“Let the patient take an active cathartic; then when put to bed let a half cup of hop tea be given; and a douche of one quart of hot water into which ten drops of laudanum have been dropped, be injected.” A cathartic is not necessary in all cases. If the bowels have been moving freely do not take one. The douche will give great relief providing the woman can take one while menstruating. Some women can and some cannot.
Source: Mother’s Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. RitterFiled under Remedy | Tags: bowel, cathartic, douche, hop, laudanum, menstruation, period, tea | Comment (0)
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 FerniesFiled under Ingredient | Tags: bladder, burn, burns, consumption, epilepsy, flatulence, hydrophobia, indigestion, liver, melancholy, menstruation, piles, pimpernel, rheumatism, scrofula, spleen, styptic, ulcers | Comment (0)
Though not of native British growth, except by way of a luxury in the gardens of the wealthy, yet the Orange is of such common use amongst all classes of our people as a dietetic fruit, when of the sweet China sort, and for tonic medicinal purposes when of the bitter Seville kind, that some consideration may be fairly accorded to it as a Curative Simple in these pages.
The Citrus aurantium, or popular Orange, came originally from India, and got its distinctive title of Aurantium, either (ab aureo colore corticis) from the golden colour of its peel, or (ab oppido Achoeioe Arantium) from Arantium, a town of Achaia. It now comes to us chiefly from Portugal and Spain. This fruit is essentially a product of cultivation extending over many years. It began in Hindustan as a small bitter berry with seeds; then about the eighth century it was imported into Persia, though held somewhat accursed. During the tenth century it bore the name “Bigarade,” and became better known. But not until the sixteenth century was it freely grown by the Spaniards, and brought into Mexico. Even at that time the legend still prevailed that whoever partook of the luscious juice was compelled to embrace the faith of the prophet. Spenser and Milton tell of the orange as the veritable golden apple presented by Jupiter to Juno on the day of their nuptials: and hence perhaps arose its more modern association with marriage rites.
Of the varieties the China Orange is the most juicy, being now grown in the South of Europe; whilst the St. Michael Orange (a descendant of the China sort, first produced in Syria), is now got abundantly from the Azores, whence it derives its name.
John Evelyn says the first China Orange which appeared in Europe, was sent as a present to the old Condé Mellor; then Prime Minister to the King of Portugal, when only one plant escaped sound and useful of the whole case which reached Lisbon, and this became the parent of all the Orange trees cultivated by our gardeners, though not without greatly degenerating.
The Seville Orange is that which contains the medicinal properties, more especially in its leaves, flowers, and fruit, though the China sort possesses the same virtues in a minor degree. The leaves and the flowers have been esteemed as beneficial against epilepsy, and other convulsive disorders; and a tea is infused from the former for hysterical sufferers.
Two delicious perfumes are distilled from the flowers–oil of neroli, and napha water,–of which the chemical hydro-carbon “hesperidin,” is mainly the active principle. This is secreted also as an aromatic attribute of the leaves through their minute glands, causing them to emit a fragrant odour when bruised. A scented water is largely prepared in France from the flowers, l’eau de fleur d’oranger, which is frequently taken by ladies as a gentle sedative at night, when sufficiently diluted with sugared water. Thousands of gallons are drunk in this way every year. As a pleasant and safely effective help towards wooing sleep, from one to two teaspoonfuls of the French Eau de fleur d’oranger, if taken at bedtime in a teacupful of hot water, are to be highly commended for a nervous, or excitably wakeful person.
Orange buds are picked green from the trees in the gardens of the Riviera, and when dried they retain the sweet smell of the flowers. A teaspoonful of these buds is ordered to be infused in a teacupful of quite hot water, and the liquid to be drunk shortly, before going to bed. The effect is to induce a refreshing sleep, without any subsequent headache or nausea. The dried berries may be had from an English druggist.
A peeled Orange contains, some citric acid, with citrate of potash; also albumen, cellulose, water, and about eight per cent. of sugar. The white lining pith of the peel possesses likewise the crystalline principle “hesperidin.” Dr. Cullen showed that the acid juice of oranges, by uniting with the bile, diminishes the bitterness of that secretion; and hence it is that this fruit is of particular service in illnesses which arise from a redundancy of bile, chiefly in dark persons of a fibrous, or bilious temperament. But if the acids of the Orange are greater in quantity than can be properly corrected by the bile (as in persons with a small liver, and feeble digestive powers), they seem, by some prejudicial union with that liquid, to acquire a purgative quality, and to provoke diarrhoea, with colicky pains.
