Asses’ Milk

December 27th, 2021

Asses’ milk, so beneficial in consumptive cases, should be milked into a glass that is kept warm, by being placed in a bason of hot water. The fixed air that it contains sometimes occasions pain in the stomach; at first therefore a tea-spoonful of rum may be taken with it, but should only be put in the moment it is to be swallowed. The genuine milk far surpasses any imitation of it that can be made; but a substitute may be found in the following composition. Boil a quart of water with a quart of new milk, an ounce of white sugar-candy, half an ounce of eringo-root, and half an ounce of conserve of roses, till the quantity be half wasted. As this is an astringent, the doses must be proportioned accordingly, and the mixture is wholesome only while it remains sweet.

Another way. Mix two spoonfuls of boiling water, two of milk, and an egg well beaten. Sweeten with white sugar-candy pounded: this may be taken twice or thrice a day.

Or, boil two ounces of hartshorn-shavings, two ounces of pearl barley, two ounces of candied eringo-root, and one dozen of snails that have been bruised, in two quarts of water till reduced to one. Mix with an equal quantity of new milk, when taken, twice a day.

Source: The Cook And Housekeeper’s Complete and Universal Dictionary, Mary Eaton

Astringent Mixture

July 24th, 2021

An astringent mixture, in case of dysentery, may be made of three ounces of cinnamon water, mixed with as much common water, an ounce and a half of spirituous cinnamon-water, and half an ounce of japonic confection. A spoonful or two of this mixture may be taken every four hours, after the necessary evacuations have been allowed, and where the dysentery has not been of long standing, interposing every second or third day a dose of rhubarb.

Source: The Cook And Housekeeper’s Complete and Universal Dictionary, Mary Eaton

How to make a Stringent Gargle

May 17th, 2017

Put the following ingredients into a very clean earthen pipkin:— Twenty sage leaves, a handful of red rose leaves, and a pint of water; boil these for twenty minutes, then add a gill of vinegar, and two table-spoonfuls of honey; boil again for ten minutes, and strain the gargle through a muslin rag, to be used when cold.

Source: A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, C.E. Francatelli

Infusion of Catechu, commonly called Japonic Infusion

March 3rd, 2016

Take of

  • Extract of catechu, two drachms and a half;
  • Cinnamon, half a drachm;
  • Boiling water, seven ounces;
  • Simple syrup, one ounce.

Macerate the extract and cinnamon in the hot water, in a covered vessel, for two hours, then strain it, and add the syrup.

Extract of catechu is almost pure tan[n]in. This infusion is therefore a powerfully astringent solution. The cinnamon and syrup render it a very agreeable medicine, which will be found serviceable in fluxes proceeding from a laxity of the intestines. Its dose is a spoonful or two every other hour. As this preparation will not keep above a day or two, it must always be made extemporaneously. The two hours maceration, therefore, becomes very often extremely inconvenient; but it may be prepared in a few minutes by boiling, without in the least impairing the virtues of the medicine.

Source: The Edinburgh New Dispensatory, Andrew Duncan

For the Bloody Flux

May 18th, 2015

This powder will be found exceedingly useful in abating the irritation and giving retentive power to the intestines, when the evacuations from the bowels are frequent, have a frothy appearance, and are tinged with blood. The best mode of taking this medicine is the following:—

Take of the Astringent Powder, one scruple;
Aromatic Confection, one scruple;
Powdered Rhubarb, five grains;
Cinnamon Water, one ounce and a half.

Mix, and make a draught, which may be taken every four hours, if required. Four or five drops of laudanum may be added to each draught, if the evacuations are attended with pain.

Source: A Companion To The Medicine Chest, John Savory.

Ingredient: Periwinkle

March 24th, 2015

There are two British Periwinkles growing wild; the one Vinca major, or greater, a doubtful native, and found only in the neighbourhood of dwelling-houses; the other Vinca minor lesser, abounding in English woods, particularly in the Western counties, and often entirely covering the ground with its prostrate evergreen leaves. The common name of each is derived from vincio, to bind, as it were by its stems resembling cord; or because bound in olden times into festive garlands and funeral chaplets. Their title used also to be Pervinca, and Pervinkle, Pervenkle, and Pucellage (or virgin flower).

This generic name has been derived either from pervincire, to bind closely, or from pervincere, to overcome. Lord Bacon observes that it was common in his time for persons to wear bands of green Periwinkle about the calf of the leg to prevent cramp. Now-a-days we use for the same purpose a garter of small new corks strung on worsted. In Germany this plant is the emblem of immortality. It bears the name “Pennywinkles” in Hampshire, probably by an inland confusion with the shell fish “winkles.”

