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Herbs & Oils
~ E ~
(Sambucus canadensis or nigra)
Also known as Ellhorn, Elderberry, Lady Elder, and Black Berried Elder. A Druid Sacred Tree. Sacred to the White Lady and Midsummer Solstice. The Druids used it to both bless and curse. In Chinese medicine, the leaves, stems, and roots are used to treat fractures and muscle spasms. The flowers treat colds, sore throats, hay fever, and arthritis, and act as a mild laxative. Named the "country medicine chest" for its many health uses, the Elderberry is also rich in European folklore.
The black elder (S. nigra) can be used as an insecticide in the garden aor to repel insects fromt he face and body. A simple infusion of the fresh leaf is made for this purpose. It can also be poured down mouse and mole holes. The berries are used for jam, wine, pies, and syrups. Medicinally, they help coughs, colic, diarrhea, sore throats, asthma, and flu. A pinch of cinnamon makes the tea more warming. The leaves are added to salves fro skin conditions. The flowers are infused for fevers, eruptive skin conditions such as measles, and severe bronchial and lung problems. A classic flu remedy is a mixture of elderflower, yarrow and peppermint teas. Keep the patient well covered, as the flowers promote sweating. Use two teaspoons of the herbs per cup of water, steep for twenty minutes, and take up to three cups a day.
Parts Used: Leaf, flower, and berry
Magical Uses: Elder wands can be used to drive out evil spirits or thought forms. Music on panpipes or flutes made of elder have the same power of the wands. A Dryad "Elder Mother" is said to live in the tree; she will haunt anyone who cuts down her wood. Stand or sleep under an elder on Midsummer Eve to see the King of the Faeries and his retinue pass by. The flowers are used in wish-fulfillment spells. The leaves , flowers, and berries ae strewn on aperson, place or thing to bless it. Wood is NOT to be burned as it is sacred to Hecate. Flowers are used for altar offerings. Hung over doorways and windows, it keeps evil from the house. Carry Elder to preserve against the temptation to commit adultery.
Use for: Money; Riches; Love; Blessings; Banishing; Releasing; Consecration; Cursing; Purification; Cleansing.
Perhaps the ultimate healing oil. The Eucalyptus genus comprises over 500 species of aromatic trees and shrubs with deciduous bark. The most common species, Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus) has a blue-gray trunk, blue-green juvenile leaves, green adult leaves, and white flower stamens. Eucalyptus leaves, scented of balsamic camphor, are used by aboriginals to bind wounds; the flower nectar gives honey; and the oil, distilled from the leaves and twigs, is used in medicines, aromatherapy, and perfumes. Eucalyptus oil is antiseptic, expectorant, and anti-viral, treats pulmonary tuberculosis, lowers blood sugar levels, and is useful for burns, catarrh and flu. The roots of Eucalyptus trees secrete a poisonous chemical, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants.
Parts Used: Leaf, twigs, wood, sap and essential oil
Magical Uses: Add to all healing blends. Apply (undiluted) to the body to relieve colds. Also used in purification mixtures. For protection, carry the leaves.
Aromatherapy Uses: Blue Gum: Burns; Blisters; Cuts; Herpes; Insect Bites; Lice; Skin Infections; Wounds; Muscular Aches and Pains; Poor Circulation; Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sprains; Asthma; Bronchitis; Catarrh; Cough; Sinusitis; Throat Infections; Chicken Pox; Colds; Epidemics; Flu; Measles; Cystitis; Leukorrhea; Nervous Debility; Headaches; Neuralgia; Insect Repellent. Key Qualities: Stimulating; Refreshing; Clearing; Purifying; Balsamic; Regulating.
Lemon Eucalyptus: (E. citriodora) Athlete's Foot and other Fungal Infections (such as Candida); Cuts; Dandruff; Herpes; Infectious Skin Conditions (such as Chicken Pox); Asthma; Laryngitis; Sore Throat; Colds; Fevers; Infectious Diseases; Insect Repellent. Key Qualities: Invigorating; Active; Stimulating.
A Druid sacred herb. This semiparasitic annual extracts its nutrients from the roots of certain grasses found in poor meadowland. It has tiny oval leaves and small, scallop-edged, white flowers with yellow spots and red veins, resembling a bloodshot eye. The slightly bitter leaves have been used in salads. A whole plant infusion or strained juice from crushed, fresh stems is a general eye tonic treating strain and infections, and is a popular cosmetic wash, giving sparkle to eyes. Its antiseptic, mildly astringent, inflammation-and phlegm-reducing properties ease the irritated eyes and runny nose of hay-fever and sinusitis.
Parts Used: Flower, leaf, and twigs
Magical Uses: In a tightly covered pot gently brew a handful of the herb in a pint of boiling water. Allow to stand overnight. Strain out the herb, squeezing as dry as possible. Store the liquid in a tightly sealed container away from sunlight and heat but not in the refrigerator. Drink a half teaspoon in a half cup of spring water or psychic herb tea to promote clairvoyance, clear the mind and improve memory.
Burn as incense for clairvoyance and divination. Carry when you need to see the truth in a matter.
Botanical: Echinacea angustifolia (DE CANDOLLE)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Black Sampson. Coneflower. Niggerhead. Rudbeckia. Brauneria pallida (Nutt.).
---Parts Used---Root, dried; also rhizome.
---Habitat---America, west of Ohio, and cultivated in Britain.
---Description---Named Echinacea by Linnaeus, and Rudbeckia, after Rudbeck, father and son, who were his predecessors at Upsala.
The flowers are a rich purple and the florets are seated round a high cone; seeds, four-sided achenes. Root tapering, cylindrical, entire, slightly spiral, longitudinally furrowed; fracture short, fibrous; bark thin; wood, thick, in alternate porous, yellowish and black transverse wedges, and the rhizome has a circular pith. It has a faint aromatic smell, with a sweetish taste, leaving a tingling sensation in the mouth not unlike Aconitum napellus, but without its lasting numbing effect.
---Constituents---Oil and resin both in wood and bark and masses of inulin, inuloid, sucrose, vulose, betaine, two phytosterols and fatty acids, oleic, cerotic, linolic and palmatic.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Echinacea increases bodily resistance to infection and is used for boils, erysipelas, septicaemia, cancer, syphilis and other impurities of the blood, its action being antiseptic. It has also useful properties as a strong alterative and aphrodisiac. As an injection, the extract has been used for haemorrhoids and a tincture of the fresh root has been found beneficial in diphtheria and putrid fevers.
Echinacea purpurea has similar properties to E. angustifolia; the fresh root of this is the part used.
See Cucumber (Squirting).
Botanical: Sambucus nigra (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Caprifoliaceae
Parts Used Medicinally
--Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Black Elder. Common Elder. Pipe Tree. Bore Tree. Bour Tree. (Fourteenth Century) Hylder, Hylantree. (Anglo-Saxon) Eldrum. (Low Saxon). Ellhorn. (German) Hollunder. (French) Sureau.
---Parts Used---Bark, leaves, flowers, berries.
The Elder, with its flat-topped masses of creamy-white, fragrant blossoms, followed by large drooping bunches of purplish-black, juicy berries, is a familiar object in English countryside and gardens. It has been said, with some truth, that our English summer is not here until the Elder is fully in flower, and that it ends when the berries are ripe.
The word 'Elder' comes from the Anglo-Saxon word aeld. In Anglo-Saxon days we find the tree called Eldrun, which becomes Hyldor and Hyllantree in the fourteenth century. One of its names in modern German - Hollunder - is clearly derived from the same origin. In Low-Saxon, the name appears as Ellhorn. Æld meant 'fire,' the hollow stems of the young branches having been used for blowing up a fire: the soft pith pushes out easily and the tubes thus formed were used as pipes - hence it was often called Pipe-Tree, or Bore-tree and Bour-tree, the latter name remaining in Scotland and being traceable to the Anglo-Saxon form, Burtre.
The generic name Sambucus occurs in the writings of Pliny and other ancient writers and is evidently adapted from the Greek word Sambuca, the Sackbut, an ancient musical instrument in much use among the Romans, in the construction of which, it is surmised, the wood of this tree, on account of its hardness, was used. The difficulty, however, of accepting this is that the Sambuca was a stringed instrument, while anything made from the Elder would doubtless be a wind instrument, something of the nature of a Pan-pipe or flute. Pliny records the belief held by country folk that the shrillest pipes and the most sonorous horns were made of Elder trees which were grown out of reach of the sound of cock-crow. At the present day, Italian peasants construct a simple pipe, which they call sampogna, from the branches of this plant.
The popular pop-gun of small boys in the country has often been made of Elder stems from which the pith has been removed, which moved Culpepper to declare: 'It is needless to write any description of this (Elder), since every boy that plays with a pop-gun will not mistake another tree for the Elder.' Pliny's writings also testify that pop-guns and whistles are manufactures many centuries old!
---History---A wealth of folk-lore, romance and superstition centre round this English tree. Shakespeare, in Cymbeline, referring to it as a symbol of grief, speaks slightingly of it as 'the stinking Elder,' yet, although many people profess a strong dislike to the scent of its blossom, the shrub is generally beloved by all who see it. In countrysides where the Elder flourishes it is certainly one of the most attractive features of the hedgerow, while its old-world associations have created for it a place in the hearts of English people.
In Love's Labour Lost reference is made to the common medieval belief that 'Judas was hanged on an Elder.' We meet with this tradition as far back in English literature as Langland's Vision of Piers Plowman (middle of the fourteenth century, before Chaucer):
'Judas he japed with Jewen silver
And sithen an eller hanged hymselve.'
Why the Elder should have been selected as a gallows for the traitor Apostle is, considering the usual size of the tree, puzzling; but Sir John Mandeville in his travels, written about the same time, tells us that he was shown 'faste by' the Pool of Siloam, the identical 'Tree of Eldre that Judas henge himself upon, for despeyr that he hadde, when he solde and betrayed oure Lord.' Gerard scouts the tradition and says that the Judas-tree (Cercis siliquastrum) is 'the tree whereon Judas did hange himselfe.'
Another old tradition was that the Cross of Calvary was made of it, and an old couplet runs:
'Bour tree - Bour tree: crooked rong
Never straight and never strong;
Ever bush and never tree
Since our Lord was nailed on thee.'
In consequence of these old traditions, the Elder became the emblem of sorrow and death, and out of the legends which linger round the tree there grew up a host of superstitious fancies which still remain in the minds of simple country folk. Even in these prosaic days, one sometimes comes across a hedge-cutter who cannot bring himself to molest the rampant growth of its spreading branches for fear of being pursued by ill-luck. An old custom among gypsies forbade them using the wood to kindle their camp fires and gleaners of firewood formerly would look carefully through the faggots lest a stick of Elder should have found its way into the bundle, perhaps because the Holy Cross was believed to have been fashioned out of a giant elder tree, though probably the superstitious awe of harming the Elder descended from old heathen myths of northern Europe. In most countries, especially in Denmark, the Elder was intimately connected with magic. In its branches was supposed to dwell a dryad, Hylde-Moer, the Elder-tree Mother, who lived in the tree and watched over it. Should the tree be cut down and furniture be made of the wood, Hylde-Moer was believed to follow her property and haunt the owners. Lady Northcote, in The Book of Herbs, relates:
'There is a tradition that once when a child was put in a cradle of Elder-wood, HyldeMoer came and pulled it by the legs and would give it no peace till it was lifted out Permission to cut Elder wood must always be asked first and not until Hylde-Moer has given consent by keeping silence, may the chopping begin.'
'Our forefathers also held the Ellhorn holy wherefore whoever need to hew it down (or cut its branches) has first to make request "Lady Ellhorn, give me some of thy wood and I will give thee some of mine when it grows in the forest" - the which, with partly bended knees, bare head and folded arms was ordinarily done, as I myself have often seen and heard in my younger years.'
Mr. Jones (quoted in The Treasury of Botany), in his Notes on Certain Superstitions in the Vale of Gloucester, cites the following, said to be no unusual case:
'Some men were employed in removing an old hedgerow, partially formed of Eldertrees. They had bound up all the other wood into faggots for burning, but had set apart the elder and enquired of their master how it was to be disposed of. Upon his saying that he should of course burn it with the rest, one of the men said with an air of undisguised alarm, that he had never heard of such a thing as burning Ellan Wood, and in fact, so strongly did he feel upon the subject, that he refused to participate in the act of tying it up. The word Ellan (still common with us) indicates the origin of the superstition.'
In earlier days, the Elder Tree was supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from witches, a popular belief held in widely-distant countries. Lady Northcote says:
'The Russians believe that Elder-trees drive away evil spirits, and the Bohemians go to it with a spell to take away fever. The Sicilians think that sticks of its wood will kill serpents and drive away robbers, and the Serbs introduce a stick of Elder into their wedding ceremonies to bring good luck. In England it was thought that the Elder was never struck by lightning, and a twig of it tied into three or four knots and carried in the pocket was a charm against rheumatism. A cross made of Elder and fastened to cowhouses and stables was supposed to keep all evil from the animals.'
In Cole's Art of Simpling (1656) we may read how in the later part of the seventeenth century:
'in order to prevent witches from entering their houses, the common people used to gather Elder leaves on the last day of April and affix them to their doors and windows,'
and the tree was formerly much cultivated near English cottages for protection against witches .
The use of the Elder for funeral purposes was an old English custom referred to by Spenser,
'The Muses that were wont green Baies to weave,
Now bringen bittre Eldre braunches seare.'
-------Shepheard's Calendar - November.
And Canon Ellacombe says that in the Tyrol:
'An Elder bush, trimmed into the form of a cross, is planted on a new-made grave, and if it blossoms, the soul of the person Iying beneath it is happy.'
Green Elder branches were also buried in a grave to protect the dead from witches and evil spirits, and in some parts it was a custom for the driver of the hearse to carry a whip made of Elder wood.
In some of the rural Midlands, it is believed that if a child is chastised with an Elder switch, it will cease to grow, owing, in this instance, to some supposed malign influence of the tree. On the other hand, Lord Bacon commended the rubbing of warts with a green Elder stick and then burying the stick to rot in the mud, and for erysipelas, it was recommended to wear about the neck an amulet made of Elder 'on which the sun had never shined.'
In Denmark we come across the old belief that he who stood under an Elder tree on Midsummer Eve would see the King of Fairyland ride by, attended by all his retinue. Folkard, in Plant-Lore, Legends and Lyrics, relates:
'The pith of the branches when cut in round, flat shapes, is dipped in oil, lighted, and then put to float in a glass of water; its light on Christmas Eve is thought to reveal to the owner all the witches and sorcerers in the neighbourhood';
'On Bertha Night (6th January), the devil goes about with special virulence. As a safeguard, persons are recommended to make a magic circle, in the centre of which they should stand, with Elderberries gathered on St. John's night. By doing this, the mystic Fern-seed may be obtained, which possesses the strength of thirty or forty men.'
This is a Styrian tradition.
The whole tree has a narcotic smell, and it is not considered wise to sleep under its shade. Perhaps the visions of fairyland were the result of the drugged sleep! No plant will grow under the shadow of it, being affected by its exhalations.
Apart from all these traditions, the Elder has had from the earliest days a firm claim on the popular affection for its many sterling virtues.
---Uses---Its uses are manifold and important. The wood of old trees is white and of a fine, close grain, easily cut, and polishes well, hence it was used for making skewers for butchers, shoemakers' pegs, and various turned articles, such as tops for angling rods and needles for weaving nets, also for making combs, mathematical instruments and several different musical instruments, and the pith of the younger stems, which is exceedingly light, is cut into balls and is used for electrical experiments and for making small toys. It is also considerably used for holding small objects for sectioning for microscopical purposes.
In a cutting of Worlidge's Mystery of Husbandry (dated 1675) the Elder is included in the 'trees necessary and proper for fencing and enclosing of Lands.'
'A considerable Fence,' he writes, 'may be made of Elder, set of reasonable hasty Truncheons, like the Willow and may be laid with great curiosity: this makes a speedy shelter for a garden from Winds, Beasts and suchlike injuries,'
though he adds and emphasizes with italics, 'rather than from rude Michers.'
