Conserve of Red Roses

August 13th, 2017

Doctor Glisson makes his conserve of red Roses thus: Boil gently a pound of red Rose leaves (well picked, and the Nails cut off) in about a pint and a half (or a little more, as by discretion you shall judge fit, after having done it once; The Doctors Apothecary takes two pints) of Spring water; till the water have drawn out all the Tincture of the Roses into it self, and that the leaves be very tender, and look pale like Linnen; which may be in a good half hour, or an hour, keeping the pot covered whiles it boileth. Then pour the tincted Liquor from the pale Leaves (strain it out, pressing it gently, so that you may have Liquor enough to dissolve your Sugar) and set it upon the fire by it self to boil, putting into it a pound of pure double refined Sugar in small Powder; which as soon as it is dissolved, put in a second pound; then a third, lastly a fourth, so that you have four pound of Sugar to every pound of Rose-leaves. (The Apothecary useth to put all the four pounds into the Liquor altogether at once,) Boil these four pounds of Sugar with the tincted Liquor, till it be a high Syrup, very near a candy height, (as high as it can be, not to flake or candy) Then put the pale Rose-leaves, into this high Syrup, as it yet standeth upon the fire, or immediately upon the taking it off the fire. But presently take it from the fire, and stir them exceeding well together, to mix them uniformly; then let them stand till they be cold; then pot them up. If you put up your Conserve into pots, whiles it is yet throughly warm, and leave them uncovered some days, putting them in the hot Sun or stove, there will grow a fine candy upon the top, which will preserve the conserve without paper upon it, from moulding, till you break the candied crust, to take out some of the conserve.

The colour both of the Rose-leaves and the Syrup about them, will be exceeding beautiful and red, and the taste excellent; and the whole very tender and smoothing, and easie to digest in the stomack without clogging it, as doth the ordinary rough conserve made of raw Roses beaten with Sugar, which is very rough in the throat. The worst of it is, that if you put not a Paper to lie always close upon the top of the conserve, it will be apt to grow mouldy there on the top; especially aprés que le pot est entamé.

The Conserve of Roses, besides being good for Colds and Coughs, and for the Lunges, is exceeding good for sharpness and heat of Urine, and soreness of the bladder, eaten much by it self, or drunk with Milk, or distilled water of Mallows, and Plantaine, or of Milk.

Source: The Closet Of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened, K. Digby

Ingredient: Pellitory

March 20th, 2015

A plant belonging to the order of Nettles, the Pellitory of the Wall, or Paritory–Parietaria, from the Latin parietes, walls–is a favourite Herbal Simple in many rural districts. It grows commonly on dry walls, and is in flower all the summer. The leaves are narrow, hairy, and reddish; the stems are brittle, and the small blossoms hairy, in clusters. Their filaments are so elastic that if touched before the flower has expanded, they suddenly spring from their in curved position, and scatter the pollen broadcast.

An infusion of the plant is a popular medicine to stimulate the kidneys, and promote a large flow of watery urine. The juice of the herb acts in the same way when made into a thin syrup with sugar, and given in doses of two tablespoonfuls three times in the day. Dropsical effusions caused by an obstructed liver, or by a weak dilated heart, may be thus carried off with marked relief. The decoction of Parietaria, says Gerard, “helpeth such as are troubled with an old cough.” All parts of the plant contain nitre abundantly. The leaves may be usefully applied as poultices.

But another Pellitory, which is more widely used because of its pungent efficacy in relieving toothache, and in provoking a free flow of saliva, is a distinct plant, the Pyrethrum, or Spanish Chamomile of the shops, and not a native of Great Britain, though sometimes cultivated in our gardens. The title “Purethron” is from pur, fire, because of its burning ardent taste. Its root is scentless, but when chewed causes a pricking sensation (with heat, and some numbness) in the mouth and tongue. Then an abundant flow of saliva, and of mucus within the cheeks quickly ensues. These effects are due to “pyrethrin” contained in the plant, which is an acid fixed resin; also there are present a second resin, and a yellow, acrid oil, whilst the root contains inulin, tannin, and other substances. When sliced and applied to the skin it induces heat, tingling, and redness. A patient seeking relief from rheumatic or neuralgic affections of the head and face, or for palsy of the tongue, should chew the root of this Pyrethrum for several minutes.

