Old Time Remedies

The remedies our ancestors used -- or, at least, were told to use! Folk remedies, old wives' tales, mediaeval cures... they're all here.

NOTE: these remedies are listed only for information and/or amusement. They are not to be construed as medical advice of any type, nor are they recommended for use. Consult your doctor for any medical advice you require.

 

Monday, 19 January 2009

Bronchitis, General Relief for

"Dose of castor oil every night; one teaspoonful for child. Grease well with camphorated oil or any good oil." The castor oil is very good for carrying off the phlegm from the stomach and bowels that children always swallow instead of coughing up like an older person. It is well in addition to the above remedy to give a little licorice or onion syrup to relieve the bronchial cough.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Sunday, 11 January 2009

Cough of Long Standing, Excellent Syrup for

"Carbonate Ammonia 40 grains
Syrup Senega 6 drams
Paregoric 4 drams
Syrup Wild Cherry 6 drams
Syrup Tolu 4 ounces"

This is a very good syrup, and is especially good for chronic cough or chronic bronchitis.

Dose.--One teaspoonful every three hours.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Friday, 9 January 2009

Cough Syrup

One quart of water, one handful of hops; boil these together, and
strain; put in this fluid a cup of sugar, and boil to a syrup; cut a
lemon into it, and bottle for use.

Source: Recipes Tried and True, Ladies' Aid Society of the First Presbyterian Church of Marion, Ohio

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Monday, 8 December 2008

Tickling in Throat, Simple Remedy for

"Take bread crumbs and swallow them."

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J.

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Saturday, 6 December 2008

Ingredients: Pear

The Pear, also called Pyrrie, belongs to the same natural order of plants (the Rosacoe) as the Apple. It is sometimes called the Pyerie, and when wild is so hard and austere as to bear the name of Choke-pear. It grows wild in Britain, and abundantly in France and Germany. The Barland Pear, which was chiefly cultivated in the seventeenth century, still retains its health and vigour, "the identical trees in Herefordshire which then supplied excellent liquor, continuing to do so in this, the nineteenth century."

This fruit caused the death of Drusus, a son of the Roman Emperor Claudius, who caught in his mouth a Pear thrown into the air, and by mischance attempted to swallow it, but the Pear was so extremely hard that it stuck in his throat, and choked him.

Pears gathered from gardens near old monasteries were formerly held in the highest repute for flavour, and it was noted that the trees which bore them continued fruitful for a great number of years. The secret cause seems to have been, not the holy water with which the trees were formally christened, but the fact that the sagacious monks had planted them upon a layer of stones so as to prevent the roots from penetrating deep into the ground, and so as thus to ensure their proper drainage.

The cellular tissue of which a Pear is composed differs from that of the apple in containing minute stony concretions which make it, in many varieties of the fruit, bite short and crisp; and its specific gravity is therefore greater than that of the apple, so much so that by taking a cube of each of equal size, that of the Pear will sink when thrown into a vessel of water, while that of the apple will float. The wood of the wild Pear is strong, and readily stained black, so as to look like ebony. It is much employed by wood-engravers. Gerard says "it serveth to be cut up into many kinds of moulds; not only such fruits as those seen in my Herbal are made of, but also many sorts of pretty toies for coifes, breast plates, and such like; used among our English gentlewomen."

The good old black Pear of Worcester is represented in the civic arms, or rather in the second of the two shields belonging to the faithful city; Argent, a fesse between three Pears, sable. The date of this shield coincides with that of the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Worcester.

Virgil names three kinds of Pears which he received as a present from Cato:--

"Nec surculus idem,
Crustaneis, Syriisque pyris, gravibusque volemis."

The two first of these were Bergamots and Pounder Pears, whilst the last-named was called a volemus, because large enough to fill the hollow of the hand, (vola).

Mural paintings which have been disclosed at Pompeii represent the Pear tree and its fruit. In Pliny's time there were "proud" Pears, so called because they ripened early, and would not keep; and "winter" pears for baking, etc. Again, in the time of Henry the Eighth, a "warden" Pear, so named (Anglo-Saxon "wearden") from its property of long keeping, was commonly cultivated.

"Her cheek was like the Catherine Pear,
The side that's next the sun,"

says one of our old poets concerning a small fruit seen often now-a-days in our London streets, handsome, but hard, and ill-flavoured.

The special taste of Pears is chemically due for the most part to their containing amylacetate; and a solution of this substance in spirit is artificially prepared for making essence of Jargonelle Pears, as used for flavouring Pear drops and other sweetmeats. The acetate amyl is a compound ether got from vinegar and potato oil. Pears contain also malic acid, pectose, gum, sugar, and albumen, with mineral matter, cellulose, and water. Gerard says wine made of the juice of Pears, called in English, Perry, "purgeth those that are not accustomed to drinke thereof, especially when it is new; notwithstanding, it is as wholesome a drink (being taken in small quantity) as wine; it comforteth and warmeth the stomacke, and causeth good digestion."

Perry contains about one per cent. alcohol over cider, and a slightly larger proportion of malic acid, so that it is rather more stimulating, and somewhat better calculated to produce the healthful effects of vegetable acids in the economy. How eminently beneficial fruits of such sort are when ripe and sound, even to persons out of health, is but little understood, though happily the British public is growing wiser to-day in this respect. For instance, it has been lately discovered that there is present in the juice of the Pine-apple a vegetable digestive ferment, which, in its action, imitates almost identically the gastric juices of the stomach; and a demand for Bananas is developing rapidly in London since their wholesome virtues have become generally recognised. It is a remarkable fact that the epidemics of yellow fever in New Orleans have declined in virulence almost incredibly since the Banana began to be eaten there in considerable quantities. If a paste of its ripe pulp dried in the sun be made with spice, and sugar, this will keep well for years.

At Godstone, as is related in Bray's Survey, the water from a well sunk close to a wild Pear tree (which bore fruit as hard as iron) proved so curative of gout, that large quantities of it were sent to London and sold there at the rate of sixpence a quart. Pears were deemed by the Romans an antidote to poisonous fungi; and for this reason, which subsequent experience has confirmed, Perry is still reckoned the best thing to be taken after eating freely of mushrooms, as also Pear stalks cooked therewith.

There is an old Continental saying: Pome, pere, ed noce guastano la voce--"Apples, pears, and nuts spoil the voice," And an ancient rhymed distich says:--

"For the cough take Judas eare,
With the parynge of a pear;
And drynke them without feare,
If ye will have remedy."

All Pears are cold, and have a binding quality, with an earthy substance in their composition.

It should be noted that Pears dried in the oven, and kept without syrup, will remain quite good, and eatable for a year or more.

Most Pears depend on birds for the dispersion of their seeds, but one striking variety prefers to attract bees, and the larger insects for cross-fertilization, and it has therefore assumed brilliant crimson petals of a broadly expanded sort, instead of bearing a succulent edible fruit, This is the highly ornamental Pyrus Japonica, which may so often be seen trained on the sunny walls of cottages.

