Ingredient: Carrot

April 17th, 2015

Carrots are strongly antiseptic. They are said to be mentally invigorating and nerve restoring. They have the reputation of being very indigestible on account of the fact that they are generally boiled, not steamed. When used medicinally it is best to take the fresh, raw juice. This is easily obtained by grating the carrot finely on a common penny bread grater, and straining and pressing the pulp thus obtained.

Raw carrot juice, or a raw carrot eaten fasting, will expel worms. The cooked carrot is useless for this purpose.

A poultice of fresh carrot pulp will heal ulcers.

Fresh carrot juice is also good for consumptives on account of the large amount of sugar it contains.

Carrots are very good for gouty subjects and for derangements of the liver.

Source: Food Remedies: Facts About Foods And Their Medicinal Uses, Florence Daniel

Ingredients: Pimpernel

January 17th, 2009

The “Poor Man’s Weather Glass” or “Shepherd’s Dial,” is a very well-known and favourite little flower, of brilliant scarlet hue, expanding only in bright weather, and closing its petals at two o’clock in the day. It occurs quite commonly in gardens and open fields, being the scarlet Pimpernel, or Anagallis arvensis, and belonging to the Primrose tribe of plants. Old authors called it Burnet; which is quite a distinct herb, cultivated now for kitchen use, the Pimpinella Saxifraga, of so cheery and exhilarating a quality, and so generally commended, that its excellence has passed into a proverb, “l’insolata non buon, ne betta ove non é Pimpinella.” But this Burnet Pimpinella is of a different (Umbelliferous) order, though similarly styled because its leaves are likewise bipennate.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is named Anagallis, from the Greek anagelao, to laugh; either because, as Pliny says, the plant removes obstructions of the liver, and spleen, which would engender sadness, or because of the graceful beauty of its flowers:–

“No ear hath heard, no tongue can tell
The virtues of the Pimpernell.”

The little plant has no odour, but possesses a bitter taste, which is rather astringent. Doctors used to consider the herb remedial in melancholy, and in the allied forms of mental disease, the decoction, or a tincture being employed. It was also prescribed for hydrophobia, and linen cloths saturated with a decoction were kept applied to the bitten part.

Narcotic effects were certainly produced in animals by giving considerable doses of an extract made from the herb. The flowers have been found useful in epilepsy, twenty grains dried being given four times a day. A medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared with spirit of wine. It is of approved utility for irritability of the main urinary passage, with genital congestion, erotism, and dragging of the loins, this tincture being then ordered of the third decimal strength, in doses of from five to ten drops every three or four hours, with a spoonful of water.

A decoction of the plant is held in esteem by countryfolk as checking pulmonary consumption in its early stages. Hill says there are many authenticated cases of this dire disease being absolutely cured by the herb. The infusion is best made by pouring boiling water on the fresh plant. It contains “saponin,” such as the Soapwort also specially furnishes.

In France the Pimpernel (Anagallis) is thought to be a noxious plant of drastic narcotico-acrid properties, and called Mouron–qui tue les petits oiseaux, et est un violent drastique pour l’homme, et les grands animaux; à dose tres elevée le mouron peut meme leur donner la mort. In California a fluid extract of the herb is given for rheumatism, in doses of one teaspoonful with water three times a day.

The Burnet Pimpinella is more correctly the Burnet Saxifrage, getting its first name because the leaves are brown, and the second because supposed to break up stone in the bladder. It grows abundantly in our dry chalky pastures, bearing terminal umbels of white flowers. It contains an essential oil and a bitter resin, which are useful as warmly carminative to relieve flatulent indigestion, and to promote the monthly flow in women. An infusion of the herb is made, and given in two tablespoonfuls for a dose. Cows which feed on this plant have their flow of milk increased thereby. Small bunches of the leaves and shoots when tied together and suspended in a cask of beer impart to it an agreeable aromatic flavour, and are thought to correct tart, or spoiled wines. The root, when fresh, has a hot pungent bitterish taste, and may be usefully chewed for tooth-ache, or to obviate paralysis of the tongue. In Germany a variety of this Burnet yields a blue essential oil which is used for colouring brandy. Again the herb is allied to the Anise (Pimpinella Anisum). The term Burnet was formerly applied to a brown cloth. Smaller than this Common Burnet is the Salad Burnet, Poterium sanguisorba, quod sanguineos fluxus sistat, a useful styptic, which is also cordial, and promotes perspiration. It has the smell of cucumber, and is, therefore, an ingredient of the salad bowl, or often put into a cool tankard, whereto, says Gerard, “it gives a grace in the drynkynge.” Another larger sort of the Burnet Pimpinella (Magna), which has broad upper leaves less divided, grows in our woods and shady places.

