Swaim’s Vermifuge

April 19th, 2017

Worm seed, two ounces; valerian, rhubarb, pink root, white agaric, senna, of each one ounce and a half. Boil in sufficient water to yield three quarts of decoction. Now add to it ten drops of the oil of tansy and forty-five drops of the oil of cloves, dissolved in a quart of rectified spirit. Dose: one tablespoonful at night.

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

Cure for a Cough or Cold

November 2nd, 2016

An intelligent farmer has observed, that the best remedy he ever tried in his family for a cough or cold, was a decoction of the leaves of the pine-tree, sweetened with loaf sugar, to be freely drank warm when going to bed at night, and cold throughout the day.

Source: Valuable Receipts, J.M. Prescott

The Lemon Decoction in Malaria

May 30th, 2015

This remedy has, besides its anti-malarial efficacy, distinct value as a tonic to the stomach. Take a fresh lemon; cut it into thin slices, rind and all; boil it in three tumblerfuls of water in an earthen pot which has not been previously used for culinary purposes; prolong the boiling till the liquid contents of the pot have been reduced to one-third — that is, to the volume of one tumbler. Pass the decoction through muslin, squeezing out the residue of the lemon, and let it cool for several hours. Let the whole be taken in the early morning, fasting.

Source: Audel’s Household Helps, Hints and Receipts

Ingredient: Angustura Bark

May 13th, 2015

Angustura bark (Cusparia) is a valuable tonic, especially in cases of dyspepsia, with diarrhoea and loss of appetite. It may be given in powder in doses of ten grains, twice or thrice a-day; or in infusion, or decoction. In cases of flatulency of the stomach, attended by nausea, five grains, with the same weight of rhubarb, taken an hour before dinner, will often effectually restore the appetite and digestion.

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

Worm Fever

May 12th, 2015

Boil a handful of Rue and Wormwood in water; foment the belly with the decoction, and apply the boiled herbs as a poultice; repeat the application night and morning. This frequently brings away worms from children, who will take no internal medicine; and is likewise serviceable if the fever be of the putrid kind.

Source: Primitive Physic: or an easy and natural method of curing most diseases, John Wesley.

To Cure Watery and Inflamed Eyes

May 2nd, 2015

Foment frequently with decoction of poppy heads. When the irritation and inflammation occur, a teaspoonful of cognac brandy in four ounces of spring water may be used three or four times in the course of the day as a strengthening lotion.

Source: The Ladies’ Book of Useful Information

Ingredient: Pomegranate Bark

April 10th, 2015

The chief use of this bark is as an astringent in chronic diarrhoea and in dysentery, and as an injection in fluor albus. It has, also, been much used in India as a remedy for tape-worm, for which a decoction is prepared with two ounces of the fresh bark, boiled in a pint and a half of water until only three quarters of a pint remain. The worm is frequently voided after the first dose of two ounces; but the same quantity may be repeated for six or seven times in succession, at intervals of an hour.

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

To cure Baldness

March 12th, 2015

Rub the part, morning and evening, with Onions, till it is red, and rub it afterwards with Honey; or wash it with a decoction of Boxwood — tried; or electrify it daily.

Source: Primitive Physic: or an easy and natural method of curing most diseases, John Wesley.

Ingredient: Primrose

March 9th, 2015

The Common Primrose (Primula veris) is the most widely known of our English wild flowers, and appears in the Spring as its earliest herald.

It gets its name from the Latin primus, first, being named in old books and M.S. Pryme rolles, and in the Grete Herball, Primet, as shortened from Primprint.

In North Devon it is styled the Butter Rose, and in the Eastern counties it is named (in common with the Cowslip) Paigle, Peagle, Pegyll, and Palsy plant.

Medicinally also it possesses similar curative attributes, though in a lesser degree, to those of the Cowslip. Both the root and the flowers contain a volatile oil, and “primulin” which is identical with mannite: whilst the acrid principle is “saponin.” Alfred Austin, Poet Laureate, teaches to “make healing salve with early Primroses.”

Pliny speaks of the Primrose as almost a panacea: In aquâ potam omnibus morbis mederi tradunt. An infusion of the flowers has been always thought excellent against nervous disorders of the hysterical sort. It should be made with from five to ten parts of the petals to one hundred of water. “Primrose tea” says Gerard, “drunk in the month of May, is famous for curing the phrensie.”

