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Herbs & Oils
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This bushy evergreen has scented leaves and tiny yellow flowers. The fruits hold the seed -nutmeg- and its aril, a red, lacy shell coating -mace. Nutmeg and Mace are culinary spices used in sweet and savory dishes in a variety of cuisines. Nutmeg increases the intoxicating and soporific effect of alcoholic drinks and is claimed to be an aphrodisiac. It is prescribed for flatulence and nausea. The essential oil is added to perfumes, soaps, hair oils, tobacco, and fumigants. The nuts yield an oil, nutmeg butter, used in skin creams. Large doses of nutmeg are toxic, because of the presence of the hallucinogen myristicin.
Burn to increase psychic power, or for creative work. Carry to improve the intellect.
Aromatherapy Uses: Indigestion; General Weakness; Bacterial Infections; Gout; Rheumatism; Arthritis; As an aid to Circulation.
Also known as Calendula, Holigold, Pot Marigold and Bride of the Sun. A Druid sacred herb, this cheerful annual or perennial has hairy leaves and golden-orange daisy flowers. The leaves are added to salads and garnishes of flowers color rice and fish dishes. Calendula is antiseptic and antifungal and contains hormone and vitamin A precursors. Essential oil is extracted from the petals but is extremely expensive.
This is the "pot marigold" not the African variety so common in American gardens. The flowers are a healing agent. Added to fomentations, poultices and salves, they speed healing of wounds and of nerve damage. The infusion is given for intestinal problems and to clean lymph and blood. Useful in fevers, the herb can be used fresh, dry, or in tincture. For tea, steep two teaspoons of flowers per cup of water for twenty minutes; take one teaspoon per hour. Using tincture, take five to twenty drops four times a day.
Parts Used: Flower and leaf
Known as "summer's bride", the yellow calendula embodies the Sun's fire and life sustaining virtue. Calendula is carried into court for a favorable verdict. In the mattress it encourages prophetic dreams. Pick in full sun. Added to bathwater it helps with he respect and admiration of everyone you meet. Garlands of marigolds strung on the doorposts stop evil from entering the house.
Use for: Marriage spells; Love; Divination; Protection; Enhanced Psychic Powers.
Also known as Sweet Marjoram, Wintersweet, and Pot Marjoram (O. onites). Sweet Marjoram leaves have a sweeter, spicier taste than the leaves of Oregano and Pot marjoram. It is a popular culinary herb used in salads, sauces, cheese, and in liqueurs and as part of herbes de Provence. As an aromatic tea, Sweet Marjoram aids digestion, relieves flatulence, colds and headaches, soothes nerves and encourages menstruation. Marjoram essential oil is distilled from the leaves and flowering tops. It is antioxidant, reduces skin aging, antiviral, eases spasms, and stimulates local circulation.
Parts Used: Leaf and flower
An infusion of marjoram, mint and rosemary can be sprinkled around the house for protection. This also works for protecting specific objects. Brings happiness to a depressed person. Violets and Marjoram, mixed together, are worn during the winter months as an amulet against colds. Grown in the garden it offers shielding powers against evil. Love; Protection; Defense; Wealth; Happiness; Purification; Cleansing.
Chilblains; Bruises; Tics; Arthritis; Lumbago; Muscular Aches and Stiffness; Sprains; Strains; Asthma; Bronchitis; Colds; Coughs; Colic; Constipation; Dyspepsia; Flatulence; Amenorrhea; PMS; Headache; Hypertension; Insomnia; Migraine; Nervous Tension; Stress Related Conditions. Key Qualities: Anaphrodisiac, stupefuing on large doses; Cephalic; Sedative; Nervine; Restorative; Warming; Comforting.
Also known as Gum Mastic. This aromatic, evergreen shrubby tree has scented pale green spring flowers in clusters and red to black berries. The bark is tapped for mastic, its resin, which chewed in the eastern Mediterranean as a breath freshener and employed as a flavoring for bread, pastries, and the liqueur Mastiche. This resin can be difficult to find, if unavailable try substituting a combination, equal parts of gum arabic and frankincense.
Magical Uses: Love; Magical Power; Psychic Awareness; Adds potency and power to any incense.
Also known as Queen of the Meadow, Gravel Root, and Meadowwort. One of the three most sacred Druid herbs, (with Mint and Vervain), this herb has upright stems of wintergreen-scented, divided leaves, topped by frothy umbels of almond-scented cream flowers. The stems grow up to four feet tall and are sometimes purple. The leaves smell like almonds and the flowers give an almond flavor to mead, herb wines, jam and stewed fruit. Dried flowers scent linen and yield an astringent skin tonic. Flower buds contain salicylic aced, a chemical from which aspirin was synthesized (not from Filipendula but from Spirea, a related herb), but the herb as a whole is gentler on the stomach. Herbalists use flower tea for stomach ulcers and headaches, as an antiseptic diuretic, and for feverish colds, diarrhea, and heartburn. Meadowsweet was a favorite strewing herb of Elizabeth I.
Traditional herbalists simmered the flowers in wine to treat fevers and to cure depression. The fresh flower tops, taken in tea, promote sweating. Steep two teaspoons of the herb in one cup boiled water for twenty minutes. Take one-quarter cup four times a day. A distilled water of the flowers makes an eyewash to treat burning and itching. Meadowsweet is a classic for diarrhea, especially valued for children. The leaf is added to wine to bring a "merry heart", that is, to treat depression. Meadowsweet contains methyl salicylate, making it a good herb for rheumatic compaints and flus. It is astringent and helps with indigestion. It has diuretic properties, which make it helpful in edema. The tea hads been used for respiratory tract infections, gout, and arthritis. It can help bladder and kidney problems, epilepsy, and rabies.
The whole plant is used - roots, flowers, and leaves - with the root being more useful for fevers. To prepare the root, simmer two tablespoons of the dried root in one cup of water for twenty minutes. Take one cup a day. The leaf is placed in claret wine to enhance the tast, and it was at one time added to mead.
Parts Used: Root, leaf and flower
According to Grieve, meadowsweet, water mint, and vervain were the three most sacred herbs of the Druids. Meadowsweet is an herb of Jupiter and is useful in love spells. Use fresh flowers to decorate the altar during love spells, use the dried petals in love mixtures. Strew about the house to keep peace. Fresh flowers should be included in the bridal bouquet. Use for: Love; Happiness; Divination; Peace.
(Mentha spicata, sativa, aquatica, and others)
A Druid sacred herb, most mints are creeping plants that hybridize easily, producing infinite variations. The have erect, square branching stems, aromatic foliage and flowers in leaf axils. Mints are stimulant, aid digestion, and reduce flatulence. They flavor candy, drinks, cigarettes, toothpastes, and medicines.
The infuseion of the herb has been used for diarrhea and as an emmenagogue (it brings down the menses). It is a classic for colds and influenza, especially when mixed with elder flower-but be careful, as this remedy will make you sweat, and you must take care to keep well covered with blankets and woolens. Stomach flu is helped by a mint, elderflower, and yarrow combination in a standard infusion of two teaspoons per cup steeped for twenty minutes and taken in quarter-cup doses.
Mint is helpful in stomach complaints, but a strong infusion will be emetic (it makes one throw up). Mint tea eases colic and eases depression. It relieves earaches when the fresh juice of a few drops of the essential oil are placed in the ear. A few drops of the oil in water, applied with a cloth, help burning and itching, heat prostration, and sunburn. Apply it directly to an itchy skin condition or sunburn. For heat prostration place the cool fomentation on the forehead and wrists.
Mint tea with honey soothes a sore throat. A classic cold remedy that will unblock the sinuses is two drops of mint essential oil, two drop eucalyptus essential oil and the juice of half a lemon in a cup of hot water. The mix is first inhaled and then drunk when warm. CAUTION: No more than two drops of the essential oils should be taken at any time, and no more that two cups a day of the above mixture. Larger doses can be toxic to the kidneys.
The above ground protions of the herb.
Mint is placed in the home as a protective herb. It belongs to the sphere of Venus and has long been used in healing potions and mixtures. The fresh leaves rubbed against the head are said to relieve headaches. Mint worn at the wrist assures that you will not be ill. Its bright green leaves and crisp scent led to its use in money and prosperity spells. Fresh mint laid on the altar will call good spirits to be present and aid you in magic, especially healing spells. Added to incenses it cleanses the house or ritual area. Use for: Protection; Healing; Prosperity; Good Luck; Fortune; Justice; Travel; Exorcism.
(Peppermint) Acne; Dermatitis; Ringworm; Scabies; Toothache; Neuralgia; Muscular Pain; Palpitations; Asthma; Bronchitis; Sinusitis; Spasmodic Cough; Colic; Cramps; Dyspepsia; Flatulence; Nausea; Colds; Flu; Fevers; Fainting; Headache; Mental Fatigue; Migraine; Nervous Stress; Vertigo; Halitosis; Insect Repellent. Key Qualities: Refreshing; Restorative; Nerve Tonic; Cephalic; Aphrodisiac; Mental Stimulant.
Also known as Birdlime, All-Heal, Druid's Herb, and Golden Bough. It is the most sacred "tree" of the Druids and rules over Winter Solstice. The berries are poisonous. Mistletoe is thought to be most powerful if growing on an oak tree. The leafy twigs, toxic in volume, are a heart tonic, reduce blood pressure, slow heart rate, strengthen capillary walls, stimulate the immune system and inhibit tumors.
Mistletoe grows from norther Europe to northwest Africa and east to Asia and Japan. Different varieties are found on hard-wood and softwood trees, which include apple (the most common), elm, oak, spruce, pine, and poplar. Druids considered that the mistletoe found on oak was the most potent and sacred.V The berries ripen in midwinter and have a further peculiarity in that the ripe berries, open flowers, green berries, and immature leaves can all be found on the same plant. Mistletoe does not adher to the linear logic of most plants, wit their budding, flowering, and seed production sequence. It also seems to ignore heilotropism and geotropism, it will grow upside down, sideways, or in any direction it "chooses". Another unique feature is that it germinates only in the light, unlike most plants, which require darkness to germinate. The flower buds form in May but do not open until February. The berries ripen the following winter. The entire process, from flower to fruit, can take almost two years! Even its name mistl (different) tan tan (twig) (from the Anglo-Saxon) reminds us of its peculiarities.
Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant, generally spread by bird droppings. It forms a globular mass that can reach up to three feet in diameter. There are male plants and female plants, and both derive thair water and minerals from the host tree and produce their own carbohydrates via photosynthesis.
Mistletoe seems to hold itself aloof form the rhythms and laws of the earthly seasone, and in this way parrallels the illogical and uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells in the body. As early as 1961, laboratory studies demonstrated that mistletoe, along with other immunostimulant plants (such as eupatorium, astragalus, echinacea, acathopanax, chamomilla, and sabal), inhibited tumors in mice. Fermented mistletoe taken from oak trees was shown to stimulate the activity of killer cells and showed an especially stron effect on rat hepatomas (liver cancers). Unfermented mistletoe showed a strong effect on human leukemia (Molt 4) cells. Korean mistletoe (Viscum coloratum) was found to be more active in inhibiting the growth of leukemia L1210, especially when used fresh.
Mistletoe extracts have been shown to possess significant antitumor activity, not only against murine tumore but also in cases of Lewis' lung carcinome, a colon adenocarcinoma 38 and C3H adenocarcinomas of the breast. The extracts are not toxic and may be administered in high doses. Twent drops four times a day is the average dose.
Many nervous conditions such as convulsions, delirium, hysteria, neuralgia, urinary disorders, and heart conditions have benefitted from the activity of mistletoe. It has also been used to temper the spasms of epilepsy. Mistletoe strengthens the heart and has been used as a heart tonic in cases of typhoid fever. It strengthens the glanular system and has helped with inflammation of the pancreas. It promotes hormonal balance when taken daily for six months.
Mistletoe is recommended for use after a stroke or when hardening of the arteries is suspected. It will stop pulmonary and intestinal bleeding caused by dysentary and typhoid. It helps to lower high blood pressure and raise low blood pressure, and it has been used to ease heavy menstrual flow, heart palpitations, hot flashes, and the anxiety associated with menopause. The fresh juice has been said to increase fertility in barren women.
The green plant can be simmered using a standard concoction of two teaspoons of the herb per cup of water and taken in tablespoon doses several times a day.
CAUTION:Large doses have been known to induce convulsions in children. The berries should not be used for internal consumption. They are used in salves and washes for wounds.
Parts Used: Twig and leaf
Not quite herb, not quite tree, beyond the limitations of classification, freed from the restrictions of convention, and resembling a constellation of stars suspended in midair from the bough of a sacred tree - such is the "spirit" of this plant. It belongs to the in-between times of dusk and dawn, or the exact interval between two seasons. It is a gateway to something "other".
In Italy, there is an old tale of a radiantly beautiful fairy who appeared to a certain knight with the image of the crescent moon and the Holy Grail at her feet. In her hands she held a sprig of mistletoe. She told the knight that the mistletoe was what kept her eternally young and beautiful.
Mistletoe should be cut on Midsummer's Day, or else when the moon is six days old. Druids would use a golden sickle to cut it and it wasn't allowed to touch the ground. It is traditonally hung in the home at Yule, and those who walk under it exchange a kiss of peace. Bunches of mistletoe can be hung as an all-purpose protective talisman. Long used for protection against lightening, disease, misfortune of every kind, fires and so on. Laid near the bedroom door, mistletoe gives restful sleep and beautiful dreams, as it does when placed beneath the pillow or hung at the headboard. Kiss your love beneath mistletoe and you'll stay in love. Burned, Mistletoe banishes evil. Its wood is a good choice for wands and ritual inplements. Mistletoe is an excelllent all-purpose herb.
Use in spells for:
Protection; Love; Hunting; Fertility; Health; Exorcism.
Also known as Sailor's Tobacco, Witch Herb, and Old Man. A Druid sacred herb, this aromatic perennial Its wood is a good choice for wands and ritual inplements. The plant has medium green leaves with silver, downy undersides and red-brown florets.
The classic herb for premenstrual symptoms, used in tea and the bath. Use a standard infusion of two teaspoons per cup of water steeped for twenty minutes, take one-fourth cup four times a day. It makes a good foot bath for tired feet and legs. Cleansing to the liver, it promotes digestion. Mugwort in an emmenagogue, especially when combined with pennyroyal, blue cohosh, or angelica root. It is helpful in epilepsy, palsy, and hysteria and is useful for fevers. When laid among clothing, mugwort repels moths.
Parts Used: Leaf and stem
Mugwort is burned with sandalwood or wormwood during scrying rituals, and a mugwort infusion is drunk (sweetened with honey) before divination. The infusion is also used to wash crystal balls and magic mirrors, and mugwort leaves are placed around the base of the ball (or beneath it) to aid in psychic workings. In China it is hung over doors to keep evil spirits for buildings. Mugwort is also carried to increase lust and fertility, to prevent backache, and to cure disease and madness. Placed next to the bed it aids in achieving astral projection. It is said to protect travelers from fatigue, sunstroke, wild animals, and evil spirits.
Also known as Hag's Taper, Candlewick Plant, Aaron's Rod, Velvet Plant, and Shepherd's Club. This biennial has a rosette of woolly leaves and a tall, thick, downy, resinous stem of bright yellow flowers, followed by many-seeded capsules. The honey-scented flowers flavor liqueurs and yield skin-softening mucilage. The expectorant, soothing, and spasm-sedating properties of the leaf and flowers are used to treat raspy coughs and are added to herbal tobacco. Woolly leaf wraps preserve figs and are used as tinder and emergency bandages. The powdered leaves are sometimes called "Graveyard Dust", and can be substituted for such.
The leaf is a classic remedy for bronchitis (as well as other coughs) and burning urination. Simmer two teaspoons oer cup and take a quarter cup four times a day. A tea of the flowers take before bed brings on sleep. A poultice of the leaves helps wounds and sores. The leavs steeped in vinegar and water will soothe inflammations, painful skin conditions, and hemorrhoids when used externally as a poultice. They may be used in tincture form, fifteen to forty drops every two to four hours.
Parts Used: Leaf and flower
Magical Uses In India:
mullein is regarded as the most potent safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and is hung over doors, in windows and carried in sachets. It is also used to banish demons and negativity. At one time Witches and magicians used oil lamps to illuminate their spells and rites and the downy leaves and stems of the mullein often provided the wicks. Protection; Divination; Health; Courage; Determination; Exorcism; Defense.
An ancient and sacred incenses, the antiseptic, anti-inflammatory oil of Myrrh was used for embalming. It is now found in toothpaste and perfume. Myrrh was burned to Ra at noon in Ancient Egypt and was also fumed in the temples of Isis.
Especially valued as a disinfectant, myrrh is used as a wash for wounds. Use as a wound wash only after the wound has been well cleaned. It has the tendency to seal wounds once it is placed on them. Use the alcohol tincture in water or the tea as a wound wash. Myrrh pormots circulation and increases heart rate and power. Said to move stagnant blood through the uterus, it has been used for menopause, menstrual irregularities , and uterine tumors. Myrrh benefits diabetes and obesity; the dose is one to fifteen grains. Combined with echinacea and mullein to one quarter part myrrh; steep two teaspoons per cup of water for twenty minutes; take a quarter cup every four hours. Myrrh, goldenseal, arnica, and cayenne can be soaked in rubbing alcohol for a few weeks to make a liniment for bruises and sprains.
CAUTION:Prolonged internal use of myrrh (longer than a few weeks) can lead to kidney damage.
Parts Used: Resin
Myrrh is a Goddess plant of the Moon's sphere, sacred to Isis. Burned as an incense,myrrh purifies the area, lifts the vibrations aids contemplation and meditation and creates peace. However, it is seldom burned alone; usually in conjunction with frankincense or other resins. Myrrh increases the power of any incense to which it is added. Myrrh is also included in healing incenses and sachets, and its smoke is used to consecrate, purify and bless objects such as amulets, talismans, charms, and magical tools. It also aids meditation and contemplation. The essential oil can be added to blends designed to enhance spirituality and meditation. It is also used in healing mixtures.
Athlete's Foot; Chapped and Cracked Skin; Eczema; Ringworm; Wounds; Wrinkles; Mature Complexions; Arthritis; Asthma; Bronchitis; Catarrh; Colds; Coughs; Sore Throats; Voice Loss; Diarrhea; Dyspepsia; Flatulence; Hemorrhoids; Loss of Appetite; Thrush; Pruritus; Treats Gum Infections and Mouth Ulcers.
Purifying; Uplifting; Revitalizing; Sedative, Restorative; Soothing.
This dense, evergreen shrub has aromatic leaves and flower buds, creamy white flowers, and blue-black berries. The flowers are made into toilet water called eau d'ange, added with the leaves to acne ointment, and dried for potpourri. Leaf essential oil is the source of myrtol, given for gingivitis.
Love, Money and Riches; Creative Work; Youth. If grown on each side of a house love and peace will reside within and it is a lucky plant to grow in window boxes if a woman plants it.
Acne; Hemorrhoids; Oily Skin; Open Pores; Asthma; bronchitis; Catarrhal conditions; chronic Coughs; Tuberculosis; Colds; Flu; Infectious Disease.
Mildly stimulating; Nerve Tonic; Antiseptic; Clarifying; Cleansing; Uplifting; Aphrodisiac; Refreshing.
Botanical: Myristica fragrans (HONK.)
Family: N.O. Myristicaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Arillus Myristicae. Myristica officinalis. Myristica moschata. Macis. Muscadier.
The dried arillus of the fruit or nutmeg.
Moluccas and Bandy Islands, New Guinea, West Indies, etc.
The name is derived from a mediaeval word for 'nut,' meaning 'suitable for an ointment.' The tree is a small evergreen, not more than 40 feet in height, with smooth, greyish-brown bark, green on the younger branches. The alternate leaves are oblong-ovate, acute, entire, smooth, and dark-green. The flowers are very small and unisexual. The fruits, smooth and yellow, resemble a pear grooved by a longitudinal furrow and contain a single erect seed about 1 1/4 inch long, the nucleus being the wrinkled 'nutmeg,' and the fleshy, irregular covering, scarlet when fresh and drying yellow and brittle, the 'mace.'
The principal harvest at Bencoolen is usually in the autumn, the smaller one in early summer. The fruits, which split open when ripe, are gathered with a long-handled hook and the products are separated. The mace when dried is often sprinkled with salt water to preserve it. If packed too moist it breeds worms.
Most of the supply comes from the Banda Islands by way of Java and Sumatra.
The 'blades,' 'bands,' or flattened, lobed pieces are about 25 mm. long, smooth, irregular, translucent, brittle or flexible, and if scratched or pressed exude an orangecolored oil.
An inferior Mace is obtained from the long nutmeg, dark and very brittle and lacking the fragrant odour and aromatic taste of the official variety.
The medicinal properties resemble those of nutmeg, but it is principally used as a condiment.
The principal constituent is 7 to 9 per cent of a volatile oil, protein, gum, resins, sugar and fixed oil. The volatile oil contains much pinene, and a little myristicin, which must be distinguished from the glyceride of myristic acid.
Two odorous fixed oils have been separated, a yellow one insoluble in boiling alcohol but soluble in ether, and a red one soluble in either.
The powder is brown or buff, orangetinted.
Oil of Mace is practically identical with distilled oil of nutmeg or Nutmeg Butter.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
A flavouring agent, stimulant and tonic.
Both Mace and Nutmeg help digestion in stomachic weakness, but if used to excess may cause over-excitement. They increase circulation and animal heat. They have been employed in pestilential and putrid fevers, and with other substances in intermittent fevers, and enter into the composition of many French medicaments.
5 to 20 grains.
Myristica malabarica, yielding Bombay Mace, which is deficient in odour and taste. Several chemical tests provide means of detecting the substitution. It yields a much higher percentage of ether-soluble matter.
M. argentea, yielding Macassar Mace, which is of a dull brown color with an odour like sassafras. It is too acrid for medicinal use.
M. otoba, yielding a Mace which, incorporated with fat, is used in gout and rheumatism.
Botanical: Rubia tinctorum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rubiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Krapp. Dyer's Madder. Robbia.
Southern Europe, including southern Britain, and Mediterranean countries.
The stalks of the Madder are so weak that they often lie along the ground, preventing the plant from rising to its maximum height of 8 feet. The stalks are prickly, and the whorls of leaves at the joints have spines along the midrib on the underside, a feature that the French turn to advantage by using them for polishing metal-work.
The herb is used as fodder for animals.
The flower-shoots spring from the joints in pairs, the loose spikes of yellow, starry flowers blooming only in the second or third year, in June.
The thick, fleshy fibres that compose the perennial are about 1/4 inch thick, and from their joining, or head, side roots run under the surface of the ground for some distance, sending up shoots. The main and side-roots are dried separately, their products being regarded as different, that of a young, parent root being the best. They are covered with a blackish rind, beneath which they are reddish, with a pale yellow pith. In France, after drying, the outer layer is threshed off and powdered and packed separately as an inferior product called mall. The stripped roots are again heated - excepting in hot climates - then powdered, and milled three times. The final product is packed in casks, which in Holland are stamped by sworn assayers.
The best European Madder is Dutch, but that from Smyrna is said to be even finer. The Turkey-red and other shades are adjective dyes, different mordants bringing many shades of red, pink, lilac, purple, brown, orange and black.
As a dye it colors milk, urine and bones, so that experiments in the growth of bones can be conducted with its help.
Rubia tinctoria differs very slightly from the Wild Madder or R. peregrina, and may be merely a variety.
The root contains rubian, rubiadin, ruberythric acid, purpurin, tannin, sugar and especially alizarin. Pseudopurpurin yields the orange dye and xanthopurpurin the yellow. The astringent taste, slight odour and red color, are imparted to water or alcohol.
The most interesting of the coloring substances is the alizarin, and this is now termed dihydroscyanthraquinone. This occurs as orange-red crystals, almost insoluble in water, but readily soluble in alcohol, ether, the fixed oils and alkaline solutions. The alcoholic and aqueous solutions are rose-colored, the ethereal, golden-yellow; the alkaline, violet and blue when concentrated, but violet red when sufficiently diluted. A beautiful rose-colored lake is produced by precipitating a mixture of the solutions of alizarin and alum.
Alizarin was recognized by Graebe and Liebermann, in 1868, as a derivative of anthracene - a hydrocarbon contained in coal-tar, and in the same year they elaborated a method for preparing it commercially from anthracene. Upon this arose rapidly a great chemical industry, and the cultivation of Madder has, of course, decreased correspondingly until it may be said that the coaltar products have entirely displaced the natural ones.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Although not as a general rule employed medicinally, Madder has been reputed as effectual in amenorrhoea, dropsy and jaundice.
When taken into the stomach it imparts a red color to the milk and urine, and to the bones of animals without sensibly affecting any other tissue. The effect is observed most quickly in the bones of young animals and in those nearest to the heart. Under the impression that it might effect some change in the nervous system, it has been prescribed in rachitis (rickets), but without noticeable favourable results. Dosage, 1/2 drachm three or four times daily.
R. sylvestris, a nearly allied species, hasbeen used as a remedy in liver diseases, jaundice, gall and spleen complaints. The root, leaves and seeds are all reputed as medicinally active.
R. cordifolia, or Bengal Madder, of India, yields the inferior dye called Munjeet.
In France it is thought that the root of Galium cruciatum, or Crosswort, might replace that of Madder.
Botanical: Magnolia acuminata, Magnolia virginiana (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Magnoliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
CucumberTree. Magnoliae cortex. Blue Magnolia. Swamp Sassafras. Magnolia Tripetata.
Bark of stem and root.
The genus is named in commemoration of Pierre Magnol, a famous professor of medicine and botany of Montpellier in the early eighteenth century. All its members are handsome, with luxuriant foliage and rich flowers. The leaves of Magnolia acuminata are oval, about 6 inches long by 3 broad, and slightly hairy below, with a diameter of 6 inches, and the fruit or cone, about 3 inches long, resembles a small cucumber.
It is a large tree, reaching a height of 80 or more feet and a diameter of 3 to 5 feet, but only grows to about 16 feet in England. The wood is finely grained, taking a brilliant polish, and in its color resembles that of the tulip or poplar, but it is less durable. It is sometimes used for large canoes and house interiors.
The bark of the young wood is curved or quilled, fissured outside, with occasional warts, and orange-brown in color, being whitish and smooth within and the fracture short except for inner fibres. The older bark without the corky layer is brownish or whitish and fibrous. Drying and age cause the loss of its volatile, aromatic property.
The bark has no astringency. The tonic properties are found in varying degree in several species.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
A mild diaphoretic, tonic, and aromatic stimulant. It is used in rheumatism and malaria and is contra-indicated in inflammatory symptoms. In the Alleghany districts the cones are steeped in spirits to make a tonic tincture.
A warm infusion is laxative and sudorific, a cold one being antiperiodic and mildly tonic.
Fluid Extract. Frequent doses of 1/2 to 1 drachm, or the infusion in wineglassful doses.
Both M. virginiana and M. tripetala were recognized as official with M. acuminata.
M. virginiana, or M. glauca, White Laurel, Beaver Tree, Swamp Sassafras, White Bay, Sweet Bay, Small or Laurel Magnolia, or Sweet Magnolia, is much used by beavers, who favour it both as food and building material. The light wood has no commercial use.
The bark and seed cones are bitter and aromatic, used as tonics, and in similar ways to M. acuminata. The leaves yield a green, volatile oil with a more pleasant odour than fennel or anise. There is probably also a bitter glucosidal principle.
M. tripetala, Umbrella Tree or Umbrella Magnolia. The fruit yields a neutral crystalline principle, Magnolin.
The bark, if chewed as a substitute for tobacco, is said to cure the habit.
Botanial: Adhatoda vasica (NEES)
Family: N.O. Acanthaceae
Justicia adhatoda (Linn.). Arusa. Adulsa Bakas.
Leaves, flowers, fruit, root.
A common plant in India, the fresh leaves are 4 to 6 inches long, 2 inches wide, lanceolate entire, shortly petiolate, when dried dull brownish green, they become lighter when powdered, taste bitter and smell like strong tea. Its wood is soft and makes excellent charcoal for gunpowder.
The leaves contain a bitter crystalline alkaloid Vasicine, and an organic adhatodic acid, another alkaloid and an odorous volatile principle.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
In India the flowers, leaves, root and specially the fruit are considered a valuable antispasmodic for asthma and intermittent fever; used with success also as an expectorant in cases of chronic bronchitis and phthisis; the leaves are dried and smoked as cigarettes to relieve asthma. Large doses irritate the alimentary canal and cause diarrhoea and vomiting.
Adhatodic acid is believed to exert a strong poisoning influence upon the lower forms of animals and vegetable life, though nonpoisonous to the higher animals.
Liquid extract of Adhatoda, 20 to 60 minims. The freshly expressed juice, 1 to 4 fluid drachms. Tincture from 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm.
Family: N.O. Malvaceae
Mallow, Tree Sea
The large and important family of Mallows are most abundant in the tropical region, where they form a large proportion of the vegetation; towards the poles they gradually decrease in number. Lindley states that about a thousand species had been discovered, all of which not only contain much mucilage, but are totally devoid of unwholesome properties. Besides the medicinal virtues of somany species, some are employed as food; the bark of others affords a substitute for hemp; the cotton of commerce is obtained from the seed vessels of yet other species, and many ornamental garden flowers are also members of this group, the Hibiscus and our familiar Hollyhock among the number.
Botanical: Althaea officinalis (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
Mallards. Mauls. Schloss Tea. Cheeses. Mortification Koot.
Leaves, root, flowers.
Marsh Mallow is a native of most countries of Europe, from Denmark southward. It grows in salt marshes, in damp meadows, by the sides of ditches, by the sea and on the banks of tidal rivers.
In this country it is local, but occurs in most of the maritime counties in the south of England, ranging as far north as Lincolnshire. In Scotland it has been introduced.
The stems, which die down in the autumn, are erect, 3 to 4 feet high, simple, or putting out only a few lateral branches. The leaves, shortly petioled, are roundish, ovate-cordate, 2 to 3 inches long, and about 1 1/4 inch broad, entire or three to five lobed, irregularly toothed at the margin, and thick. They are soft and velvety on both sides, due to a dense covering of stellate hairs. The flowers are shaped like those of the common Mallow, but are smaller and of a pale color, and are either axillary, or in panicles, more often the latter.
The stamens are united into a tube, the anthers, kidney-shaped and one-celled. The flowers are in bloom during August and September, and are followed, as in other species of this order, by the flat, round fruit called popularly 'cheeses.'
The common Mallow is frequently called by country people, 'Marsh Mallow,' but the true Marsh Mallow is distinguished from all the other Mallows growing in Britain, by the numerous divisions of the outer calyx (six to nine cleft), by the hoary down which thickly clothes the stems, and foliage, and by the numerous panicles of blush-colored flowers, paler than the Common Mallow.
The roots are perennial, thick, long and tapering, very tough and pliant, whitishyellow outside, white and fibrous within.
The whole plant, particularly the root, abounds with a mild mucilage, which is emollient to a much greater degree than the common Mallow. The generic name, Althaea, is derived from the Greek, altho (to cure), from its healing properties. The name of the order, Malvaceae, is derived from the Greek, malake (soft), from the special qualities of the Mallows in softening and healing.
Most of the Mallows have been used as food, and are mentioned by early classic writers in this connexion. Mallow was an esculent vegetable among the Romans, a dish of Marsh Mallow was one of their delicacies.
The Chinese use some sort of Mallow in their food, and Prosper Alpinus stated (in 1592) that a plant of the Mallow kind was eaten by the wiccans. Many of the poorer inhabitants of Syria, especially the Fellahs, Greeks and Armenians, subsist for weeks on herbs, of which Marsh Mallow is one of the most common. When boiled first and fried with onions and butter, the roots are said to form a palatable dish, and in times of scarcity consequent upon the failure of the crops, this plant, which fortunately grows there in great abundance, is much collected for food.
In Job XXX. 4 we read of Mallow being eaten in time of famine, but it is doubtful whether this was really a true mallow. Canon Tristram thinks it was some saline plant; perhaps the Orache, or Sea-Purslane.
Horace and Martial mention the laxative properties of the Marsh Mallow leaves and root, and Virgil tells us of the fondness of goats for the foliage of the Mallow.
Dioscorides extols it as a remedy, and in ancient days it was not only valued as a medicine, but was used, especially the Musk Mallow, to decorate the graves of friends.
Pliny said: 'Whosoever shall take a spoonful of the Mallows shall that day be free from all diseases that may come to him.' All Mallows contain abundant mucilage, and the Arab physicians in early times used the leaves as a poultice to suppress inflammation.
Preparations of Marsh Mallow, on account of their soothing qualities, are still much used by country people for inflammation, outwardly and inwardly, and are used for lozenge-making. French druggists and English sweetmeat-makers prepare a confectionary paste (Pâét‚ de Guimauve) from the roots of Marsh Mallow, which is emollient and soothing to a sore chest, and valuable in coughs and hoarseness. The 'Marsh Mallows' usually sold by confectioners here are a mixture of flour, gum, egg-albumin, etc., and contain no mallow.
In France, the young tops and tender leaves of Marsh Mallow are eaten uncooked, in spring salads, for their property in stimulating the kidneys, a syrup being made from the roots for the same purpose.
Marsh Mallow used always to be cultivated in gardens on account of its medicinal qualities. It is said to have been introduced by the Romans.
It can be raised from seed, sown in spring, but cuttings will do well, and offsets of the root, carefully divided in autumn, when the stalks decay, are satisfactory, and will grow of their own accord.
Plant about 2 feet apart. It will thrive in any soil or situation, but grows larger in moist than in dry land, and could well be cultivated on unused ground in damp localities near ditches or streams.
Leaves, root and flowers. The leaves are picked in August, when the flowers are just coming into bloom. They should be stripped off singly and gathered only on a fine day, in the morning, after the dew has been dried off by the sun.