A bright blue variety of the true Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis) is less frequent, and is thought by many to be a distinct species. Gerard says, “the Pimpernel with the blue flower helpeth the fundament that is fallen down: and, contrariwise, red Pimpernel being applied bringeth it down.”

The Water Pimpernel (Anagallis aquatica) is more commonly known as Brooklime, or Beccabunga, and belongs to a different order of plants, the Scrophulariaceoe (healers of scrofula).

It grows quite commonly in brooks and ditches, as a succulent plant with smooth leaves, and small flowers of bright blue, being found in situations favourable to the growth of the watercress. It is the brok lempe of old writers, Veronica beccabunga, the syllable bec signifying a beck or brook; or perhaps the whole title comes from the Flemish beck pungen, mouth-smart, in allusion to the pungent taste of the plant.

“It is eaten,” says Gerard, “in salads, as watercresses are, and is good against that malum of such as dwell near the German seas, which we term the scurvie, or skirby, being used after the same manner that watercress and scurvy-grass is used, yet is it not of so great operation and virtue.” The leaves and stem are slightly acid and astringent, with a somewhat bitter taste, and frequently the former are mixed by sellers of water-cresses with their stock-in-trade.

A full dose of the juice of fresh Brooklime is an easy purge; and the plant has always been a popular Simple for scrofulous affections, especially of the skin. Chemically, this Water Pimpernel contains some tannin, and a special bitter principle; whilst, in common with most of the Cruciferous plants, it is endowed with a pungent volatile oil, and some sulphur. The bruised plant has been applied externally for healing ulcers, burns, whitlows, and for the mitigation of swollen piles.

The Bog Pimpernel (Anagallis tenella), is common in boggy ground, having erect rose-coloured leaves larger than those of the Poor Man’s Weather Glass.

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

Ingredients: Parsley

December 13th, 2008

[ed: Also, for some reason, a digression about snails.]

Parsley is found in this country only as a cultivated plant, having been introduced into England from Sardinia in the sixteenth century. It is an umbelliferous herb, which has been long of garden growth for kitchen uses. The name was formerly spelt “Percely,” and the herb was known as March, or Merich (in Anglo-Saxon, Merici). Its adjective title, Petroselinum, signifies “growing on a rock.” The Greeks held Parsley in high esteem, making therewith the victor’s crown of dried and withered Parsley, at their Isthmian games, and the wreath for adorning the tombs of their dead. Hence the proverb, Deeisthai selinon (to need only Parsley) was applied to persons dangerously ill, and not expected to live. The herb was never brought to table of old, being held sacred to oblivion and the defunct.

It is reputed to have sprung from the blood of a Greek hero, Archemorus, the fore-runner of death; and Homer relates that chariot horses were fed by warriors with this herb. Greek gardens were often bordered with Parsley and Rue: and hence arose the saying when an undertaking was in contemplation but not yet commenced, “Oh! we are only at the Parsley and Rue.”

Garden Parsley was not cultivated in England until the second year of Edward the Sixth’s reign, 1548. In our modern times the domestic herb is associated rather with those who come into the world than with those who go out of it. Proverbially the Parsley-bed is propounded to our little people who ask awkward questions, as the fruitful source of new-born brothers and sisters when suddenly appearing within the limits of the family circle. In Suffolk there is an old belief that to ensure the herb coming up “double,” Parsley seed must be sown on Good Friday.