The word 'micher' is now obsolete, but it means a lurking thief, a skulking vagabond. By clipping two or three times a year, an Elder hedge may, however, be made close and compact in growth. There is an old tradition that an Elder stake will last in the ground longer than an iron bar of the same size, hence the old couplet:
'An eldern stake and a black thorn ether (hedge)
Will make a hedge to last for ever.'
The leaves have an unpleasant odour when bruised, which is supposed to be offensive to most insects, and a decoction of the young leaves is sometimes employed by gardeners to sprinkle over delicate plants and the buds of the flowers to keep off the attacks of aphis and minute caterpillars. Moths are fond of the blossoms, but it was stated by Christopher Gullet (Phil. Trans., 1772, LXII) that if turnips, cabbages, fruit trees or corn be whipped with bunches of the green leaves, they gain immunity from blight. Though this does not sound a very practical procedure, there is evidently some foundation for this statement, as the following note which appeared in the Chemist and Druggist, January 6, 1923, would seem to prove:
'A liquid preparation for preventing, and also curing, blight in fruit trees, wherein the base is a liquid obtained by boiling the young shoots of the Elder tree or bush, mixed with suitable proportions of copper sulphate, iron sulphate, nicotine, soft soap, methylated spirit and slaked lime.'
The leaves, bruised, if worn in the hat or rubbed on the face, prevent flies settling on the person. In order to safeguard the skin from the attacks of mosquitoes, midges and other troublesome flies, an infusion of the leaves may be dabbed on with advantage. Gather a few fresh leaves from the elder, tear them from their stalks and place them in a jug, pouring boiling water on them and covering them at once, leaving for a few hours. When the infusion is cold, it is fit for use and should be at once poured off into a bottle and kept tightly corked. It is desirable to make a fresh infusion often. The leaves are said to be valued by the farmer for driving mice away from granaries and moles from their usual haunts.
The bark of the older branches has been used in the Scotch Highlands as an ingredient in dyeing black, also the root. The leaves yield, with alum, a green dye and the berries dye blue and purple, the Juice yielding with alum, violet; with alum and salt, a lilac color.
The botanist finds in this plant an object of considerable interest, for if a twig is partially cut, then cautiously broken and the divided portions are carefully drawn asunder, the spiral air-vessels, resembling a screw, may be distinctly seen.
Linnaeus observed that sheep eat the leaves, also cows, but that horses and goats refuse it. If sheep that have the foot-rot can get at the bark and young shoots, they will cure themselves. Elderberries are eaten greedily by young birds and pigeons, but are said to have serious effects on chickens: the flowers are reported to be fatal to turkeys, and according to Linnaeus, also to peacocks.
Elder Flowers and Elder Berries have long been used in the English countryside for making many home-made drinks and preserves that are almost as great favourites now as in the time of our great-grandmothers. The berries make an excellent home-made wine and winter cordial, which improves with age, and taken hot with sugar, just before going to bed, is an old-fashioned and wellestablished cure for a cold.
In Kent, there are entire orchards of Elder trees cultivated solely for the sake of their fruit, which is brought regularly to market and sold for the purpose of making wine. The berries are not only used legitimately for making Elderberry Wine, but largely in the manufacture of so-called British wines - they give a red color to raisin wine - and in the adulteration of foreign wines. Judiciously flavoured with vinegar and sugar and small quantities of port wine, Elder is often the basis of spurious 'clarets' and 'Bordeaux.' 'Men of nice palates,' says Berkeley (Querist, 1735), 'have been imposed on by Elder Wine for French Claret.' Cheap port is often faked to resemble tawny port by the addition of Elderberry juice, which forms one of the least injurious ingredients of factitious port wines. Doctoring port wine with Elderberry juice seems to have assumed such dimensions that in 1747 this practice was forbidden in Portugal, even the cultivation of the Elder tree was forbidden on this account. The practice proving so lucrative, however, is by no means obsolete, but as the berries possess valuable medicinal properties, this adulteration has no harmful results. The circumstances under which this was proved are somewhat curious. In 1899 an American sailor informed a physician of Prague that getting drunk on genuine, old, dark-red port was a sure remedy for rheumatic pains. This unedifying observation started a long series of investigations ending in the discovery that while genuine port wine has practically no anti-neuralgic properties, the cheap stuff faked to resemble tawny port by the addition of elderberry juice often banishes the pain of sciatica and other forms of neuralgia, though of no avail in genuine neuritis. Cases of cure have been instanced after many tests carried out by leading doctors in Prague and other centres abroad, the dose recommended being 30 grams of Elderberry juice mixed with 10 grams of port wine.
The Romans, as Pliny records, made use of it in medicine, as well as of the Dwarf Elder (Sambucus Ebulus). Both kinds were employed in Britain by the ancient English and Welsh leeches and in Italy in the medicine of the School of Salernum. Elder still keeps its place in the British Pharmacopoeia, the cooling effects of Elder flowers being well known. In many parts of the country, Elder leaves and buds are used in drinks, poultices and ointments.
It has been termed 'the medicine chest of the country people' (Ettmueller) and 'a whole magazine of physic to rustic practitioners,' and it is said the great physician Boerhaave never passed an Elder without raising his hat, so great an opinion had he of its curative properties. How great was the popular estimation of it in Shakespeare's time may be gauged by the line in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II, Sc. 3:
'What says my Æsculapius? my Galen? my heart of Elder?'
John Evelyn, writing in praise of the Elder, says:
'If the medicinal properties of its leaves, bark and berries were fully known, I cannot tell what our countryman could ail for which he might not fetch a remedy from every hedge, either for sickness, or wounds.'
'The buds boiled in water gruel have effected wonders in a fever, the spring buds are excellently wholesome in pattages; and small ale in which Elder flowers have been infused is esteemed by many so salubrious that this is to be had in most of the eatinghouses about our town.'
He also, as we have seen, recommends Elder flowers infused in vinegar as an ingredient of a salad, 'though the leaves are somewhat rank of smell and so not commendable in sallet they are of the most sovereign virtue,' and goes so far as to say, 'an extract composed of the berries greatly assists longevity. Indeed this is a catholicum against all infirmities whatever.'
Some twenty years before Evelyn's eulogy there had appeared in 1644 a book entirely devoted to its praise: The Anatomie of the Elder, translated from the Latin of Dr. Martin Blockwich by C. de Iryngio (who seems to have been an army doctor), a treatise of some 230 pages, that in Latin and English went through several editions. It deals very learnedly with the medicinal virtues of the tree - its flowers, berries, leaves, 'middle bark,' pith, roots and 'Jew's ears,' a large fungus often to be found on the Elder (Hirneola auricula Judae), the name a corruption of 'Judas's ear,' from the tradition, referred to above, that Judas hanged himself on the Elder. It is of a purplish tint, resembling in shape and softness the human ear, and though it occurs also on the Elm, it grows almost exclusively on Elder trunks in damp, shady places. It is curious that on account of this connexion with Judas, the fungus should have (as Sir Thomas Browne says) 'become a famous medicine in quinses, sore-throats, and strangulation ever since.' Gerard says, 'the jelly of the Elder otherwise called Jew's ear, taketh away inflammations of the mouth and throat if they be washed therewith and doth in like manner help the uvula,' and Salmon, writing in the early part of the eighteenth century, recommends an oil of Jew's ears for throat affections. The fungus is edible and allied species are eaten in China.
Evelyn refers to this work (or rather to the original by 'Blockwitzius,' as he calls him!) for the comprehensive statement in praise of the Elder quoted above. It sets forth that as every part of the tree was medicinal, so virtually every ailment of the body was curable by it, from toothache to the plague. It was used externally and internally, and in amulets (these were especially good for epilepsy, and in popular belief also for rheumatism), and in every kind of form - in rob and syrup, tincture, mixture, oil, spirit, water, liniment, extract, salt, conserve, vinegar, oxymel, sugar, decoction, bath, cataplasm and powder. Some of these were prepared from one part of the plant only, others from several or from all. Their properties are summed up as 'desiccating, conglutinating, and digesting,' but are extended to include everything necessary to a universal remedy. The book prescribes in more or less detail for some seventy or more distinct diseases or classes of diseases, and the writer is never at a loss for an authority - from Dioscorides to the Pharmacopoeias of his own day-while the examples of cures he adduces are drawn from all classes of people, from Emylia, Countess of Isinburg, to the tradesmen of Heyna and their dependants.
The interest in the Elder evinced about this period is also demonstrated by a tract on 'Elder and Juniper Berries, showing how useful they may be in our Coffee Houses,' which was published with The Natural History of Coffee, in 1682.
---Parts Used Medicinally---The bark, leaves, flowers and berries.
---Bark---The Inner Bark should be collected in autumn, from young trees. It is best dried in a moderate sun-heat, being taken indoors at night. When ready for use, it is a light grey, soft and corky externally, with broad fissures; white and smooth on the inner surface. The taste of the bark is sweetish at first, then slightly bitter and nauseous. It is without odour.
---Chemical Constituents---The active principle of the bark is a soft resin, and an acidViburnic acid, which has been proved identical with Valeric acid. Other constituents are traces of a volatile oil, albumen, resin, fat, wax, chlorophyll, tannic acid, grape sugar, gum, extractive, starch, pectin and various alkaline and earthy salts. (According to an analysis by Kramer in 1881.)
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The bark is a strong purgative which may be employed with advantage, an infusion of 1 OZ. in a pint of water being taken in wineglassful doses; in large doses it is an emetic. Its use as a purgative dates back to Hippocrates. It has been much employed as a diuretic, an aqueous solution having been found very useful in cardiac and renal dropsies. It has also been successfully employed in epilepsy.
An emollient ointment is made of the green inner bark, and a homoeopathic tincture made from the fresh inner bark of the young branches, in diluted form, relieves asthmatic symptoms and spurious croup of children - dose, 4 or 5 drops in water.
'The first shoots of the common Elder, boiled like Asparagus, and the young leaves and stalks boiled in fat broth, doth mightily carry forth phlegm and choler. The middle or inward bark boiled in water and given in drink wortheth much more violently; and the berries, either green or dry, expel the same humour, and are often given with good success in dropsy; the bark of the root boiled in wine, or the juice thereof drunk, worketh the same effects, but more powerfully than either the leaves or fruit. The juice of the root taken, causes vomitings and purgeth the watery humours of the dropsy.'
Though the use of the root is now obsolete, its juice was used from very ancient times to promote both vomiting and purging, and taken, as another old writer recommends, in doses of 1 to 2 tablespoonsful, fasting, once in the week, was held to be 'the most excellent purge of water humours in the world and very singular against dropsy.' A tea was also made from the roots of Elder, which was considered an effective preventative for incipient dropsy, in fact the very best remedy for such cases .
---Leaves---Elder leaves are used both fresh and dry.
Collect the leaves in June and July. Gather only in fine weather, in the morning, after the dew has been dried by the sun. Strip the leaves off singly, rejecting any that are stained or insect-eaten. Drying is then done in the usual manner.
---Constituents---Elder Leaves contain an alkaloid Sambucine, a purgative resin and the glucoside Sambunigrin, which crystallizes in white, felted needles. Fresh Elder leaves yield about 0.16 per cent of hydrocyanic acid. They also contain cane sugar, invertin, a considerable quantity of potassium nitrate and a crystalline substance, Eldrin, which has also been found in other white flowering plants.
De Sanctis claims to have isolated the alkaloid Coniine from the branches and leaves of Sambucus nigra. Alpes (Proc. Amer. Pharm. Assoc., 1900) found undoubted evidence of an alkaloid in the roots of the American Elder (S. Canadensis), its odour being somewhat similar to that of coniine and also suggesting nicotine. This alkaloid was evidently volatile. It appeared to be much less abundant in the dried roots after some months keeping. The fresh root of S. Canadensis has been found extremely poisonous, producing death in children within a short time after being eaten with symptoms very similar to those of poisoning by Hemlock (Conium).
---Uses---Elder leaves are used in the preparation of an ointment, Unguentum Sambuci Viride, Green Elder Ointment, which is a domestic remedy for bruises, sprains, chilblains, for use as an emollient, and for applying to wounds. It can be compounded as follows: Take 3 parts of fresh Elder leaves, 4 parts of lard and 2 of prepared suet, heat the Elder leaves with the melted lard and suet until the color is extracted, then strain through a linen cloth with pressure and allow to cool.
Sir Thomas Browne (1655) stated: 'The common people keep as a good secret in curing wounds the leaves of the Elder, which they have gathered the last day of April.' The leaves, boiled soft with a little linseed oil, were used as a healing application to piles. An ointment concocted from the green Elderberries, with camphor and lard, was formerly ordered by the London College of Surgeons to relieve the same complaint. The leaves are an ingredient of many cooling ointments: Here is another recipe, not made from Elder leaves alone, and very much recommended by modern herbalists as being very cooling and softening and excellent for all kinds of tumours, swellings and wounds: Take the Elder leaves 1/2 lb., Plantain leaves 1/4 lb., Ground Ivy 2 oz., Wormwood 4 oz. (all green); cut them small, and boil in 4 lb. of lard, in the oven, or over a slow fire; stir them continually until the leaves become crisp, then strain, and press out the ointment for use.
Oil of Elder Leaves (Oleum Viride), Green Oil, or Oil of Swallows, is prepared by digesting 1 part of bruised fresh Elder leaves in 3 parts of linseed oil. In commerce, it is said to be generally colored with verdigris.
Like the bark, the leaves are also purgative, but more nauseous than the bark. Their action is likewise expectorant, diuretic and diaphoretic. They are said to be very efficacious in dropsy. The juice of Elder leaves is stated by the old herbalists to be good for inflammation of the eyes, and 'snuffed up the nostrils,' Culpepper declares, 'purgeth the brain.' Another old notion was that if the green leaves were warmed between two hot tiles and applied to the forehead, they would promptly relieve nervous headache.
The use of the leaves, bruised and in decoction to drive away flies and kill aphides and other insect pests has already been referred to.
---Flowers---Elder Flowers are chiefly used in pharmacy in the fresh state for the distillation of Elder Flower Water, but as the flowering season only lasts for about three weeks in June, the flowers are often salted, so as to be available for distillation at a later season, 10 per cent of common salt being added, the flowers being them termed 'pickled.' They are also dried, for making infusions.
The flowers are collected when just in full bloom and thrown into heaps, and after a few hours, during which they become slightly heated the corollas become loosened and can then be removed by sifting. The Elder 'flowers' of pharmacy consist of the small white wheel-shaped, five-lobed, monopetalous corollas only, in the short tube of which the five stamens with very short filaments and yellow anthers are inserted. When fresh, the flowers have a slightly bitter taste and an odour scarcely pleasant. The pickled flowers, however, gradually acquire an agreeable fragrance and are therefore generally used for the preparation of Elder Flower Water. A similar change also takes place in the water distilled from the fresh flowers.
In domestic herbal medicines, the dried flowers are largely used in country districts and are sold by herbalists either in dried bunches of flowers, or sifted free from flower stalks. The flowers are not easily dried of good color. If left too late exposed to the sun before gathering, the flowers assume a brownish color when dried, and if the flower bunches are left too long in heaps, to cause the flowers to fall off, these heaps turn black. If the inflorescence is only partly open when gathered, the flower-heads have to be sifted more than once, as the flowers do not open all at the same time. The best and lightest colored flowers are obtained at the first sifting, when the flowers that have matured and fallen naturally are free from stalks, and dried quickly in a heated atmosphere. They may be very quickly dried in a heated copper pan, being stirred about for a few minutes. They can also be dried almost as quickly in a cool oven, with the door open. Quickness in drying is essential.
The dried flowers, which are so shrivelled that their details are quite obscured, have a dingy, brownish-yellow color and a faint, but characteristic odour and mucilaginous taste. As a rule, imported flowers have a duller yellow color and inferior odour and are sold at a cheaper rate. When the microscope does not reveal tufts of short hairs in the sinuses of the calyx, the drug is not of this species. Most pharmacopoeias specify that dark brown or blackish flowers should be rejected. This appearance may be due to their having been collected some time after opening, to carelessness in drying, or to having been preserved too long.