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Saturday, 1 November 2008

Ingredients: Bog-Bean, or Marsh Trefoil

The Buck-bean, or Bog-bean, which is common enough in stagnant pools, and on our spongy bogs, is the most serviceable of all known herbal tonics. It may be easily recognised growing in water by its large leaves overtopping the surface, each being composed of three leaflets, and resembling the leaf of a Windsor Broad Bean. The flowers when in bud are of a bright rose color, and when fully blown they have the inner surface of their petals thickly covered with a white fringe, on which account the plant is known also as "white fluff." The name Buckbean is perhaps a corruption of scorbutus, scurvy; this giving it another title, "scurvy bean." And it is termed "goat's bean," perhaps from the French le bouc, "a he-goat." The plant flowers for a month and therefore bears the botanical designation, "Menyanthes" (trifoliata) from meen, "a month," and anthos, "a flower." It belongs to the Gentian tribe, each of which is distinguished by a tonic and appetizing bitterness of taste. The root of the Bog Bean is the most bitter part, and is therefore selected for medicinal use. It contains a chemical glucoside, "Menyanthin," which consists of glucose and a volatile product, "Menyanthol." For curative purposes druggists supply an infusion of the herb, and a liquid extract in combination with liquorice. These preparations are in moderate doses, strengthening and antiscorbutic; but when given more largely they are purgative and emetic. Gerard says if the plant "be taken with mead, or honied water, it is of use against a cough"; in which respect it is closely allied to the Sundew (another plant of the bogs) for relieving whooping-cough after the first feverish stage, or any similar hacking, spasmodic cough. A tincture is made (H.) from the whole plant with spirit of wine, and this proves most useful for clearing obscuration of the sight, when there is a sense, especially in the open-air, of a white vibrating mist before the eyes; and therefore it has been given with marked success in early stages of amaurotic paralysis of the retina. The dose should be three or four drops of the tincture with a tablespoonful of cold water three times in the day for a week at a time.

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Best Cough Syrup

For making the best cough syrup, take 1 oz of thoroughworth; 1 oz of slippery elm; 1 oz of stick licorice; and 1 oz of flax seed; simmer together in 1 qt of water until the strength is entirely extracted. Strain carefully, add 1 pt of best molasses and 1/2 lb of loaf sugar; simmer them all well together, and when cold bottle tight. This is the cheapest, best, and safest medicine now or ever in use.

A few doses of one tablespoon at a time will alleviate the most distressing cough of the lungs, soothes and allays irritation, and if continued, subdues any tendency to consumption; breaks up entirely the whooping cough, and no better remedy can be found for croup, asthma, bronchitis, and all affections of the lungs and throat. Thousands of precious lives may be saved every year by this cheap and simple remedy, as well as thousands of dollars which would otherwise be spent in the purchase of nostrums which are both useless and dangerous.

Source: Dr Chase's Recipes, or Information for Everybody, A.W. Chase

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Saturday, 11 October 2008

Ingredients: Daisy

Our English Daisy is a composite flower which is called in the glossaries "gowan," or Yellow flower. Botanically it is named Bellis perennis, probably from bellis, "in fields of battle," because of its fame in healing the wounds of soldiers; and perennis as implying that though "the rose has but a summer reign, the daisy never dies," The flower is likewise known as "Bainwort," "beloved by children," and "the lesser Consound." The whole plant has been carefully and exhaustively proved for curative purposes; and a medicinal tincture (H.) is now made from it with spirit of wine. Gerard says: "Daisies do mitigate all kinds of pain, especially in the joints, and gout proceeding from a hot humour, if stamped with new butter and applied upon the pained place." And, "The leaves of Daisies used among pot herbs do make the belly soluble." Pliny tells us the Daisy was used in his time with Mugwort as a resolvent to scrofulous tumours.

The leaves are acrid and pungent, being ungrateful to cattle, and even rejected by geese. These and the flowers, when chewed experimentally, have provoked giddiness and pains in the arms as if from coming boils: also a development of boils, "dark, fiery, and very sore," on the back of the neck, and outside the jaws. For preventing, or aborting these same distressing formations when they begin to occur spontaneously, the tincture of Daisies should be taken in doses of five drops three times a day in water. Likewise this medicine should be given curatively on the principle of affinity between it and the symptoms induced in provers who have taken the same in material toxic doses, "when the brain is muddled, the sight dim, the spirits soon depressed, the temper irritable, the skin pimply, the heart apt to flutter, and the whole aspect careworn; as if from early excesses." Then the infusion of the plant in tablespoonful doses, or the diluted tincture, will answer admirably to renovate and re-establish the health and strength of the sufferer.

The flowers and leaves are found to afford a considerable quantity of oil and of ammoniacal salts. The root was named Consolida minima by older physicians. Fabricius speaks of its efficacy in curing wounds and contusions. A decoction of the leaves and flowers was given internally, and the bruised herb blended with lard was applied outside. "The leaves stamped do take away bruises and swellings, whereupon, it was called in old time Bruisewort." If eaten as a spring salad, or boiled like spinach, the leaves are pungent, and slightly laxative.

Being a diminutive plant with roots to correspond, the Daisy, on the doctrine of signatures, was formerly thought to arrest the bodily growth if taken with this view. Therefore its roots boiled in broth were given to young puppies so as to keep them of a small size. For the same reason the fairy Milkah fed her foster child on this plant, "that his height might not exceed that of a pigmy":--

"She robbed dwarf elders of their fragrant fruit,
And fed him early with the daisy-root,
Whence through his veins the powerful juices ran,
And formed the beauteous miniature of man."

"Daisy-roots and cream" were prescribed by the fairy godmothers of our childhood to stay the stature of those gawky youngsters who were shooting up into an ungainly development like "ill weeds growing apace."

Daisies were said of old to be under the dominion of Venus, and later on they were dedicated to St. Margaret of Cortona. Therefore they were reputed good for the special-illnesses of females. It is remarkable there is no Greek word for this plant, or flower. Ossian the Gaelic poet feigns that the Daisy, whose white investments figure innocence, was first "sown above a baby's grave by the dimpled hands of infantine angels."

During mediaeval times the Daisy was worn by knights at a tournament as an emblem of fidelity. In his poem the Flower and the Leaf, Chaucer, who was ever loud in his praises of the "Eye of Day"--"empresse and floure of floures all," thus pursues his theme:--

"And at the laste there began anon
A lady for to sing right womanly
A bargaret in praising the Daisie:
For--as methought among her notes sweet,
She said, 'Si doucet est la Margarete.'"

The French name Marguerite is derived from a supposed resemblance of the Daisy to a pearl; and in Germany this flower is known as the Meadow Pearl. Likewise the Greek word for a pearl is Margaritos.

A saying goes that it is not Spring until a person can put his foot on twelve of these flowers. In the cultivated red Daisies used for bordering our gardens, the yellow central boss of each compound flower has given place to strap-shaped florets like the outer rays, and without pollen, so that the entire flower consists of this purple inflorescence. But such aristocratic culture has made the blossom unproductive of seed. Like many a proud and belted Earl, each of the pampered and richly coloured Daisies pays the penalty of its privileged luxuriance by a disability from perpetuating its species.

The Moon Daisy, or Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum Orysanthemum), St. John's flower, belonging to the same tribe of plants, grows commonly with an erect stem about two feet high, in dry pastures and roads, bearing large solitary flowers which are balsamic and make a useful infusion for relieving chronic coughs, and for bronchial catarrhs. Boiled with some of the leaves and stalks they form, if sweetened with honey, or barley sugar, an excellent posset drink for the same purpose. In America the root is employed successfully for checking the night sweats of pulmonary consumption, a fluid extract thereof being made for this object, the dose of which is from fifteen to sixty drops in water.

The Moon Daisy is named Maudlin-wort from St. Mary Magdalene, and bears its lunar name from the Grecian goddess of the moon, Artemis, who particularly governed the female health. Similarly, our bright little Daisy, "the constellated flower that never sets," owns the name Herb Margaret. The Moon Daisy is also called Bull Daisy, Gipsies' Daisy, Goldings, Midsummer Daisy, Mace Flinwort, and Espilawn. Its young leaves are sometimes used as a flavouring in soups and stews. The flower was compared to the representation of a full moon, and was formerly dedicated to the Isis of the Egyptians. Tom Hood wrote of a traveller estranged far from his native shores, and walking despondently in a distant land:--

"When lo! he starts with glad surprise,
Home thoughts come rushing o'er him,
For, modest, wee, and crimson-tipped
A flower he sees before him.
With eager haste he stoops him down,
His eyes with moisture hazy;
And as he plucks the simple bloom
He murmurs, 'Lawk, a Daisy'"!