The root is faintly aromatic, and has a sweetish taste. It contains a chemical principle, “apiin,” sugar, starch, and a volatile oil. Likewise the fruit furnishes the same volatile oil in larger abundance, this oil comprising parsley-camphor, and “apiol,” the true essential oil of parsley, which may be now had from all leading druggists. Apiol exercises all the virtues of the entire plant, and is especially beneficial for women who are irregular as to their monthly courses because of ovarian debility. From three to six drops should be given on sugar, or in milk (or as a prepared capsule) twice or three times in the day for some days together, at the times indicated, beginning early at the expected date of each period. If too large a dose of apiol be taken it will cause headache, giddiness, staggering, and deafness; and if going still further, it will induce epileptiform convulsions. For which reason, in small diluted doses, the same medicament will curatively meet this train of symptoms when occurring as a morbid state. And it is most likely on such account Parsley has been popularly said to be “poison to men, and salvation to women.” Apiol was first obtained in 1849, by Drs. Joret and Homolle, of Brittany, and proved an excellent remedy there for a prevailing ague. It exercises a singular influence on the great nervous centres within the head and spine. Bruised Parsley seeds make a decoction which is likewise beneficial against ague and intermittent fever. They have gained a reputation in America as having a special tendency to regulate the reproductive functions in either sex. Country folk in many places think it unlucky to sow Parsley, or to move its roots; and a rustic adage runs thus: “Fried parsley brings a man to his saddle, and a Woman to her grave.” Taking Parsley in excess at table will impair the eyesight, especially the tall Parsley; for which reason it was forbidden by Chrysippus and Dionysius.

The root acts more readily on the kidneys than other parts of the herb; therefore its decoction is useful when the urine becomes difficult through a chill, or because of gravel. The bruised leaves applied externally will serve to soften hard breasts early in lactation, and to resolve the glands in nursing, when they become knotty and painful, with a threatened abscess. Sheep are fond of the plant, which protects them from foot-rot; but it acts as a deadly poison to parrots.

In France a rustic application to scrofulous swellings is successfully used, which consists of Parsley and snails pounded together in a mortar to the thickness of an ointment. This is spread on coarse linen and applied freely every day. Also on the Continent, and in some parts of England, snails as well as slugs are thought to be efficacious medicinally in consumption of the lungs, even more so than cod-liver oil. The Helix pomatia (or Apple Snail) is specially used in France, being kept for the purpose in a snaillery, or boarded-in space of which the floor is covered half-a-foot deep with herbs.

The Romans were very partial to these Apple Snails, and fattened them for the table with bran soaked in wine until the creatures attained almost a fabulous size. Even in this country shells of Apple Snails have been found which would hold a pound’s worth of silver. The large Snail was brought to England in the sixteenth century, to the South downs of Surrey, and Sussex, and to Box Hill by an Earl of Arundel for his Countess, who had them dressed, and ate them because of her consumptive disease. Likewise in Pliny’s time Snails beaten up with warm water were commended for the cure of coughs. Gipsies are great Snail eaters, but they first starve the creatures, which are given to devour the deadly Night Shade, and other poisonous plants. It is certain, that Snails retain the flavour and odour of the vegetables which they consume.

The chalky downs of the South of England are literally covered with small snails, and many persons suppose that the superior flavour of South Down mutton is due to the thousands of these snails which the sheep consume together with the pasture on which they feed. In 1854 a medical writer set forth the curative virtues of Helicin, a glutinous constituent principle derived from the Snail, and to be given in broth as a remedy for pulmonary consumption. In France the Apple Snail is known as the “great Escargot”; and the Snail gardens in which the gasteropods are fattened, and reared, go by the name of “Escargotoires.” Throughout the winter the creatures hybernate, shutting themselves up by their operculum whilst lying among dead leaves, or having fixed themselves by their glutinous secretion to a wall or tree. They are only taken for use whilst in this state. According to a gipsy, the common English Snail is quite as good to be eaten, and quite as beneficial as an Apple Snail, but there is less of him. In Wiltshire, when collected whilst hybernating, snails are soaked in salted water, and then grilled on the bars of the grate. About France the Escargots are dried, and prepared as a lozenge for coughs. Our common garden Snail is the Helix aspersa. On the Continent for many years past the large Apple Snail, together with a reddish-brown slug, the Arion Rufus, has been employed in medicine for colds, sore throats, and a tendency to consumption of the lungs. These contain “limacine,” and eight per cent. of emollient mucilage, together with “helicin,” and uric acid just under the shell. Many quarts of cooked garden snails are sold every week to the labouring classes in Bristol; and an annual Feast of Snails is held in the neighbourhood of Newcastle. Mrs. Delaney in 1708, recommended that “two or three snails should be boiled in the barley-water which Mary takes who coughs at night. She must know nothing of it; they give no manner of taste. Six or eight boiled in water, and strained off, and put in a bottle would be a good way of adding a spoonful of the same to every liquid thing she takes. They must be fresh done every two or three days, otherwise they grow too thick.” The London Gazette, of March 23rd, 1739, tells that Mrs. Joanna Stephens received from the Government five thousand pounds for revealing the secret of her famous cure against stone in the bladder, and gravel. This consisted chiefly of eggshells, and snails, mixed with soap, honey and herbs. It was given in powders, decoctions, and pills. To help weak eyes in South Hampshire, snails and bread crust are made into a poultice.