Marsh Mallow contains starch, mucilage, pectin, oil, sugar, asparagin, phosphate of lime, glutinous matter and cellulose.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The great demulcent and emollient properties of Marsh Mallow make it useful in inflammation and irritation of the alimentary canal, and of the urinary and respiratory organs. The dry roots boiled in water give out half their weight of a gummy matter like starch. Decoctions of the plant, especially of the root, are very useful where the natural mucus has been abraded from the coats of the intestines, The decoction can be made by adding 5 pints of water to 1/4 lb. of dried root, boiling down to 3 pints and straining: it should not be made too thick and viscid. It is excellent in painful complaints of the urinary organs, exerting a relaxing effect upon the passages, as well as acting curatively. This decoction is also effective in curing bruises, sprains or any ache in the muscles or sinews. In haemorrhage from the urinary organs and in dysentery, it has been recommended to use the powdered root boiled in milk. The action of Marsh Mallow root upon the bowels is unaccompanied by any astringency.
Boiled in wine or milk, Marsh Mallow will relieve diseases of the chest, constituting a popular remedy for coughs, bronchitis, whooping-cough, etc., generally in combination with other remedies. It is frequently given in the form of a syrup, which is best adapted to infants and children.
Marsh Mallow Water
'Soak one ounce of marsh mallow roots in a little cold water for half an hour; peel off the bark, or skin; cut up the roots into small shavings, and put them into a jug to stand for a couple of hours; the decoction must be drunk tepid, and may be sweetened with honey or sugar-candy, and flavoured with orange-flower water, or with orange juice. Marshmallow water may be used with good effect in all cases of inveterate coughs, catarrhs, etc.' (Francatelli's Cook's Guide.)
For Gravel, etc.
'Put the flower and plant (all but the root)of Marsh Mallows in a jug, pour boiling water, cover with a cloth, let it stand three hours - make it strong. If used for gravel or irritation of the kidney, take 1/2 pint as a Tea daily for four days, then stop a few days, then go on again. A teaspoonful of gin may be added when there is no tendency to inflammation.' (From a family recipe-book.)
The powdered or crushed fresh roots make a good poultice that will remove the most obstinate inflammation and prevent mortification. Its efficacy in this direction has earned for it the name of Mortification Root. Slippery Elm may be added with advantage, and the poultice should be applied to the part as hot as can be borne and renewed when dry. An infusion of 1 OZ. of leaves to a pint of boiling water is also taken frequently in wineglassful doses. This infusion is good for bathing inflamed eyes.
An ointment made from Marsh Mallow has also a popular reputation, but it is stated that a poultice made of the fresh root, with the addition of a little white bread, proves more serviceable when applied externally than the ointment. The fresh leaves, steeped in hot water and applied to the affected parts as poultices, also reduce inflammation, and bruised and rubbed upon any place stung by wasps or bees take away the pain, inflammation and swelling. Pliny stated that the green leaves, beaten with nitre and applied, drew out thorns and prickles in the flesh.
The flowers, boiled in oil and water, with a little honey and alum, have proved good as a gargle for sore throats. In France, they form one of the ingredients of the Tisane de quatre fleurs, a pleasant remedy for colds.
---Preparations and Dosage---
Fluid extract leaves. 1/2 to 2 drachms.
Botanical: Malva sylvestris (LINN.)
---Parts Used---Flowers, leaves.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparation and Dosage
The Common or Blue Mallow is a robust plant 3 or 4 feet high, growing freely in field, hedgerows and on waste ground. Its stem is round, thick and strong, the leaves stalked, roundish, five to seven lobed, downy, with stellate hairs and the veins prominent on the underside. The flowers are showy, bright mauve-purple, with dark veins. When they first expand in June, the plant is handsome, but as the summer advances, the leaves lose their deep green color and the stems assume a ragged appearance.
Cattle do not appear to be fond of this plant, every part of which abounds with a mild mucilage.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The use of this species of Mallow has been much superseded by Marsh Mallow, which possesses its valuable properties in a superior degree, but it is still a favourite remedy with country people where Marsh Mallow is not obtainable. The roots are not considered of much value compared with those of the Marsh Mallow, and as a rule the leaves and flowers are used only, mainly externally in fomentations and poultices. The infusion has been a popular remedy for coughs and colds, but the internal use of the leaves has fallen into disuse, giving place to Marsh Mallow root, though they are still employed as a decoction for injection, which, made strong, cures strangury and gravel.
The foliage when boiled, forms a wholesome vegetable. The seeds, or 'cheeses,' are also edible.
A tincture of the flowers, which turn blue in fading, forms a very delicate test for alkalis.
The flowers were used formerly on May Day by country people for strewing before their doors and weaving into garlands.
---Preparation and Dosage---
Fluid extract, 1/2 to 2 drachms.
Botanical: Malva meschata
Leaves, root, flowers.
The Musk Mallow is not an uncommon plant in dry pastures and in hedgerows. It grows 2 feet high, with round, thick, erect stems, somewhat hairy, often purplespotted. The foliage is light-green, the lower leaves kidney-shaped, five to seven lobed, those on the stem finely divided into numerous narrow segments. The handsome rose-colored flowers are three times the size of the Common Mallow, crowded towards the summit of the stem. It emits from its leaves a faint, musky odour, especially in warm weather, or when drawn through the hand.
This Mallow is not common in Kent and other counties, but in Essex it is very abundant.
The root is white and is the part used. It has the same virtues as the Common Mallow, but is not quite as strong, and the leaves have similar properties.
Botanical: Malva rotundifolia
The Dwarf Mallow is self-fertilizing, while the other kinds are insect-visited. It is common in most parts of Europe, including Britain, and in Western Asia. In Egypt, especially upon the banks of the Nile, it is extensively cultivated and used by the natives as a pot-herb.
The Dwarf Mallow, a smaller variety than any of the other wild Mallows, is easily distinguishable by its prostrate stems and pale lilac flowers. Its leaves are heart-shaped and have also sometimes been used medicinally.
MALLOW, TREE SEA
Botanical: Lavatera arborea
The velvety leaves of the Sea Tree Mallow, a tall, handsome plant growing 5 or 6 feet high, on sea cliffs, on many parts of the coast, are used for sprains, steeped in hot water and laid on the injured spot.
Botanical: Brunfelsia hopeana (HOOK.)
Family: N.O. Solanaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Vegetable Mercury. Franciscea uniflora.
---Parts Used---Root, stem.
South America, West Indies, Brazil.
Small trees, a name often given to the genus Solanacece, in honour of Brunfels, the German herbalist of the sixteenth century. The genus is known by a five-cleft calyx with rounded lobes, bilabiate in aestivation, four fertile and anthers confluent at the top, where it is divided into two stigmatic lobes, capsules fleshy or leathery, more rarely indehiscent and drupe-like, several large seeds embedded in pulp. Flowers large and some very fragrant, blue or white. In commerce the pieces of root vary from a few inches to 1 foot long, 1/2 inch in diameter, very tough and woody, centre yellow, with a very thin outer bark; the stem has a small yellow pith.
Alkaloid Mannacine and a peculiar substance fluorescent and supposed to be identical with gelseminic acid.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
From experiments made on animals, Manaca acts on the spinal cord, stimulating, then abolishing the activities of the motor centres; stimulating specially the kidneys and all the other glands. In large doses it causes lassitude, perspiration and loose greenish discharges. It is highly recommended in the treatment of syphilis and chronic rheumatism of an arthritic nature.
Fluid extract, 10 to 30 minims three times daily.
Franciscea uniflora is the Brazilian name for Manaca, largely used for syphilitic complaints; root and leaves of this are used. It is a bitter purgative emetic, and in large doses poisonous.
Botanical: Manihot utilissima
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Manioc. Yuca. Cassava. Farinha de Mandioca.
Another food plant of enormous importance to tropical America in the present as well as in the past is Manihot utilissima, otherwise known as Manioc, Mandioca, or Yuca, from the tuberous root of which Cassava is prepared. It was, in fact, the plant of chief economic importance to the tribes of tropical South America east of the Andes, and its cultivation spread to the valley of Colombia, the Isthmus of Panama, and the West Indian Islands. Mandioca is a shrubby plant, with brittle stems, 6 feet to 8 feet high, large palmate leaves and green flowers. In the ordinary variety the tubers weigh up to 30 lb., and the juice, owing to the presence of hydrocyanic acid, is poisonous. A smaller nonpoisonous variety is also found.
The true native method of preparing it for food, followed with slight variation throughout the Southern Continent and islands, is as follows: The root is sliced, and grated on a board set with small stones, washed in water, and packed into a long cylindrical 'press' of basketwork with a loop at either end. This press is so made that when it is suspended by one loop and a weight applied to the other, it increases in length and decreases in diameter, and the juice is squeezed from the contents, and falls into a vessel placed below. The paste is then spread in thin layers on griddles of pottery or slate and cooked over a fire. The root is also eaten roasted, especially the sweet variety, though even in the case of the poisonous tuber, the unwholesome element is volatized by cooking. For this reason the juice is preserved and boiled, when it becomes wholesome, and is used as liquor for soup. If further inspissated by boiling, and sweetened in the sun, it is known as casareep, and is employed as a flavouring, especially in British Guiana, where it appears in almost every dish, and in the West Indies, where it is the foundation of the celebrated pepper pot. Casareep is highly antiseptic, and by its aid meat can be kept fresh for quite a long time.
An intoxicating drink can also be prepared from the Mandioca; the early West Indians fermented the sliced and grated tuber in water, adding a little chewed root or grated batata to assist the process. In British Guiana and North Brazil a similar process is still used; the chewed root is fermented in large wooden troughs of water, and the liquor is stored in gourds. At the present time Cassava flour, or farinha de Mandioca, is an important article of food throughout South America, and could be used much more extensively in Europe. The true starch of the Mandioca is known to commerce as Brazilian arrowroot, and this, after heating on hot plates and stirring with an iron rod, becomes tapioca. The cultivation is not difficult, the plant is propagated by cuttings, and the produce is at least six times that of wheat.
Sweet Cassava is nourishing, light and agreeable as a food for invalids, and infants during weaning.
Botanical: Atropa mandragora
Family: N.O. Solanaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Mandragora. Satan's Apple.
The Mandrake, the object of so many strange superstitions, is a native of Southern Europe and the Levant, but will grow here in gardens if given a warm situation, though otherwise it may not survive severe winters. It was cultivated in England in 1562 by Turner, the author of the Niewe Herball.
The name Mandragora is derived from two Greek words implying 'hurtful to cattle. ' The Arabs call it 'Satan's apple.'
It has a large, brown root, somewhat like a parsnip, running 3 or 4 feet deep into the ground, sometimes single and sometimes divided into two or three branches. Immediately from the crown of the root arise several large, dark-green leaves, which at first stand erect, but when grown to full size a foot or more in length and 4 or 5 inches in width - spread open and lie upon the ground. They are sharp pointed at the apex and of a foetid odour. From among these leaves spring the flowers, each on a separate foot-stalk, 3 or 4 inches high. They are somewhat of the shape and size of a primrose, the corolla bell-shaped, cut into five spreading segments, of a whitish color, somewhat tinged with purple. They are succeeded by a smooth, round fruit, about as large as a small apple, of a deep yellow color when ripe, full of pulp and with a strong, apple-like scent.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The leaves are quite harmless and cooling, and have been used for ointments and other external application. Boiled in milk and used as a poultice, they were employed by Boerhaave as an application to indolent ulcers.
The fresh root operates very powerfully as an emetic and purgative. The dried bark of the root was used also as a rough emetic.
Mandrake was much used by the Ancients, who considered it an anodyne and soporific. In large doses it is said to excite delirium and madness. They used it for procuring rest and sleep in continued pain, also in melancholy, convulsions, rheumatic pains and scrofulous tumours. They mostly employed the bark of the root, either expressing the juice or infusing it in wine or water. The root finely scraped into a pulp and mixed with brandy was said to be efficacious in chronic rheumatism.
Mandrake was used in Pliny's days as an anaesthetic for operations, a piece of the root being given to the patient to chew before undergoing the operation. In small doses it was employed by the Ancients in maniacal cases.
A tincture is used in homoeopathy to-day, made from the fresh plant.
Among the old Anglo-Saxon herbals both Mandrake and periwinkle are endowed with mysterious powers against demoniacal possession. At the end of a description of the Mandrake in the Herbarium of Apuleius there is this prescription:
'For witlessness, that is devil sickness or demoniacal possession, take from the body of this said wort mandrake by the weight of three pennies, administer to drink in warm water as he may find most convenient - soon he will be healed.'
Bartholomew gives the old Mandrake legend in full, though he adds: 'It is so feynd of churles others of wytches.' He also refers to its use as an anaesthetic:
'the rind thereof medled with wine . . . gene to them to drink that shall be cut in their body, for they should slepe and not fele the sore knitting.'
Bartholomew gives two other beliefs about the Mandrake which are not found in any other English Herbal - namely, that while uprooting it the digger must beware of contrary winds, and that he must go on digging for it uptil sunset.
In the Grete Herball (printed by Peter Treveris in 1526) we find the first avowal of disbelief in the supposed powers of the Mandrake. Gerard also pours scorn on the Mandrake legend.
'There have been,' he says, 'many ridiculous tales brought up of this plant, whether of old wives or runnegate surgeons or phisick mongers, I know not, all which dreames and old wives tales you shall from henceforth cast out your bookes of memorie.'
Parkinson says that if ivory is boiled with Mandrake root for six hours, the ivory will become so soft 'that it will take what form or impression you will give it.'
Josephus says that the Mandrake - which he calls Baaras - has but one virtue, that of expelling demons from sick persons, as the demons cannot bear either its smell or its presence. He even relates that it was certain death to touch this plant, except under certain circumstances which he details. (Wars of the Jews, book vii, cap. vi.)
The roots of the Mandrake are very nearly allied to Belladonna, both in external appearance and in structure. The plant is by modern botanists assigned to the same genus, though formerly was known as Mandragora officinalis, with varieties M. vernalis and M. autumnalis. According to Southall (Organic Materia Medica, 8th edition, revised by Ernest Mann, 1915), the root:
'contains a mydriatic alkaloid, Mandragorine (Cl7H27O3N), which in spite of the name and formula which have been assigned to it, is probably identical with atropine or hyoscyamine.'
The roots of Mandrake were supposed to bear a resemblance to the human form, on account of their habit of forking into two and shooting on each side. In the old Herbals we find them frequently figured as a male with a long beard, and a female with a very bushy head of hair. Many weird superstitions collected round the Mandrake root. As an amulet, it was once placed on mantelpieces to avert misfortune and to bringprosperity and happiness to the house. Bryony roots were often cut into fancy shapes and passed off as Mandrake, being even trained to grow in moulds till they assumed the desired forms. In Henry VIII's time quaint little images made from Bryony roots, cut into the figure of a man, with grains of millet inserted into the face as eyes, fetched high prices. They were known as puppettes or mammettes, and were accredited with magical powers. Italian ladies were known to pay as much as thirty golden ducats for similar artificial Mandrakes.
Turner alludes to these 'puppettes and mammettes,' and says, 'they are so trymmed of crafty theves to mocke the poore people withall and to rob them both of theyr wit and theyr money.' But he adds:
'Of the apples of mandrake, if a man smell of them thei will make hym slepe and also if they be eaten. But they that smell to muche of the apples become dum . . . thys herbe diverse wayes taken is very jepardus for a man and may kill hym if he eat it or drynk it out of measure and have no remedy from it.... If mandragora be taken out of measure, by and by slepe ensueth and a great lousing of the streyngthe with a forgetfulness.'
The plant was fabled to grow under the gallows of murderers, and it was believed to be death to dig up the root, which was said to utter a shriek and terrible groans on being dug up, which none might hear and live. It was held, therefore, that he who would take up a plant of Mandrake should tie a dog to it for that purpose, who drawing it out would certainly perish, as the man would have done, had he attempted to dig it up in the ordinary manner.
There are many allusions to the Mandrake in ancient writers. From the earliest times a notion prevailed in the East that the Mandrake will remove sterility, and there is a reference to this belief in Genesis xxx. 14.
Mandrake can be propagated by seeds, sown upon a bed of light earth, soon after they are ripe, when they are more sure to come up than if the sowing is left to the spring.
When the plants come up in the spring, they must be kept well watered through the summer and kept free from weeds. At the end of August they should be taken up carefully and transplanted where they are to remain. The soil should be light and deep, as the roots run far down - if too wet, they will rot in winter, if too near chalk or gravel, they will make little progress. Where the soil is good and they are not disturbed, these plants will grow to a large size in a few years, and will produce great quantities of flowers and fruit.
Culpepper tells us the Mandrake is governed by Mercury. The fruit has been accounted poisonous, but without cause.... The root formerly was supposed to have the human form, but it really resembles a carrot or parsnip.
Botanical: Podophyllum peltatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Berberidaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparatons and Dosages
May Apple. Wild Lemon. Racoonberry. Duck's Foot. Hog Apple.
---Parts Used---Root, resin.
The American Mandrake is a small herb with a long, perennial, creeping rhizome, a native of many parts of North America, common in the eastern United States and Canada, growing there profusely in wet meadows and in damp, open woods.
The root is composed of many thick tubers, fastened together by fleshy fibres which spread greatly underground, sending out many smaller fibres at the joints, which strike downward. The stems are solitary, mostly unbranched, 1 to 2 feet high, crowned with two large, smooth leaves, stalked, peltate in the middle like an umbrella, of the size of a hand, composed of five to seven wedge-shaped divisions, somewhat lobed and toothed at the apex. Between their foot-stalks, grows a solitary, drooping white flower, about 2 inches across, appearing in May. The odour of the flower is nauseous. When it falls off, the fruit that develops swells to the size and shape of the common rosehip, being 1 to 2 inches long. It is yellow in color and pulpy. In taste it is sweet, though slightly acid and is edible. The leaves and roots are poisonous. The foliage and stems have been used as a pot-herb, but in some cases with fatal results.
The drug was well known to the North American Indians as an emetic and vermifuge. It was included in the British Pharmacopoeia in 1864.
The Latin name is derived from pous, podos (a foot) and phyllon (a leaf), alluding to a fanciful resemblance in the palmate leaf to the foot of some web-footed aquatic bird. Hence one of the popular names of the plant - Duck's Foot.
It grows in warm, sheltered spots, such as partially shaded borders, woods, and marshes, liking a light, loamy soil. It requires no other culture than to be kept clear of weeds, and is so hardy as to be seldom injured by frost.
Propagate (1) by sowing seeds, in sandy soil, planting out in the following spring or autumn; (2) by division of roots. It propagates so fast by its creeping roots that this mode of propagation is preferred. Every part of the root will grow. Divide either in autumn, when the leaves decay, or in spring, just before the roots begin to shoot, preferably the latter.
The dried rhizome, from which a resin is also extracted.
It must be carefully distinguished from English Mandrake (Bryonia dioica), which is sometimes offered as Mandrake root.
A neutral crystalline substance, podo-phyllotoxin, and an amorphous resin, podophylloresin, both of which are purgative. It also contains picro-podophyllin, a yellow coloring matter, quercetin, sugar, starch, fat, etc.
It yields about 3 per cent of ash on incinceration.
Podophyllum rhizome is said to be most active when it is beginning to shoot. It is used almost entirely in the form of podophyllum resin.
The resin is prepared by making a tincture of the rhizome, removing from this the greater part of the spirit by distillation and pouring the remaining liquor into water acidified with hydrochloric acid. By this means the resin is precipitated, and may be collected and dried.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Antibilious, cathartic, hydragogue, purgative.
Podophyllum is a medicine of most extensive service; its greatest power lies in its action upon the liver and bowels. It is a gastro-intestinal irritant, a powerful hepatic and intestinal stimulant. In congested states of the liver, it is employed with the greatest benefit, and for all hepatic complaints it is eminently suitable, and the beneficial results can hardly be exaggerated.
In large doses it produces nausea and vomiting, and even inflammation of the stomach and intestines, which has been known to prove fatal. In moderate doses, it is a drastic purgative with some cholagogue action. Like many other hepatic stimulants, it does not increase the secretion of bile so much when it acts as a purgative.
Podophyllum is a powerful medicine exercising an influence on every part of the system, stimulating the glands to healthy action. It is highly valuable in dropsy, biliousness, dyspepsia, liver and other disorders. Its most beneficial action is obtained by the use of small doses frequently given. In such circumstances, it acts admirably upon all the secretions, removing obstructions, and producing a healthy condition of all the organs in the system. In still smaller doses, it is a valuable remedy in skin diseases.
It may either be given in infusion, decoction, tincture or substance, but it is not to be given warm.
It is often employed in combination with other purgatives, such as colocynth, aloes or rhubarb, and also administered in pills, with extract of henbane or belladonna, to prevent griping.
Externally applied the resin, of podophyllum acts as an irritant. If incautiously handled, it often produces conjunctivitis, and in America it has on this account, when dissolved in alcohol, been used as a counterirritant.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Powdered root, 5 to 30 grains. Fluid extract, 5 to 30 drops. Tincture root, 5 to 30 drops. Tincture resin, B.P., 5 to 15 drops. Solid extract, 1 to 5 grains. Podophyllum resin, 1/4 to 1 grain.
Podophyllum Emodi (Indian Podophyllum), a native of Northern India. The roots are much stouter, more knotty, and about twice as strong as the American. It is not identical with, nor should it be substituted for, the American rhizome. It contains twice as much podophyllotoxin, and in other respects exhibits differences. Indian podophyllum is official in India and the Eastern Colonies, where it is used in place of ordinary podophyllum.
Botanical: Hippomane mancinella (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Juice of berries, leaves, bark.
South America, West Indian Islands, Venezuela, Panama.
---Description---A tree growing to a height of 40 to 50 feet, mostly on sandy seashores, said to be so poisonous that men die under the shade of it; leaves shiny green, stalked, elliptical edges cut like saw teeth, a single gland on upper side where the stalk and leaf join, very small inconspicuous flowers (of separate sexes) on long slender spikes, the few females placed singly at base of the spike with a three-parted calyx, the males in little clusters on the upper part with a twoparted calyx and two or four stamens joined by their filaments, the females with a manycelled ovary crowned with from four to eight styles and reflexed stigmas. Fruit a rounded, fleshy, yellow-green berry.
A milky, very acrid juice both in the bark and the berries.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
A violent irritant and powerful cathartic, diuretic vesicant. The least drop applied to the eye will cause blindness for some days; the smoke from the wood when burnt will also seriously affect the eyes. Much used in Cuba for tetanus. Indians use the juice to poison their arrows.
---Dosage---2 minims as a cathartic.
Family: N.O. Aceraceae
Maple, Bird's Eye
The Maples, belonging to the genus Acer, natural order Aceraceae, are for the most part trees, inhabitants of the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, particularly North America, Northern India and Japan.
The leaves are long-stalked, placed opposite to one another, and palmately lobed; the flowers, in fascicles appearing before the leaves as in the Norway Maple, or in racemes appearing with, or later than, the leaves as in the Sycamore Some of the flowers are often imperfect.
The dry fruit, termed a 'samara,' is composed of two one-seeded cells, furnished with wings, which divide when ripe, the winged seeds being borne by the wind to a considerable distance.
The leaves of the Maples commonly exhibit varnish-like smears, of sticky consistence, known as honey-dew. This is the excretion of the aphides which live on the leaves; the insect bores holes into the tissues, sucks their juices and ejects a drop of honeydew, on an average once in half an hour. In passing under a tree infested with aphides the drops can be felt like a fine rain. The fluid is rich in sugar. When the dew falls, the honey-dew takes it up and spreads over the leaf; later in the day evaporation reduces it to the state of a varnish on the leaf surface, which aids in checking transpiration. Many other trees exhibit this phenomenon, e.g. lime, beech, oak, etc.
Most of the Maples yield a saccharine juice from the trunk, branches and leaves. The wood of almost all the species is useful for many purposes, especially to the cabinetmaker, the turner and the musical instrument-maker, and for the manufacture of alkali the Maples of North America are of great value.
Many species with finely-cut or variegated leaves have been introduced, especially from Japan, as ornamental shrubs, most of them remarkable for the coppery-purple tint that pervades the leaves and younger growths.
The Common Maple (Acer campestre, Linn.) is the only species indigenous to Great Britain. This and the Sycamore, or Great Maple, were described by Gerard in 1597, the latter as 'a stranger to England.'
Botanical: Acer campestre
Though a native tree, Acer campestre is not often seen growing freely for the sake of its timber, being chiefly looked upon as a valuable hedge-tree, and is therefore frequently found in hedgerows.
When growing alone it is a small tree, seldom attaining more than 20 feet, but the wood is compact, of a fine grain, sometimes beautifully veined and takes a high polish. For this reason, it is highly praised by the cabinet-maker and has always been used much for tables, also for inlaying, and is frequently employed for violin cases. The wood makes excellent fuel and affords very good charcoal.
The wood of the roots is often knotted and is valuable for small objects of cabinet-work.
The young shoots, being flexible and tough, are employed in France as whips.
Sap drawn from the trees in spring yields a certain amount of sugar.
MAPLE, BIRD'S EYE
Acer saccharinum (LINN.)
Acer saccharinum (Linn.), the Sugar or Bird's Eye Maple, is an American species, introduced into Britain in 1735.
It bears a considerable resemblance to the Norway Maple, especially when young, but is not so hardy here as our native Maple and requires a sheltered situation.
So far it has only been grown as an ornamental tree, the vivid colors of its foliage in winter ranging from bright orange to dark crimson. Sometimes it attains a height of 70, or even 100 feet, though more commonly it does not exceed 50 or 60 feet. It is remarkable for the whiteness of its bark.
Where the tree is plentiful in America, the timber is much used for fuel and is extensively employed for house-building and furniture, used instead of Oak when the latter is scarce, being also employed for axletrees and spokes, as well as for Windsor chairs, shoe-lasts, etc. The wood is white, but acquires a rosy tinge after exposure to light. The grain is fine and close and when polished has a silky lustre.
The wood of old trees is valued for inlaying mahogany. The name 'Bird's Eye Maple' refers to the twisting of the silver grain, which produces numerous knots like the eyes of birds. Considerable quantities of this Maple are imported from Canada for cabinetmaking.
The wood forms excellent fuel and charcoal, while the ashes are rich in alkaline principles, furnishing a large proportion of the potash exported from Boston and New York.
Large quantities of sugar are made from the sap of this species of Maple. The sap is boiled and the syrup when reduced to a proper consistence is run into moulds to form cakes. Trees growing in moist and low situations afford the most sap, though the least proportion of sugar.
The trees are tapped in early spring, just before the foliage develops, either by making a notch in the stem, about 3 feet from the ground, with an axe, or by boring a hole about 2 inches deep and introducing a spout of sumach or elder, through which the sap flows into a trough below. The sap is purified and concentrated in a simple manner, the whole work being carried on by farmers, who themselves use much of the product for domestic and culinary purposes.
A cold north-west wind with frosty nights and sunny days tends to incite the flow, which is more abundant during the day than during the night. The flow ceases during a south-west wind and at the approach of a storm, and so sensitive are the trees to aspect and climatic variations that the flow of sap on the south and east sides has been noticed to be earlier than on the north and west sides of the same tree.
The sap continues flowing for five or six weeks, according to the temperature. A tree of average size yields 15 to 30 gallons of sap in a season, 4 gallons of sap giving about 1 Ib. of sugar. The tree is not at all injured by the tapping operation.
The quality of Maple Sugar is superior to that of West Indian cane sugar: it deposits less sediment when dissolved in water and has more the appearance of sugar candy.
The profits of the Sugar Maple do not arise from the sugar alone: it affords good molasses and excellent vinegar. The sap which is suitable for these purposes is obtained after that which supplies the sugar has ceased to flow.
Botanical: Acer pseudo-Platanus (LINN.)
Acer pseudo-Platanus (Linn.), the Sycamore or Great Maple (the Plane-tree of the Scotch), grows wild in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Italy. It is remarkably hardy and will grow with an erect stem, exposed to the highest winds or to the sea-breezes, which it withstands better than most timber trees, being often planted near farmhouses and cottages in exposed localities for the sake of its dense foliage.
It is a handsome tree, of quick growth, attaining a height of 50 or 60 feet in 50 years. Though not a native, it has been cultivated here for four or five centuries, and has become so naturalized that self-sown examples are common.
The timber was formerly much used by the turner for cups, bowls and pattern blocks; and is still in repute by the saddlemakers and the millwright, being soft, light and tough.
In spring and autumn, if the trunk is pierced, it yields an abundance of juice, from which a good wine has been made in the Highlands of Scotland. Sugar is to a certain extent procured from it by evaporation, but 1 ounce to 1 quart of sap is the largest amount of sugar obtainable.
The leaves may be dried and given to sheep in winter.
The lobed shape of its leaf and its dense foliage caused it to be confounded with the True Sycamore (Ficus sycamorus) of Scripture.
Botanical: Acer Platanoides
Acer Platanoides, the Norway Maple, grows on the mountains of the northern countries of Europe, descending in some parts of Norway to the seashore. It abounds in the north of Poland and Lithuania, and is common through Germany, Switzerland, and Savoy.
It was introduced into Great Britain in 1683. It is a quick grower and on a tolerable soil it attains a large size (from 40 to 70 feet).
The leaves are smooth and of a shining green, as large or larger than those of the Sycamore, and are seldom eaten or defaced, because the tree is full of a sharp, milky juice disliked by insects. In the spring, when the flowers, which are of a fine yellow color, are out, this tree has great beauty.
The wood is used for the same purposes as that of the Sycamore.
Sugar has been made from the sap in Norway and Sweden.
Botanical: Acer rubrum (LINN.)
Swamp Maple. Curled Maple.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Acer rubrum (Linn.), the Red or Swamp Maple, is another American species, a middle-sized tree, introduced here in 1656, but so far only cultivated in England as an ornamental tree, for the sake of its striking bright scarlet flowers, which appear before the leaves in March and April, its red fruit and leaves rendering it very attractive also in autumn.
The wood is applicable to many purposes, such as the seats of Windsor chairs, turnery, etc. The grain of very old trees is sometimes undulated, which has suggested the name of 'Curled Maple': this gives beautiful effects of light and shade on polished surfaces.
The most constant use of Curled Maple is for the stocks of fowling pieces and rifles, as it affords toughness and strength, combined with lightness and elegance, but on the whole the wood is considered inferior to that of the Bird's Eye Maple, both in strength and as fuel.
Sugar has been made from the sap by the French Canadians, and also molasses, but the yield is only half as great as that from the Sugar Maple.
The inner bark is dusky red: on boiling, it yields a purple color, which with sulphate of lead affords a black dye. It makes a good black ink.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The bark has astringent properties and has been used medicinally as an application for sore eyes, a use which the early settlers learnt from the Red Indians.
It occurs in long quilled pieces 6 to 12 inches or more in length, 1/4 to 3/4 inch wide, externally blackish brown, slightly polished, with innumerable fine transverse lines and scattered, brownish, warts. The inner bark is in very tough and fibrous layers, pale reddish brown or buff. The bark has an astringent and slightly bitter taste.
The CHINESE SUGAR MAPLE is Sorghum saccharatum (known also as Andropogon arundinaceus, var. saccharatus), a cane-like plant containing sugary sap, belonging to the Grass family Graminaceae.
It somewhat resembles Indian corn, or maize, from which it is distinguished by producing large heads of small grains.
It is cultivated in the United States to some extent as a forage crop, but is not used in the manufacture of sugar, owing to the difficulty of effecting its crystallization.
Botanical: Hippuris vulgaris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Haloragaceae
Female Horsetail. Marsh Barren Horsetail.
The Mare's Tail (Hippuris vulgaris) must not be confused with the Horsetail (Equisetum arvense). The Mare's Tail is an aquatic flowering plant, the only British species of a group of plants found growing nearly all over Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and North America. It has a superficial resemblance to the Horsetails, having the same erect, many-jointed stems about as thick as a goosequill, unbranched, except at the base, and tapering to a point, crowded in the whole length by whorls of eight to twelve very narrow leaves 1/2 to 1 1/3 inch long, closely set with hard tips.
The inconspicuous flowers are sessile, i.e. stalkless, in the axils of the upper leaves and consist of a minute calyx, forming an indistinctly two-lobed rim to the ovary a solitary stamen, with red anthers and a single seed. Some of the flowers are often without stamens. They appear in June and July.
In stagnant water the plant grows erect, in running water it bends with the stream, swimming on the surface. The stems are as a rule about 2 feet long.
Culpepper, in common with the older herbalists, considered it of great value as a vulnerary:
'It is very powerful to stop bleeding, either inward or outward, the juice or the decoction being drunk, or the juice, decoction or distilled water applied outwardly.... It also heals inward ulcers.... It solders together the tops of green wounds and cures all ruptures in children. The decoction taken in wine helps stone and strangury; the distilled water drunk two or three times a day eases and strengthens the intestines and is effectual in a cough that comes by distillation from the head. The juice or distilled water used as a warm fomentation is of service in inflammations and breakings-out in the skin.'
The Mare's Tail is not uncommon in shallow ponds, the margins of lakes, etc. where there is a depth of mud and frost cannot reach the roots, which are stout and creeping. When the water is shallow, the upper part of the stem is stout and projects out of the water to a height of 8 inches to a foot or more. The submerged leaves, when the plant grows in deep streams, are often 2 to 3 inches long, paler and broader than those above water.
In some countries it is a troublesome weed in rivers and chokes up the ditches. It has been supposed to assist in purifying the putrid air of marshes by absorbing a great quantity of marsh gas. Goats are said to eat it, and in the north wild ducks to feed on it.
Gerard calls the plant Female Horsetail, and Parkinson Marsh Barren Horsetail. The name, Hippuris, is the Greek word for Mare's Tail.
See (WATER) MILFOIL.
Botanical: Calendula officinalis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Caltha officinalis. Golds. Ruddes. Mary Gowles. Oculus Christi. Pot Marigold. Marygold. Fiore d'ogni mese. Solis Sponsa.
Flowers, herb, leaves.
The Common Marigold is familiar to everyone, with its pale-green leaves and golden orange flowers. It is said to be in bloom on the calends of every month, hence its Latin name, and one of the names by which it is known in Italy - fiore d'ogni mese - countenances this derivation. It was not named after the Virgin, its name being a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon merso-meargealla, the Marsh Marigold. Old English authors called it Golds or Ruddes. It was, however, later associated with the Virgin Mary, and in the seventeenth century with Queen Mary.
It was well known to the old herbalists as a garden-flower and for use in cookery and medicine. Dodoens-Lyte (A Niewe Herball, 1578) says:
'It hath pleasant, bright and shining yellow flowers, the which do close at the setting downe of the sunne, and do spread and open againe at the sunne rising.'