The rind or peel of the Seville Orange is darker in colour, and more bitter of taste than that of the sweet China fruit. It affords a considerable quantity of fragrant, aromatic oil, which partakes of the characters exercised by the leaves and the flowers as affecting the nervous system. Pereira records the death of a child which resulted from eating the rind of a sweet China Orange.
The small green fruits (windfalls) from the Orange trees of each sort, which become blown off, or shaken down during the heats of the summer, are collected and dried, forming the “orange berries” of the shops. They are used for flavouring curacoa, and for making issue peas. These berries furnish a fragrant oil, the essence de petit grain, and contain citrates, and malates of lime and potash, with “hesperidin,” sulphur, and mineral salts. The Orange flowers yield a volatile, odorous oil, acetic acid, and acetate of lime. The juice of the Orange consists of citric and malic acids, with sugar; citrate of lime, and water. The peel furnishes hesperidin, a volatile oil, gallic acid, and a bitter principle.
By druggists, a confection of bitter orange peel is sold; also a syrup of this orange peel, and a tincture of the same, made with spirit of wine, to be given in doses of from one to two teaspoonfuls with water, as an agreeable stomachic bitter. Eau de Cologne contains oil of neroli, oil of citron, and oil of orange.
The fresh juice of Oranges is antiseptic, and will prevent scurvy if taken in moderation daily. Common Oranges cut through the middle while green, and dried in the air, being afterwards steeped for forty days in oil, are used by the Arabs for preparing an essence famous among their old women because it will restore a fresh dark, or black colour to grey hair. The custom of a bride wearing Orange blossoms, is probably due to the fact that flowers and fruit appear together on the tree, in token of a wish that the bride may retain the graces of maidenhood amid the cares of married life. This custom has been derived from the Saracens, and was originally suggested also by the fertility of the Orange tree.
The rind of the Seville Orange has proved curative of ague, and powerfully remedial to restrain the monthly flux of women when in excess. Its infusion is of service also against flatulency. A drachm of the powdered leaves may be given for a dose in nervous and hysterical ailments. Finally, “the Orange,” adds John Evelyn, “sharpens appetite, exceedingly refreshes, and resists putrefaction.”
With respect to the fruit, it is said that workpeople engaged in the orange trade enjoy a special immunity from influenza, whilst a free partaking of the juice given largely, has been found preventive of pneumonia as complicating this epidemic. The benefit is said to occur through lessening the fibrin of the blood.
In the time of Shakespeare, it was the fashion to carry “pomanders,” these being oranges from which all the pulp had been scooped out, whilst a circular hole was made at the top. Then after the peel had become dry, the fruit was filled with spices, so as to make a sort of scent-box. Orange lilies, Orangemen, and William of Orange, are all more or less associated with this fruit. The Dutch Government had no love for the House of Orange: and many a grave burgomaster went so far as to banish from his garden the Orange lily, and Marigold; also the sale of Oranges and Carrots was prohibited in the markets on account of their aristocratic colour.
There exists at Brighton a curious custom of bowling or throwing Oranges along the high road on Boxing day. He whose Orange is hit by that of another, forfeits the fruit to the successful hitter.
In Henry the Eighth’s reign Oranges were made into pies, or the juice was squeezed out, and mixed with wine. This fruit when peeled, and torn into sections, after removing the white pith, and the pips, and sprinkling over it two or three spoonfuls of powdered loaf sugar, makes a most wholesome salad. A few candied orange-flower petals will impart a fine flavour to tea when infused with it.
Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas FernieFiled under Ingredient | Tags: ague, convulsions, epilepsy, flu, hysteric, influenza, menstruation, orange, pneumonia, scurvy, sedative | Comment (0)
[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 FernieFiled under Ingredient | Tags: breasts, cold, colds, consumption, convulsions, diarrhoea, kidneys, menstruation, nursing, parsley, scrofula, snails, sore throat, urine | Comment (0)
Among the leguminous plants which supply food for the invalid, and are endowed with certain qualifications for correcting the health, may be justly placed the Lentil, though we have to import it because our moist, cold climate is not favourable for its growth. Nevertheless, it closely resembles the small purple vetch of our summer hedgerows at home. In France its pulse is much eaten during Lent–which season takes its name, as some authors suppose, from this penitential plant. Men become under its subduing dietary influence, “lenti et lenes.” The plant is cultivated freely in Egypt for the sake of the seeds, which are flat on both sides, growing in numerous pods.
The botanical name is Ervum lens; and about the year 1840 a Mr. Wharton sold the flour of Lentils under the name of Ervalenta, this being then of a primrose colour. He failed in his enterprise, and Du Barry took up the business, but substituting the red Arabian Lentil for the yellow German pulse.
