and to relieve pains and cramps.
Taken inwardly and applied outwardly to the affected part, it is an excellent remedy for scrofula.
The use of this Iris was well known to the Ancients and is referred to by Theophrastus, in the fourth century before Christ.
Botanical: Salicornia herbacea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
Many species of the genera Salsola, Suaeda and Salicornia belonging to Chenopodiaceae are rich in soda and were formerly much employed in making both soap and glass, hence the name Glasswort. Large quantities of the ashes of these plants were formerly imported from southern Europe and northern Africa under the name of Barilla, the chief sources being Salsola Kali (Linn.) and Salsola Soda (Linn.), the Spanish Salsola sativa (Loft) and S. tragus (Linn.). On the introduction of Le Blanc's process of obtaining soda from common salt, the importance of Barilla as an article of commerce ceased.
Our native plant, the Jointed Glasswort (Salicornia herbacea, Linn.), was, as its name implies, also regarded as of value in the manufacture of glass.
---Description---It is a low-growing, annual herb, common in salt marshes and on muddy seashores all round the British Islands and was much used for this purpose. It has no leaves, but is formed of cylindrical, jointed branches of a light green color, smooth, very succulent and full of a salt, bitterish juice, its minute flowers produced in threes in little pits in the axils of the branches.
The whole plant is greedily devoured by cattle for its saltish taste. Steeped in malted vinegar, the tender shoots make a good pickle and were often used as a substitute for Samphire in those parts of the coast where the latter did not abound, on which account the plant is also called Marsh Samphire. Sir Thomas More, enumerating the useful native plants that would improve 'many a poor knave's pottage' if he were skilled in their properties, says that 'Glasswort might afford him a pickle for his mouthful of salt meat.'
Parkinson relates a theory in connexion with Glasswort in his days:
'If the soap that is made of the lye of the ashes be spread upon a piece of thicke coarse brown paper cut into the forme of their shooe sole that are casually taken speechless and bound to the soles of their feete, it will bring again the speech and that within a little time after the applying thereof if there be any hope of being restored while they live: this hath been tried to be effectuall upon diverse persons.'
There are references in the Bible to the uses of Glasswort for soap and for glass.
Botanical: Salsola Kali (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
The Prickly Glasswort (Salsola Kali, Linn.) has a thick, round, brittle stem, with few, rigid leaves of a bluish-green color and small, yellow flowers.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The juice of the fresh plant was said to be an excellent diuretic, the twisted seed-vessels having the same virtue and being given in infusion.
The whole plant was likewise burnt for its fixed salt used in making glass.
Botanical: Gleditschia triacanthos (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Gleditschine. Honey Locust. Gleditschia Ferox. Three-(t)horned Acacia.
---Parts Used---The twigs and leaves.
---Habitat---Eastern and Central United States.
---Description---A small, thorny tree, with pinnated leaves and greenish flowers growing in dense spikes. The younger and smaller branches have strong, triple tapering thorns. In the autumn they bear thin, flat pods resembling apple-parings. They contain seeds surrounded by a sweetish pulp from which it is stated that sugar has been extracted. The wood is chiefly used for fencing.
---Constituents---An alkaloid, Gleditschine, has been abstracted, and another called Stenocarpine. It also contains cocaine, and probably atropine.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stenocarpine was introduced as a local anaesthetic in 1887. Gleditschine was found to produce stupor and loss of reflex activity in a frog.
G. Macracantha possesses similar properties, and is indigenous to China.
Botanical: Trollius Europaeus
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Globe Trollius. Boule d'Or. European Globe Flower. Globe Ranunculus. Globe Crowfoot. Lucken-Gowans.
---Part Used---The whole plant, fresh.
---Habitat---Northern and Central Europe, from the Caucasus and Siberia to Wales and sometimes Ireland. Found wild in northern counties of England and in Scotland.
---Description---The plant grows usually in moist woods and mountain pastures, and is about 2 feet high, the stalk being hollow, smooth, and branching towards the top, each branch bearing one yellow flower without a calix, shaped like that of Crowfoot. The leaves are beautifully cut into five, indented sections. It is a favourite bloom for rustic festivals, and early in June collections of it are made by youths and maidens to decorate cottage doors.
It is often cultivated as a border flower, as are the other two species of the genus.
---Constituents---The Swedish naturalist Peter Kalm affirms that these plants have medicinal properties, but lose the greater part of their active principles in drying. The irritant, acrid principle is not well defined, and appears to be destroyed by the action of heat.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---It is stated that Trollius is used in Russia in certain obscure maladies, while another authority claims that it has cured a scorbutic case declared incurable by doctors. It is a plant to be investigated.
T. Asiaticus, or Asiatic Globe Flower. The leaves of this species are larger than in the European plant, resembling those of Yellow Monk's Hood, although the stature of T. Asiaticus is less. The flowers are an orangetinged yellow. It is a native of Siberia, but can be grown in any garden with shade and a moist soil.
T. Laxus is yellow, and grows in shady, wet places on the mountains of New York and Pennsylvania.
CROWFOOT, UPRIGHT MEADOW
Family: N.O. Compositae
The Gnaphaliums are a group of plants, individual species of which are known as Life Everlasting, Eternal Flowers, etc. They are used by the aborigines of America, who taught the white settlers their medical properties.
The Antennaria Dioica, known under the name of Life Everlasting or Catsfoot, is the only British species and must not be confused with Antennaria Plantaginifolia, or White Plantain, which is also sometimes called Life Everlasting.
Family: N.O. Compositae
---Habitat---Scania, Denmark, Germany, Japan.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Formerly much recommended for dysentery. Said to preserve woollen cloths from moth. In Japan it is used for moxas and as tobacco.
---Description---Leaves lanceolate, lower ones obtuse, flowers compound corymb, stalks simple. An annual hoary plant, stem upright, white, downy, about 1 foot high, with shiny yellow heads of flowers - the calicine scales ovate, blunt, lemon-colored; also the corollets. Found in dry sandy pastures and hills. Blooming in Germany, Denmark and Scania July to December, in Japan December to April.
Gnaphalium Cymosum, or Branching Everlasting. The leaves when rubbed emit an odour like Southern Wood.
G. Plantaginifolia. For a small fee the American Indians allow themselves to be bitten by a rattlesnake and immediately cure themselves with this herb.
Botanical: Helichrysum Stoechas
Family: N.O. Compositae
---Synonyms---Eternal Flower. Goldilocks. Stoechas Citrina. Gnaphalium citrinum. Common Shrubby Everlasting.
---Parts Used---Tops and the flowers.
---Habitat---Germany, France, Spain, Italy.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Expectorant, deobstruent, used for colds, flowers formerly used as attenuants, discutients, diaphoretics. (In homoeopathic medicine, a tincture is made from Gnaphalium polycephalum which has proved very useful in sciatica, lumbago and some forms of arthritis. - EDITOR.)
---Description---Leaves linear; compound corymb; branches wand-like; stem 3 feet high, with long slender irregular branches, lower ones have blunt leaves, 2 1/2 inches long 1/8 inch broad at end; those on flower stalks very narrow, ending in acute points. Whole plant very woolly, calyces at first silvery, then turn a sulphur yellow. Taste warm, pungent, bitter, agreeable odour when rubbed.
Botanical: Tragopogon pratensis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Noon Flower. Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon.
---Habitat---Goat's Beard (Tragopogon pratensis), a rather close relation of the Hawkweeds, is a handsome plant fairly common throughout Britain in meadows and on the broad green strips that often border country roads, being very common in the north of England.
---Description---It has an erect, slightly branching stem, rising to a height of 1 to 2 feet, from a perennial tap-root. The leaves are long, narrow and grass-like in character, without any indentations, broadening at the base and sheathing the stem, bluish-green in color, the lower ones 8 or 9 inches long, the upper ones much shorter.
The plant is in bloom during June and July. Each flower-stem has at its summit a single, large flower-head, the stem being slightly thickened just below it. The involucre or cup at the base of the flower-head is composed of a ring of about eight narrow lance-shaped, leaf-like bracts, which, when the flower is expanded, spread out in rays beyond the florets, which are golden-yellow in color, and all of the 'ligulate' or strapshaped type. After flowering, the green rays of the involucre elongate and the lower portion becomes thicker, till finally a big, round head of winged, long seeds - like the familiar clock of the Dandelion - develops, which becomes broken up by the wind. The pappus, or feathery down crowning each seed, is very beautiful, being raised on a long stalk and interlaced, so as to form a kind of shallow cup. By means of the pappus, the seeds are wafted by the wind and freely scattered.
The Goat's Beard opens its blossoms at daybreak and closes them before noon, except in cloudy weather, hence its old country name of 'Noon-flower' and 'Jack-go-to-bedat-noon,' a peculiarity noticed more than once by the poets and referred to in Cowley's lines:
'The goat's beard, which each morn abroad doth peep
But shuts its flowers at noon and goes to sleep.'
The name of the genus, Tragopogon, is formed from two Greek words, having the same signification as the popular English name, Goat's Beard, which is thought to have been suggested by the fluffy character of the seed-ball.
'it shutteth itselfe at twelve of the clocke, and sheweth not his face open untill the next dayes Sun doth make it flower anew. Whereupon it was called go-to-bed-at-noone; when these flowers be come to their full maturitie and ripenesse they grow into a downy Blowball like those of Dandelion, which is carriedaway by the winde.'
---Medicinal Action and Uses---In mediaeval times, the Goat's Beard had some reputation as a medicinal plant, though it has fallen out of use.
The tapering roots were formerly eaten as we now eat parsnips, and the young stalks, taken before the flowers appear, were cut up into lengths and boiled like asparagus, of which they have somewhat the flavour, and are said to be nearly as nutritious. The roots were dug up in the autumn and kept in dry sand for winter use.
The fresh juice of the young plant has been recommended as 'the best dissolvent of the bile, relieving the stomach without danger and without introducing into the blood an acrid, corrosive stimulant, as is frequently done by salts when employed for this purpose.'
Culpepper tells us:
'A large double handful of the entire plant, roots, flowers and all bruised and boiled an then strained with a little sweet oil, is an excellent clyster in most desperate cases of strangury or suppression of urine. A decoction of the roots is very good for the heartburn, loss of appetite, disorders of the breast and liver, expels sand and gravel, and even small stone. The roots dressed like parsnips with butter are good for cold, watery stomachs, boiled or cold, or eaten as a raw salad; they are grateful to the stomach strengthen the lean and consumptive, or the weak after long sickness. The distilled water gives relief to pleurisy, stitches or pains in the side.'
Another close relation of the above is the Bristly Ox-Tongue (Helmintha Echioides), a stout, much-branched plant, 2 to 3 feet high, well distinguished by its numerous prickles, each of which springs from a raised white spot, and by the large heart-shaped bracts at the base of the yellow flowers. The fruit, which is beaked and singularly corrugated, bears some resemblance to 'a little worm,' which is the meaning of the systematic name. The English name 'Ox-Tongue' has reference to the shape and roughness of the leaves. Not uncommon.
See Rue (Goat's).
Botanical: Coptis trifolia (SALIS.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and uses
Other Species and Substitutes
---Synonyms---Helleborus triflius or trilobus. Helleborus pumilus. Coptis. Anemone grcenlandica. Coptide. Mouthroot. Vegetable Gold. Chrusa borealis.
---Parts Used---The dried rhizome, with roots, stems, and leaves.
---Habitat---Northern America and Asia. Greenland and Iceland.
---Description---The name of the genus Coptis is suggested by the form of the leaflets, and means 'to cut.' The popular name is derived from the thin, creeping, gold-colored rhizome, which yields a yellow dye. The solitary, yellowish flowers, and obovate, evergreen leaves grow in tufts with yellow scales surrounding the base. The herb is a small perennial, usually found creeping in swamps or damp, sandy places. In commerce, the dried herb is found in loose masses, odourless, and with a pure, bitter taste. The powder is yellowish-green. It resembles gentian and quassia in its properties.
The Coptis family is closely linked to that of the Hellebores.
---Constituents---Its bitterness is imparted to both water and alcohol, but more readily to the latter. As there is neither tannic nor gallic acid, the activity is due to berberia or berberine, which is associated with another alkaloid called Coptine or Coptina, resembling hydrastia. It also contains albumen, fixed oil, coloring matter, lignin, extractive, and sugar. Authorities differ as to the presence of resin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---It may be used as other pure bitters. In New England it is valued as a local application in thrush, for children.
It is stated to be good for dyspepsia, and combined with other drugs is regarded as helpful in combating the drink habit.
---Dosage---Of powder, 10 to 30 grains. Of tincture of 1 OZ. of root to a pint of diluted alcohol, 1 fluid drachm. Of fluid extract, 30 minims.