The “Pelleter of Spain” (Pyrethrum Anacyclus), was so styled, not because of being brought from Spain; but because it is grown there.

A gargle of Pyrethrum infusion is prescribed for relaxed uvula, and for a partial paralysis of the tongue and lips. The tincture made from the dried root may be most helpfully applied on cotton wool to the interior of a decayed tooth which is aching, or the milder tincture of the wall Pellitory may be employed for the same purpose. To make a gargle, two or three teaspoonfuls of the tincture of Pyrethrum, which can be had from any druggist, should be mixed with a pint of cold water, and sweetened with honey, if desired. The powdered root forms a good snuff to cure chronic catarrh of the head and nostrils, and to clear the brain by exciting a free flow of nasal mucus and tears–Purgatur cerebrum mansâ radice Pyrethri.

Incidentally, as a quaint but effective remedy for carious toothache, may be mentioned the common lady bird insect, Coccinella, which when captured secretes from its legs a yellow acrid fluid having a disagreeable odour. This fluid will serve to ease the most violent toothache, if the creature be placed alive in the cavity of the hollow tooth.

Gerard says this Pyrethrurn (Pellitory of Spain, or Pelletor) “is most singular for the surgeons of the hospitals to put into their unctions contra Neapolitanum morbum, and such other diseases that are cousin germanes thereunto.” The Parietaria, or Pellitory of the wall, is named Lichwort, from growing on stones.

Sir William Roberts, of Manchester, has advised jujubes, made of gum arabic and pyrethrum, to be slowly masticated by persons who suffer from acid fermentation in the stomach, a copious flow of alkaline saliva being stimulated thereby in the mouth, which is repeatedly swallowed during the sucking of one or more of the jujubes, and which serves to neutralise the acid generated within the stomach. Distressing heartburn is thus effectively relieved without taking injurious alkalies, such as potash and soda.

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

Dutch Remedy for Croup

December 21st, 2008

Goose oil, and urine, equal quantities.

Dose: From a tea to a table-spoon of the mixture, according to the age of the child. Repeat the dose every 15 minutes, if the first does not vomit in that time.

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

Ingredients: Parsley

December 13th, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients: Lentil

October 25th, 2008

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 Fernie

Ingredients: Broom

October 18th, 2008

The Broom, or Link (Cytisus scoparius) is a leguminous shrub
which is well known as growing abundantly on open places in our
rural districts. The prefix “cytisus” is derived from the name of a
Greek island where Broom abounded. It formerly bore the name of
Planta Genista, and gave rise to the historic title, “Plantagenet.”
A sprig of its golden blossom was borne by Geoffrey of Anjou in
his bonnet when going into battle, making him conspicuous
throughout the strife. In the Ingoldsby Legends it is said of our
second King Henry’s headdress:–

“With a great sprig of broom, which he bore as a badge in it,
He was named from this circumstance, Henry Plantagenet.”

The stalks of the Broom, and especially the topmost young twigs,
are purgative, and act powerfully on the kidneys to increase the
flow of urine. They contain chemically an acid principle,
“scoparin,” and an alkaloid, “sparteine.” For medical purposes
these terminal twigs are used (whether fresh or dried) to make a
decoction which is of great use in dropsy from a weak heart, but it
should not be given where congestion of the lungs is present. From
half to one ounce by weight of the tops should be boiled down in a
pint of water to half this quantity, and a wineglassful may be taken
as a dose every four or six hours. For more chronic dropsy,
a compound decoction of broom may be given with much
benefit. To make this, use broom-tops and dandelion roots, of each
half an ounce, boiling them in a pint of water down to half a pint,
and towards the last adding half an ounce of bruised juniper
berries. When cold, the decoction should be strained and a
wineglassful may be had three or four times a day. “Henry the
Eighth, a prince of famous memory, was wonte to drinke the
distilled water of broome flowers against surfeits and diseases
therefrom arising.” The flower-buds, pickled in vinegar, are
sometimes used as capers; and the roasted seeds have been
substituted for coffee. Sheep become stupefied or excited when by
chance constrained to eat broom-tops.