Joseph’s mess of pottage which he sold to Esau for his birthright was a preparation of the red Lentil: and the same food was the bread of Ezekiel.
The legumin contained in this vegetable is very light and sustaining, but it is apt to form unwholesome combinations with any earthy salts taken in other articles of food, or in the water used in cooking; therefore Lemon juice or vinegar is a desirable addition to Lentils at table. This is because of the phosphates contained so abundantly, and liable to become deposited in the urine. “Lentils,” says Gerard, “are singular good to stay the menses.” They are traditionally regarded as funeral plants, and formerly they were forbidden at sacrifices and feasts.
Parkinson said, “The country people sow it in the fields as food for their cattle, and call it ’tills’, leaving out the ‘lent’, as thinking that word agreeth not with the matter.” “Ita sus Minervam.” In Hampshire the plant is known as “tils,” and in Oxfordshire as “dills.” The Romans supposed it made people indolent and torpid, therefore they named the plant from lentus, slow.
Allied to the Lentil as likewise a leguminous plant is the LUPINE, grown now only as an ornament to our flower beds, but formerly cultivated by the Romans as an article of food, and still capable of usefulness in this capacity for the invalid. Pliny said, “No kind of fodder is more wholesome and light of digestion than the white Lupine when eaten dry.” If taken commonly at meals it will contribute a fresh colour and a cheerful countenance. When thus formerly used neither trouble nor expense was needed in sowing the seed, since it had merely to be scattered over the ground without ploughing or digging. But Virgil designated it tristis Lupinus, “the sad Lupine,” probably because when the pulse of this plant was eaten without being first cooked in any way so as to modify its bitter taste, it had a tendency to contract the muscles of the face, and to give a sorrowful appearance to the countenance. It was said the Lupine was cursed by the Virgin Mary, because when she fled with the child Christ from the assassins of Herod, plants of this species by the noise they made attracted the attention of the soldiers.
The Lupine was originally named from lupus, a wolf, because of its voracious nature. The seeds were used as pieces of money by Roman actors in their plays and comedies, whence came the saying, “nummus lupinus,” “a spurious bit of money.”
Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas FernieFiled under Ingredient | Tags: face, lentil, lupin, menstruation, urine | Comment (0)
The Lemon (Citrus Limonum) is so common of use in admixing refreshing drinks, and for its fragrancy of peel, whether for culinary flavour, or as a delightful perfume, that it may well find a place among the Simples of a sagacious housewife. Moreover, the imported fruit, which abounds in our markets, as if to the manner born, is endowed with valuable medicinal properties which additionally qualify it for the domestic Herbarium. The Lemons brought to England come chiefly from Sicily, through Messina and Palermo. Flowers may be found on the lemon tree all the year round.
In making lemonade it is a mistake to pour boiling water upon sliced Lemons, because thus brewing an infusion of the peel, which is medicinal. The juice should be squeezed into cold water (previously boiled), adding to a quart of the same the juice of three lemons, a few crushed strawberries, and the cut up rind of one Lemon.
This fruit grows specially at Mentone, in the south of France; and a legend runs that Eve carried two or three Lemons with her away from Paradise, wandering about until she came to Mentone, which she found to be so like the Garden of Eden that she settled there, and planted her fruit.
The special dietetic value of Lemons consists in their potash salts, the citrate, malate, and tartrate, which are respectively antiscorbutic, and of assistance in promoting biliary digestion. Each fluid ounce of the fresh juice contains about forty-four grains of citric acid, with gum, sugar, and a residuum, which yields, when incinerated, potash, lime, and phosphoric acid. But the citric acid of the shops is not nearly so preventive or curative of scurvy as the juice itself.
The exterior rind furnishes a grateful aromatic bitter; and our word “zest” signifies really a chip of lemon peel or orange peel used for giving flavour to liquor. It comes from the Greek verb, “skizein,” to divide, or cut up.
The juice has certain sedative properties whereby it allays hysterical palpitation of the heart, and alleviates pain caused by cancerous ulceration of the tongue. Dr. Brandini, of Florence, discovered this latter property of fresh Lemon juice, through a patient who, when suffering grievously from that dire disease, found marvellous relief to the part by casually sucking a lemon to slake his feverish thirst. But it is a remarkable fact that the acid of Lemons is harmful and obnoxious to cats, rabbits, and other small animals, because it lowers the heart’s action in these creatures, and liquifies the blood; whereas, in man it does not diminish the coagulability of the blood, but proves more useful than any other agent in correcting that thin impoverished liquidity thereof which constitutes scurvy. Rapin extols lemons, or citrons, for discomfort of the heart:–
“Into an oval form the citrons rolled
Beneath thick coats their juicy pulp unfold:
From some the palate feels a poignant smart,
Which, though they wound the tongue, yet heal the heart.”