Linnaeus assigned a narrower limit to the expansion of its flowers, observing that they are open from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon. This regular expansion and closing of the flowers attracted early notice, and hence the plant acquired the names of solsequia and solis sponsa. There is an allusion to this peculiarity in the poems of Rowley:
'The Mary-budde that shooteth (shutteth) with the light.'
And in the Winter's Tale:
'The Marigold that goes to bed wi' th' sun,
And with him rises weeping.'
It has been cultivated in the kitchen garden for the flowers, which are dried for broth, and said to comfort the heart and spirits.
Fuller writes: 'We all know the many and sovereign virtues in your leaves, the Herbe Generalle in all pottage.' (Antheologie, 1655.) Stevens, in Maison Rustique, or the Countrie Farme (1699), mentions the Marigold as a specific for headache, jaundice, red eyes, toothache and ague. The dried flowers are still used among the peasantry 'to strengthen and comfort the hart.' He says further:
'Conserve made of the flowers and sugar, taken in the morning fasting, cureth the trembling of the harte, and is also given in the time of plague or pestilence. The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout Dutchland against winter to put into broths, physicall potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spicesellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigold.'
Formerly its flowers were used to give cheese a yellow color.
In Macer's Herbal it is stated that only to look on Marigolds will draw evil humours out of the head and strengthen the eyesight.
'Golde [Marigold] is bitter in savour
Fayr and zelw [yellow] is his flowur
Ye golde flour is good to sene
It makyth ye syth bryth and clene
Wyscely to lokyn on his flowres
Drawyth owt of ye heed wikked hirores
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Loke wyscely on golde erly at morwe [morning]
Yat day fro feures it schall ye borwe:
Ye odour of ye golde is good to smelle.'
'It must be taken only when the moon is in the Sign of the Virgin and not when Jupiter is in the ascendant, for then the herb loses its virtue. And the gatherer, who must be out of deadly sin, must say three Pater Nosters and three Aves. It will give the wearer a vision of anyone who has robbed him.'
From Eleanour Sinclair Rohde's Old English Herbals:
'Of marygold we learn that Summe use to make theyr here yelow with the floure of this herbe, not beyng contet with the naturall color which God hath geven the.'
Gerard speaks of:
'The fruitful or much-bearing marigold, . . . is likewise called Jackanapes-on-horsebacke: it hath leaves stalkes and roots like the common sort of marigold, differing in the shape of his floures; for this plant doth bring forth at the top of the stalke one floure like the other marigolds, from which start forth sundry other small floures, yellow likewise and of the same fashion as the first; which if I be not deceived commeth to pass per accidens, or by chance, as Nature often times liketh to play with other flowers; or as children are borne with two thumbes on one hande or such like; which living to be men do get children like unto others: even so is the seed of this Marigold, which if it be sowen it brings forth not one floure in a thousand like the plant from whence it was taken.'
Culpepper says it is a:
'herb of the Sun, and under Leo. They strengthen the heart exceedingly, and are very expulsive, and a little less effectual in the smallpox and measles than saffron. The juice of Marigold leaves mixed with vinegar, and any hot swelling bathed with it, instantly gives ease, and assuages it. The flowers, either green or dried, are much used in possets, broths, and drink, as a comforter of the heart and spirits, and to expel any malignant or pestilential quality which might annoy them. A plaister made with the dry flowers in powder, hog's-grease, turpentine, and rosin, applied to the breast, strengthens and succours the heart infinitely in fevers, whether pestilential or not.'
The Marigold is a native of south Europe, but perfectly hardy in this country, and easy to grow. Seeds sown in April, in any soil, in sunny, or half-sunny places germinate freely. They require no other cultivation but to keep them clean from weeds and to thin out where too close, leaving them 9 to 10 inches apart, so that their branches may have room to spread. The plants will begin to flower in June, and continue flowering until the frost kills them. They will increase from year to year, if allowed to seed themselves. The seeds ripen in August and September, and if permitted to scatter will furnish a supply of young plants in the spring.
Only the common deep orange-flowered variety is of medinical value.
The flowers and leaves.
Leaves. - Gather only in fine weather, in the morning, after the dew has been dried by the sun. Flowers. - The ray florets are used and need quick drying in the shade, in a good current of warm air, spread out on sheets of paper, loosely, without touching each other, or they will become discolored.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Marigold is chiefly used as a local remedy. Its action is stimulant and diaphoretic. Given internally, it assists local action and prevents suppuration. The infusion of 1 ounce to a pint of boiling water is given internally, in doses of a tablespoonful, and externally as a local application. It is useful in chronic ulcer, varicose veins, etc. Was considered formerly to have much value as an aperient and detergent in visceral obstructions and jaundice.
It has been asserted that a Marigold flower, rubbed on the affected part, is an admirable remedy for the pain and swelling caused by the sting of a wasp or bee. A lotion made from the flowers is most useful for sprains and wounds, and a water distilled from them is good for inflamed and sore eyes.
An infusion of the freshly-gathered flowers is employed in fevers, as it gently promotes perspiration and throws out any eruption - a decoction of the flowers is much in use in country districts to bring out smallpox and measles, in the same manner as Saffron. Marigold flowers are in demand for children's ailments.
The leaves when chewed at first communicate a viscid sweetness, followed by a strong penetrating taste, of a saline nature. The expressed juice, which contains the greater part of this pungent matter, has been given in cases of costiveness and proved very efficacious. Snuffed up the nose it excites sneezing and a discharge of mucous from the head.
The leaves, eaten as a salad, have been considered useful in the scrofula of children, and the acrid qualities of the plant have caused it to be recommended as an extirpator of warts.
A yellow dye has also been extracted from the flower, by boiling.
---Preparations and Dosage---Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm.
See (Water) Agrimony.
Botanical: Caltha palustris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Kingcups. Water Blobs. Horse Blobs. Bull's Eyes. Leopard's Foot. Meadow Routs. Verrucaria. Solsequia. Sponsa solis.
Whole plant, buds, leaves.
The Marsh Marigold, a showy dark-green plant resembling a gigantic buttercup, is abundant in marshes, wet meadows, and by the side of streams, where it forms large tufts or masses.
It is a herbaceous perennial. The stems are about a foot in height, hollow, nearly round, erect, but at times creeping and rooting at intervals in the lower portions, which are generally of a purple color.
Most of the leaves spring directly from the ground, on long stalks, kidney-shaped, large and glossy. The stem-leaves have very short stalks and are more pointed at the top.
It flowers from mid-March till the middle of June, the flowers being at the end of the stems, which divide into two grooved flowerstalks, each bearing one blossom, from 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The Marsh Marigold is closely allied to various species of buttercups, but the flower has no real corolla, the brilliant yellow cup being composed of the five petaloid sepals.
The generic name is derived from the Greek calathos (a cup or goblet), from the shape of its flowers; the specific name from the Latin palus (a marsh), in reference to its place of growth.
The English name Marigold refers to its use in church festivals in the Middle Ages, as one of the flowers devoted to the Virgin Mary. It was also used on May Day festivals, being strewn before cottage doors and made into garlands.
Shakespeare refers several times to the flower, 'Winking Marybuds begin to ope their golden eyes.'
It has been called Verrucaria because it is efficacious in curing warts; also Solsequia and Sponsa solis because the flower opens at the rising of the sun and closes at its setting.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Every part of the plant is strongly irritant, and cases are on record of serious effects produced by rashly experimenting with it. Dr. Withering says:
'It would appear that medicinal properties may be evolved in the gaseous exhalations of plants and flowers, for on a large quantity of the flowers of Meadow Routs being put into the bedroom of a girl who had been subject to fits, the fits ceased.'
An infusion of the flowers was afterwards successfully used in various kinds of fits, both of children and adults.
A tincture made from the whole plant when in flower may be given in cases of anaemia in small, well-diluted doses.
The buds have occasionally been used as capers, but rather inadvisedly; the soaking in vinegar may, however, somewhat remove the acid and poisonous character of the buds in their fresh state.
The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach.
The juice of the petals, boiled with a little alum, stains paper yellow, but the color so produced is said not to be permanent.
The Marsh Marigold is propagated by parting the roots in autumn. Itshould be planted in a moist soil and a shady situation. A double variety is cultivated in gardens.
Botanical: Origanum marjorana (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Knotted Marjoram. Marjorana hortensis.
---Parts Used---Herb, leaves.
Sweet or Knotted Marjoram is not an annual, but is usually treated as such, as the plants - native to Portugal - will not stand the winter elsewhere, so must be sown every year.
Seeds may be sown, for an early supply, in March, on a gentle hot-bed and again, in a warm position, in light soil, in the open ground during April. Plants do well if sown in April, though they are long in germinating. The seed is small and should be sown either in drills, 9 inches apart, or broadcast, on the surface, trodden, raked evenly and watered in dry weather. On account of the slowness of germination, care should be taken that the seedlings are not choked with weeds, which being of much quicker growth are likely to do so if not destroyed. They should be removed by the hand, until the plants are large enough to use the small hoe with safety. Seed may also be sown early in May. In common with other aromatic herbs, such as Fennel, Basil, Dill, etc., it is not subject to the attacks of birds, as many other seeds are. When about an inch high, thin out to 6 or 8 inches apart each way. It begins to flower in July, when it is cut for use, and obtains its name of Knotted Marjoram from the flowers being collected into roundish close heads like knots.
Marjoram has been cultivated on a small scale at Sfax, Tunis, for a long time, and is called by the natives 'Khezama' (the Arab name for lavender).
Before the War, the herb was bought by agents and exported to Marseilles and other places. The plant is suitable to the sandy soil of the country.
The Marjoram plants are obtained either by division of clumps in winter, or from seeds planted in parallel lines 2 metres apart, between the almond and olive trees; and the soil, being of necessity worked for cultivation of the trees, this also serves to fertilize the Marjoram. One cutting of plant-clumps is best, a second one weakens it. The stems are cut about 10 cms. from the ground, dried in the sun on earth which has been previously beaten slightly. The leaves are separated from the stems by being beaten with staves; they are discolored by the sun, broken and mixed with the debris of stems of which the odour is less strong.
Drying in the shade obtains more aromatic and less broken leaves, with less impurities.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The medicinal qualities of the oil extracted from Sweet Marjoram - Oleum majoranae - are similar to that of the Wild Marjoram. Fifteen ounces of the oil are yielded by 150 lb. of the fresh herb. On being kept, it assumes a solid form. It is used as an external application for sprains, bruises, etc., and also as an emmenagogue. In powdered form the herb forms part of certain Sneezing Powders.
In addition to the species just mentioned, others are cultivated in this country as ornamental plants, such as O. Dictamnus, the Dittany of Crete, which has roundish leaves thickly invested with white down, and flowers in drooping spikes; and O. sipyleum, which is similar, but taller and less woolly. These last are popularly called Hop Plants, and are often seen in cottage windows.
Aromatic Herbaceous Seasoning
Take of nutmegs and mace 1 OZ. each, of cloves and peppercorns 2 OZ. of each, 1 OZ. of dried bay-leaves, 3 OZ. of basil, the same of Marjoram, 2 OZ. of winter savoury, and 3 OZ. of thyme, 1/2 OZ. of cayenne pepper, the same of grated lemon-peel, and 2 cloves of garlic; all these ingredients must be well pulverized in a mortar, and sifted through a fine wire sieve, and put away in dry corked bottles for use.
The following is from Halliwell's Popular Rhymes and Superstitions:
'On St. Luke's Day, says Mother Bunch, take marigold flowers, a sprig of marjoram, thyme, and a little wormwood; dry them before a fire, rub them to powder, then sift it through a fine piece of lawn, and simmer it over a slow fire, adding a small quantity of virgin honey and vinegar. Anoint yourself with this when you go to bed, saying the following lines three times, and you will dream of your future partner "that is to be":
St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me,
In dreams let me my true love see.
If a girl desires to obtain this information, let her seek for a green peascod in which there are full 9 peas, and write on a piece of paper -
Come in, my dear,
And do not fear;
which paper she must enclose in the peascod,and lay it under the door. The first person who comes into the room will be her husband.'
Shakespeare may allude to this in As You Like It (ii. iv.) when he talks about the wooing of a peascod.
Botanical: Origanum vulgare (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Parts Used---Herb, oil.
Generally distributed over Asia, Europe and North Africa; grows freely in England, being particularly abundant in calcareous soils, as in the south-eastern counties.
The name Origanum is derived from two Greek words, oros (mountain) and ganos (joy), in allusion to the gay appearance these plants give to the hillsides on which they grow.
It is a perennial herb, with creeping roots, sending up woody stems about a foot high, branched above, often purplish. The leaves are opposite, petiolate, about an inch long, nearly entire hairy beneath. The flowers are in corymbs, with reddish bracts, a two-lipped pale purple corolla, and a five-toothed calyx, blooming from the end of June, through August. There is a variety with white flowers and light-green stalks, another with variegated leaves. It is propagated by division of roots in the autumn.
When cultivated, the leaves are more elliptical in shape than the Wild Marjoram, and the flower-spikes thinner and more compact. Marjoram has an extensive use for culinary purposes, as well as in medicine, but it is the cultivated species, Origanum Onites (Pot Marjoram), O. Marjorana (Sweet or Knotted Marjoram), and O. Heracleoticum (Winter Marjoram) that are employed in cookery as a seasoning. They are little used for medicinal purposes for which the Wild Marjoram is employed.
Marjoram has a very ancient medical reputation. The Greeks used it extensively, both internally and externally for fomentations. It was a remedy for narcotic poisons, convulsions and dropsy. Among the Greeks, if Marjoram grew on a grave, it augured the happiness of the departed, and among both the Greeks and Romans, it was the custom to crown young couples with Marjoram.
Either O. Onites or O. Majorana is supposed to be the plant called 'Amaracus' by Greek writers.
The whole plant has a strong, peculiar, fragrant, balsamic odour and a warm, bitterish, aromatic taste, both of which properties are preserved when the herb is dry. It yields by distillation with water a small quantity of a volatile oil, which may be seen in vesicles, on holding up the leaves between the eye and the light, and which is the chief source of its properties as a medicinal agent. 1 Ib. of the oil is produced from about 200 lb. of the herb, which should be gathered when just coming into flower, early in July. Large quantities of it are still gathered and hung up to dry in cottages in Kent and other counties for making Marjoram tea.
The 'swete margerome' was so much prized before the introduction of various foreign perfumes that, as Parkinson tells us, 'swete bags,' 'swete powders' and 'swete washing water' made from this plant were widely used. Our forefathers also scoured their furniture with its aromatic juices, and it is one of the herbs mentioned by Tusser (1577) as used for strewing chambers.
The flowering tops yield a dye, formerly used in the country to dye woollen cloth purple, and linen a reddish brown, but the tint is neither brilliant nor durable. The tops are also sometimes put into table beer, to give it an aromatic flavour and preserve it, and before the introduction of hops they were nearly as much in demand for ale-brewing as the ground ivy or wood sage. It is said that Marjoram and Wild Thyme, laid by milk in a dairy, will prevent it being turned by thunder.
Goat and sheep eat this herb, but horses are not fond of it, and cattle reject it.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Marjoram yields about 2 per cent of a volatile oil which is separated by distillation. This must not be confused with oil of Origanum, which is extracted from Thyme. Its properties are stimulant, carminative, diaphoretic and mildly tonic; a useful emmenagogue. It is so acrid that it has been employed not only as a rubefacient, and often as a liniment, but has also been used as a caustic by farriers. A few drops, put on cotton-wool and placed in the hollow of an aching tooth frequently relieves the pain. In the commencement of measles, it is useful in producing a gentle perspiration and bringing out the eruption, being given in the form of a warm infusion, which is also valuable in spasms, colic, and to give relief from pain in dyspeptic complaints.
Externally, the dried leaves and tops may be applied in bags as a hot fomentation to painful swellings and rheumatism, as well as for colic. An infusion made from the fresh plant will relieve nervous headache, by virtue of the camphoraceous principle contained in the oil.
The Marjorams are some of the most familiar of our kitchen herbs, and are cultivated for the use of their aromatic leaves, either in a green or dried state, for flavouring and other culinary purposes, being mainly put into stuffings. Sweet Marjoram leaves are also excellent in salads. They have whitish flowers, with a two-lipped calyx, and also contain a volatile oil, which has similar properties to the Wild Marjoram.
Winter Marjoram is really a native of Greece, but is hardy enough to thrive in the open air in England, in a dry soil, and is generally propagated by division of the roots in autumn.
Pot Marjoram, a native of Sicily, is also a hardy perennial, preferring a warm situation and dry, light soil. It is generally increased by cuttings, taken in early summer, inserted under a hand-glass, and later planted out a space of 1 foot between the rows and nearly as much from plant to plant, as it likes plenty of room. It may also be increased by division of roots in April, or by offsets, slipping pieces off the plants with roots to them and planting with trowel or dibber, taking care to water well. In May, they grow quickly after the operation. May also be propagated by seed, sown moderately thin, in dry, mild weather in March, in shallow drills, about 1/2 inch deep and 8 or 9 inches apart, covered in evenly with the soil. Transplant afterwards to about a foot apart each way. The seeds are very slow in germinating.
Botanical: Imperatoria ostruthium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Use
Masterwort, though rare in the wild state, was formerly cultivated in this country for use as a pot-herb and in medicine. It is sometimes found in moist meadows in the north of England and in Scotland, but is generally regarded as naturalized, having originally been a garden escape. Its native habitat is Central Europe.
It is a smooth, perennial plant, the stout, furrowed stem growing 2 to 3 feet high. The dark-green leaves, which somewhat resemble those of Angelica, are on very long foot-stalks and are divided into `three leaflets, each of which is often again sub-divided into three. The umbels of flowers are large and many-rayed, the corollas white; the fruit has very broad wings.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Stimulant, antispasmodic, carminative; of use in asthma, dyspepsia, menstrual complaints.
The root, to quote Culpepper,
'is the hottest and sharpest part of the plant, hotter than pepper, and (in his opinion) very available in cold griefs and diseases both of the stomach and body.'
He tells us that it was also used 'in a decoction with wine against all cold rheums, distillations upon the lungs or shortness of breath,' and also states that it was considered effectual in dropsy, cramp, falling sickness, kidney and uterine troubles and gout. Also that 'it is of a rare quality against all sorts of cold poison, to be taken as there is a cause; it provoketh sweat.'
'But,' he advises, 'lest the taste hereof or of the seed, should be too offensive, the best way is to take the water distilled both from the herb and root.'
Fluid extract, 1 to 2 drachms.
Botanical: Pistacia Lentiscus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Anacardiaceae
Description and Habitat
Medicinal Action and Properties
---Description and Habitat---
A shrub rarely growing higher than 12 feet, much branched, and found freely scattered over the Mediterranean region, in Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Turkey, the Canary Islands, and Tropical Africa. It has been cultivated in England since 1664. It is principally exported from Scio, on which island it has been cultivated for several centuries. The trees there are said to be entire male.
The best Mastic occurs in roundish tears about the size of a small pea, or in flattened, irregular pear-shaped, or oblong pieces covered with a whitish powder. They are pale yellow in color, which darkens with age. The odour is agreeable and the taste mild and resinous, and when chewed it becomes soft, so that it can easily be masticated. This characteristic enables it to be distinguished froma resin called Sanderach, which it resembles, but which when bitten breaks to powder.
Mastic contains a small proportion of volatile oil, 9 per cent of resinsoluble in alcohol and ether, and 10 per cent of a resin insoluble in alcohol.
---Medicinal Action and Properties---
Stimulant, diuretic. It has many of the properties of the coniferous turpentines and was formerly greatly used in medicine. Of late years it has chiefly been used for filling carious teeth, either alone or in spirituous solution, and for varnishes, and in the East in the manufacture of sweets and cordials.
In the East it is still used medicinally in the diarrhoea of children and masticated to sweeten the breath.
Botanical: Piper angustifolium (R. and P.)
Family: N.O. Piperaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Artanthe elongata. Stephensia elongata. Piper granulosum. Piper elongatum. Yerba soldado. Soldier's Herb. Thoho-thoho. Moho-moho.
---Part Used---The dried leaves.
The classical name for the genus came originally from the Sanscrit pippali. 'Matico' is the name of the Spanish soldier who accidentally discovered the properties of the leaves when wounded in Peru.
The plant has spread over many moist districts of tropical America, and though grown as a stove-plant in English botanical gardens it does not flower there. It is a shrub of about 8 feet high, with many branches thickened at the joints, the younger ones thickly covered with hairs that fall off later. The alternate, bright green leaves are of distinctive shape, oblong-lanceolate with a broad, uneven base and a long, bluntly-tipped point. They are 5 to 7 inches long, entire and rather solid, with a fine network of sunken veins, hairy along the prominent veins of the underside.
The long, flexible spikes, 4 to 7 inches long, consist of tight rings of tiny yellow flowers packed round a fleshy axis. The seed fills the black fruit, which is about the size of a poppy-seed.
Two principal varieties in the shape of the leaves are recognized, the 'cordulatum' as described above, and the 'ossanum' with narrowed leaf-bases.
The drug is imported in bales, via Panama, the whole herb being pressed into a greenish-yellow mass. It is aromatic in taste and odour.
A volatile oil, slightly dextrogyrate, containing in some specimens Matico camphor. Some of the later specimens of oil are said to contain not camphor but asarol.
A crystallizable acid called artanthic acid and a little tannin and resin are also found.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
In South America Matico is used like cubeb. Its styptic properties are due to the volatile oil, and it is used for arresting haemorrhages, as a local application to ulcers, in genito-urinary complaints, atonic diarrhoea, dysentery, etc.
In Peru it is considered aphrodisiac.
It is effective as a topical application to slight wounds, bites of leeches, or after the extraction of teeth. The under surface of the leaf is preferred to the powder for this purpose.
45 to 75 grains. Of fluid extract, as intestinal astringent and diuretic, 1 fluid drachm.
Piper aduncum, of Central America, yieldsa 'false matico'; the leaves are less tessellated above and hairy below, but the chemical properties are similar.
The name of Matico is also given to Eupatorium glutinosum and Waltheria glomerata, and possibly also to a species of Phlomis, but these are not recognized officially.
Botanical: Anthemis cotula
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Maroute. Maruta cotula. Cotula Maruta foetida. Manzanilla loca. Dog Chamomile. Wild Chamomile. Camomille puante. Foetid or Stinking Chamomile or Mayweed. Dog's Fennel. Maithes. Maithen. Mathor.
---Parts Used---Flowers, leaves.
This annual herb, growing freely in waste places, resembles the true Chamomile, having large, solitary flowers on erect stems, with conical, solid receptacles, but the white florets have no membraneous scales at their base. It is distinguished from the allied genera by its very foetid odour, which rubbing increases.
The whole plant, including the fennel-like leaves, has this odour and is full of an acrid juice that has caused it to be classed among the vegetable poisons; it is liable to blister.
Its action resembles that of the Chamomiles, but it is weaker, and its odour prevents its general adoption.
Bees dislike it, and it is said to drive away fleas.
The flowers must not be gathered when wet, or they will blacken during drying.
The flowers have been found to contain volatile oil, oxalic, valeric and tannic acids, salts of magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium, coloring matter, a bitter extractive and fatty matter.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The flowers are preferred for internal use, being slightly less disagreeable than the leaves. In hysteria it is used in Europe as an antispasmodic and emmenagogue. Applied to the skin fresh and bruised it is a safe vesicant. A poultice helpful in piles can be made from the herb boiled until soft, or it can be used as a bath or fomentation.
It is administered to induce sleep in asthma. In sick headache or convalescence after fever the extract may be used.
A strong decoction can cause sweating and vomiting. It is said to be nearly as valuable as opium in dysentery. It has also been used in scrofula, dysmennorrhoea and flatulent gastritis.
Of infusion, 1 to 4 fluid ounces.
Anthemis tinctoria has similar properties and yields a yellow dye.
A. arvensis is considered in France to be one of the best indigenous febrifuges.
Botanical: Matricaria inodora
Family: N.O. Compositae
---Part Used---Whole herb.
The Scentless Mayweed owes its generic name to its reputed medicinal properties, which in a lesser degree resemble those of Anthemis nobilis.
It is an annual, commonly met with in fields, by the wayside, and on waste patches of ground, and flowers throughout the summer. The name 'Mayweed' is misleading, as it will be found in flower right up to the autumn. It is spreading and bunching in its growth, generally about 1 foot in height, but varying a good deal. The leaves, as in all the members of this group, are feather-like in character, springing direct from the main stems without leaf-stalks. The flower-heads are borne singly at the ends of long terminal flower-stems, the centre florets deep yellow on very prominent convex disks and the outer florets having very conspicuous white rays, much larger in proportion to the disk than in most of the allied species. Though compared with several of its allies, it may almost be termed 'scentless,' the term is not strictly appropriate as it yields slightly sweet and pleasant, aromatic odour.
The Finlanders use an infusion of this plant in consumption cases.
Botanical: Spiraea Ulmaria (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Medicinal Actionb and Uses
Meadsweet. Dolloff. Queen of the Meadow. Bridewort. Lady of the Meadow.
The fragrant Meadowsweet is one of the best known wild flowers, decking our meadows and moist banks with its fernlike foliage and tufts of delicate, graceful, creamy-white flowers, which are in blossom from June to almost September. The leaves are dark green on the upper side and whitish and downy underneath, much divided, being interruptedly pinnate, having a few large serrate leaflets and small intermediate ones; the terminal leaflets are large, 1 to 3 inches long and three to five lobed. The stems are 2 to 4 feet high, erect and furrowed, sometimes purple. The flowers are small, clustered close together in handsome irregularly-branched cymes, and have a very strong, sweet smell. The whole herb possesses a pleasant taste and flavour, the green parts partaking of the aromatic character of the flowers.
A peculiarity of this flower is that the scent of the leaves is quite different from that of the flowers. The latter possess an almondlike fragrance, it is one of the fragrant herbs used to strew the floors of chambers. In allusion to this use, Gerard writes:
'The leaves and floures of Meadowsweet farre excelle all other strowing herbs for to decke up houses, to strawe in chambers, halls and banqueting-houses in the summer-time, for the smell thereof makes the heart merrie and joyful and delighteth the senses.'
Meadowsweet, water-mint, and vervain were three herbs held most sacred by the Druids.
It is one of the fifty ingredients in a drink called 'Save,' mentioned in Chaucer's Knight's Tale, in the fourteenth century being called Medwort, or Meadwort, i.e. the mead or honey-wine herb, and the flowers were often put into wine and beer. It is still incorporated in many herb beers.
The name Ulmaria is given in allusion to the resemblance of its leaves to those of the Elm (Ulmus), being much wrinkled on the upper side.
'It is reported that the floures boiled in wine and drunke do take away the fits of a quartaine ague and make the heart merrie. The distilled water of the floures dropped into the eies taketh away the burning and itching thereof and cleareth the sight.'
Culpepper says much the same and also:
'The leaves, when they are full grown, being laid on the skin will, in a short time, raise blisters thereon, as Tragus saith.' He also states that for acquiring the 'merry heart' (which Gerard mentions) 'some use the flowers and some the leaves.' He tells us that 'a leave hereof put into a cup of claret wine gives also a fine relish to it.'
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Aromatic, astringent, diuretic, and sub-tonic. It is a valuable medicine in diarrhoea, imparting to the bowels some degree of nourishment, as well as of astringency. It is also considered of some service as a corrector of the stomach, and not without some power as an alterative, and is frequently used in affections of the blood. It is a good remedy in strangury, dropsy, etc., and almost a specific in children's diarrhoea.
An infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb to a pint of water is the usual mode of administration, in wineglassful doses. Sweetened with honey, it forms a very pleasant diet-drink, or beverage both for invalids and ordinary use.
The herb is collected in July, when in flower.
An infusion of the fresh tops produces perspiration, and a decoction of the root, in white wine, was formerly considered a specific in fevers.
Meadowsweet is visited by bees for the pollen.
Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Another member of the Spiraea is Spircea Filipendula (Dropwort). A herb about a foot high, with short rhizome and nodulose rootlets; leaves interruptedly pinnate, leaflets cut into narrow serrated segments; flowers in crowded, erect, compound cymes, pink externally in bud; when open, white and scentless. Dry pastures on a limestone (or chalky) soil. Distinguished from S. Ulmaria by its elegantly cut foliage, pink buds, and whiter scentless blossoms. A double-flowered variety is common in gardens. Flowering time - June, July. Perennial.
Culpepper speaks of Filipendula, or Dropwort, as being a good remedy for kidneyaffections, by 'taking the roots in powder or a decoction of them in white wine, with a little honey.' He adds that it:
'is also very effectual for all the diseases of the lungs, as shortness of breath, wheezing, hoarseness of the throat; and to expectorate tough phlegm, or any other parts thereabout.'
WILLOW-LEAVED SPIRÆA (S. salyciflora), a shrub with simple ex-stipulate leaves and spike-like clusters of rose-colored flowers, grows in moist woods in the north and in Wales; but it is not indigenous. It flowers in July and August. Perennial.
There are several foreign species of Spiraea, one from Japan being a beautiful shrub with pure white flowers, and leaves like those of the plum, hence its name, S. prunifolia.
There is another from Nepaul, S. bella, with rose-colored flowers growing in lateral and terminal corymbs; another from Canada, S. tomentosa, with cottony leaves and pyramidal panicles of rose-colored flowers; and S. Fortunei from China, with ovate, smooth, toothed leaves often tinged with purple, and rose-colored flowers.
Botanical: Melilotus officinalis (LINN.), Melilotus alba (DESV.), Melilotus arvensis (LAMK.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
Yellow Melilot. White Melilot. Corn Melilot. King's Clover. Sweet Clover. Plaster Clover. Sweet Lucerne. Wild Laburnum. Hart's Tree.
The Melilots or Sweet Clovers - formerly known as Melilot Trefoils and assigned, with the common clovers, to the large genus Trifolium, but now grouped in the genus Melilotus - are not very common in Britain, being not truly native, though they have become naturalized, having been extensively cultivated for fodder formerly, especially the common yellow species, Melilotus officinalis (Linn.).
Although now seldom seen as a crop, having, like the Medick, given place to the Clovers, Sainfoin and Lucerne, Melilot seems, however, to have been a very common crop in the sixteenth century, seeding freely, spreading in a wild condition wherever grown, since Gerard tells us,
'for certainty no part of the world doth enjoy so great plenty thereof as England and especially Essex, for I have seen between Sudbury in Suffolke and Clare in Essex and from Clare to Hessingham very many acres of earable pasture overgrowne with the same; in so much that it doth not only spoil their land, but the corn also, as Cockle or Darnel and is a weed that generally spreadeth over that corner of the shire.
The Meliots are perennial herbs, 2 to 4 feet high, found in dry fields and along roadsides, in waste places and chalky banks, especially along railway banks and near lime kilns. The smooth, erect stems are much branched, the leaves placed on alternate sides of the stems are smooth and trifoliate, the leaflets oval. The plants bear long racemes of small, sweet-scented, yellow or white, papilionaceous flowers in the yellow species, the keel of the flower much shorter than the other parts and containing much honey. They are succeeded by broad, black, one-seeded pods, transversely wrinkled.
All species of Melilot, when in flower, have a peculiar sweet odour, which by drying be comes stronger and more agreeable, somewhat like that of the Tonka bean, this similarity being accounted for by the fact that they both contain the same chemical principle, Coumarin, which is also present in new-mown hay and woodruff, which have the identical fragrance.
The name of this genus comes from the words Mel (honey) and lotus (meaning honeylotus), the plants being great favourites of the bees. Popular and local English names are Sweet Clover, King's Clover, Hart's Tree or Plaster Clover, Sweet Lucerne and Wild Laburnum.
The tender foliage makes the plant acceptable to horses and other animals, and it is said that deer browse on it, hence its name 'Hart's Clover. ' Galen used to prescribe Melilot plaster to his Imperial and aristocratic patients when they suffered from inflammatory tumours or swelled joints, and the plant is so used even in the present day in some parts of the Continent.
In one Continental Pharmacopoeia of recent date an emollient application is directed to be made of Melilot, resin, wax, and olive oil.
Gerard says that:
'Melilote boiled in sweet wine untile it be soft, if you adde thereto the yolke of a rosted egge, the meale of Linseed, the roots of Marsh Mallowes and hogs greeace stamped together, and used as a pultis or cataplasma, plaisterwise, doth asswge and soften all manner of swellings.'
It was also believed that the juice of the plant 'dropped into the eies cleereth the sight.'
Water distilled from the flowers was said to improve the flavour of other ingredients.
There are three varieties of Melilot found in England, the commonest being Melilotus officinalis (Linn.), the Yellow Melilot; M. alba (Desv.), the White Melilot, and M. arvensis (Lamk.), the Corn Melilot, which is found occasionally in waste places in the eastern counties, but is not considered indigenous.
The dried leaves and flowering tops of all three species form the drug used in herbal medicine, though the drug of the German Pharmacopceia is M. officinalis. Two yellowflowered species are, however, often sold under this name, the common M. officinalis, which has hairy pods, and M. arvensis, which has small, smooth pods.
The White Melilot found in waste places in England, particularly on railway banks, is not uncommon, but apparently not permanently established in any of its localities. It differs from M. officinalis by its more slender root and stems, which, however, attain as great a height, by its more slender and lax racemes and smaller flowers, which are about 1/5 inch long and white. The standard is larger than the keel and wings, which alone would distinguish it from M. officinalis. The pods are smaller and free from the hairs clothing those of M. officinalis.
A new kind of Sweet Clover, an annual variety of M. alba, has been discovered in the United States. To distinguish it from the other Sweet Clovers, it is called Hubam, after Professor Hughes, its discoverer, and Alabama, its native state. Some five or six years ago, small samples were distributed by Professor Hughes among various experimental stations, with the result that the superiority of the plant has been generally recognized and its spread has been rapid, over 5,000 acres now being cultivated. The plant has specially valuable characteristics - great resistance to drought, adaptability to a wide variety of soils and climates, abundant seed production, richness in nectar and great fertilizing value to the soil, and has been grown successfully in the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy, and many other countries. The quantity of forage produced from a given acre is second to no other forage plant, and the quality, if properly handled, is excellent. It is of very quick growth and blooms in three to four months after sowing, producing an unusual wealth of honey-making blooms. The flowers remain in bloom for a longer period than almost any other honey-bearing plant, and in the matter of nectar production the quantity is surprising, equal to that of any other honey produced in the United States, and the quality compares favourably with the best honey produced either there or in Great Britain. It is considered that this annual Sweet Clover will one day stand at the head of the list of honey plants of the world, if the present rate of spreading continues.