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Saturday, 23 August 2008

Ingredients: Juniper

The Juniper shrub (Arkenthos of the ancients), which is widely distributed about the world, grows not uncommonly in England as a stiff evergreen conifer on heathy ground, and bears bluish purple berries. These have a sweet, juicy, and, presently, bitter, brown pulp, containing three seeds, and they do not ripen until the second year. The flowers blossom in May and June. Probably the shrub gets its name from the Celtic jeneprus, "rude or rough." Gerard notes that "it grows most commonly very low, like unto our ground furzes." Gum Sandarach, or Pounce, is the product of this tree.

Medicinally, the berries and the fragrant tops are employed. They contain "juniperin," sugar, resins, wax, fat, formic and acetic acids, and malates. The fresh tops have a balsamic odour, and a carminative, bitterish taste. The berries afford a yellow aromatic oil, which acts on the kidneys, and gives cordial warmth to the stomach. Forty berries should yield an ounce of the oil. Steeped in alcohol the berries make a capital ratafia; they are used in several confections, as well as for flavouring gin, being put into a spirit more common than the true geneva of Holland. The French obtain from these berries the Genièvre (Anglice "geneva"), from which we have taken our English word "gin." In France, Savoy, and Italy, the berries are largely collected, and are sometimes eaten as such, fifteen or twenty at a time, to stimulate the kidneys; or they are taken in powder for the same purpose. Being fragrant of smell, they have a warm, sweet, pungent flavour, which becomes bitter on further mastication.

Our British Pharmacopoeia orders a spirit of Juniper to be made for producing the like diuretic action in some forms of dropsy, so as to carry off the effused fluid by the kidneys. A teaspoonful of this spirit may be taken, well diluted with water, several times in the day. Of the essential oil the dose is from two to three drops on sugar, or with a tablespoonful of milk. These remedies are of service also in catarrh of the urinary passages; and if applied externally to painful local swellings, whether rheumatic, or neuralgic, the bruised berries afford prompt and lasting relief.

An infusion or decoction of the Juniper wood is sometimes given for the same affections, but less usefully, because the volatile oil becomes dissipated by the boiling heat. A "rob," or inspissated juice of the berries, is likewise often employed. Gerard said: "A decoction thereof is singular against an old cough." Gin is an ordinary malt spirit distilled a second time, with the addition of some Juniper berries. Formerly these berries were added to the malt in grinding, so that the spirit obtained therefrom was flavoured with the berries from the first, and surpassed all that could be made by any other method. At present gin is cheaply manufactured by leaving out the berries altogether, and giving the spirit a flavour by distilling it with a proportion of oil of turpentine, which resembles the Juniper berries in taste; and as this sophistication is less practised in Holland than elsewhere, it is best to order "Hollands," with water, as a drink for dropsical persons. By the use of Juniper berries Dr. Mayern cured some patients who were deplorably ill with epilepsy when all other remedies had failed. "Let the patient carry a bag of these berries about with him, and eat from ten to twenty every morning for a month or more, whilst fasting. Similarly for flatulent indigestion the berries may be most usefully given; on the first day, four berries; on the second, five; on the third, six; on the fourth, seven; and so on until twelve days, and fifteen berries are reached; after this the daily dose should be reduced by one berry until only five are taken in the day; which makes an admirable 'berry-cure.'" The berries are to be well masticated, and the husks may be afterwards either rejected or swallowed.

Juniper oil, used officinally, is distilled from the full-grown, unripe, green fruit. The Laplanders almost adore the tree, and they make a decoction of its ripe berries, when dried, to be drunk as tea, or coffee; whilst the Swedish peasantry prepare from the fresh berries a fermented beverage, which they drink cold, and an extract, which they eat with their bread for breakfast as we do butter.

Simon Pauli assures us these berries have performed wonders in curing the stone, he having personally treated cases thus, with incredible success. Schroder knew a nobleman of Germany, who freed himself from the intolerable symptoms of stone, by a constant use of these berries. Evelyn called them the "Forester's Panacea," "one of the most universal remedies in the world to our crazy Forester." Astrological botanists advise to pull the berries when the sun is in Virgo.

We read in an old tract (London, 1682) on The use of Juniper and Elder berries in our Publick Houses: "The simple decoction of these berries, sweetened with a little sugar candy, will afford liquors so pleasant to the eye, so grateful to the palate, and so beneficial to the body, that the wonder is they have not been courted and ushered into our Publick Houses, so great are the extraordinary beauty and vertues of these berries." "One ounce, well cleansed, bruised, and mashed, will be enough for almost a pint of water. When they are boiled together the vessel must be carefully stopt, and after the boiling is over one tablespoonful of sugar candy must be put in."

From rifts which occur spontaneously in the bark of the shrubs in warm countries issues a gum resembling frankincense. This gum, as Gerard teaches, "drieth ulcers which are hollow, and filleth them with flesh if they be cast thereon." "Being mixed with oil of roses, it healeth chaps of the hands and feet." Bergius said "the lignum (wood) of Juniper is diureticum, sudorificum, mundificans; the bacca (berry), diuretica, nutriens, diaphoretica." In Germany the berries are added to sauerkraut for flavouring it.

Virgil thought the odour exhaled by the Juniper tree noxious, and he speaks of the Juniperis gravis umbra:--

"Surgamus! solet esse gravis cantantibus umbra; Juniperis gravis umbra; nocent et frugibus umbrae." Eclog. X. v. 75.

But it is more scientific to suppose that the growth of Juniper trees should be encouraged near dwellings, because of the balsamic and antiseptic odours which they constantly exhale. The smoke of the leaves and wood was formerly believed to drive away "all infection and corruption of the aire which bringeth the plague, and such like contagious diseases."

Sprays of Juniper are frequently strewn over floors of apartments, so as to give out when trodden down, their agreeable odour which is supposed to promote sleep. Queen Elizabeth's bedchamber was sweetened with their fumes. In the French hospitals it is customary to burn Juniper berries with Rosemary for correcting vitiated air, and to prevent infection.

On the Continent the Juniper is regarded with much veneration, because it is thought to have saved the life of the Madonna, and of the infant Jesus, whom she hid under a Juniper bush when flying into Egypt from the assassins of Herod.

Virgil alludes to the Juniper as Cedar:--

"Disce et odoratam stabulis accendere cedrum." Georgic.

"But learn to burn within your sheltering rooms Sweet Juniper."

Its powerful odour is thought to defeat the keen scent of the hound; and a hunted hare when put to extremities will seek a safe retreat under cover of its branches. Elijah was sheltered from the persecutions of King Ahab by the Juniper tree; since which time it has been always regarded as an asylum, and a symbol of succour.

From the wood of the Juniperus oxycoedrus; an empyreumatic oil resembling liquid pitch, is obtained by dry distillation, this being named officinally, Huile de cade, or Oleum cadinum, otherwise "Juniper tar." It is found to be most useful as an external stimulant for curing psoriasis and chronic eczema of the skin. A recognised ointment is made with this and yellow wax, Unguentum olei cadini.

In Italy stables are popularly thought to be protected by a sprig of Juniper from demons and thunderbolts, just as we suppose the magic horseshoe to be protective to our houses and offices.

