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

Nervous Pill

December 28th, 2008

Alcoholic extract of the Ignatia Amara (St Ignatius bean) 30 grains; powdered gum arabic 10 grains. Make into 40 pills.

Dose: One pill to be taken an hour after breakfast, and one an hour before retiring at night. Half a pill is enough for young, or very old or very delicate persons. The pills may be easily cut if laid on a damp cloth for a few moments.

These pills will be found applicable in bad dyspepsia, nervous headache, sleeplessness, palpitation of the heart, confusion of thought, determination of blood to the head, failure of memory, and all other forms of general nervous debility, no matter of how long standing. Where a prominent advantage is discovered in two weeks from the commencement of the medicine, one a day will suffice until all are taken.

The extract is made by pulverizing the seed or bean, and putting it into alcohol from ten to fourteen days, then evaporating to the consistency for working into pill mass with the powdered gum.

Source: Dr Chase’s Recipes, or Information for Everybody, A.W. Chase

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: Lavender

August 16th, 2008

The Lavender of our gardens, called also Lavender Spike, is a well-known sweet-smelling shrub, of the Labiate order. It grows wild in Spain, Piedmont, and the south of France, on waysides, mountains, and in barren places. The plant was propagated by slips, or cuttings, and has been cultivated in England since about 1568. It is produced largely for commercial purposes in Surrey, Hertfordshire, and Lincoln. The shrub is set in long rows occupying fields, and yields a profitable fragrant essential oil from the flowering tops, about one ounce of the oil from sixty terminal flowering spikes. From these tops also the popular cosmetic lavender water is distilled. They contain tannin, and a resinous camphire, which is common to most of the mints affording essential oils. If a hank of cotton is steeped in the oil of Lavender, and drained off so as to be hung dry about the neck, it will prevent bugs and other noxious insects from attacking that part. When mixed with three-fourths of spirit of turpentine, or spirit of wine, this oil makes the famous Oleum spicoe, formerly much celebrated for curing old sprains and stiff joints. Lavender oil is likewise of service when rubbed in externally, for stimulating paralysed limbs–preferring the sort distilled from the flowering tops to that which is obtained from the stalks. Internally, the essential oil, or a spirit of Lavender made therefrom, proves admirably restorative and tonic against faintness, palpitations of a nervous sort, weak giddiness, spasms, and colic. It is agreeable to the taste and smell, provokes appetite, raises the spirits, and dispels flatulence; but the infusion of Lavender tops, if taken too freely, will cause griping, and colic. In hysteria, palsy, and similar disorders of debility, and lack of nerve power, the spirit of Lavender will act as a powerful stimulant; and fomentations with Lavender in bags, applied hot, will speedily relieve local pains. “It profiteth them much,” says Gerard, “that have the palsy if they be washed with the distilled water from the Lavender flowers; or are anointed with the oil made from the flowers and olive oil, in such manner as oil of roses is used.” A dose of the oil is from one to four drops on sugar, or on a small piece of bread crumb, or in a spoonful or two of milk. And of the spirit, from half to one teaspoonful may be taken with two tablespoonfuls of water, hot or cold, or of milk. The spirit of Lavender is made with one part of the essential oil to forty-nine parts of spirit of wine. For preparing distilled Lavender water, the addition of a small quantity of musk does much to develop the strength of the Lavender’s odour and fragrance. The essential oil of Lavandula latifolia, admirably promotes the growth of the hair when weakly, or falling off.

By the Greeks the name Nardus is given to Lavender, from Naarda, a city of Syria, near the Euphrates; and many persons call the plant “Nard.” St. Mark mentions this as Spikenard, a thing of great value The woman who came to Christ having an alabaster box of ointment of Spikenard, very precious “brake the box, and poured it on His head.” In Pliny’s time blossoms of the nardus sold for a hundred Roman denarii (or £3 2s. 6d.) the pound. This Lavender or Nardus, was likewise called Asarum by the Romans, because not used in garlands or chaplets. It was formerly believed that the asp, a dangerous kind of viper, made Lavender its habitual place of abode, so that the plant had to be approached with great caution.

Conserves of Lavender were much used in the time of Gerard, and desserts may be most pleasantly brought to the table on a service of Lavender spikes. It is said, on good authority, that the lions and tigers in our Zoological gardens, are powerfully affected by the smell of Lavender-water and become docile under its influence.

The Lavender shrub takes its name from the Latin lavare, “to wash,” because the ancients employed it as a perfume. Lavender tops, when dried, and placed with linen, will preserve it from moths and other insects.