---Parts Used Medicinally---
The whole herb is used, dried, for medicinal purposes, the flowering shoots, gathered in May, separated from the main stem and dried in the same manner as Broom tops.
The dried herb has an intensely fragrant odour, but a somewhat pungent and bitterish taste.
Coumarin, the crystalline substance developed under the drying process, is the only important constituent, together with its related compounds, hydrocoumaric (melilotic) acid, orthocoumaric acid and melilotic anhydride, or lactone, a fragrant oil.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The herb has aromatic, emollient and carminative properties. It was formerly much esteemed inmedicine as an emollient and digestive and is recommended by Gerard for many complaints, the juice for clearing the eyesight, and, boiled with lard and other ingredients, as an application to wens and ulcers, and mixed with wine, 'it mitigateth the paine of the eares and taketh away the paine of the head.'
Culpepper tells us that the head is to be washed with the distilled herb for loss of senses and apoplexy, and that boiled in wine, it is good for inflammation of the eye or other parts of the body.
The following recipe is from the Fairfax Still-room book (published 1651):
'To make a bath for Melancholy. Take Mallowes, pellitory of the wall, of each three handfulls; Camomell Flowers, Mellilot flowers, of each one handfull, senerick seed one ounce, and boil them in nine gallons of Water untill they come to three, then put in a quart of new milke and go into it bloud warme or something warmer.'
Applied as a plaster, or in ointment, or as a fomentation, it is an old-fashioned country remedy for the relief of abdominal and rheumatic pains.
It relieves flatulence and in modern herbal practice is taken internally for this purpose.
The flowers, besides being very useful and attractive to bees, have supplied a perfume, and a water distilled from them has been used for flavouring.
The dried plant has been employed to scent snuff and smoking tobacco and may be laid among linen for the same purpose as lavender. When packed with furs, Melilot is said to act like camphor and preserve them from moths, besides imparting a pleasant fragrance.
'In Switzerland, Melilot abounds in the pastures and is an ingredient in the green Swiss cheese called Schabzieger. The Schabzieger cheese is made by the curd being pressed in boxes with holes to let the whey run out; and when a considerable quantity has been collected and putrefaction begins, it is worked into a paste with a large proportion of the dried herb Melilotus, reduced to a powder. The herb is called in the country dialect "Zieger kraut," curd herb. The paste thus produced is pressed into moulds of the shape of a common flowerpot and the putrefaction being stopped by the aromatic herb, it dries into a solid mass and keeps unchanged for any length of time. When used, it is rasped or grated and the powder mixed with fresh butter is spread upon bread. ' (Syme and Sowerby, English Botany.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
The order Cucurbitaceae (the sole representative of which in the British Islands is the familiar hedge-climbing, red-berried Bryony) contains many genera of economic importance: Cucumis affords cucumber and melon; Cucurbita, pumpkin and marrow; to the genus Lagenaria belong the gourds; the well known bath-loofah is formed of the closelynetted vascular bundles in the fruit of Luffa aegyptica, another member of the order, the unripe fruit itself being used as a pickle by the Arabians; Sechium edule, a tropical American species, is largely cultivated for its edible fruit, Choko; Citrullus vulgaris is the Water Melon, which serves the wiccans both as food, drink and physic; Citrullus Colecynthis furnishes the drug called Celocynth, and equally valuable medicinally is Ecbalium Elaterium, the Squirting Cucumber.
Botanical: Cucumis melo (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
The Melon is a native of South Asia-from the foot of the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, where it grows wild - but is cultivated in the temperate and warm regions of the whole world.
It is an annual, trailing herb, with large palmately-lobed leaves and bears tendrils, by which it is readily trained over trellises. Its flowers (which have bellshaped corollas, deeply five-lobed) are either male or female, both kinds being borne on the one plant. The male flowers have three stamens, the ovary in the female flowers, three cells. The many varieties of Melon show great diversity in foliage and still more in the size and shape of the fruit, which in some kinds is as small as an olive, in others as large as the Gourd (Cucurbita maxima). Some are globular, others egg-shaped, spindle-shaped or serpent-like, the outer skin smooth or netted, ribbed or furrowed, and variously colored; the flesh, white, green or orange when ripe, scented or scentless, sweet or insipid, some bitter and even nauseous.
The cultivation of the Melon in Asia is of very ancient date. It was grown by the wiccans, and the Romans and Greeks were familiar with it. Pliny describes Melons as Pepones, Columella as Melones. It began to be extensively cultivated in France in 1629. Gerarde in his Herball (1597) figured and described several kinds of Melons or Pompions, but included gourds under the same name. The Common Melon was commonly known as the Musk Melon.
To grow it to perfection, the Melon requires artificial heat, being grown on hot beds of fermenting manure, with an atmospheric temperature of 75 degrees, rising with sunheat to 80 degrees.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The root of the Common Melon is purgative, and in large doses (7 to 10 grains) is said to be a certain emetic, the active and bitter principle having been called Melon-emetin.
The MELON-TREE, so-called, is the PAPAW, or Papaya (Carica Papaya, Linn.), a native of tropical America, where it is everywhere cultivated for its edible fruit and digestive properties.
The dried juice is largely used in the treatment of indigestion, under various trade names, 'Papain,' a white powder, being administered in all digestive disorders where albuminoid substances pass away undigested.
Papain, 1 to 5 grains.
See PAPAW (APPLE, BITTER).
Botanical: Cucumis Cantalupensis (HABERL.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
The Cantaloups (Cucumis Cantalupensis, Haberl., so called from a place near Rome where it was long cultivated) is grown by the market gardeners round Paris and other parts of France, and has its origin in Persia and the neighbouring Caucasian region. It was first brought to Rome from Armenia in the sixteenth century. The netted species probably also originally came from Persia.
Botanical: Cucumis dudaim
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
---Synonym---Queen Anne's Pocket Melon.
The Dudaim Melon (Cucunis dudaim), Queen Anne's Pocket Melon, as it has been called, is also a native of Persia. It produces a fruit variegated with green and orange and oblong green spots of varying size. When fully ripe, it becomes yellow and then whitish. It has a very fragrant, vinous, musky smell, and a whitish, flaccid, insipid pulp. Dudaim is the Hebrew name of the fruit.
Botanical: Cucumis flexuosum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
Cucumis flexuosum (Linn.) is the Serpent Melon, or Snake Cucumber. It grows to a great length and may be used either raw or pickled.
The 'Cucumber' of the Scriptures (Isaiah i. 8) is considered to have been Cucumis chate, the Hairy Cucumber, a kind of wild Melon, which produces a fruit, the flesh of which is almost of the same substance as the Common Melon, its taste being somewhat sweet and as cool as the Water Melon. It is common both in Arabia and in Egypt, where a dish is prepared from the ripe fruit. Peter Forskäl, a contemporary of Linnaeus, in his work on the plants of Egypt (Flora aegyptiaco-arabica, 1775), describes its preparation. The pulp is broken and stirred by means of a stick thrust through a hole cut at the umbilicus of the fruit: the hole is then closed with wax, and the fruit, without removing it from its stem, is buried in a little pit; after some days, the pulp is found to be converted into an agreeable liquor.
Botanical: Citrullus vulgaris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
---Parts Used---Seeds. juice.
Melons are a staple and refreshing fruit in Egypt and Palestine, especially the Water Melon (Citrullus vulgaris, Linn.), a native of tropical Africa and the East Indies, which grows to a great size, even attaining 30 lb. in weight. It refreshes the thirsty as well as the hungry. It has a smooth rind, and though generally oblong and about a foot and a half in length, varies much in form and color, the flesh being either red or pale, the seeds black or reddish. There is a succession of crops from May to November. For its cool and refreshing fruit, it has been cultivated since the earliest times in Egypt and the East and was known in Southern Europe and Asia before the Christian era. The banks of the Burlus Delta lake east of the Rosetta channel of the Nile Deita, are noted for their Water Melons, which are yellow within, and come into season after those grown on the banks of the Nile. Of the plants found in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa, in Bechuanaland, the most remarkable is the Water Melon, present in abundance, which supplies both man and beast with water.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The fruit should be eaten cautiously by Europeans, especially when taken in the heat of the day, but it is much used in the tropics and in Italy. In Egypt, it is practically the only medicine the common people use in fevers; when it is ripe, or almost putrid, they collect the juice and mix it with rosewater and a little sugar. The seeds have been employed to a considerable extent as a domestic remedy in strangury and other affections of the urinary passages, and are regarded as having diuretic properties. The Russian peasants use them for dropsy and hepatic congestion, also for intestinal catarrh.
The Four Greater Cold Seeds of the old materia medica were the seeds of the Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo), the Gourd (C. maxima), the Melon and the Cucumber. These were bruised and rubbed up with water to form an emulsion, which was much used in catarrhal affections, disorders of the bowels and urinary passages, fever, etc.
The seeds of both the Water Melon and the Common or Musk Melon are good vermicides, having much the same constituents as those of the PUMPKIN (sometimes known as the Melon Pumpkin), which have long been a popular worm remedy and in recent years have also been used for tapeworm.
Pumpkin seeds contain 30 per cent or more of a reddish, fixed oil, traces of a volatile oil, together with proteids, sugar, starch and an acrid resin, to which the anthelmintic properties appear to be due, though recent experiments have failed to isolate any substance of physiological activity, either from the kernels or shells of the seeds. The value of the drug is said to be due to its mechanical effect.
The seeds are employed when quite ripe and must not be used if more than a month old. A mixture is made by beating up 2 OZ. of the seeds with as much sugar and milk or water added to make a pint, and this mixture is taken fasting, in three doses, one every two hours, castor oil being taken a few hours after the last dose. An infusion of the seeds, prepared by pouring a pint of boiling water on 1 OZ. of seeds, has likewise been used in urinary complaints.
The Pumpkin or Pompion (its older name, of which Pumpkin is a corruption) is a native of the Levant. Many varieties are cultivated in gardens, both for ornament and also for culinary use. It is a useful plant to the American backwoods-farmer, yielding both in the ripe and unripe condition a valuable fodder for his cattle and pigs, being frequently planted at intervals among the maize that constitutes his chief crop. The larger kinds acquire a weight of 40-80 lb., but smaller varieties are in more esteem for garden culture.
In England, Pumpkins were formerly called English Melons, which was popularly corrupted to Millions. They are used cut up in soups and make excellent pies, either alone or mixed with other fruit, and their pulp is also utilized as a basis by jam manufacturers, as it takes the flavour of any fruit juice mixed with it, and adds bulk without imparting any flavour of its own.
The SQUASHES, which have such extensive culinary use in America, are a variety of the Pumpkin (C. melopepo), and another familiar member of the genus, C. evifera, a variety of C. pepo, is the Vegetable Marrow. While small and green the Pumpkin may be eaten like the Marrow.
Botanical: Mercurialis perennis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Dog's Mercury, a perennial, herbaceous plant, sending up from its creeping root numerous, undivided stems, about a foot high, is common in woods and shady places throughout Europe and Russian Asia, except in the extreme north. It is abundant at Hythe in Sussex.
Each stem bears several pairs of rather large roughish leaves, and from the axils of the upper ones grow the small green flowers, the barren on long stalks, the fertile sessile, the first appearing before the leaves are quite out. The stamens and pistils are on different plants. The perianth is three-cleft to the base. The barren flowers have nine stamens or more, the fertile flowers two styles and two cells to the two-lobed ovary.
Male and female plants are rarely found intermixed, each usually growing in large patches. The female are less common than the male, and the plant increases more by the spreading of its creeping rootstocks and stems than by seed. It flowers from the end of March to the middle of May and seeds in the summer. The leaves of the male flowering plants are more pointed and less serrated than those on the female plants, which have longer stalks.
Dog's Mercury has a disagreeable odour and is extremely acrid, being poisonous to animals in the fresh state. It has been said, however, that heat destroys its harmfulness, and that it is innocuous in hay. Its chemical constituents have not been ascertained.
Dog's Mercury has proved fatal to sheep, and Annual Mercury to human beings who had made soup from it.
We find it spoken of in the old herbals as possessing wonderful powers, but it has been abandoned as a dangerous remedy for internal use.
Culpepper speaks strongly of the 'rank poisonous' qualities of Dog's Mercury, and adds, with some contempt:
'The common herbals, as Gerarde's and Parkinson's, instead of cautioning their readers against the use of this plant, after some trifling, idle observations upon the qualities of Mercurys in general, dismiss the article without noticing its baneful effects. Other writers, more accurate, have done this; but they have written in Latin, a language not very likely to inform those who stand most in need of this caution.'
It derives its name from the legend that its medicinal virtues were revealed by the god Mercury. The Greeks called it Mercury's Grass. The French call it La Mercuriale, the Italians, Mercorella. The name Dog's Mercury or Dog's Cole, was probably given it because of its inferiority from an edible point of view, either to the Annual, or Garden Mercury, or to a plant known to the older herbalists as English Mercury, which was sometimes eaten in this country and some parts of the Continent as a substitute for that vegetable. The prefix 'Dog' was often given to wild-flowers that were lacking in scent or other properties of allied species - as, for instance, Dog Violet, Dog Rose, etc.
That Dog's Mercury has been eaten in mistake for Good King Henry, with unfortunate results, we know from the report of Ray, one of the earliest of English naturalists, who relates that when boiled and eaten with fried bacon in error for this English spinach, it produced sickness, drowsiness and twitching. In another instance, when it was collected and boiled in soup by some vagrants, all partaking of it exhibited the ordinary symptoms of narcotic and irritant poisoning, two children dying on the following day.
The fact that some old books recommend Dog's Mercury as a good potherb arose probably from confusing it with the less harmful annual species, called by Gerard the French or Garden Mercury.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Hippocrates commended this herb for women's diseases, used externally, as did also Culpepper, who says it is good for sore and watering eyes and deafness and pains in the ears. He advises the use of it, also, as a decoction, 'made with water and a cock chicken,' for hot fits of ague. It has been employed for jaundice and as a purgative.
The juice of the whole plant, freshly collected when in flower, mixed with sugar or with vinegar, is recommended externally for warts, and for inflammatory and discharging sores, and also, applied as a poultice, to swellings and to cleanse old sores.
A lotion is made from the plant for antiseptic external dressings, to be used in the same manner as carbolic.
The juice has also been used as a nasal douche for catarrh.
When steeped in water, the leaves and stems of the plant give out a fine blue color, resembling indigo. This coloring matter is turned red by acids and destroyed by alkalis, but is otherwise permanent, and might prove valuable as a dye, if any means of fixing the color could be devised. The stems are of a bright metallic blue, like indigo, and those that run into the ground have the most coloring matter.
Botanical: Mercurialis annua (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Medicianl Action and Uses
Annual Mercury (Mercurialis annua), known also to older writers as Garden Mercury and French Mercury, is a common weed in gardens.
It is taller than the Dog Mercury, and branched, and the leaves are smaller, perfectly smooth and of a light green hue.
Barren and fertile flowers are sometimes found on the same plant, the male flowers in peduncled axillary spikes.
It grows plentifully in waste places and seldom at any distance from inhabited districts.
It is in flower from July to October and increases so freely by the scattering of its rough seeds as to become a very troublesome weed in gardens, extremely hard to eradicate.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The plant is mucilaginous and was formerly much employed as an emollient. The French made a syrup of the freshly-gathered herb, which was given as a purge, and the dried herb was used to make a decoction for injections, but as a herbal remedy it is now disregarded in England.
The seeds taste like those of hemp.
As a pot-herb, this plant had some reputation, the leaves being boiled and eaten as spinach, and it is still eaten in this way in some parts of Germany, the acrid qualities being dissipated, it is believed, by boiling. Pigs have also been fed with it in France.
Botanical: Anhalonium Lewinii (HENN.)
Family: N.O. Cactaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Lopophora Lewinii Pellote. Muscal Buttons. Anhalonium Williamsii. Echinocactus Lewinii. Echinocactus Williamsii.
The tops, consisting of blunt leaves round a tuft of short, pale yellow hairs.
These South American Cacti, formerly regarded as belonging to the Anhalonium genus, by the name of which they are chiefly known, were later attributed to the genus Echinocactus of the Mammalaria species, being spineless and flexible.
The principal species of Williamsii and Lewinii, found in the Rio Grande valley, grow to a height of only 1/2 inch, and the tops, or Mescal Buttons, are from 1 to 1 1/2 inch across and 1/4 inch thick. When dry they are hard and brittle, but become soft when moistened. The taste and smell are peculiar, bitter and disagreeable. The surface of E. Lewinii, or Anhalonium Lewinii, is crossed by thirteen irregular furrows, and that of E. Williamsii and A. Williamsii by eight regular ones. Small pink flowers are borne, but these do not appear in the drug.
The Kiowa Indians have used Mescal Buttons from ancient times for producing exaltation in their religious ceremonies.
Four alkaloids have been separated: Anhalonine, Mescaline, Anhalonidine, and Lophophorine, and two other bases, pellotine and anhalamine.
Pellotine is said to be found only in the Williamsii variety, but this is always present in the commercial drug.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Cardiac, tonic, narcotic, emetic. The value of the drug in practice is uncertain, but it is stated to be useful in neurasthenia, hysteria, and asthma, and has been recommended in gout, neuralgia and rheumatism.
Four to five buttons, or 215 to 230 grains of the drug will produce a strange cerebral excitement with visual disturbance, the visions being at first of varied beauty and later of gruesome shapes and monsters. The physical effects include dilatation of the pupil, muscular relaxation, loss of time sense, partial anaesthesia, wakefulness, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The mental symptoms in some ways resemble those of Indian Hemp.
Pellotine, in doses of 1/3 to 1 grain, has been used in hypodermic injection in cases of insanity, producing sleep without undesirable reactions. Care is needed, as collapse is said to have been observed after a dose of, 7/10 of a grain. The uses of the various alkaloids are in the experimental stage.
Of the crude drug, 7 to 15 grains. Of fluid extract, 10 to 15 minims. Of 10 per cent tincture, 1 to 2 teaspoonsful.
There are also found in parcels of the tops specimens of Mammalaria fissuratus, M. retusus, and A. jourdanianum.
Mescal is a name given in Mexico to a liquor distilled from a number of species of Agave.
Botanical: Daphne mezereum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Thymelaeaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poisons and Antidotes
Mezerei Cortex. Mezerei officinarum. Dwarf Bay. Flowering Spurge. Spurge Olive. Spurge Laurel. Laureole gentille. Camolea. Kellerhals. Wolt schjeluke.
The bark of root and stem, berries, roots.
Europe, including Britain, and Siberia. Naturalized in Canada and the United States.
The mediaeval name Mezereum is derived from the Persian Mazariyun, a name given to a species of Daphne. The barks of Daphne laureola, or Spurge Laurel, and D. Gnidium are also official in the British Pharmacopceia and United States.
Though a hardy shrub and indigenous to England, D. mezereum is not often found wild. The leaves appear at the ends of the branches after the flowers, and are alternate, lanceolate, entire, 2 to 3 inches long and dark green in color. The small, purplishpink, four-segmented flowers grow in little clusters, and the bright-red, fleshy, ovoid, bluntly-pointed fruits, about 3/8 inch long, appear close to the stem in July.
There are varieties with yellow fruit and white flowers.
Occasionally the bark is found in commerce in quills, but more often in tough, flexible, thin, long strips, rolled like tape, splitting easily lengthways but difficult to break horizontally. The inner surface is silky, and the thin, outer, corky layer, of a light greenish-brown color, separates easily in papery fragments.
The unpleasant odour of the fresh bark diminishes with drying, but the taste is intensely burning and acrid, though sweetish at first. The root bark is most active, but inadequate supplies led to the recognition of the stem bark also.
The acridity of the bark is chiefly due to mezeen, a greenish-brown, sternutatory, amorphous resin. Mezereic acid, into which it can be changed, is found in the alcoholic and ethereal extracts, together with a fixed oil, a bitter, crystalline glucoside, daphnin, and a substance like euphorbone. Daphnin can be resolved into daphnetin and sugar by the action of dilute acids.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Stimulant and vesicant. A moist application of the recent bark to the skin will cause redness and blisters in from twenty-four to forty-eight hours. It may be softened in hot vinegar and water and applied as a compress, renewed every twelve hours. It can be used for a mild, perpetual blister.
An ointment was formerly used to induce discharge in indolent ulcers.
The bark is used for snake and other venomous bites, and in Siberia, by veterinary surgeons, for horses' hoofs.
The official compound liniment of mustard includes an ethereal extract, and one of its rare internal uses in England is as an in gredient in compound decoction of sarsaparilla.
Authorities differ as to its value in chronic rheumatism, scrofula, syphilis and skin diseases. A light infusion is said to be good in dropsies, but if too strong may cause vomiting and bloody stools. Thirty berries are used as a purgative by Russian peasants, though French writers regard fifteen as a fatal dose.
In Germany a tincture of the berries is used locally in neuralgia.
Slices of the root may be chewed in toothache, and it is recorded that an obstinate case of difficulty in swallowing, persisting after confinement, was cured by chewing the root constantly and so causing irritation.
Ten grains. Of decoction, 1 to 3 fluid ounces. Of fluid extract, 2 to 10 drops.
---Poisons and Antidotes---
In large doses it is an irritant poison, causing vomiting and hypercatharsis.
The berries have proved fatal to children.
D. Gnidium, or D. paniculata, garou, sainbois, or Spurge Flax, deriving its name from its native Cnidos, is one of the official species. The leaves are numerous and very narrow, like those of flax.
D. Laureola, or Spurge Laurel, is less acrid. The leaves were formerly used as an emmenagogue, but may cause vomiting and purging. Both leaves and bark have been used to procure abortion.
D. Thymeloea, D. Tartonaira, D. pontica and D. alpina are used as substitutes.
AMERICAN MEZEREON is a name of Dirca Palustris or Leatherwood.
Family: N.O. Haloragaceae
To the same natural order as the Mare's Tail (Haloragaceae) belongs the Water Milfoil, which has the following varieties: SPIKED WATER MILFOIL (Myriophyllum spicatum), an aquatic plant forming a tangled mass of slender, much branched stems; Ieaves, four in a whorl, finely divided into numerous hair-like segments, the whole plant being submerged, except the spikes of inconspicuous greenish flowers, which rise a few inches above the surface.
WHORLED WATER MILFOIL (M. verticillatum) differs from the preceding in having the flowers in whorls at the base of the leaves: alternate-flowered Water Milfoil (M. alterniflorum) has the barren flowers alternately arranged in a short leafless spike, with the fertile flowers about three together, in the axils of the leaves, at its base. Both species are rare.
See MARE'S TAIL.
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Mimosa fragrifolia is an acrid astringent.
M. linguis is a diuretic astringent.
M. humilis, Brazilian Mimosa or Sensitive Plant, so called because the leaves close at the least contact. Tincture of the leaves is used by homoeopaths for swelling of ankles.
Cassia nictitans, or Wild Sensitive Plant, is used for certain forms of rheumatism.
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Mint, Wild Water
There are three chief species of mint in cultivation and general use: Spearmint (Mentha viridis), Peppermint (M. piperita), and Pennyroyal (M. pulegium), the first being the one ordinarily used for cooking.
The various species of mint have much in common and have all been held in high medical repute. Dr. Westmacott, the author of a work on plants published in 1694, mentioning the different kinds of mint, states that they are well known to:
'the young Botanists and Herb Women belonging to Apothecarys' shops.... In the shops are 1. The dry Herbs. 2ndly. Mint Water. 3rdly. Spirit of Mints. 4th. Syrup of Mints. 5th. The Conserve of the Leaves. 6th. The Simple Oyl. 7th. The Chemical Oyl.' He says 'the Mints have a biting, aromatick bitterish Sapor with a strong fragrant Smell abounding with a pungent Volatile Salt and a Subtil Sulphur which destroyeth Acids, and herein doth lodge the Causation of such medicinal Virtues in this Herb and others of the like Nature.'
All the Mints yield fragrant oils by distillation.
Botanical: Mentha viridis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
Garden Mint. Mentha Spicata. Mackerel Mint. Our Lady's Mint. Green Mint. Spire Mint. Sage of Bethlehem. Fish Mint. Menthe de Notre Dame. Erba Santa Maria. Frauen Munze. Lamb Mint.
This common garden mint is not a native of these islands, though growing freely in every garden, but is originally a native of the Mediterranean region, and was introduced into Britain by the Romans, being largely cultivated not only by them, but also by the other Mediterranean nations. It was in great request by the Romans, and Pliny according to Gerard says of it: 'The smell of Mint does stir up the minde and the taste to a greedy desire of meate.' Ovid represents the hospitable Baucis and Philemon scouring their board with green mint before laying upon it the food intended for their divine guests. The Ancients believed that mint would prevent the coagulation of milk and its acid fermentation. Gerard, again quoting Pliny, says:
'It will not suffer milk to cruddle in the stomach, and therefore it is put in milk that is drunke, lest those that drinke thereof should be strangled.'
Many other references to it in old writings - among them, that of the payment by the Pharisees of tithes of Mint, Anise and Cumin - prove that the herb has been highly esteemed for many centuries. Mint is mentioned in all early mediaeval lists of plants; it was very early grown in English gardens, and was certainly cultivated in the Convent gardens of the ninth century. Chaucer refers to 'a little path of mintes full and fenill greene. '
Turner states in his Herball (1568) that the garden mint of his time was also called 'Spere Mynte.' Gerard, in further praise of the herb, tells us that:
'the smelle rejoiceth the heart of man, for which cause they used to strew it in chambers and places of recreation, pleasure and repose, where feasts and banquets are made.'
It has, in fact, been so universally esteemed, that it is to be found wild in nearly all the countries to which civilization has extended, and in America for 200 years it has been known as an escape from gardens, growing in moist soils and proving sometimes troublesome as a weed.
Parkinson, in his Garden of Pleasure, mentions 'divers sorts of mintes both of the garden and wilde, of the woods, mountain and standing pools or waters' and says:
'Mintes are sometimes used in Baths with Balm and other herbs as a help to comfort and strengthen the nerves and sinews. It is much used either outwardly applied or inwardly drunk to strengthen and comfort weak stomackes.'
The Ancients used mint to scent their bath water and as a restorative, as we use smelling salts to-day. In Athens where every part of the body was perfumed with a different scent mint was specially designated to the arms.
Gerard says of its medicinal properties:
'It is good against watering eies and all manner of breakings out on the head and sores. It is applied with salt to the bitings of mad dogs.... They lay it on the stinging of wasps and bees with good success.'
Culpepper gives nearly forty distinct maladies for which mint is 'singularly good.'
'Being smelled into,' he says, 'it is comfortable for the head and memory, and a decoction when used as a gargle, cures the mouth and gums, when sore.' Again, 'Garden Mint is most useful to wash children's heads when the latter are inclined to sores, and Wild Mint, mixed with vinegar is an excellent wash to get rid of scurf. Rose leaves and mint, heated and applied outwardly cause rest and sleep.'
In the fourteenth century, mint was used for whitening the teeth, and its distilled oil is still used to flavour tooth-pastes, etc., and in America, especially, to flavour confectionery, chewing gums, and also to perfume soap.
Mint ottos have more power than any other aromatic to overcome the smell of tobacco.
The application of a strong decoction of Spearmint is said to cure chapped hands.
Mice are so averse to the smell of mint, either fresh or dried, that they will leave untouched any food where it is scattered. As mice love Henbane and often prove very destructive to a crop, it has been suggested that their depredations might be checked if some mint were planted between the rows of Henbane.
It is probable that Spearmint was introduced by the Pilgrim Fathers when they landed in America, as it is mentioned among many other plants brought out from England, in a list given by John Josselyn. When in this country apparently found growing wild, it occurs in watery places, but is rather rare.
Professor Henslow (Origin and History of our Garden Vegetables) does not consider it truly native to any country. He says:
'The Garden Mint (Mentha viridis, Linn.) is a cultivated form of M. sylvestris (Linn.), the Horse Mint, which is recorded as cultivated at Aleppo. Either M. sylvestris, or some form approaching M. viridis, which is not known as a truly wild plant, was probably the mint of Scripture.'
Bentham also considers it not improbably a variety of M. sylvestris, perpetuated through its ready propagation by suckers, and though these two plants are sufficiently distinct as found in England, yet continental forms occur which bridge over their differences.
Its generic name, Mentha, is derived from the mythological origin ascribed to it, and was originally applied to the mint by Theophrastus. Menthe was a nymph, who because of the love Pluto bore her, was metamorphosed by Proserpine, from motives of jealousy, into the plant we now call mint.
From creeping root-stocks, erect, square stems rise to a height of about 2 feet, bearing very short-stalked, acute-pointed, lance-shaped, wrinkled, bright green leaves, with finely toothed edges and smooth surfaces, the ribs very prominent beneath. The small flowers are densely arranged in whorls or rings in the axils of the upper leaves, forming cylindrical, slender, tapering spikes, pinkish or lilac in color. The little labiate flowers are followed by very few, roundish, minute brownseeds. The taste and odour of the plant are very characteristic.
There are several forms of Garden Mint, the true variety being of bold, upright growth, with fairly large and broad leaves, pointed and sharply serrated (or toothed) at the edges and of a rich, bright, green color. Another variety, sometimes sold as Spearmint (M. cardiaca), is much smaller and less erect in growth, with darker leaves, the whorls of flowers distant and leafy, but possessing the same odour and flavour, and another has comparatively large, broad or rounded leaves. Yet another has soft hairs, but this, though distinct from what is known as Horse Mint, is inferior to the true Spearmint.
A form with its leaves slightly crisped is common in gardens under the name of M. crispa.
A moist situation is preferable, but mint will succeed in almost anysoil when once started into growth, though in dry, sandy soils it is sometimes difficult to grow, and should be planted in the coolest and dampest situations. Leaf mould, road scrapings, burnt ash and similar materials should, on the other hand, be used freely for lightening heavy, tenacious soils. It does best in a partially shaded position: if in a sheltered spot, it will start earlier in the spring than if exposed. Where a long or regular supply is required, it is a good plan to have at least one bed in a sunny and sheltered, and another in a shady position, where gatherings may be made both early and late.
As the plant is a perennial, spreading by means of its underground, creeping stems propagation may be easily effected by lifting the roots in February or March, dividing them - every piece showing a joint will grow - and planting again in shallow trenches, covering with 2 inches of soil. Six inches apart in the rows and 8 inches between the rows are the right distances to allow. Cuttings in summer or offsets in spring may also be utilized for increasing a stock. Cuttings may be taken at almost any time during the summer, always choosing the young shoots, these being struck on a shady border of light soil and kept moist, or a better plan, if possible, is to insert them in a frame, keeping them close and moist till rooted. Cuttings or young shoots will also strike freely in good-sized boxes in a heated greenhouse, in the early spring, and after the tops have been taken off two or three times for use, the plants may be hardened off and planted outside.
The beds are much benefited by an annual top-dressing of rich soil, applied towards the close of autumn, when all remaining stalks should be cut down to the ground. A liberal top-dressing of short, decayed manure, such as that from an old hot-bed or mushroom bed, annually, either in the spring, when it commences to grow, or better still, perhaps, after the first or second cutting, will ensure luxuriant growth. Frequent cuttings of shoots constitute a great drain on the plants, and if not properly nourished they will fail, more or less. To have really good mint, the plantation should be re-made about every three years, or failing that, it is essential that a good top-dressing of rich soil be added.
A good stock should be kept up, so that plenty may be available for forcing. Cultivators having a greenhouse can easily force mint into an earlier development of new growth than would be in the open garden. Forcing is very easy, the only preparation being the insertion of a quantity of good roots in a box of light soil, which should be placed in a temperature of about 60 degrees and watered freely as soon as growth starts. Cuttings may be made in two or three weeks. Forcing will generally be necessary from November to May - a succession being kept up by the introduction, at intervals of about three weeks, of an additional supply of roots, as forced roots soon decay. Often mint is so grown both upon and under the benches in greenhouses, and the demand for the young, tender stems and leaves during the winter is sufficient to make the plants pay well.
Unfortunately, mint is susceptible to a disease which in some gardenshas completely destroyed it. This disease, which from its characteristic symptoms is known as Rust, is incurable. The fungus (Puccinia Mentha) which causes it develops inside the plant, and therefore cannot be reached by any purgicide, and as it is perennial, it cannot be got rid of by cutting off the latter. All that can be done is to prevent the spread of the disease by digging up all plants that show any sign of rust. The same ground should not be used again for mint for several years. Healthy stock should be obtained and planted in uninfected soil, some distance away. On account of this liability of mint to rust, it is advisable not to have it all in one bed, but to have several beds of it, placed at some distance from each other.
When the plants are breaking into bloom, the stalks should be cut a few inches above the root, on a dry day, after the dew has disappeared, and before the hot sun has taken any oil from the leaves, and dried for culinary use for the winter. All discolored and insect-eaten leaves should be removed and the stems tied loosely into bunches and hung to dry on strings in the usual manner directed for 'bunched' herbs. The bunches should be nearly equal in length and uniform in size to facilitate packing, if intended for sale, and placed when dry in airtight boxes to prevent re-absorption of moisture.
The leaves may also be stripped from the stems as soon as thoroughly dry and rubbed through a fine sieve, so as to be freed from stalks as much as possible, or pounded in a mortar and thus powdered, stored in stoppered bottles or tins rendered airtight. If preparing for market and not for home use, the rubbed herbs will, of course, command a higher price than the bunched herbs, and should be put up in tins or bottles containing a quantity of uniform weight.
When mint is grown commercially on a large scale, it has been estimated to yield from 4 to 5 tons per acre, from which 15 to 20 cwt. of dry should be obtained. Average yields per acre are, however, taken when crops are at maturity, and an estimate of the first cutting crop is hard to form, and is likely to be less profitable than succeeding years, on account of initial expenses.
If Spearmint is being grown as a medicinal herb, for the sake of the volatile oil to be extracted from it, the shoots should be gathered in August, when just coming into flower, and taken to the distillery as soon as possible after picking, the British Pharmacopceia directing that oil of Spearmint be distilled from the fresh, flowering plant. It is estimated that 350 lb. of Spearmint yield 1 lb. of oil. If the distillery is not on the ground or only a short distance away, and the crop has to be dispatched by train, the cutting should take place late in the afternoon on a fine day, before the dew falls, so as to be sent off by a night train to arrive at their destination next morning, having travelled in the cool, otherwise the leaves are apt to heat and ferment, losing color.
