Powders for Children

August 20th, 2015

A very excellent carminative powder for flatulent infants may be kept in the house, and employed with advantage whenever the child is in pain or griped, dropping five grains of oil of anise-seed and two of peppermint on half an ounce of lump sugar, and rubbing it in a mortar, with a drachm of magnesia, into a fine powder. A small quantity of this may be given in a little water at any time, and always with benefit.

Source: The White House Cookbook, F.L. Gillette

Ingredient: Assafoetida

April 5th, 2015

This substance is used as a stimulant and anti-spasmodic in hysterical and nervous diseases, and spasmodic cough; as an expectorant in asthma; and as a carminative in flatulent colic. The usual dose is from five grains to half a drachm, combined, if necessary, with expectorants in cough, and with chalybeates and aloetics in hysterical complaints. The following formula will sometimes allay obstinate attacks of spasmodic cough, and has been found useful even in [w]hooping-cough : —

Take of Assafoetida, half a drachm;
Mindererus’s Spirit, two ounces;
Penny-royal Water, two ounces.

Mix, and take one or two table spoonsful for a dose.

For the relief of colic in the bowels, the following glyster may be administered :—

Assafoetida, two drachms;
Thin Gruel, ten ounces.

(Assafoetida was used by the ancients as a condiment, under the names of Silphion and Laserpitium. In Persia, it is still esteemed as a condiment, and mixed with almost all their dishes. Gastronomers, as the French term those who delight in the pleasures of the palate, among the moderns, employ it for the same purpose; having the hot plates on which they eat beef steaks rubbed with it.)

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

Ingredients: Marjoram

July 19th, 2008

The common Marjoram (Origanum) grows frequently as a wild labiate plant on dry, bushy places, especially in chalky districts throughout Britain, the whole herb being fragrantly aromatic, and bearing flowers of a deep red colour. When cultivated in our kitchen gardens it becomes a favourite pot herb, as “Sweet Marjoram,” with thin compact spikes, and more elliptical leaves than the wild Marjoram. Its generic title, Origanum, means in Greek, the joy of the mountains (oros-ganos) on which it grows.

This plant and the Pennyroyal are often called “Organ.” Its dried leaves are put as a pleasant condiment into soups and stuffings, being also sometimes substituted for tea. Together with the flowering tops they contain an essential volatile fragrant oil, which is carminative, warming, and tonic. An infusion made from the fresh plant will excellently relieve nervous headaches by virtue of the camphoraceous principle contained in the oil; and externally the herb may be applied with benefit in bags as a hot fomentation to painful swellings and rheumatism, as likewise for colic. “Organy,” says Gerard, “is very good against the wambling of the stomacke, and stayeth the desire to vomit, especially at sea. It may be used to good purpose for such as cannot brooke their meate.”

The sweet Marjoram has also been successfully employed externally for healing scirrhous tumours of the breast. Murray says: “Tumores mammarum dolentes scirrhosos herba recens, viridis, per tempus applicata feliciter dissipavit.” The essential oil, when long kept, assumes a solid form, and was at one time much esteemed for being rubbed into stiff joints. The Greeks and Romans crowned young couples with Marjoram, which is in some countries the symbol of honour. Probably the name was originally, “Majoram,” in Latin, Majorana. Our forefathers scoured their furniture with its odorous juice. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act v, Scene 5, we read:–

“The several chairs of order look you scour
With juice of balm, and every precious flower.”

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

Ingredients: Fennel

June 21st, 2008

We all know the pleasant taste of Fennel sauce when eaten with boiled mackerel. This culinary condiment is made with Sweet Fennel, cultivated in our kitchen gardens, and which is a variety of the wild Fennel growing commonly in England as the Finkel, especially in Cornwall and Devon, on chalky cliffs near the sea. It is then an aromatic plant of the umbelliferous order, but differing from the rest of its tribe in producing bright yellow flowers.

Botanically, it is the Anethum foeniculum, or “small fragrant hay” of the Romans, and the Marathron of the Greeks. The whole plant has a warm carminative taste, and the old Greeks esteemed it highly for promoting the secretion of milk in nursing mothers. Macer alleged that the use of Fennel was first taught to man by serpents. His classical lines on the subject when translated run thus:–

“By eating herb of Fennel, for the eyes
A cure for blindness had the serpent wise;
Man tried the plant; and, trusting that his sight
Might thus be healed, rejoiced to find him right.”