The generic name, Scoparius, is derived from the Latin word
scopa, a besom, this signifying “a shrub to sweep with.” It has
been long represented that witches delight to ride thereon: and in
Holland, if a vessel lying in dock has a besom tied to the top of its
mast, this advertises it as in search of a new owner. Hence has
arisen the saying about a woman when seeking a second husband,
Zij steetk’t dem bezen, “She hangs out the broom.”

There is a tradition in Suffolk and Sussex:–

“If you sweep the house with Broom in May,
You’ll sweep the head of the house away.”

Allied to the Broom, and likewise belonging to the Papilionaceous
order of leguminous plants, though not affording any known
medicinal principle, the Yellow Gorse (Ulex) or Furze grows
commonly throughout England on dry exposed plains. It covers
these during the flowering season with a gorgeous sheet of yellow
blossoms, orange perfumed, and which entirely conceals the
rugged brown unsightly branches beneath. Its elastic seed vessels
burst with a crackling noise in hot weather, and scatter the
seeds on all sides. “Some,” says Parkinson, “have used the flowers
against the jaundice,” but probably only because of their yellow
colour. “The seeds,” adds Gerard, “are employed in medicines
against the stone, and the staying of the laske” (laxitas,
looseness). They are certainly astringent, and contain tannin. In
Devonshire the bush is called “Vuzz,” and in Sussex “Hawth.”

The Gorse is rare in Scotland, thriving best in our cool humid
climate. In England it is really never out of blossom, not even after
a severe frost, giving rise to the well-known saying “Love is never
out of season except when the Furze is out of bloom.” It is also
known as Fursbush, Furrs and Whins, being crushed and given as
fodder to cattle. The tender shoots are protected from being eaten
by herbivorous animals in the same way as are the thistles and the
holly, by the angles of the leaves having grown together so as to
constitute prickles.

“‘Twere to cut off an epigram’s point,
Or disfurnish a knight of his spurs,
If we foolishly tried to disjoint
Its arms from the lance-bearing Furze.”

Linnoeus “knelt before it on the sod: and for its beauty thanked his
God.”

The Butcher’s Broom, Ruscus (or Bruscus) aculeatus, or prickly,
is a plant of the Lily order, which grows chiefly in the South of
England, on heathy places and in woods. It bears sharp-pointed,
stiff leaves (each of which produces a small solitary flower on its
upper surface), and scarlet berries. The shrub is also known as
Knee Hulyer, Knee Holly (confused with the Latin cneorum),
Prickly Pettigrue and Jews’ Myrtle. Butchers make besoms of its
twigs, with which to sweep their stalls or blocks: and these
twigs are called “pungi topi,” “prickrats,” from being used to
preserve meat from rats. Jews buy the same for service during the
Feast of Tabernacles; and the boughs have been employed for
flogging chilblains. The Butcher’s Broom has been claimed by the
Earls of Sutherland as the distinguishing badge of their followers
and Clan, every Sutherland volunteer wearing a sprig of the bush
in his bonnet on field days. This shrub is highly extolled as a free
promoter of urine in dropsy and obstructions of the kidneys; a pint
of boiling water should be poured on an ounce of the fresh twigs,
or on half-an-ounce of the bruised root, to make an infusion,
which may be taken as tea. The root is at first sweet to the taste,
and afterwards bitter.

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

Ingredients: St John’s Wort

August 2nd, 2008

The wild Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a frequent plant in our woods and hedgebanks, having leaves studded with minute translucent vesicles, which seem to perforate their structure, and which contain a terebinthinate oil of fragrant medicinal virtues.