The chief constituent of Spearmint oil is Carvone. There are also present Phellandrine, Limonene and dihydrocarveol acetate. Esters of acetic, butyric and caproic or caprylic acids are also present. (An Ester is a combination of an alcohol with an acid, the combination being associated with the elimination of water. The esters are highly important and in many cases dominant constituents of numerous essential oils, which owe their perfume largely, or in some cases entirely, to the esters contained. Many of the esters are used as flavouring or perfumery agents, and many are among the most important constituents of volatile salts.)
There are several different essential oils known under the name of Spearmint oil, the botanical origin of the plant used for distillation differing with the country in which the plant is grown. In the United States and in this country several varieties of M. viridis are distilled. In Russia the plant distilled is M. verticellata, and in Germany either M. longifolia, or more generally M. aquatica var. crispa - a plant cultivated in Northern Germany, the oil (called there Krausemünzöl) being imported into this country as German Spearmint oil. It appears to be identical with that from M. viridis. Oil of Spearmint is little distilled in England, either German oil or American oil distilled from M. viridis being imported.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Spearmint is chiefly used for culinary purposes. The properties of Spearmint oil resemble those of Peppermint, being stimulant, carminative and antispasmodic, but its effects are less powerful, and it is less used than Peppermint, though it is better adapted for children's maladies. From 2 to 5 drops may be given on sugar, or from 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful of spirit of Spearmint, with 2 tablespoonsful of water. Spearmint oil is added to many compounds on account of its carminative properties, and because its taste is pleasanter and less strong than Peppermint. A distilled water of Spearmint will relieve hiccough and flatulence as well as the giddiness of indigestion. For infantile trouble generally, the sweetened infusion is an excellent remedy, and is also a pleasant beverage in fevers, inflammatory diseases, etc. Make the infusion by pouring a pint of boiling water on an ounce of the dried herb; the strained-off liquid is taken in doses of a wineglassful or less. It is considered a specific in allaying nausea and vomiting and will relieve the pain of colic. A homoeopathic tincture prepared from the fresh plant in flower has been found serviceable in strangury, gravel, and as a local application in painful haemorrhoids. Its principal employment is for its febrifuge and diuretic virtues.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm. Water, B.P. and U.S.P., 4 drachms. Spirit, U.S.P., 30 drops.
When eaten with lamb, very finely chopped in sweetened vinegar, in the form of mint sauce, mint greatly aids the digestion, as it makes the crude, albuminous fibres of the immature meat more digestible. The volatile oil stimulates the digestive system and prevents septic changes within the intestines.
The fresh sprigs of mint are used to flavour green peas and also new potatoes, being boiled with them, and the powdered, dried leaves are used with pea soup and also in seasonings. On the Continent, especially in Germany, the powdered, dried mint is often used at table for dusting upon pea and bean purées, as well as on gravies.
A grating of mint is introduced sometimes into a potato salad, or into a fowl stuffing, and in Wales it is not unusual to boil mint with cabbage.
Mint Jelly can be used instead of mint sauce, in the same manner as red currant jelly. It may be made by steeping mint leaves in apple jelly, or in one of the various kinds of commercial gelatine. The jelly should be a delicate shade of green. A handful of leaves should color and flavour about half a pint of jelly. Strain the liquid through a jelly bag to remove all particles of mint before allowing to set.
Mint Vinegar is made as follows: Fill a jar or bottle with young mint leaves picked from the stalks. Cover with cold vinegar and cork or cover the bottle. Infuse for 14 days, then strain off the vinegar.
This vinegar is sometimes employed in making Mint Jelly, as follows:
Take 1 pint of water, 1 1/4 OZ. gelatine, the white and shell of an egg, 1/2 gill of Mint Vinegar, 1 dessertspoonful of Tarragon Vinegar, a bunch of herbs, 1 onion, 1 carrot, a stick of celery, 10 peppercorns, salt, 1 lemon. Peel the lemon very thinly, slightly whip the white of egg, wash and crush the shell. Put all the ingredients into a pan, strain in the juice of the lemon and whisk over the fire until just on boiling point. Boil up, then draw the pan to the side of the fire and simmer very gently for 20 minutes. Strain through a jelly bag until clear. Put into a mould to set. If liked, finely chopped mint may be added to the jelly after straining it, or more mint can be used and no Tarragon Vinegar.
To make Mint Punch: Pick a quart of fresh mint leaves, then wash and dry them by shaking them in a clean kitchen towel. Put them into a large jug and mash them with a wooden spoon till soft, when cover with freshly boiled water and infuse for ten minutes. Strain, cool, then set on ice till required. Add two cups of chilled grape juice and strained lemon juice to taste. Sweeten with castor sugar, stir till sugar is dissolved and then add a quart of ginger ale. Fill each tumbler to one-third with cracked ice and fill up with the punch.
The Garden Mint is also the basis of Mint Julep and Mint-water, the cordial distilled from the plant.
Mint Cake is a cake made of flour and dripping or lard, flavoured with sugar and chopped fresh mint and rolled out thin.
Botanical: Mentha piperita (SM.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The plant is found throughout Europe, in moist situations, along stream banks and in waste lands, and is not unfrequent In damp places in England, but is not a common native plant, and probably is often an escape from cultivation. In America it is probably even more common as an escape than Spearmint, having long been known and grown in gardens.
Of the members of the mint family under cultivation the most important are the several varieties of the Peppermint (Mentha piperita), extensively cultivated for years as the source of the well-known volatile oil of Peppermint, used as a flavouring and therapeutic agent.
The leaves of this kind of mint are shortly but distinctly stalked, 2 inches or more in length, and 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches broad, their margins finely toothed, their surfaces smooth, both above and beneath, or only very slightly, hardly visibly, hairy on the principal veins and mid-rib on the underside. The stems, 2 to 4 feet high, are quadrangular, often purplish. The whorled clusters of little reddish-violet flowers are in the axils of the upper leaves, forming loose, interrupted spikes, and rarely bear seeds. The entire plant has a very characteristic odour, due to the volatile oil present in all its parts, which when applied to the tongue has a hot, aromatic taste at first, and afterwards produces a sensation of cold in the mouth caused by the menthol it contains.
Pliny tells us that the Greeks and Romans crowned themselves with Peppermint at their feasts and adorned their tables with its sprays, and that their cooks flavoured both their sauces and their wines with its essence. Two species of mint were used by the ancient Greek physicians, but some writers doubt whether either was the modern Peppermint, though there is evidence that M. piperita was cultivated by the wiccans. It is mentioned in the Icelandic Pharmacopoeias of the thirteenth century, but only came into general use in the medicine of Western Europe about the middle of the eighteenth century, and then was first used in England.
It was only recognized here as a distinct species late in the seventeenth century, when the great botanist, Ray, published it in the second edition of his Synopsis stirpium britannicorum, 1696. Its medicinal properties were speedily recognized, and it was admitted into the London Pharmacopceia in 1721, under M. piperitis sapore. The oldest existing Peppermint district is in the neighbourhood of Mitcham, in Surrey, where its cultivation from a commercial point of view dates from about 1750, at which period only a few acres of ground there were devoted to medicinal plants. At the end of the eighteenth century, above 100 acres were cropped with Peppermint, but so late as 1805 there were no stills at Mitcham, and the herb had to be carried to London for the extraction of the oil. By 1850 there were already about 500 acres under cultivation at Mitcham, and at the present day the English Peppermint plantations are still chiefly located in this district, though it is grown in several other parts of England - in Herts at Hitchin, and in Cambs at Wisbech, in Lincolnshire at Market Deeping and also at Holbeach (where the cultivation and distillation of English Peppermint oil, now carried on with the most up-to-date improvements was commenced over seventy years ago).
There is room for a further extension of its cultivation, owing to the great superiority of the English product in pungency and flavour.
Most of London's supplies are grown in a triangle with its base on a line Kingston to Croydon, and its apex at Chipstead in Surrey. This triangle includes Mitcham, still the centre of the Peppermint-growing and distilling industry, the district proving to be specially suited to the crop. There are large Peppermint farms at Banstead and Cheam.
On the Continent Peppermint was first grown in 1771 at Utrecht, but it is now grown in considerable amounts in several countries. In France it is cultivated in the Departments of the Yonne and du Nord, French Peppermint Oil being distilled at Grasse and Cannes, as well as in the Basses-Alpes, Haute-Garonne and other parts, though the French varieties of M. piperita are not identical with those cultivated in England. The variety cultivated in France is known as 'Red Mint' and can grow on certain soils where the true Peppermint does not grow. The 'Red Mint' can be cultivated for four or five years in the same field, but the true M. piperita can be cultivated in the same field for two years only. 'Red Mint' gives a higher yield of oil, but is of inferior quality. In the Siagne Valley, it is calculated that 300 kilos of fresh plant produce 1 kilo of essential oil, elsewhere a yield of 2 kilos to about 1,000 kilos of stems and green leaves is claimed. It has been proved by experience that all parts of the plant do not give the same proportion of oil, and it is more abundant when the plants have been grown in a hot region and have flowered to the best advantage.
The product of absolutely genuine English plants cultivated in French soil varies according to the district, for the soil has a very important influence upon the flavour of the oil and also the climate: badly-drained ground is known to give unfavourable results both as to the quantity and quality of the oil.
An oil very similar to Mitcham oil, and of an excellent quality, is distilled from English plants grown in Italy, mostly in Piedmont and also in Sicily. Next to the essential oils of lemon and orange, that obtained from Peppermint enjoys a high reputation among the numerous volatile oils produced by Italy. Vigone and Pancalieri are the centres of the cultivation and distillation of Peppermint in the province of Turin. This district, which has been designated the 'Mitcham of Italy,' yields annually about 11,000,000 kilograms of Peppermint, from which 25,000 to 27,000 kilograms of essential oil are obtained. A new variety of Peppermint, found at Lutra on the island of Tino, in the Grecian Archipelago, has been cultivated in the Royal Colonial Garden at Palermo.
A small amount of Peppermint oil of good quality is distilled from plantations in Germany, at Miltitz, in Saxony and near Leipzig, where the little town of Colleda, before the War, produced annually as much as 40,000 cwt. of the herb. Russia also produces some Peppermint, in the Ukraine and the Caucasus, but most of it is used in the country itself.
With regard to Hungarian oil of Peppermint, organized effort to secure improvement began in 1904 and has been greatly developed. Hungarian oil compares favourably with American oil of Peppermint as regards percentage of Menthol contained: Hungarian oil yielding 43 to 56 per cent of free menthol, and 35 to 65 per cent of total menthol; while American oil yields 40 to 45 per cent free menthol and 60 per cent total menthol.
Peppermint oil distilled in 1914 from Mitcham plants grown at Molo, in the highlands of British East Africa, possesses a most excellent aroma, quite free of bitterness, and a very high figure indeed for the menthol contained, and there is no question that this source of supply should be an important one in the future.
The United States, however, are now the most important producers of Peppermint oil, producing - mostly in Michigan, where its cultivation was introduced in 1855, Indiana, the western districts of New York State, and to a smaller extent in Ohio - rather under half of the world's total output of the oil. The whole of the Peppermint cultivation is confined to the north-east portion of the United States, and the extreme south of Canada, where some is grown in the province of Ontario. The first small distillery was erected in Wayne County, New York State, in the early part of last century, and at the present day the industry has increased to such an extent, that there are portions of Michigan where thousands of acres are planted with nothing else but Peppermint.
English oil is incomparably the best, but it fetches a very high price, and the French oil, though much inferior, is of finer quality than the American.
The problem is to obtain a strain of mint plants which would yield larger quantities of oil in our climate. It is possible that varieties yielding a more abundant supply of essential oils might be secured by persistent endeavour, without reducing our English standard of refinement. Also economy in harvesting and distilling should be studied. If our English oils could be reduced in price, they would replace the foreign to a greater or less extent depending upon the reduction in cost of production.
There are several varieties of Peppermint. The two chief, the so-called 'Black' and 'White' mints are the ones extensively cultivated. Botanically there is little difference between them, but the stems and leaves of the 'Black' mint are tinged purplish-brown, while the stems of the 'White' variety are green, and the leaves are more coarsely serrated in the White. The oil furnished by the Black is of inferior quality, but more abundant than that obtained from the White, the yield of oil from which is generally only about four-fifths of that from an equal area of the Black, but it has a more delicate odour and obtains a higher price. The plant is also more delicate, being easily destroyed by frost or drought; it is principally grown for drying in bundles - technically termed 'bunching,' and is the kind chiefly dried for herbalists, the Black variety being more generally grown for the oil on account of its greater productivity and hardiness. The variety grown at Mitcham is classified by some authorities as M. piperita, var. rubra.
Both Peppermint and Spearmint thrive best in a fairly warm, preferably moist climate, and in deep soils rich in humus and retentive of moisture, but fairly open in texture and well drained, either naturally or artificially.
These conditions are frequently combined in effectively drained swamp lands, but the plants may also be commercially cultivated in well-prepared upland soils, such as would produce good corn, oil or potatoes. Though a moist situation is preferable, Peppermint will succeed in most soils, when once started into growth and carefully cultivated. It flourishes well in what are known in America as muck land, that is, those broad level areas, often several thousand acres in extent, of deep fertile soil, the beds of ancient lakes and swamps where the remains of ages of growths of aquatic vegetation have accumulated. In Michigan and Indiana, where there are large areas of such land, mint culture has become highly specialized, a considerable part of the acreage being controlled by a few well-equipped growers able to handle the product in an economical manner, who have of late years installed their own upto-date distilling plants. The cultivation of Peppermint is a growing industry now also on the reclaimed lands of Louisiana.
The usual method of mint cultivation on these farms in America is to dig runners in the early spring and lay them in shallow trenches, 3 feet apart in well-prepared soil. The growing crop is kept well cultivated and absolutely free from weeds and in the summer when the plant is in full bloom, the mint is cut by hand and distilled in straw. A part of the exhausted herb is dried and used for cattle food, for which it possesses considerable value. The rest is cut and composted and eventually ploughed into the ground as fertilizer.
The area selected for Peppermint growing should be cropped for one or two years with some plant that requires a frequent tillage. The tillage is also continued as long as possible during the growth of the mint, for successful mint-growing implies clean culture at all stages of progress.
In one of our chief English plantations the following mode of cultivation is adopted. A rich and friable soil, retentive of moisture is selected, and the ground is well tilled 8 to 10 inches deep. The plants are propagated in the spring, usually in April and May. When the young shoots from the crop of the previous year have attained a height of about 4 inches, they are pulled up and transplanted into new soil, in shallow furrows about 2 feet apart, lightly covered with about 2 inches of soil. They grow vigorously the first year and throw out numerous stolons and runners on the surface of the ground. After the crop has been removed, these are allowed to harden or become woody, and then farmyard manure is scattered over the field and ploughed in. In this way the stolons are divided into numerous pieces and covered with soil before the frost sets in, otherwise if the autumn is wet, they are liable to become sodden and rot, and the next crop fails. In the spring the fields are dressed with Peruvian Guano.
Liberal manuring is essential, and the quantity and nature of the manure has a great effect on the characteristics of the oil. Mineral salts are found to be of much value. Nitrate of Soda, applied at the rate of 50 to 150 lb. to the acre both stimulates the growth of foliage and improves the quality of the essence. Half the total quantity should be applied a month before planting and the remainder a month before the harvest. Potash, also, is particularly useful against a form of chlorosis or 'rust' (Puccinia menthoe) due, apparently, to too much water in the soil, as it often appears after moist, heavy weather in August, which causes the foliage to drop off and leave the stems almost bare, in which circumstances the rust is liable to attack the plants. Some authorities have calculated that an acre of Peppermint requires 84 lb. of Nitrogen, 37 lb. of Phosphoric Acid and 139 lb. of Potash. Ground Bone and Lime do not seem to be of marked benefit. The top dressing of the running roots with fine loam either by ploughing as above described, or otherwise, is very essential before winter sets in.
In the south of France, sewage (1,300 lb. per acre) is extensively used, together with Sesame seeds from which the oil has been expressed. The latter are especially suited for light and limey soils, and are either worked in before planting or placed directly in the furrows with the plants. Up to 5,000 or 6,000 lb. per acre are applied, giving a crop of from 2,100 to 2,600 lb. per acre. The residues from the distillation of the crop are invariably used as manure. It is found, however, that although these manures supply sufficient nitrogen, they are deficient in phosphoric acid and potash. This shortage must be made up by chemical manures, otherwise the soil will become exhausted. Chemical manures alone are equally unsatisfactory in soils poor in organic matter. In conjunction with organic manures they give excellent results.
On suitable soil and with proper cultivation, yields of from 2 to 3 tons of Peppermint herb per acre may be expected, but large yields can only be expected from fields that are in the best possible condition. A fair average for well-managed commercial plantings may be said to be 30 lb. of oil per acre,but the yield of oil is always variable, ranging from only a few pounds to, in extremely favourable cases, nearly 100 lb. per acre. About 325 lb. of Peppermint, nearly 3 cwt., are required to produce a pound of oil in commercial practice, i.e. about 7 lb. of oil are generally obtained from 1 ton of the herb. The price varies as widely as the yield, the value depending upon the chemical composition.
The presence of weeds among the Peppermint, especially other species of Mentha, is an important cause of deterioration to the oil. M. arvensis, the Corn Mint, if allowed to settle and increase among the crop to such an extent as not to be easily separated, has been known when distilled to absolutely ruin the flavour of the latter. In new ground the Peppermint requires handweeding two or three times, as the hoe cannot be used without injury to the plant.
In America great detriment is occasioned by the growth of Erigeron canadensis, and newly cleared ground planted with Peppermint, is liable to the intrusion of another plant of the order Compositae, Erechtites hieracifolia, which is also highly injurious to the quality of the oil.
Peppermint requires frequent irrigation. In the south of France the crop is irrigated on the I5th of May, and thereafter every eight or ten days. When the plants are fully developed they are watered at least three times a week. It is important to keep the soil constantly moist, although well drained. Absorption of water makes the shoots more tender, thus facilitating cutting, and causes a large quantity of green matter to be produced.
A plantation lasts about four years, the best output being the second year. The fourth-year crop is rarely good. A crop that yields a high percentage of essential oil exhausts the ground as a rule, and after cropping with Peppermint for four years, the land must be put to some other purpose for at least seven years. In some parts of France the plantations are renewed annually with the object of obtaining vigorous plants.
Few pests trouble Peppermint, though crickets, grasshoppers and caterpillars may always do some damage.
The herb is cut just before flowering, from the end of July to the end of August in England and France, according to local conditions. Sometimes when well irrigated and matured, a second crop can be obtained in September. With new plantations the harvest is generally early in September.
Harvesting should be carried out on a dry, sunny day, in the late morning, when all traces of dew have disappeared. The first year's crop is always cut with the sickle to prevent injury to the stolons. The herb of the second and third years is cut with scythes and then raked into loose heaps ready for carting to the stills.
In many places, the custom is to let the herb lie on the ground for a time in these small bundles or cocks. In other countries the herb is distilled as soon as cut. Again, certain distillers prefer the plants to be previously dried or steamed. The subject is much debated, but the general opinion is that it is best to distil as soon as cut, and the British Pharmacopceia directs that the oil be distilled from the fresh flowering plant. Even under the best conditions of drying, there is a certain loss of essential oil. If the herbs lie in heaps for any time, fermentation is bound to occur, reducing the quality and quantity of the oil, as laboratory experiments have proved. Should it be impossible to treat all the crop as cut, it should be properly dried on the same system as that adopted for other medicinal plants. The loss is then small. Variation in the chemical composition of the essence should be brought about by manuring, rather than by the system of harvesting, though in America the loss caused by partial drying in the field is not regarded by growers as sufficient to offset the increased cost of handling and distilling the green herb. Exposure to frost must, however, be avoided, as frozen mint yields scarcely half the quantity of oil which could otherwise be secured.
At Market Deeping the harvest usually commences in the beginning or middle of August, or as soon as the plant begins to flower and lasts for six weeks, the stills being kept going night and day. The herb is carted direct from the fields to the stills, which are made of copper and contain about 5 cwt. of the herb. Before putting the Peppermint into the still, water is poured in to a depth of about 2 feet, at which height a false bottom is placed, and on this the herb is then trodden down by men. The lid is then let down, and under pressure the distillation is conducted by the application of direct heat at the lowest possible temperature, and is continued for about 4 1/2 hours. The lid is then removed, and the false bottom with the Peppermint resting on it is raised by a windlass, and the Peppermint carried away in the empty carts on their return journey to the fields, where it is placed in heaps and allowed to rot, being subsequently mixed with manure applied to the fields in the autumn. The usual yield of oil, if the season be warm and dry, is 1 OZ. from 5 lb. of the fresh flowering plant, but if wet and unfavourable, the product is barely half that quantity.
If the cut green tops have some distance to travel to the distillery, they should be cut late in the afternoon, so as to be sent off by a night train to arrive at their destination next morning, or they would be apt to heat and ferment and lose color.
Since the oil is the chief marketable product, adequate distilling facilities and a market for the oil are essential to success in the industry, and the prospective Peppermint grower should assure himself on these points before investing capital in plantations.
There is also a market, chiefly for herbalists, for the dried herb, which is gathered at the same time of year. It should be cut shortly above the base, leaving some leafbuds, and not including the lowest shrivelled or discolored leaves and tied loosely into bundles by the stalk-ends, about twenty to the bundle on the average, and the bundles of equal length, about 6 inches, to facilitate packing, and dried over strings as described for Spearmint. Two or three days will be sufficient to dry.
Peppermint culture on suitable soils gives fair average returns when intelligently conducted from year to year. The product, however, is liable to fluctuation in prices, and the cost of establishing the crop and the annual expenses of cultivation are high.
Among essential oils, Peppermint ranks first in importance. It is a colorless, yellowish or greenish liquid, with a peculiar, highly penetrating odour and a burning, camphorescent taste. It thickens and becomes reddish with age, but improves in mellowness, even if kept as long as ten or fourteen years.
The chief constituent of Peppermint oil is Menthol, but it also contains menthyl acetate and isovalerate, together with menthone, cineol, inactive pinene, limonene and other less important bodies.
On cooling to a low temperature, separation of Menthol occurs, especially if a few crystals of that substance be added to start crystallization.
The value of the oil depends much upon the composition. The principal ester constituent, menthyl acetate, possesses a very fragrant minty odour, to which the agreeable aroma of the oil is largely due. The alcoholic constituent, Menthol, possesses the wellknown penetrating minty odour and characteristic cooling taste. The flavouring properties of the oil are due largely to both the ester and alcoholic constituents, while the medicinal value is attributed to the latter only. The most important determination to be made in the examination of Peppermint oil, is that of the total amount of Menthol, but the Menthone value is also frequently required. The English oil contains 60 to 70 per cent of Menthol, the Japanese oil containing 85 per cent, and the American less than ours, only about 50 per cent. The odour and taste afford a good indication of the quality of the oil, and by this means it is quite possible to distinguish between English, American and Japanese oils.
Menthol is obtained from various species of Mentha and is imported into England, chiefly from Japan. The oils from which it is chiefly obtained are those from M. arvensis, var. piperascens, in Japan, M. arvensis, var. glabrata in China, and M. piperita in America.
Japan, and to a certain extent China, produce large quantities of Peppermint oil distilled from the plants just mentioned. The oils produced from these plants are greatly inferior to those distilled from M. piperita, but have the advantage of containing a large proportion of Menthol, of which they are the commercial source.
The Japanese Menthol plant is now being grown in South Australia, having been introduced there by the Germans from Japan.
Chinese Peppermint oil is largely distilled at Canton, a considerable quantity being sent to Bombay, also a large quantity of Menthol. Peppermint is chiefly cultivated in the province of Kiang-si.
M. incana, cultivated near Bombay as a herb, also possesses the flavour of Peppermint.
M. arvensis, var. javanesa, growing in Ceylon, has not the flavour of Peppermint, but that of the garden mint, while the type form of M. arvensis, growing wild in Great Britain, has an odour so different from Peppermint that it has to be carefully removed from the field lest it should spoil the flavour of the Peppermint oil when the herb is distilled.
The Japanese have long recognized the value of Menthol, and over 200 years ago carried it about with them in little silver boxes hanging from their girdles. The distillation of oil of Peppermint forms a considerable industry in Japan. The chief centre of cultivation is the province of Uzen, in the north-east of the island of Hondo, the largest of the Japanese Islands, and much is grown in the northern island of Hokkaido, but the best oil is produced in the southern districts of Okayama and Hiroshimo, the second largest Peppermint area in Japan, the yield of mint being yearly on the increase. The mint crop is a favourite one for farmers, owing to the distilling work it furnishes during the long and otherwise unprofitable winter.
The roots are planted at the end of November and beginning of December. The plant, which needs a light, well-drained soil, attains its full growth during the summer months and is cut in the latter part of July, during August and in the early part of September, three cuttings being made during the season. The third cutting yields the greatest percentage of oil and menthol crystals. The preliminary steps in the manufacture of Menthol are carried out by the farmers themselves, with the aid of stills of a simple design. The Peppermint plants are first dried in sheds, or under cover from the sun for thirty days. Then they are placed in the stills where they undergo a process of steaming. The resulting vapours are led off through pipes into cooling chambers, are condensed and deposited as crude Peppermint oil. This crude Peppermint is shipped to Yokohama and Kobe to the Menthol factories, of which there are over seventy in various parts of Japan, specially equipped for obtaining the full amount of Menthol. The residue of dementholized oil is further refined to the standard of purity required in the trade, and is known as Japanese Peppermint oil. The oil (known in Japan under the name of Hakka no abura) is exported from Hiogo and Osaka, but is frequently adulterated. The cheapest variety of Peppermint oil available in commerce is this partially dementholized oil imported from Japan, containing only 50 per cent of Menthol.
Adulteration of American Peppermint oil with dementholized Japanese oil, known as Menthene, which is usually cheaper than American oil, is frequently practised. The failure of the mint crop in America in 1925 and the consequent scarcity and high price of the American oil caused this adulteration to be very extensive.
The Japanese oil, termed by the Americans Corn-Mint oil and not recognized by the United States Pharmacopoeia, is at best only a substitute in confectionery and other products, such as tooth-pastes, etc. There are other varieties of so-called Peppermint oil on the market which are residues from Mentholmanufacture and are inferior even to the oil imported from Japan. These are not suitable for use in pharmacy.
As Japanese Peppermint oil, after being freed from Menthol crystals, is inferior both in taste and odour to English and American oil, experiments have been made in Japan with the cultivation of English and American Peppermint, but so far without success.
Camphor oil is occasionally used as an adulterant of Peppermint oil, also Cedarwood oil and oil of African Copaiba. The oil is also often adulterated with one-third part of rectified spirit, which may be detected by the milkiness produced when the oil is agitated by water. Oil of Rosemary and oil of Turpentine are sometimes used for the same purpose. If the oil contains turpentine it will explode with iodine. If quite pure, it dissolves in its own weight of rectified spirits of wine.
In the form in which Menthol is imported, it bears some resemblance to Epsom Salts, with which it is sometimes adulterated.
Before the War about half the Menthol crystals exported from Japan were sent to Germany. During the War the United States became the largest purchaser of these crystals, followed in order by Great Britain, France and British India.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Peppermint oil is the most extensively used of all the volatile oils, both medicinally and commercially. The characteristic anti-spasmodic action of the volatile oil is more marked in this than in any other oil, and greatly adds to its power of relieving pains arising in the alimentary canal.
From its stimulating, stomachic and carminative properties, it is valuable in certain forms of dyspepsia, being mostly used for flatulence and colic. It may also be employed for other sudden pains and for cramp in the abdomen; wide use is made of Peppermint in cholera and diarrhoea.
It is generally combined with other medicines when its stomachic effects are required, being also employed with purgatives to prevent griping. Oil of Peppermint allays sickness and nausea, and is much used to disguise the taste of unpalatable drugs, as it imparts its aromatic characteristics to whatever prescription it enters into. It is used as an infants' cordial.
The oil itself is often given on sugar and added to pills, also a spirit made from the oil, but the preparation in most general use is Peppermint Water, which is the oil and water distilled together.
Peppermint Water and spirit of Peppermint are official preparations of the British Pharmacopoeia.
In flatulent colic, spirit of Peppermint in hot water is a good household remedy, also the oil given in doses of one or two drops on sugar.
Peppermint is good to assist in raising internal heat and inducing perspiration, although its strength is soon exhausted. In slight colds or early indications of disease, a free use of Peppermint tea will, in most cases, effect a cure, an infusion of 1 ounce of the dried herb to a pint of boiling water being employed, taken in wineglassful doses; sugar and milk may be added if desired.
An infusion of equal quantities of Peppermint herb and Elder flowers (to which either Yarrow or Boneset may be added) will banish a cold or mild attack of influenza within thirty-six hours, and there is no danger of an overdose or any harmful action on the heart. Peppermint tea is used also for palpitation of the heart.
In cases of hysteria and nervous disorders, the usefulness of an infusion of Peppermint has been found to be well augmented by the addition of equal quantities of Wood Betony, its operation being hastened by the addition to the infusion of a few drops of tincture of Caraway.
Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm. Oil, 1/2 to 3 drops. Spirit, B.P., 5 to 20 drops. Water, B.P. and U.S.P., 4 drachms.
The following simple preparation has been found useful in insomnia:
1 OZ. Peppermint herb, cut fine, 1/2 OZ. Rue herb, 1/2 OZ. Wood Betony. Well mix and place a large tablespoonful in a teacup, fill with boiling water, stir and cover for twenty minutes, strain and sweeten, and drink the warm infusion on going to bed.
A very useful and harmless preparation for children during teething is prepared as follows:
1/2 OZ. Peppermint herb, 1/2 OZ. Scullcap herb, 1/2 OZ. Pennyroyal herb. Pour on 1 pint of boiling water, cover and let it stand in a warm place thirty minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste, and given frequently in teaspoonful doses, warm.
Boiled in milk and drunk hot, Peppermint herb is good for abdominal pains. 'Aqua Mirabilis' is a term applied on the Continent to an aromatic water which is taken for internal pains. It is a water distilled from herbs, sometimes used in the following form:
Cinnamon oil, Fennel oil, Lavender oil, Peppermint oil, Rosemary oil, Sage oil, of each 1 part; Spirit, 350 parts; Distilled water, 644 parts.
Menthol is used in medicine to relieve the pain of rheumatism, neuralgia, throat affections and toothache. It acts also as a local anaesthetic, vascular stimulant and disinfectant. For neuralgia, rheumatism and lumbago it is used in plasters and rubbed on the temples; it will frequently cure neuralgic headaches. It is inhaled for chest complaints, and nasal catarrh, laryngitis or bronchitis are often alleviated by it. It is also used internally as a stimulant or carminative. On account of its anaesthetic effect on the nerveendings of the stomach, it is of use to prevent sea-sickness, the dose being 1/2 to 2 grains. The bruised fresh leaves of the plant will, if applied, relieve local pains and headache, and in rheumatic affections the skin may be painted beneficially with the oil.
Oil of Peppermint has been recommended in puerperal fevers. 30 to 40 minims, in divided doses, in the twenty-four hours, have been employed with satisfactory results, a stimulating aperient preceding its use.
The local anaesthetic action of Peppermint oil is exceptionally strong. It is also powerfully antiseptic, the two properties making it valuable in the relief of toothache and in the treatment of cavities in the teeth.
Sanitary engineers use Peppermint oil to test the tightness of pipe joints. It has the faculty of making its escape, and by its pungent odour betraying the presence of leaks.
A new use for Peppermint oil has been found in connexion with the gas-mask drill on the vessels of the United States Navy.
Paste may be kept almost any length of time by the use of the essential oil of Peppermint to prevent mould.
Rats dislike Peppermint, a fact that is made use of by ratcatchers, who, when clearing a building of rats, will block up most of their holes with rags soaked in oil of Peppermint and drive them by ferrets through the remaining holes into bags.
Botanical: Mentha sativa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Water or Marsh Mint. Whorled Mint. Hairy Mint.
Common in Britain and found all over temperate and Northern Europe and Russian Asia.
A rather coarse perennial 1 to 1 1/2 feet high; leaves conspicuously stalked, ovate or oval-ovate, or oval-rounded or wedge-shaped at the base, subacute or acute serrate or crenate serrate, more or less hairy on both sides; flowers in whorls, usually all separate, beginning about or below the middle of the stem; bracts large, similar to leaves, sometimes the upper ones minute, uppermost ones often without flowers; bracteoles strap-shaped, subulate, hairy, shorter than flowers; pedicels hairy, rarely glabrous; calyx hairy, campanulate-cylindrical; teeth triangular, acuminate, half the length of tube, bristly, hairy; corolla scarcely twice as long as the calyx, hairy without and within; nucules rough with small points.
---Medicinal and Other Uses---
The herb is considered to have emetic, stimulant, and astringent qualities, and is used in diarrhoea and as an emmenagogue. The infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water is taken in wineglassful doses.
Botanical: Mentha arvensis
Family: N.O. Labiatae
It is a perennial, the root-stock, as in all the Mints, creeping freely, so that when the plant has once taken hold of the ground it becomes very difficult to eradicate it, as its long creeping roots bind the soil together and ultimately overrun a considerable area. It is generally an indication that the drainage of the land has been neglected. It is abundantly distributed throughout Britain, though less common in the northern counties and flourishes in fields and moist ground, and Peppermint growers must be ever watchful for its appearance.
The Corn Mint (Mentha arvensis) is the type species of the Japanese Menthol plant, but is not endowed with useful medicinal properties, great care indeed, as has been mentioned, having to be taken to eradicate it from Peppermint plantations, for if mingled with that valuable herb in distilling its strong odour affects the quality of the oil.
It is a branched, downy plant. From the low, spreading, quadrangular stems that lie near the ground, the flowering stems are each year thrown up, 6 to 12 inches high. The leaves, springing from the stems, in pairs, are stalked, their outlines freely toothed. The upper leaves are smaller than the lower, and the flowers are arranged in rings (whorls) in their axils. The flowers themselves are small individually, but the delicacy of their color and the dense clusters in which they grow, give an importance collectively, as ring after ring of the blossoms form as a whole a conspicuous head. The flowering season lasts throughout August and September.