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Saturday, 12 July 2008

Ingredients: Ferns

Only some few of our native Ferns are known to possess medicinal virtues, though they may all be happily pronounced devoid of poisonous or deleterious properties. As curative simples, a brief consideration will be given here to the common male and female Ferns, the Royal Fern, the Hart's Tongue, the Maidenhair, the common Polypody, the Spleenwort, and the Wall Rue. Generically, the term "fern" has been referred to the word "feather," because of the pinnate leaves, or to farr, a bullock, from the use of the plants as litter for cattle. Ferns are termed Filices, from the Latin word filum, a thread, because of their filamentary fronds. Each of those now particularized owes its respective usefulness chiefly to its tannin; while the few more specially endowed with healing powers yield also a peculiar chemical acid "filicic," which is fatal to worms. In an old charter, A.D. 855, the right of pasturage on the common Ferns was called "fearnleswe," or Pascua procorum, the pasturage of swine (from fearrh, a pig). Matthiolus when writing of the ferns, male and female, says, Utriusque radice sues pinguescunt. In some parts of England Ferns at large are known as "Devil's brushes"; and to bite off close to the ground the first Fern which appears in the Spring, is said, in Cornwall, to cure toothache, and to prevent its return during the remainder of the year.

The common Male Fern (Filix mas) or Shield Fern, grows abundantly in all parts of Great Britain, and has been known from the times of Theophrastus and Dioscorides, as a specific remedy for intestinal worms, particularly the tape worm. For medicinal purposes, the green part of the rhizome is kept and dried; this is then powdered, and its oleo-resin is extracted by ether. The green fixed oil thus obtained; which is poisonous to worms, consists of the glycerides of filocylic and filosmylic acids, with tannin, starch, gum, and sugar. The English oil of Male Fern is more reliable than that which is imported from the Continent. Twenty drops made into an emulsion with mucilage should be given every half-hour on an empty stomach, until sixty or eighty drops have been taken. It is imprudent to administer the full quantity in a single dose. The treatment should be thus pursued when the vigour of the parasite has been first reduced by a low diet for a couple of days, and is lying within the intestines free from alimentary matter; a purgative being said to assist the action of the plant, though it is, independently, quite efficacious. The knowledge of this remedy had become lost, until it was repurchased for fifteen thousand francs, in 1775, by the French king, under the advice of his principal physicians, from Madame Nouffer, a surgeon's widow in Switzerland, who employed it as a secret mode of cure with infallible success. Her method consisted in giving from one to three drams of the powdered root, after using a clyster, and following the dose up with a purge of scammony and calomel. The rhizome should not be used medicinally if more than a year old. A medicinal tincture (H.) is now prepared from the root-stock with proof spirit, in the autumn when the fronds are dying.

The young shoots and curled leaves of the Male Fern, which is distinguished by having one main rib, are sometimes eaten like asparagus; whilst the fronds make an excellent litter for horses and cattle. The seed of this and some other species of Fern is so minute (one frond producing more than a million) as not to be visible to the naked eye. Hence, on the doctrine of signatures, the plant -- like the ring of Gyges, found in a brazen horse -- has been thought to confer invisibility. Thus Shakespeare says, Henry IV., Act II., Scene 1, "We have the receipt of Fern seed; we walk invisible."

Bracken or Brakes, which grows more freely than any other of the Fern tribe throughout England, is the Filix foemina, or common Female Fern. The fronds of this are branched, whilst the male plant having only one main rib, is more powerful as an astringent, and antiseptic; "the powder thereof freely beaten healeth the galled necks of oxen and other cattell." Bracken is also named botanically, Pteris aquilina, because the figure which appears in its succulent stem when cut obliquely across at the base, has been thought to resemble a spread eagle; and, therefore, Linnaeus termed the Fern Aquilina. Some call it, for the same reason, "King Charles in the oak tree"; and in Scotland the symbol is said to be an impression of the Devil's foot. Again, witches are reputed to detest this Fern, since it bears on its cut root the Greek letter X, which is the initial of Christos.

In Ireland it is called the Fern of God, because of the belief that if the stem be cut into three sections, on the first of these will be seen the letter G; on the second O; and on the third D.

An old popular proverb says about this Bracken:--

"When the Fern is as high as a spoon
You may sleep an hour at noon,
When the Fern is as high as a ladle
You may sleep as long as you're able,
When the Fern is looking red
Milk is good with faire brown bread."

The Bracken grows almost exclusively on waste places and uncultivated ground; or, as Horace testified in Roman days, Neglectis urenda filix innascitur agris. It contains much potash; and its ashes were formerly employed in the manufacture of soap. The young tops of the plant are boiled in Hampshire for hogs' food, and the peculiar flavour of Hampshire bacon has been attributed to this custom. The root affords much starch, and is used medicinally. "For thigh aches" [sciatica], says an old writer, "smoke the legs thoroughly with Fern braken."

During the Seventeenth Century it was customary to set growing Brakes on fire with the belief that this would produce rain. A like custom of "firing the Bracken" still prevails to-day on the Devonshire moors. By an official letter the Earl of Pembroke admonished the High Sheriff of Stafford to forbear the burning of Ferns during a visit of Charles I., as "His Majesty desired that the country and himself may enjoy fair weather as long as he should remain in those parts."

In northern climates a coarse kind of bread is made from the roots of the Brake Fern; whilst in the south the young shoots are often sold in bundles as a salad. (Some writers give the name of Lady Fern, not to the Bracken, but to the Asplenium filix foemina, because of its delicate and graceful foliage.) The Bracken has branched riblets, and is more viscid, mucilaginous, and diuretic, than the Male Fern.

Its ashes when burnt contain much vegetable alkali which has been used freely in making glass.

It was customary to "watch the Fern" on Midsummer eve, when the plant put forth at dusk a blue flower, and a wonderful seed at midnight, which was carefully collected, and known as "wish seed." This gave the power to discover hidden treasures, whilst to drink the sap conferred perpetual youth.

The Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis), grows abundantly in many parts of Great Britain, and is the stateliest of Ferns in its favourite watery haunts. It heeds a soil of bog earth, and is incorrectly styled "the flowering Fern," from its handsome spikes of fructification. One of its old English names is "Osmund, the Waterman"; and the white centre of its root has been called the heart of Osmund. This middle part boiled in some kind of liquor was supposed good for persons wounded, dry-beaten, and bruised, or that have fallen from some high place. The name "Osmund" is thought to be derived from os, the mouth, or os, bone, and mundare, to cleanse, or from gross mond kraut, the Greater Moonwort; but others refer it to Saint Osmund wading a river, whilst bearing the Christ on his shoulders. The root or rhizome has a mucilaginous slightly bitter taste. The tender sprigs of the plant at their first coming are "good to be put into balmes, oyles, and healing plasters." Dodonoeus says, "the harte of the root of Osmonde is good against squattes, and bruises, heavie and grievous falles, and whatever hurte or dislocation soever it be." "A conserve of these buds," said Dr. Short of Sheffield, 1746, "is a specific in the rickets; and the roots stamped in water or gin till the liquor becometh a stiff mucilage, has cured many most deplorable pains of the back, that have confined the distracted sufferers close to bed for several weeks." This mucilage was to be rubbed over the vertebrae of the back each night and morning for five or six days together. Also for rickets, "take of the powdered roots with the whitest sugar, and sprinkle some thereof on the child's pap, and on all his liquid foods." "It maketh a noble remedy," said Dr. Bowles, "without any other medicine." The actual curative virtues of this Fern are most probably due to the salts of lime, potash, and other earths, which it derives in solution from the bog soil, and from the water in which it grows. On July 25th it is specially dedicated to St. Christopher, its patron saint.