Throughout Italy, and at Rome, a decoction of fresh Lemons is extolled as a specific against intermittent fever; for which purpose a fresh unpeeled Lemon is cut into thin slices, and put into an earthenware jar with three breakfastcupfuls of cold water, and boiled down to one cupful, which is strained, the lemon being squeezed, and the decoction being given shortly before the access of fever is expected.
For a restless person of ardent temperament and active plethoric circulation, a Lemon squash (unsweetened) of not more than half a tumblerful is a capital sedative; or, a whole lemon may be made hot on the oven top, being turned from time to time, and being put presently when soft and moist into a teacup, then by stabbing it about the juice will be made to escape, and should be drunk hot. If bruised together with a sufficient quantity of sugar the pips of a fresh Lemon or Orange will serve admirably against worms in children. Cut in slices and put into the morning bath, a Lemon makes it fragrant and doubly refreshing.
Professor Wilhelm Schmole, a German doctor, has published a work of some note, in which he advances the theory that fresh Lemon juice is a kind of elixir vitae; and that if a sufficient number of Lemons be taken daily, life may be indefinitely prolonged. Lemon juice is decidedly beneficial against jaundice from passive sluggishness of the biliary functions; it will often serve to stay bleedings, when ice and astringent styptics have failed; it will prove useful when swallowed freely against immoderately active monthly fluxes in women; and when applied externally it signally relieves cutaneous itching, especially of the genitals.
Prize-fighters refresh themselves with a fresh cut Lemon between the rounds when competing in the Ring. Hence has arisen the common saying, “Take a suck of the Lemon, and at him again.”
For a relaxed sore throat, Lemon juice will help to make a serviceable gargle. By the heat of the sun it may be reduced to a solid state. For a cold in the head, if the juice of a ripe Lemon be squeezed into the palm of the hand, and strongly sniffed into the nostrils at two or three separate times, a cure will be promoted. Roast fillet of veal, with stuffing and lemon juice, was beloved by Oliver Cromwell.
For heartburn which comes on without having eaten sweet things, it is helpful to suck a thin slice of fresh Lemon dipped in salt just after each meal.
The Chinese practice of rubbing parts severely neuralgic with the wet surface of a cut Lemon is highly useful. This fruit has been sold within present recollection at half-a-crown each, and during the American war at five shillings.
The hands may be made white, soft, and supple by daily sponging them with fresh Lemon juice, which further keeps the nails in good order; and the same may be usefully applied to the roots of the hair for removing dandriff from the scalp.
The Candied Peel which we employ as a confection is got from one of the citrons (a variety of the lemon); whilst another of this tribe is esteemed for religious purposes in Jewish synagogues. These citrons are imported into England from the East; and for unblemished specimens of the latter which reach London, high prices are paid. One pound sterling is a common sum, and not infrequently as much as seventy shillings are given for a single “Citron of Law.” The fruit is used at the Feast of Tabernacles according to a command given in the Book of the Law; it is not of an edible nature, but is handed round and smelt by the worshippers as they go out, when they “thank God for all good things, and for the sweet odours He has given to men.” This citron is considered to be almost miraculously restorative, especially by those who regard it as the “tappnach,” intended in the text, “Comfort me with apples.” Ladies of the Orient, even now, carry a piece of its rind about them in a vinaigrette.
The citron which furnishes Candied Peel resembles a large juicy lemon, but without a nipple.
Virgil said of the fruit generally:–
“Media fert tristes succos, tardumque saporem
Fresh Lemon juice will not keep because of its mucilage, which soon ferments.
Sidney Smith, in writing about Foston, his remote Country Cure in Yorkshire, said it is “twelve miles from a Lemon.”
Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas FernieFiled under Ingredient | Tags: dandruff, digestion, fever, hands, heart, itching, jaundice, lemon, menstruation, neuralgia, palpitations, scurvy, sedative, ulcer, ulcers, vermifuge, worm, worms | Comment (0)
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 FernieFiled under Ingredient | Tags: aperient, astringent, corns, decoction, eyes, hangover, headache, headlice, ivy, menstruation, rheumatism, spleen, toothache, whooping cough | Comment (0)
The cultivated Hyssop, now of frequent occurrence in the herb-bed, and a favourite plant there because of its fragrance, belongs to the labiate order, and possesses cordial qualities which give it rank as a Simple. It has pleasantly odorous striped leaves which vary in colour, and possess a camphoraceous odour, with a warm aromatic bitter taste. This is of comparatively recent introduction into our gardens, not having been cultivated until Gerard’s time, about 1568, and not being a native English herb.