The flowers of the Dwarf Elder, a comparatively uncommon plant in this country are distinguished from those of the Common Elder by having dark red anthers.
The flowers of the Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and other composite plants, which have been used as adulterants of Elder flowers differ still more markedly in appearance and their presence in the drug is readily detected.
---Constituents---The most important constituent of Elder Flowers is a trace of semisolid volatile oil, present to the extent only of 0.32, per cent possessing the odour of the flowers in a high degree. It is obtained by distilling the fresh flowers with water, saturating the distillate with salt and shaking it with ether. On evaporating the ethereal solution, the oil is obtained as a yellowish, buttery mass. Without ether, fresh Elder flowers yield 0.037 per cent of the volatile oil and the dried flowers 0.0027 per cent only.
Elder Flower Water (Aqua Sambuci) is an official preparation of the British Pharmacopoeia, which directs that it be made from 100 parts of Elder Flowers distilled with 500 parts of water (about 10 lb. to the gallon), and that if fresh Elder flowers are not obtainable, an equivalent quantity of the flowers preserved with common salt be used. The product has at first a distinctly unpleasant odour, but gradually acquires an agreeably aromatic odour, and it is preferable not to use it until this change has taken place.
Elder Flower Water is employed in mixing medicines and chiefly as a vehicle for eye and skin lotions. It is mildly astringent and a gentle stimulant. It is the Eau de Sureau of the Continent, Sureau being the French name of the Eider.
Here is a recipe that can be carried out at home: Fill a large jar with Elder blossoms, pressing them down, the stalks of course having been removed previously. Pour on them 2 quarts of boiling water and when slightly cooled, add 1 1/2 OZ. of rectified spirits. Cover with a folded cloth, and stand the jar in a warm place for some hours. Then allow it to get quite cold and strain through muslin. Put into bottles and cork securely.
Elderflower Water in our great-grandmothers' days was a household word for clearing the complexion of freckles and sunburn, and keeping it in a good condition. Every lady's toilet table possessed a bottle of the liquid, and she relied on this to keep her skin fair and white and free from blemishes, and it has not lost its reputation. Its use after sea-bathing has been recommended, and if any eruption should appear on the face as the effect of salt water, it is a good plan to use a mixture composed of Elder Flower Water with glycerine and borax, and apply it night and morning.
Elder Flowers, if placed in the water used for washing the hands and face, will both whiten and soften the skin-a convenient way being to place them in a small muslin bag. Such a bag steeped in the bathwater makes a most refreshing bath and a wellknown French doctor has stated that he considers it a fine aid in the bath in cases of irritability of the skin and nerves.
The flowers were used by our forefathers in bronchial and pulmonary affections, and in scarlet fever, measles and other eruptive diseases. An infusion of the dried flowers, Elder Flower Tea, is said to promote expectoration in pleurisy; it is gently laxative and aperient and is considered excellent for inducing free perspiration. It is a good oldfashioned remedy for colds and throat trouble, taken hot on going to bed. An almost infallible cure for an attack of influenza in its first stage is a strong infusion of dried Elder Blossoms and Peppermint. Put a handful of each in a jug, pour over them a pint and a half of boiling water, allow to steep, on the stove, for half an hour then strain and sweeten and drink in bed as hot as possible. Heavy perspiration and refreshing sleep will follow, and the patient will wake up well on the way to recovery and the cold or influenza will probably be banished within thirty-six hours. Yarrow may also be added.
Elder Flower Tea, cold, was also considered almost as good for inflammation of the eyes as the distilled Elder Flower Water.
Tea made from Elder Flowers has also been recommended as a splendid spring medicine, to be taken every morning before breakfast for some weeks, being considered an excellent blood purifier.
Externally, Elder Flowers are used in fomentations, to ease pain and abate inflammation. An old writer tells us:
'There be nothing more excellent to ease the pains of the haemorrhoids than a fomentation made of the flowers of the Elder and Verbusie, or Honeysuckle in water or milk for a short time. It easeth the greatest pain. '
A lotion, too, can be made by pouring boiling water on the dried blossoms, which is healing, cooling and soothing. Add 2 1/2 drachms of Elder Flowers to 1 quart of boiling water, infuse for an hour and then strain. The liquor can be applied as a lotion by means of a linen rag, for tumours boils, and affections of the skin, and is said to be effective put on the temples against headache and also for warding off the attacks of flies.
A salad of young Elder buds, macerated a little in hot water and dressed with oil, vinegar and salt, has been used as a remedy against skin eruptions.
Elder Vinegar made from the flowers is an old remedy for sore throat.
A good ointment is also prepared from the flowers by infusion in warm lard, useful for dressing wounds, burns and scalds, which is used, also, as a basis for pomades and cosmetic ointments, Elder Flower Ointment (Unguentum Sambuci) was largely used for wounded horses in the War - the Blue Cross made a special appeal for supplies - but it is also good for human use and is an old remedy for chapped hands and chilblains. Equal quantities of the fresh flowers and of lard are taken, the flowers are heated with the lard until they become crisp, then strained through a linen cloth with pressure and allowed to cool. For use as a Face Cream, (This preparation is hardly suitable as a cosmetic, as lard induces the growth of hair. - EDITOR.) the directions are a little more elaborate, but it is essentially the same: Melt lard in a pan then add a small cup of cold water and stir well. Simmer with the lid on for about an hour and finally let the mixture boil with the lid off until all the water has evaporated; this will have happened when, on stirring, no steam arises. Place on one side to cool a little and then pass the liquid fat through a piece of muslin so that it may be well strained and free from impurities. Take a quantity of Elder Flowers equal in weight to the lard and place these in the lard. Then boil up the mixture again, keeping it simmering for a good hour. At the end of that time, strain the whole through a coarse cloth and when cool, the ointment will be ready for use.
Elder Flowers, with their subtle sweet scent, entered into much delicate cookery, in olden days. Formerly the creamy blossoms were beaten up in the batter of flannel cakes and muffins, to which they gave a more delicate texture. They were also boiled in gruel as a fever-drink, and were added to the posset of the Christening feast.
---Berries---All the other parts of the Elder plant, except the wood and pith, are more active than either the flowers or the fruit. Fresh Elder Berries are found to contain sudorific properties similar to those of the flowers, but weaker. Chemically, the berries furnish Viburnic acid, with an odorous oil, combined with malates of potash and lime. The fresh, ripe fruits contain Tyrosin.
The blue coloring matter extracted from them has been considerably used as an indication for alkalis, with which it gives a green color, being red with acids. (Alkalis redden some vegetable yellows and change some vegetable blues to green.) According to Cowie this coloring matter is best extracted in the form of a 20 per cent tincture from the refuse remaining after the expression of the first juice. The coloring matter is precipitated blue by lead acetate (National Standard Dispensatory, 1909.)
The Romans made use of Elderberry juice as a hair-dye, and Culpepper tells us that 'the hair of the head washed with the berries boiled in wine is made black.'
English Elder Berries, as we have seen, are extensively used for the preparation of Elder Wine. French and other Continental Elder berries, when dried, are not liked for this purpose, as they have a more unpleasant odour and flavour, and English berries are preferred. Possibly this may be due to the conditions of growth, or variety, or to the presence of the berries of the Dwarf Elder. Aubrey (1626-97) tells us that:
'the apothecaries well know the use of the berries, and so do the vintners, who buy vast quantities of them in London, and some do make no inconsiderable profit by the sale of them.'
They were held by our forefathers to be efficacious in rheumatism and erysipelas. They have aperient, diuretic and emetic properties, and the inspissated juice of the berries has been used as an alterative in rheumatism and syphilis in doses of from one to two drachms, also as a laxative in doses of half an ounce or more. It promotes all fluid secretions and natural evacuations.
For colic and diarrhoea, a tea made of the dried berries is said to be a good remedy.
In The Anatomie of the Elder, it is stated that the berries of the Elder and Herb Paris are useful in epilepsy. Green Elderberry Ointment has already been mentioned as curative of piles.
After enumerating many uses of the Elder, Gerard says:
'The seeds contained within the berries, dried, are good for such as have the dropsie, and such as are too fat, and would faine be leaner, if they be taken in a morning to the quantity of a dram with wine for a certain space. The green leaves, pounded with Deeres suet or Bulls tallow are good to be laid to hot swellings and tumors, and doth assuage the paine of the gout.'
Parkinson, physician to James I, also tells us of the same use of the seeds, which he recommends to be taken powdered, in vinegar.
Elderberry Wine has a curative power of established repute as a remedy, taken hot, at night, for promoting perspiration in the early stages of severe catarrh, accompanied by shivering, sore throat, etc. Like Elderflower Tea, it is one of the best preventives known against the advance of influenza and the ill effects of a chill. A little cinnamon may be added. It has also a reputation as an excellent remedy for asthma.
Almost from time immemorial, a 'Rob' (a vegetable juice thickened by heat) has been made from the juice of Elderberries simmered and thickened with sugar, forming an invaluable cordial for colds and coughs, but only of late years has science proved that Elderberries furnish Viburnic acid, which induces perspiration, and is especially useful in cases of bronchitis and similar troubles.
To make Elderberry Rob, 5 lb. of fresh ripe, crushed berries are simmered with 1 lb. of loaf sugar and the juice evaporated to the thickness of honey. It is cordial, aperient and diuretic. One or two tablespoonsful mixed with a tumblerful of hot water, taken at night, promotes perspiration and is demulcent to the chest. The Rob when made can be bottled and stored for the winter. Herbalists sell it ready for use.
'Syrup of Elderberries' is made as follows: Pick the berries when throughly ripe from the stalks and stew with a little water in a jar in the oven or pan. After straining, allow 1/2 oz. of whole ginger and 18 cloves to each gallon. Boil the ingredients an hour, strain again and bottle. The syrup is an excellent cure for a cold. To about a wineglassful of Elderberry syrup, add hot water, and if liked, sugar.
Both Syrup of Elderberries and the Rob were once official in this country (as they are still in Holland), the rob being the older of of the two, and the one that retained its place longer in our Pharmacopoeia. In 1788, its name was changed to Succus Sambuci spissatus, and in 1809 it disappeared altogether. Brookes in 1773 strongly recommended it as a 'saponaceous Resolvent' promoting 'the natural secretions by stool, urine and sweat,' and, diluted with water, for common colds. John Wesley, in his Primitive Physick, directs it to be taken in broth, and in Germany it is used as an ingredient in soups.
There were six or seven robs in the old London Pharmacopceia, to most of which sugar was added. They were thicker than syrups, but did not differ materially from them; among them was a rob of Elderberries, and both Quincy and Bates had a syrup of Elder.
An old prescription for sciatica (called the Duke of Monmouth's recipe) was compounded of ripe haws and fennel roots, distilled in white wine and taken with syrup of Elder.
The use of the juicy berries, not as medicine, but as a pleasant article of food, in jam, jelly, chutney and ketchup has already been described.
---Medicinal Preparations---Fluid extract of bark, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Water, B.P.
SOME ELDER WINE RECIPES
An old recipe for Elder Wine
'To every quart of berries put 2 quarts of water; boil half an hour, run the liquor and break the fruit through a hair sieve; then to every quart of juice, put 3/4 of a pound of Lisbon sugar, coarse, but not the very coarsest. Boil the whole a quarter of an hour with some Jamaica peppers, ginger, and a few cloves. Pour it into a tub, and when of a proper warmth, into the barrel, with toast and yeast to work, which there is more difficulty to make it do than most other liquors. When it ceases to hiss, put a quart of brandy to eight gallons and stop up. Bottle in the spring, or at Christmas. The liquor must be in a warm place to make it work.'
The following recipe for making Elder Wine is given by Mrs. Hewlett in a work entitled Cottage Comforts:
'If two gallons of wine are to be made, get one gallon of Elderberries, and a quart of damsons, or sloes; boil them together in six quarts of water, for half an hour, breaking the fruit with a stick, flat at one end; run off the liquor, and squeeze the pulp through a sieve, or straining cloth; boil the liquor up again with six pounds of coarse sugar, two ounces of ginger, two ounces of bruised allspice, and one ounce of hops; (the spice had better be loosely tied in a bit of muslin); let this boil above half an hour; then pour it off, when quite cool, stir in a teacupful of yeast, and cover it up to work. After two days, skim off the yeast, and put the wine into the barrel, and when it ceases to hiss, which will be in about a fortnight, paste a stiff brown paper over the bung-hole. After this, it will be fit for use in about 8 weeks, but will keep 8 years, if required. The bag of spice may be dropped in at the bung-hole, having a string fastened outside, which shall keep it from reaching the bottom of the barrel.'
'Strip the berries, which must be quite ripe, into a dry pan and pour 2 gallons of boiling water over 3 gallons of berries. Cover and leave in a warm place for 24 hours; then strain, pressing the juice well out. Measure it and allow 3 pounds of sugar, half an ounce of ginger and 1/4 ounce of cloves to each gallon. Boil for 20 minutes slowly, then strain it into a cask and ferment when lukewarm. Let it remain until still, before bunging, and bottle in six months.
'If a weaker wine is preferred, use 4 gallons of water to 3 gallons of berries and leave for two days before straining.
'If a cask be not available, large stone jars will answer: then the wine need not be bottled.'
Parkinson tells us that fresh Elder Flowers hung in a vessel of new wine and pressed every evening for seven nights together, 'giveth to the wine a very good relish and a smell like Muscadine.' Ale was also infused with Elder flowers.
The berries make good pies, if blended with spices, and formerly used to be preserved with spice and kept for winter use in pies when fruit was scarce. Quite a delicious jam can also be made of them, mixed with apples, which has much the flavour of Blackberry jam. They mix to very great advantage with Crab Apple, or with the hard Catillac cooking Pear, or with Vegetable Marrow, and also with Blackberries or Rhubarb.
The Fruit Preserving Section of the Food Ministry issued during the War the following recipe for Elderberry and Apple Jam: 6 lb. Elderberries, 6 lb. sliced apples, 12 lb. sugar. Make a pulp of the apples by boiling in water till soft and passing through a coarse sieve to remove any seeds or cores. The Elderberries should also be stewed for half an hour to soften them. Combine the Apple pulp, berries and sugar and return to the fire to boil till thick.
Equal quantities of Elderberries and Apples, 3/4 lb. sugar and one lemon to each pound of fruit. Strip the berries from the stalks, peel, core and cut up the apples and weigh both fruits. Put the Elderberries into a pan over low heat and bruise them with a wooden spoon. When the juice begins to flow, add the Apples and one-third of the sugar and bring slowly to the boil. When quite soft, rub all through a hair sieve. Return the pulp to the pan, add the rest of the sugar, the grated lemon rind and juice and boil for half an hour, or until the jam sets when tested. Remove all scum, put into pots and cover.
Elderberry Jam without Apples
To every pound of berries add 1/4 pint ofwater, the juice of 2 lemons and 1 lb. of sugar. Boil from 30 to 45 minutes, until it sets when tested. Put into jars and tie down when cold.
The Elderberry will, of course, also make a jelly. As it is a juicy fruit, it will not need the addition of any more liquid than, perhaps, a squeeze of lemon. Equal quantities of Elderberry juice and apple juice, and apple juice from peeling, will require 3/4 lb. of sugar to a pint. Elderberry Jelly is firm and flavorous, with a racy tang.
When the fruit is not quite ripe, it may be preserved in brine and used as a substitute for capers.
The juice from Elder Berries, too, was formerly distilled and mixed with vinegar for salad dressings and flavouring sauces. Vinegars used in former times frequently to be aromatized by steeping in them barberries, rosemary, rose leaves, gilliflowers, lavender, violets - in short, any scented flower or plant though tarragon is now practically the only herb used in this manner to any large extent.
Elderflower Vinegar is made thus:
Take 2 lb. of dried flowers of Elder. If you use your own flowers, pluck carefully their stalks from them and dry them carefully and thoroughly. This done, place in a large vessel and pour over them 2 pints of good vinegar. Close the vessel hermetically, keep it in a very warm place and shake them from time to time. After 8 days, strain the vinegar through a paper filter. Keep in well-stoppered bottles.