A moderate dose of Parsley oil when taken in health, induces a sense of warmth at the pit of the stomach, and of general well-being. The powdered seeds may be taken in doses of from ten to fifteen grains. The bruised leaves have successfully resolved tumours of hard (scirrhous) cancer when cicuta, and mercury had failed.

Though used so commonly at table, facts have proved that the herb, especially when uncooked, may bring on epilepsy in certain constitutions, or at least aggravate the fits in those who are subject to them. Alston says: “I have observed after eating plentifully of raw Parsley, a fulness of the vessels about the head, and a tenderness of the eyes (somewhat inflamed) and face, as if the cravat were too tight.”

The victors at the old Grecian games were crowned with chaplets of Parsley leaves; and it is more than probable our present custom of encircling a joint, and garnishing a dish with the herb had its origin in this practice. The Romans named Parsley Apium, either because their bee (apis) was specially fond of the herb, or from apex, the head of a conqueror, who was crowned with it. The tincture has a decided action on the lining membrane of the urinary passages, and may be given usefully when this is inflamed, or congested through catarrh, in doses of from five to ten drops three times in the day with a spoonful or two of cold water.

Wild Parsley is probably identical with our garden herb. It is called in the Western counties Eltrot, perhaps because associated with the gambols of the elves.

The Fool’s Parsley (oethusa cynapium) is a very common wayside weed, and grows wild in our gardens. It differs botanically from all other parsleys in having no bracts, but three narrow leaves at the base of each umbel. This is a more or less poisonous herb, producing, when eaten in a harmful quantity, convulsive and epileptic symptoms; also an inflamed state of the eyelids, just such as is seen in the scrofulous ophthalmia of children, the condition being accompanied with swelling of glands and eruptions on the skin. Therefore the tincture which is made (H.) of Fool’s Parsley, when given in small doses, and diluted, proves very useful for such ophthalmia, and for obviating the convulsive attacks of young children, especially if connected with derangement of the digestive organs. Also as a medicine it has done much good in some cases of mental imbecility. And this tincture will correct the Summer diarrhoea of infants, when the stools are watery, greenish, and without smell. From three to ten drops of the tincture diluted to the third decimal strength, should be given as a dose, and repeated at intervals, for the symptoms just recited.

This variety is named oethusa, because of its acridity, from the Greek verb aitho (to burn). “It has faculties,” says Gerard, “answerable to the common Hemlock,” the poisonous effects being inflamed stomach and bowels, giddiness, delirium, convulsions, and insensibility. It is called also “Dog’s Parsley” and “Kicks.”

The leaves of the Fool’s Parsley are glossy beneath, with lanceolate lobes, whereas the leaflets of other parsleys are woolly below. Gerard calls it Dog’s Parsley, and says: “The whole plant is of a naughty smell.” It contains a peculiar alkaloid “cynapina.” The tincture, third decimal strength, in half-drop doses, with a teaspoonful of water, will prevent an infant from vomiting the breast milk in thick curds.

Another variety which grows in chalky districts, the Stone Parsley, Sison, or breakstone, was formerly known as the “Hone-wort,” from curing a “hone,” or boil, on the cheek. It was believed at one time to break a glass goblet or tumbler if rubbed against this article.

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

The Best Cough Syrup

October 19th, 2008

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

Ingredients: Daisy

October 11th, 2008

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

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: Dandelion

September 6th, 2008

Owing to long years of particular evolutionary sagacity in developing winged seeds to be wafted from the silky pappus of its ripe flowerheads over wide areas of land, the Dandelion exhibits its handsome golden flowers in every field and on every ground plot throughout the whole of our country. They are to be distinguished from the numerous hawkweeds, by having the outermost leaves of their exterior cup bent downwards whilst the stalk is coloured and shining. The plant-leaves have jagged edges which resemble the angular jaw of a lion fully supplied with teeth; or, some writers say, the herb has been named from the heraldic lion which is vividly yellow, with teeth of gold-in fact, a dandy lion! Again, the flower closely resembles the sun, which a lion represents. It is called by some Blowball, Time Table, and Milk “Gowan” (or golden).