---Other Species and Substitutes---
Statice monopetala, used as an astringentin the United States, sometimes used to adulterate C. trifolia.
Coptis Teeta, or Coptidis Rhizoma, Coptidis Radix, Mahmira, Tita, Mishmi Bitter, Mishmi Tita, Hwang-lien, Honglane, Chuen-lien, Chonlin, Mu-lien, is official in the Pharmacopoeia of India. It grows in the Mishmi Mountains, East Assam, is imported into Bengal in little rattan bags, and is thus sold in the Indian bazaars. Large quantities have been sold in London. It contains a higher percentage of berberia than any other drug, and is much used as a tonic in India and China, especially for the stomach, and in Scind for inflammation of the eyes.
The Chinese and Japanese variations (var. chinensis and C. anemonaefolia) imported into Bombay are thinner and duller than the Assam rhizomes. In Japan, the last variety is used for intestinal catarrh.
Botanical: Solidago virgaurea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Verge d'Or. Solidago. Goldruthe. Woundwort. Aaron's Rod.
---Habitat---Europe, including Britain. Central Asia. North America.
---Description---The generic name comes from solidare, for the plant is known as a vulnerary, or one that 'makes whole.' It grows from 2 to 3 feet in height, with alternate leaves, of a clear green, and terminal panicles of golden flowers, both ray and disk. It is the only one (of over eighty species) native to Great Britain.
The leaves and flowers yield a yellow dye.
When bruised, the herb smells like Wild Carrot.
---Constituents---The plant contains tannin, with some bitter and astringent principles.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Aromatic, stimulant, carminative. Golden Rod is an ingredient in the Swiss Vulnerary, faltrank. It is astringent and diuretic and efficacious for stone in the bladder. It is recorded that in 1788 a boy of ten, after taking the infusion for some months, passed quantities of gravel, fifteen large stones weighing up to 1 1/4 OZ., and fifty over the size of a pea. It allays sickness due to weak digestion.
In powder it is used for cicatrization of old ulcers. It has been recommended in many maladies, as it is a good diaphoretic in warm infusion, and is in this form also helpful in dysmenorrhoea and amenorrhoea. As a spray and given internally, it is of great value in diphtheria.
---Dosage---1/2 to 1 drachm of the fluid extract.
S. Rigida, Hardleaf Goldenrod, and S.Gigantea, Smooth Three-Ribbed Golden Rod, have leaves and blossoms which are valuable for all forms of haemorrhage, being astringent and styptic. The oil is diuretic.
S. Odora or Sweet-scented, or Fragrantleaved Goldenrod, also of the United States, is used as an astringent in dysentery and ulceration of the intestines. The essence has been used as a diuretic for infants, as a local application in headache, and for flatulence and vomiting. The flowers are aperient, tonic, and astringent, and their infusion is beneficial in gravel, urinary obstructions, and simple dropsy.
S. Canadensis, or Gerbe d'Or, of Canada, and S. sempervirens of North America, are used as vulneraries.
RAYLESS GOLDEN ROD is an American name for Bigelovia.
GOLDEN ROD TREE is Bosea Yervamora.
GOLDEN ROD is also the common name of Leontice Chrysogonum.
Botanical: Hydrastis Canadensis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Yellow Root. Orange Root. Yellow Puccoon. Ground Raspberry. Wild Curcuma. Turmeric Root. Indian Dye. Eye Root. Eye Balm. Indian Paint. Jaundice Root. Warnera.
---Habitat---The plant is a native of Canada and the eastern United States, the chief States producing it being Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, New York and in Canada, Ontario. Most of the commercial supplies are obtained from the Ohio Valley, the chief market being Cincinnati. It is scarce east of the Alleghany Mountains, having become quite rare in New York State, where it has been almost exterminated by collectors. It is found in the rich soil of shady woods and moist places at the edge of wooded lands.
The North American plant Golden Seal produces a drug which is considered of great value in modern medicine. The generic name of the plant, Hydrastis, is derived from two Greek words, signifying water and to accomplish, probably given it from its effect on the mucous membrane.
Golden Seal belongs to the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, though its leaves and fruit somewhat resemble those of the Raspberry and the Rubus genus generally.
---Description---It is a small perennial herb, with a horizontal, irregularly knotted, bright yellow root-stock, from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch thick, giving off slender roots below and marked with scars of the flower-stems of previous years. The flowering stem, which is pushed up early in the spring, is from 6 to 12 inches high, erect, cylindrical, hairy, with downward-pointing hairs, especially above, surrounded at the base with a few short, brown scales. It bears two prominently-veined and wrinkled, dark green, hairy leaves, placed high up, the lower one stalked, the upper stalkless, roundish in outline, but palmately cut into 5 to 7 lobes, the margins irregularly and finely toothed. There is one solitary radical leaf on a long foot-stalk, similar in form to the stem leaves, but larger, when full-grown being about 9 inches across.
The flower, which is produced in April, is solitary, terminal, erect, small, with three small greenish-white sepals, falling away immediately after expansion, no petals and numerous stamens. The fruit is a head of small, fleshy, oblong, crimson berries, tipped with the persistent styles and containing one or two hard black, shining seeds. It is ripe in July and has much the appearance of a Raspberry (whence the name 'Ground Raspberry'), but is not edible.
Hydrastis Canadensis was first introduced into England by Miller in 1760, under the name of Warnera, after Richard Warner of Woodford, and later was grown at Kew, Edinburgh and Dublin. Having no claims to horticultural attractiveness, its cultivation has not been attempted in this country except in botanical gardens - and on a slight experimental scale - nor has it been cultivated on any scale in any other country until quite recently, when owing to its growing scarcity in the woods of Ohio, where it used to be abundant, plantations were started in a few parts of America, but the amount under cultivation there is still very small.
In 1905 the United States Department of Agriculture called attention to the increasing demand for Golden Seal for medicinal purposes in a Bulletin (No. 51). There it is stated that the early settlers learnt of the virtues of Golden Seal from the American Indians, who used the root as a medicine and its yellow juice as a stain for their faces and a dye for their clothing. It was not until about 1850 that the root became an article of commerce, and in 1905 the annual supply of it was estimated at from 200,000 lb. to 300,000 lb., about one-tenth of which was exported, with an ever-increasing demand. Thirty years ago it was plentiful in its wild haunts and sold for 8 cents per lb., but as its supply diminished, not only from overcollection, but from the forests in the central States being cut away, the price rose in proportion and is now almost prohibitive.
---Cultivation---Experimental growing of the drug here has not been attended with much success, as it is of somewhat difficult culture.
The best conditions for the cultivation of Golden Seal are said to be a well-drained soil, rich in humus, in a partially shaded situation. Lath blinds (placed overhead on wires and light runners) are used by American cultivators - as with Ginseng - and these are considered to be preferable to the shade of trees, the roots of which interfere with operations. The plant requires from 60 to 75 per cent shade. The root-stocks are divided into small pieces and then planted about 8 inches apart in rows. Seeds are not considered reliable. Fresh plantations are made in autumn, after the plants have died down, or earlier, if they are lifted for a supply of marketable rhizomes. The strong fibrous roots sometimes develop buds which can be used as stock. Plantations thus formed take two or three years to grow to marketable size, the rhizomes deteriorating in their fourth year. According to an American grower, 32 sturdy plants set to each square yard, in three years' growth will produce 2 lb. of dry root. Experiments conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture recommend growing it only two years and marketing. It is stated that the plant may be transplanted at any time of the year with safety.
It has proved difficult to obtain a supply of living roots with which to start plantations in this country. The market is in the hands of American growers, collectors and dealers, and it may be that they are unwilling to spoil their monopoly by aiding other countries to grow their own Golden Seal, but the drug is growing in favour with medical practitioners, therefore its production on a commercial scale in this country would appear to be desirable, if it could be carried out with success.
The fresh rhizome is juicy and loses much of its weight in drying. When fresh, it has a well-marked, narcotic odour, which is lost in a great measure by age, when it acquires a peculiar sweetish smell, somewhat resembling liquorice root. It has a very bitter, feebly opiate taste, more especially when freshly dried.
The rhizome is irregular and tortuous, much knotted, with a yellowish-brown, thin bark and bright yellow interior, 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inch long, and from 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. The upper surface bears short ascending branches, which are usually terminated by cup-like scars, left by the aerial stems of previous years. From the lower surface and sides, numerous thin, wiry, brittle roots are given off, many of them breaking off, leaving small protuberances on the root.
The color of the rhizome, though yellow in the fresh root, becomes a dark, yellowishbrown by age; that of the rootlets and the interior of the root is yellow and that of the powder still more so.
When dry, the rhizome is hard and breaks with a clean, resinous fracture, the smooth, fractured surface is of a brownish-yellow, or greenish-yellow color, and exhibits a ring of bright yellow, somewhat distant narrow wood bundles surrounding a large pith.
---Constituents---The chief constituents of Hydrastis rhizome are the alkaloids Berberine (3.5 to 4 per cent.), which constitutes the yellow coloring matter of the drug, Hydrastine (2 to 4 per cent.), a peculiar crystallizable substance and a third alkaloid, Canadine; resin, albumin, starch, fatty matter, sugar, lignin and a small quantity of volatile oil, to which its odour is due, are also present. The rhizome is stated to be much richer in alkaloid than the roots.
Hydrastis owes its virtues almost entirely to Hydrastine, the alkaloid Berberine, apart from some effect as a bitter being practically inert. The United States Pharmacopoeia requires Hydrastis to yield not less than 2.5 per cent of Hydrastine.
For many years the alkaloids and the powdered root were the chief forms administered, but now the fluid extract is the form most used. The tincture is also official in both the British and the United States Pharmacopoeias.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The American aborigines valued the root highly as a tonic, stomachic and application for sore eyes and general ulceration, as well as a yellow dye for their clothing and weapons.
It is official in most Pharmacopoeias, several of which refer to its yellowing the saliva when masticated.
The action is tonic, laxative, alterative and detergent. It is a valuable remedy in the disordered conditions of the digestion and has a special action on the mucous membrane, making it of value as a local remedyin various forms of catarrh. In chronic inflammation of the colon and rectum, injections of Hydrastine are often of great service, and it has been used in haemorrhoids with excellent results, the alkaloid Hydrastine having an astringent action. The powder has proved useful as a snuff for nasal catarrh.
It is employed in dyspepsia, gastric catarrh, loss of appetite and liver troubles. As a tonic, it is of extreme value in cases of habitual constipation, given as a powder, combined with any aromatic. It is an efficient remedy for sickness and vomiting.
---Preparations---Powdered root, 10 grains. Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm. Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Solid extract, 5 to 8 grains.
As an infusion, it has great influence in preventing and curing night-sweats. It is sometimes used as a wash for ulcerated mouth.
Externally, it is used as a lotion in treatment of eye affections and as a general cleansing application.
It is said to be a specific to prevent pitting by smallpox.
In large amounts the drug proves very poisonous.
The employment of Hydrastis as a dye by the Indians has led to investigations as to its possible commercial employment in this direction . Durand (Amer. Journ. Pharm., Vol. XXIII) states that 'it imparts to linen a rich and durable light yellow color, of great brilliancy, which might probably by proper mordants give all the shades of that color, from the pale yellow to the orange. The lake produced by the bichloride of tin might also prove a useful pigment in oil and water-color painting.' With indigo, it is said to impart a fine green to wool, silk and cotton.
---Substitutes---Owing to the high price of Hydrastis, the quality of the commercial article has steadily deteriorated, and in recent years, about every drug native to the soil which resembles this rhizome, either in fibre or in color, has been known to be mixed with it. The yellow color of Hydrastis rhizome, the appearance of a transverse section and the characteristic odour of the drug distinguish it readily from Blood Root, obtained from Sanguinaria Canadensis, which is usually of a dark reddish-brown color, while a transverse section exhibits a more or less pronounced red color and no evident wood bundles.
None of the substitutes can be reasonably mistaken for the drug in the entire condition.
Good King Henry
Botanical: Ribes Grossularia
Family: N.O. Grossulariaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Fea. Feverberry. Feabes. Carberry. Groseille. Grozet. Groser. Krusbaar. Deberries. Goosegogs. Honeyblobs. Feaberry.
---Parts Used---Fruit, leaves.
---Habitat---Central and Northern Europe, especially Britain. Ribes Uva Crispa, also, as far east as Nepal and south to Morocco.