This is an old-world simple, but rarely met with nowadays, but worth the slight trouble of making. It was well-known and appreciated in former days and often mentioned in old books; Steele, in The Tatler, says: 'They had dissented about the preference of Elder to Wine vinegar.'
One seldom has the chance of now tasting the old country pickle made from the tender young shoots and flowers. John Evelyn, writing in 1664, recommends Elder flowers infused in vinegar as an ingredient of a salad. The pickled blossoms are said by those who have tried them to be a welcome relish with boiled mutton, as a substitute for capers. Clusters of the flowers are gathered in their unripened green state, put into a stone jar and covered with boiling vinegar. Spices are unnecessary. The jar is tied down directly the pickle is cold. This pickle is very good and has the advantage of costing next to nothing.
The pickle made from the tender young shoots - sometimes known as 'English Bamboo' - is more elaborate. During May, in the middle of the Elder bushes in the hedges, large young green shoots may be observed. Cut these, selecting the greenest, peel off every vestige of the outer skin and lay them in salt and water overnight. Each individual length must be carefully chosen, for while they must not be too immature, if the shoots are at all woody, they will not be worth eating, The following morning, prepare the pickle for the Mock Bamboo. To a quart of vinegar, add an ounce of white pepper, an ounce of ginger, half a saltspoonful of mace and boil all well together. Remove the Elder shoots from the salt and water, dry in a cloth and slice up into suitable pieces, laying them in a stone jar. Pour the boiling mixture over them and either place them in an oven for 2 hours, or in a pan of boiling water on the stove. When cold, the pickle should be green in color. If not, strain the liquor, boil it up again, pour over the shoots and repeat the process. The great art of obtaining and retaining the essence of the plant lies in excluding air from the tied-down jar as much as possible.
The young shoots can also be boiled in salted water with a pinch of soda to preserve the color, they prove beautifully tender, resembling spinach, and form quite a welcome addition to the dinner table.
Good use can be made of the berries for Ketchup and Chutney, and the following recipes will be found excellent.
2 lb. Elderberries, 1 large Onion, 1 pint vinegar, 1 teaspoonful salt, 1 teaspoonful ground ginger, 2 tablespoonsful sugar, 1 saltspoonful cayenne and mixed spices, 1 teaspoonful mustard seed.
Stalk, weigh and wash the berries; put them into a pan and bruise with a wooden spoon; chop the onion and add with the rest of the ingredients and vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer till it becomes thick. Stir well, being careful not to let it burn as it thickens. Put into jars and cover.
Rub 1 1/2 lb. of berries through a wire sieve, pound 1 onion, 6 cloves, 1/4 oz. ground ginger, 2 oz. Demerara sugar, 3 oz. stoned raisins, a dust of cayenne and mace, 1 teaspoonful salt and 1 pint vinegar. Put all in an enamelled saucepan and boil with the pulp of the berries for 10 minutes. Take the pan from the fire and let it stand till cold. Put the chutney into jars and cork securely.
1 pint Elderberries, 1 OZ. shallots, 1 blade mace, 1/2 oz. peppercorns, 1 1/2 OZ. whole ginger, 1 pint vinegar.
Pick the berries (which must be ripe) from the stalks, weigh and wash them. Put them into an unglazed crock or jar, pour over the boiling vinegar and leave all night in a cool oven. Next day, strain the liquor from the berries through a cloth tied on to the legs of an inverted chair and put it into a pan, with the peeled and minced shallots, the ginger peeled and cut up small, the mace and peppercorns. Boil for 10 minutes, then put into bottles, dividing the spices among the bottles. Cork well.
All parts of the tree - bark, leaves, flowers and berries - have long enjoyed a high reputation in domestic medicine. From the days of Hippocrates, it has been famous for its medicinal properties.
Botanical: Sambucus Ebulus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Caprifoliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Danewort. Walewort. Blood Hilder.
---Habitat---This species is found less frequently in hedges, but inclines to waste places, not infrequently among rubbish and the ruined foundations of old buildings. Gerard speaks of the 'dwarf Elder' growing 'in untoiled places plentifully in the lane at Kilburne Abbey by London.' The celebrated natural historian of Selborne speaks of the Dwarf Elder as growing among the rubbish and ruined foundations of the Priory. Spots of equal interest with that of Selborne might be cited as favourite haunts of the Dwarf Elder. It grows profusely near Carisbrooke Castle, below the timeworn walls of Scarborough Castle, beside the old Roman Watling Street, where it is crossed by the footpath from Norton to Wilton, in Northamptonshire.
Its old names, Danewort and Walewort (wal-slaughter) are supposed to be traceable to an old belief that it sprang from the blood of slain Danes - it grows near Slaughterford in Wilts, that being the site of a great Danish battle. Another notion is that it was brought to England by the Danes and planted on the battlefields and graves of their slain countrymen. In Norfolk it still bears the name of Danewort and Blood Hilder (Blood Elder). In accounting for its English name, Sir J. E. Smith says: 'Our ancestors evinced a just hatred of their brutal enemies, the Danes, in supposing the nauseous, fetid and noxious plant before us to have sprung from their blood.'
The Dwarf Elder differs from the Common Elder in being a herbaceous plant seldom exceeding 3 feet in height and dying back to the ground every year, spreading by underground shoots from the creeping root.
---Description---In leaf, flower and subsequent berry it bears a close resemblance to the Common Elder tree; the stem, however, is not woody and the leaves are distinguished by having a stipule, or small leaf, at the base of the finely-toothed leaflets, which are more numerous than those of the Common Elder, usually seven in number, larger and narrower and sometimes lobed. The flowers are whiter than those of the Common Elder, the corollas splashed with crimson on the outside and have dark red anthers. They are in bloom in July and August, have a less aromatic smell and do not always bring their fruit, a reddishpurple berry, to perfect ripeness in this country. The berries are, however, often present among imported Continental dried elderberries, the species being much more common there than here. In France it is called Hièble, in Germany Attichwurzel.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic, purgative.
The Dwarf Elder has more drastic therapeutic action than the Common Elder, and it is only the leaves, or very occasionally the berries, that are used medicinally. The leaves are probably more used in herbal practice than those of Sambucus nigra, and are ingredients in medicines for inflammation of both kidney and liver. The drug is said to be very efficacious in dropsy. Dwarf Elder Tea, which has been considered one of the best remedies for dropsy, is prepared from the dried roots, cut up fine or ground to powder; the drug was much used by Kneipp.
The root, which is white and fleshy, has a nauseous, bitter taste and a decoction from it is a drastic purgative. Culpepper states that the decoction cures the bites of mad dogs and adders. The root-juice has been employed to dye hair black.
The leaves, bruised and laid on boils and scalds, have a healing effect, and boiled in wine and made into a poultice were employed in France to resolve swellings and relieve contusions.
A rob made from the berries is actively purgative.
An oil extracted from the seeds has been used as an application to painful joints.
Mice and moles are said not to come near the leaves, and in Silesia there is a belief that it prevents some of the diseases of swine, being strewn in sties.
In the United States, the name of Dwarf Elder is given to an entirely different plant, viz. Aralia hispida (N.O. Araliaceae). In Homoeopathy, it is the American Dwarf Elder which is employed. There it is also called Bristly Sarsaparilla and Wild Elder. It is found growing in rocky places in North America.
The homoeopaths use a tincture from the fresh, root and a fluid extract is also prepared from it. It has sudorific, diuretic and alterative properties and is regarded as very valuable in dropsy, gravel and in suppression of urine. It is particularly recommended as a diuretic in dropsy, being more acceptable to the stomach than other remedies of the same class.
The 'Prickly Elder' of America is a closely related species, A. spinosa, also known as False Prickly Ash (the real Prickly Ash being Xanthoxylum Americanum), which contains a glucoside named Aralin. A decoction of the plant is used for the same purposes as Sarsaparilla.
The 'Poison Elder' of America is again no Elder, but a Sumach, its other name being Swamp Sumach, botanically Rhus verni (Linn.). It is a handsome shrub or small tree, 10 to 15 feet high, growing in swamps from Canada to California, with very small greenish flowers and small greenish-white berries and is extremely poisonous. It was confounded by the older botanists with R. vernicifera (D.C.) of Japan, the Japanese lacquer tree, which has similar poisonous properties. Its synonym is R. venenata (D.C.) See SUMACH.
There is a tree called the 'Box Elder,' mentioned by W. J. Bean in his Trees and Shrubs hardy in the British Isles; this is not a true Elder, however, but one of the American maples that yield sugar.
There are about half a dozen species of Elder hardy in Great Britain. The Common Elder (S. nigra), of which there are many varieties in cultivation, several of which are very ornamental, has leaves often very finely divided and jagged and variegated both with golden and silver blotches, a specially ornamental form being the 'golden cut-leaf Elder,' and another with yellow berries; the American Elder (S. canadensis) (the flowers of which, together with those of S. nigra are official in the United States Pharmacopoeia) has berries smaller and deep purple rather than black, the leaves broader and the flowers more fragrant than our Common Elder, it never attains tree size, but is a shrub of from 6 to 10 feet in height; the Blue Elder (S. glauca), the intensely blue berries of which are used as a food, when cooked, in California; the Red-berried Elder (S. racemosa), a pretty species, native of Central and Southern Europe, cultivated in shrubberies, which flowers in March and towards the end of summer is highly ornamental, with large oval clusters of bright scarlet berries, is so attractive to birds that their beauty is rarely seen, except when cultivated close to a house; the Red-berried American Elder (S. rubens and S. melanocarpa).
---Cultivation---The Elders like moisture and a loamy soil; given these, they are not difficult to accommodate. The pruning of the sorts grown for their foliage should be done before growth recommences.
They can be easily propagated by cuttings or by seeds, but the former being the most expeditious method is generally followed. The season for planting the cuttings is any time from September to March, and no more care is needed than to thrust the cuttings 6 to 8 inches into the ground. They will take root very quickly, and can be afterwards transplanted where they are to remain. If their berries are allowed to fall upon the ground, they will produce abundance of plants in the following summer.
Herbaceous kinds like S. Ebulus may be increased by dividing the rootstocks in early autumn or spring.
Elder, Dwarf, American
Botanical: Aralia hispida
Family: N.O. Araliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---New England to Virginia.
A perennial, stem 1 to 2 feet high, lower part woody and shrubby, beset with sharp bristles, upper part leafy and branching. Leaflets oblongovate, acute serrate, leaves bipinnate, many simple umbels, globose, axillary and terminal on long peduncles, has bunches of dark-colored nauseous berries, flowers June to September. The whole plant smells unpleasantly. Fruit, black, round, one-celled, has three irregular-shaped seeds. The bark is used medicinally, but the root is the more active.
This plant must not be confused with the English Dwarf Elder (Sambucus Ebulus).
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Sudorific in warm infusion - bark diuretic and alterative and has a special action on kidneys. Most valuable in urinary diseases, dropsy, gravel, suppression of urine, etc. A decoction of the fresh roots and juice are efficacious in dropsy, being a good hydragogue and also an emetic. Dose, decoction, 2 to 4 oz. three times daily.
Aralia spinosa. The berries are used in an infusion of wine or spirits, relieving violent colic and rheumatic pains. It contains the glucoside Araliin.
See also GINSENG
Botanical: Inula Helenium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Part Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Scabwort. Elf Dock. Wild Sunflower. Horseheal. Velvet Dock.
---Habitat---Elecampane is one of our largest herbaceous plants. It is found widely distributed throughout England, though can scarcely be termed common, occurring only locally, in damp pastures and shady ground. It is probably a true native plant in southern England, but where found farther north may have originally only been an escape from cultivation, as it was cultivated for centuries as a medicinal plant, being a common remedy for sicknesses in the Middle Ages. When present in Scotland, it is considered to have been introduced. Culpepper says:
'It groweth in moist grounds and shadowy places oftener than in the dry and open borders of field and lanes and other waste places, almost in every county in this country, but it was probably more common in his days, cultivation of it being still general.'
It is found wild throughout continental Europe, from Gothland southwards, and extends eastwards in temperate Asia as far as Southern Siberia and North-West India. As a plant of cultivation, it has wandered to North America, where it has become thoroughly naturalized in the eastern United States, being found from Nova Scotia to Northern Carolina, and westward as far as Missouri, growing abundantly in pastures and along roadsides, preferring wet, rocky ground at or near the base of eastern and southern slopes.
---Description---It is a striking and handsome plant. The erect stem grows from 4 to 5 feet high, is very stout and deeply furrowed, and near the top, branched. The whole plant is downy. It produces a radical rosette of enormous, ovate, pointed leaves, from 1 to 1 1/2 feet long and 4 inches broad in the middle velvety beneath, with toothed margins an borne on long foot-stalks; in general appearance the leaves are not unlike those of Mullein. Those on the stem become shorter andrelatively broader and are stem-clasping.
The plant is in bloom from June to August. The flowers are bright yellow, in very large, terminal heads, 3 to 4 inches in diameter, on long stalks, resembling a double sunflower. The broad bracts of the leafy involucre under the head are velvety. After the flowers have fallen, these involucral scales spread horizontally, and the removal of the fruit shows the beautifully regular arrangement of the little pits on the receptacle, which form a pattern like the engine-turning of a watch. The fruit is quadrangular and crowned by a ring of pale-reddish hairs - the pappus.
The plant springs from a perennial rootstock, which is large and succulent, spindleshaped and branching, brown and aromatic, with large, fleshy roots.
---History---Elecampane was known to the ancient writers on agriculture and natural history, and even the Roman poets were acquainted with it, and mention Inula as affording a root used both as a medicine and a condiment. Horace, in the Eighth Satire, relates how Fundanius first taught the making of a delicate sauce by boiling in it the bitter Inula, and how the Romans, after dining too richly, pined for turnips and the appetizing Enulas acidas:
'Quum rapula plenus
Atque acidas mavult inulas.'
Inula, the Latin classical name for the plant, is considered to be a corruption of the Greek word Helenion which in its Latinized form, Helenium, is also now applied to the same species. There are many fables about the origin of this name. Gerard tells us: 'It took the name Helenium of Helena, wife of Menelaus, who had her hands full of it when Paris stole her away into Phrygia.' Another legend states that it sprang from her tears: another that Helen first used it against venomous bites; a fourth, that it took the name from the island Helena, where the best plants grew.
Vegetius Renatus about the beginning of the fifth century, calls it Inula campana, and St. Isidore, in the beginning of the seventh, names it Inula, adding 'quam Alam rustici vocant.' By the mediaeval writers it was often written Enula. Elecampane is a corruption of the ante-Linnaean name Enula campana, so called from its growing wild in Campania.
The herb is of ancient medicinal repute, having been described by Dioscorides and Pliny. An old Latin distich celebrates its virtues: Enula campana reddit praecordia sana (Elecampane will the spirits sustain). 'Julia Augustus,' said Pliny, 'let no day pass without eating some of the roots of Enula, considered to help digestion and cause mirth.' The monks equally esteemed it as a cordial. Pliny affirmed that the root 'being chewed fasting, doth fasten the teeth,' and Galen that 'It is good for passions of the hucklebone called sciatica.'
Dioscorides, in speaking of Castus root, related that it is often mixed with that of Elecampane, from Kommagene (N.W. Syria) (Castus, derived from Aplotaxis auriculata (D.C.), is remarkably similar to Elecampane, both in external appearance and structure. It is an important spice, incense and medicine in the East.)
Elecampane is frequently mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon writings on medicine current in England prior to the Norman Conquest; it is also the 'Marchalan' of the Welsh physicians of the thirteenth century, and was generally known during the Middle Ages.
It was formally cultivated in all private herb-gardens, as a culinary and medicinal plant, and it is still to be found in old cottage gardens. Not only was its root much employed as a medicine, but it was also candied and eaten as a sweetmeat. Dr. Fernie tells us, in Herbal Simples:
'Some fifty years ago, the candy was sold commonly in London as flat, round cakes being composed largely of sugar and colored 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 exalations and bad air. The candy may still be had from our confectioners, but now containing no more of the plant Elecampane than there is of barley in Barley Sugar.'
In Denmark, Elecampane is sometimes called Elf-Doc. Here one sometimes comes across the name Elf-Dock locally, also Elfwort.