This mint varies considerably in appearance in different plants, like all the other native species of mint, some being much larger than others, with a more developed foliage and a much greater hairiness of all the parts. It has a strong odour that becomes more decided still when the leaves are bruised in any way.
It is said that the effect of this plant, when animals eat it, is to prevent coagulation of their milk, so that it can hardly be made to yield cheese.
MINT, WILD WATER
Botanical: Mentha aquatica (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Mentha aquatica, the Wild Mint, Water Mint or Marsh Mint in its many variations (of which M. sativa, the Hairy Mint, is by most botanists considered to be one, and not a distinct species), is the commonest of the Mints, growing abundantly 1 to 2 feet high, in extensive masses in wet places, banks of rivers and marshes, and well distinguished by its downy foliage and whorls of lilac flowers which towards the summit of the stem are crowded into globose heads. The scent of the plant is strong and unpleasant to modern idea, but Dononaeus says:
'The savour of scent of Mynte rejoiceth man, wherefore they sow and strow the wild Mynthe in this countrie in places where feasts are kept, and in Churches. The juyce of Mynte mingled with honied water cureth the payne of the eares when dropped therein, and taketh away the asperitie and roughness of the tongue when it is rubbed or washed therewith.'
The dried herb yields about 4 per cent of essential oil, having an odour of Pennyroyal, the characters of which are not well determined. Russian Spearmint oil is derived from a form of this species.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Emetic, stimulant and astringent. Used in herbal medicine in diarrhoea and as an emmenagogue, the infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water being taken in wineglassful doses.
In severe cold and influenza, or in any complaint where it is necessary to set up perspiration and in all inflammatory complaints, internal or external, the tea made from this plant may be taken warm as freely as the patient pleases. It can be used in conjunction with stomach remedies and in difficult menstruation. A strong infusion is inclined to be emetic.
A decoction of Water Mint prepared with vinegar is recommended to stop blood vomiting.
Pliny, describing the cultivation of mint, observes that the original name was Mintha, 'from which the Latin Mentha was derived, but of late it has been called Hedyosmon,' i.e. the sweet-scented. He speaks of 'a wild kind of Mint known to us as Menastrum.' This name was used in the fourteenth century for the Water Mint (M. aquatica).
Culpepper says it is good for the gravel, and in flatulent colics.
Botanical: Mentha acrispa
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Mentha crispa, which has wavy, broad, sharply-toothed leaves, woolly beneath, is a avariety of M. aquatica. It is sometimes found in Britain in gardens and has quite a different odour to that of the common Wild Water Mint.
Botanical: Mentha citrata
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Mentha citrata (Ehr.), syn. M. odorata, the Bergamot Mint, by some botanists considered a separate species, is by others looked on as a variety of M. aquatica.
The whole plant is smooth, dotted with yellow glands and is of a dark green color, generally tinged with purple, especially the margins of the leaves, which are finelly toothed. There are very conspicuous lines of yellow glands on the purple calyx.
This Mint has a very pleasant, aromatic, lemon-like odour, somewhat resembling that of the Bergamot Orange, or that of the Oswego Tea (Monarda didyma), also called Bergamot, and its leaves like those of the latter can be employed in pot pourri.
It is found in wet places in Staffordshireand Wales, though very rarely, but is often cultivated in gardens.
Botanical: Mentha rotundifolia
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Mentha rotundifolia is a sturdy plant having the habit of M. sylvestris, but is more branched. The leaves are very broad, somewhat resembling those of Sage, dull green in color and much wrinkled above, often densely woolly and whitish beneath. The flowers are pink or white, in tapering, terminal spikes.
This species has somewhat the flavour of Spearmint, but is stronger. It is frequently found on the ruins of monasteries, the monks having used it for the languor following epileptic fits, as it was considered refreshing to the brain. It is sometimes found cultivated in cottage gardens under the name of wiccan Mint.
The American Horsemint (Monarda punctata, Linn.) is of considerable importance, as it may before long be available as a regular source of Thymol, which has hitherto been manufactured principally from Ajowan seeds. It yields from 1 to 3 per cent of a volatile oil, which contains a large proportion of Thymol, up to 61 per cent having been obtained; Carvacrol also appears to be a constituent. The oil has a specific gravity of 0.930 to 0.940 and on prolonged standing deposits crystals of Thymol.
In 1907, Horsemint was observed to occur in abundance as a common weed on the sandy lands of central Florida, and the preliminary examinations of the oil from the wild plants which were made at that time seemed to indicate that a promising commercial source of Thymol could be developed by bringing this plant under cultivation and selecting for propagation types of plants best suited for oil production.
The leaf area of the wild plants is rather small: the first problem, therefore, seemed to be to increase the leaf area and thus increase the yield of oil per acre.
During several years of experiment, selection was also made to increase the size of the plants in order that the tonnage of herb per acre might be increased. This was also successful and a considerably increased yield was noted year by year.
In 1912 a series of fertilizer experiments was carried out. It was found that although certain special methods of treatment had a marked effect on the percentage of yield of oil and of Thymol in the oil, the greatest yield was obtained by promoting the growth of the plant and thus securing the largest possible yield of herb per acre.
On the scarcity of Thymol becoming acute on the outbreak of the Great War, the United States Department of Agriculture took up the matter, entered thoroughly into the question of utilizing the native American plant for the source of the valued product, and carried out exhaustive experiments in 1914 and 1915 as to the cultivation of the plant, the extraction of Thymol, the yield per acre and thecommercial prospects of the cultivation of the plant, the conclusions arrived at being that the use is now warranted of the improved form of the plant - its luxuriance increased by cultivation - being used for the commercial production of Thymol in the United States
It has been shown that Horsemint can be grown on the lighter types of soil at comparatively little expense, and as the cost oftransportation for the finished product, Thymol, is very low, it would seem that the production of this crop might be profitable when grown in connexion with other oil-yielding plants for which a distilling apparatus is required. Distillation of the Horsemint herb is carried on by the usual methods in practice for distilling such volatile oils as Peppermint and Spearmint.
Botanical: Mentha sylvestris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
The English Horsemint (Mentha sylvestris) is a strong-scented plant, frequent in damp, waste ground, usually growing in masses, with downy, egg-shaped leaves tapering to a point, with finely toothed margins, their undersides very white with silky hairs. The flowers are in thick cylindrical spikes, which are often interrupted below; the corollas are lilac in color and hairy.
The taste and odour of the plant resemble those of the Garden Mint.
The dry herb yields about 1 per cent of essential oil, having carminative and stimulant properties.
'It is good for wind and colic in the stomach.... The juice, laid on warm, helps the King's evil or kernels in the throat.... The decoction or distilled water helps a stinking breath, proceeding from corruption of the teeth, and snuffed up the nose, purges the head. It helps the scurf or dandruff of the head used with vinegar.'
Botanical: Monarda punctata (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Monarda lutea. Spotted Monarda.
In 1569 a doctor of Seville, Nicolas Monardes, wrote a great book, in Spanish, making known the medicinal plants of the New World, and the genus Monarda was named in his honour.
Monarda punctata is a perennial herb, growing in dry, sandy places. It has a strong erect stem, reaching 2 feet or more in height, with lanceolate, opposite leaves, 2 to 4 inches long, dotted on the under-surface with glands. The flowers form dense whorls, one being terminal, and have a large yellow corolla, the upper lip being spotted with purple. A circle of large, leaf-like bracts, purplish-pink in color, surrounds them.
The plant, which is hardy, was introduced into England in 1714. The odour is strong and aromatic, the taste pungent and slightly bitter.
Wild Basil (Pycnanthemum incanum) is said to be often substituted for it in the United States.
The active virtues depend on the abundant volatile oil, which has been found to contain a hydrocarbon, thymol, and higher oxygenated compounds. It yields its virtues to boiling water, but particularly to alcohol.
Oleum Monardze or Oil of Horsemint is official in the United States.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Rubefacient, stimulant, carminative. The infusion is used for flatulent colic, sickness, and as a diaphoretic and emmenagogue, or as a diuretic in urinary disorders.
The principal use is external, and in its pure state it may be a vesicant. It should be diluted with olive oil or soap liniment, two or four parts of either being added to one of oil of Monarda. It may be employed in chronic rheumatism, cholera infantum, or whenever rubefacients are required.
It may be taken like Hedeoma, or American Pennyroyal.
Two to 10 minims of oil.
M. Didyma and M. Squarrosa may be used as substitutes.
M. Fistulosa (Wild Bergamot, or Oswego Tea) is an active diuretic.
M. citriodora, or Prairie Bergamot, contains a phenol and a citral.
SWEET HORSEMINT is a name of Cunila origanoides, the essential oil of which is a stimulant aromatic.
Botanical: Viscum album (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Loranthaceae
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
Birdlime Mistletoe. Herbe de la Croix. Mystyldene. Lignum Crucis.
Leaves and young twigs, berries.
The well-known Mistletoe is an evergreen parasitic plant, growing on the branches of trees, where it forms pendent bushes, 2 to 5 feet in diameter. It will grow and has been found on almost any deciduous tree, preferring those with soft bark, and being, perhaps, commonest on old Apple trees, though it is frequently found on the Ash, Hawthorn, Lime and other trees. On the Oak, it grows very seldom. It has been found on the Cedar of Lebanon and on the Larch, but very rarely on the Pear tree.
When one of the familiar sticky berries of the Mistletoe comes into contact with the bark of a tree - generally through the agency of birds - after a few days it sends forth a thread-like root, flattened at the extremity like the proboscis of a fly. This finally pierces the bark and roots itself firmly in the growing wood, from which it has the power of selecting and appropriating to its own use, such juices as are fitted for its sustenance: the wood of Mistletoe has been found to contain twice as much potash, and five times as much phosphoric acid as the wood of the foster tree. Mistletoe is a true parasite, for at no period does it derive nourishment from the soil, or from decayed bark, like some of the fungi do - all its nourishment is obtained from its host. The root becomes woody and thick.
The stem is yellowish and smooth, freely forked, separating when dead into bone-like joints. The leaves are tongue-shaped, broader towards the end, 1 to 3 inches long, very thick and leathery, of a dull yellow-green color, arranged in pairs, with very short footstalks. The flowers, small and inconspicuous, are arranged in threes, in close short spikes or clusters in the forks of the branches, and are of two varieties, the male and female occurring on different plants. Neither male nor female flowers have a corolla, the parts of the fructification springing from the yellowish calyx. They open in May. The fruit is a globular, smooth, white berry, ripening in December.
Mistletoe is found throughout Europe, and in this country is particularly common in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. In Scotland it is almost unknown.
The genus Viscum has thirty or more species. In South Africa there are several, one with very minute leaves, a feature common to many herbs growing in that excessively dry climate; one in Australia is densely woolly, from a similar cause. Several members of the family are not parasitic at all,being shrubs and trees, showing that the parasitic habit is an acquired one, and now, of course, hereditary.
Mistletoe is always produced by seed and cannot be cultivated in the earth like other plants, hence the ancients considered it to be an excrescence of the tree. By rubbing the berries on the smooth bark of the underside of the branches of trees till they adhere, or inserting them in clefts made for the purpose, it is possible to grow Mistletoe quite successfully, if desired.
The thrush is the great disseminator of the Mistletoe, devouring the berries eagerly, from which the Missel Thrush is said by some to derive its name. The stems and foliage have been given to sheep in winter, when fodder was scarce, and they are said to eat it with relish.
In Brittany, where the Mistletoe grows so abundantly, the plant is called Herbe de la Croix, because, according to an old legend, the Cross was made from its wood, on account of which it was degraded to be a parasite.
The English name is said to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon Misteltan, tan signifying twig, and mistel from mist, which in old Dutch meant birdlime; thus, according to Professor Skeat, Mistletoe means 'birdlime twig,' a reference to the fact that the berries have been used for making birdlime. Dr. Prior, however derives the word from tan, a twig, and mistl, meaning different, from its being unlike the tree it grows on. In the fourteenth century it was termed 'Mystyldene' and also Lignum crucis, an allusion to the legend just mentioned. The Latin name of the genus, Viscum, signifying sticky, was assigned to it from the glutinous juice of its berries.
Mistletoe was held in great reverence by the Druids. They went forth clad in white robes to search for the sacred plant, and when it was discovered, one of the Druids ascended the tree and gathered it with great ceremony, separating it from the Oak with a golden knife. The Mistletoe was always cut at a particular age of the moon, at the beginning of the year, and it was only sought for when the Druids declared they had visions directing them to seek it. When a great length of time elapsed without this happening, or if the Mistletoe chanced to fall to the ground, it was considered as an omen that some misfortune would befall the nation. The Druids held that the Mistletoe protected its possessor from all evil, and that the oaks on which it was seen growing were to be respected because of the wonderful cures which the priests were able to effect with it. They sent round their attendant youth with branches of the Mistletoe to announce the entrance of the new year. It is probable that the custom of including it in the decoration of our homes at Christmas, giving it a special place of honour, is a survival of this old custom.
The curious basket of garland with which 'Jack-in-the-Green' is even now occasionally invested on May-day is said to be a relic of a similar garb assumed by the Druids for the ceremony of the Mistletoe. When they had found it they danced round the oak to the tune of 'Hey derry down, down, down derry!' which literally signified, 'In a circle move we round the oak. ' Some oakwoods in Herefordshire are still called 'the derry'; and the following line from Ovid refers to the Druids' songs beneath the oak:
'---Ad viscum Druidce cantare solebant---.'
Shakespeare calls it 'the baleful Mistletoe,' an allusion to the Scandinavian legend that Balder, the god of Peace, was slain with an arrow made of Mistletoe. He was restored to life at the request of the other gods and goddesses, and Mistletoe was afterwards given into the keeping of the goddess of Love, and it was ordained that everyone who passed under it should receive a kiss, to show that the branch had become an emblem of love, and not of hate.
---Parts Used Medicinally---
The leaves and young twigs, collected just before the berries form, and dried in the same manner as described for Holly.
Mistletoe contains mucilage, sugar, a fixed oil, resin, an odorous principle, some tannin and various salts. The active part of the plant is the resin, Viscin, which by fermentation becomes a yellowish, sticky, resinous mass, which can be used with success as a birdlime.
The preparations ordinarily used are a fluid extract and the powdered leaves. A homoeopathic tincture is prepared with spirit from equal quantities of the leaves and ripe berries, but is difficult of manufacture, owing to the viscidity of the sap.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Nervine, antispasmodic, tonic and narcotic. Has a greatreputation for curing the 'falling sickness' epilepsy - and other convulsive nervous disorders. It has also been employed in checking internal haemorrhage.
The physiological effect of the plant is to lessen and temporarily benumb such nervous action as is reflected to distant organs of the body from some central organ which is the actual seat of trouble. In this way the spasms of epilepsy and of other convulsive distempers are allayed. Large doses of the plant, or of its berries, would, on the contrary, aggravate these convulsive disorders. Young children have been attacked with convulsions after eating freely of the berries.
In a French work on domestic remedies, 1682, Mistletoe (gui de chêne) was considered of great curative power in epilepsy. Sir John Colbatch published in 1720 a pamphlet on The Treatment of Epilepsy by Mistletoe, regarding it as a specific for this disease. He procured the parasite from the Lime trees at Hampton Court, and recommended the powdered leaves, as much as would lie on a sixpence, to be given in Black Cherry water every morning. He was followed in this treatment by others who have testified to its efficacy as a tonic in nervous disorders, considering it the specific herb for St. Vitus's Dance. It has been employed in convulsions delirium, hysteria, neuralgia, nervous debility, urinary disorders, heart disease, and many other complaints arising from a weakened and disordered state of the nervous system.
Ray also greatly extolled Mistletoe as a specific in epilepsy, and useful in apoplexy and giddiness. The older writers recommended it for sterility.
The tincture has been recommended as a heart tonic in typhoid fever in place of Foxglove. It lessens reflex irritability and strengthens the heart's beat, whilst raising the frequency of a slow pulse.
Besides the dried leaves being given powdered, or as an infusion, or made into a tincture with spirits of wine, a decoction may be made by boiling 2 OZ. of the bruised green plant with 1/2 pint of water, giving 1 tablespoonful for a dose several times a day. Ten to 60 grains of the powder may be taken as a dose, and homoeopathists give 5 to 10 drops of the tincture, with 1 or 2 tablespoonsful of cold water. Mistletoe is also given, combined with Valerian Root and Vervain, for all kinds of nervous complaints, cayenne pods being added in cases of debility of the digestive organs.
Fluid extract: dose, 1/4 to 1 drachm.
Country people use the berries to cure severe stitches in the side. The birdlime of the berries is also employed by them as an application to ulcers and sores.
It is stated that in Sweden, persons afflicted with epilepsy carry about with them a knife having a handle of Oak Mistletoe to ward off attacks.
See (Balsam) Apple.
Botanical: Lysimachia nummularia (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Primulaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Creeping Jenny. Creeping Joan. Wandering Jenny. Running Jenny. Wandering Tailor. Herb Twopence. Twopenny Grass. Meadow Runagates. Herbe 2 pence. Two Penigrasse. String of Sovereigns. Serpentaria.
---Part Used---Whole herb, dried or fresh.
The Moneywort is far more often known by the familiar names of Creeping Jenny, Wandering Jenny, Running Jenny, Creeping Joan and Wandering Sailor - all names alluding to its rapid trailing over the ground. 'Meadow Runagates' has the same reference, and tells us also of its favourite home in damp pastures and by stream sides.
The earliest English Herbal, that of Turner, speaks of it as 'Herbe 2 pence' and 'Two penigrasse,' and it is still known in some localities as Herb Twopence and Twopenny Grass, the allusion here being to the leaves, which are set two and two on the stem, and rounded (though each has a short, sharp tip), and Iying always faces turned to the sky, look like rows of pence. 'Moneywort' and 'Strings of Sovereigns,' though names based on the same idea, are probably suggested by the big golden flowers, rather than by the leaves. The leaves sometimes turn rose-pink in autumn. The specific name, Nummularia, is from the Latin nummulus (money).
The leaves and stems of the plant are all quite smooth, the stems being quadrangular. The flowers, which blossom through June and July, spring singly on slender stalks, just where each leaf joins the stem. Their five sepals are large, pale green and heart-shaped, somewhat 'frilly' round the base, perhaps as a protection against small creeping insects, which might otherwise make their way into the flowers, which are only just off the ground. The five petals are so deeply cut into that they appear separate, but are joined at the base to form a golden cup. The stamens, as in the Scarlet Pimpernel and others of this family, face their corresponding petals, instead of being alternate with them, and are also joined at their base to form a low ring. Their filaments, or little stalks, are covered with tiny golden hairs or knobs.
The ovary in the centre of the flower is so placed that the pollen from the stamens must fall on its stigma, but the flower is not only absolutely sterile to its own pollen, but also pollen from other Moneywort flowers seems to have little effect on its ovules, for as a rule no fruit follows the flowers. It has been thought, therefore, that the plant may not be a true native, and that there is something in our climate that does not suit it. It is probable, however, that it does not trouble to set seed, because it has adopted a simpler method of propagation. It frequently happens that plants which increase much in other ways seldom produce ripe seeds. This simple method of propagation lies in its trailing shoots - its 'stolons.' A stolon may be defined as a creeping stem which dies off every year, and is beset by leaves not very far apart. Close to the tip of each stolon, in the angle formed by little leaf-stalks, buds appear, which produce roots which pass into the ground. When winter comes, the stem and leaves die down between the old root and the new one, but when spring arrives, a new plant exists where the little roots entered the ground. In this way from a single plant which sends out stolons in various directions, many new plants appear by this so-called 'vegetative' method of reproduction.
In a damp situation, no plant thrives better in a garden, or requires less trouble to be taken with it.
The whole herb, used both dried and fresh. For drying, collect in June, and proceed as in Scarlet Pimpernel.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The Moneywort in olden days was reputed to havemany virtues. It was like the last species, one of the many 'best possible woundworts.' 'In a word, there is not a better wound-herb, no not tobacco itselfe, nor any other whatsoever,' said an old herbalist.
We are told by old writers that this herb was not only used by man, but that if serpents hurt or wounded themselves, they turned to this plant for healing, and so it was sometimes called 'Serpentaria.'
The bruised fresh leaves were in popular use as an application to wounds, both fresh and old, a decoction of the fresh herb being taken as a drink in wine or water, and also applied outwardly as a wash or cold compress to both wounds and inveterate sores. An ointment was made also for application to wounds.
The leaves are subastringent, slightly acid, and antiscorbutic. Boerhaave, the celebrated Dutch physician, recommended their use, dried and powdered, in doses of 10 grains in scurvy and haemorrhages. Culpepper tells us:
'Moneywort is singularly good to stay all fluxes . . . bleeding inwardly or outwardly, and weak stomachs given to casting. It is very good for the ulcers or excoriations of the lungs.' Again, it was a specific for whoopingcough 'being boyled with wine or honey . . .it prevaileth against that violent cough in children, commonly called the chinne-cough, but it should be chine-cough for it doth make as it were the very chine-bone to shake. '
Botanical: Monsonia ovata (CAR.)
Family: N.O. Geraniaceae
---Part Used---Plant, root.
---Habitat---Cape of Good Hope.
Leaves oblong, subcordate, crenate, waved, flowers white axillary stalked, two on one peduncle, roots fleshy large, grown from seed.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A valuable remedy for acute and chronic dysentery, specially of use in ulceration of the lower part of the intestines; the plant is not considered poisonous.
Saturated tincture, 1 to 2 fluid drachms, every three or four hours.
The Pelargoniums belong to the same family, and all species have more or less astringent properties. Some have fragrant foliage, noticeably Pelargonium roseum and P. capitatum, from which a fragrant essential oil is extracted. In medicine they are used for dysentery and some for ulceration of the stomach and upper intestinal tracts. P. Triste has edible tubers.
Botanical: Adoxa Moschatellina
Family: N.O. Caprifoliaceae
Tuberous Moschatel. Musk Ranunculus.
This plant, belonging to the natural order Caprifoliaceae, is the only one of its species. The name Adoxa is from the Greek, signifying 'inglorious,' from its humble growth. It is an interesting little herbaceous plant, 4 to 6 inches high; stem four-angled; root-leaves long-stalked, ternate; leaflets triangular, lobed; cauline leaves or bracts two, smaller, with sheathing petioles; flowers arranged as if on five sides of a cube, small and pale green in color; berry with one-seeded parchment-like chamber. Growing in hedgerows, local, but widely diffused, also in Asia and North America, even into the Arctic regions.
The flowers, and indeed the whole plant, has a musk-like scent, which it emits towards evening when the dew falls - this scent, however, disappears if the plant is bruised. It flowers in April and May.
John Ray, in his early system of plant classification, placed the Moschatel amongst the berry-bearing plants. The early writers found considerable difficulty in classifying it botanically. One calls it the muskranunculus, whilst another classes it with the fumitories, probably because of its leaves.
See Thyme (Wild).
Moss, American Club
Botanical: Lycopodium complanatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Lycopodiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
American Ground Pine.
The American Ground Pine is not a flowering plant, but one of the Club Mosses, which with the Ferns and Mosses belong to the great class of Cryptogams. The genus Lycopodium holds, as it were, an intermediate place between the Ferns and Mosses and includes only six British species, though there are about sixty-five distributed over the world.
Lycopodium complanatum, the American Club Moss, is a small mossy plant with aromatic, resinous smell and slightly turpentiny taste, the stalks hairy and the leaves close set, characteristics which have gained it the popular name of Ground Pine, as in the case of Yellow Bugle. The stem is long and creeping, only about 1/2 inch in diameter, yellowish-green, giving off at intervals erect, fan-shaped forked branches about 4 inches high, with minute scale-like leaves, leaving only the sharp tips free, the branches bearing fructification in the form of a stalked tuft of four to five cylindrical spikes, consisting of spore cases in the axils of minute bracts. The stem roots below at long intervals, the roots being pale, wiry and slightly branched.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The whole plant is used, dried and powdered for infusion.
It has properties similar to the European Ground Pine, being a powerful diuretic, promoting urine and removing obstructions of the liver and spleen. It is therefore, a valuable remedy in jaundice, rheumatism and most of the chronic diseases.
A decoction of this plant, combined with Dandelion and Agrimony, is a highly recommended herbal remedy for liver complaints and obstructions.
For EUROPEAN GROUND PINE, see (YELLOW) BUGLE.
Moss, Common Club
Botanical: Lycopodium clavatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Lycopodiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Muscus Terrestris repens. Vegetable Sulphur. Wolf's Claw.
The spores, the fresh plant.
This species is found all over the world and occurs throughout Great Britain, being most plentiful on the moors of the northern counties.
Though this species of Club Moss occurs in Great Britain, the spores are collected chiefly in Russia, Germany and Switzerland, in July and August, the tops of the plants being cut as the spikes approach maturity and the powder shaken out and separated by a sieve. Probably the spores used commercially are derived also from other species in addition to Lycopodium clavatum.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The part of the plant now employed is the minute spores which, as a yellow powder, are shaken out of the kidney-shaped capsules or sporangia growing on the inner side of the bracts covering the fruit spike. Under the names of Muscus terrestris or M. clavatum the whole plant was used, dried, by ancient physicians as a stomachic and diuretic, mainly in calculous and other kidney complaints; the spores do not appear to have been used alone until the seventeenth century, when they were employed as a diuretic in dropsy, a drastic in diarrhoea, dysentery and suppression of urine, a nervine in spasms and hydrophobia, an aperient in gout and scurvy and a corroborant in rheumatism, and also as an application to wounds. They were, however, more used on the Continent than in this country and never had a place in the London Pharmacopoeia, though they have been prescribed for irritability of the bladder, in the form of a tincture, which is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
The spores are still medicinally employed by herbalists in this country, both internally and externally, as a dusting powder in various skin diseases such as eczema and erysipelas and for excoriated surfaces, to prevent chafing in infants. Their chief pharmaceutical use is as a pill powder, for enveloping pills to prevent their adhesion to one another when placed in a box, and to disguise their taste. Dose, 10 to 60 grains. They have such a strong repulsive power that, if the hand is powdered with them, it can be dipped in water without becoming wet.
Botanical: Fucus Helminthocorton (KÜTZ.)
Family: N.O. Algae
---Part Used---Whole plant.
Mediterranean coast, specially Corsica.
The drug is obtained from twenty to thirty species of Algae, chiefly Sphaerococcus helminthocorton. It is cartilaginous, filiform repeatedly forked, color varies from white to brown, it has a nauseous taste, bitter and salt, odour rather pleasant.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
In Europe as an anthelmintic and febrifuge, it acts very successfully on lumbricoid intestinal worms. A decoction is made of it from 4 to 6 drachms to the pint. Dose, a wineglassful three times daily.
---Dosage---Ten to 60 grains in syrup or in infusion.
Botanical: Cladonia Pyxidata (FRIES.)
Family: N.O. Lichenes
---Part Used---Whole plant.
North-west America, but now a common weed in many counties in Britain.
Cladonia is one of a numerous genus of lecidineous lichens. It grows abundantly in the woods and hedges and is a common species; it has no odour; taste sweetish and mucilagenous.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Expectorant, a valuable medicine in whooping cough.
2 OZ. of the plant decocted and mixed with honey makes a good expectorant and a safe medicine for children's coughs.
Cladonia rangiferina. The badge of the Clan McKenzie. Makes excellent food for reindeer.
C. sanguinea. In Brazil is rubbed down with sugar and water and applied in the thrush of infants.
Moss, Hair Cap
Botanical: Polytrichium Juniperum (WILLD.)
Family: N.O. Musci
Bear's Bed. Robin's Eye. Ground Moss. Golden Maidenhair. Female Fern Herb. Rockbrake Herb.
---Part Used---Whole herb.
High dry places, margins of woods, poor sandy soil.
The genus have free veins, globose sort, and peltate indusia; only a few species are found in Britain. These are perennial, slender and reddish color, from 4 to 7 inches high. Leaves lanceolate and spreading, fruit four-sided capsule, evergreen, darker in color than other mosses.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
A very valuable remedy in dropsy as a powerful diuretic, and used with hydragogue cathartics of decided advantage. Very useful in urinary obstructions, gravel, etc., causing no nausea, can be given alone or combined with broom or wild carrot, and is excellent if it is necessary to give it indefinitely as an infusion, which is taken in 4-OZ. doses.
Botanical: Cetraria islandica (ACH.)
Family: N.O. Lichenes
Cetraria. Iceland Lichen.
A common plant in northern countries and in the mountainous part of warmer countries.
In spite of its name is not a Moss but a lichen. Found in Great Britain in barren stony ground, abundant in the Grampians, and in the Welsh hills, in Yorkshire, Norfolk, etc. It rarely fructifies but the thallus varies in size, amount of division and cusping as well as color. It is sometimes much curled.
It contains about 70 per cent of lichen starch and becomes blue on the addition of iodine. It also contains a little sugar, fumaric acid, oxalic acid, about 3 per cent of cetrarin and 1 per cent of licheno-stearic acid.
---Medicinal Action and Properties---
Demulcent, tonic, and nutritive when deprived of its bitter principle. Excellent in chronic pulmonary troubles, catarrh, digestive disturbances, dysentery, advanced tuberculosis. Decoction, B.P. 1885, 1 to 4 OZ. Ground, it can be mixed with chocolate or cocoa.
Botanical: Chondrus crispus (STACKH.)
Family: N.O. Algae
Carrageen. Chondrus. Carrahan.
A perennial thallophyte common at low tide on all the shores of the North Atlantic, but remarkable for its extreme variability, the difference being mainly due to the great diversity in the width of the segments.
---Constituents---It contains a large amount of mucilage with the presence of a big percentage of sulphur compounds.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Demulcent, emollient, nutritive. A popular remedy made into a jelly for pulmonary complaints and kidney and bladder affections. Can be combined with cocoa. The decoction is made by steeping 1/2 OZ. of the Moss in cold water for 15 minutes and then boiling it in 3 pints of milk or water for 10 or 15 minutes, after which it is strained and seasoned with liquorice, lemon or cinnamon and sweetened to taste. It can be taken freely.
Botanical: Sphagnum Cymbifolium
Family: N.O. Lichenes
Preparation of the Dressings
Medicinal Action and Uses
Sphagnum Moss, commonly known as Bog Moss, is the only true Moss that has yet proved itself to be of appreciable economic value.
It is found in wet and boggy spots, preferably on peat soil, mostly near heather, on all our mountains and moors, in patches small or large, usually in water free from lime, growing so close together that it often forms large cushions or clumps. It is seldom found in woods; it grows best on heath moors, in water holes.
Sphagnum is easily distinguished from other mosses by its habit ofgrowth, its soft thick fullness (each head resembling a full and elaborate bloom of edelweiss), and its vividly pale-green color.
Its stem is densely beset with narrow, broken-up leaves, a branch being emitted at every fourth leaf; many of these are turned downwards and applied more or less closely to the stem.
Though the pale-green species is the most common, there are several others, large and small, varying in color from the very light green (never dark green) to yellow, and all shades of pink to deep red and brown. The Moss often attracts attention by its display of beautiful shades of color, such patches being avoided by wary persons, who do not wish to get their feet wet.
Every part of the moss is permeated with minute tubes and spaces, resulting in a system of delicate capillary tubes, having the effect of a very fine sponge. The cells readily absorb water and retain it. The water can be squeezed out, but the Moss does not collapse and is ready to take in fluid again.
The plant is not dependent on soil water, but also absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, and is laden throughout with water retained in its delicate cells.
The presence of these capillary cells makes Sphagnum economically useful. In horticulture, long before the war, this Moss had a marketable value, in combination with peat fibre, being widely used as a rooting medium for orchids, on account of the remarkable manner in which it retains moisture, a handful when wet being like a sponge, and when chopped and mixed with soil in pots preventing moisture passing too quickly through the soil.
In recent years, the light-brown layer of semi-decayed Sphagnum Moss deposits that lies above the actual peat on bogs and moors, has been largely employed as valuable stable litter in the place of straw, under the name of Moss Litter, entirely on account of its great absorptive powers.
On the outbreak of the late war a still wider economic use was found for this moss, as a dressing of wounds, and an interesting industry sprang up for war-workers living where this moss grows, mainly in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Devon, much having also been collected from the Yorkshire moors, the Lake District and the Wye Valley.
Although this particular use of the moss is generally looked upon as an innovation, we owe the introduction of Sphagnum Moss as a modern surgical dressing to Germany, where its value for this purpose was quite accidentally discovered in the early eighties.
And though it is only in quite recent years that Sphagnum Moss has come to the fore in the dressing of wounds, bygone generations recognized its value for this purpose. A Gaelic Chronicle of 1014 relates that the wounded in the battle of Clontarf 'stuffed their wounds with moss,' and the Highlanders after Flodden stanched their bleeding wounds by filling them with bog moss and soft grass. Stricken deer are known to drag their wounded limbs to beds of Sphagnum Moss. The Kashmiri have used it from time immemorial and so have the Esquimaux. An old writer says:
'the Lapland matrons are well acquainted with this moss. They dry it and lay it in their children's cradles to supply the place of mattress, bolster and every covering, and being changed night and morning, it keeps the infant remarkable clean, dry and warm.'
The Lapps also use the moss for surgical purposes, and it has been used in Newfoundland as a dressing for wounds and sores from the earliest times.
For thirty years, Sphagnum Moss had been used as a surgical dressing in Germany.
The growing plant, with its underlying layers of withered stems and leaves, is collected, picked clean from other plants, pineneedles, etc., and dried. It is then lightly packed in bags of butter-muslin, which are sterilized before being placed on the wound.
Sphagnum Moss has important advantages (as an absorbent) over cotton-wool. Many materials, including other kinds of moss, are equally soft and light, but none can compare with it in power of absorption, due to its sponge-like structure. Prepared Sphagnum can absorb more than twice as much moisture as cotton, a 2-OZ. dressing absorbing up to 2 lb. Even the best prepared cottonwool lacks the power to retain discharges possessed by Sphagnum. A pad of Sphagnum Moss absorbs the discharge in lateral directions, as well as immediately above the wound, and holds it until fully saturated in all parts of the dressing before allowing any to escape. The even absorption of the moss is one of its chief virtues, for the patient is saved a good deal of disturbance, since the dressing does not require to be changed so frequently.