“Hac mansâ serpens oculos caligine purgat;
Indeque compertum est humanis posse mederi
Illum hominibus: atque experiendo probatum est.”

Pliny also asserts that the ophidia, when they cast their skins, have recourse to this plant for restoring their sight. Others have averred that serpents wax young again by eating of the herb; “Wherefore the use of it is very meet for aged folk.”

Fennel powder may be employed for making an eyewash: half-a-teaspoonful infused in a wineglassful of cold water, and decanted when clear. A former physician to the Emperor of Germany saw a monk cured by his tutor in nine days of a cataract by only applying the roots of Fennel with the decoction to his eyes.

In the Elizabethan age the herb was quoted as an emblem of flattery; and Lily wrote, “Little things catch light minds; and fancie is a worm that feedeth first upon Fennel.” Again, Milton says, in Paradise Lost, Book XI:–

“The savoury odour blown,
Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense
Than smell of sweetest Fennel.”

Shakespeare makes the sister of Laertes say to the King, in Hamlet, when wishing to prick the royal conscience, “There’s Fennel for you.” And Falstaff commends Poins thus, in Henry the Fourth, “He plays at quoits well, and eats conger, and Fennel.”

The Italians take blanched stalks of the cultivated Fennel (which they call Cartucci) as a salad; and in Germany its seeds are added to bread as a condiment, much as we put caraways in some of our cakes. The leaves are eaten raw with pickled fish to correct its oily indigestibility. Evelyn says the peeled stalks, soft and white, when “dressed like salery,” exercise a pleasant action conducive to sleep. Roman bakers put the herb under their loaves in the oven to make the bread taste agreeably.

Chemically, the cultivated Fennel plant furnishes a volatile aromatic oil, a fixed fatty principle, sugar, and some in the root; also a bitter resinous extract. It is an admirable corrective of flatulence; and yields an essential oil, of which from two to four drops taken on a lump of sugar will promptly relieve griping of the bowels with distension. Likewise a hot infusion, made by pouring half-a-pint of boiling water on a teaspoonful of the bruised seeds will comfort belly ache in the infant, if given in teaspoonful doses sweetened with sugar, and will prove an active remedy in promoting female monthly regularity, if taken at the periodical times, in doses of a wineglassful three times in the day. Gerard says, “The green leaves of the Fennel eaten, or the seed made into a ptisan, and drunk, do fill women’s brestes with milk; also the seed if drunk asswageath the wambling of the stomacke, and breaketh the winde.” The essential oil corresponds in composition to that of anise, but contains a special camphoraceous body of its own; whilst its vapour will cause the tears and the saliva to flow. A syrup prepared from the expressed juice was formerly given for chronic coughs.

W. Coles teaches in Nature’s Paradise, that “both the leaves, seeds, and roots, are much used in drinks and broths for those that are grown fat, to abate their unwieldinesse, and make them more gaunt and lank.” The ancient Greek name of the herb, Marathron, from maraino, to grow thin, probably embodied the same notion. “In warm climates,” said Matthiolus, “the stems are cut, and there exudes a resinous liquid, which is collected under the name of fennel gum.”

The Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia orders “Sweet Fennel seeds, combined with juniper berries and caraway seeds, for making with spirit of wine, the ‘compound spirit of juniper,’ which is noted for promoting a copious flow of urine in dropsy.” The bruised plant, if applied externally, will speedily relieve toothache or earache. This likewise proves of service as a poultice to resolve chronic swellings. Powdered Fennel is an ingredient in the modern laxative “compound liquorice powder” with senna. The flower, surrounded by its four leaves, is called in the South of England, “Devil in a bush.” An old proverb of ours, which is still believed in New England, says, that “Sowing Fennel is sowing sorrow.” A modern distilled water is now obtained from the cultivated plant, and dispensed by the druggist. The whole herb has been supposed to confer longevity, strength and courage. Longfellow wrote a poem about it to this effect.

The fine-leaved Hemlock Water Dropwort (Oenanthe Phellandrium), is the Water Fennel.

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

Definition: Carminative

January 1st, 2008

Carminative: Preventing the formation, or easing the passing, of gas from the alimentary tract.