The name Hypericum is derived from the two Greek words, huper eikon, “over an apparition,” because of its supposed power to exorcise evil spirits, or influences; whence it was also formerly called Fuga doemoniorum, “the Devil’s Scourge,” “the Grace of God,” “the Lord God’s Wonder Plant.” and some other names of a like import, probably too, because found to be of curative use against insanity. Again, it used to be entitled Hexenkraut, and “Witch’s Herb,” on account of its reputed magical powers. Matthiolus said, Scripsere quidam Hypericum adeo odisse doemones, ut ejus suffitu statim avolent, “Certain writers have said that the St. John’s Wort is so detested by evil spirits that they fly off at a whiff of its odour.”

Further names of the herb are “Amber,” “Hundred Holes,” and Sol terrestris, the “Terrestrial Sun,” because it was believed that all the spirits of darkness vanish in its presence, as at the rising of the sun.

For children troubled with incontinence of urine at night, and who wet their beds, an infusion, or tea, of the St. John’s Wort is an admirable preventive medicine, which will stop this untoward infirmity.

The title St. John’s Wort is given, either because the plant blossoms about St. John’s day, June 24th, or because the red-coloured sap which it furnishes was thought to resemble and signalise the blood of St. John the Baptist. Ancient writers certainly attributed a host of virtues to this plant, especially for the cure of hypochondriasis, and insanity. The red juice, or “red oil,” of Hypericum made effective by hanging for some months in a glass vessel exposed to the sun, is esteemed as one of the most popular and curative applications in Europe for excoriations, wounds, and bruises.

The flowers also when rubbed together between the fingers yield a red juice, so that the plant has obtained the title of Sanguis hominis, human blood. Furthermore, this herb is Medicamentum in mansâ intus sumptum, “to be chewed for its curative effects.”

And for making a medicinal infusion, an ounce of the herb should be used to a pint of boiling water. This may be given beneficially for chronic catarrhs of the lungs, the bowels, or the urinary passages, Dr. Tuthill Massy considered the St. John’s Wort, by virtue of its healing properties for injuries of the spinal cord, and its dependencies, the vulnerary “arnica” of the organic nervous system. On the doctrine of signatures, because of its perforated leaves, and because of the blood-red juice contained in the capsules which it bears, this plant was formerly deemed a most excellent specific for healing wounds, and for stopping a flow of blood:–

“Hypericon was there–the herb of war,
Pierced through with wounds, and seamed with many a scar.”

For lacerated nerves, and injuries by violence to the spinal cord, a warm lotion should be employed, made with one part of the tincture to twenty parts of water, comfortably hot. A salve compounded from the flowers, and known as St. John’s Wort Salve, is still much used and valued in English villages. And in several countries the dew which has fallen on vegetation before daybreak on St. John’s morning, is gathered with great care. It is thought to protect the eyes from all harm throughout the ensuing year, and the Venetians say it renews the roots of the hair on the baldest of heads. Peasants in the Isle of Man, are wont to think that if anyone treads on the St. John’s Wort after sunset, a fairy horse will arise from the earth, and will carry him about all night, leaving him at sunrise wherever he may chance to be.

The plant has a somewhat aromatic odour; and from the leaves and flowers, when crushed, a lemon-like scent is exhaled, whilst their taste is bitter and astringent. The flowers furnish for fabrics of silk or wool a dye of deep yellow. Those parts of the plant were alone ordered by the London Pharmacopoeia to be used for supplying in chief the medicinal, oily, resinous extractive of the plant.

The juice gives a red colour to the spirit of wine with which it is mixed, and to expressed oils, being then known as the Hypericum “red oil” mentioned above. The flowers contain tannin, and “Hypericum red.”

Moreover, this Hypericum oil made from the tops is highly useful for healing bed sores, and is commended as excellent for ulcers. A medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared with spirit of wine from the entire fresh plant, collected when flowering, or in seed, and this proves of capital service for remedying injuries to the spinal cord, both by being given internally, and by its external use. It has been employed in like manner with benefit for lock-jaw. The dose of the tincture is from five to eight drops with a spoonful of water two or three times a day.