In civil hospitals, in times of peace, the deficiencies of cotton-wool are not so much noticed, the majority of wounds being those made by surgeons under ideal conditions, but for a variety of reasons the wounds of our men at the front were of such a suppurating character as to require specially absorbent dressings, and overworked doctors and nurses constantly expressed themselves thankful for a dressing that lasted longer than cotton-wool. Time and suffering are saved, as well as expense: the absorbent pads of moss are soft, elastic and very comfortable, easily packed and convenient to handle.
Fortunately the supply is practically an unlimited one; indeed, if the demand grew considerably, the artificial cultivation of Sphagnum for surgical purposes would be worth while. This Moss is easily propagated, as the stems and so-called leaves can be chopped up into fine particles and every morsel will grow and form a tassel-like head. Sphagnum only thrives in clean water and soil; it dislikes manure of any kind.
In gathering Sphagnum most people use their hands, though some employ a rake. The moss should be gathered as cleanly as possible, squeezed dry and carried home in sacks. The squeezing may be done with the hands, or with a towel or coarse sacking, further wringing being done at home, if necessary, with a laundry roller-wringer or mangle. Wringing or squeezing the moss does not harm it for surgical purposes, though it must not be allowed to dry in closely pressed pieces, because it tears when being opened up again. If squeezed with the hand, it must not be pressed into a hard ball.
While still damp, all clumps should be separated out, as the moss, whether picked or not, must be sent to the workrooms in a loose state.
Cleaning or picking the moss is best done while still damp, though it may also be done when dry. The moss is spread out on a table and all other substances, such as grasses, twigs, bits of heather and other plants, and above all, pine-needles, must be carefully removed by hand. The moss itself must not be torn or broken into short pieces.
Drying is best done in the open air; artificial heat is apt to overheat the moss and diminish its elasticity, making it brittle and easily rubbed into dust.
An empty hayshed may also be employed, open on all sides, or the floors of an empty room, with windows open, wire netting being used to keep the moss from blowing away.
Where a moor produces large patches of coherent Sphagnum - cushions - the following method has been employed. Large cushions of the moss are taken out and placed on a drier area near by - a couple of workers can put out about a hundred of these in an hour. On the next visit, these are turned and another set put out. In favourable weather a few days' sun and wind will dry these thoroughly, as the cushions are too bulky to be scattered by the wind. Several big sacks can be filled on a final visit, and the carriage of perfectly dry moss is an easy matter.
---Preparation of the Dressings---
The moss after being dried and carefully picked over is now ready for the dressings. All used in home hospitals is put up loosely in small, flat muslin bags, of a fairly close but very thin muslin, the bags only being loosely filled (as a rule 2 OZ. of the moss to each bag, 10 inches by 14 inches), as allowance has to be made for the way in which the moss swells on being brought into contact with moisture.
Sphagnum Moss pads are supplied both plain and sterilized (sublimated), some hospitals preferring to sterilize them themselves, but a considerable proportion being sterilized at the depots and sent out ready for use. The filled bags are passed through a solution of corrosive sublimate by a worker in rubber gloves, squeezed through a little mangle and dried again, that they may return to the specified weight, for after the bath they are 2 OZ. too heavy. The object of sublimating the moss is not for any antiseptic effect on a wound (as of course it does not come into direct contact with the skin) but to neutralize the discharge which may come through the inner dressings.
For use in field-hospitals, etc., the moss is packed in compressed cakes cut to a certain size, which are more conveniently packed for sending abroad than the soft dressings, these small slabs being also placed, each in a muslin bag, very much too large for the size of the dry cake put in them, for obvious reasons. There was a munition factory in Scotland, where much of the moss was sublimated and part of it compressed by hydraulic power into these cakes. The very hydraulic press which one hour was moulding shell bases, was in the next devoting its energy to compressing the healing cakes of Sphagnum Moss.
Sphagnum Moss was also used during the War in conjunction with Garlic, one of the best antiseptics. The Government bought up tons of the bulbs, which were sent out to the front; the raw juice expressed, diluted with water, was put on swabs of sterilized Sphagnum Moss and applied to wounds. Where this treatment was adopted there were no specific complications, and thousands of lives were thus saved.
In connexion with the uses of Spaghnum Moss as a dressing for wounds, mention should be made of the Tar extracted from the Peat on which the Moss isusually found growing.
The Peat Tar contains similar antiseptic and preservative properties as the Moss itself - conclusively demonstrated by the fact that bodies of animals have lain buried in peat bogs for years, and when accidentally disinterred have been found in a state of perfect preservation.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Preparations of calcined peat have long been regarded as effective and cheap germicides, and as a valuable aid to sanitation; peat water possesses astringent and antiseptic properties, and the air in proximity to tracts of peat moss is invariably salubrious, owing probably to the absorption of hydrogen and the exhalation of oxygen by the mosses. Sphagnol, a distillate of Peat Tar, is authoritatively recognized as an extremely usefulapplication in eczema, psoriasis, pruritus, haemorrhoids, chilblains, scabies, acne and other forms of skin diseases, while it is very beneficial for allaying irritation arising from insect bites. For the latter purpose it is a preventative no less than a cure.
The manufacture of spinning material out of peat-fibre has been attempted in Sweden, and experiments have advanced so far that cloth as well as clothing has been made out of peat fibre mixed with other textile materials. This does not, however, appear likely to lead to any important industry, but absorptive material has been produced from white Sphagnum Moss and Wood Pulp. It has also lately been reported from Sweden that successful attempts have been made to extract alcohol from Sphagnum.
Botanical: Leonurus cardiaca (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Motherwort, the only British representative of the genus Leonurus, is a native of many parts of Europe, on banks and under hedges, in a gravelly or calcareous soil. It is often found in country gardens, where it was formerly grown for medicinal purposes, but it is rare to find it truly wild in England, and by some authorities it is not considered indigenous, but merely a garden escape.
It is distinguished from all other British labiates by the leaves, which are deeply and palmately cut into five lobes, or three-pointed segments, and by the prickly calyx-teeth of its flowers. When not in flower, it resembles Mugwort in habit.
From the perennial root-stock rise the square, stout stems, 2 to 3 feet high, erect and branched, principally below, the angles prominent. The leaves are very closely set, the radical ones on slender, long petioles, ovate, lobed and toothed, those on the stem, 2 to 3 inches long, petioled, wedge-shaped; the lower roundish, palmately five-lobed, the lobes trifid at the apex, the upper three-fid, coarsely serrate, reticulately veined, the veinlets prominent beneath, with slender, curved hairs. The uppermost leaves and bracts are very narrow and entire, or only with a tooth on each side, and bear in their axils numerous whorls of pinkish, or nearly white, sessile flowers, six to fifteen in a whorl. The corollas, though whitish on the outside, are stained with paler or darker purple within. They have rather short tubes and nearly flat upper lips, very hairy above, with long, woolly hairs. The two front stamens are the longest and the anthers are sprinkled with hard, shining dots.
The plant blossoms in August. It has rather a pungent odour and a very bitter taste. It is a dull green, the leaves paler below, pubescent, especially on the angles of the stem and the underside of the leaves, the hairs varying much in length and abundance.
The name of the genus, Leonurus, in Greek signifies a Lion's tail, from some fancied resemblance in the plant.
When once planted in a garden, Motherwort will soon increase if theseeds are permitted to scatter. It is perfectly hardy and needs no special soil, and the roots will continue for many years.
Seedlings should be planted about a foot apart.
The whole herb, dried, cut in August. The drying may be carried out in any of the ways described for Scullcap.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Diaphoretic, antispasmodic, tonic, nervine, emmenagogue. Motherwort is especially valuable in female weakness and disorders (hence the name), allaying nervous irritability and inducing quiet and passivity of the whole nervous system.
As a tonic, it acts without producing febrile excitement, and in fevers, attended with nervousness and delirium, it is extremely useful.
Old writers tell us that there is no better herb for strengthening and gladdening the heart, and that it is good against hysterical complaints, and especially for palpitations of the heart when they arise from hysteric causes, and that when made into a syrup, it will allay inward tremors, faintings, etc. There is no doubt it has proved the truth of their claims in its use as a simple tonic, not only in heart disease, neuralgia and other affections of the heart, but also in spinal disease and in recovery from fevers where other tonics are inadmissable.
In Macer's Herbal we find 'Motherwort' mentioned as one of the herbs which were considered all-powerful against 'wykked sperytis.'
The best way of giving it is in the form of a conserve, made from the young tops, says one writer. It may be given in decoctions, or a strong infusion, but is very unpleasant to take that way. The infusion is made from 1 OZ. of herb to a pint of boiling water, taken in wineglassful doses.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Powdered herb, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Solid extract, 5 to 15 grains.
Culpepper wrote of Motherwort:
'Venus owns this herb and it is under Leo. There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapours from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry. May be kept in a syrup, or conserve, therefore the Latins call it cardiaca.... It cleansethe the chest of cold phlegm, oppressing it and killeth worms in the belly. It is of good use to warm and dry up the cold humours, to digest and disperse them that are settled in the veins, joints and sinews of the body and to help cramps and convulsions.'
And Gerard says:
'Divers commend it against infirmities of the heart. Moreover the same is commended for green wounds; it is also a remedy against certain diseases in cattell, as the cough and murreine, and for that cause divers husbandmen oftentimes much desire it.'
See Flax, Mountain.
See Hawkweed, Mouse-Ear.
Botanical: Artemisia vulgaris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
Felon Herb. St. John's Plant. Cingulum Sancti Johannis.
Mugwort abounds on hedgebanks and waysides in most parts of England. It is a tall-growing plant, the stems, which are angular and often of a purplish hue, frequently rising 3 feet or more in height. The leaves are smooth and of a dark green tint on the upper surface, but covered with a dense cottony down beneath; they are once or twice pinnately lobed, the segments being lanceshaped and pointed. The flowers are in small oval heads with cottony involucres and are arranged in long, terminal panicles; they are either reddish or pale yellow. The Mugwort is closely allied to the Cornmon Wormwood, but may be readily distinguished by the leaves being white on the under-surfaces only and by the leaf segments being pointed, not blunt. It lacks the essential oil of the Wormwood.
The Mugwort is said to have derived its name from having been used to flavour drinks. It was, in common with other herbs, such as Ground Ivy, used to a great extent for flavouring beer before the introduction of hops. For this purpose, the plant was gathered when in flower and dried, the fresh herb being considered unsuitable for this object: malt liquor was then boiled with it so as to form a strong decoction, and the liquid thus prepared was added to the beer. Until recent years, it was still used in some parts of the country to flavour the table beer brewed by cottagers.
It has also been suggested that the name, Mugwort, may be derived not from 'mug,' the drinking vessel, but from moughte (a moth or maggot), because from the days of Dioscorides, the plant has been regarded, in common with Wormwood, as useful in keeping off the attacks of moths.
In the Middle Ages, the plant was known as Cingulum Sancti Johannis, it being believed that John the Baptist wore a girdle of it in the wilderness. There were many superstitions connected with it: it was believed to preserve the wayfarer from fatigue, sunstroke, wild beasts and evil spirits generally: a crown made from its sprays was worn on St. John's Eve to gain security from evil possession, and in Holland and Germany one of its names is St. John's Plant, because of the belief, that if gathered on St. John's Eve it gave protection against diseases and misfortunes.
Dr. John Hill extols its virtues, and says:
'Providence has placed it everywhere about our doors; so that reason and authority, as well as the notice of our senses, point it out for use: but chemistry has banished natural medicines.'
Dioscorides praises this herb, and orders the flowering tops to be used just before they bloom.
The dried leaves were, sixty or seventy years ago, in use by the working classes in Cornwall as one of the substitutes for tea, at a time when tea cost 7s. per lb., and on the Continent Mugwort is occasionally employed as an aromatic culinary herb, being one of the green herbs with which geese are often stuffed during roasting.
The downy leaves have been used in the preparation of Moxas, which the Japanese use to cure rheumatism. The down is separated by heating the leaves and afterwards rubbing them between the hands until the cottony fibres alone remain, these are then made up into small cones or cylinders for use. Artemisia Moxa and A. sinensis are mainly used in Japan. This cottony substance has also been used as a substitute for tinder.
Sheep are said to enjoy the herbage of the Mugwort, and also the roots. The plant may, perhaps, be the Artemesia of Pontos, which was celebrated among the ancients for fattening these animals. It is said to be good for poultry and turkeys.
A variegated variety of Mugwort also occurs.
---Parts Used Medicinally---
The leaves, collected in August and dried in the same manner as Wormwood, and the root, dug in autumn and dried. The roots are cleansed in cold water and then freed from rootlets. Drying may be done at first in the open air, spread thinly, as contact may turn the roots mouldy. Or they may be spread on clean floors, or on shelves, in a warm room for about ten days, and turned frequently. When somewhat shrunken, they must be finished more quickly by artificial heat in a drying room or shed, near a stove or gas fire, care being taken that the heated air can escape at the top of the room. Drying in an even temperature will probably take about a fortnight, or more. It is not complete until the roots are dry to the core and brittle, snapping when bent.
Mugwort root is generally about 8 inches long, woody, beset with numerous thin and tough rootlets, 2 to 4 inches long, and about 1/12 inch thick. It is light brown externally; internally whitish, with an angular wood and thick bark, showing five or six resin cells. The taste is sweetish and acrid.
A volatile oil, an acrid resin and tannin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
It has stimulant and slightly tonic properties, and is of value as a nervine and emmenagogue, having also diuretic and diaphoretic action.
Its chief employment is as an emmenagogue, often in combination with Pennyroyal and Southernwood. It is also useful as a diaphoretic in the commencement of cold.
It is given in infusion, which should be prepared in a covered vessel, 1 OZ. of the herb to 1 pint of boiling water, and given in 1/2 teaspoonful doses, while warm. The infusion may be taken cold as a tonic, in similar doses, three times daily: it has a bitterish and aromatic taste.
As a nervine, Mugwort is valued in palsy, fits, epileptic and similar affections, being an old-fashioned popular remedy for epilepsy (especially in persons of a feeble constitution). Gerard says: 'Mugwort cureth the shakings of the joynts inclining to the Palsie;' and Parkinson considered it good against hysteria. A drachm of the powdered leaves, given four times a day, is stated by Withering to have cured a patient who had been affected with hysterical fits for many years, when all other remedies had failed.
The juice and an infusion of the herb were given for intermittent fevers and agues. The leaves used to be steeped in baths, to communicate an invigorating property to the water.
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Culpepper directs that the tops of the plant are to be used fresh gathered, and says:
'a very slight infusion is excellent for all disorders of the stomach, prevents sickness after meals and creates an appetite, but if made too strong, it disgusts the taste. The tops with the flowers on them, dried and powdered, are good against agues, and have the same virtues with wormseed in killing worms. The juice of the large leaves which grows from the root before the stalk appears is the best against the dropsy and jaundice, in water, ale, wine, or the juice only. The infusion drank morning and evening for some time helps hysterics, obstruction of the spleen and weakness of the stomach. Its oil, taken on sugar and drank after, kills worms, resists poison, and is good for the liver and jaundice. eyes like the leaves, hence the root should be accounted among the best stomachics. The oil of the seed cures quotidians and quartans. Boiled in lard and laid to swellings of the tonsils and quinsy is serviceable. It is admirable against surfeits.... Wormwood and vinegar are an antidote to the mischief of mushrooms and henbane and the biting of the seafish called Draco marinus, or quaviver; mixed with honey, it takes away blackness after falls, bruises, etc., . . With Pellitory of the Wall used as poultice to ease all outward pains. Placed among woolen cloths it prevents and destroys the moths.'
Another old writer affirmed that Mugwort was good 'for quaking of the sinews.'
Botanical: Morus nigra (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Artocapaceae
Medicinal Actin and Uses
The Common or Black Mulberry is not one of our native trees, but with several other members of its genus - which contains a dozen or more species - can be grown without protection in the south of Britain. There they are small bushy-headed trees, with large alternate, deciduous, toothed and often variously lobed leaves. It is by no means unusual for a Mulberry tree to produce leaves of several different shapes, or differing considerably in outline. As a rule, abnormalshaped leaves are produced from stem-shoots or sucker growths, and frequently by very vigorous young branches. The Chinese White Mulberry (Morus alba, Linn.), cultivated in other countries as food for the silkworm, is even more variable in leafage than the Common Mulberry, and quite a score of different forms of leaf have been gathered from a single tree and several from one shoot. Both species contain in every part a milky juice, which will coagulate into a sort of Indian rubber, and this has been thought to give tenacity to the filament spun by the silkworm.
The Common Mulberry is a handsome tree, 20 to 30 feet high, of rugged, picturesque appearance, forming a dense, spreading head of branches usually wider than the height of the tree, springing from a short, rough trunk.
It bears unisexual flowers, the sexes in separate spikes, or catkins, which are small, more or less cylindrical and in no way beautiful. The oblong, short-stalked 'fruit,' which when ripe is about an inch long and of an intense purple, is really a fruit-cluster, composed of little, closely-packed drupes, each containing one seed and enclosed by the four enlarged sepals, which have become succulent, thus forming the spurious berry. By detaching a single fruit from the cluster, the overlapping lobes of the former perianth may be still discerned.
Mulberries are extremely juicy and have a refreshing, subacid, saccharine taste, but they are devoid of the fine aroma that distinguishes many fruits of the order Rosaceae.
The tree grows wild in northern Asia Minor, Armenia and the Southern Caucasus region as far as Persia and is now cultivated throughout Europe. It ripens its fruits in England and also as far north as Southern Sweden and Gothland. It flourishes more in the southern part of Great Britain than in the northern counties, but is always of slow growth. Gerard describes it as 'high and full of boughes' and growing in sundry gardens in England, and he grew in his own London garden both the Black and the White Mulberry. Lyte also, before Gerard, in 1578, describes it. It is definitely known to have been cultivated in England since the early part of the sixteenth century, and possibly long before, it being considered probable that it was introduced into Britain by the Romans, being imported from Italy for the soldiers' use.
The Black Mulberry was known in the whole of Southern Europe from the earliest times, and it is presumed that it was introduced from Persia. It is mentioned by most of the early Greek and Roman writers.
The Romans ate Mulberries at their feasts, as we know from the Satires of Horace, who (Sat. ii,) recommends that Mulberries be gathered before sunset. We also find mention of the Mulberry in Ovid, who in the Metamorphoses refers to the legend of Pyramus and Thisbe, who were slain beneath its shade, the fruit being fabled to have thereby changed from white to deep red through absorbing their blood. By Virgil, the tree is termed sanguinea morus. Pliny speaks of its employment in medicine and also describes its use in Egypt and Cyprus. He further relates:
'Of all the cultivated trees, the Mulberry is the last that buds, which it never does until the cold weather is past, and it is therefore called the wisest of trees. But when it begins to put forth buds, it dispatches the business in one night, and that with so much force, that their breaking forth may be evidently heard.'
It has been suggested that the generic name of the Mulberry, Morus, has been derived from the Latin word mora (delay), from this tardy expansion of the buds, and as the wisest of its fellows, the tree was dedicated by the Ancients to Minerva. In alluding to the Black Mulberry, Pliny observes that there is no other tree that has been so neglected by the wit of man, either in grafting or giving it names. It abounded in Italy at that time, as a reference in Virgil's Georgics (II, v. 121) clearly shows. The excavations at Pompeii also bear witness to this, for, in the peristyle of the 'House of the Bull,' a Black Mulberry is represented. Mulberry leaves are also to be found in a mosaic from the 'House of the Faun.' Schouw, who wrote about the plants of Pompeii in 1854, considered that M. alba was unknown to the Pompeians. At the time of Virgil (who died in 19 B.C.) silk was held to be a product of the Mulberry leaves, the work of the silkworms not being understood. Silkworm culture was first introduced by Justinian from Constantinople - he ruled from A.D. 527-65. In Italy the Black Mulberry was employed for feeding the silkworm until about 1434, when M. alba was introduced from the Levant and has ever since been commonly preferred.
References in various old Chronicles show that the Mulberry was far more esteemed in ancient times than at present. It was included among the large number of useful plants ordered by Charlemagne (A.D. 812) to be cultivated on the imperial farm. The cultivation of the Mulberry in Spain is implied by a reference to the preparation of Syrup of Mulberries in the Calendar of Cordova of the year 961.
There are many famous Mulberry trees in England. Those of Syon House, Brentford, are of special historical interest and include what is reported to be the oldest tree of its kind in England, said to be introduced from Persia in 1548. It is this particular and venerable tree which forms the subject of an illustration in London's Aboretum and Fruticetum. Although a wreck compared to its former self, it is regarded as one of the largest Mulberry trees in the country. Its height is given by Loudon as 22 feet, and additional interest is attached to this tree, as it is said to have been planted by the botanist Turner.
In 1608 James I, being anxious to further the silk industry by introducing the culture of the silkworm into Britain, issued an edict encouraging the cultivation of Mulberry trees, but the attempt to rear silkworms in England proved unsuccessful, apparently because the Black Mulberry was cultivated in error, whereas the White Mulberry is the species on which the silkworm flourishes. A letter was addressed by the King to the:
'Lord Lieutenant of the several Shires of England urging them to persuade and require such as are of ability to buy and distribute in that County the number of ten thousand Mulberry plants which shall be delivered to them at our City of -, at the rate of 3 farthings the plant, or at 6s. the hundred containing five score plants.'
The following transaction is mentioned in the College accounts at Cambridge: 'Item for 300 mulberry plants, xviii. s.' This was in 1608-9, the date of Milton's birth, so that the old Mulberry tree growing in the grounds of Christ Church, Cambridge, still bearing excellent fruit, which is reputed to have been planted by Milton, is still older, probably the last of three hundred which cost the College 18s. in 1609.
There is another Mulberry tree still standing near the Vicarage at Stowmarket which, by tradition, is said to have been planted by Milton. A fine specimen of Mulberry tree is to be seen in front of the Head-master's house at Eton. It was measured in 1907, and found to be 30 feet high, with girth of 8 feet 3 inches, and there is a beautiful example in the Canons' old walled garden at Canterbury.
King James I not only issued his famous edict for introducing the culture of the silkworm into Britain, but he also planted largely himself, and directed payments to:
'Master William Stallinge of the sum of L. (Pounds Sterling) 935 for the charge of 4 acres of land taken in for His Majesty's use, near to his Palace of Westminster, for the planting of Mulberry trees, together with the charge of walling, levelling and planting thereof with Mulberry trees.'
This plantation is the 'Mulberry Garden' often mentioned by the old dramatists and occupied the site of the present beautiful private grounds of Buckingham Palace, where one remaining Mulberry tree planted at that time is still to be seen. The tree still bears fruit, but is in no way remarkable either for size of its trunk or the spread of its branches.
'The Royal edict of James I,' writes Loudon, 'recommending the cultivation of silkworms and offering packets of Mulberry seeds to all who would sow them, no doubt rendered the tree fashionable, as there is scarcely an old garden or gentleman's seat throughout the country, which can be traced back to the seventeenth century, in which a Mulberry tree is not to be found. It is remarkable, however, that though these trees were expressly intended for the nourishment of silkworms, they nearly all belong to M. nigra, as very few instances exist of old trees of M. alba in England.' Shakespeare's famous Mulberry, of which there are descendants at Kew, is referable to this period. Shakespeare is said to have taken it from the Mulberry garden of James I, and planted it in his garden at New Place, Stratford-on-Avon, in 1609. This also was a Black Mulberry, 'cultivated for its fruit, which is very wholesome and palatable; and not for its leaves, which are but little esteemed for Silkworms.'
'The tree,' Malone writes, 'was celebrated in many a poem, one especially by Dibdin, but about 1752, the then owner of New Place, the Rev. Mr. Gastrell, bought and pulled down the house and cut down Shakespeare's celebrated Mulberry tree, to save himself the trouble of showing it to those whose admiration of the poet led them to visit the ground on which it stood.'
The pieces were made into many snuffboxes and other mementoes of the tree, some of them being inscribed with the punning motto, 'Memento Mori.' Ten years afterwards, when the freedom of the city was presented to Garrick, the document was enclosed in a casket made from the wood of this tree. A cup was also made from it, and at the Shakespeare Jubilee, Garrick, holding the cup, recited verses, composed by himself, in honour of the Mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare. A slip of it was grown by Garrick in his garden at Hampton Court, and a scion of the original tree is now growing in Shakespeare's garden.
Mulberry trees like a warm, well-drained, loamy soil, and M. nigra is especially worth growing for its luxuriant leafage and picturesque form. It can be increased by cuttings with the greatest ease - in February, cut off some branches of a fairly large size (the old writers say that pieces 8 feet long or more will grow) and insert a foot deep, where neither sun nor wind can freely penetrate. Envelop the stem above the ground level with moss, all but the upper pair of buds, in order to check evaporation. Branches broken down, but not detached, will usually take root if they touch the ground. Layers made in the autumn will root in twelve months, and cuttings of the young wood taken off with a heel and planteddeeply in a shady border late in the year will root slowly, but more quickly and surely if put into gentle heat under glass. M. alba will also root from autumn or winter cuttings.
The Mulberry can also be increased by seeds, which, if sown in gentle heat, or in the open early in the year, will produce young seedlings by the autumn.
In a paper by Mr. J. Williams of Pitmaston, published in the Horticultural Transactions for 1813, is the statement:
'The standard Mulberry receives great injury by being planted on grass plots with a view of preserving the fruit when it falls spontaneously. No tree, perhaps, receives more benefit from the spade and the dunghill than the Mulberry; it ought therefore to be frequently dug about the roots and occasionally assisted with manure.'
Mulberry trees do not begin to bear fruit early in life, and few fruits can be expected from a tree before it is fifteen years of age. It is commonly said that the fruit of the oldest Mulberry trees is the best.
There are few trees better able to withstand the debilitating effects of the close atmosphere of small town gardens, and numerous fine examples are met with about London, several within the City boundaries, familiar examples of which are those in Finsbury Circus and many smaller ones in St. Paul's Churchyard.
Mulberry trees are not easily killed, and old examples that have been reduced to a mere shell have been rejuvenated by careful pruning and cultivation.
The WHITE MULBERRY (M. alba), a deciduous tree, 30 to 45 feet high, native of China, to which we have referred as the tree upon which the silkworm is fed, succeeds quite well in the south of England but is not often grown in this country.
The RED MULBERRY (M. rubra), a native of the United States of America, is very difficult to grow here.
The FRENCH MULBERRY (Callicarpa Americana) is a shrub 3 to 6 feet high, with bluish flowers and violet fruit, but the species is too tender for any but the mildest parts of Great Britain.
of the Black Mulberry Fruit: Glucose, protein, pectin, coloring matter tartaric and malic acids, ash, etc. This composition varies much, as in all fleshy fruits, with the ripeness and other conditions.
In amount of grape sugar, the Mulberry is surpassed only by the Cherry and the Grape.
Mulberries are refreshing and have laxative properties and are well adapted to febrile cases. In former days, they used to be made into various conserves and drinks.
On each gallon of ripe Mulberries, pour 1 gallon of boiling water and let them stand for 2 days. Then squeeze all through a hair sieve or bag. Wash out the tub or jar and return the liquor to it, put in the sugar at the rate of 3 lb. to each gallon of the liquor; stir up until quite dissolved, then put the liquor into a cask. Let the cask be raised a little on one side until fermentation ceases, then bung down. If the liquor be clear, it may be bottled in 4 months' time. Into each bottle put 1 clove and a small lump of sugar and the bottles should be kept in a moderate temperature. The wine may be used in a year from time of bottling.
Mulberries are sometimes used in Devonshire for mixing with cider during fermentation, giving a pleasant taste and deep red color. In Greece, also, the fruit is subjected to fermentation, thereby furnishing an inebriating beverage.
Scott relates in Ivanhoe that the Saxons made a favourite drink, Morat, from the juice of Mulberries with honey, but it is doubtful whether the Morum of the Anglo-Saxon 'Vocabularies' was not the Blackberry, so that the 'Morat' of the Saxons may have been Blackberry Wine.
Unless very ripe Mulberries are used, the jam will have an acid taste. Put 1 lb. of Mulberries in a jar and stand it in a pan of water on the fire till the juice is extracted. Strain them and put the juice into a preserving pan with 3 lb. of sugar. Boil it and remove the scum and put in 3 lb. of very ripe Mulberries and let them stand in the syrup until thoroughly warm, then set the pan back on the fire and boil them very gently for a short time, stirring all the time and taking care not to break the fruit. Then take the pan off and let them stand in the syrup all night. Put the pan on the fire again in the morning and boil again gently till stiff.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The sole use of Mulberries in modern medicine is for the preparation of a syrup, employed to flavour or color any other medicine. Mulberry Juice is obtained from the ripe fruit of the Mulberry by expression and is an official drug of the British Pharmacopoeia. It is a dark violet or purple liquid, with a faint odour and a refreshing, acid, saccharine taste. The British Pharmacopceia directs that Syrupus Mori should be prepared by heating 50 fluid drachms of the expressed juice to boiling point, then cooling and filtering. Ninety drachms of sugar is then dissolved in the juice, which is warmed up again. When once more cooled, 6.25 drachms of alcohol is added: the product should then measure about 100 drachms (20 fluid ounces). The dose is 2 to 1 fluid drachm, but it is, as stated, chiefly used as an adjuvant rather than for its slightly laxative and expectorant qualities, though used as a gargle, it will relieve sore throat.
The juice of the American Red Mulberry may be substituted; it is less acid than the European, while that of the White Mulberry, native of China, is sweet, but rather insipid.
In the East, the Mulberry is most productive and useful. It is gathered when ripe, dried on the tops of the houses in the sun, and stored for winter use. In Cabul, it is pounded to a fine powder, and mixed with flour for bread.
The bark of M. nigra is reputed anthelmintic, and is used to expel tape worm.
The root-bark of M. Indica (Rumph) and other species is much used in the East under the name of San-pai-p'i, as a diuretic and expectorant.
The Morinda tinctoria, or Indian Mulberry, is used by the African aborigines as a remedial agent, but there is no reliable evidence of its therapeutic value.
A parasitic fungus growing on the old stems of Mulberry trees found in the island of Meshima, Japan, and called there Meshimakobu, brown outside and yellow inside, is used in Japan for medicine.
Gerard recommends the fruit of the Mulberry tree for use in all affections of the mouth and throat.
'The barke of the root,' he says, 'is bitter, hot and drie, and hath a scouring faculty: the decoction hereof doth open the stoppings of the liver and spleen, it purgeth the belly, and driveth forth wormes.'
With Parkinson, the fruit was evidently not in favour, for he tells us:
'Mulberries are not much desired to be eaten, although they be somewhat pleasant both for that they stain their fingers and lips that eat them, and do quickly putrefie in the stomach, if they be not taken before meat.'
The Mulberry family, Moraceae, formerly regarded, together with the Ulmacece (Elm family), as a division of the Urticaceae (Nettle family), comprises upwards of 50 genera and about 900 species, of very diverse habit and appearance. Among them are the highly important food-plants Ficus (Fig) and Artocarpus (Bread fruit). M. tinctoria (Linn.), sometimes known as Machura tinctoria (D. Don), but generally now named Chlorophora tinctoria (Gaudich.), yields the dye-stuff Fustic, chiefly used for coloring wood of an orange-yellow color. The tree is indigenous in Mexico and some of the West Indies, the wood being imported in logs of various sizes. This kind of fustic is known as old fustic, or Cuba fustic. Young fustic is a different product, obtained from Rhus cotinus (Linn.). It is known also as Venetian or Hungarian sumach, and is used in the Tyrol for tanning leather. The extract of fustic is imported as well as the wood. From Maclura Brasiliensis (Endl.) another important dye-wood is obtained. A yellow dye is also derived from the root of the Osage Orange (Toxylon pomiferum, Raf.), belonging to this order. The milky juice of Brosimum Galactodendron (Don) - the Cow or Milk-Tree of Tropical America - is said to be usable as cow's milk, and 'Bread-nuts' are the edible seeds of another member of this genus, B. Alicastrum (Swz.), of Jamaica. The famous deadly Upas Tree of the East Indies (Antiaris toxicaria, Lesc.) is a less useful member of this family.
The bast-fibres of many Moraceae are tough and are used in the manufacture of cordage and paper. The Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera, Vint.) is cultivated extensively in Japan. It is a native of China, introduced into Great Britain early in the eighteenth century and is a coarse-growing, vigorous shrub, or a tree up to 30 feet, forming a roundish, spreading head of branches. The young wood is thickly downy, soft and pithy, the leaves very variable in size and form, often shaped like fig-leaves, the upper surface dull, green and rough, the lower surface densely woolly. It is a dioecious plant, the male flowers in cylindrical, often curly, woolly catkins, the female flowers in ball-like heads, producing round fruits congregated of small, red, pulpy seeds. In Japan, the stems are cut down every winter, so that the shrub only attains a height of 6 or 7 feet, and the barks are stripped off as an important material for paper. B. Kajinoki (Sieb.) is a deciduous tree, wild in Japan, growing 29 to 30 feet high, similar to the Paper Mulberry and made use of in like manner, though inferior. The ripe fruits are beautifully red and sweet. Paper is also manufactured in Japan with the fibre of the bark of B. kaempferi (Sieb.), a deciduous climber. A good paper may be manufactured from the bast of the Morus alba, var. stylosa (Bur.), Jap. 'Kuwa,' but as this plant is used especially for feeding silkworms, the paper made from the branches after the leaves are taken off for silkworms is of a very inferior quality.
Botanical: Verbascum thapsus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Scrophulariaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparation and Dosage
White Mullein. Torches. Mullein Dock. Our Lady's Flannel. Velvet Dock. Blanket Herb. Velvet Plant. Woollen. Rag Paper. Candlewick Plant. Wild Ice Leaf. Clown's Lungwort. Bullock's Lungwort. Aaron's Rod. Jupiter's Staff. Jacob's Staff. Peter's Staff. Shepherd's Staff. Shepherd's Clubs. Beggar's Stalk. Golden Rod. Adam's Flannel. Beggar's Blanket. Clot. Cuddy's Lungs. Duffle. Feltwort. Fluffweed. Hare's Beard. Old Man's Flannel. Hag's Taper.
---Parts Used---Leaves, flowers, root.