---Description---The well-known fruit grows on shrubs 3 to 4 feet high, with many branches, spreading prickles, and small, three- or five-lobed, hairy leaves. The flowers are green and hang singly or in pairs from little tufts of young leaves. The berries may be red, green, yellow, or white, hairy (Ribes Grossularia) or smooth (R. Uva Crispa), over 200 varieties being recognized. It is especially cultivated in Lancashire and in the Lothians, in Scotland, the former district aiming at size, and the latter at flavour. The shrub may attain great age and size. In 1821, at Duffield, near Derby, a bush had been planted for at least forty-six years, and was 12 yards in circumference, while two, trained against a wall near Chesterfield, reached upwards of 50 feet in growth from end to end.
The yellow gooseberries have usually the richest flavour for dessert, and the best wine made from them very closely resembles champagne. The red are generally the most acid, supporting the fact that acids change vegetable blues to red.
The fruit does not appear to be highly valued in the South of Europe, but further North is very popular for tarts, pies, sauces, chutneys, jams, and dessert, also for preserving in bottles for winter use. The young and tender leaves are eaten in salads.
---Constituents---Citric acid, pectuse, sugar, and mineral matters, the pectuse causing the fruit to be excellent for jellies.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The juice was formerly said to 'cure all inflammations.' In the green berries it is sub-acid and is corrective of putrescent foods, such as mackerel or goose. The light jelly made from the red berries is valuable for sedentary, plethoric, and bilious subjects.
As a spring medicine, gooseberry is more valuable than rhubarb. In one of the many books on the Plague, published in the sixteenth century, the patient is recommended to eat 'Goseberries.' Gerard, describing it under the name of 'Feaberry,' says:
'the fruit is much used in diners, sawces for meates and used in brothe instead of Verjuyce, which maketh the brothe not only pleasant to taste, but is greatly profitable to such as are troubled with a hot, burning ague.'
The leaves were formerly considered very wholesome and a corrective of gravel. An infusion taken before the monthly period will be found a useful tonic for growing girls.
---Dosage---Of an infusion of 1 OZ. of dried leaves to 1 pint of water, 1 teacupful three times a day.
Good King Henry
Good King Henry
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
Botanical: Chenopodium Bonus Henricus
---Synonyms---English Mercury. Mercury Goosefoot. Allgood. Tola Bona. Smearwort. Fat Hen.
(German) Fette Henne.
---Habitat---Good King Henry grows abundantly in waste places near villages, having formerly been cultivated as a garden pot-herb.
---Description---It is a dark-green, succulent plant, about 2 feet, high, rising from a stout, fleshy, branching root-stock, with large, thickish, arrow-shaped leaves and tiny yellowish-green flowers in numerous close spikes, 1 to 2 inches long, both terminal and arising from the axils of the leaves. The fruit is bladder-like, containing a single seed.
The leaves used to be boiled in broth, but were principally gathered, when young and tender, and cooked as a pot-herb. In Lincolnshire, they are still eaten in place of spinach. Thirty years ago, this Goosefoot was regularly grown as a vegetable in Suffolk, Lincolnshire, and other eastern counties and was preferred to the Garden Spinach, its flavour being somewhat similar, but less pronounced. In common with several other closely allied plants, it was sometimes called 'Blite' (from the Greek, bliton, insipid), Evelyn says in his Acetaria, 'it is well-named being insipid enough.' Nevertheless, it is a very wholesome vegetable. If grown on rich soil, the young shoots, when as thick as a lead pencil, may be cut when 5 inches in height, peeled and boiled and eaten as Asparagus. They are gently laxative.
---Cultivation---Good King Henry is well worth cultivating. Being a perennial, it will continue to produce for a number of years, being best grown on a deep loamy soil. The ground should be rich, well drained, and deeply dug. Plants should be put in about April, 1 foot apart each way, or seeds may be sown in drills at the same distance. During the first year, the plants should be allowed to establish themselves, but after that, both shoots and leaves may be cut or picked, always leaving enough to maintain the plant in health. Manure water is of great assistance in dry weather, or a dressing of 1 OZ. of nitrate of soda, or sulphate of ammonia may be given.
As with many of the wild plants, it does not always adapt itself to a change of soil when transplanted from its usual habitat and success is more often ensured when grown from seed.
Dodoens says the name Good King Henry, was given it to distinguish the plant from another, and poisonous one, called Malus Henricus ('Bad Henry'). The name Henricus in this case was stated by Grimm to refer to elves and kobolds ('Heinz' and 'Heinrich'), indicating magical powers of a malicious nature. The name has no connexion with our King Hal.
The plant is also known as Mercury Goosefoot, English Mercury and Marquery (to distinguish it from the French Mercury), because of its excellent remedial qualities in indigestion, hence the proverb: 'Be thou sick or whole, put Mercury in thy Koole.'
The name 'Smear-wort' refers to its use in ointment. Poultices made of the leaves were used to cleanse and heal chronic sores, which, Gerard states, 'they do scour and mundify.'
The roots were given to sheep as a remedy for cough and the seeds have found employment in the manufacture of shagreen.
The plant is said to have been used in Germany for fattening poultry and was called there Fette Henne, of which one of its popular names, Fat Hen, is the translation.
Botanical: Chenopodium album (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
---Synonyms---Frost Blite. Mutton Tops. Dirtweed. Lamb's Quarters. Dirty Dick. Midden Myles. Pigweed (Canada). Baconweed. Fat Hen.
The White Goosefoot (Chenopodium album, Linn.), so called from its mealy leaves, rejoices in old manure heaps, and if the manure is stacked up on a farm ready for use at a later season, it is soon overrun by this weed, which has thus gained the popular names of 'Midden Myles,' 'Dirtweed' and 'Dirty Dick.'
It shares with its near relative Good King Henry the names of Allgood and Fat Hen from its usefulness as a pot-herb and its reputed value in feeding poultry. 'Boil Myles in water and chop them in butter and you will have a good dish,' is an old English saying. It is a very wholesome medicine, as well as a pleasant vegetable, and an excellent substitute for spinach.
---Description---The stem is erect, from 1 to 3 feet high, the leaves oval, wedge-shaped, with wavy teeth, the flowers in dense spikes. The mealiness is most apparent in the flowers and undersides of the leaves, but has not the objectionable odour of that of the Stinking Goosefoot.
This nutritious plant is grown as food for pigs and sheep in Canada, where it is called 'Pigweed.'
The young and tender plants are collected by the Indians of New Mexico and Arizona, and boiled as herbs, alone or with other food; large quantities also are eaten in the raw state. The seeds of this species are gathered by many tribes, ground into flour after drying and made into bread. The flour resembles that of Buckwheat in color and taste and is regarded as equally nutritious. The small grey seeds are not unpleasant when eaten raw.
Botanical: Chenopodium rubrum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
The seeds of the Red Goosefoot (Chenopodium rubrum, Linn.) are a favourite food of birds and are also good for poultry. This species has a reddish stem, 1 to 3 feet high, usually upright, its leaves triangular to oval, with large blunt lobes and notches, but very variable in size and shape. It is very common about manure heaps. Its erect flowerspikes, intermixed with leaves, distantly resemble those of Dock.
The leaves of another Goosefoot, C. hybridum, are sometimes found as an adulterant of Stramonium leaves, when these are imported in a broken condition, but they can be detected by their small epidermal cells, with nearly straight walls, and hairs terminated by a large, bladdery, waterstoring cell.
Botanical: Ulex Europaeus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Furze. Broom. Whin. Prickly Broom. Ruffet. Frey. Goss.
---Parts Used---Flowers, seed.
---Habitat---It is found from Denmark to Italy, the Canaries and Azores, and in every part of Great Britain, though it is rarer in the north. There is probably hardly a heath in the country which lacks a patch, however small, of the dry-soil-loving Furze.
The Golden Gorse (Ulex Europaeus, Linn.) is conspicuous in waste places and on commons throughout Great Britain, from its spiny branches and bright yellow flowers, situated on the spines, either solitary or in pairs. It is thought to be the Scorpius of Theophrastus and the Ulex of Pliny. By botanists before Linnaeus, it was known as a Broom and called Genista spinosa. Linnaeus restored to it the name of Ulex, by which it has ever since been recognized.
Although it looks so sturdy, it is not very hardy. Severe frosts are liable to injure it, and during some exceptionally severe winters whole tracts of it on open commons have perished. Linnaeus, we are told in Johnson's Useful Plants of Great Britain:
'lamented that he could not keep Furze alive in Sweden, even in a greenhouse. It was one of his favourite plants, though the wellknown story of his falling on his knees when first seeing it in this country and thanking Heaven for having created a flower so beautiful is of rather doubtful authenticity as it is likewise related of Dillenius.'
---Description---The plant is a dense, muchbranched, stunted shrub, rarely attaining a height of more than 6 feet. It is evergreen, but the leaves are very minute and fall off early, not being present in the older stages, when they take the form of long, thread-like spines, which are straight and furrowed, or branching. The stem is hairy and spreading.
The golden-yellow, papilionaceous flowers have a powerful scent, perfuming the air. They open from early spring right up to August, or even later, but the bushes are to be found in blossom, here and there practically all the year round, hence the old saying:
'When Gorse is out of bloom,
Kissing's out of season,'
and an old custom in some parts of the country of inserting a spray of Gorse in the bridal bouquet, is an allusion to this.
The following reference to its continuous flowering appeared in the Chemist and Druggist of January 15, 1921. The writer says:
'Sir, The impression that is prevalent concerning the perennial flowering of the common Furze is a very natural, although a mistaken one.
'The ordinary furze, U. Europaeus, begins to flower in December, is in full bloom in March and April, and continues sometimes in a desultory manner as late as June. Then the Dwarf Furze begins to flower, and is in lull bloom in August. When mixed with the heather - then in blossom - it forms gorgeous purple and gold carpets wherever, as in Jersey, it is abundant. U. Gallii then takes up the tale, and from August to November blossoms freely. U. Europaeus is rarely less than 2 ft. high when it begins to flower: the U. Nanus has a decumbent habit, and is rarely more than 1 1/2 ft. high, and the flowers are paler and do not expand the wings widely. U. Gallii is easily recognized by the larger lateral spines of the branches being decurved, and the flowers more of an orange tint. But an ordinary observer would discount these differences, if noticed at all, and merely regard the other species as more or less dwarf plants. U. Gallii is sometimes as short as U. nanus, and sometimes as tall as U. Europaeus, but may always be recognized by the stout spines curved backwards.
Its elastic seed-vessels, like those of the Broom, burst with a crackling noise in hot weather and scatter the seeds on all sides.
The Gorse has not as many uses as the Broom, nor is it of such importance medicinally.
'In France,' to quote Syme and Sowerby, British Botany, 1864, 'it is used for burning, being cut down every few years, in places where it grows naturally. In Surrey and other counties, it is used largely as fuel, especially by bakers in their ovens and is cultivated for that purpose and cut down every three years. When burned, it yields a quantity of ashes rich in alkali, which are sometimes used for washing, either in the form of a solution or lye, or mixed with clay and made into balls, as a substitute for soap. The ashes form an excellent manure and it is not uncommon where the ground is covered with Furze bushes to burn them down to improve the land and to secure a crop of young shoots, which are readily eaten by cattle. In some parts of England, it is usual to put the Furze bushes into a mill to crush the thorns and then to feed horses and cows with the branches. When finely cut or crushed, sheep will readily eat it.'
The bruised shoots form a very nutritious fodder and when well bruised are eaten with much relish by horses, and cows are said to give good milk upon this food alone. When crushed, it is necessary to use it quickly, as the mass soon ferments. The variety of Furze found in the west of England and in Ireland, called U. strictus, is the best for this purpose, its shoots being softer and more succulent. It has terminal bunches of flowers.
Professor Henslow (Uses of British Plants, 1905) states that Furze 'has also been used chopped up into small pieces and sown in drills with Peas, proving a good defence against the attack of birds and mice.'
The leaf-buds have been used as a substitute for tea and the flowers yield a beautiful yellow dye.
The seeds are said to be nutritious, but do not appear to have been used for cattle feeding, though in earlier days they were sometimes employed medicinally.
Goldsmith calls the Furze 'unprofitably gay,' but Furze is not 'unprofitable.' It is usually cut once in three years, and its ashes, after burning, yield a serviceable dressing for the land.
Gorse is frequently sown as a shelter to very young trees in plantations and as a cover for game and makes excellent hedges when kept closely cut, but is only to be recommended for this purpose in mild climates or sheltered situations, as it is always liable to be cut off by hard frost. Wherever sown, it requires to be kept free from weeds during the first year or two. Like Broom, it grows well near the sea.
The name Ulex was given it by Pliny, but its signification is unknown. He states that the plant was used in the collection of gold, being laid down in water to catch any golddust brought down by the water.
The word Furze is derived from the AngloSaxon name fyrs, while Gorse is also from the A.-S. gorst (a waste), a reference to the open moorlands on which it is found.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The plant has never played an important part in herbal medicine.