The whole plant was at one time considered indispensable in Africa, ubi lavandis corporibus Lybes eâ utuntur; nec nisi decocto ejus abluti mane domo egrediuntur, “where the Libyans make use of it for washing their bodies, nor ever leave their houses of a morning until purified by a decoction of the plant.”

In this country the sweet-smelling herb is often introduced for scenting newly washed linen when it is put by; from which custom has arisen the expression, “To be laid up in Lavender.” During the twelfth century a washerwoman was called “Lavender,” in the North of England.

A tea brewed from the flowers is an excellent remedy for headache from fatigue, or weakness. But Lavender oil is, in too large a dose, a narcotic poison, and causes death by convulsions. The tincture of red Lavender is a popular medicinal cordial; and is composed of the oils of Lavender and rosemary, with cinnamon bark, nutmeg, and red sandal wood, macerated in spirit of wine for seven days; then a teaspoonful may be given for a dose in a little water, with excellent effect, after an indigestible meal, taking the dose immediately when feeling uneasy, and repeating it after half-an-hour if needed. An old form of this compound tincture was formerly famous as “Palsy Drops,” it being made from the Lavender, with rosemary, cinnamon, nutmeg, red sandal wood, and spirit. In some cases of mental depression and delusions the oil of Lavender proves of real service; and a few drops of it rubbed on the temples will cure nervous headache.

Shakespeare makes Perdita (Winter’s Tale) class Lavender among the flowers denoting middle age:

“Here’s flowers for you,
Hot Lavender: Mints: Savory: Marjoram;
The Marigold that goes to bed with the sun,
And with him rises, weeping: these are the flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.”

There is a broad-leaved variety of the Lavender shrub in France, which yields three times as much of the essential oil as can be got from our narrow-leaved plant, but of a second rate quality.

The Sea Lavender, or Thrift (Statice limonium) grows near the sea, or in salt marshes. It gets its name Statice from the Greek word isteemi (to stop, or stay), because of its medicinal power to arrest bleeding. This is the marsh Rosemary, or Ink Root, which contains (if the root be dried in the air) from fourteen to fifteen per cent. of tannin. Therefore, its infusion or tincture will prove highly useful to control bleeding from the lungs or kidneys, as also against dysentery; and when made into a gargle, for curing an ulcerated sore throat.

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

Sick Headache, Aromatic Spirits of Ammonia for

August 14th, 2008

“For a nervous headache there is nothing better for immediate relief than fifteen or
twenty drops of the aromatic spirits of ammonia.” This relieves the pain and quiets the nerves and stimulates the heart.

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

Ingredients: Marjoram

July 19th, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients: Betony

March 9th, 2008

Few, if any, herbal plants have been more praised for their supposed curative virtues than the Wood Betony (Stachys Betonica), belonging to the order of Labiates. By the common people it is often called Bitny. The name Betonica is from the Celtic “ben,” head, and “tonic,” good, in allusion to the usefulness of the herb against infirmities of the head. It is of frequent growth in shady woods and meadows, having aromatic leaves, and spikes (stakoi) of light purple flowers. Formerly it was held in the very highest esteem as a leading herbal simple. The Greeks loudly extolled its good qualities. Pliny, in downright raptures, styled it ante cunctas laudatissima! An old Italian proverb ran thus: Vende la tunica en compra la Betonia, “Sell your coat, and buy Betony;” whilst modern Italians, when speaking of a most excellent man, say, “He has as many virtues as Betony”–He piu virtù che Bettonica.

In the Medicina Britannica, 1666, we read: “I have known the most obstinate headaches cured by daily breakfasting for a month or six weeks on a decoction of Betony, made with new milk, and strained.”

Antonius Musa, chief physician to the Emperor Augustus, wrote a book entirely on the virtues of this herb. Meyrick says, inveterate headaches after resisting every other remedy, have been cured by taking daily at breakfast a decoction made from the leaves and tops of the Wood Betony. Culpeper wrote: “This is a precious herb well worth keeping in your house.” Gerard tells that “Betony maketh a man have a good appetite to his meat, and is commended against ache of the knuckle bones” (sciatica).

A pinch of the powdered herb will provoke violent sneezing. The dried leaves formed an ingredient in Rowley’s British Herb Snuff, which was at one time quite famous against headaches.

And yet, notwithstanding all this concensus of praise from writers of different epochs, it does not appear that the Betony, under chemical analysis and research, shows itself as containing any special medicinal or curative constituents. It only affords the fragrant aromatic principles common to most of the labiate plants.