The whole plant is sedative and antispasmodic, being of service by its preparations to relieve sleeplessness, nervous headache, and muscular rheumatism. The juice if sniffed up into the nostrils will provoke violent sneezing, and will induce a free flow of water from the lining membranes of the nostrils for the mitigation of passive headaches: though this should not be tried by a person of full habit with a determination of blood to the head. A teaspoonful of powdered dry Primrose root will act as an emetic. The whole herb is somewhat expectorant.

When the petals are collected and dried they become of a greenish colour: whilst fresh they have a honey-like odour, and a sweetish taste.

Within the last few years a political significance and popularity have attached themselves to the Primrose beyond every other British wild flower. It arouses the patriotism of the large Conservative party, and enlists the favour of many others who thoughtlessly follow an attractive fashion, and who love the first fruits of early Spring. Botanically the Primrose has two varieties of floral structure: one “pin-eyed,” with a tall pistil, and short stamens; the other “thrum-eyed,” showing a rosette of tall stamens, whilst the short pistil must be looked for, like the great Panjandrum himself, “with a little round button at the top,” half way down the tube. Darwin was the first to explain that this diversity of structure ensures cross fertilisation by bees and allied insects. Through advanced cultivation at the hands of the horticulturist the Primula acquires in some instances a noxious character. For instance, the Primula biconica, which is often grown in dwelling rooms as a window plant, and commonly sold as such, will provoke an crysipelatous vesicular eruption of a very troublesome and inflamed character on the hands and face of some persons who come in contact with the plant by manipulating it to take cuttings, or in other ways. A knowledge of this fact should suggest the probable usefulness of the said Primula, when made into a tincture, and given in small diluted doses thereof, to act curatively for such an eruption if attacking the sufferer from idiopathic causes.

The Latins named the Ligustrum (our Privet) Primrose. Coles says concerning it (17th century): “This herbe is called Primrose; it is good to ‘Potage.'” They also applied the epithet, “Prime rose” to a lady.

The Evening Primrose (OEnothera biennis, or odorata) is found in this country on sand banks in the West of England and Cornwall; but it is then most probably a garden scape, and an alien, its native habitat being in Canada and the United States of America. We cultivate it freely in our parterres as a brilliant, yellow, showy flower. It belongs to the natural order, Onagraceoe, so called because the food of wild asses; and was the “vini venator” of Theophrastus, 350 B.C. The name signifies having the odour of wine, oinos and theera. Pliny said: “It is an herbe good as wine to make the heart merrie. It groweth with leaves resembling those of the almond tree, and beareth flowers like unto roses. Of such virtue is this herbe that if it be given to drink to the wildest beast that is, it will tame the same and make it gentle.” The best variety of this plant is the OEnothera macrocarpa.

The bark of the Evening Primrose is mucilaginous, and a decoction made therefrom is of service for bathing the skin eruptions of infants and young children. To answer such purpose a decoction should be made from the small twigs, and from the bark of the larger branches, retaining the leaves. This has been found further of use for diarrhoea associated with an irritable stomach, and asthma. The infusion, or the liquid extract, acts as a mild but efficient sedative in nervous indigestion, from twenty to thirty drops of the latter being given for a dose. The ascertained chemical principle of the plant, OEnotherin, is a compound body. Its flowers open in the evening, and last only until the next noon; therefore this plant is called the “Evening Primrose,” or “Evening Star.”