Parkinson tells us that 'some have used the flowers against the jaundice.' An infusion of the blossoms used to be given to children to drink in scarlet-fever.
Gerard states: 'the seeds are employed in medicines against the stone and staying of the laske' (laxness of the bowels). They have some astringent property, containing tannin.
Old writers also tell-us that 'sodden with honey, it clears the mouth' and that it 'is good against snake-bite.'
It had an old reputation as an insecticide: 'Against fleas, take this same wort, with its seed, sodden; sprinkle it into the house; it killeth the fleas.'
In 1886 A. W. Gerrard discovered an alkaloid in the seeds, more powerful as a purgative than the Sparteine obtained from Cytisus scoparius (Link) (Pharm. Journal, Aug. 7, 1886). This was named Ulexine. In 1890 the German scientist Kobert, as the result of much investigation, came to the conclusion that Ulexine and Cytisine are identical. He also found indication of a second alkaloid. The suggestion gave rise to a considerable chemico-physiological discussion (see Pharm. Journal, Feb. 1891). Ulexine has been used in cardiac dropsy, the dose being from 1/15 to 1/20, of a grain.
Botanical: Ægopodium podagraria (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Jack-jump-about. Goatweed. Herb Gerard. Ashweed. Achweed. English Masterwort. Wild Masterwort. Pigweed. Eltroot. Ground Elder. Bishop's Elder. Weyl Ash. White Ash. Bishopsweed. Bishopswort. Ground Ash.
---Parts Used---Herb, root.
---Habitat---Europe (except Spain) and Russian Asia. Not really indigenous to England.
---Description---The generic name is a corruption of the Greek aix, aigos (a goat) and pous, podos (a foot), from some fancied resemblance in the shape of the leaves to the foot of a goat. The specific name is derived from the Latin word for gout, podagra, because it was at one time a specific for gout.
It is a stout, erect plant, coarse and glabrous, a perennial; in height, 1 1/2 to 2 feet, sometimes more, the stem round, furrowed and hollow. It has a creeping root-stock and by this means it spreads rapidly and soon establishes itself, smothering all vegetation less rampant than its own. It is a common pest of orchards, shrubberies and ill-kept gardens, and is found on the outskirts of almost every village or town, being indeed rarely absent from a building of some description. It is possible that Buckwheat might drive it out if planted where Goutweed has gained a hold.
It was called Bishopsweed and Bishopswort, because so frequently found near old ecclesiastical ruins. It is said to have been introduced by the monks of the Middle Ages, who cultivated it as a herb of healing. It was called Herb Gerard, because it was dedicated to St. Gerard, who was formerly invoked to cure the gout, against which the herb was chiefly employed.
Its large leaves are alternate, the lobes ovate and sharply-toothed, 2 to 3 inches long. The radical leaves are on long stalks, bi- and tri-ternate. There are fewer stem-leaves; they are less divided, with smaller segments.
The umbels of flowers are rather large, with numerous, small white flowers, which are in bloom from June to August and are followed by flattened seed-vessels which when ripe are detached and jerked to a distance by the wind, hence its local name, 'Jack-jump-about.'
'Herbe Gerard groweth of itself in gardens without setting or sowing and is so fruitful in its increase that when it hath once taken roote, it will hardly be gotten out againe, spoiling and getting every yeare more ground, to the annoying of better herbe.'
An Alpine species, which appears to possess all the bad properties of its congener, is found in Asia.
The plant is eaten by pigs, hence one of its names. The following charm is from an Anglo-Saxon Herbal:
'To preserve swine from sudden death take the worts lupin, bishopwort and others, drive the swine to the fold, hang the worts upon the four sides and upon the door' (Lacnunga, 82).
John Parkinson recommends cummin seed and bishopsweed 'for those who like to look pale.'
The white root-stock is pungent and aromatic, but the flavour of the leaves is strong and disagreeable.
Culpepper gives 'Bishop-weed' a separate description, and states it is also called 'Æthiopian Cummin-Seed,' and 'Cummin-Royal,' also 'Herb William' and 'Bull-Wort.' He also (like Parkinson) says that 'being drank or outwardly applied, it abates an high color, and makes pale.'
Linnaeus recommends the young leaves boiled and eaten as a green vegetable, as in Sweden and Switzerland, and it used also to be eaten as a spring salad.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic and sedative. Can be successfully employed internally for aches in the joints, gouty and sciatic pains, and externally as a fomentation for inflamed parts.
The roots and leaves boiled together, applied to the hip, and occasionally renewed,have a wonderful effect in some cases of sciatica.
'It is not to be supposed Goutwort hath its name for nothing, but upon experiment to heal the gout and sciatica; as also joint-aches and other cold griefs. The very bearing of it about one eases the pains of the gout and defends him that bears it from the disease.'
Gerard tells us that:
'with his roots stamped and laid upon members that are troubled or vexed with gout, swageth the paine, and taketh away the swelling and inflammation thereof, which occasioned the Germans to give it the name of Podagraria, because of his virtues in curing the gout.'
---Other Species---Bishopsweed is also the common name of Ammi majus.
Botanical: Berberis aquifolium (PURSH.)
Family: N.O. Berberidaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Mahonia aquifolia. Holly-leaved Barberry. Oregon Grape Root.
---Habitat---Western United States.
---Description---Several varieties of the subgenus Mahonia contribute to the drug of commerce under the name of Berberis aquifolium. It is a quickly-growing shrub about 6 feet high: the oddly compound leaves have no spine at the base; they are evergreen and shining. The flowers grow in terminal racemes, are small and yellowish-green in color, and the purple berries are three- to nine-seeded. The bark is brown on the surface and yellow beneath. The root is from 1/2 inch in diameter to 3 inches at the base of the stem, odourless, and with a bitter taste. The shrub was introduced into England from North America in 1823. It was formerly known as Mahonia aquifolia and is very hardy.
---Constituents---The principal constituent is a high proportion of berberin, and there is also oxycanthin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Tonic and alterative, recommended in psoriasis, syphilis and impure blood-conditions. It may be used like colombo, berberis, etc., in dyspepsia and chronic mucous complaints. In constipation it is combined with Cascara Sagrada. It improves digestion and absorption.
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 10 to 30 drops.
B. nervosa and B. repens are frequently found in the drug.
Family: N.O. Graminaceae
Couch-Grass, Dog's Tooth
Vernal Grass, Sweet Scented
The family of Grasses is, perhaps, of all groups in the plant world, the most important to mankind. The seeds of the valuable cereals, wheat, barley, oats, rye, etc., furnish us with indispensable farinaceous food and their stems with straw - the coarser kinds are useful for litter and fodder, also for thatching and other purposes, such as the making of mats, etc. - the finer varieties are widely employed in the making of hats, and our native Grasses furnish nutritious herbage, either as green pasture, or as hay, and some of them with mucilaginous roots possess distinctive medicinal virtues.
Botanical: Agropyrum repens (BEAUV.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Twitch-grass. Scotch Quelch. Quick-grass. Dog-grass. Triticum repens (Linn.).
---Habitat---Couch-grass is widely diffused, being not only abundant in fields and waste places in Britain and on the Continent of Europe, but also in Northern Asia, Australia and North and South America. It was formerly known as Triticum repens, though now assigned to the genus Agropyrum.
Among these the Couch-grass (Agropyrum repens) is pre-eminent, though anything but a favourite with the farmer, for it has a slender, creeping rhizome, or underground stem, which extends for a considerable distance just beneath the surface of the ground, giving off lateral branches occasionally, and marked at intervals of about an inch by nodes, from which leaf-buds and slender branching roots are produced. These long, creeping, subterranean stems increase with great rapidity, and the smallest piece left in the ground will vegetate and quickly extend itself, so that it is almost impossible to extirpate it when once established in the soil, while its exhaustive powers render it very injurious to the crops. Its very name, Couch, is supposed to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon, civice (vivacious), on account of its tenacity of life. It is said that the only way to extirpate it, is to lay the ground down in pasture for some years, when the Couch will soon be destroyed by the close-growing Grasses, for it flourishes only in loose soil.
The name Agropyron is from the Greek agros (field), and puros (wheat).
On sandy seashores, the grass is often very abundant and assists in binding the sand and preventing the dunes from shifting, its long rhizome answering the purpose nearly as well as those of the Mat and Lyme Grasses.
Though commonly regarded in this country as a worthless and troublesome weed, its roots are, however, considered on the Continent to be wholesome food for cattle and horses. In Italy, especially, they are carefully gathered by the peasants and sold in the markets. The roots have a sweet taste, somewhat resembling liquorice, and Withering relates that, dried and ground into meal, bread has been made with them in time of scarcity.
---Description---From its long creeping, pointed root-stock, it produces in July several round, hollow flower stems, 2 to 3 feet high, thickened at the joints, bearing five to seven leaves and terminated by long, denselyflowered, two-rowed spikes of flowers, somewhat resembling those of rye or beardless wheat, composed of eight or more oval spikelets on alternate sides of the spike, each containing four to eight florets, the awns, when present, being not more than half the length of the flower. The leaves are flat, with a long, cleft sheath, and are rough on the upper surface, having a row of hairs on each principal vein.
One of the names of this grass is Dog'sgrass, from its efficacy in relieving dogs when ill. They are often to be seen searching for its rough leaves, which they chew in order to procure vomiting. Culpepper closes his description of the grass by saying: 'If you know it not by this description, watch the dogs when they are sick and they will quickly lead you to it,' and concludes his account of its medicinal virtues with: 'and although a gardener be of another opinion, yet a physician holds half an acre of them to be worth five acres of carrots twice told over.'
'Although that Couch-grasse be an unwelcome guest to fields and gardens, yet his physicke virtues do recompense those hurts; for it openeth the stoppings of the liver and reins without any manifest heat.' He says concerning a variety of Couch-grass that -
'the roots of this grass are knotty and tuberous in early spring, but in summer-time these bulbs lose all shape or form. . . . The learned Societie of London and the Physitions of the Colledge do hold this bulbous Couch grass in temperature agreeing with the common Couch Grass, but in vertues more effectual,' and mentions it as 'growing in the fields next to St. James' Wall, as ye go to Chelsea, and in the fields as ye go from the Tower Hill of London to Radcliffe.'
Culpepper greatly praises its virtues for diseases of the kidneys.
The juice of the roots drank freely is recommended by Boerhaave in obstruction of the viscera, particularly in cases of scirrhous liver and jaundice, and it is noteworthy that cattle having scirrhous livers in winter soon get cured when turned out to grass in spring. Sheep and goats eat the leaves as well as cows, horses eat them when young, but leave them untouched when fully grown.
The ancients were familiar with a grass under the names of Agrostis and Gramen - having a creeping root-stock like the Couchgrass. Dioscorides asserts that its root, taken in the form of decoction is a useful remedy in suppression of urine and stone in the bladder. The same statements are made by Pliny, and are found in the writings of Oribasius and Marcellus Empiricus in the fourth century and of Ætius in the sixth century, and figures of the plant may be found in Dodoens's herbal. The drug is also met with in the German pharmaceutical tariffs of the sixteenth century.
Formerly the decoction of Couch-grass roots was a popular drink taken to purify the blood in spring. The drug is still a domestic remedy in great repute in France, being taken as a demulcent and sudorific in the form of a tisane. Readers of Trilby will remember Little Billee being dosed with this, as most Parisians have been. The French also use the Cocksfoot-grass (Cynodon Dactylon), which they term Pied-de-poule, in a similar way and for a similar purpose.
---Part Used---The rhizome, or underground stem, collected in the spring and freed from leaves and roots.
Couch-grass rhizome is long, stiff, pale yellow and smooth, about 1/10 inch in diameter, hollow except at the nodes and strongly furrowed longitudinally, with five or six longitudinal ridges. Where the nodes occur, traces of rootlets may be found on the under surfaces and the fibrous remains of sheathing leaf-bases on the upper surfaces, but all traces of rootlets and leaves must be removed before use.
As found in commerce, the rhizome is always free from rootlets, cut into short lengths of 1/8 to 1/4 inch and dried, being thus in the form of little shining, straw-colored, many-edged tubular pieces, which are without odour, but have a sweet taste.
---Constituents---Couch-grass rhizome contains about 7 to 8 per cent of Triticin (a carbohydrate resembling Inulin) and yielding levulose on hydrolysis. It appears to occur in the rhizome of other grasses, and possibly is widely diffused in the vegetable kingdom. Sugar, Inosite, Mucilage and acid malates are also constituents of the drug. Lactic acid and mannite may occur in an extract of the rhizome, but are understood to be fermentation products. Starch is not present and no definite active constituent has yet been discovered. The rhizome leaves about 4 1/2 per cent ash on incineration.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic demulcent. Much used in cystitis and thetreatment of catarrhal diseases of the bladder. It palliates irritation of the urinary passages and gives relief in cases of gravel.