---Cultivation---Although Elecampane is no longer grown to any extent in England, it is still cultivated for medicinal use on the Continent, mainly in Holland, Switzerland and Germany, most largely near the German town of Colleda, not far from Leipzig.
It grows well in moist, shady positions, in ordinary garden soil, though it flourishes best in a good, loamy soil, the ground being damp, but fairly well-drained.
It is easily cultivated. Seeds may be sown, either when ripe, in cold frames, or in spring in the open. It is best propagated, however, by off-sets, taken in the autumn from the old root, with a bud or eye to each. These will take root very readily, and should be planted in rows about a foot asunder, and 9 or 10 inches distant in the rows. In the following spring, the ground should be kept clean from weeds, and if slightly dug in autumn, it will greatly promote the growth of the roots, which will be fit for use after two years' growth.
By cutting the root into pieces about 2 inches long, covering with rich, light, sandy soil and keeping in gentle heat during the winter, a good stock of plants can also be obtained.
---Part Used Medicinally---The drug, Elecampane (Radix Inulae), consists of both rhizome or rootstock and roots. It is official in most pharmacopoeias.
For pharmaceutical use, the root is taken from plants two to three years old; when more advanced it becomes too woody. As a rule, it is dug in autumn.
Elecampane root has at first a somewhat glutinous taste, but by chewing, it becomes subsequently aromatic, and slightly bitter and pungent; it has an agreeably aromatic somewhat camphoraceous orris-like odour.
The distinguishing characteristics of Elecampane root to be noted by a student are:
Its horny, not starchy nature.
The presence of oil-glands.
The absence of well-marked radiate structure in the wood.
Most roots of similar appearance to Elecampane root, such as Belladonna, Dandelion and Marsh Mallow, are devoid of oil-glands. Belladonna, moreover, is distinguished from it by its starchy fracture, Dandelion by its thick, ringed bark, and Marsh Mallow by its radiate structure and fibrous, easily separated bark. Pellitory root, which has oil-glands, is distinguished by its yellow, radiate wood, distinctive odour and taste.
---Constituents---The substance most abundantly contained in Elecampane root is Inulin, discovered by Valentine Rose, of Berlin in 1804, who named it Alantin (the German name of the plant is Alantwurzel; French, Aunée), but the title, Inulin proposed by Thompson, has been generally adopted. It has the same composition as starch, but stands to a certain extent in opposition to that substance, which it replaces in the rootsystem of Compositae. In living plants, Inulin is dissolved in the watery juice, and on drying, is deposited within the cells in amorphous masses, which in polarized light are inactive. It resembles starch in appearance, but differs from it in giving a yellow instead of a blue color with iodine, in being soluble in boiling water without forming a paste, and in being deposited unchanged from the hot aqueous solution when it cools. With nitric acid, Inula affords no explosive compound as starch does. By prolonged heat or the action of dilute acids, it is changed first to inulin then to levulin, and finally to levulose. It is only slightly changed to sugar by ferments.
Sachs showed in 1864 that by immersing the roots of Elecampane or Dahlia variabilis in alcohol and glycerine, Inulin may be precipitated in globular aggregations of needleshaped crystalline form.
Elecampane is the richest source of inulin.
The amount of Inulin varies according to the season, but is more abundant in the autumn. Dragendorff, who in 1870 made it the subject of a very exhaustive treatise, obtained from the root in October not less than 44 per cent, but in spring only 19 per cent, its place being taken by levulin, mucilage, sugar and several glucosides. Inulin is widely distributed in the perennial roots of Compositae, and has been met with in the natural orders Campanulacae, Goodeniaceae, Lobeliaceae, Stylidiaceae, and in the root of the White Ipecacuanha of Brazil, belonging to the order Violaceae.
Inulin is closely associated in Elecampane with Inulenin, obtainable in microscopical needles, slightly soluble in cold water and weak alcohol, and pseudo-inulin, which occurs in irregular granules, very soluble in hot water and weak, hot alcohol, but insoluble in cold alcohol.
It was observed by Le Febre as early as 1660 that when the root of Elecampane is subjected to distillation with water, a crystallizable substance collects in the head of the receiver, and similar crystals may be observed after carefully heating a thin slice of the root, and are often found as a natural efflorescence on the surface of roots that have been long kept. This was considered as a distinct body called Helenin, or Elecampane camphor, but the researches of Kallen in 1874 showed that it was resolvable into two crystallizable substances, which he named Helenin, a body without taste or color, and Alantcamphor, with a peppermint odour and taste. As a result of further research, it is considered that the crystalline mass yielded by Elecampane root on distillation with water in the proportion of 1 to 2 per cent, and associated with about 1 per cent volatile oil, consists of Alantolactone, iso-alantolactone and Alantolic acid, all of which are crystalline, nearly colorless, and have but slight odour and taste. The oily portion, Alantol, found in the distillate, a colorless liquid, has a peppermint-like odour.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic, tonic, diaphoretic, expectorant, alterative, antiseptic, astringent and gently stimulant. It was employed by the ancients in certain diseases of women, also in phthisis, in dropsy and in skin affections. Its name 'Scabwort' arose from the fact that a decoction of it is said to cure sheep affected with the scab, and the name 'Horse-heal' was given it from its reputed virtues in curing the cutaneous diseases of horses.
In herbal medicine it is chiefly used for coughs, consumption and other pulmonary complaints, being a favourite domestic remedy for bronchitis. It has been employed for many years with good results in chest affections, for which it is a valuable medicine as it is in all chronic diseases of the lungs asthma and bronchitis. It gives relief to the respiratory difficulties and assists expectoration. Its principal employment as a separate remedy is in acute catarrhal affections, and in dyspepsia attended with relaxation and debility, given in small, warm and frequently repeated doses. It is, however, seldom given alone, but most frequently preferred in combination with other medicines of a similar nature. It is best given in the form of decoction, the dose being a small teaspoonful, three times a day.
The root used not only to be candied and eaten as a sweetmeat, but lozenges were made of it. It has been employed in whooping-cough. It is sometimes employed in the form of a confection for piles, 1 OZ. of powdered root being mixed with 2 OZ. of honey.
In the United States, it has also been highly recommended, both for external use and internal administration in diseases of the skin, an old use of the root that has maintained its reputation for efficacy.
Externally applied, it is somewhat rubefacient, and has been employed as an embrocation in the treatment of sciatica, facial and other neuralgia.
Of late years, modern scientific research has proved that the claims of Elecampane to be a valuable remedy in pulmonary diseases has a solid basis. One authority, Korab, showed in 1885 that the active, bitter principle, Helenin, is such a powerful antiseptic and bactericide, that a few drops of a solution of 1 part in 10,000 immediately kills the ordinary bacterial organisms, being peculiarly destructive to the Tubercle bacillus. He gave it successfully in tubercular and catarrhal diarrhoeas, and praised it also as an antiseptic in surgery. In Spain it has been made use of as a surgical dressing. Obiol, in 1886, stated it to be an efficient local remedy in the treatment of diphtheria, the false membrane being painted with a solution of Helenin in Oil of Almond.
---Medicinal Preparations---Powdered root 1/2 to 1 drachm. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Inulin, 1 to 3 grains.
Gerard tells us: 'It is good for shortnesse of breathe and an old cough, and for such as cannot breathe unless they hold their neckes upright.' And further:
'The root of Elecampane is with good success mixed with counterpoisons, it is a remedy against the biting of serpents, it resisteth poison. It is good for them that are bursten and troubled with cramps and convulsions.'
And Culpepper says:
'The fresh roots of Elecampane preserved with sugar or made into a conserve, or a syrup, are very effectual to warm a cold windy stomach and stitches in the side, caused by spleen and to relieve cough, shortness of breath and wheezing in the lungs. The dried root made into powder and mixed with sugar, and taken, serveth the same purpose.... It cures putrid and pestilential fevers and even the plague. The roots and herbes beaten and put into new ale or beer and daily drunk, cleareth, strengtheneth and quickeneth the sight of the eyes. The decoction of the roots in wine or the juice taken therein, destroys worms in the stomach, and gargled in the mouth or the root chewed, fasteneth loose teeth and keeps them from putrefaction, and being drunk is good for spitting of blood, and it removes cramps or convulsions, gout, sciatica, pains in the joints, applied outwardly or inwardly, and is also good for those that are ruptured, or have any inward bruise. The root boiled well in vinegar, beaten afterwards and made into an ointment with hog's suet or oil of trotters is a most excellent remedy for scabs or itch in young or old the places also bathed and washed with the decoction doth the same; it heals putrid sores or cankers. In the roots of this herb lieth the chief effect for the remedies aforesaid. The distilled water of the leaves and roots together is very good to cleanse the skin of the face or other parts from any morphew, spots or blemishes and make it clear.'
In Switzerland (Neufchâtel) Elecampane root is one of the substances used in the preparation of Absinthe, and it was also used for the same purpose in France. It furnishes the Vin d'Aulnée of the French.
A blue dye has been extracted from the root, bruised and macerated and mingled with ashes and whortleberries.
'The wine wherein the root of Elicampane hath steept,' says Markham (Countrie Farme 1616), 'is singularly good against the colicke.' A cordial was made from the plant by infusing Elecampane roots with sugar and currants in white port.
Botanical: Ulmus campestris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Urticaceae
Elm Tree Disease
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Ulmi cortex. Broad-leaved Elm. Ulmus suberosa (var. Orme).
---Part Used---The dried inner bark.
---Habitat---Britain (not indigenous), Europe, Asia, North Africa.
---Description---The Elms belong to the natural order Ulmaceae and to the genus Ulmus, which contains sixteen species, widely distributed throughout the north temperate zone, extending southwards as far as Mexico in the New World and the Sikkim Himalayas in the Old World.
The Common Elm (U. campestris, Linn.) is a doubtful native of England, found throughout the greater part of Europe, in North Africa, Asia Minor and eastwards to Japan.
It grows in woods and hedgerows, especially in the southern part of Britain and on almost all soils, thriving even in the smoky atmosphere of a city, but on a rich loam, in open, low-lying situations, attaining a height of 60 to 100 feet, even rising to 130 and 150 feet. In the first ten years of its growth the tree grows to 25 or 30 feet.
The branches are numerous and spreading, the bark rugged, the leaves alternate, ovate rough, doubly toothed and unequal at the base. The flowers are small and numerous appearing in March and April before the leaves, in purplish-brown tufts. If one of these tufts be examined, it will be found to be a short axis with a number of leaves, beginning two-ranked at the base, and going over to five-ranked above. There are no flowers in the axils of the lowest ten or twelve, in the axils of the upper leaves are flowers arranged in small cymes (in some species), but in U. campestris reduced to the one central flower. Each flower has a four-toothed, bell-shaped calyx surrounding four stamens and a onecelled ovary bearing two spreading hairy styles.
The seed-vessels are green, membraneous, one-seeded and deeply cleft, but the tree seldom perfects its seed in England, being propagated by root-suckers from old trees, or by layers from stools.
In age and size, the Elm closely approaches the Oak, but is more varied, a large number of named varieties being grown.
---Uses---All parts of the tree, including sapwood, are used in carpentry. The wood is close-grained, free from knots, hard and tough, and not subject to splitting, but it does not take a high polish. It does not crack when once seasoned and is remarkably durable under water, being specially adapted for any purpose which requires exposure to wet. To prevent shrinking and warping in drying, it may be preserved in water or mud, but is best worked up soon after felling. In drying, the wood loses over 60 per cent of its weight.
Elm wood is used for keels and bilge planks, the blocks and dead eyes of rigging and ship's pumps, for coffins, wheels, furniture, turned articles and general carpenter's work. Elm boards are largely used for lining the interior of carts, wagons and wheelbarrows on account of the extreme toughness of the wood, and it has been much employed in the past for making sheds, most of the existing farm buildings being covered with elm. Previous to the common employment of cast-iron, Elm was very much in use for waterpipes.
The inner bark is very tough and is made into mats and ropes. The leaves and young shoots have been found a suitable food for live stock.
---Elm Tree Disease---Investigations are at present being carried on as to the cause of a mysterious disease, known as the Dutch Elm disease, which is killing trees on many parts of the Continent. It first appeared in North Brabant in 1919, and spread until it is now all over Holland. By 1921, the disease was rampant in Belgium and in the same year it appeared in France, while in 1924 and 1925 it spread widely in Germany and it is also working havoc in Spain.
The first sign of the disease in trees up to thirty years old is a mass of dry twigs and leaves in the crown while the other parts are still green. Within a week, all the leaves of the tree may fall, or the leaves on one side of the tree may remain fresh, while on the other side they fall off. No cure has yet been discovered, and the tree eventually dies. Most investigators consider that the disease is caused by a fungus (Graphium ulmus), the infection being carried by spores blown from one tree to another.
To prevent the importation into Britain of this mysterious disease, the Ministry of Agriculture, early in 1927, prohibited live elms from the European mainland from being landed in England and Wales.
---Constituents---Analyses of Elm wood show 47.8 per cent of lime, 21.9 of potash and 13.7 of soda.
A peculiar vegetable principle, called Ulmin or Ulmic Acid, was first discovered in the gummy substance which spontaneously exudes in summer from the bark of the Common Elm, becoming by the action of the air a dark-brown, almost black substance, without smell or taste, insoluble in cold sparingly soluble in boiling water, which it colors yellowish-brown, soluble in alcohol and readily dissolved by alkaline solutions.
The inner bark is very mucilaginous, and contains a little tannic acid which gives it a somewhat bitter and slightly astringent taste, it also contains a great deal of starch.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Tonic, demulcent, astringent and diuretic. Wasformerly employed for the preparation of an antiscorbutic decoction recommended in cutaneous diseases of a leprous character, such as ringworm. It was applied both externally and internally. Under the title of Ulmus the dried inner bark was official in the British Pharmacopoeia of 1864 and 1867 directions for the preparation of Decoc. Ulmi being as follows: Elm Bark 1 part, water 8 parts; boil for 10 minutes, strain, make up to 8 parts.
A homoeopathic tincture is made of the inner bark, and used as an astringent.
Fluid extract, dose 2 to 4 oz. three or four times daily.
A medicinal tea was also formerly made from the flowers.
In Persia, Italy and the south of France, galls, sometimes the size of a fist, are frequently produced on the leaves. They contain a clear water called eau d'orme, which is sweet and viscid, and has been recommended to wash wounds, contusions and sore eyes. Culpepper tells us:
'the water that is found in the bladders on the leaves of the elm-tree is very effectual to cleanse the skin and make it fair.'
Towards autumn, these galls dry, the insects in them die and there is found a residue in the form of a yellow or blackish balsam, called beaume d'ormeau, which has been recommended for diseases of the chest.
A variety of the Common Elm, the CORKBARKED ELM (U. campestris, var. suberosa), is distinguished chiefly by its thick, deeplyfissured bark, the corky excrescences along the branchlets causing them to appear much thicker than they really are. A North American species with this feature most pronounced is U. alata, which well deserves its name of the WINGED ELM.
The SCOTCH ELM, or WYCH ELM (U. montana, With. - formerly called U. glabra, Huds.), is indigenous to Britain and is the common Elm of the northern part of the island.
It is a beautiful tree, both in form and foliage, usually attaining a height of about 50 feet, though tall-growing specimens have been known to attain 120 feet.
It has drooping branches and a smoother thinner bark than U. campestris, its leaves equally rough on the upper surface, though rather downy beneath, are longer, wider and more tapering and more deeply notched. A further distinction is that whereas the seeds of the Common Elm are placed near the end of their oblong envelope, those of the Wych Elm are set in the centre of their envelope. Moreover, the Common Elm has a profuse undergrowth of young shoots round the base of the trunk and few are to be seen round that of the Wych Elm. This is probably the 'French Elm' of Evelyn. An upright form of it is called the 'Cornish Elm.'
The wood, though more porous than that of the Common Elm, is tough and hardy when properly seasoned, and being very flexible when steamed, is well adapted for boat-building, though for the purposes of the wheelwright and millwright is inferior to that of the Common Elm. Branches of Wych Elm were formerly used for making bows and when forked were employed as divining rods. The bark of the young limbs is very tough and flexible, and is often stripped off in long ribands and used in Wales for securing thatch and other similar purposes.