The Hart's Tongue or Hind's Tongue, is a Fern of common English growth in shady copses on moist banks, it being the Lingua cervina of the apothecaries, and its name expressing the shape of its fronds. This, the Scolopendrium vulgare, is also named "Button-hole," "Horse tongue;" and in the Channel Islands "Godshair." The older physicians esteemed it as a very valuable medicine; and Galen gave it for diarrhoea or dysentery. By reason of its tannin it will restrain bleedings, "being commended," says Gerard, "against the bloody flux." People in rural districts make an ointment from its leaves for burns and scalds. It was formerly, in company with the common Maidenhair Fern, one of the five great capillary herbs. Dr. Tuthill Massy advises the drinking, in Bright's disease, of as much as three half-pints daily of an infusion of this Fern, whilst always taking care to gather the young shoots. Also, in combination (H.) with the American Golden Seal (Hydrastis canadensis). the Hart's Tongue has served in not a few authenticated cases to arrest the progress of that formidable disease, diabetes mellitus. Its distilled water will quiet any palpitations of the heart, and will stay the hiccough; it will likewise help the falling of the palate (relaxed throat), or stop bleeding of the gums if the mouth be gargled therewith.

From the Ophioglossum vulgatum, "'Adder's tongue,' or 'Christ's Spear,' when boiled in olive oil is produced a most excellent greene oyle. Or rather a balsam for greene wounds, comparable to oyle of St. John's Wort; if it doth not far surpasse it." A preparation from this plant known as the "green oil of charity," is still in request as a vulnerary, and remedy for wounds.

The true Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus veneris), of exquisite foliage, and of a dark crimson colour, is a stranger in England, except in the West country. But we have in greater abundance the common Maidenhair (Asplenium trichomanes), which grows on old walls, and which will act as a laxative medicine; whilst idiots are said to have taken it remedially, so as to recover their senses. The true Maidenhair is named Adiantum, from the Greek: Quod denso imbre cadente destillans foliis tenuis non insidet humor, "Because the leaves are not wetted even by a heavily falling shower of rain." "In vain," saith Pliny, "do you plunge the Adiantum into water, it always remains dry." This veracious plant doth "strengthen and embellish the hair." It occurs but rarely with us; on damp rocks, and walls near the sea. The Maidenhair is called Polytrichon because it brings forth a multitude of hairs; Calitrichon because it produces black and faire hair; Capillus veneris because it fosters grace and love.

From its fine hairlike stems, and perhaps from its attributed virtues in toilet use, this Fern has acquired the name of "Our Lady's Hair" and "Maria's Fern." "The true Maidenhair," says Gerard, "maketh the hair of the head and beard to grow that is fallen and pulled off." From this graceful Fern a famous elegant syrup is made in France called Capillaire; which is given as a favourite medicine in pulmonary catarrh. It is flavoured with orange flowers, and acts as a demulcent with slightly stimulating effects. One part of the plant is gently boiled with ten parts of water, and with nineteen parts of white sugar. Dr. Johnson says Boswell used to put Capillaire into his port wine. Sir John Hill instructed us that (as we cannot get the true Maidenhair fresh in England) the fine syrup made in France from their Fern in perfection, concocted with pure Narbonne honey, is not by any means to be thought a trifle, because barley water, sweetened with this, is one of the very best remedies for a violent cold. But a tea brewed from our more common Maidenhair will answer the same purpose for tedious coughs. Its leaves are sweet, mucilaginous, and expectorant, being, therefore, highly useful in many pulmonary disorders.

The common Polypody Fern, or "rheum-purging Polypody" grows plentifully in this country on old walls and stumps of trees, in shady places. In Hampshire it is called "Adder's Tongue," as derived from the word attor, poison; also Wall-fern, and formerly in Anglo-Saxon Ever-fern, or Boar-fern. In Germany it is said to have sprung from the Virgin's milk, and is named Marie bregue. The fresh root has been used successfully in decoction, or powdered, for melancholia; also of late for general rheumatic swelling of the
joints. By the ancients it was employed as a purgative. Six drachms by weight of the root should be infused for two hours in a pint of boiling water, and given in two doses. This is the Oak Fern of the herbalists; not that of modern botanists (Polypodium dryopteris); it being held that such Fern plants as grew upon the roots of an oak tree were of special medicinal powers, Quod nascit super radices quercûs est efficacius. The true Oak Fern (Dryopteris) grows chiefly in mountainous districts among the mossy roots of old oak trees, and sometimes in marshy places. If its root is bruised and applied to the skin of any hairy part, whilst the person is sweating, this will cause the hair to come away. Dioscorides said, "The root of Polypody is very good for chaps between the fingers." "It serveth," writes Gerard, "to make the belly soluble, being boiled in the broth of an old cock, with beets or mallows, or other like things, that move to the stool by their slipperiness." Parkinson says: "A dram or two, it need be, of the powdered dry roots taken fasting, in a cupful of honeyed water, worketh gently as a purge, being a safe medicine, fit for all persons and seasons, which daily experience confirmeth." "Applied also to the nose it cureth the disease called polypus, which by time and sufferance stoppeth the nostrils." The leaves of the Polypody when burnt furnish a large proportion of carbonate of Potash.

The Spleenwort (Asplenium ceterach -- an Arabian term), or Scaly Fern, or Finger Fern, grows on old walls, and in the clefts of moist rocks. It is also called "Miltwaste," because supposed to cure disorders of the milt, or spleen:--

"The Finger Fern, which being given to swine,
It makes their milt to melt away in fine."

Very probably this reputed virtue has mainly become attributed to the plant, because the lobular milt-like shape of its leaf resembles the form of the spleen. "No herbe maie be compared therewith," says one of the oldest Herbals, "for his singular virtue to help the sicknesse or grief of the splene." Pliny ordered: "It should not be given to women, because it bringeth barrenness." Vitruvius alleged that in Crete the flocks and herds were found to be without spleens, because they browsed on this fern. The plant was supposed when given medicinally to diminish the size of the enlarged spleen or "ague-cake."

The Wall Rue (Ruta muraria) is a white Maidenhair Fern, and is named by some Salvia vitoe. It is a small herb, somewhat nearly of the colour of Garden Rue, and is likewise good for them that have a cough, or are shortwinded, or be troubled with stitches in the sides. It stayeth the falling or shedding of the hair, and causeth them to grow thick, fair, and well coloured. This plant is held by those of judgment and experience, to be as effectual a capillary herb as any whatever. Also, it helpeth ruptures in children. Matthiolus "hath known of divers holpen therein by taking the powder of the herb in drink for forty days together." Its leaves are like those of Rue, and the Fern has been called Tentwort from its use as a specific or sovereign remedy for the cure of rickets, a disease once known as "the taint."

The generic appellations of the several species of Ferns are derived thus: Aspidium, from aspis, a shield, because the spores are enclosed in bosses; Pteris, from pteerux, a wing, having doubly pinnate fronds; or from pteron, a feather, having feathery fronds; Scolopendrium, because the fructification is supposed to resemble the feet of Scoltpendra, a genus of mydrapods; and Polypody, many footed, by reason of the pectinate fronds.

There grows in Tartary a singular polypody Fern, of which the hairy foot is easily made to simulate in form a small sheep. It rises above the ground with excrescences resembling a head and tail, whilst having four leg-like fronds. Fabulous stories are told about this remarkable Fern root; and in China its hairy down is so highly valued as a styptic for fresh bleeding cuts and wounds, that few families will be without it. Dr. Darwin, in his Loves of the Plants, says about this curious natural production, the Polypodium Barometz:--

"Cradled in snow, and fanned by Arctic air
Shines, gentle Barometz, thy golden hair;
Rooted in earth each cloven hoof descends,
And found and round her flexile neck she bends:
Crops the green coral moss, and hoary thyme,
Or laps with rosy tongue the melting rime;
Eyes with mute tenderness her distant dam,
Or seems to bleat -- a vegetable Lamb."