It is also recommended in gout and rheumatism. It is supposed to owe its diuretic effect to its sugar, and is best given in the form of an infusion, made from 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water, which may be freely used taken in wineglassful doses. A decoction is also made by putting 2 to 4 oz. in a quart of water and reducing down to a pint by boiling. Of the liquid extract 1/2 to 2 teaspoonsful are given in water.
Couch-grass is official in the Indian and Colonial Addendum of the British Pharmacopoeia for use in the Australasian, Eastern and North American Colonies, where it is much employed.
---Substitutes---Agropyrum acutum (R. et S.) A. pungens (R. et S.) and A. junceum (Beauv.), by some botanists regarded as mere maritime varieties of A. repens, have root-stocks similar to the latter.
COUCH-GRASS, DOG'S TOOTH
Botanical: Cynodon dactylon (PERS.)
---Synonyms---(French) Chien-dent. Pied-de-poule.
Cynodon dactylon (Pers.), a grass very common in the south of Europe and the warmer parts of Western Europe, also indigenous to Northern Africa as far as Abyssinia, affords the Gros Chien-dent or Chiendent and Pied-de-poule of the French. It is a rhizome differing from that of Couch-grass, in being a little stouter and in containing much starch, of which there is no trace in Couch-grass. Under the microscope it displays an entirely different structure, inasmuch as it contains a large number of much stronger fibrovascular bundles and a cellular tissue loaded with starch, and is, therefore, in appearance much more woody. It thus approximates to the rhizome of Carex arenaria (Linn.) which is as much used in Germany as that of Cynodon in France and Southern Europe. The latter appears to contain Asparagin, or a substance similar in composition to it.
The herb of Hygrophila spinosa (Linn.) has been used for the same purpose as Couchgrass rhizome, and was formerly included in the Indian and Colonial Addendum to the British Pharmacopoeia. It contains much mucilage.
Botanical: Lolium temulentum (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Ray-grass. Drake. Cheat.
(Old English) Cokil.
The Bearded Darnel, a common grass weed in English cornfields, is easily distinguished by its long glumes or awns and turgid, fruiting pales, containing the large grains, from the common Ray or Rye-grass (Lolium perenne), which is one of the best of the cultivated grasses, peculiarly adapted for both hay and pasture, especially in wet or uncertain climates. Both are often indiscriminately called Darnel or Ray-grass.
The seeds or grains of the Bearded Darnel were used medicinally by the ancient Greeks and Romans, but were never official in our Pharmacopoeia.
The admixture of the grain with those of the nutritious cereals amongst which it is often found growing should be guarded against, as its properties are generally regarded as deleterious. Gerard tells us: 'the new bread wherein Darnel is eaten hot causeth drunkenness.' When Darnel has been given medicinally in a harmful quantity, it is recorded to have produced all the symptoms of drunkenness: a general trembling, followed by inability to walk, hindered speech and vomiting. For this reason the French call Darnel: 'Ivraie,' from Ivre (drunkenness); the word Darnel is itself of French origin and testifies to its intoxicating qualities, being derived from an old French word Darne, signifying stupefied. The ancients supposed it to cause blindness, hence with the Romans, lolio victitare, to live on Darnel, was a phrase applied to a dim-sighted person.
The alleged poisonous properties of Darnel are now generally believed to be due to a fungus.
Darnel is in some provincial districts known as Cheat, and there is reason to suspect that the old custom of using Darnel to adulterate malt and distilled liquors has not been entirely abandoned.
Culpepper terms it 'a pestilent enemy among the corn,' and in olden days its name was so commonly used as a synonym for a pernicious weed that it has been said that the expression in Matthew xiii. 25, would have been better translated Darnel than tares.
The Arabs still give the name zirwan to a noxious grass (which is only too common in the cornfields of Palestine) simulating the wheat when undeveloped, though easily distinguishable at 'harvest' time.
In connection with this similarity, it may be of interest to relate an experiment made by a friend of the writer. She procured some ears of Palestine wheat and also some of Palestine 'Darnel' ('tares'), for the purpose of illustrating the truth of the Parable of the Tares to her Bible-class. After sowing both kinds in a patch of ground she asked her scholars to watch the appearance of the respective 'blades' as they appeared. They attached small strands of wool to distinguish each. In many cases wheat grew from the tare seeds, and tares from the wheat.
It is said that the country people of Cheshire believed Darnel to be 'degenerated wheat.'
In the East it is a more serious enemy to the farmer, and in the low-lying districts of the Lebanon and other parts of Palestine it becomes alarmingly plentiful. If inadvertently eaten it produces sickness, dizziness, and diarrhoea. It would seem that the 'malice aforethought' of sowing this wild grass deliberately (as in our Lord's parable), was a not unusual practice. The following is a quotation from an old newspaper:
'The Country of Ill-Will is the by-name of a district hard by St. Arnaud, in the north of France. There tenants, when ejected by a landlord, or when they have ended their tenancy on uncomfortable terms, have been in the habit of spoiling the crop to come by vindictively sowing tares, and other coarse strangling weeds, among the wheat, whence has been derived the sinister name of the district. The practice has been made penal, and any man proved to have tampered with any other man's harvest will be dealt with as a criminal.'
Virgil speaks of 'unlucky darnel' (Georg., lib. i. 151-4) and groups it with thistles, thorns, and burs, among the enemies of the husbandman, and Shakespeare says:
'Darnel and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn.'
In the Middle Ages it was sometimes called Cokil, as well as Ray, and in the fourteenth century we hear of it being used against 'festour and morsowe,' and of Cokkilmeal being thought good for freckles and to make the face white and soft. Culpepper, after calling it 'a malicious part of sullen Saturn,' adds: 'as it is not without some vices, hath it also many virtues . . . the meal of darnel is very good to stay gangrenes; it also cleanseth the skin of all scurvy, morphews, ringworms, if it be used with salt and reddish (Radish) roots.' Also: 'a decoction thereof made with water and honey, and the places bathed therewith cures the sciatica,' and finally: 'Darnel meal applied in a poultice draweth forth splinters and broken bones in the flesh.'
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Darnel is usually regarded as possessing sedative and anodyne properties. It was not only employed medicinally by the Greeks and Romans and in the Middle Ages, but in more modern practice in the form of a powder or pill in headache, rheumatic meningitis, sciatica and other cases. Cases are on record of serious effects having resulted from the use of bread, containing by accidental admixture the flour of Darnel seeds. Chemically the seeds contain an acrid fixed oil and a yellow glucoside, but as far as microscopical appearances indicate, the Darnel contains nothing that is not contained in wheat, and analysis has not yet revealed its poisonous elements.
Of late years, it has been questioned whether the ill-effects of Darnel are inherent in the grain themselves, or whether they may not be ascribed to their having been ergotized. Lindley in his Vegetable Kingdom takes the latter view, stating moreover, 'this is the only authentic instance of unwholesome qualities in the order of grasses,' and Professor Henslow considers too that as the use of Darnel in the sixteenth century was similar to that of Ergot - a diseased condition of the grain of Rye - it is more probable that the injurious nature of Darnel has been due to an ergotized condition, especially as experiments have shown that perfectly healthy Darnel seeds have no injurious effects.
VERNAL GRASS, SWEET SCENTED
Botanical: Anthoxanthum odoratum (LINN.)
The Sweet-scented Vernal Grass - with yellow anthers, not purple, as so many other grasses - gives its characteristic odour to newly-mown meadow hay, and has a pleasant aroma of Woodruff. It is, however, specially provocative of hay fever and hay asthma. The flowers contain Coumarin, the same substance that is present in the Melilot flowers, and the volatile pollen impregnates the atmosphere in early summer, causing much distress to hay-fever subjects. The sweet perfume is due chiefly to benzoic acid.
A medicinal tincture is made from this grass with spirit of wine, and it said that if poured into the open hand and sniffed well into the nose, almost immediate relief is afforded during an attack of hay fever. It is recommended that 3 or 4 drops of the tincture be at the same time taken as a dose with water, repeated if required, at intervals of twenty to thirty minutes.
The name Anthoxanthum is from the Greek anthos (flower) and xanthos (yellow).
A. Puelii is a smaller species than A.odoratum, with many slender much-branched stems; lax panicles; long, slender awns, and a fainter perfume. It occurs occasionally as a modern introduction in sandy fields. Flowers from July to September.
The following British grasses have varying degrees of utility, though are not all medicinally valuable.
Botanical: Spartina stricta
The generic name is from the Greek spartiné (a cord) from the use to which the leaves have been put. It grows on muddy saltmarshes in the south. It is cut at Southampton by the poorer classes for thatching. Another variety grows on the mud-flats at Southampton, and is known as MANY-SPIKED CORD-GRASS (S. Towsendi) with shorter leaves; broader, larger spikelets, more lanceolate downy glumes, and a flexuous tip to the rachis; it also occurs on Southampton Water and in the Isle of Wight.
CANARY - GRASS
Botanical: Phalaris canariensis
Though probably an escape in England, it is much cultivated as 'canary-seed' in Central and Southern Europe for caged 'song birds.'
Name said to be from the Greek holkos, connected with helko (I draw), referring to a supposed power of drawing thorns out of the flesh. There are two British species, H. Mollis (Creeping Softgrass), abundant on light soil, and H. lanatus (Yorkshire Fog, Meadow Soft-grass) larger than the preceding.
Botanical: Fibichia umbellata
Of which the only British species is F. umbellata, a low prostrate grass, with long tough runners and short fat glaucous leaves, distinguished from all other British grasses (except Panicum sanguinale and P. glabrum) by the digitate arrangement of the three to five slender purplish spikes in the panicle, each of which is 1 to 1 1/2 inches long; and from those two species by having its awnless spikelets arranged singly, instead of in pairs, along the spikes. It is found in sandy pastures by the sea in the south-western counties, but is very rare. It is a good sand-binder, and one of the best pasture grasses of many dry climates. In India it is called Doorba or Doab-grass, and in Bermuda, Bermuda-grass. It was named after J. Fibich, a German botanist.
Botanical: Phragmites communis
Of which P. communis (Common Reed) is the only species, is a stout grass, 5 to 10 feet high, with a long creeping root-stock. It is common all over the world, is very serviceable on river banks for binding the soil, and is used also for thatch (especially in Norfolk).
The runners are nutritious, containing much sugar, and might be used as fodder.
Name said to be from the Greek, phragma (a hedge).
Botanical: Cynosurus cristatus
Is a most useful grass, but the wiry stalks, when not eaten by sheep, remain in a dry state and are known as 'bents' or 'bennets.'
Botanical: Molinia varia
The only species, and a rather coarse, stiff plant, sometimes 3 feet high, with one node near the base of the stem. It grows in tussocks in company with Scabiosa succisa (Premorse, or Devil's-bit Scabious). The stems of this grass are sold in bundles by tobacconists for cleaning pipes. It was named after G. F. Molina, a Chilian botanist.
Botanical: Catabrosa aquatica
The only species is a soft smooth pale-green plant, creeping or floating, sometimes muchbranched, 1 to 2 feet high. It grows in ditches and by the margins of ponds. Rather scarce, though distributed over the whole island. One of the sweet grasses; water-fowl and cattle are fond of it; but it is unsuitable for cultivation from the character of its habitat. Its name is derived from the Greek Katabrosis, an 'eating out,' alluding to the torn ends of the glumes.
Botanical: Glyceria aquatica
A conspicuous and imposing grass, 4 to 6 feet high, frequent in England and Ireland but rare in Scotland.
It is a fine covert for waterfowl.
Among the Grasses may be included the SCENTED GRASSES, growing in tropical climates, largely cultivated in India, Ceylon and the Straits Settlements. They furnish very important essential oils for perfumery.
is prepared from Cymbopogon citratus, formerly known as Andropogon Schoenanthus, a species growing abundantly in India and cultivated in Ceylon and Seychelles. It owes its scent almost entirely to its chief constituent, citral, and is one of the chief sources of the citral used in the manufacture of Tonone or artificial violet perfume. It is sometimes called Oil of Verbena from its similarity to the odour of the true Verbena Oil which is rarely found in commerce. It is frequently used to adulterate Lemon Oil. Samples of the oil produced experimentally in the West Indies, Uganda, and new districts of India were examined in the laboratories of the Imperial Institute in 1911, and as a result of the recommendations made, the production of Lemongrass has been taken up on a considerable scale in Uganda.
is derived from C. nardus, grown in Ceylon, Java and Burmah. The oil is distilled on an enormous scale and used for perfuming the cheapest household soaps and in the manufacture of coarse scents, and is also added as an adulterant to more expensive oils. Its scent is chiefly due to two substances, Geraniol and Citronellel.