Another of the Primrose tribe, the Cyclamen, or Sow-bread (Panis porcinus), is often grown in our gardens, and for ornamenting our rooms as a pot plant. Its name means (Greek) “a circle,” and refers to the reflected corolla, or to the spiral fruit-stalks; and again, from the tuber being the food of wild swine. Gerard said it was reported in his day to grow wild on the Welsh mountains, and on the Lincolnshire hills: but he failed to find it. Nevertheless it is now almost naturalised in some parts of the South, and East of England. As the petals die, the stalks roll up and carry the capsular berries down to the surface of the ground. A medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the fresh root when flowering. The ivy-leaved variety is found in England, with nodding fresh-coloured blossoms, and a brown intensely acrid root. Besides starch, gum, and pectin, it yields chemically, “cyclamin,” or “arthanatin,” with an action like “saponin,” whilst the juice is poisonous to fish. When applied externally as a liniment over the bowels, it causes them to be purged. Gerard quaintly and suggestively declares “It is not good for women with childe to touch, or take this herbe, or to come neere unto it, or to stride over the same where it groweth: for the natural attractive vertue therein contained is such that, without controversie, they that attempt it in manner above said, shall be delivered before their time; which danger and inconvenience to avoid, I have fastened sticks in the ground about the place in my garden where it groweth, and some other sticks also crosswaies over them, lest any woman should by lamentable experiment find my words to be true by stepping over the same. Again, the root hanged about women in their extreme travail with childe, causeth them to be delivered incontinent: and the leaves put into the place hath the like effect.” Inferentially a tincture of the plant should be good for falling and displacement of the womb. “Furthermore, Sowbread, being beaten, and made into little flat cakes, is reputed to be a good amorous medicine, to make one in love.”

In France, another Primula, the wild Pimpernel, occurs as a noxious herb, and is therefore named Mouron.

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

Ingredient: Poppy

March 3rd, 2015

The Scarlet Poppy of our cornfields (Papaver Rhoeas) is one of the most brilliant and familiar of English wild flowers, being strikingly conspicuous as a weed by its blossoms rich in scarlet petals, which are black at the base. The title Papaver has been derived from pap, a soft food given to young infants, in which it was at one time customary to boil Poppy seeds for the purpose of inducing sleep. Provincially this plant bears the titles of “Cop Rose” (from its rose-like flowers, and the button-like form of its cop, or capsule) and “Canker Rose,” from its detriment to wheat crops.

The generic term Rhoeas comes from reo, to fall, because the scarlet petals have so fragile a hold on their receptacles; and the plant has been endowed with the sobriquet, “John Silver Pin, fair without and foul within.” In the Eastern counties of England any article of finery brought out only occasionally, and worn with ostentation by a person otherwise a slattern, is called “Joan Silver Pin.” After this sense the appellation has been applied to the Scarlet Poppy. Its showy flower is so attractive to the eye, whilst its inner juice is noxious, and stains the hands of those who thoughtlessly crush it with their fingers.

“And Poppies a sanguine mantle spread,
For the blood of the dragon St. Margaret shed.”

Robert Turner naively says, “The Red Poppy Flower (Papaver erraticum) resembleth at its bottom the settling of the ‘Blood in pleurisie'”; and, he adds, “how excellent is that flower in diseases of the pleurisie with similar surfeits hath been sufficiently experienced.”

It is further called Blindy Buff, Blind Eyes, Headwarke, and Headache, from the stupefying effects of smelling it. Apothecaries make a syrup of a splendid deep colour from its vividly red petals; but this does not exercise any soporific action like that concocted from the white Poppy, which is a sort of modified opiate, suitable for infants under certain conditions, when sanctioned by a doctor. Otherwise, all sedatives of a narcotic sort are to be strongly condemned for use by mothers, or nurses:–

“But a child that bids the world ‘Good-night’
In downright earnest, and cuts it quite,
(A cherub no art can copy),
‘Tis a perfect picture to see him lie,
As if he had supped on dormouse pie,
An ancient classical dish, by-the-bye,
With a sauce of syrup of Poppy.”

Petronius, in the time of Nero, A.D. 80, “delivered an odd receipt for dressing dormouse sausages, and serving them up with Poppies and honey, which must have been a very soporiferous dainty, and as good as owl pye to such as want a nap after dinner.”