Each of the two kinds possesses acrid astringent properties, but the lesser Periwinkle, Vinca minor or Winter-green, is the Herbal Simple best known of the pair, for its medicinal virtues in domestic use. The Periwinkle order is called Apocynaceoe, from the Greek apo, against, and kunos, a dog; or dog’s bane.

The flowers of the greater Periwinkle are gently purgative, but lose their effect by drying. If gathered in the Spring, and made into a syrup, they will impart all their virtues, and this is excellent to keep the bowels of children gently open, as well as to overcome habitual constipation in grown persons. But the leaves are astringent, contracting and strengthening the genitals if applied thereto either as a decoction, or as the bruised leaves themselves. An infusion of the greater Periwinkle, one part of the fresh plant to ten of water, may be used for staying female fluxes, by giving a wine-glassful thereof when cool, frequently; or of the liquid extract, half a teaspoonful for a dose in water. On account of its striking colour, and its use for magical purposes, the plant, when in bloom, has been named the Sorcerer’s Violet, and in some parts of Devon the flowers are known as Cut Finger or Blue Buttons. The Italians use it in making garlands for their dead infants, and so call it Death’s flower.

Simon Fraser, whose father was a faithful adherent of Sir William Wallace, when on his way to be executed (in 1306) was crowned in mockery with the Periwinkle, as he passed through the City of London, with his legs tied under the horse’s belly. In Gloucestershire, the flowers of the greater Periwinkle are called Cockles.

The lesser Periwinkle is perennial, and is sometimes cultivated in gardens, where it has acquired variegated leaves. It has no odour, but gives a bitterish taste which lasts in the mouth. Its leaves are strongly astringent, and therefore very useful to be applied for staying bleedings. If bruised and put into the nostrils, they will arrest fluxes from the nose, and a decoction made from them is of service for the diarrhoea of a weak subject, as well as for chronic looseness of the bowels; likewise for bleeding piles, by being applied externally, and by being taken internally. Again, the decoction makes a capital gargle for relaxed sore throat, and for sponginess of the mouth, of the tonsils, and the gums.

This plant was also a noted Simple for increasing the milk of wet nurses, and was advised for such purpose by physicians of repute. Culpeper gravely says: “The leaves of the lesser Periwinkle, if eaten by man and wife together, will cause love between them.”

A tincture is made (H.) from the said plant, the Vinca minor, with spirit of wine. It is given medicinally for the milk-crust of infants, as well as for internal haemorrhages, the dose being from two to ten drops three or four times in the day, with a spoonful of water.

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

Inflammation of Eyes, Milk Curd Relieves

October 9th, 2008

“Make a curd of sweet milk; that is, set it on the stove till it forms a curd; then add quite a little alum and wash eyes.” The milk is very soothing and the alum acts as an astringent. Care should be taken in using this remedy that none of the mixture gets into the eyes.

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

Ingredients: Blackberry

September 20th, 2008

This is the well-known fruit of the Common Bramble (Rubus fructicosus), which grows in every English hedgerow, and which belongs to the Rose order of plants. It has long been esteemed for its bark and leaves as a capital astringent, these containing much tannin; also for its fruit, which is supplied with malic and citric acids, pectin, and albumen. Blackberries go often by the name of “bumblekites,” from “bumble,” the cry of the bittern, and kyte, a Scotch word for belly; the name bumblekite being applied, says Dr. Prior, “from the rumbling and bumbling caused in the bellies of children who eat the fruit too greedily.” “Rubus” is from the Latin ruber, red.

The blackberry has likewise acquired the name of scaldberry, from producing, as some say, the eruption known as scaldhead in children who eat the fruit to excess; or, as others suppose, from the curative effects of the leaves and berries in this malady of the scalp; or, again, from the remedial effects of the leaves when applied externally to scalds.

It has been said that the young shoots, eaten as a salad, will fasten loose teeth. If the leaves are gathered in the Spring and dried, then, when required, a handful of them may be infused in a pint of boiling water, and the infusion, when cool, may be taken, a teacupful at a time, to stay diarrhoea, and for some bleedings. Similarly, if an ounce of the bruised root is boiled in three half-pints of water, down to a pint, a teacupful of this may be given every three or four hours. The decoction is also useful against whooping-cough in its spasmodic stage. The bark contains tannin; and if an ounce of the same be boiled in a pint and a half of water, or of milk, down to a pint, half a teacupful of the decoction may be given every hour or two for staying relaxed bowels. Likewise the fruit, if desiccated in a moderately hot oven, and afterwards reduced to powder (which should be kept in a well corked bottle) will prove an efficacious remedy for dysentery.