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Saturday, 7 June 2008

Ingredients: Elecampane

"Elecampane," writes William Coles, "is one of the plants whereof England may boast as much as any, for there grows none better in the world than in England, let apothecaries and druggists say what they will." It is a tall, stout, downy plant, from three to five feet high, of the Composite order, with broad leaves, and bright, yellow flowers. Campania is the original source of the plant (Enula campana), which is called also Elf-wort, and Elf-dock. Its botanical title is Helenium inula, to commemorate Helen of Troy, from whose tears the herb was thought to have sprung, or whose hands were full of the leaves when Paris carried her off from Menelaus. This title has become corrupted in some districts to Horse-heal, or Horse-hele, or Horse-heel, through a double blunder, the word inula being misunderstood for hinnula, a colt; and the term Hellenium being thought to have something to do with healing, or heels; and solely on this account the Elecampane has been employed by farriers to cure horses of scabs and sore heels. Though found wild only seldom, and as a local production in our copses and meadows, it is cultivated in our gardens as a medicinal and culinary herb. The name inula is only a corruption of the Greek elenium; and the herb is of ancient repute, having been described by Dioscorides. An old Latin distich thus celebrates its virtues: Enula campana reddit proecordia sana -- "Elecampane will the spirits sustain." "Julia Augusta," said Pliny, "let no day pass without eating some of the roots of Enula condired, to help digestion, and cause mirth."

The inula was noticed by Horace, Satire viii., 51:--

"Erucos virides inulas ego primus amaras
Monstravi incoquere."

Also the Enula campana has been identified with the herb Moly (of Homer), "apo tou moleuein, from its mitigating pain."

Prior to the Norman Conquest, and during the Middle Ages, the root of Elecampane was much employed in Great Britain as a medicine; and likewise it was candied and eaten as a sweetmeat. Some fifty years ago the candy was sold commonly in London, as flat, round cakes, being composed largely of sugar, and coloured with cochineal. A piece was eaten each night and morning for asthmatical complaints, whilst it was customary when travelling by a river to suck a bit of the root against poisonous exhalations and bad air. The candy may be still had from our confectioners, but now containing no more of the plant Elecampane than there is of barley in barley sugar.

Gerard says: "The flowers of this herb are in all their bravery during June and July; the roots should be gathered in the autumn. The plant is good for an old cough, and for such as cannot breathe freely unless they hold their necks upright; also it is of great value when given in a loch, which is a medicine to be licked on. It voids out thick clammy humors, which stick in the chest and lungs." Galen says further: "It is good for passions of the huckle-bones, called sciatica." The root is thick and substantial, having, when sliced, a fragrant aromatic odour.

Chemically, it contains a crystalline principle, resembling camphor, and called "helenin"; also a starch, named "inulin," which is peculiar as not being soluble in water, alcohol, or ether; and conjointly a volatile oil, a resin, albumen, and acetic acid. Inulin is allied to starch, and its crystallized camphor is separable into true helenin, and alantin camphor. The former is a powerful antiseptic to arrest putrefaction. In Spain it is much used as a surgical dressing, and is said to be more destructive than any other agent to the bacillus of cholera. Helenin is very useful in ulceration within the nose (ozoena), and in chronic bronchitis to lessen the expectoration. The dose is from a third of a grain to two grains.

Furthermore, Elecampane counteracts the acidity of gouty indigestion, and regulates the monthly illnesses of women. The French use it in the distillation of absinthe, and term it l'aulnee, d'un lieu planté d'aulnes ou elle se plait. To make a decoction, half-an-ounce of the root should be gently boiled for ten minutes in a pint of water, and then allowed to cool. From one to two ounces of this may be taken three times in the day. Of the powdered root, from half to one teaspoonful may be given for a dose.

A medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared from the root, of which thirty or forty drops may be taken for a dose, with two tablespoonfuls of cold water; but too large a dose will induce sickness. Elecampane is specifically curative of a sharp pain affecting the right elbow joint, and recurring daily; also of a congestive headache coming on through costiveness of the lowest bowel. Moreover, at the present time, when there is so much talk about the inoculative treatment of pulmonary consumption by the cultivated virus of its special microbe, it is highly interesting to know that the helenin of Elecampane is said to be peculiarly destructive to the bacillus of tubercular disease.

In classic times the poet Horace told how Fundanius first taught the making of a delicate sauce, by boiling in it the bitter Inula (Elecampane); and how the Roman stomach, when surfeited with an excess of rich viands, pined for turnips, and the appetising Enulas acidas from frugal Campania:--

"Quum rapula plenus
Atque acidas mavult inulas."

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Friday, 11 April 2008

Whooping-Cough, Chestnut Leaves for

"Steep chestnut leaves, strain, add sugar according to amount of juice and boil down to a syrup; give plenty of this. A friend of mine gave this to her children. She said they recovered rapidly and the cough was not severe." They are not the horse-chestnut leaves.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Ingredients: Cabbage

"The time has come," as the walrus said in Alice and the Looking Glass, "to talk of many things" --

"Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax; of Cabbages, and
kings."

The Cabbage, which is fabled to have sprung from the tears of the Spartan lawgiver, Lycurgus, began as the Colewort, and was for six hundred years, according to Pliny and Cato, the only internal remedy used by the Romans. The Ionians had such a veneration for Cabbages that they swore by them, just as the Egyptians did by the onion. With ourselves, the wild Cabbage, growing on our English sea cliffs, is the true Collet, or Colewort, from which have sprung all our varieties of Cabbage -- cauliflower, greens, broccoli, etc. No vegetables were grown for the table in England before the time of Henry the Eighth. In the thirteenth century it was the custom to salt vegetables because they were so scarce; and in the sixteenth century a Cabbage from Holland was deemed a choice present.

The whole tribe of Cabbages is named botanically Brassicaceoe -- apo tou brassein -- because they heat, or ferment.

By natural order they are cruciferous plants; and all contain much nitrogen, or vegetable albumen, with a considerable quantity of sulphur; hence they tend strongly to putrefaction, and when decomposed their odour is very offensive. Being cut into pieces, and pressed close in a tub with aromatic herbs and salt, so as to undergo an acescent fermentation (which is arrested at that stage), Cabbages form the German Saurkraut, which is strongly recommended against scurvy. The white Cabbage is most putrescible; the red most emollient and pectoral. The juice of the red cabbage made into syrup, without any condiments, is useful in chronic coughs, and in bronchial asthma. The leaves of the common white Cabbage, when gently bruised and applied to a blistered surface, will promote a free discharge, as also when laid next the skin in dropsy of the ankles. All the Coleworts are called "Crambe," from krambos, dry, because they dispel drunkenness.

"There is," says an old author, "a natural enmitie between the Colewort and the vine, which is such that the vine, if growing near unto it, withereth and perisheth; yea, if wine be poured into the Colewort while it is boiling, it will not be any more boiled, and the colour thereof will be quite altered." The generic term Colewort is derived from caulis, a stalk, and wourte, as applied to all kinds of herbs that "do serve for the potte." "Good worts," exclaimed Falstaff, catching at Evans' faulty pronunciation of words, -- "good worts," -- "good cabbages." An Irish cure for sore throat is to tie Cabbage leaves round it; and the same remedy is applied in England with hot Cabbage leaves for a swollen face. In the Island of Jersey coarse Cabbages are grown abundantly on patches of roadside ground, and in corners of fields, the stalks of which attain the height of eight, ten, or more feet, and are used for making walking sticks or cannes en tiges de choux. These are in great demand on the island, and are largely exported. It may be that a specially tall cabbage of this sort gave rise to the Fairy tale of "Jack and the bean stalk." The word Cabbage bears reference to caba (caput), a head, as signifying a Colewort which forms a round head. Kohl rabi, from caulo-rapum, cabbage turnip, is a name given to the Brassica oleracea. In 1595 the sum of twenty shillings was paid for six Cabbages and a few carrots, at the port of Hull, by the purveyor to the Clifford family.