PALMAROSA, Rosha or Indian Geranium Oil, is derived from C. martine. It is grown in India and was formerly known as 'Turkish Geranium Oil,' because it was imported into Europe via Turkey and Bulgaria as an adulterant to Otto of Roses. It has a strong geranium-like odour and is used in the commercial preparation of pure Geraniol, its chief constituent. The distillation of this oil was started in the eighteenth century.
GINGERGRASS OIL is also the product of the last-named grass, an oil of poorer quality, which is only suitable for cheap perfumes.
Botanical: Eupatorium purpureum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Trumpet-weed. Gravelweed. Joe-pye Weed. Jopi Weed. Queen-of-the-Meadow Root. Purple Boneset. Eupatorium purpureum, trifoliatum, and maculatum. Eupatorium verticillatum. Eupatorium ternifolium. Hempweed.
---Part Used---Fresh root.
---Habitat---Is indigenous to North America, and common from Canada to Florida, growing in swampy and rich low grounds, where it blossoms throughout the summer months.
---Description---This species varies greatly in form and foliage, the type being very tall and graceful.
The stem is rigidly erect, usually about 5 or 6 feet high, though sometimes even reaching a height of 12 feet, and is stout, unbranched and either hollow, or furnished with an incomplete pith. It is purple above the joints and often covered with elongated spots and lines (this variety having been called maculata by Linnaeus). The leaves, oblong and pointed, rough above, but downy beneath, are placed in whorls of four or five on the stem (mostly in fives) and are nearly destitute of resinous dots. The margins are coarsely and unequally toothed, the leafstalks either short or merely represented by the contracted bases of the leaves. The flowers are purple, in a dense terminal inflorescence, the heads very numerous, five to ten flowered, contained in an eight-leaved, fresh-colored involucre.
It grows in low, swampy ground. There are over forty species of the genus, many of which are used medicinally. The name is derived from a king of Pontus, Mithridates Eupator, who first used the plant as a remedy, and the popular name of Jopi or Joe-pye is taken from an American Indian who cured the typhus with it.
The taste is aromatic, astringent, and bitter.
The roots should be collected in the autumn.
---Constituents---The chief constituent is Euparin. It is yellow, neutral, and crystalline,and received the formula Cl2 = H11 = O3.
Eupurpurin, a so-called oleoresin, has been precipitated from a tincture of the drug.
A tincture and a fluid extract are prepared.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic, nervine. Formerly the use of this purpleflowered Boneset was very similar to that of the ordinary Boneset. It is especially valuable as a diuretic and stimulant as well as an astringent tonic, and is considered a valuable remedy in dropsy, strangury, gravel, hematuria, gout and rheumatism, exerting a special influence upon chronic renal and cystic troubles.
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Eupatorin, 3 to 5 grains.
Botanical: Genista tinctoria (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Greenweed. Greenwood. Woad or Wood-waxen, formerly Wede-wixen or Woud-wix. Base-broom. Genet des Teinturiers. F„rberginster. Dyers' Broom.
---Part Used---Whole plant.
---Habitat---Mediterranean countries. Canary Islands. Western Asia. Britain. Established in the United States.
---Description---The name of the genus is derived from the Celtic Gen (a small bush). Genista tinctoria is a small, tufted shrub, bearing short racemes of yellow flowers. The bright, luxuriant growth of the latter has led to its cultivation in greenhouses in the United States.
The bright green, smooth stems, 1 to 2 feet high, are much branched, the branches erect, rather stiff, smooth or only slightly hairy and free from spines. The leaves are spear-shaped, placed alternately on the stem, smooth, with uncut margins, 1/2 to 1 inch in length, very smoothly stalked, the margins fringed with hairs.
The shoots terminate in spikes of brightyellow, pea-like flowers, opening in July. They are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, on foot-stalks shorter than the calyx. Like those of the Broom, they 'explode' when visited by an insect. The 'claws' of the four lower petals are straight at first, but in a high state of tension, so that the moment they are touched, they curl downwards with a sudden action and the flower bursts open. The flowers are followed by smooth pods, 1 to 1 1/4 inch long, much compressed laterally, brown when ripe, containing five to ten seeds.
A dwarf kind grows in tufts in meadows in the greater part of England and is said to enrich poor soil.
Cows will sometimes eat the plant, and it communicates an unpleasant bitterness to their milk and even to the cheese and butter made from it.
All parts of the plant, but especially the flowering tops, yield a good yellow dye, and from the earliest times have been used by dyers for producing this color, especially for wool: combined with woad, an excellent green is yielded, the color being fixed with alum, cream of tartar and sulphate of lime. In some parts of England, the plant used to be collected in large quantities by the poor and sold to the dyers.
Tournefort (1708) describes the process of dyeing linen, woollen, cloth or leather by the use of this plant, which he saw in the island of Samos. It is still applied to the same purpose in some of the Grecian islands. The Romans employed if for dyeing and it is described by several of their writers.
In some countries the buds are prepared and served as seasoning. As a dye the plant has largely been superseded by Reseda luteola.
The seeds have been suggested as a substitute for coffee.
In Spain and Italy strong cloths that take dyes well are woven from the fibres.
---Constituents---The active principle, Scopnarine, is found as starry, yellow crystals, and is soluble in boiling water and in alcohol. From the liquid which remains another principle, Spartéine, is extracted, an organic base, liquid and volatile, with strong narcotic properties.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic, cathartic, emetic. Both flower tops and seedshave been used medicinally.
The powdered seeds operate as a mild purgative and a decoction of the plant has been used medicinally as a remedy in dropsy and is also stated to have proved effective in gout and rheumatism, being taken in wineglassful doses three or four times a day.
The ashes form an alkaline salt, which has also been used as a remedy in dropsy and other diseases.
In the fourteenth century it was used, as well as Broom, to make an ointment called Unguentum geneste, 'goud for alle could goutes,' etc. The seed was used in a plaister for broken limbs.
A decoction of the plant was regarded in the Ukraine as a remedy for hydrophobia, but its virtues in this respect do not seem to rest on very good evidence.
Dioscorides and Pliny speak of the purgative properties of the seeds and flowers, and the latter also regarded them as diuretic and good for sciatica. Cullen used a decoction of the young shoots for the same purpose. An infusion of the flowers has been found useful for albuminuria, and a combination of the tips with mustard, in dropsy. A poultice has benefited cold abscesses and scrofulous tumours. The infusion can be taken in wineglassful doses three or four times a day.
It has been stated that scoparine can replace all preparations, while one drop of spartéine dissolved in alcohol is a strong narcotic.
G. scoparia, G. purgans, and G. griot havesimilar properties. The last two are employed by the peasants as purgatives.
The flowers of G. Hispanica have been used in dropsy combined with albuminaric.
Dyers' Woad or Dyers' Weed is also the common name of Isatis tinctoria, and Reseda Luteola, or Yellow Weed or Weld, used in dyeing and painting.
Botanical: Grindelia camporum (GREENE), Grindelia cuneifolia, Grindelia squarrosa
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Hardy Grindelia. Gum Plant. California Gum Plant. Scaly Grindelia. Rosin Weed. Grindelia robusta (Nutt.).
---Parts Used---Dried leaves and flowering tops.
---Habitat---The western United States.
---Description---Until the work of Perredes in 1906 the drug was supposed to be derived from Grindelia robusta, and the species now regarded as official were thought to be merely varieties. G. robusta, however, is rarely used.
There are about twenty-five species of the genus, seven or eight being found in South America. The early growth of most of them is covered with a glutinous varnish. They are perennial or biennial herbs or small shrubs, with stems up to half-a-yard long, round, yellow, and smooth, with alternate, light-green, coarsely-toothed leaves having a clasping base. They are easily broken off when dried, so are often found loose in packages. The solitary, terminal flower-heads are large and yellow, both disk and radiate. Taste and odour are slightly aromatic, the former bitter.
The distinctive mark of the genus is the limb of the calyx, consisting of two to eight rigid, narrow awns, which fall early.
The plant was only made widely known to the medical profession in the latter part of the nineteenth century, by Dr. C. A. Canfield, and Mr. J. G. Steele of San Francisco.
---Constituents---Grindelia may contain as much as 21 per cent of amorphous resins. Two are dark-colored, one being soluble in ether, and one soft and greenish, soluble in petroleum spirit. There is also found tannin, laevoglucose, and a little volatile oil. The presence of glucosides has not been confirmed.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Expectorant and sedative, with an action resembling atropine. It has been recommended in cystitis and catarrh of the bladder, but its principal use is in bronchial catarrh, especially when there is any asthmatic tendency. It relieves dyspnoea due to heart disease, has been successfully employed in whooping cough, and as a local application in rhus poisoning, burns, genito-urinary catarrh, etc. As its active principle is excreted from the kidneys, it sometimes produces signs of renal irritation; in chronic catarrh of the bladder it stimulates the mucous membrane.
A homoeopathic tincture is prepared.
---Dosage---Of fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Of Grindelia, 30 to 40 grains.
The Fluid extract is sometimes continued with liquorice in the proportion of 1/2 drachm of Grindelia to 1 draehm of the Fluid extract of Liquorice, mucilage to 1 oz. (It combines well with yerba santa in equal proportions. - EDITOR.)
G. cuneifolia is a marsh plant, darker greenand less glutinous than G. camporum. It has a variety called paludosa.
G. squarrosa grows on prairies and dry banks. The bracts of the involucre are linear-lanceolate and spreading.
G. robusta var. latifolia is large, hardy, and a native of California.
These are all official varieties.
Ground Pine (American)
Ground Pine (European)
See Bugle (Yellow).
Botanical: Guaiacum officinale (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Zygophyllaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Parts Used---Resin, bark, wood.
---Habitat---West Indian Islands. North Coast of South America.
---Description---An ornamental evergreen tree with pretty rich blue flowers, the trunk is a greenish-brown color, the wood of slow growth but attains a height of 40 to 60 feet, stem almost always crooked, bark furrowed; the wood is extraordinarily heavy, solid and dense, fibres cross-grained; pinnate leaves, oval obtuse; fruit obcordate capsule; seeds solitary, hard, oblong. The old heart wood is dark green, the sap wood little in quantity and of a much lighter yellowish color; the wood is largely used by turners, where weight is not an obstacle; it is very hard and durable, suitable for making black sheaves, pestles, pulleys, rulers, skittle boards, etc.; it has a slight acrid taste and is odourless, unless heated, when it emits an agreeable scent. The bark yields 1 per cent volatile oil of delicious fragrance.
Guaiacum sanctum. Habitat, Bahamas and South Florida) is also used for the same purposes as G. officinale; it is easily distinguished from the latter, by its five-celled fruit, and its oblong leaflets, six to eight to each leaf. The leaves are sometimes used as a substitute for soap.
Guaiacum Resin. This is obtained from both the above trees and is procured by raising one end of the log and firing it; this melts the resin, which runs out of a hole cut in the other end, and is then caught into vessels. The resin is found in round or ovoid tears; some are imported the size of walnuts, but usually it is in large blocks; these break easily; the fracture is clean and glassy, in thin pieces, color yellow-reddish brown. The powder is grey, and must be kept in dark-colored bottles, as exposure to the light and air soon turns it green.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The wood is very little used in medicine; it obtained a great reputation about the sixteenth century, when it was brought into notice as a cure for syphilis and other diseases; later on the resin obtained from the wood was introduced and now is greatly preferred, for medicinal use, to the wood. The wood is sometimes sold by chemists in the form of fine shavings, and as such called Lignum Vitae, which are turned green by exposure to the air, and bluish green by the action of nitric fumes. This test proves its genuiness.
It is a mild laxative and diuretic. For tonsilitis it is given in powdered form. Specially useful for rheumatoid arthritis, also in chronic rheumatism and gout, relieving the pain and inflammation between the attacks, and lessening their recurrence if doses are continued. It acts as an acrid stimulant, increasing heat of body and circulation; when the decoction is taken hot and the body is kept warm, it acts as a diaphoretic, and if cool as a diuretic. Also largely used for secondary syphilis, skin diseases and scrofula.
---Dosage---Of the wood 30 to 60 grains, Decoction, 2 oz. to 4 oz. in a pint of water. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Guaiacum tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Ammoniated tincture Guaiacum, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Resin, 5 to 15 grains. Guaiacum mixture, B.P., 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce. Guaiacum Resin Lozenges, B.P., 1 to 6 may be taken.
Botanical: Paullinia Cupana, Kunth. (H. B. and K.)