On the leaves of U. chenensis, a number of galls are produced, which are used by the Chinese for tanning leather and dyeing.
Botanical: Ulmus fulva (MICH.)
Family: N.O. Urticaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Red Elm. Moose Elm. Indian Elm.
---Part Used---The inner bark.
---Habitat---The United States, Canada.
---Description---The Slippery Elm is a small tree abundant in various parts of North America.
The branches are very rough, the leaves long, unequally toothed, rough with hairs on both sides, the leaf-buds covered with a dense yellow Wool. The flowers are stalkless.
The inner bark has important medicinal value and is an official drug of the United States Pharmacopoeia.
The bark, which is the only part used, is collected in spring from the bole and larger branches and dried. Large quantities are collected, especially in the lower part of the state of Michigan. As the wood has no commercial value, the tree is fully stripped and consequently dies.
The bark as it appears in commerce for use in medicine consists only of the inner bark or bast and is sold in flat pieces 2 to 3 feet long and several inches wide, but only about 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch in thickness. It is very tough and flexible, of a fine fibrous texture, finely striated longitudinally on both surfaces, the outer surface reddish-yellow, with patches of reddish brown, which are part of the outer bark adhering to the inner bast. It has an odour like Fenugreek and a very mucilaginous, insipid taste. The strips can be bent double without breaking: if broken, the rough fracture is mealy, strongly but finely fibrous. The clean transverse section shows numerous medullary rays and altemate bands of bast parenchyma, thus giving it a chequered appearance. A section moistened and left for a few minutes, and again examined, shows large swollen mucilage cells.
The powdered bark is sold in two forms: a coarse powder for use as poultices and a fine powder for making a mucilaginous drink. The disintegrated bark forms, when moistened, a flexible and spongy tissue, which is easily moulded into pessaries, teats, and suppositories.
It is recommended that ten-year-old bark should be used.
The powder should be greyish or fawncolored. If dark or reddish, good results will not be obtained. The powdered bark is said to be often adulterated with damaged flour and other starchy substances.
---Constituents---The principal constituent of the bark is the mucilage contained in large cells in the bast. This mucilage is very similar to that found in linseed. It is precipitated by solutions of acetate and subacetate of lead, although not by alcohol The mucilage does not dissolve, but only swells in water and is so abundant that 10 grains of the powdered bark will make a thick jelly with an ounce of water.
Microscopic examination of the tissue of the bark shows round starch grains and very characteristic twin crystals of Calcium oxalate.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Demulcent, emollient, expectorant, diuretic, nutritive. The bark of this American Elm, though not in this country as in the United States an official drug, is considered one of the most valuable remedies in herbal practice, the abundant mucilage it contains having wonderfully strengthening and healing qualities.
It not only has a most soothing and healing action on all the parts it comes in contact with, but in addition possesses as much nutrition as is contained in oatmeal, and when made into gruel forms a wholesome and sustaining food for infants and invalids. It forms the basis of many patent foods.
Slippery Elm Food is generally made by mixing a teaspoonful of the powder into a thin and perfectly smooth paste with cold water and then pouring on a pint of boiling water, steadily stirring meanwhile. It can, if desired, be flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg or lemon rind.
This makes an excellent drink in cases of irritation of the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines, and taken at night will induce sleep.
Another mode of preparation is to beat up an egg with a teaspoonful of the powdered bark, pouring boiling milk over it and sweetening it.
Taken unsweetened, three times a day, Elm Food gives excellent results in gastritis, gastric catarrh, mucous colitis and enteritis, being tolerated by the stomach when all other foods fail, and is of great value in bronchitis, bleeding from the lungs and consumption (being most healing to the lungs), soothing a cough and building up and preventing wasting.
A Slippery Elm compound excellent for coughs is made as follows: Cut obliquely one or more ounces of bark into pieces about the thickness of a match; add a pinch of Cayenne flavour with a slice of lemon and sweeten, infusing the whole in a pint of boiling water and letting it stand for 25 minutes. Take this frequently in small doses: for a consumptive patient, about a pint a day is recommended. It is considered one of the best remedies that can be given as it combines both demulcent and stimulating properties. Being mucilaginous, it rolls up the mucous material so troublesome to the patient and passes it down through the intestines.
In typhoid fever, the Slippery Elm drink, prepared as for coughs, is recommended, serving a threefold purpose, to cleanse, heal and strengthen, the patient being allowed to drink as much as desired until thirst has abated, and other remedies can be used. If the patient is not thirsty, a dose of 2 large tablespoonfuls every hour for an adult has been prescribed.
The bark is an ingredient in various lung medicines. A valuable remedy for Bronchitis and all diseases of the throat and lungs is compounded as follows: 1 teaspoonful Flax seed, 1 OZ. Slippery Elm bark, 1 OZ. Thoroughwort, 1 stick Liquorice, 1 quart water. Simmer slowly for 20 minutes. Strain and add 1 pint of the best vinegar and 1/2 pint of sugar. When cold, bottle. Dose: 1 tablespoonful two or three times a day.
In Pleurisy, the following is also recommended: Take 2 oz. each of Pleurisy root, Marsh Mallow root, Liquorice root and Slippery Elm bark. Boil in 3 pints of water down to 3 gills. Dose: 1/2 teaspoonful every half-hour, to be taken warm.
As a heart remedy, a pint of Slippery Elm drink has been prescribed alternately with Bugleweed compound.
Slippery Elm bark possesses also great influence upon diseases of the female organs.
It is particularly valuable both medicinally and as an injection in dysentery and other diseases of the bowels, cystitis and irritation of the urinary tract. The injection for inflammation of the bowels is made from an infusion of 1 OZ. of the powder to 1 pint of boiling water, strained and used lukewarm. Other remedies should be given at the same time.
An injection for diarrhoea may also be made as follows: 1 drachm powdered Slippery Elm bark, 3 drachms powdered Bayberry, 1 drachm powdered Scullcap.
Pour on 1/2 pint of boiling water, infuse for half an hour, strain, add a teaspoonful of tincture of myrrh and use lukewarm.
As an enema for constipation, 2 drachms of Slippery Elm bark are mixed well with 1 OZ. of sugar, then 1/2 pint of warm milk and water and an ounce of Olive Oil are gently stirred in.
Injection for worms (Ascarides): 1/2 drachm Aloes powder, 1 drachm common salt, 1/2 drachm Slippery Elm powder (fine). When well mixed, add 1/2 pint warm water and sweeten with molasses, stirring well.
Slippery Elm mucilage is also prescribed to be mixed with Oil of Male Fern (2 oz. of the mucilage to 1 drachm of the oil) as a remedy for the expulsion of tapeworm
The Red Indians have long used this viscous inner bark to prepare a healing salve, and in herbal medicine a Slippery Elm bark powder is considered one of the best possible poultices for wounds, boils, ulcers, burns and all inflamed surfaces, soothing, healing and reducing pain and inflammation.
It is made as follows: Mix the powder with hot water to form the required consistency, spread smoothly upon soft cotton cloth and apply over the parts affected. It is unfailing in cases of suppurations, abscesses, wounds of all kinds, congestion, eruptions, swollen glands, etc. In simple inflammation, it may be applied directly over the part affected; to abscesses and old wounds, it should be placed between cloths. If applied to parts of the body where there is hair, the face of the poultice should be smeared with olive oil before applying.
In old gangrenous wounds, an excellent antiseptic poultice is prepared by mixing with warm water or an infusion of Wormwood, equal parts of Slippery Elm powder and very fine charcoal and applying immediately over the part.
A very valuable poultice in cases where it is desirable to hasten suppuration or arrest the tendency to gangrene is made by mixing the Slippery Elm powder with brewer's yeast and new milk.
Compound Bran poultice is made by mixing with hot vinegar equal quantities of wheaten Bran with Slippery Elm powder. This is an excellent poultice for severe rheumatic and gouty affections, particularly of the joints, synovitis etc.
Herbal poultices, generally made from the bruised, fresh leaves of special herbs, are frequently mixed with Slippery Elm and boiling water sufficient to give the mass consistency.
Marshmallow Ointment, one of the principal ointments used in herbal medicine, has a considerable proportion of Slippery Elm bark in its composition. It is made as follows: 3 oz. Marshmallow leaves, 2 OZ. Slippery Elm bark powder, 3 oz. Beeswax, 16 OZ. Lard. Boil the Marshmallow and Slippery Elm bark in 3 pints of water for 15 minutes. Express, strain and reduce the liquor to half a pint. Melt together the lard and wax by gentle heat, then add the extract while still warm, shake constantly till all are thoroughly incorporated and store in a cool place.
The bark of Slippery Elm is stated to preserve fatty substances from becoming rancid.
It has been asserted that a pinch of the Slippery Elm powder put into a hollow tooth stops the ache and greatly delays decay, if used as soon as there is any sign of decay.
Lozenges or troches containing 3 grains of Elm flavoured with methyl salicylate are used as a demulcent.
---Preparations---Mucilage, U.S.P., made by digesting 6 grams of bruised Slippery Elm in 100 c.c. and heated in a closed vessel in a water-bath for 1 hour and then strained.
Fremontia Californica, or Californian Slippery Elm, has bark with similar properties, and is used in the same way, but is not botanically related.
Botanical: Embelia Ribes and robusta (BURM.)
Family: N.O. Myrsinaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Part Used---Dried fruits.
---Habitat---India, Indian Archipelago, Tropical Asia, Southern China, East Africa.
---Description---A straggling shrub, almost a climber. The plant possesses petiolate leaves and has small, whity-pink flowers in racemes at ends of the branches. The berries (the drug) are minute, round, spherical fruits (not unlike peppercorns) and vary in color from red to black - those of E. Ribes have ovate, lanceolate smooth leaves and warty fruits, and are often sold to traders to adulterate pepper, which they so much resemble as to render it almost impossible to distinguish them by sight, or by any other means, as they possess a considerable degree of the spice flavour. The fruits of E. robusta, however, are longitudinally finely striated. Both fruit have often a short stalk and calyx fivepartite, removing this, a small hole is found in the fruit. The reddish seed, enclosed in a brittle pericarp, is covered by a thin membrane; when this is taken off, the seed is seen covered with light spots which disappear after immersion in water. The seed is horny, depressed at the base and has a ruminated endosperm. Taste, aromatic and astringent, with a slight pungency, owing to a resinous substance present in them.
---Constituents---Embelic acid, found in golden-yellow lamellar crystals (this acid is soluble in chloroform, alcohol and benzene, but not in water) and a quinone, Embelia.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Anthelmintic, specially used to expel tapeworm, which are passed dead. In India and the Eastern Colonies the drug is given in the early morning, fasting, mixed with milk, and followed by a purgative. The dose is 1 to 4 drachms. The seeds are also made into an infusion, or ground to powder and taken in water or syrup, and being almost tasteless are not an unpleasant remedy.
Ammonium embelate is an effective taenicide for children: dose, 3 grains; adult dose, 6 or more grains.
The berries of E. robusta are considered cathartic.
E. Basaal, an Indian variety, with larger elliptical leaves, more or less downy, is useful in various ways. The young leaves, in combination with ginger, are used as a gargle for sore throats, the dried bark of the root as a remedy for toothache, and the ground berries, mixed with butter or lard, made into an ointment and laid on the forehead for pleuritis.
Botanical: Ephedra vulgaris (RICH.)
Family: N.O. Gnetaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Ephedrine. Epitonin. Ma Huang.
---Habitat---West Central China, Southern Siberia, Japan.
---Description---It is found on sandy seashores and in temperate climates of both hemispheres. The plant has stamens and pistils on separate flowers--staminate flowers in catkins and a membraneous perianth, pistillate flowers terminal on axillary stalks, within a two-leaved involucre. Fruit has two carpels with a single seed in each and is a succulent cone, branches slender and erect, small leaves, scale-like, articulated and joined at the base into a sheath.
---Constituents---Ephedrine is salt of an alkaloid and is in shining white crystals very soluble in water.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A sympathetic nerve stimulant resembling adrenaline, its effect on the unstriped muscular fibres is remarkable. It acts promptly in relieving swellings of the mucous membrane. It has valuable antispasmodic properties, acts on the air passages and is of benefit in asthma and hay fever; it is also employed for rheumatism; a 5 to 10 per cent solution has mydriatic properties, prophylactically used for low blood pressure in influenza, pneumonia, etc. Used in tablet form for oral or hypodermic administration and in ampuls for hypodermic, intramuscular and intravenous use. It can advantageously be used in solution with liquid paraffin, either alone or in conjunction with methol camphor and oil of thyme. Dose, 1/2 to 1 grain.
Steadman Shorter's Medical Dictionary, 1942, Poisons & Antidotes: Ergot
See (Sea) Holly.
Botanical: Eucalyptus globulus (LABILLE.)
Family: N.O. Myrtaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Blue Gum Tree. Stringy Bark Tree.
---Part Used---The oil of the leaves.
---Habitat---Australia. Now North and South Africa, India, and Southern Europe.
The tree is indigenous with a few exceptions to Australia and Tasmania. The genus contains about 300 species and is one of the most characteristic genera of the Australian flora.
---Description---The leaves are leathery in texture, hang obliquely or vertically, and are studded with glands containing a fragrant volatile oil. The flowers in bud are covered with a cup-like membrane (whence the name of the genus, derived from the Greek eucalyptos well-covered), which is thrown off as a lid when the flower expands. The fruit is surrounded by a woody, cupshaped receptacle and contains numerous minute seeds.
Eucalyptus trees are quick growers and many species reach a great height. Eucalyptus amygdalin (Labille ) is the tallest known tree, specimens attaining as much as 480 feet, exceeding in height even the Californian Big Tree (Sequoia gigantea). Many species yield valuable timber, others oils, kino, etc.
There are a great number of species of Eucalyptus trees yielding essential oils, the foliage of some being more odorous than that of others, and the oils from the various species differing widely in character. It necessarily follows that the term Eucalyptus oil is meaningless from a scientific point of view unless the species from which it is derived is stated.
The Eucalyptus industry is becoming of economic importance to Australia, especially in New South Wales and Victoria. Many of the old species which give the oil of commerce have given way to other species which have been found to gave larger yields or better oils. About twenty-five species are at the present time being utilized for their oil.
The oils may be roughly divided into three classes of commercial importance: (1) the medicinal oils, which contain substantial amounts of eucalyptol (also known as cineol); (2) the industrial oils, containing terpenes, which are used for flotation purposes in mining operations; (3) the aromatic oils, such as E. citriodora, which are characterized by their aroma.
The British Pharmacopoeia describes Eucalyptus Oil as the oil distilled from the fresh leaves of E. globulus and other species.
E. globulus, the best-known variety (its name bestowed, it is said, by the French botanist De Labillardière, on account of the resemblance of its waxy fruit to a kind of button at that time worn in France), is the Blue Gum Tree of Victoria and Tasmania, where it attains a height of 375 feet, ranking as one of the largest trees in the world. It is also called the Fever Tree, being largely cultivated in unhealthy, low-lying or swampy districts for its antiseptic qualities.
The first leaves are broad, without stalks, of a shining whitish-green and are opposite and horizontal, but after four or five years these are succeeded by others of a more ensiform or sword-shaped form, 6 to 12 inches long, bluish-green in hue, which are alternate and vertical, i.e. with the edges turned towards the sky and earth, an arrangement more suited to the climate and productive of peculiar effects of light and shade. The flowers are single or in clusters, almost stalkless.
The Eucalyptus, especially E. globulus, has been successfully introduced into the south of Europe, Algeria, Egypt, Tahiti, South Africa and India, and has been extensively planted in California and also, with the object of lessening liability to droughts, along the line of the Central Pacific Railway.
It thrives in any situation, having a mean annual temperature not below 60 degrees F., but will not endure a temperature of less than 27 degrees F., and although many species of Eucalyptus will flourish out-of-doors in the south of England, they are generally grown, in this country, in pots as greenhouse plants.