The red Cabbage is thought in France to be highly anti-scorbutic; and a syrup is made from it with this purpose in view. The juice of white Cabbage leaves will cure warts.

The Brassica oleracea is one of the plants used in Count Mattaei's vaunted nostrum, "anti-scrofuloso." This, the sea Cabbage, with its pale clusters of handsome yellow flowers, is very ornamental to our cliffs. Its leaves, which are conspicuously purple, have a bitter taste when uncooked, but become palatable for boiling if first repeatedly washed; and they are sold at Dover as a market vegetable. These should be boiled in two waters, of which the first will be made laxative, and the second, or thicker decoction, astringent, which fact was known to Hippocrates, who said "jus caulis solvit cujus substantia stringit."

Sir Anthony Ashley brought the Cabbage into English cultivation. It is said a Cabbage is sculptured at his feet on his monument in Wimbourne Minster, Dorset. He imported the Cabbage (Cale) from Cadiz (Cales), where he held a command, and grew rich by seizing other men's possessions, notably by appropriating some jewels entrusted to his care by a lady. Hence he is said to have got more by Cales (Cadiz) than by Cale (Cabbage); and this is, perhaps, the origin of our term "to cabbage." Among tailors, this phrase "to cabbage" is a cant saying which means to filch the cloth when cutting out for a customer. Arbuthnot writes "Your tailor, instead of shreds, cabbages whole yards of cloth." Perhaps the word comes from the French cabasser, to put into a basket.

From the seed of the wild Cabbage (Rape, or Navew) rape-seed oil is extracted, and the residue is called rape-cake, or oil-cake.

Some years ago it was customary to bake bread-rolls wrapped in Cabbage leaves, for imparting what was considered an agreeable flavour. John Evelyn said: "In general, Cabbages are thought to allay fumes, and to prevent intoxication; but some will have them noxious to the sight." After all it must be confessed the Cabbage is greatly to be accused for lying undigested in the stomach, and for provoking eructations; which makes one wonder at the veneration the ancients had for it, calling the tribe divine, and swearing per brassicam, which was for six hundred years held by the Romans a panacea: though "Dis crambee thanatos" -- "Death by twice Cabbage" -- was a Greek proverb. Gerard says the Greeks called the Cabbage Amethustos, "not only because it driveth away drunkennesse; but also for that it is like in colour to the pretious stone called the amethyst." The Cabbage was Pompey's best beloved dish. To make a winter salad it is customary in America to choose a firm white Cabbage, and to shred it very fine, serving it with a dressing of plain oil and vinegar. This goes by the name of "slaw," which has a Dutch origin.

The free presence of hydrogen and sulphur causes a very strong and unpleasant smell to pervade the house during the cooking of Cabbages. Nevertheless, this sulphur is a very salutary constituent of the vegetable, most useful in scurvy and scrofula. Partridge and Cabbage suit the patrician table; bacon and Cabbage better please the taste and the requirements of the proletarian. The nitrogen of this and other cruciferous plants serves to make them emit offensive stinks when they lie out of doors and rot.

For the purulent scrofulous ophthalmic inflammation of infants, by cleansing the eyes thoroughly every half-hour with warm water, and then packing the sockets each time with fresh Cabbage leaves cleaned and bruised to a soft pulp, the flow of matter will be increased for a few days, but a cure will be soon effected. Pliny commended the juice of the raw Cabbage with a little honey for sore and inflamed eyes which were moist and weeping, but not for those which were dry and dull.

In Kent and Sussex, when a Cabbage is cut and the stalk left in the ground to produce "greens" for the table, a cottager will carve an x on the top flat surface of the upright stalk, and thus protect it against mischievous garden sprites and demons.

Some half a century ago medical apprentices were taught the art of blood-letting by practising with a lancet on the prominent veins of a Cabbage leaf.

Carlyle said "of all plants the Cabbage grows fastest to completion." His parable of the oak and the Cabbage conveys the lesson that those things which are most richly endowed when they come to perfection, are the slowest in their production and development.

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Sunday, 23 March 2008

Cough, Reliable Mixture in Severe Cases

"Oil of Anise 1/2 ounce
Syrup of Balsam of Tolu 1/2 ounce
Black Stick Licorice 1/2 ounce
Best Rye Whisky 1 pint

Shake well before using. Dose:-- One teaspoonful at intervals of one hour or oftener; if cough is very bad."

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Friday, 21 March 2008

Cough Mixture II

Mix the juice of a lemon with 1 fluid ounce of glycerine and take a teaspoonful night and morning.

Source: Home Made Wines, Syrups and Cordials, The National Federation of Women's Institutes

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Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Cough Mixture I

Mix thoroughly some honey and vinegar and take in small quantities when the cough is troublesome.

Alternatively, place a lump of sugar in a teaspoonful of vinegar; when the sugar has absorbed the liquid suck slowly.

Source: Home Made Wines, Syrups and Cordials, The National Federation of Women's Institutes

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Thursday, 13 March 2008

Cough Mixture III

To relieve a severe attack of coughing take one tablespoonful of glycerine previously mixed with the same quantity of hot milk or cream.

Source: Home Made Wines, Syrups and Cordials, The National Federation of Women's Institutes

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Thursday, 6 March 2008

Cough, Mullein Leaf Tea for

"Mullein leaves steeped with loaf sugar cures a cough." Take four ounces of mullein leaves and boil for ten minutes in water: then add the loaf sugar. This is very soothing to the sore parts and also helps to loosen up the secretion so it can be raised easily.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Bronchial, or any Severe Cough. One of the best Home Remedies

"Hoarhound (herb form) -- 1 ounce
Irish moss -- 1 ounce
Flax Seed (the seed not pulverized) -- 1 ounce
Boneset -- 1 ounce
Licorice Root (cut up fine) -- 1 ounce

Place the above in some suitable pan or dish for such purpose in a gallon of cold water, and put it on the back of the stove, so that it will simmer slowly until reduced to one-half gallon, which may require one day or more, then strain and place in a bottle, or bottles. Dose.-- One wineglassful three times a day. Add a little sugar if desired." This is a very fine cough remedy, as the hoarhound loosens the cough, the flax seed soothes the membrane, and the boneset by its general action on the system produces sweating. The Irish moss is a sort of food for the whole system and helps to build a person up.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Friday, 29 February 2008

Coughs, Very Simple Remedy for

"Take one-half tablespoonful hogs' lard or salt pork grease, heat it hot, fill spoon with coal oil and swallow while hot. Have used this, will stop and cure the worst cough." Not to be given to children.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Ingredients: Barley

Hordeum Vulgare -- common Barley -- is chiefly used in Great Britain for brewing and distilling; but, it has dietetic and medicinal virtues which entitle it to be considered among serviceable simples. Roman gladiators who depended for their strength and prowess chiefly on Barley, were called Hordearii. Nevertheless, this cereal is less nourishing than wheat, and when prepared as food is apt to purge; therefore it is not made into bread, except when wheat is scarce and dear, though in Scotland poor people eat Barley bread. In India Barley meal is made into balls of dough for the oxen and camels. Pearl Barley is prepared in Holland and Germany by first shelling the grain, and then grinding it into round white granules. The ancients fed their horses upon Barley, and we fatten swine on this grain made into meal. Among the Greeks beer was known as barley wine, which was brewed without hops, these dating only from the fourteenth century.