This plant may be readily distinguished from others of the Hypericaceous order by its decidedly two edged stem. Sprigs of it are stuck at the present time in Wales over every outer door on the eve of St. John’s day; and in Scotland, milking is done on the herb to dispel the malignant enchantments which cause ropy milk.

Among the Christian saints St. John represents light; and the flowers of this plant were taken as a reminder of the beneficent sun.

Tutsan is a large flowered variety (Hypericum androsoemum) of the St. John’s Wort, named from the French toute saine, or “heal all,” because of its many curative virtues; and is common in Devon and Cornwall. It possesses the same properties as the perforate sort, but yields a stronger and more camphoraceous odour when the flowers and the seed vessels are bruised. A tincture made from this plant, as well as that made from the perforate St. John’s Wort, has been used with success to cure melancholia, and its allied forms of insanity. The seed-capsules of the Tutsan are glossy and berry-like; the leaves retain their strong resinous odour after being dried.

Tutsan is called also provincially “Woman’s Tongue,” once set g(r)owing it never stops; and by country folk in Ireland the “Rose of Sharon.” Its botanical name Androsoemum, andros aima, man’s blood, derived from the red juice and oil, probably suggested the popular title of Tutsan, “heal all,” often corrupted to “Touchen leaf.”

Gerard gives a receipt, as a great secret, for making a compound oil of Hypericum, “than which,” he says, “I know that in the world there is no better; no, not the natural balsam itself.” “The plant,” he adds, “is a singular remedy for the sciatica, provided that the patient drink water for a day or two after purging.” “The leaves laid upon broken shins and scabbed legs do heal them.”

The whole plant is of a special value for healing punctured wounds; and its leaves are diuretic. It is handsome and shrubby, growing to a height of two or three feet.

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

News: Home Remedies

March 6th, 2008

“At a time when federal advisories on drug risks and side effects are common and health-care costs often high, you might be tempted to turn to home remedies to treat your children.

Sometimes parents can soothe children’s symptoms just by using something from the pantry — perhaps learned from their mother or grandma.

“Each culture has its own little set of remedies that they use; it’s just part of the upbringing,” said Dr. Lynn Smitherman, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Full story: The Courier-Journal, March 6th 2008

Ingredients: Barley

February 17th, 2008

Hordeum Vulgare — common Barley — is chiefly used in Great Britain for brewing and distilling; but, it has dietetic and medicinal virtues which entitle it to be considered among serviceable simples. Roman gladiators who depended for their strength and prowess chiefly on Barley, were called Hordearii. Nevertheless, this cereal is less nourishing than wheat, and when prepared as food is apt to purge; therefore it is not made into bread, except when wheat is scarce and dear, though in Scotland poor people eat Barley bread. In India Barley meal is made into balls of dough for the oxen and camels. Pearl Barley is prepared in Holland and Germany by first shelling the grain, and then grinding it into round white granules. The ancients fed their horses upon Barley, and we fatten swine on this grain made into meal. Among the Greeks beer was known as barley wine, which was brewed without hops, these dating only from the fourteenth century.

A decoction of barley with gum arabic, one ounce of the gum dissolved in a pint of the hot decoction, is a very useful drink to soothe irritation of the bladder, and of the urinary passages. The chemical constituents of Barley are starch, gluten, albumen, oil, and hordeic acid. From the earliest times it has been employed to prepare drinks for the sick, especially in feverish disorders, and for sore lining membranes of the chest. Honey may be added beneficially to the decoction of barley for bronchial coughs. The French make “Orgeat” of barley boiled in successive waters, and sweetened at length as a cooling drink: though this name is now applied in France to a liqueur concocted from almonds.

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

Round and Pin Worms, Peach Leaf Tea for

February 1st, 2008

“Half an ounce of dried peach leaves may be infused in a pint of boiling water and a tablespoonful given for a dose three times a day.” They are laxative and exert a sedative influence over the nervous system. They have been frequently used for worms with reported success. An infusion is highly recommended in irritability of the bladder, in sick stomach and in whooping cough.

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