It was Baron Ferdinand von Müller, the German botanist and explorer (from 1857 to 1873 Director of the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne), who made the qualities of this Eucalyptus known all over the world, and so led to its introduction into Europe, North and South Africa, California and the non-tropical districts of South America. He was the first to suggest that the perfume of the leaves resembling that of Cajaput oil, might be of use as a disinfectant in fever districts, a suggestion which has been justified by the results of the careful examination to which the Eucalyptus has been subjected since its employment in medicine. Some seeds, having been sent to France in 1857, were planted in Algiers and thrived exceedingly well. Trottoir, the botanical superintendent, found that the value of the fragrant antiseptic exhalations of the leaves in fever or marshy districts was far exceeded by the amazingly powerful drying action of the roots on the soil. Five years after planting the Eucalyptus, one of the most marshy and unhealthy districts of Algiers was converted into one of the healthiest and driest. As a result, the rapidly growing Eucalyptus trees are now largely cultivated in many temperate regions with the view of preventing malarial fevers. A noteworthy instance of this is the monastery of St. Paolo à la tre Fontana, situated in one of the most fever-stricken districts of the Roman Campagna. Since about 1870, when the tree was planted in its cloisters, it has become habitable throughout the year. To the remarkable drainage afforded by its roots is also ascribed the gradual disappearance of mosquitoes in the neighbourhood of plantations of this tree, as at Lake Fezara in Algeria.
In Sicily, also, it is being extensively planted to combat malaria, on account of its property of absorbing large quantities of water from the soil. Recent investigations have shown that Sicilian Eucalyptus oil obtained from leaves during the flowering period can compete favourably with the Australian oil in regard to its industrial and therapeutic applications. Oil has also been distilled in Spain from the leaves of E. globulus, grown there.
In India, considerable plantations of E. globulus were made in 1863 in the Nilgiris at Ootacamund, but though a certain amount of oil is distilled there locally, under simple conditions, little attempt has hitherto been made to develop the industry on a commercial scale, Australia remaining the source of supply.
A great increase in Euealyptus cultivation has recently taken place in Brazil as a result of a decree published in 1919 awarding premiums and free grants of land to planters of Eucalyptus and other trees of recognized value for essence cultivation.
---Constituents---The essential Oil of Eucalyptus used in medicine is obtained by aqueous distillation of the fresh leaves. It is a colorless or straw-colored fluid when properly prepared, with a characteristic odour and taste, soluble in its own weight of alcohol. The most important constituent is Eucalyptol, present in E. globulus up to 70 per cent of its volume. It consists chiefly of a terpene and a cymene. Eucalyptus Oil contains also, after exposure to the air, a crystallizable resin, derived from Eucalyptol.
The British Pharmacopoeia requires Eucalyptus Oil to contain not less than 55 per cent, by volume, of Eucalyptol, to have a specific gravity 0.910 to 0.930 and optical rotation -10 degrees to 10 degrees. The official method for the determination of the Eucalptol depends on the conversion of this body into a crystalline phosphate, but numerous other methods have been suggested (see Parry, Essential Oils,
A small amount of medicinal oil is still distilled from E. globulus, but Its odour is less agreeable than those of many others. Today, E. polybractea (Silver Malee Scrub which is cultivated and the oil distilled near Bendigo in Victoria), containing 85 per cent of Eucalyptol, and E. Smithii (Gully Ash) are favourites for distillation. Among others frequently employed, E. Australiana yields a valuable medicinal oil and also E. Bakeri, a large shrub or pendulous willow-like tree, about 30 to 50 feet high, with very narrow leaves, found from northern New South Wales to central Queensland, known locally as the 'Malee Box.' The oil from this species is of a bright reddish-yellow and contains 70 to 77 per cent of Eucalyptol and other aromatic substances identical with those found in E. polybractea.
The oil used for flotation purposes in the extraction of ores is known as that of E. amygdalina, and is probably derived from this tree as well as from E. dives. It is an oil containing little Eucalyptol and having a specific gravity from 0.866 to 0.885, and an optical rotation -59 to -75 degrees, its chief constituent is phellandrene, which forms a crystalline nitrate and is very irritating when inhaled. There is a considerable demand in New South Wales for the cheap phellandrene Eucalyptus oils for use in the mining industry in the separation of metallic sulphides from ores.
Of the perfume-bearing oils, that of E. citriodora, the CITRON-SCENTED GUM, whose leaves emit a delightful lemon scent, contains up to 98 per cent of citronellol and is much used in perfumery, fetching four times as much as the medicinal oils. E. Macarthurii ('Paddy River Box') contains up to 75 per cent of geranyl acetate, and as a source of geraniol this tree would probably repay cultivation: it is now receiving special attention in Australia, as it is a very rapid grower. E. odorata yields also an odorous oil used by soapmakers in Australia. E. Staigeriana, the Lemon-scented Iron Bark, has also a very pleasing scent, and the fragrance of the leaves of E. Sturtiana is similar to that of ripe apples.
There are a number of Eucalypts which contain a ketone known as piperitone, such as E. piperita. This body can be used in the synthesis of menthol, but it remains to be seen whether the process can be made a commercial success. E. dives (Peppermint Gum) and E. radiata (White Top Peppermint) yield oils with a strong peppermint flavour.
Details of an enormous number of the oils of Eucalyptus can be found in A Research on the Eucalypts, by Baker and Smith.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, antiseptic, aromatic.
The medicinal Eucalyptus Oil is probably the most powerful antiseptic of its class, especially when it is old, as ozone is formed in it on exposure to the air. It has decided disinfectant action, destroying the lower forms of life. Internally, it has the typical actions of a volatile oil in a marked degree.
Eucalyptus Oil is used as a stimulant and antiseptic gargle. Locally applied, it impairs sensibility. It increases cardiac action.
Its antiseptic properties confer some antimalarial action, though it cannot take the place of Cinchona.
An emulsion made by shaking up equal parts of the oil and powdered gum-arabic with water has been used as a urethral injection, and has also been given internally in drachm doses in pulmonary tuberculosis and other microbic diseases of the lungs and bronchitis.
In croup and spasmodic throat troubles, the oil may be freely applied externally.
The oil is an ingredient of 'catheder oil,' used for sterilizing and lubricating urethral catheters.
In large doses, it acts as an irritant to the kidneys, by which it is largely excreted, and as a marked nervous depressant ultimately arresting respiration by its action on the medullary centre.
For some years Eucalyptus-chloroform was employed as one of the remedies in the tropics for hookworm, but it has now been almost universally abandoned as an inefficient anthelmintic, Chenopodium Oil having become the recognized remedy.
In veterinary practice, Eucalyptus Oil is administered to horses in influenza, to dogs in distemper, to all animals in septicaemia. It is also used for parasitic skin affections.
---Preparations---The dose of the oil is 1/2 to 3 minims. Eucalyptol may be given in similar doses and is preferable for purposes of inhalation, for asthma, diphtheria, sore throat, etc.
As a local application for ulcers and sores, 1 OZ. of the oil is added to 1 pint of lukewarm water. For local injections, 1/2 OZ. to the pint is taken.
The Fluid Extract is used internally, the dose 1/2 to 1 drachm, in scarlet fever, typhoid and intermittent fever.
Eucalyptol, U.S.P.: dose, 5 drops. Ointment, B.P.
EUCALYPTUS GUM or KINO
E. nostrata and some other species ofEucalyptus yield Eucalyptus or Red Gum, a ruby-colored exudation from the bark (to be distinguished from Botany Bay Kino).
Red Gum is a very powerful astringent and is given internally in doses of 2 to 5 grains in cases of diarrhoea and pharyngeal inflammations. It is prepared in the form of tinctures, syrups, lozenges, etc.
Red Gum is official in Great Britain, being imported from Australia, though the Kino generally employed here as the official drug is derived from Pterocarpus Marsupium, a member of the order Leguminosae, East Indian, or Malabar Kino, and is administered in doses of 5 to 20 grains powdered, or 1/2 to 1 drachm of the tincture.
In veterinary practice, Red Gum is occasionally prescribed for diarrhoea in dogs and is used for superficial wounds.
E. globulus, E. resinifera and other species yield what is known as Botany Bay Kino, an astringent, dark-reddish, amorphous resin, which is obtained in a semi-fluid state by making incisions in the trunk of the tree and is used for similar purposes
J. H. Maiden (Useful Native Plants of Australia, 1889) enumerates more than thirty species as Kino-yielding.
From the leaves and young bark of E. mannifera, E. viminalis, E. Gunnii, var. rubida, E. pulverulenta, etc., a hard, opaque sweet substance is procured, containing melitose. The Lerp Manna of Australia is, however, of animal origin. See KINOS.
---TWO EUCALYPTUS OINTMENTS---
Compound Resin Ointment, B.P.C. Resin 20; Oil of Eucalyptus by weight, 15; Hard paraffin, 10; Soft paraffin, 55.
Eucalyptus Ointment (Benn's Botanic Doctor's Adviser). Elder Oil, 12 OZ.; White Wax, 2 OZ.; Spermaceti, 1 1/2 oz.; Eucalyptus Oil, 2 drachms; Wintergreen Oil, 20 drops.
A good ointment for the skin, containing antiseptic and healing properties. It produces very satisfactory results in scurf, chapped hands, chafes, dandruff, tender feet, enlargements of the glands, spots on the chest, arms, back and legs, pains in the joints and muscles.
Apply a piece of clean cotton or lint to wounds after all dirt is washed away. For aches and pains rub the part affected well and then cover with lint. Repeat two or three times, taking a blood-purifying mixture at the same time.
See Spindle Tree
Family: N.O. Compositae
The Eupatoriums are some of the most important plants used in herbal medicine.
Boneset, Hemp Agrimony and Gravel Root will be found described under their specific names.
The following species are not so well known in Great Britain, though they are familiar plants in different parts of America and Brazil.
Eupatorium teucrifolium, or Wild Horehound (syn. E. verbenaefolium, Michx.), has small white flowerheads and abounds in the southern United States, and has similar though less powerful properties than E. perfoliatum (Boneset).
The whole herb is employed, and both this and the preceding species were formerly included in the Secondary List of the Materia Medica of the United States.
E. ageratoides, or White Snake-root, is also in use as an anti-spasmodic, diuretic and diaphoretic; it is this plant which has been supposed to cause the fatal disease called 'trembles' in cattle, and the equally fatal local disease of some of the western States called 'Milk Sickness' in the human subject. It has also been lately confirmed by experiment that another American species, E. urticaefolium, is poisonous to stock.
E. aromaticum (Linn.) and E. incarnatum (Walt.), the Texan 'Mata,' are also other American species, which have gained much reputation in diseases connected with inflammation and irritability of the bladder; they are said to contain a principle similar to, if not identical with, coumarin, which is obtained from the Tonka Bean. E. incarnatum is also used for flavouring tobacco.
E. Ayapana (Vent), a Brazilian species, is an aromatic bitter and febrifuge like E. perfoliatum, and is considered a sure remedy - if timely used - for antidoting the effects of the bites of poisonous reptiles and insects. It is regarded as the most powerful species of the genus but has fallen into neglect, though still occasionally met with in European commerce. E. foeniculem (Willd.), E. Ieucolepsis (T. & G.) and E. hyssopifolium (Linn.) are also considered to be antidotes to the poisonous bites of reptiles and stings of insects.
E. nervosum, a Jamaican species commonly known as Bitter-Bush, is regarded as very efficacious in cholera, and also in typhus and typhoid fevers and in smallpox. Another Jamaican species, E. villosum, also known locally as Bitter-Bush, is used there in the preparation of beer as a tonic and a stimulant in low, zymotic diseases.
E. rotundifolium (Linn.), a native of New England and Virginia, has been considered a palliative in consumption, and E. collinum is included in the Mexican Pharmacopoeia, for properties similar to those of E. perfoliatum.
The leaves of E. glutinosum (Larmarck) also constitute one of the substances known as 'Matico' in South America, the latter name, however, belonging by right to 'Herba Matico,' an infusion of which is a recognized styptic, used to staunch the bleeding of wounds and to cure internal haemorrhage. The true Matico is Piper Angustifolium (Ruiz & P.), but other plants besides this species of Eupatorium are frequently brought into the market under the name of Matico. In Quito, E. glutinosum quite generally goes by the name of Matico or Chusalonga.
Attention has been drawn of late to another South American species, E. rebaudiana, a tiny shrub, native to the highlands of Paraguay, called by the Indians 'Sweet Herb,' a few leaves being said to be sufficient to sweeten a strong cup of tea or coffee, giving also a pleasant aromatic flavour. It would seem worth while to cultivate this species here for experiment, since it has been called the Sugar Plant of South America, and probably proving easy of cultivation might, as a paying crop, become a successful rival to the sugar beet.
BALSAM OF GILEAD
BALSAM OF PERU
BALSAM OF TOLU
Botanical: Euphrasia officinalis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Scrophulariaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The Eyebright is the only British species of a genus containing twenty species distributed over Europe, Northern and Western Asia and North America.
---Description---It is an elegant little plant, 2 to 8 inches high, an annual, common on heaths and other dry pastures, especially on a chalky soil, and flowering from July to September, with deeply-cut leaves and numerous, small, white or purplish flowers variegated with yellow.
It varies much in size and in the color of the corolla, which changes to quite white and yellow. On the mountains and near the sea, or in poor soil, it is often a tiny plant, only an inch or so high, with the stem scarcely branched, but in rich soil it assumes the habit of a minute shrub and forms a spreading tuft, 8 or 9 inches high. The leaves, also, are sometimes almost round, and at other times pointed and narrow, their margins, however, always deeply cut into teeth. The variability of the Eyebright has led to much discussion as to how many species of it are known: continental botanists define numerous species, but our botanists follow Bentham and Hooker, who considered that there is only one very variable species, with three principal varieties: officinalis proper, in which the corolla lip equals or exceeds the tube and the bracts of the flower-spike are broad at the base; gracilis, more slender, the corolla lip shorter than the tube, and the flower-spike bracts narrowed at the base, and maritima, found on the shores of the Shetland Islands in which the capsule is much longer than the calyx.
The stem is erect and wiry, either unbranched in small specimens, or with many opposite branches. The leaves are 1/6 to 1/2 inch long and about 1/4 inch broad, opposite to one another on the lower portion of the stem, alternate above, more often lance-shaped, though sometimes, as already stated, much broader, and with four to five teeth on each side.
The flowers, white, or lilac and purpleveined, are in terminal spikes, with leafy bracts interspersed. The structure of the flower places the plant in the family of the Foxglove and the Speedwell - Scrophulariaceae. The corolla is two-lipped, its lower, tube-like portion being enclosed in a green calyx, tipped with four teeth. The upper lip is two-lobed and arches over the stamens, forming a shelter from the rain. The lower lip is spreading and three-lobed, each lobe being notched. A yellow patch emphasizes the central lobe and purple 'honey guides' on both upper and lower lips - marked streaks of color - point the way down the throat. Four stamens, with brown, downy anthers lie under the upper lip, in pairs, one behind the other; on the underside of each anther is a stiff spur, the two lowest spurs longer than the others and projecting over the throat of the flower. The upper spurs end in miniature brushes which are intended to prevent the pollen being scattered at the side and wasted. When a bee visitor comes in search of the honey lying round the ovary at the bottom of the petal tube, it knocks against the projecting anther spurs, which sets free the pollen, so that it falls on the insect's head. On visiting the next flower, the bee will then rub its dusty head against the outstanding stigma which terminates the style, or long thread placed on the ovary and projects beyond the stamens, and thus cross-fertilization is effected. But though this is the normal arrangement, other and smaller flowers are sometimes found, which suggests that self- fertilization is aimed at. In these, the corolla elongates after opening, and as the stamens are attached to it, their heads are gradually brought almost up to the stigma and eventually their pollen will fertilize it.
The seeds in all kinds of the flowers are produced in tiny, flattened capsules, and are numerous and ribbed.