Gerard says: “Bramble leaves heal the eyes that hang out, and stay the haemorrhoides [piles] if they can be laid thereunto.” The London Pharmacopoeia (1696) declared the ripe berries of the bramble to be a great cordial, and to contain a notable restorative spirit. In Cruso’s Treasury of Easy Medicines (1771), it is directed for old inveterate ulcers: “Take a decoction of blackberry leaves made in wine, and foment the ulcers with this whilst hot each night and morning, which will heal them, however difficult to be cured.” The name of the bush is derived from brambel, or brymbyll, signifying prickly; its blossom as well as the fruit, ripe and unripe, in all stages, may be seen on the bush at the same time. With the ancient Greeks Blackberries were a popular remedy for gout.

As soon as blackberries are over-ripe, they become quite indigestible. Country folk say in Somersetshire and Sussex: “The devil goes round on Old Michaelmas Day, October 11th, to spite the Saint, and spits on the blackberries, so that they who eat them after that date fall sick, or have trouble before the year is out.” Blackberry wine and blackberry jam are taken for sore throats in many rustic homes. Blackberry jelly is useful for dropsy from feeble ineffective circulation. To make “blackberry cordial,” the juice should be expressed from the fresh ripe fruit, adding half a pound of white sugar to each quart thereof, together with half an ounce of both nutmeg and cloves; then boil these together for a short time, and add a little brandy to the mixture when cold.

In Devonshire the peasantry still think that if anyone is troubled with “blackheads,” i.e., small pimples, or boils, he may be cured by creeping from East to West on the hands and knees nine times beneath an arched bramble bush. This is evidently a relic of an old Dryad superstition when the angry deities who inhabited particular trees had to be appeased before the special diseases which they inflicted could be cured. It is worthy of remark that the Bramble forms the subject of the oldest known apologue. When Jonathan upbraided the men of Shechem for their base ingratitude to his father’s house, he related to them the parable of the trees choosing a king, by whom the Bramble was finally elected, after the olive, the fig tree, and the vine had excused themselves from accepting this dignity.

In the Roxburghe Ballad of “The Children in the Wood,” occurs the verse–

“Their pretty lips with Blackberries
Were all besmeared and dyed;
And when they saw the darksome night
They sat them down, and cryed.”

The French name for blackberries is mûres sauvages, also mûres de haie; and in some of our provincial districts they are known as “winterpicks,” growing on the Blag.

Blackberry wine, which is a trustworthy cordial astringent remedy for looseness of the bowels, may be made thus: Measure your berries, and bruise them, and to every gallon of the fruit add a quart of boiling water. Let the mixture stand for twenty-four hours, occasionally stirring; then strain off the liquid, adding to every gallon a couple of pounds of refined sugar, and keep it in a cask tightly corked till the following October, when it will be ripe and rich.

A noted hair-dye is said to be made by boiling the leaves of the bramble in strong lye, which then imparts permanently to the hair a soft, black colour. Tom Hood, in his humorous way, described a negro funeral as “going a black burying.” An American poet graphically tell us:–

“Earth’s full of Heaven,
And every common bush afire with God!
But only they who see take off their shoes;
The rest sit round it, and–pluck blackberries.”

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

Ingredients: Ivy (Ground)

September 13th, 2008

This common, and very familiar little herb, with its small Ivy-like aromatic leaves, and its striking whorls of dark blue blossoms conspicuous in early spring time, comes into flower pretty punctually about the third or fourth of April, however late or early the season may be. Its name is attributed to the resemblance borne by its foliage to that of the true Ivy (Hedera helix). The whole plant possesses a balsamic odour, and an aromatic taste, due to its particular volatile oil, and its characteristic resin, as a fragrant labiate herb. It remaineth green not only in summer, but also in winter, at all times of the year.