A decoction of barley with gum arabic, one ounce of the gum dissolved in a pint of the hot decoction, is a very useful drink to soothe irritation of the bladder, and of the urinary passages. The chemical constituents of Barley are starch, gluten, albumen, oil, and hordeic acid. From the earliest times it has been employed to prepare drinks for the sick, especially in feverish disorders, and for sore lining membranes of the chest. Honey may be added beneficially to the decoction of barley for bronchial coughs. The French make "Orgeat" of barley boiled in successive waters, and sweetened at length as a cooling drink: though this name is now applied in France to a liqueur concocted from almonds.

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Friday, 8 February 2008

Blowing into the Ear

Remember that by blowing forcibly into the ear, great assistance is given in coughing up anything which a person has imperfectly swallowed, and which threatens to choke him.

Source: Home Notes, January 1895.

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Friday, 25 January 2008

Ingredients: Wood Anemone

The Wood Anemone, or medicinal English Pulsatilla, with its lovely pink white petals, and drooping blossoms, is one of our best known and most beautiful spring flowers. Herbalists do not distinguish it virtually from the silky-haired Anemone Pulsatilla, which medicinal variety is of highly valuable modern curative use as a Herbal Simple. The active chemical principles of each plant are "anemonin" and "anemonic acid." A tincture is made (H.) with spirit of wine from the entire plant, collected when in flower. This tincture is remarkably beneficial in disorders of the mucous membranes, alike of the respiratory and of the digestive passages. For mucous indigestion following a heavy or rich meal the tincture of Pulsatilla is almost a specific remedy. Three or four drops thereof should be given at once with a tablespoonful of water, hot or cold, and the same dose may be repeated after an hour if then still needed. For catarrhal affections of the eyes and the ears, as well as for catarrhal diarrhoea, the tincture is very serviceable; also for female monthly difficulties its use is always beneficial and safe. As a medicine it best suits persons of a mild, gentle disposition, and of a lymphatic constitution, especially females; it is less appropriate for quick, excitable, energetic men. Anemonin, or Pulsatilla Camphor, which is the active principle of this plant, is prepared by the chemist, and may be given in doses of from one fiftieth to one tenth of a grain rubbed up with dry sugar of milk. Such a dose (or a drop of the tincture with a tablespoonful of water), given every two or three hours, will soon relieve a swollen testicle; and the tincture still more diluted will ease the bladder difficulties of old men. Furthermore, the tincture, in doses of two or three drops with a spoonful of water, will allay spasmodic cough, as of whooping cough, or bronchitis. The vinegar of Wood Anemone made from the leaves retains all the more acrid properties of the plant, and is put, in France, to many rural domestic purposes. When applied in lotions every night for five or six times consecutively, it will heal indolent ulcers; and its rubefacient effects serve instead of those produced externally by mustard. If a teaspoonful is sprinkled within the palms and its volatile vapours are inhaled through the mouth and nose, this will dispel an incipient catarrh. The name Pulsatilla is a diminutive of the Latin puls, a pottage, as made from pulse, and used at sacrificial feasts. The title Anemone signifies "wind-flower." Pliny says this flower never opens but when the wind is blowing. The title has been misapprehended as "an emony." Turner says gardeners call the flowers "emonies"; and Tennyson, in his "Northern Farmer," tells of the dead keeper being found "doon in the woild enemies afoor I corned to the plaice." Other names of the plant are Wood Crowfoot, Smell Fox (Rants), and Flawflower. Alfred Austin says, "With windflower honey are my tresses smoothed." It is also called the Passover Flower, because blossoming at Easter; and it belongs to the Ranunculaceous order of plants. The flower of the Wood Anemone tells the approach of night, or of a shower, by curling over its petals like a tent; and it has been said that fairies nestle within, having first pulled the curtains round them. Among the old Romans, to gather the first Anemone of the year was deemed a preservative against fever. The Pasque flower, also named Bluemoney and Easter, or Dane's flower, is of a violet blue, growing in chalky pastures, and less common than the Wood Anemone, but each possesses equally curative virtues.

The seed of the Anemone being very light and downy, is blown away by the first breeze of wind. A ready-witted French senator took advantage of this fact while visiting Bacheliere, a covetous florist, near Paris, who had long held a secret monopoly of certain richly-coloured and splendidly handsome anemones from the East. Vexed to see one man hoard up for himself what ought to be more widely distributed, he walked and talked with the florist in his garden when the anemone plants were in seed. Whilst thus occupied, he let fall his robe, as if by accident, upon the flowers, and so swept off a number of the little feathery seed vessels which clung to his dependent garment, and which he afterwards cultivated at home. The petals of the Pasque flower yield a rich green colour, which is used for staining Easter eggs, this festival having been termed Pask time in old works, from "paske," a crossing over. The plant is said to grow best with iron in the soil.

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Thursday, 24 January 2008

Colds and Cough, Hops or Catnip Poultice for

"Hops or catnip put in little bags and steamed until hot, then placed on lungs and throat." This is a very good remedy, as the hot bags act as a poultice and draw the congestion from the diseased parts. It produces not only local, but general perspiration.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Wednesday, 23 January 2008

News: Honey Used As Remedy For Coughs And Colds

"Mary Poppins may have said it first -- a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. But now with the FDA advising against over-the-counter cold and cough remedies for kids under two, the sugar may one of the best options parents have left."

Full story: WFMZ-69 News, 21st January 2008

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Friday, 18 January 2008

An approved Conserve for a Cough or Consumption of the Lungs

Take a pound of Elecampane Roots, draw out the pith, and boil them in two waters till they be soft; when it is cold, put to it the like quantity of the pap of roasted Pippins, and three times their weight of brown sugarcandy beaten to a powder; stamp these in a Mortar to a Conserve, whereof take every morning fasting as much as a Walnut for a week or fortnight together, and afterwards but three times a week.

Source: A Queen's Delight: Or, The Art of Preserving, Conserving and Candying, Nathaniel Brooke

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Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Bronchitis, Grandmother's Remedy for

"Hoarhound 5 cents worth
Hops 5 cents worth
Wild cherry bark 5 cents worth
Licorice root 5 cents worth

"Boil and simmer altogether in two quarts of water long enough to get the strength out of the ingredients, strain, add three cups sugar, then add enough good whisky to keep from souring, say a half pint." This combination is not only good for bronchitis, but for the cough left from the effects of bronchitis. The hoarhound, wild cherry bark and licorice root have a very soothing effect on the bronchial tubes, and the hops quiets the nervous system. This is also good for a common cough.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Cough, Honey and Vinegar for

"Honey and vinegar." This is an old and tried remedy and a good one. The vinegar cuts the phlegm in the throat and bronchial tubes, and the honey is very soothing.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Thursday, 3 January 2008

Lemon Mixture for a Cough

Put two fresh eggs in a jar; cover them with the juice of six large lemons; let it stand until the hard shell of the eggs is eaten off; then beat it together; strain it, and add half a pound of rock candy, one
gill of brandy and two table-spoonsful of sweet oil.

Source: Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts, and Hints to Young Housekeepers, Elizabeth E. Lea

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For A Cough

Take a wine glass of the juice of the green hoarhound, or if that cannot be obtained, a strong decoction from the dry herb will answer; mix it in half a pint of new milk, sweetened either with sugar or honey; take this half an hour before breakfast. It has been known to cure obstinate coughs, and persons that have taken it for four weeks or more, have gained strength and flesh, and the pain in the breast was relieved. Flannel should be worn.

Source: Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts, and Hints to Young Housekeepers, Elizabeth E. Lea

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Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Definition: Tolu

Tolu: A balsam from a South American tree of the genus Myroxylon. It was traditionally used for the relief of asthma and coughing, and in wound treatments.

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