The Eyebright will not grow readily in a garden if transplanted, unless 'protected' apparently, by grass. The reason for this is that it is a semi-parasite, relying for part of its nourishment on the roots of other plants. Above ground, it appears to be a perfectly normal plant, with normal flowers and bright green leaves - the leaves of fully parasitic plants are almost devoid of green coloring matter - but below the surface, suckers from its roots spread round and lie on the rootlets of the grassplants among which it grows. Where they are in contact, tiny nodules form and send absorption cells into the grass rootlets. The grass preyed upon does not, however, suffer very much, as the cells penetrate but a slight distance, moreover the Eyebright being an annual, renewing itself from year to year, the suckers on the grass roots to which it is attached also wither in the autumn, so there is no permanent drain of strength from the grass.
---History---The name Euphrasia is of Greek origin, derived from Euphrosyne (gladness), the name of one of the three graces who was distinguished for her joy and mirth, and it is thought to have been given the plant from the valuable properties attributed to it as an eye medicine preserving eyesight and so bringing gladness into the life of the sufferer. The same Greek word is also given to the linnet, whence another old tradition says that it was the linnet who first made use of the leaf for clearing the sight of its young and who then passed on the knowledge to mankind, who named the plant in its honour.
Although always known under a name of Greek origin, the herb seems to have been unnoticed by the ancients and no mention of it is made by Dioscorides, Pliny, Galen or even by the Arabian physicians. In the fourteenth century, however, it was supposed to cure 'all evils of the eye' and is described as the source of 'a precious water to clear a man's sight.' Matthaeus Sylvaticus, a physician of Mantua, who lived about the year 1329, recommended this plant in disorders of the eyes and Arnoldus Villanovanus, who died in 1313, was the author of a treatise on its virtues, Vini Euphrasiati tantopere celebrati. How long before Euphrasia was in repute for eye diseases it is impossible to say, but in Gordon's Liticium Medicina, 1305, among the medicines for the eyes, Euphragia is named 'and is recommended both outwardly in a compound distilled water and inwardly as a syrup.' Euphragia is not, however, mentioned in the Schola Salernitana, compiled about 1100.
Markham (Countrie Farm, 1616) says: 'Drinke everie morning a small draught of Eyebright wine.' In the eighteenth century Eyebright tea was used, and in Queen Elizabeth's time there was a kind of ale called 'Eyebright Ale.'
Eyebright, says Salmon (Syn. Med., 1671), strengthens the head, eyes and memory and clears the sight.
Euphrasia was regarded as a specific in diseases of the eyes by the great herbalists of the sixteenth century, Tragus, Fuchsius, Dodoens, etc., and has been a popular remedy in most countries.
The French call it Casse-lunette, the Germans Augentröst (consolation of the eyes).
It was the Euphrasy of Spenser, Milton and other poets. Milton relates how the Archangel Michael ministered to Adam after the Fall:
' . . . to nobler sights
Michael from Adam's eyes the film removed,
Then purged with euphrasine and rue
His visual orbs, for he had much to see.'
It is probable that the belief in its value as an eye medicine originated in the old Doctrine of Signatures, for as an old writer points out-
'the purple and yellow spots and stripeswhich are upon the flowers of the Eyebright doth very much resemble the diseases of the eye, as bloodshot, etc., by which signature it hath been found out that this herb is effectual for the curing of the same.'
---Part Used---A fluid extract is prepared from the plant in the fresh state, gathered when in flower, and cut off just above the root.
Euphrasia is best collected in July and August, when in full flower and the foliage in the best condition.
---Constituents---The precise chemical constituents of the herb have not yet been recorded; it is known to contain a peculiar tannin, termed Euphrasia-Tannin acid (which gives a dark-green precipitate with ferric salts and is only obtainable by combination with lead) and also Mannite and Glucose, but the volatile oil and acrid and bitter principle have not yet been chemically analysed.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Slightly tonic and astringent.
Although neglected nowadays by the faculty, modern herbalists still retain faith in this herb and recommend its use in diseases of the sight, weakness of the eyes, ophthalmia, etc., combining it often with Golden Seal in a lotion stated to be excellent for general disorders of the eyes. The juice obtained by expression from the plant in the fresh state is sometimes employed, or an infusion in milk, but the simple infusion in water is the more usual form in which it is applied. An infusion of 1 OZ. of the herb to a pint of boiling water should be used and the eyes bathed three or four times a day. When there is much pain, it is considered desirable to use a warm infusion rather more frequently for inflamed eyes till the pain is removed. In ordinary cases, the cold application is found sufficient.
In Iceland, the expressed juice is used for most ailments of the eye, and in Scotland the Highlanders make an infusion of the herb in milk and anoint weak or inflamed eyes with a feather dipped in it.
The dried herb is an ingredient in British Herbal Tobacco, which is smoked most usefully for chronic bronchial colds.
Homoeopathists hold that Eyebright belongs to the order of scrofula-curing plants, and Dr. Fernie tells us that it has recently been found by experiment:
'to possess a distinct sphere of curative operation, within which it manifests virtues which are as unvarying as they are potential. It acts specifically on the mucous lining of the eyes and nose and the upper part of the throat to the top of the windpipe, causing when given so largely as to be injurious, a profuse secretion from these parts; if given of reduced strength, it cures the troublesome symptoms due to catarrh. Hay Fever, and acute attacks of cold in the head may be checked by an immediate dose of the infusion repeated every two hours. A medicinal tincture is prepared from the whole plant with spirits of wine, of which a lotion is made with rose-water, for simple inflammation of the eyes. Thirty drops of the tincture should be mixed with a wineglassful of rose-water for making this lotion, which may be used several times a day.'
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
'A Marvelous Water to Preserve the Sight.
'Take the leaves of red roses, mints, sage,maidenhaire (or leave out sage and mint and take eyebright and vervin), bittony, such of the mountain, and endive, of each 6 handfuls: steep them in Whitewine 24 hours: then distill them in Alimpeck; the first water is like silver, the second like gold, the third like balme; keep it close in glasses.
'It helps all diseases of the eye.' (A Plain Plantain.)
Gerard said that the powder of the Eyebright herb, mixed with mace, 'comforteth the memorie,' and Culpepper says:
'If the herb was but as much used as it is neglected, it would half spoil the spectacle maker's trade and a man would think that reason should teach people to prefer the preservation of their natural before artificial spectacles, which that they may be instructed how to do, take the virtues of Eyebright as followeth: The juice or distilled water of the Eyebright taken inwardly in white wine, or broth, or dropped into the eyes for several days together helpeth all infirmities of the eye that cause dimness of sight. Some make conserve of the flowers to the same effect. Being used any of the ways, it strengthens the week brain or memory. This tunned with strong beer that it may work together and drunk, or the powder of the dried herb mixed with sugar, a little mace, fennel seed and drunk, or eaten in broth; or the said powder made into an electuary with sugar and taken, hath the same powerful effect to help and restore the sight decayed through age and Arnoldus de Villa Nova saith it hath restored sight to them that have been blind a long time.'
This is another eye lotion of Culpepper:
'An Excellent Water to Clear the Sight.
'Take of Fennel, Eyebright, Roses, white Celandine, Vervain and Rue, of each a handful, the liver of a Goat chopt small, infuse them well in Eyebright Water, then distil them in an alembic, and you shall have a water will clear the sight beyond comparison.'
Hildamus also firmly believed that Eyebright would restore the sight of many persons at the age of seventy or eighty years!
Many of the older herbalists describe a 'Red-flowered Eyebright,' which, however, is no longer considered another species of Euphrasia, but regarded as a very closely allied plant. Linnaeus himself, though he afterwards made a new genus, Bartsia, for it, called it Euphrasia, both in his Flora Suecia, his monograph on the flora of Sweden, that appeared in 1755, and in his great work, Systema Vegetabilium, published in 1784. Later, however, he named it after his friend Dr. Johann Bartsch of Königsberg.
See BARSTIA (RED).
THE ELM TREE
This tree is so well known, growing generally in all counties of this land, that it is needless to describe it.
Government and virtues : It is a cold and saturnine plant. The leaves thereof bruised and applied, heal green wounds, being bound thereon with its own bark. The leaves or the bark used with vinegar, cures scurf and leprosy very effectually. The decoction of the leaves, bark, or root, being bathed, heals broken bones. The water that is found in the bladders on the leaves, while it is fresh, is very effectual to cleanse the skin, and make it fair; and if cloaths be often wet therein, and applied to the ruptures of children, it heals them, if they be well bound up with a truss. The said water put into a glass, and set into the ground, or else in dung for twenty-five days, the mouth thereof being close stopped, and the bottom set upon a layer of ordinary salt, that the fœces may settle and water become clear, is a singular and sovereign balm for green wounds, being used with soft tents. The decoction of the bark of the root, fomented, mollifies hard tumours, and shrinking of the sinews. The roots of the Elm, boiled for a long time in water, and the fat arising on the top thereof, being clean skimmed off, and the place anointed therewith that is grown bald, and the hair fallen away, will quickly restore them again. The said bark ground with brine or pickle, until it come to the form of a poultice and laid on the place pained with the gout, gives great ease. The decoction of the bark in water, is excellent to bathe such places as have been burnt with fire.
Descript : Common garden Endive bears a longer and larger leaf than Succory, and abides but one year, quickly running up to a stalk and seed, and then perishes; it has blue flowers, and the seed of the ordinary Endive is so like Succory seed, that it is hard to distinguish them.
Government and virtues : It is a fine cooling, cleansing, jovial plant. The decoction of the leaves, or the juice, or the distilled water of Endive, serve well to cool the excessive heat of the liver and stomach, and in the hot fits of agues, and all other inflammations in any part of the body; it cools the heat and sharpness of the urine, and excoriation in the urinary parts. The seeds are of the same property, or rather more powerful, and besides are available for fainting, swoonings, and passions of the heart. Outwardly applied, they serve to temper the sharp humours of fretting ulcers, hot tumours, swellings, and pestilential sores; and wonderfully help not only the redness and inflammations of the eyes, but the dimness of the sight also; they are also used to allay the pains of the gout. You cannot use it amiss; a syrup of it is a fine cooling medicine for fevers.
Descript : It shoots forth many large leaves, long and broad, lying near the ground, small at both ends, somewhat soft in handling of a whitish green on the upper side, and grey underneath, each set upon a short footstalk, from among which arise up divers great and strong hairy stalks, three or four feet high, with some leaves there upon, compassing them about at the lower end, and are branched towards the tops, bearing divers great and large flowers, like those of the corn marigold, both the border of leaves, and the middle thrum being yellow, which turn into down, with long, small, brownish seeds amongst it, and is carried away with the wind. The root is great and thick, branched forth divers ways, blackish on the outside and whitish within, of a very bitter taste, and strong, but good scent, especially when they are dried, no part else of the plant having any smell.
Place : It grows on moist grounds, and shadowy places oftener than in the dry and open borders of the fields and lanes, and in other waste places, almost in every county of this land.
Time : It flowers in the end of June and July, and the seed is ripe in August. The roots are gathered for use, as well in the Spring before the leaves come forth, as in Autumn or Winter.
Government and virtues : It is a plant under the dominion of Mercury. The fresh roots of Elecampane preserved with sugar, or made into a syrup or conserve, are very effectual to warm a cold windy stomach, or the pricking therein, and stitches in the sides caused by the spleen; and to help the cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing in the lungs. The dried root made into powder, and mixed with sugar, and taken, serves to the same purpose, and is also profitable for those who have their urine stopped, or the stopping of women's courses, the pains of the mother and the stone in the reins, kidneys, or bladder; it resists poison, and stays the spreading of the venom of serpents, as also putrid and pestilential fevers, and the plague itself. The roots and herbs beaten and put into new ale or beer, and daily drank, clears, strengthens, and quickens the sight of the eyes wonderfully. The decoction of the roots in wine, or the juice taken therein, kills and drives forth all manner of worms in the belly, stomach, and maw; and gargled in the mouth, or the root chewed, fastens loose teeth, and helps to keep them from putrefaction; and being drank is good for those that spit blood, helps to remove cramps or convulsions, gout, sciatica, pains in the joints, applied outwardly or inwardly, and is also good for those that are bursten, or have any inward bruise. The root boiled well in vinegar beaten afterwards, and made into an ointment with hog's suet, or oil of trotters is an excellent remedy for scabs or itch in young or old; the places also bathed or washed with the decoction doth the same; it also helps all sorts of filthy old putrid sores or cankers whatsoever. In the roots of this herb lieth the chief effect for the remedies aforesaid. The distilled water of the leaves and roots together, is very profitable to cleanse the skin of the face, or other parts, from any morphew, spots, or blemishes therein, and make it clear.
ERINGO, OR SEA-HOLLY
Descript : The first leaves of our ordinary Sea-holly, are nothing so hard and prickly as when they grow old, being almost round, and deeply dented about the edges, hard and sharp pointed, and a little crumpled, of a bluish green color, every one upon a long foot stalk; but those that grow up higher with the stalk, do as it were compass it about. The stalk itself is round and strong, yet somewhat crested with joints and leaves set threat, but more divided, sharp and prickly; and branches rising from thence, which have likewise other small branches, each of them having several bluish round prickly heads, with many small jagged prickly leaves under them, standing like a star, and sometimes found greenish or whitish. The root grows wonderfully long, even to eight or ten feet it length, set with rings and circles towards the upper part, cut smooth and without joints down lower, brownish on the outside, and very white within, with a pith in the middle; of a pleasant taste, but much more, being artificially preserved, and candied with sugar.
Place : It is found about the sea coast in almost every county of this land which borders upon the sea.
Time : It flowers in the end of Summer, and gives ripe seed within a month after.
Government and virtues : The plant is venereal, and breeds seed exceedingly, and strengthens the spirit procreative; it is hot and moist, and under the celestial Balance. The decoction of the root hereof in wine, is very effectual to open obstruction of the spleen and liver, and helps yellow jaundice, dropsy, pains of the loins, and wind cholic, provokes urine, and expels the stone, procures women's courses. The continued use of the decoction for fifteen days, taken fasting, and next to bedward, doth help the stranguary, the difficulty and stoppage of urine, and the stone, as well as all defects of the reins and kidneys; and if the said drink be continued longer, it is said that it cures the stone; it is found good against the French pox. The roots bruised and applied outwardly, help the kernels of the throat, commonly called the king's evil; or taking inwardly, and applied to the place stung or bitten by any serpent, heal it speedily. If the roots be bruised, and boiled in old hog's grease, or salted lard, and broken bones, thorns &c. remaining in the flesh, they do not only draw them forth, but heal up the place again, gathering new flesh where it was consumed. The juice of the leaves dropped into the ear, helps imposthumes therein. The distilled water of the whole herb, when the leaves and stalks are young, is profitable drank for all the purpose aforesaid; and helps the melancholy of the heart, and is available in quartan and quotidian agues; as also for them that have their necks drawn awry, and cannot turn them without turning their whole body.
Descript : Common Eyebright is a small low herb, rising up usually but with one blackish green stalk a span high, or not much more, spread from the bottom into sundry branches, whereon are small and almost round yet pointed dark green leaves, finely snipped about the edges, two always set together, and very thick. At the joints with the leaves, from the middle upward, come forth small white flowers, marked with purple and yellow spots, or stripes; after which follow small round heads, with very small seed therein. The root is long, small and thready at the end.
Place : It grows in meadows, and grassy places in this land.
Government and virtues : It is under the sign of the Lion, and Sol claims dominion over it. If the herb was but as much used as it is neglected, it would half spoil the spectacle maker's trade; and a man would think, that reason should teach people to prefer the preservation of their natural before artificial spectacles; which that they may be instructed how to do, take the virtues of Eyebright as follows.
The juice or distilled water of Eyebright, taken inwardly in white wine or broth, or dropped into the eyes for divers days together, helps all infirmities of the eyes that cause dimness of sight. Some make conserve of the flowers to the same effect. Being used any of the ways, it also helps a weak brain, or memory. This tunned up with strong beer, that it may work together, and drank, or the powder of the dried herb mixed with sugar, a little Mace, and Fennel seed, and drank, or eaten in broth; or the said powder made into an electuary with sugar, and taken, has the same powerful effect to help and restore the sight, decayed through age; and Arnoldus de Ville Nova saith, it hath restored sight to them that have been blind a long time before.
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