From the earliest days it has been thought endowed with singular curative virtues chiefly against nervous headaches, and for the relief of chronic bronchitis. Ray tells of a remarkable instance in the person of a Mr. Oldacre who was cured of an obstinate chronic headache by using the juice or the powdered leaves of the Ground Ivy as snuff: Succus hujus plantoe naribus attractus cephalalgiam etiam vehementissimam et inveteratam non lenit tantum, sed et penitus aufert; and he adds in further praise of the herb: Medicamentum hoc non satis potest laudari; si res ex usu oestimarentur, auro oequiparandum. An infusion of the fresh herb, or, if made in winter, from its dried leaves, and drank under the name of Gill tea, is a favourite remedy with the poor for coughs of long standing, accompanied with much phlegm. One ounce of the herb should be infused in a pint of boiling water, and a wineglassful of this when cool is to be taken three or four times in the day. The botanical name of the plant is Nepeta glechoma, from Nepet, in Tuscany, and the Greek gleechon, a mint.

Resembling Ivy in miniature, the leaves have been used in weaving chaplets for the dead, as well as for adorning the Alestake erected as a sign at taverns. For this reason, and because formerly in vogue for clearing the ale drank by our Saxon ancestors, the herb acquired the names of Ale hoof, and Tun hoof (“tun” signifying a garden, and “hoof” or “hufe” a coronal or chaplet), or Hove, “because,” says Parkinson, “it spreadeth as a garland upon the ground.” Other titles which have a like meaning are borne by the herb, such as “Gill go by the ground,” and Haymaids, or Hedgemaids; the word “gill” not only relating to the fermentation of beer, but meaning also a maid. This is shown in the saying, “Every Jack should have his Gill, or Jill”; and the same notion was conveyed by the sobriquet “haymaids.” Again in some districts the Ground Ivy is called “Lizzy run up the hedge,” “Cat’s-foot” (from the soft flower heads), “Devil’s candlesticks,” “Aller,” and in Germltny “Thundervine,” also in the old English manuscripts “Hayhouse,” “Halehouse,” and “Horshone.” The whole plant was employed by our Saxon progenitors to clarify their so-called beer, before hops had been introduced for this purpose; and the place of refreshment where the beverage was sold bore the name of a “Gill house.”

In A Thousand Notable Things, it is stated, “The juice of Ground Ivy sniffed up into the nostrils out of a spoon, or a saucer, purgeth the head marvellously, and taketh away the greatest and oldest pain thereof that is: the medicine is worth gold, though it is very cheap.”

Small hairy tumours may often be seen in the autumn on the leaves of the Ground Ivy occasioned (says Miss Pratt) by the punctures of the cynips glechomoe from which these galls spring. They have a strong flavour of the plant, and are sometimes eaten by the peasantry of France. The volatile oil on which the special virtues of the Ground Ivy depend exudes from small glandular dots on the under surface of the leaves. This is the active ingredient of Gill tea made by country persons, and sweetened with honey, sugar, or liquorice. Also the expressed juice of the herb is equally effectual, being diaphoretic, diuretic, and somewhat astringent against bleedings.

Gerard says that in his day “the Ground Ivy was commended against the humming sound, and ringing noises of the ears by being put into them, and for those that are hard of hearing. Also boiled in mutton broth it helpeth weak and aching backs.” Dr. Thornton tells us in his Herbal (1810) that “Ground Ivy was at one time amongst the ‘cries’ of London, for making a tea to purify the blood,” and Dr. Pitcairn extolled this plant before all other vegetable medicines for the cure of consumption. Perhaps the name Ground Ivy was transferred at first to the Nepeta from the Periwinkle, about which we read in an old distich of Stockholm:–

“Parvenke is an erbe green of colour,
In time of May he bereth blo flour,
His stalkes are so feynt and feye
That nevermore groweth he heye:
On the grounde he rynneth and growe
As doth the erbe that hyth tunhowe;
The lef is thicke, schinende and styf
As is the grene Ivy leef:
Uniche brod, and nerhand rownde;
Men call it the Ivy of the grounde.”

In the Organic Materia Medica of Detroit, U.S.A., 1890, it is stated, “Painters use the Ground Ivy (Nepeta glechoma) as a remedy for, and a preventive of lead colic.” An infusion is given (the ounce to a pint of boiling water)–one wineglassful for a dose repeatedly. In the relief which it affords as a snuff made from the dried leaves to congestive headache of a passive continued sort, this benefit is most probably due partly to the special titillating aroma of the plant, and partly to the copious defluxion of mucus and tears from the nasal passages, and the eyes.

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

Ingredients: Common Ivy

July 26th, 2008

The clergyman of fiction in the sixth chapter of Dickens’ memorable Pickwick, sings certain verses which he styles “indifferent” (the only verse, by the way, to be found in all that great writer’s stories), and which relate to the Ivy, beginning thus:–

“Oh! a dainty plant is the Ivy green,
That creepeth o’er ruins old.”