Parkinson, who enlarged the Herbal of Gerard, pronounced the leaves and flowers of Wood Betony, “by their sweet and spicy taste, comfortable both in meate and medicine.” Anyhow, Betony tea, made with boiling water poured on the plant, is a safe drink, and likely to prove of benefit against languid nervous headaches; and the dried herb may be smoked as tobacco for relieving the same ailment. To make Betony tea, put two ounces of the herb to a quart of water over the fire, and let this gradually simmer to three half-pints. Give a wine-glassful of the decoction three times a day. A conserve may be made from the flowers for similar purposes. The Poet Laureate, A. Austin, mentions “lye of Betony to soothe the brow.” Both this plant, and the Water Betony — so called from its similarity of leaf — bear the name of Kernel-wort, from having tubers or kernels attached to the roots, and from being therefore supposed, on the doctrine of signatures, to cure diseased kernels or scrofulous glands in the neck; also to banish piles from the fundament.

But the Water Betony (Figwort) belongs not to the labiates, but to the Scrophulariaceoe, or scrofula-curing order of plants. It is called in some counties “brown-wort,” and in Yorkshire “bishopsleaves,” or, l’herbe du siège, which term has a double meaning — in allusion both to the seat in the temple of Cloacina (W.C.) and to the ailments of the lower body in connection therewith, as well as to the more exalted “See” of a Right Reverend Prelate. In old times the Water figwort was famous as a vulnerary, both when used externally, and when taken in decoction. The name “brown-wort” has been got either from the brown colour of the stems and flowers, or, more probably, from its growing abundantly about the “brunnen,” or public German fountains. Wasps and bees are fond of the flowers. In former days this herb was relied on for the cure of toothache, and for expelling the particular disembodied spirit, or “mare,” which visited our Saxon ancestors during their sleep after supper, being familiarly known to them as the “nightmare.” The “Echo” was in like manner thought by the Saxons to be due to a spectre, or mare, which they called the “wood mare.” The Water Betony is said to make one of the ingredients in Count Mattaei’s noted remedy, “anti-scrofuloso.” The Figwort is named in Somersetshire “crowdy-kit” (the word kit meaning a fiddle), “or fiddlewood,” because if two of the stalks are rubbed together, they make a noise like the scraping of the bow on violin strings. In Devonshire, also, the plant is known as “fiddler.”

An allied Figwort — which is botanically called nodosa, or knotted — is considered, when an ointment is made with it, using the whole plant bruised and treated with unsalted lard, a sovereign remedy against “burnt holes” or gangrenous chicken-pox, such as often attacks the Irish peasantry, who subsist on a meagre and exclusively vegetable diet, being half starved, and pent up in wretched foul hovels. This herb is said to be certainly curative of hydrophobia, by taking every morning whilst fasting a slice of bread and butter on which the powdered knots of the roots have been spread, following it up with two tumblers of fresh spring water. Then let the patient be well clad in woollen garments and made to take a long fast walk until in a profuse perspiration. The treatment should be continued for nine days. Again, the botanical name of a fig, ficus, has been commonly applied to a sore or scab appearing on a part of the body where hair is, or to a red sore in the fundament, i.e., to a pile. And the Figwort is so named in allusion to its curative virtues against piles, when the plant is made into an ointment for outward use, and when the tincture is taken internally. It is specially visited by wasps.

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

Ingredients: Basil

February 15th, 2008

The herb Sweet Basil (Ocymum Basilicum) is so called because “the smell thereof is fit for a king’s house.” It grows commonly in our kitchen gardens, but in England it dies down every year, and the seeds have to be sown annually. Botanically, it is named “basilicon,” or royal, probably because used of old in some regal unguent, or bath, or medicine.

This, and the wild Basil, belong to the Labiate order of plants. The leaves of the Sweet Basil, when slightly bruised, exhale a delightful odour; they gave the distinctive flavour to the original Fetter-Lane sausages.

The Wild Basil (Calamintha clinopodium) or Basil thyme, or Horse thyme, is a hairy plant growing in bushy places, also about hedges and roadsides, and bearing whorls of purple flowers with a strong odour of cloves. The term Clinopodium signifies “bed’s-foot flower,” because “the branches dooe resemble the foot of a bed.” In common with the other labiates, Basil, both the wild and the sweet, furnishes an aromatic volatile camphoraceous oil. On this account it is much employed in France for flavouring soups (especially mock turtle) and sauces; and the dry leaves, in the form of snuff, are used for relieving nervous headaches. A tea, made by pouring boiling water on the garden basil, when green, gently but effectually helps on the retarded monthly flow with women. The Bush Basil is Ocymum minimum, of which the leafy tops are used for seasoning, and in salads.