The white Poppy is specially cultivated in Britain for the sake of its seed capsules, which possess attributes similar to opium, but of a weaker strength. These capsules are commonly known as Poppyheads, obtained from the druggist for use in domestic fomentations to allay pain. Also from the capsules, without their seeds, is made the customary syrup of White Poppies, which is so familiar as a sedative for childhood; but it should be always remembered that infants of tender years are highly susceptible to the influence even of this mild form of opium. The true gum opium, and laudanum, which is its tincture, are derived from Eastern Poppies (Papaver somniferum) by incisions made in the capsules at a proper season of the year. The cultivated Poppy of the garden will afford English opium in a like manner, but it is seldom used for this purpose. A milky juice exudes when the capsules of these cultivated flowers are cut, or bruised. They are familiar to most children as drumsticks, plucked in the garden after the gaudy petals of the flowers have fallen off. The leaves and stems likewise afford some of the same juice, which, when inspissated, is known as English opium. The seeds of the white Poppy yield by expression a bland nutritive oil, which may be substituted for that of olives, or sweet almonds, in cooking, and for similar uses. Dried Poppy-heads, formerly in constant request for making hot soothing stupes, or for application directly to a part in pain, are now superseded for the most part by the many modern liquid preparations of opium handy for the purpose, to be mixed with hot water, or applied in poultices.

For outward use laudanum may be safely added to stupes, hot or cold, a teaspoonful being usually sufficient for the purpose, or perhaps two, if the pain is severe; and powdered opium may be incorporated with one or another ointment for a similar object. If a decoction of Poppy capsules is still preferred, it should be made by adding to a quarter-of-a-pound of white Poppy heads (free from seeds, and broken up in a mortar) three pints of boiling water; then boil for ten or fifteen minutes, and strain off the decoction, which should measure about two pints.

Dr. Herbert Snow, resident physician at the Brompton Cancer Hospital, says (1895) he has found: “after a long experience, Opium exhibits a strong inhibitive influence on the cancer elements, retarding and checking the cell growth, which is a main feature of the disease. Even when no surgical operation has been performed, Opium is the only drug which markedly checks cancer growth: and the early employment of this medicine will usually add years of comfortable life to the otherwise shortened space of the sufferer’s existence.” Opium gets its name from the Greek apos, juice.

The seeds of the white Poppy are known us mawseed, or balewort, and are given as food to singing birds. In old Egypt these seeds were mixed with flour and honey, and made into cakes.

Pliny says: “The rustical peasants of Greece glazed the upper crust of their loaves with yolks of eggs, and then bestrewed them with Poppy seeds,” thus showing that the seeds were then considered free from narcotic properties. And in Queen Elizabeth’s time these seeds were strewn over confectionery, whilst the oil expressed from them was “delightful to be eaten when taken with bread.”

White Poppy capsules, when dried, furnish papaverine and narcotine, with some mucilage, and a little waxy matter. The seeds contained within the capsules yield Poppy seed oil, with a fixed oil, and a very small quantity of morphia–about five grains in a pound of white Poppy seeds. In some parts of Russia the seeds are put into soups.

The Poppy was cultivated by the Greeks before the time of Hippocrates. It has long been a symbol of death, because sending persons to sleep. Ovid says, concerning the Cave of Somnus:–

“Around whose entry nodding Poppies grow,
And all cool Simples that sweet rest bestow.”

The common scarlet Poppy was called by the Anglo-Saxons “Chesebolle,” “Chebole,” or “Chybolle,” from the ripe capsule resembling a round cheese.

There is a Welsh Poppy, with yellow flowers; and a horned Poppy, named after Glaucus, common on our sea coasts, with sea-green leaves, and large blossoms of golden yellow. Glaucus, a fisherman of Boeotia, observed that all the fishes which he caught received fresh vigour when laid on the ground, and were immediately able to leap back into the sea. He attributed these effects to some herb growing in the grass, and upon tasting the leaves of the Sea Poppy he found himself suddenly moved with an intense desire to live in the sea; wherefore he was made a sea-god by Oceanus and Tethys. Borlase says: “That in the Scilly Islands the root of the Sea Poppy is so much valued for removing all pains in the breast, stomach, and intestines, as well as so good for disordered lungs, whilst so much better there than in other places, that the apothecaries of Cornwall send thither for it; and some persons plant these roots in their gardens in Cornwall, and will not part with them under sixpence a root.” The scarlet petals of the wild Poppy, very abundant in English cornfields, when treated with sulphuric acid make a splendid red dye. With gorgeous tapestry cut from these crimson petals, the clever “drapery bee” (Apis papaveris) upholsters the walls of her solitary cell. Bruised leaves of the wild, or the garden Poppy, if applied to a part which has been stung by a bee or a wasp, will give prompt relief.

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