Family: N.O. Sapindaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Paullinia. Guarana Bread. Brazilian Cocoa. Uabano. Uaranzeiro. Paullinia Sorbilis.
---Part Used---Prepared seeds, crushed.
---Habitat---Brazil, Uruguay. - NOTE: Dr Earle Sweet, Sayfer Botanicals, points out that this is incorrect, Guarana does NOT grow in Uruguay.
---Description---This climbing shrub took the name of its genus from C. F. Paullini, a German medical botanist who died 1712. It has divided compound leaves, flowers yellow panicles, fruit pear shaped, three sided, three-celled capsules, with thin partitions, in each a seed like a small horse-chestnut half enclosed in an aril, flesh colored and easily separated when dried. The seeds of Paullinia Sorbilis are often used or mixed with those of P. Cupana. Guarana is only made by the Guaranis, a tribe of South American Indians.
(Note: Marcos Garcia, Embrapa-CPAA, Manaus Amazonas, Brazil, also points out "The origin habitat of Guarana is the Amazon Region. But actually it is cultivated in others locations at Southest of Brazil." - editor HTML version - A MODERN HERBAL)
After the seeds are shelled and washed they are roasted for six hours, then put into sacks and shaken till their outside shell comes off, they are then pounded into a fine powder and made into a dough with water, and rolled into cylindrical pieces 8 inches long; these are then dried in the sun or over a slow fire, till they became very hard and are then a rough and reddish-brown color, marbled with the seeds and testa in the mass. They break with an irregular fracture, have little smell, taste astringent, and bitter like chocolate without its oiliness, and in color like chocolate powder; it swells up and partially dissolves in water.
---Constituents---A crystallizable principle, called guaranine, identical with caffeine, which exists in the seeds, united with tannic acid, catechutannic acid starch, and a greenish fixed oil.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Nervine, tonic, slightly narcotic stimulant, aphrodisiac febrifuge. A beverage is made from the guaran sticks, by grating half a tablespoonful into sugar and water and drinking it like tea. The Brazilian miners drink this constantly and believe it to be a preventive of many diseases, as well as a most refreshing beverage. Their habit in travelling is to carry the stick or a lump of it in their pockets, with a palate bone or scale of a large fish with which to grate it. P. Cupana is also a favourite national diet drink, the seeds are mixed with Cassava and water, and left to ferment until almost putrid, and in this state it is the favourite drink of the Orinoco Indians. From the tannin it contains it is useful for mild forms of leucorrhoea, diarrhoea, etc., but its chief use in Europe and America is for headache, especially if of a rheumatic nature. It is a gentle excitant and serviceable where the brain is irritated or depressed by mental exertion, or where there is fatigue or exhaustion from hot weather. It has the same chemical composition as caffeine, theine and cocaine, and the same physiological action. Its benefit is for nervous headache or the distress that accompanies menstruation, or exhaustion following dissipation. It is not recommended for chronic headache or in cases where it is not desirable to increase the temperature, or excite the heart or increase arterial tension. Dysuria often follows its administration. It is used by the Indians for bowel complaints, but is not indicated in cases of constipation or blood pressure.
---Dosage---Powder, 10 grains to 1/2 drachm. Fluid extract of Guarana, U.S.P., 30 minims sweetened with one teaspoonful of syrup in water three times a day.
As a strong diuretic 7 1/2 grains can be taken daily and in 24 hours it has been known to increase urine from 27 OZ. to 107 OZ.
Tincture of Guarana, B.P.C., for sick headaches, 1 to 2 fluid drachms in water.
Botanical: Viburnum opulus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Caprifoliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Cramp Bark. Snowball Tree. King's Crown. High Cranberry. Red Elder. Rose Elder. Water Elder. May Rose. Whitsun Rose. Dog Rowan Tree. Silver Bells. Whitsun Bosses. Gaitre Berries. Black Haw.
---Habitat---The 'Gaitre-Beries' of which Chaucer makes mention among the plants that 'shal be for your hele' to 'picke hem right as they grow and ete hem in,' are the deep red clusters of berries of the Wild Guelder Rose (Viburnum Opulus, Linn.), a shrub growing 5 to 10 feet high, belonging to the same family as the Elder, found in copses and hedgerows throughout England, though rare in Scotland, and also indigenous to North America, where it is to be found in low grounds in the eastern United States.
---Description---It resembles the Common Elder in habits of growth, hence in some districts we find it called Red Elder or Rose Elder. The conspicuous, large, nearly flattopped heads of snow-white flowers are 3 to 5 inches across, the inner ones very small, but with an outer ring of large, showy, sterile blossoms, containing undeveloped stamens with no pollen and an ovary without ovules. Only the inner, complete flowers provide the nectar for the attraction of insects who are to fertilize them. The resulting fruits, which ripen very quickly, form a drooping cluster of bright red berries, shining and translucent, perhaps the most ornamental of our wild fruits, the tree presenting a very beautiful appearance in August, when they are ripe, especially as the leaves assume a rich purple hue before falling. But although edible, the berries, in spite of Chaucer's recommendation, are too bitter to be palatable eaten fresh off the trees, and when crushed, smell somewhat disagreeable, though birds appreciate them and in Siberia the berries used to be, and probably still are, fermented with flour and a spirit distilled from them. They have been used in Norway and Sweden to flavour a paste of honey and flour.
In Canada, they are employed to a considerable extent as a substitute for Cranberries and are much used for making. a piquant jelly, their sourness gaining for them there the name of High Bush Cranberry, though the tree is, of course, quite unrelated to the true Cranberry.
The name Guelder comes from Gueldersland, a Dutch province, where the tree was first cultivated. It was introduced into England under the name of 'Gueldres Rose.' The garden variety, Viburnum sterile, with snowball flowers, does not produce the showy fruit of the wild species.
The berries have anti-scorbutic properties. They turn black in drying and have been used for making ink.
The wood, like that of the Spindle Tree and Dogwood, is used for making skewers.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The bark, known as Cramp Bark, is employed in herbal medicine. It used formerly to be included in the United States Pharmacopoeia, but is now omitted though it has been introduced into the National Formulary in the form of a Fluid Extract, Compound Tincture and Compound Elixir, for use as a nerve sedative and anti-spasmodic in asthma and hysteria.
In herbal practice in this country, its administration in decoction and infusion, as well as the fluid extract and compound tincture is recommended. It has been employed with benefit in all nervous complaints and debility and used with success in cramps and spasms of all kinds, in convulsions, fits and lockjaw, and also in palpitation, heart disease and rheumatism.
The decoction (1/2 oz. to a pint of water) is given in tablespoon doses.
The bark is collected chiefly in northern Europe and appears in commerce in thin strips, sometimes in quills, 1/20 to 1/12 inch thick, greyish-brown externally, with scattered brownish warts, faintly cracked longitudinally. It has a strong, characteristic odour and its taste is mildly astringent and decidedly bitter.
---Constituents---The active principle of Cramp Bark is the bitter glucoside Viburnine; it also contains tannin, resin and valerianic acid.
---Preparations and Dosages---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 2 drachms. Viburnin, 1 to 3 grains.
Its constituents are identical with the species of Viburnum that is more widely used and is an official drug in the United States, viz. Viburnum Prunifolium or Black Haw, though Cramp Bark contains 1/3 the resin contained in Black Haw and its similar properties are considered much weaker.
Fluid Extract of Cramp Bark has a reddishbrown color and the slight odour and somewhat astringent taste of the bark.
The offensiveness of the breath of him that hath eaten Garlick, will lead you by the nose to the knowledge hereof, and (instead of a description) direct you to the place where it grows in gardens, which kinds are the best, and most physical.
Government and virtues : Mars owns this herb. This was anciently accounted the poor man's treacle, it being a remedy for all diseases and hurts (except those which itself breed.) It provokes urine, and women's courses, helps the biting of mad dogs and other venomous creatures, kills worms in children, cuts and voids tough phlegm, purges the head, helps the lethargy, is a good preservative against, and a remedy for any plague, sore, or foul ulcers; takes away spots and blemishes in the skin, eases pains in the ears, ripens and breaks imposthumes, or other swellings. And for all those diseases the onions are as effectual. But the Garlick hath some more peculiar virtues besides the former, viz. it hath a special quality to discuss inconveniences coming by corrupt agues or mineral vapours; or by drinking corrupt and stinking waters; as also by taking wolfbane, henbane, hemlock, or other poisonous and dangerous herbs. It is also held good in hydropick diseases, the jaundice, falling sickness, cramps, convulsions, the piles or hæmorrhoids, or other cold diseases. Many authors quote many diseases this is good for; but conceal its vices. Its heat is very vehement, and all vehement hot things send up but ill-favoured vapours to the brain. In coleric men it will add fuel to the fire; in men oppressed by melancholy, it will attenuate the humour, and send up strong fancies, and as many strange visions to the head; therefore let it be taken inwardly with great moderation; outwardly you may make more bold with it.
GENTIAN, FELWORT, OR BALDMONY
It is confessed that Gentian, which is most used amongst us, is brought over from beyond sea, yet we have two sorts of it growing frequently in our nation, which, besides the reasons so frequently alledged why English herbs should be fittest for English bodies, has been proved by the experience of divers physicians, to be not a wit inferior in virtue to that which comes from beyond sea, therefore be pleased to take the description of them as follows.
Descript : The greater of the two hath many small long roots thrust down deep into the ground, and abiding all the Winter. The stalks are sometimes more, sometimes fewer, of a brownish green color, which is sometimes two feet high, if the ground be fruitful, having many long, narrow, dark green leaves, set by couples up to the top; the flowers are long and hollow, of a purple color, ending in fine corners. The smaller sort which is to be found in our land, grows up with sundry stalks, not a foot high, parted into several small branches, whereon grow divers small leaves together, very like those of the lesser Centaury, of a whitish green color; on the tops of these stalks grow divers perfect blue flowers, standing in long husks, but not so big as the other; the root is very small, and full of threads.
Place : The first grows in divers places of both the East and West counties, and as well in wet as in dry grounds; as near Longfield, by Gravesend, near Cobham in Kent, near Lillinstone in Kent, also in a chalk pit hard by a paper-mill not far from Dartford in Kent. The second grows also in divers places in Kent, as about Southfleet, and Longfield; upon Barton's hills in Bedfordshire; also not far from St. Albans, upon a piece of waste chalky ground, as you go out by Dunstable way towards Gorhambury.
Time : They flower in August.
Government and virtues : They are under the dominion of Mars, and one of the principal herbs he is ruler of. They resist putrefactions, poison, and a more sure remedy cannot be found to prevent the pestilence than it is; it strengthens the stomach exceedingly, helps digestion, comforts the heart, and preserves it against faintings and swoonings. The powder of the dry roots helps the biting of mad dogs and venomous beasts, open obstructions of the liver, and restores an appetite for their meat to such as have lost it. The herb steeped in wine, and the wine drank, refreshes such as be overweary with traveling, and grow lame in their joints, either by cold or evil lodgings; it helps stitches, and griping pains in the sides; is an excellent remedy for such as are bruised by falls; it provokes urine and the terms exceedingly, therefore let it not be given to women with child. The same is very profitable for such as are troubled with cramps and convulsions, to drink the decoction. Also they say it breaks the stone, and helps ruptures most certainly: it is excellent in all cold diseases, and such as are troubled with tough phlegm, scabs, itch, or any fretting sores and ulcers; it is an admirable remedy to kill the worms, by taking half a dram of the powder in a morning in any convenient liquor; the same is excellently good to be taken inwardly for the king's evil. It helps agues of all sorts, and the yellow jaundice, as also the bots in cattle; when kine are bitten on the udder by any venomous beast, do but stroke the place with the decoction of any of these, and it will instantly heal them.
It is vain to describe an herb so well known.
Government and virtues : They are gallant, fine, temperate flowers, of the nature and under the dominion of Jupiter; yea, so temperate, that no excess, neither in heat, cold, dryness, nor moisture, can be perceived in them; they are great strengtheners both of the brain and heart, and will therefore serve either for cordials or cephalics, as your occasion will serve. There is both a syrup and a conserve made of them alone, commonly to be had at every apothecary's. To take now and then a little of either, strengthens nature much, in such as are in consumptions. They are also excellently good in hot pestilent fevers, and expel poison.
Descript : Common Germander shoots forth sundry stalks, with small and somewhat round leaves, dented about the edges. The flowers stand at the tops of a deep purple color. The root is composed of divers sprigs, which shoots forth a great way round about, quickly overspreading a garden.
Place : It grows usually with us in gardens.
Time : And flowers in June and July.