“How like a prodigal does Nature seem,
When thou with all thy gold so common art.”

In some of our provinces the herb is known as Wiggers, and Swinesnout; whilst again in Devon and Cornwall it is called the Dashelflower. Botanically it belongs to the composite order, and is named Taraxacum Leontodon, or eatable, and lion-toothed. This latter when Latinised is dens leonis, and in French dent de lion. The title Taraxacum is an Arabian corruption of the Greek trogimon, “edible”; or it may have been derived from the Greek taraxos, “disorder,” and akos, “remedy.” It once happened that a plague of insects destroyed the harvest in the island of Minorca, so that the inhabitants had to eat the wild produce of the country; and many of them then subsisted for some while entirely on this plant. The Dandelion, which is a wild sort of Succory, was known to Arabian physicians, since Avicenna of the eleventh century mentions it as taraxacon. It is found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America; possessing a root which abounds with milky juice, and this varying in character according to the time of year in which the plant is gathered.

During the winter the sap is thick, sweet, and albuminous; but in summer time it is bitter and acrid. Frost causes the bitterness to diminish, and sweetness to take its place; but after the frost this bitterness returns, and is intensified. The root is at its best for yielding juice about November. Chemically the active ingredients of the herb are taraxacin, and taraxacerine, with inulin (a sort of sugar), gluten, gum, albumen, potash, and an odorous resin, which is commonly supposed to stimulate the liver, and the biliary organs. Probably this reputed virtue was assigned at first to the plant largely on the doctrine of signatures, because of its bright yellow flowers of a bilious hue. But skilled medical provers who have experimentally tested the toxical effects of the Dandelion plant have found it to produce, when taken in excess, troublesome indigestion, characterized by a tongue coated with a white skin which peels off in patches, leaving a raw surface, whilst the kidneys become unusually active, with profuse night sweats and an itching nettle rash. For these several symptoms when occurring of themselves, a combination of the decoction, and the medicinal tincture will be invariably curative.

To make a decoction of the root, one part of this dried, and sliced, should be gently boiled for fifteen minutes in twenty parts of water, and strained off when cool. It may be sweetened with brown sugar, or honey, if unpalatable when taken alone, several teacupfuls being given during the day. Dandelion roots as collected for the market are often adulterated with those of the common Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus); but these are more tough and do not give out any milky juice.

The tops of the roots dug out of the ground, with the tufts of the leaves remaining thereon, and blanched by being covered in the earth as they grow, if gathered in the spring, are justly esteemed as an excellent vernal salad. It was with this homely fare the good wise Hecate entertained Theseus, as we read in Evelyn’s Acetaria. Bergius says he has seen intractable cases of liver congestion cured, after many other remedies had failed, by the patients taking daily for some months, a broth made from Dandelion roots stewed in boiling water, with leaves of Sorrel, and the yolk of an egg; though (he adds) they swallowed at the same time cream of tartar to keep their bodies open.

Incidentally with respect to the yolk of an egg, as prescribed here, it is an established fact that patients have been cured of obstinate jaundice by taking a raw egg on one or more mornings while fasting. Dr. Paris tells us a special oil is to be extracted from the yolks (only) of hard boiled eggs, roasted in pieces in a frying pan until the oil begins to exude, and then pressed hard. Fifty eggs well fried will yield about five ounces of this oil, which is acrid, and so enduringly liquid that watch-makers use it for lubricating the axles and pivots of their most delicate wheels. Old eggs furnish the oil most abundantly, and it certainly acts as a very useful medicine for an obstructed liver. Furthermore the shell, when finely triturated, has served by its potentialised lime to cure some forms of cancer. Sweet are the uses of adversity! even such as befell the egg symbolised by Humpty-Dumpty:–

“Humptius in muro requievit Dumptius alto,
Humptius e muro Dumptius–heu! cecidit!
Sed non Regis equi, Reginae exercitus omnis
Humpti, te, Dumpti, restituere loco.”