The Ussopos of Dioscorides, was named from azob, a holy herb, because used for cleansing sacred places. Hence it is alluded to in this sense scripturally: “Purge me with Hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm li. 7). Solomon wrote “of all trees, from the Cedar in Lebanon to the Hyssop that springeth out of the wall.” The healing virtues of the plant are due to a particular volatile oil which admirably promotes expectoration in bronchial catarrh and asthma. Hyssop tea is a grateful drink well adapted to improve the tone of a feeble stomach, being brewed with the green tops of the herb. The same parts of the plant are sometimes boiled in soup to be given for asthma. The leaves and flowers are of a warm pungent taste, and of an agreeable aromatic smell; therefore if the tops and blossoms are reduced to a powder and added to cold salad herbs they give a comforting cordial virtue.
There was formerly made a distilled water of Hyssop, which may still be had from some druggists, it being deemed a good pectoral medicine. In America an infusion of the leaves is used externally for the relief of muscular rheumatism, as also for bruises and discoloured contusions. The herb was sometimes called Rosemary in the East, and was hung up to afford protection from the evil eye, as well as to guard against witches.
To make Hyssop tea, one drachm of the herb should be infused in a pint of boiling water, and allowed to become cool. Then a wineglassful is to be given as a dose two or three times in the day.
Of the essential oil of Hyssop, from one to two drops should be the dose. Pliny said: “Hyssop mixed with figs, purges; with honey, vomits.” If the herb be steeped in boiling water and applied hot to the part, it will quickly remove the blackness consequent upon a bruise or blow, especially in the case of “black” or blood-shot eyes.
Parkinson says that in his day “the golden hyssop was of so pleasant a colour that it provoked every gentlewoman to wear them in their heads, and on their arms with as much delight as many fine flowers can give.” The leaves are striped conspicuously with white or yellow; for which reason, and because of their fragrance, the herb is often chosen to be planted on graves. The green herb, bruised and applied, will heal cuts promptly. Its tea will assist in promoting the monthly courses for women. Hyssop grows wild in middle and southern Europe.
The Hedge Hyssop (Gratiola officinalis), or Water Hyssop, is quite a different plant from the garden pot-herb, and belongs to the scrofula-curing order, with far more active medicinal properties than the Hyssop proper. The commonly recognized Hedge Hyssop bears a pale yellow, or a pale purple flower, like that of the Foxglove; and the whole plant has a very bitter taste. A medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the entire herb, of which from eight to ten drops may be taken with a tablespoonful of cold water three times in the day. It will afford relief against nervous weakness and shakiness, such as occur after an excessive use of coffee or tobacco. The title “gratiola,” is from dei gratiâ, “by the grace of God.”
The juice of the plant purges briskly, and may be usefully employed in some forms of dropsy. Its decoction is milder of action, and proves beneficial in cases of jaundice. In France the plant is cultivated as a perfume, and it is said to be an active ingredient in the famous Eau médicinale for gout.
Of the dried leaves from five to twenty-five grains will act as a drastic vermifuge to expel worms. The root resembles ipecacuanha in its effects, and in moderate quantities, as a powder or decoction, helps to stay bloody fluxes and purgings. The flowers are sometimes of a blood-red hue, and the whole plant contains a special essential oil.
“Whoso taketh,” says Parkinson, “but one scruple of Gratiola (Hedge Hyssop) bruised, shall perceive evidently his effectual operation and virtue in purging mightily, and that in great abundance, watery, gross, and slimy tumours.” Caveat qui sumpserit. On the principle of affinities, small diluted doses of the tincture, or decoction, or of the dried leaves, prove curative in cases of fluxes from the lower bowels, where irritation within the fundament is frequent, and where there is considerable nervous exhaustion, especially in chronic cases of this sort.Filed under Ingredient | Tags: asthma, bowels, bruise, bruises, catarrh, expectorant, gout, hyssop, jaundice, menstruation, pectoral, purgative, rheumatism, vermifuge | Comment (0)
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 FernieFiled under Ingredient | Tags: bowels, carminative, cataract, dropsy, earache, eye-wash, eyes, fennel, flatulence, menstruation, nursing, slimming, toothache | Comment (0)
“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
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 FernieFiled under Ingredient | Tags: antiseptic, asthma, bronchitis, cholera, consumption, cough, elbow, elecampane, gout, headache, indigestion, menstruation, sciatica | Comment (0)