Government and virtues : It is a most prevalent herb of Mercury, and strengthens the brain and apprehension exceedingly when weak, and relieves them when drooping. This taken with honey (saith Dioscorides) is a remedy for coughs, hardness of the spleen and difficulty of urine, and helps those that are fallen into a dropsy, especially at the beginning of the disease, a decoction being made thereof when it is green, and drank. It also brings down women's courses, and expels the dead child. It is most effectual against the poison of all serpents, being drank in wine, and the bruised herb outwardly applied; used with honey, it cleanses old and foul ulcers; and made into an oil, and the eyes anointed therewith, takes away the dimness and moistness. It is likewise good for the pains in the sides and cramps. The decoction thereof taken for four days together, drives away and cures both tertain and quartan agues. It is also good against all diseases of the brain, as continual head-ache, falling-sickness, melancholy, drowsiness and dullness of the spirits, convulsions and palsies. A dram of the seed taken in powder purges by urine, and is good against the yellow jaundice. The juice of the leaves dropped into the ears kills the worms in them. The tops thereof, when they are in flowers, steeped twenty-four hours in a drought of white wine, and drank, kills the worms in the belly.
Descript : This is one of the kinds of Flower-de-luce, having divers leaves arising from the roots, very like a Flower-de-luce, but that they are sharp-edged on both sides, and thicker in the middle, of a deeper green color narrower and sharper pointed, and a strong ill-scent, if they be bruised between the fingers. In the middle rises up a reasonably strong stalk, a yard high at least, bearing three or four flowers at the top, made somewhat like the flowers of the Flower-de-luce, with three upright leaves, of a dead purplish ashcolor, with some veins discolored in them; the other three do not fall down, nor are the three other small ones so arched, nor cover the lower leaves as the Flower-de-luce doth, but stand loose or asunder from them. After they are past, there come up three square hard husks, opening wide into three parts when they are ripe, wherein lie reddish seed, turns black when it hath abiden long. The root is like that of the Flower-de-luce, but reddish on the outside, and whitish within, very sharp and hot in the taste, of as evil a scent as the leaves.
Place : This grows as well in upland grounds, as in moist places, woods, and shadowy places by the sea-side in many places of this land, and is usually nursed up in gardens.
Time : It flowers not until July, and the seed is ripe in August or September, yet the husks after they are ripe, opening themselves, will hold their seed with them for two or three months, and not shed them.
Government and virtues : It is supposed to be under the dominion of Saturn. It is used by many country people to purge corrupt phlegm and choler, which they do by drinking the decoction of the roots; and some to make it more gentle, do but infuse the sliced roots in ale; and some take the leaves, which serve well for the weaker stomach. The juice hereof put up, or snuffed up the nose, causes sneezing, and draws from the head much corruption; and the powder thereof doth the same. The powder thereof drank in wine, helps those that are troubled with the cramps and convulsions, or with the gout and sciatica, and gives ease to those that have griping pains in their body and belly, and helps those that have the stranguary. It is given with much profit to those that have had long fluxes by the sharp and evil quality of humours, which it stays, having first cleansed and purged them by the drying and binding property therein. The root boiled in wine and drank, doth effectually procure women's courses, and used as a pessary, works the same effect, but causes abortion in women with child. Half a dram of the seed beaten to powder, and taken in wine, doth speedily cause one to make water abundantly. The same taken with vinegar, dissolves the hardness and swellings of the spleen. The root is very effectual in all wounds, especially of the head; as also to draw forth any splinters, thorns, or broken bones, or any other thing sticking in the flesh, without causing pains, being used with a little verdigrease and honey, and the great Centaury root. The same boiled in vinegar, and laid upon an eruption or swelling, doth very effectually dissolve and consume them; yea, even the swellings of the throat called the king's evil; the juice of the leaves or roots heals the itch, and all running or spreading scabs, sores, blemishes, or scars in the skin, wheresoever they be.
Descript : This rises up with brownish small round stalks, two feet high, and sometimes more, having thereon many narrow and long dark green leaves, very seldom with any dents about the edges, or any stalks or white spots therein, yet they are sometimes so found divided at the tops into many small branches, with divers small yellow flowers on every one of them, all which are turned one way, and being ripe, do turn into down, and are carried away by the wind. The root consists of many small fibres, which grows not deep in the ground, but abides all the winter therein, shooting forth new branches every year, the old one lying down to the ground.
Place : It grows in the open places of woods and copses, on both moist and dry grounds, in many places of this land.
Time : It flowers about the month of July.
Government and virtues : Venus claims the herb, and therefore to be sure it respects beauty lost. Arnoldus de Villa Nova commends it much against the stone in the reins and kidneys, and to provoke urine in abundance, whereby also the gravel and stone may be voided. The decoction of the herb, green or dry, or the distilled water thereof, is very effectual for inward bruises, as also to be outwardly applied, it stays bleeding in any part of the body, and of wounds; also the fluxes of humours, the bloody-flux, and women's courses; and is no less prevalent in all ruptures or burstings, being drank inwardly, and inwardly, and outwardly applied. It is a sovereign wound herb, inferior to none, both for the inward and outward hurts; green wounds, old sores and ulcers, are quickly cured therewith. It also is of especial use in all lotions for sores or ulcers in the mouth, throat, or privy parts of man or woman. The decoction also helps to fasten the teeth that are loose in the gums.
GOUT-WORT, OR HERB GERRARD
Descript : It is a low herb, seldom rising half a yard high, having sundry leaves standing on brownish green stalks by three, snipped about, and of a strong unpleasant savour. The umbels of the flowers are white, and the seed blackish, the root runs in the ground, quickly taking a great deal of room.
Place : It grows by hedge and wallsides, and often in the border and corner of fields, and in gardens also.
Time : It flowers and seeds about the end of July.
Government and virtues : Saturn rules it. Neither is it to be supposed Gout-wort hath its name for nothing but upon experiment to heal the gout and sciatica; as also joint-aches, and other cold griefs. The very bearing of it about one eases the pains of the gout, and defends him that bears it from the disease.
Of this I shall briefly describe their kinds, which are principally used in physic, the virtues whereof are alike, though somewhat different in their manner and form of growing.
Descript : The greater Gromel grows up with slender hard and hairy stalks, trailing and taking root in the ground, as it lies thereon, and parted into many other small branches with hairy dark green leaves thereon. At the joints, with the leaves, come forth very small blue flowers, and after them hard stony roundish seed. The root is long and woody, abiding the Winter, and shoots forth fresh stalks in the spring.
The smaller wild Gromel sends forth divers upright hard branched stalks, two or three feet high full of joints, at every one of which grow small, long, hard, and rough leaves like the former, but less; among which leaves come forth small white flowers, and after them greyish round seed like the former; the root is not very big, but with many strings thereat.
The garden Gromel has divers upright, slender, woody, hairy stalks, blown and cressed very little branched, with leaves like the former, and white flowers; after which, in rough brown husks, is contained a white, hard, round seed, shining like pearls, and greater than either the former; the root is like the first described, with divers branches and sprigs thereat, which continues (as the first doth) all the Winter.
Place : The two first grow wild in barren or untilled places, and by the way side in many places of this land. The last is a nursling in the gardens of the curious.
Time : They all flower from Midsummer until September sometimes, and in the mean time the seed ripens.
Government and virtues : The herb belongs to Dame Venus; and therefore if Mars cause the cholic or stone, as usually he doth, if in Virgo, this is your cure. These are accounted to be of as singular force as any herb or seed whatsoever, to break the stone and to void it, and the gravel either in the reins or bladder, as also to provoke urine being stopped, and to help stranguary. The seed is of greatest use, being bruised and boiled in white wine or in broth, or the like, or the powder of the seed taken therein. Two drams of the seed in powder taken with women's breast milk, is very effectual to procure a very speedy delivery to such women as have sore pains in their travail, and cannot be delivered. The herb itself, (when the seed is not to be had) either boiled, or the juice thereof drank, is effectual to all the purposes aforesaid, but not so powerful or speedy in operation.
Called also Feapberry, and in Sussex Dewberry-Bush, and in some Counties Wineberry.
Government and virtues : They are under the dominion of Venus. The berries, while they are unripe, being scalded or baked, are good to stir up a fainting or decayed appetite, especially such whose stomachs are afflicted by choleric humours. They are excellently good to stay longings of women with child. You may keep them preserved with sugar all the year long. The decoction of the leaves of the tree cools hot swellings and inflammations; as also St. Anthony's fire. The ripe Gooseberries being eaten, are an excellent remedy to allay the violent heat both of the stomach and liver. The young and tender leaves break the stone, and expel gravel both from the kidneys and bladder. All the evil they do to the body of man is, they are supposed to breed crudities, and by crudities, worms.
Descript : This sends forth seven, eight, or nine leaves from a small brown creeping root, every one standing upon a long foot stalk, which are almost as broad as long, round pointed, of a sad green color, and hard in handling, and like the leaf of a Pear-tree; from whence arises a slender weak stalk, yet standing upright, bearing at the top many small white sweet-smelling flowers, laid open like a star, consisting of five round pointed leaves, with many yellow threads standing in the middle about a green head, and a long stalk with them, which in time grows to be the seed-vessel, which being ripe is found five square, with a small point at it, wherein is contained seed as small as dust.
Place : It grows seldom in fields, but frequent in the woods northwards, viz. in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Scotland.
Time : It flowers about June and July.
Government and virtues : Winter-green is under the dominion of Saturn, and is a singularly good wound herb, and an especial remedy for healing green wounds speedily, the green leaves being bruised and applied, or the juice of them. A salve made of the green herb stamped, or the juice boiled with hog's lard, or with salad oil and wax, and some turpentine added to it, is a sovereign salve, and highly extolled by the Germans, who use it to heal all manner of wounds and sores. The herb boiled in wine and water, and given to drink to them that have any inward ulcers in their kidneys, or neck of the bladder, doth wonderfully help them. It stays all fluxes, as the lask, bloody fluxes, women's courses, and bleeding of wounds, and takes away any inflammations rising upon pains of the heart; it is no less helpful for foul ulcers hard to be cured; as also for cankers or fistulas. The distilled water of the herb effectually performs the same things.
Descript : Our common Groundsel has a round green and somewhat brownish stalk, spreading toward the top into branches, set with long and somewhat narrow green leaves, cut in on the edges, somewhat like the oak-leaves, but less, and round at the end. At the tops of the branches stand many small green heads, out of which grow several small, yellow threads or thumbs, which are the flowers, and continue many days blown in that manner, before it pass away into down, and with the seed is carried away in the wind. The root is small and thready, and soon perishes, and as soon rises again of its own sowing, so that it may be seen many months in the year both green and in flower, and seed; for it will spring and seed twice in a year at least, if it be suffered in a garden.
Place : They grow almost every where, as well on tops of walls, as at the foot amongst rubbish and untilled grounds, but especially in gardens.
Time : It flowers, as was said before, almost every month throughout the year.
Government and virtues : This herb is Venus's mistress-piece, and is as gallant and universal a medicine for all diseases coming of heat, in what part of the body soever they be, as the sun shines upon; it is very safe and friendly to the body of man: yet causes vomiting if the stomach be afflicted; if not, purging: and it doth it with more gentleness than can be expected; it is moist, and something cold withal, thereby causing expulsion, and repressing the heat caused by the motion of the internal parts in purges and vomits. Lay by our learned receipts; take so much Sena, so much Scammony, so much Colocynthis, so much infusion of Crocus Metallorum, &c. this herb alone preserved in a syrup, in a distilled water, or in an ointment, shall do the deed for you in all hot diseases, and, shall do it, 1, Safely; 2, Speedily.
The decoction of this herb (saith Dioscorides) made with wine, and drank, helps the pains of the stomach, proceeding of choler, (which it may well do by a vomit) as daily experience shews. The juice thereof taken in drink, or the decoction of it in ale, gently performs the same. It is good against the jaundice and falling sickness, being taken in wine; as also against difficulty of making water. It provokes urine, expels gravel in the reins or kidneys; a dram thereof given in oxymel, after some walking or stirring of the body. It helps also the sciatica, griping of the belly, the cholic, defects of the liver, and provokes women's courses. The fresh herb boiled, and made into a poultice, applied to the breasts of women that are swollen with pain and heat, as also the privy parts of man or woman, the seat or fundament, or the arteries, joints, and sinews, when they are inflamed and swollen, doth much ease them; and used with some salt, helps to dissolve knots or kernels in any part of the body. The juice of the herb, or as (Dioscorides saith) the leaves and flowers, with some fine Frankincense in powder, used in wounds of the body, nerves or sinews, doth singularly help to heal them. The distilled water of the herb performs well all the aforesaid cures, but especially for inflammations or watering of the eyes, by reason of the defluxion of rheum unto them.
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