The medicinal tincture of Dandelion is made from the entire plant, gathered in summer, employing proof spirit which dissolves also the resinous parts not soluble in water. From ten to fifteen drops of this tincture may be taken with a spoonful of water three times in the day.

Of the freshly prepared juice, which should not be kept long as it quickly ferments, from two to three teaspoonfuls are a proper dose. The leaves when tender and white in the spring are taken on the Continent in salads or they are blanched, and eaten with bread and butter. Parkinson says: “Whoso is drawing towards a consumption, or ready to fall into a cachexy, shall find a wonderful help from the use thereof, for some time together.” Officially, according to the London College, are prepared from the fresh dried roots collected in the autumn, a decoction (one ounce to a pint of boiling water), a juice, a fresh extract, and an inspissated liquid extract.

Because of its tendency to provoke involuntary urination at night, the Dandelion has acquired a vulgar suggestive appellation which expresses this fact in most homey terms: quasi herba lectiminga, et urinaria dicitur: and this not only in our vernacular, but in most of the European tongues: quia plus lotii in vesicam derivat quam puerulis retineatur proesertim inter dormiendum, eoque tunc imprudentes et inviti stragula permingunt.

At Gottingen, the roots are roasted and used instead of coffee by the poorer folk; and in Derbyshire the juice of the stalk is applied to remove warts. The flower of the Dandelion when fully blown is named Priest’s Crown (Caput monachi), from the resemblance of its naked receptacle after the winged seeds have been all blown away, to the smooth shorn head of a Roman cleric. So Hurdis sings in his poem The Village Curate:–

“The Dandelion this:
A college youth that flashes for a day
All gold: anon he doffs his gaudy suit,
Touched by the magic hand of Bishop grave,
And all at once by commutation strange
Becomes a reverend priest: and then how sleek!
How full of grace! with silvery wig at first
So nicely trimmed, which presently grows bald.
But let me tell you, in the pompous globe
Which rounds the Dandelion’s head is fitly couched
Divinity most rare.”

Boys gather the flower when ripe, and blow away the hall of its silky seed vessels at the crown, to learn the time of day, thus sportively making:–

“Dandelion with globe of down
The school-boy’s clock in every town.”

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

Ingredients: Elecampane

June 7th, 2008

“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

Doctor Gifford’s Amber Pills for a Consumption

May 18th, 2008

Take of Venice Turpentine one ounce washed, and six grains of the powder of white Amber, mix them together, and set them on a clean pot upon Embers, and let it not stand too hot; to try whether it be enough, take a drop, and let it cool; if after it is cold it be stiff, and will not cleave to the finger, it is enough; then take of the powders of Pearl, White Amber, and Coral, of each a quantity, as a quarter of an ounce, of the inner bark of an Oak a quarter of an ounce; of Cinamon, and Nutmegs, of each as much, and three ounces of hard white Sugar; make all these into a powder, and seethe them, and put the pills into them; before you take them, you must be well purged, after which you must take three of the aforesaid pills wrapped up in the Powder, what else you will, & in the morning take the yolk of a new laid Egg warmed a little, and put into it as much of the powder as will be on a shilling, and sup it off; let this be used some time together, and there will be great benefit found by it.

The Queens Cabinet Opened: Or, The Pearle of Practice. Accurate, Physical and Chirurgical Receipts, Nathaniel Brooke

A Water for a Consumption, or for a Brain that is weak

March 31st, 2008

Take Cream (or new milk) and Claret-wine, of each three pints, of Violet-flowers, Bugloss and Borage-flowers, of each a spoonful, Comfrey, Knot-grass, and Plantane of these half a handful, three or four Pome-waters sliced, a stick of Liquorish, some Pompion seeds and strings; put to this a Cock that hath been chased and beaten before he was killed, dress it as to boil, and parboil it until there be no blood in it; then put them in a pot, and set them over your Limbeck, and the soft fire; draw out a pottle of water, then put your water in a Pipkin over a Charcoal fire, and boil it a while, dissolve therein six ounces of white Sugar-candy, & two penny weight of Saffron; when it is cold strain it into a glass, & let the Patient drink three or four spoonfuls three or four times a day blood-warm; your Cock must be cut into small pieces, & the bones broken, and in case the flowers and herbs are bard to come by, a spoonful of their stilled waters are to be used.

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