The well known common Ivy (Hedera helix), which clothes the trunks of trees and the walls of old buildings so picturesquely throughout Great Britain, gets its botanical name most probably from the Celtic word hoedra “a cord,” or from the Greek hedra “a seat,” because sitting close, and its vernacular title from iw “green,” which is also the parent of “yew.” In Latin it is termed abiga, easily corrupted to “iva”; and the Danes knew it as Winter-grunt, or Winter-green, to which appellation it may still lay a rightful claim, being so conspicuously green at the coldest times of the year when trees are of themselves bare and brown.

By the ancients the Ivy was dedicated to Bacchus, whose statues were crowned with a wreath of the plant, under the name Kissos, and whose worshippers decorated themselves with its garlands. The leaves have a peculiar faintly nauseous odour, whilst they are somewhat bitter, and rough of taste. The fresh berries are rather acid, and become bitter when dried. They are much eaten by our woodland birds in the spring.

A crown of Ivy was likewise given to the classic poets of distinction, and the Greek priests presented a wreath of the same to newly married persons. The custom of decorating houses and churches with Ivy at Christmastide, was forbidden by one of the early councils on account of its Pagan associations. Prynne wrote with reference to this decree:–

“At Christmas men do always Ivy get,
And in each corner of the house it set,
But why make use then of that Bacchus weed?
Because they purpose Bacchus-like to feed.”

The Ivy, though sending out innumerable small rootlets, like suckers, in every direction (which are really for support) is not a parasite. The plant is rooted in the soil and gets its sustenance therefrom.

Chemically, its medicinal principles depend on the special balsamic resin contained in the leaves and stems, as well as constituting the aromatic gum.

Ivy flowers have little or no scent, but their yield of nectar is particularly abundant.

When the bark of the main stems is wounded, a gum will exude, and may be collected: it possesses astringent and mildly aperient properties. This was at one time included as a medicine in the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia, but it has now fallen out of such authoritative use. Its chemical principle is “hederin.” The gum is anti-spasmodic, and promotes the monthly flow of women.

An infusion of the berries will relieve rheumatism, and a decoction of the leaves applied externally will destroy vermin in the heads of children.

Fresh Ivy leaves will afford signal relief to corns when they shoot, and are painful. Good John Wesley, who dabbled in “domestic medicine,” and with much sagacity of observation, taught that having bathed the feet, and cut the corns, and having mashed some fresh Ivy leaves, these are to be applied: then by repeating the remedial process for fifteen days the corns will be cured.

During the Great Plague of London, Ivy berries were given with some success as possessing antiseptic virtues, and to induce perspiration, thus effecting a remission of the symptoms. Cups made from Ivywood have been employed from which to drink for disorders of the spleen, and for whooping cough, their method of use being to be kept refilled from time to time with water (cold or hot), which the patient is to constantly sip.

Ivy gum dissolved in vinegar is a good filling for a hollow tooth which is causing neuralgic toothache: and an infusion of the leaves made with cold water, will, after standing for twenty-four hours, relieve sore and smarting eyes if used rather frequently as a lotion. A decoction of the leaves and berries will mitigate a severe headache, such as that which follows hard drinking over night. And it may have come about that from some rude acquaintance with this fact the bacchanals adopted goblets carved out of Ivywood.

This plant is especially hardy, and suffers but little from the smoke and the vitiated air of a manufacturing town. Chemically, such medicinal principles as the Ivy possesses depend on the special balsamic resin contained in its leaves and stems; as well as on its particular gum. Bibulous old Bacchus was always represented in classic sculpture with a wreath of Ivy round his laughing brows; and it has been said that if the foreheads of those whose potations run deep were bound with frontlets of Ivy the nemesis of headache would be prevented thereby. But legendary lore teaches rather that the infant Bacchus was an object of vengeance to Juno, and that the nymphs of Nisa concealed him from her wrath, with trails of Ivy as he lay in his cradle.

At one time our taverns bore over their doors the sign of an Ivybush, to indicate the excellence of the liquor supplied within. From which fact arose the saying that “good wine needs no bush,” “Vinum vendibile hederâ non est opus.” And of this text Rosalind cleverly avails herself in As You Like It, “If it be true” says she, “that good wine needs no bush,” — “’tis true that a good play needs no epilogue.”

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