The Sweet Basil has been immortalised by Keats in his tender, pathetic poem of Isabella and the Pot of Basil, founded on a story from Boccaccio. She reverently possessed herself of the decapitated head of her lover, Lorenzo, who had been treacherously slain:–

“She wrapped it up, and for its tomb did choose
A garden pot, wherein she laid it by,
And covered it with mould, and o’er it set
Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.”

The herb was used at funerals in Persia. Its seeds were sown by the Romans with maledictions and curses through the belief that the more it was abused the better it would prosper. When desiring a good crop they trod it down with their feet, and prayed the gods it might not vegetate. The Greeks likewise supposed Basil to thrive best when sown with swearing; and this fact explains the French saying, Semer la Basilic, as signifying “to slander.” It was told in Elizabeth’s time that the hand of a fair lady made Basil flourish; and this was then planted in pots as an act of gallantry. “Basil,” says John Evelyn, “imparts a grateful flavour to sallets if not too strong, but is somewhat offensive to the eyes.” Shenstone, in his School Mistress’s Garden, tells of “the tufted Basil,” and Culpeper quaintly says: “Something is the matter; Basil and Rue will never grow together: no, nor near one another.” It is related that a certain advocate of Genoa was once sent as an ambassador to treat for conditions with the Duke of Milan; but the Duke harshly refused to hear the message, or to grant the conditions. Then the Ambassador offered him a handful of Basil. Demanding what this meant, the Duke was told that the properties of the herb were, if gently handled, to give out a pleasant odour; but that, if bruised, and hardly wrung, it would breed scorpions. Moved by this witty answer, the Duke confirmed the conditions, and sent the Ambassador honourably home.

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

Headaches in Childhood

January 28th, 2008

Headaches in childhood should always be looked upon as a matter for serious inquiry and care; for they may be excited by very many causes. Even the headaches of children are divided into various classes; thus there is the school headache, the headache which is peculiar to periods of rapid growth, the headache which is caused by bloodlessness and nervous exhaustion, and that which is peculiar to any strain. The exciting causes are generally excessive fatigue, exhaustion of mind or nerve, digestive disorder, changes in the weather, badly heated and ill-ventilated rooms, want of exercise, poverty of the blood, or disorder of the blood by various impurities developed in the system, over-work, excitement, undue exposure to heat or cold, colds in the nose and back of the throat, or decayed teeth.

Headaches caused by bloodlessness should give rise to careful investigation of the diet, and lead one as a rule to decide that plenty of blood-making food, such as meat broths, green vegetables, and iron tonics are required, while a great deal of outdoor exercise is needed. It must be remembered that not every pale-faced child is suffering from poverty of the blood, and that some who are well supplied with fat may have poor blood. If the child is really suffering in this way, the insides of the eyelids and gums are invariably of a pale yellowish colour; the colour of the lips and cheeks does not afford so good a test.

When a child complains of headache after study, or using the eyes over close work, such as writing, drawing, or sewing, it should certainly be taken to an oculist, for very often the use of glasses is imperative, owing to some defect in the eyes, which, not uncommonly, is that the sight of one eye is different to that of the other.

Children who indulge in over-eating or careless eating may be relieved either by spontaneous vomiting, or the mother should give an emetic or aperient. Headaches caused by chronic cold are, of course, only to be removed by treatment of this complaint, and the same may be said of those due to decayed teeth, or to the pressure on the nerves by over-crowding of the jaw.

Nervous headaches in the children of parents who suffer from rheumatism or gout depend much on the weather, and yield to anti-rheumatic treatment, especially warmth and warm bathing with the use of sulphur.

For headaches caused by dyspepsia, is is often desirable to peptonise the food, and to assist the stomach by small doses of camomile or calumba infusion before meals. Hysterical and imitative headaches are sometimes found in children of parents who suffer in a similar way, and in those accustomed to associate with people complaining of headache. In these cases the treatment is, of course, mainly moral; but the patient often also requires tonics, good food, gymnastics, bathing and outdoor exercise.

For the external treatment of headaches of most kinds hot foot baths, or mustard foot baths are of great service, with the application of a mustard plaster for a few minutes to the back of the neck; while to the seat of the pain menthol or chloral and camphor may be applied; and either hot or cold applications or gentle rubbing of the head, also often give immense relief.

Source: Home Notes, January 1895

Dr Clark’s Pills for Nervous Headache

January 8th, 2008

Socotrine aloes, powdered rhubarb, of each one teaspoonful; compound powder of cinnamon, one scruple; hard soap, half a teaspoonful; syrup enough to form the mass. To be divided into fifty pills, of which two will be sufficient for a dose; to be taken occasionally.

Source: Enquire Within Upon Everything