Verbascum thapsus (Linn.), the Great Mullein, is a widely distributed plant, being found all over Europe and in temperate Asia as far as the Himalayas, and in North America is exceedingly abundant as a naturalized weed in the eastern States. It is met with throughout Britain (except in the extreme north of Scotland) and also in Ireland and the Channel Islands, on hedge-banks, by roadsides and on waste ground, more especially on gravel, sand or chalk. It flowers during July and August. The natural order Scrophulariaceae is an important family of plants comprising 200 genera and about 2,500 species, occurring mostly in temperate and sub-tropical regions, many of them producing flowers of great beauty, on which account they are frequently cultivated among favourite garden and greenhouse flowers. Of this group are the Calceolaria, Mimulus, Penstemon, Antirrhinum and Collinsia. Among its British representatives it embraces members so diverse as the Foxglove and Speedwell, the Mullein and Figworts, the Toadflax and the semi-parasites, Eyebright, Bartsia, Cowwheat, and the Red and Yellow Rattles.
Most of the flowers are capable of selffertilization in default of insect visits.
Unlike the Labiatae, to which they are rather closely related, plants belonging to this order seldom contain much volatile oil, though resinous substances are common. The most important constituents are glucosides, and many of them are poisonous or powerfully active.
A number of the Scrophulariaceae are or have been valued for their curative properties and are widely employed both in domestic and in regular medicine.
The genus Verbascum, to which the Mullein belongs, contains 210 species, distributed in Europe, West and Central Asia and North Africa, six of which are natives of Great Britain. The Mulleins, like the Veronicas, are exceptions to the general character of the Scrophulariaceae, having nearly regular, open corollas, the segments being connected only towards the base, instead of having the more fantastic flowers of the Snapdragon and others. They are all tall, stout biennials, with large leaves and flowers in long, terminal spikes.
In the first season of the plant's growth, there appears only a rosette of large leaves, 6 to 15 inches long, in form somewhat like those of the Foxglove, but thicker - whitish with a soft, dense mass of hairs on both sides, which make them very thick to the touch. In the following spring, a solitary, stout, pale stem, with tough, strong fibres enclosing a thin rod of white pith, arises from the midst of the felted leaves. Its rigid uprightness accounts for some of the plant's local names: 'Aaron's Rod,' 'Jupiter's' or 'Jacob's Staff,' etc.
The leaves near the base of the stem are large and numerous, 6 to 8 inches long and 2 to 2 1/2 inches broad, but become smaller as they ascend the stem, on which they are arranged not opposite to one another, but on alternate sides. They are broad and simple in form, the outline rather waved, stalkless, their bases being continued some distance down the stem, as in the Comfrey and a few other plants, the midrib from a quarter to half-way up the blade being actually joined to the stem. By these 'decurrent' leaves (as this hugging of the stem by the leaves is botanically termed) the Great Mullein is easily distinguished from other British species of Mullein - some with white and some with yellow flowers. The leaf system is so arranged that the smaller leaves above drop the rain upon the larger ones below, which direct the water to the roots. This is a necessary arrangement, since the Mullein grows mostly on dry soils. The stellately-branched hairs which cover the leaves so thickly act as a protective coat, checking too great a giving off of the plant's moisture, and also are a defensive weapon of the plant, for not only do they prevent the attacks of creeping insects, but they set up an intense irritation in the mucous membrane of any grazing animals that may attempt to browse upon them, so that the plants are usually left severely alone by them. The leaves are, however, subject to the attacks of a mould, Peronospora sordida. The hairs are not confined to the leaves alone, but are also on every part of the stem, on the calyces and on the outside of the corollas, so that the whole plant appears whitish or grey. The homely but valuable Mullein Tea, a remedy of the greatest antiquity for coughs and colds, must indeed always be strained through fine muslin to remove any hairs that may be floating in the hot water that has been poured over the flowers, or leaves, for otherwise they cause intolerable itching in the mouth.
Towards the top of the stalk, which grows frequently 4 or even 5 feet high, and in gardens has been known to attain a height of 7 or 8 feet, the much-diminished woolly leaves merge into the thick, densely crowded flower-spike, usually a foot long, the flowers opening here and there on the spike, not in regular progression from the base, as in the Foxglove. The flowers are stalkless, the sulphur-yellow corolla, a somewhat irregular cup, nearly an inch across, formed of five rounded petals, united at the base to form a very short tube, being enclosed in a woolly calyx, deeply cut into five lobes. The five stamens stand on the corolla; three of them are shorter than the other two and have a large number of tiny white hairs on their filaments. These hairs are full of sap, and it has been suggested that they form additional bait to the insect visitors, supplementing the allurement of the nectar that lies round the base of the ovary. All kinds of insects are attracted by this plant, the Honey Bee, Humble Bee, some of the smaller wild bees and different species of flies, since the nectar and the staminal hairs are both so readily accessible, though the supply of nectar is not very great. The three short hairy stamens have only short, one-celled anthers - the two longer, smooth ones have larger anthers. The pollen sacs have an orangered inner surface, disclosed as the anthers open.
In some species, Verbascum nigrum, the Dark Mullein, and V. blattaria, the Moth Mullein, the filament hairs are purple. The rounded ovary is hairy and also the lower part of the style. The stigma is mature before the anthers and the style projects at the moment the flower opens, so that any insect approaching it from another blossom where it has got brushed by pollen, must needs strike it on alighting and thus insure crossfertilization, though, failing this, the flower is also able to fertilize itself. The ripened seed capsule is very hard and contains many seeds, which eventually escape through two valves and are scattered round the parent plant.
The down on the leaves and stem makes excellent tinder when quite dry, readily igniting on the slightest spark, and was, before the introduction of cotton, used for lamp wicks, hence another of the old names: 'Candlewick Plant.' An old superstition existed that witches in their incantations used lamps and candles provided with wicks of this sort, and another of the plant's many names, 'Hag's Taper', refers to this, though the word 'hag' is said to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Haege or Hage (a hedge) - the name 'Hedge Taper' also exists - and may imply that the sturdy spikes of this tall hedge plant, studded with pale yellow blossoms, suggested a tall candle growing in the hedge, another of its countryside names being, indeed, 'Our Lady's Candle.' Lyte (The Niewe Herball, 1578) tells us 'that the whole toppe, with its pleasant yellow floures sheweth like to a wax candle or taper cunningly wrought.'
'Torches' is another name for the plant, and Parkinson tells us:
'Verbascum is called of the Latines Candela regia, and Candelaria, because the elder age used the stalks dipped in suet to burne, whether at funeralls or otherwise.'
And Gerard (1597) also remarks that it is 'a plant whereof is made a manner of lynke (link) if it be talowed.' Dr. Prior, in The Popular Names of British Plants, states that the word Mullein was Moleyn in AngloSaxon, and Malen in Old French, derived from the Latin malandrium, i.e. the malanders or leprosy, and says:
'The term "malandre" became also applied to diseases of cattle, to lung diseases among the rest, and the plant being used as a remedy, acquired its name of "Mullein" and "Bullock's Lungwort." '
Coles, in 1657, in Adam in Eden, says that:
'Husbandmen of Kent do give it their cattle against the cough of the lungs, and I, therefore, mention it because cattle are also in some sort to be provided for in their diseases.'
The name 'Clown's Lung Wort refers to its use as a homely remedy. 'Ag-Leaf' and 'Ag-Paper' are other names for it. 'Wild Ice Leaf' perhaps refers to the white look of the leaves. Few English plants have so many local names.
The Latin name Verbascum is considered to be a corruption of barbascum, from the Latin barba (a beard), in allusion to the shaggy foliage, and was bestowed on the genus by Linnaeus.
Both in Europe and Asia the power of driving away evil spirits was ascribed to the Mullein. In India it has the reputation among the natives that the St. John's Wort once had here, being considered a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and from the ancient classics we learn that it was this plant which Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe.
The Cowslip and the Primrose are classed together by our old herbalists as Petty Mulleins, and are usually credited with much the same properties. Gerard recommends both the flowers and leaves of the primrose, boiled in wine, as a remedy for all diseases of the lungs and the juice of the root itself, snuffed up the nose, for megrim.
All the various species of Mullein found in Britain possess similar medicinal properties, but V. thapsus, the species of most common occurrence, is the one most employed.
For medicinal purposes it is generally collected from wild specimens, but is worthy of cultivation, not merely from its beauty as an ornamental plant, but also for its medicinal value, which is undoubted. In most parts of Ireland, besides growing wild, it is carefully cultivated in gardens, because of a steady demand for the plant by sufferers from pulmonary consumption.
Its cultivation is easy: being a hardy biennial, it only requires sowing in very ordinary soil and to be kept free from weeds. When growing in gardens, Mulleins will often be found to be infested with slugs, which can be caught wholesale by placing in borders slates and boards smeared with margarine on the underside. Examine in the morning and deposit the catch in a pail of lime and water.
---Parts Used---The leaves and flowers are the parts used medicinally.
Fresh Mullein leaves are also used for the purpose of making a homoeopathic tincture.
The leaves are nearly odourless and of a mucilaginous and bitterish taste. They contain gum as their principal constituent, together with 1 to 2 per cent of resin, divisible into two parts, one soluble in ether, the other not; a readily soluble amaroid; a little tannin and a trace of volatile oil.
The flowers contain gum, resin, a yellow coloring principle, a green fatty matter (a sort of chlorophyll), a glucoside, an acrid, fatty matter; free acid and phosphoric acid; uncrystallizable sugar; some mineral salts, the bases of which are potassia and lime, and a small amount of yellowish volatile oil. They should yield not more than 6 per cent of ash. Their odour is peculiar and agreeable: their taste mucilaginous.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The Mullein has very markedly demulcent, emollient and astringent properties, which render it useful in pectoral complaints and bleeding of the lungs and bowels. The whole plant seems to possess slightly sedative and narcotic properties.
It is considered of much value in phthisis and other wasting diseases, palliating the cough and staying expectoration, consumptives appearing to benefit greatly by its use, being given in the form of an infusion, 1 OZ. of dried, or the corresponding quantity of fresh leaves being boiled for 10 minutes in a pint of milk, and when strained, given warm, thrice daily, with or without sugar. The taste of the decoction is bland, mucilaginous and cordial, and forms a pleasant emollient and nutritious medicine for allaying a cough, or removing the pain and irritation of haemorrhoids. A plain infusion of 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water can also be employed, taken in wineglassful doses frequently.
The dried leaves are sometimes smoked in an ordinary tobacco pipe to relieve the irritation of the respiratory mucus membranes, and will completely control, it is said, the hacking cough of consumption. They can be employed with equal benefit when made into cigarettes, for asthma and spasmodic coughs in general.
Fomentations and poultices of the leaves have been found serviceable in haemorrhoidal complaints.
Mullein is said to be of much value in diarrhoea, from its combination of demulcent with astringent properties, by this combination strengthening the bowels at the same time. In diarrhcea the ordinary infusion is generally given, but when any bleeding of the bowels is present, the decoction prepared with milk is recommended.
On the Continent, a sweetened infusion of the flowers strained in order to separate the rough hairs, is considerably used as a domestic remedy in mild catarrhs, colic, etc.
A conserve of the flowers has also been employed on the Continent against ringworm, and a distilled water of the flowers was long reputed a cure for burns and erysipelas.
An oil produced by macerating Mullein flowers in olive oil in a corked bottle, during prolonged exposure to the sun, or by keeping near the fire for several days, is used as a local application in country districts in Germany for piles and other mucus membrane inflammation, and also for frost bites and bruises. Mullein oil is recommended for earache and discharge from the ear, and for any eczema of the external ear and its canal. Dr. Fernie (Herbal Simples) states that some of the most brilliant results have been obtained in suppurative inflammation of the inner ear by a single application of Mullein oil, and that in acute or chronic cases, two or three drops of this oil should be made to fall in the ear twice or thrice in the day.
Mullein oil is a valuable destroyer of disease germs. The fresh flowers, steeped for 21 days in olive oil, are said to make an admirable bactericide. Gerarde tells us that 'Figs do not putrifie at all that are wrapped in the leaves of Mullein.'
An alcoholic tincture is prepared by homoeopathic chemists, from the fresh herb with spirits of wine, which has proved beneficial for migraine or sick headache of long standing, with oppression of the ear. From 8 to 10 drops of the tincture are given as a dose, with cold water, repeated frequently.
---Preparation and Dosage---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Formerly the flowers of several species of Mullein were officinal, but Mullein no longer has a place in the British Pharmacopoeia, though Verbascum Flowers were introduced into the 4th Edition of the United States National Formulary, as one of the ingredients in pectoral remedies, and the leaves, in fluid extract of Mullein leaves, made with diluted alcohol were directed to be used as a demulcent, the dose being 1 fluid drachm.
In more ancient times, much higher virtues were attributed to this plant. Culpepper gives us a list of most extraordinary cures performed by its agency, and Gerard remarks that:
'there be some who think that this herbe being but carryed about one, doth help the falling sickness, especially the leaves of the plant which have not yet borne flowers, and gathered when the sun is in Virgo and the moon in Aries, which thing notwithstanding is vaine and superstitious.'
A decoction of its roots was held to be an alleviation for toothache, and also good for cramps and convulsions, and an early morning draught of the distilled water of the flowers to be good for gout.
Mullein juice and powder made from the dried roots rubbed on rough warts was said to quickly remove them, though it was not recommended as equally efficacious for smooth warts. A poultice made of the seeds and leaves, boiled in hot wine, was also considered an excellent means to 'draw forth speedily thorns or splinters gotten into the flesh.' We also hear of the woolly leaves being worn in the stockings to promote circulation and keep the feet warm.
The flowers impart a yellow color to boiling water and a rather permanent green color with dilute sulphuric acid, the latter color becoming brown upon the addition of alkalis. An infusion of the flowers was used by the Roman ladies to dye their hair a golden color. Lyte tells us, 'the golden floures of Mulleyn stiped in lye, causeth the heare to war yellow, being washed therewithall,' and according to another old authority, Alexander Trallianus, the ashes of the plant made into a soap will restore hair which has become grey to its original color.
The seeds are said to intoxicate fish when thrown into the water, and are used by poachers for that purpose, being slightly narcotic. According to Rosenthal (Pharmaceutical Journal July, 1902), the seeds of V. sinuatum (Linn.), which are used in Greece as a fish poison, contain 6 to 13 per cent of Saponin. Traces of the same substance were found in the seeds of V. phlomoides (Linn.) and V. thapsiforme (Schrad.), common in the south of Europe, which have been used for the same purpose. V. pulverulentum of Madeira (also used as a fish poisoner) and V. phlomoides are employed as taenicides (expellers of tapeworm).
Botanical: Hibiscus Abelmoschus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Malvaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Abelmoschus Moschatus. Semen Abelmoschi. Grana Moschata. Ambretta. wiccan Alcée. Bisornkorner. Ambrakorner. Target-leaved Hibiscus. Ab-elmosch. Bamia Moschata. Ketmie odorante. Galu gasturi. Capu kanassa.
Egypt, East and West Indies.
This evergreen shrub is about 4 feet in height, having alternate, palmate leaves and large, sulphur yellow, solitary flowers with a purple base. The capsules are in the form of a five-cornered pyramid, filled with large seeds with a strong odour of musk. The capsules are used in soup and for pickles, and the greyish-brown, kidney-shaped seeds, the size of a lentil, with a strong aromatic flavour, are used by the Arabians to mix with coffee. They are used in perfumery for fats and oils, and for the adulteration of musk.
The seeds contain an abundance of fixed oil, and owe their scent to a colored resin and a volatile, odorous body. They also contain albuminous matter.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
An emulsion made from the seeds is regarded as antispasmodic. In Egypt the seeds are chewed as a stomachic, nervine, and to sweeten the breath, and are also used as an aphrodisiac and insecticide. The seeds made into an emulsion with milk are used for itch.
A variety is found in Martinique, of a lighter grey in color and a more delicate odour.
Hibiscus esculentus or A. esculentus, okra, bendee, or gombo, is cultivated for its fruit, the abundant mucilage of which, called gombine, is used for thickening soup. The long roots have much odourless mucilage and when powdered are white, and are said to be better than marsh-mallow.
The bark is used for paper and cordage.
It is largely grown in Constantinople as a demulcent.
The leaves furnish an emollient poultice.
Family: N.O. Cruciferae
Mustard, Common Hedge
Mustard, Treacle Hedge
The Mustards, Black and White, are both wild herbs growing in waste places in this country, but are cultivated for their seeds, which are valuable medicinally and commercially. They were originally treated as members of a small genus of frequently cultivated European and Asiatic herbs named Sinapis, from the Greek sinapi (mustard), a name used by Theophrastus, but they are now generally included in the Cabbage genus, Brassica.
Botanical: Brassica alba (BOISS.)
Part Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonym---Sinapis alba (LINN.).
The White Mustard, a native of Europe, common in our fields and by roadsides, and also largely cultivated, is an erect annual, about a foot or more in height, with pinnatifid leaves and large, yellow, cruciferousflowers. It closely resembles the Black Mustard, but is smaller. The fruit of the two plants differs considerably in shape, those of the White Mustard being more or less horizontal and hairy, while Black Mustard pods are erect and smooth. The pods of White Mustard are spreading, roundish pods, ribbed and swollen where the seeds are situated, and provided with a very large flattened, swordshaped beak at the end. Each pod contains four to six globular seeds, about 1/12 inch in diameter, yellow both on the surface and internally. The seed-coat, though appearing smooth, on examination with a lens, is seen to be covered with minute pits and to be finely reticulated. The inner seedcoats contain a quantity of mucilage, with which the seeds become coated when soaked in water, hence they are often employed to absorb the last traces of moisture in bottles which are not chemically dry. The cotyledons of the seeds contain oil and give a pungent but inodorous emulsion when rubbed with water.
The young seedling plants of White Mustard are commonly raised in gardens for salad, the seeds being usually sown with those of the garden cress and germinating with great rapidity. They may be grown all the year round, the seed readily vegetating under a hand-glass even in cold weather, if the ground is not absolutely frozen.
'When in the leaf,' wrote John Evelyn in 1699, in his Acetaria, 'Mustard, especially in young seedling plants, is of incomparable effect to quicken and revive the spirits, strengthening the memory, expelling heaviness, . . . besides being an approved antiscorbutic.'
In Gerard's time, a century earlier, White Mustard was not very common in England.
Both Mustards afford excellent fodder for sheep, and as they can be sown late in the summer are often used for this purpose after the failure of a turnip or rape crop, the White Mustard being more frequently employed, as it is less pungent, though equally nutritious. White Mustard makes a good catch crop, being ready for consumption on the land by sheep eight or nine weeks after being sown. It may be sown in southern counties after an early corn crop, about a peck of seed being sown broadcast to the acre. The plants are hoed sometimes to a distance of about 9 inches apart, if required for seed.
As green manure, both kinds of Mustard are employed, but the White Mustard is preferred for this purpose by English farmers, the seed being sown in August and September, and when the plants have attained a good size, about two months after sowing, they are ploughed in. Besides affording useful manure in itself, this green manure helps to prevent the waste of nitrates, which instead of being washed away in drainage water, which would probably happen if the soil were bare, are stored up in the growing plant.
The seeds of the Mustards retain their vitality for a great length of time when buried in the ground, so that after the plants have once been grown anywhere, it is difficult to get rid of them. It has been noticed in the Isle of Ely that whenever a trench was made, White Mustard sprang up from the newlyturned earth.
---Part Used Medicinally---
The dried, ripe seeds are alone official. They possess rubefacient properties, and are mixed with Black Mustard seeds to produce mustard flour for preparing mustard poultices. The powder is not infrequently adulterated with farinaceous substances, colored by turmeric.
The epidermal cells of the seed coat of White Mustard seeds contain mucilage, and the cotyledons contain from 23 to 26 per cent of a fixed oil, which consists of the glycerides of oleic, stearic and erucic or brassic acids. The seeds also contain the crystalline glucoside Sinalbin and the enzyme Myrosin, which unite to form a volatile oil, called Sinalbin Mustard Oil, used for various purposes, though not so pungent as that of Black Mustard. This oil cannot be obtained by distillation, but is extracted by boiling alcohol after the seed has been deprived of its fixed oil. When cold, the volatile oil possesses only a faint, anise-like odour, but a pungent odour is given off on heating. The cake, after the oil is expressed, is pungent and therefore not well fitted for cattle food, but is used for manure.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The seeds when ground form a pungent powder, but it is much inferior in strength to that prepared from the black-seeded species.
They have been employed medicinally from very early times. Hippocrates advised their use both internally and as a counter irritating poultice, made with vinegar. They have been administered frequently in disorders of the digestive organs. White Mustard seeds were at one time quite a fashionable remedy as a laxative, especially for old people, the dose being 1/2 OZ. in the entire state, but from the danger of their retention in the intestines, they are not very safe in large quantities, having in several cases caused inflammation of the stomach and intestinal canal.
An infusion of the seeds will relieve chronic bronchitis and confirmed rheumatism, and for a relaxed sore throat a gargle of Mustard Seed Tea will be found of service.
Botanical: Brassica nigra (LINN.), Sinapis nigra (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Brassica sinapioides (Roth.).
The Black Mustard grows throughout Europe, except in the north-eastern parts, also in South Siberia, Asia Minor and Northern Africa, and is naturalized in North and South America. It is largely cultivated in England, Holland, Italy, Germany and elsewhere for the sake of the seed, used partly as a condiment, and partly for its oil.
It is an erect annual, 3 feet or more in height, with smaller flowers than the White Mustard. The spear-shaped, upper leaves, linear, pointed, entire and smooth, and the shortly-beaked pods, readily distinguish it from the former species. The smooth, erect flattened pods, each provided with a short slender beak, contain about ten to twelve dark reddish-brown or black seeds, which are collected when ripe and dried. They are about half the size of White Mustard seeds, but possess similar properties. The seedcoat is thin and brittle and covered with minute pits. Like the White Mustard, the seeds are inodorous, even when powdered, though a pungent odour is noticeable when moistened with water, owing to the formation of volatile oil of Mustard, which is colorless or pale yellow, with an intensely penetrating odour and a very acrid taste.
The ancient Greek physicians held this plant in such esteem for the medicinal use of its seeds that they attributed its discovery to Æsculapius.
When it was first employed as a condiment is unknown, but it was most likely used in England by the Saxons. Probably the Romans, who were great eaters of mustard, pounded and steeped in new wine, brought the condiment with them to Britain. Mustard gets its name from mustum (the must), or newly-fermented grape juice, and ardens (burning). It was originally eaten whole, or slightly crushed. Gerard in 1623 says that:
'the seede of Mustard pounded with vinegar is an excellent sauce, good to be eaten with any grosse meates, either fish or flesh, because it doth help digestion, warmeth the stomache and provoketh appetite.'
Tusser mentions its garden cultivation and domestic use in the sixteenth century, and Shakespeare alludes more than once to it: Tewkesbury mustard is referred to in Henry IV. The herbalist Coles, writing in 1657, says:
'In Glostershire about Teuxbury they grind Mustard seed and make it up into balls which are brought to London and other remote places as being the best that the world affords.
All mustard was formerly made up into balls with honey or vinegar and a little cinnamon, to keep till wanted, when they were mixed with more vinegar. It was sold in balls till Mrs. Clements, of Durham, at the close of the eighteenth century, invented the method of preparing mustard flour, which long went under the name of Durham Mustard. John Evelyn recommends for mustard-making 'best Tewkesbury' or the 'soundest and weightiest Yorkshire seeds,' and tells us that the Italians in making mustard as a condiment mix orange and lemon peel with the black seed. At Dijon, where the best Continental mustard is made, the condiment is seasoned with various spices and savouries, such as Anchovies, Capers, Tarragon and Catsup of Walnuts or Mushrooms.
The Black Mustard is said to have been employed by the Romans as a green vegetable. The young leaves may be eaten as salad in place of those of the White variety, but are more pungent.
The Mustard Tree of Scripture is supposed by some authorities to be a species of Sinapis, closely resembling the Black Mustard, but as the latter never attains the dimensions of a tree, it has been conjectured that the plant in question is the Khardal of the Arabs, a tree abounding near the Sea of Galilee, which bears numerous branches and has small seeds, having the flavour and properties of Mustard.
Mustard is sown in spring, either broadcast or in drills, a foot or more apart, and ripens towards the end of summer, when, after it has stood in sheaves to dry, the seed is threshed out and dried on trays by gentle artificial heat. The crop is very liable to injury from wet. It is grown for market on rich, alluvial soil, chiefly in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. In Durham, the cultivation of Mustard of an excellent quality has been pursued on a considerable scale for the last two hundred years. Before grinding, the husk is usually removed, the seeds are then passed between rollers and afterwards reduced to powder in a mortar. This is the system invented by Mrs. Clements, of Durham. The so-called London Mustard is almost always adulterated and many samples consist of little but flour, colored with turmeric and flavoured with pepper.
The only seeds resembling those of Black Mustard are Colchicum seeds, which are larger, rougher, harder, bitter and not pungent.
The virtues of Black Mustard depend on an acrid, volatile oil contained in the seeds, combined with an active principle containing much sulphur. The acridity of the oil is modified in the seeds by being combined with another fixed oil of a bland nature, which can be separated.
The epidermal cells of the seed-coat contain much less mucilage than those of White Mustard seeds, but the cotyledons of Black Mustard seeds contain from 31 to 33 per cent of a fixed oil, which consists of the glycerides of Oleic, Stearic and Erucic or Brassic and Behenic acids. The seeds also contain the crystalline glucoside Sinigrin and the enzyme Myrosin. These substances are stored in separate cells. When brought together in water, the volatile Oil of Mustard is formed. It is distilled from the seeds that have been deprived of most of the fixed oil and macerated in water for several hours, and contains from go to 99 per cent of the active principle, Allyl isothiocyanate, which is used as a counter irritant. It is on account of the abundant sulphur contained by this active principle that mustard discolors silver spoons left in it, black sulphuret of silver being formed.
Neither White nor Black Mustard seeds contain starch when ripe.
It was formerly supposed that Black Mustard was deficient in the enzyme Myrosin, and White Mustard was added to correct this and to secure the maximum pungency. It has been proved, however, that Black Mustard contains sufficient of the enzyme, and that no increase in the yield of the volatile oil is effected by adding White Mustard. The main object in using both Black and White Mustard for preparing mustard flour, is probably the production of a commercial article with a better flavour than could be obtained otherwise.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Irritant, stimulant, diuretic, emetic. Mustard is used in the form of poultices for external application near the seat of inward inflammation, chiefly in pneumonia, bronchitis and other diseases of the respiratory organs. It relieves congestion of various organs by drawing the blood to the surface, as in head affections, and is of service in the alleviation of neuralgia and other pains and spasms.
Mustard Leaves, used instead of poultices, consist of the mustard seeds, deprived of fixed oil, but retaining the pungency-producing substances and made to adhere to paper.
Oil of Mustard is a powerful irritant and rubefacient, and when applied to the skin in its pure state, produces almost instant vesication, but when dissolved in rectified spirit, or spirit of camphor, or employed in the form of the Compound Liniment of Mustard of the British Pharmacopoeia, is a very useful application for chilblains, chronic rheumatism, colic, etc.
Hot water poured on bruised Black Mustard seeds makes a stimulating footbath and helps to throw off a cold or dispel a headache. It also acts as an excellent fomentation.
Internally, Mustard is useful as a regular and mild aperient, being at the same time an alterative. If a tablespoonful of Mustard flour be added to a glass of tepid water, it operates briskly as a stimulating and sure emetic. In cases of hiccough, a teaspoonful of Mustard flour in a teacupful of boiling water is effective. The dose may be repeated in ten minutes if needed.
The bland oil expressed from the hulls of the seeds, after the flour has been sifted away, promotes the growth of the hair and may be used with benefit externally for rheumatism.
Whitehead's Essence of Mustard is made with spirits of turpentine and rosemary, with which camphor and the farina of Black Mustard seed are mixed. This oil is very little affected by frost or the atmosphere, and is therefore specially prized by clock-makers and makers of instruments of precision.
Parkinson says that Mustard 'is of good use, being fresh, for Epilepticke persons . . . if it be applyed hot inwardly and outwardly.'
Culpepper considered Mustard good for snake poison if taken in time, and tells us that mustard seed powder, mixed with honey in balls, taken every morning fasting, will clear the voice, and that:
'the drowsy forgetful evil, to use it both inwardly and outwardly, to rub the nostrils, forehead and temples, to warm and quicken the spirits . . . the decoction of the seeds ... resists the malignity of mushrooms.... Being chewed in the mouth it oftentimes helps the tooth-ache. It is also used to help the falling off the hair. The seed bruised, mixed with honey, and applied, or made up with wax, takes away the marks and black and blue spots of bruises or the like . . . it helps also the crick in the neck....'
Mustard flour is considered a capital antiseptic and sterilizing agent, as well as an excellent deodorizer.
Botanical: Sinapis arvensis
Charlock. Brassica Sinapistrum.
Charlock is a troublesome weed on arable land throughout England, growing so abundantly that it can at a distance be mistaken for a legitimate crop. It grows from 1 to 2 feet high, the stems upright, branched, grooved and often clothed with short rough hairs. The leaves are rough, unequally cut and serrated, and the flowers, which are yellow and large, are followed by nearly erect, angular, knotty pods, longer than their flattened conical beak.
It is an annual, flowering in May and June, and may easily be eradicated if pulled up before seeding. The seeds form a good substitute for Mustard, but are not equal to them in quality. They yield a good burning oil, which was much commended by Dodoens, as a preferable substitute for the 'Traine Oyle.
Charlock varies in appearance in different plants and under varying conditions of growth, that growing in corn is taller and less branched than when growing by the roadside. It is capable of being used when boiled as a green vegetable, and is so employed in Sweden and Ireland. It is much liked by cattle and especially by sheep, and might be a useful fodder plant, though is usually regarded merely as a noxious intruder.
Spraying with 4 per cent solution of copper sulphate or 15 per cent solution of iron sulphate is employed for the destruction of Charlock in cornfields. It requires 40 gallons of solution for each acre. The weed should not exceed 3 inches in height at the time of spraying, or the remedy may be ineffectual.
Botanical: Brassica napus
It is not indigenous to this country, though almost naturalized in parts.
Rape is cultivated for the sake of the oil pressed from its seeds, the refuse being used to make oil-cake, or rape-cake, for feeding cattle.
It is frequently grown instead of White Mustard as a crop, being rather milder in flavour. When grown for feeding cattle, it should be sown about the middle of June, 6 or 8 lb. of seed to the acre. The plants are thinned by hoeing when young, and by the middle of November are ready for the cattle to feed on.
The seeds are also sown in gardens for winter and spring salads, as it is one of the small salad herbs, though little used.
It is also cultivated in cottage gardens for spring greens - the tops being cut first, and afterwards the side shoots.
MUSTARD, COMMON HEDGE
Botanical: Sisymbrium officinale
Singer's Plant. St. Barbara's Hedge Mustard. Erysimum officinale.
---Part Used---Whole plant.
The Common Hedge Mustard grows by our roadsides and on waste ground, where it is a common weed, with a peculiar aptitude for collecting and retaining dust. The blackish-green stalks, slender but tough, are branched and rough, the leaves hairy, deeplylobed, with their points turned backwards, the terminal lobe larger. The yellow flowers are small and insignificant, placed at the top of the branches in long spikes, flowering by degrees throughout July. The pods are downy, close pressed to the stem and contain yellow, acrid seeds.
This plant is named by the French the 'Singer's Plant,' it having been considered up to the time of Louis XIV an infallible remedy for loss of voice. Racine, in writing to Boileau, recommends him to try the syrup of Erysimum in order to be cured of voicelessness. A strong infusion of the whole plant used to be taken in former days for all diseases of the throat.
Botanical: Sisymbrium sophia (LINN.)
Another plant of the same genus, Sisymbrium Sophia, a more slender plant, bears the name of Flixweed, or Fluxweed, from having been given in cases of dysentery. It was called by the old herbalists Sophia Chirugorum, 'The Wisdom of Surgeons,' on account of its vulnerary properties.
The juice, mixed with an equal quantity of honey or vinegar, has been recommended for chronic coughs and hoarseness, and ulcerated sore throats. A strong infusion of the herb has proved excellent in asthma, and the seeds formed a special remedy for sciatica.
Chemically, the Hedge Mustard contains a soft resin and a sulphuretted volatile oil. Combined with Vervain it is supposed to have been Count Mattaei's famous remedy, Febrifugo.
Botanical: Sisymbrium alliaria
---Synonyms---Jack-by-the-Hedge. Sauce Alone.
---Parts Used---Seeds, herbs.
Garlic Mustard is an early flowering hedge plant, with delicate green leaves and snowwhite flowers. The leaves are broadly heartshaped, stalked, with numerous broad teeth. The whole plant emits when bruised a penetrating scent of Garlic, from which it derives its Latin and English names.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The leaves used to be taken internally as a sudorific and deobstruent, and externally were applied antiseptically in gangrenes and ulcers. The juice of the leaves taken alone or boiled into a syrup with honey is found serviceable in dropsy.
Country people at one time used the plant in sauces, with bread and butter, salted meat and with lettuce in salads, hence it acquired also the name of Sauce Alone. The herb, when eaten as a salad, warms the stomach and strengthens the digestive faculties.
When cows eat it, it gives a disagreeable flavour to the milk.
The seeds, when snuffed up the nose, excite sneezing.
MUSTARD TREACLE HEDGE
Botanical: Erysimum Cheirantholdes
---Synonyms---Wormseed. Treacle Wormseed.
The Treacle Hedge Mustard has round stalks about a foot high, quite entire, or only slightly toothed, lanceolate leaves and small yellow flowers with whitish sepals, produced at the tops of the branches. The blackishbrown seeds are produced on each side of a pouch parted in the middle, about eighteen to each cell. The seeds are intensely bitter, and have been used by country people as a vermifuge, hence the second name of Wormseed or Treacle Wormseed. The seeds have also been given in obstructions of the intestines, and in rheumatism and jaundice with success. When taken in small doses they are purgative, but care must be taken not to administer in too large doses.
This plant flowers from May to August, and is a native of most parts of Europe, though it is not very common in England.
The Hedge Mustards and Garlic Mustard were all formerly allocated to the same genus to which this plant belongs, Erysimum.
Another species, Erysimum Orientale (Hare's Ear Treacle Mustard), with smooth, entire leaves and cream-colored flowers, grows on some parts of the coast of Essex, Suffolk and Sussex.
Botanical: Thlaspi arvense
Mithridate Mustard, Thlaspi arvense, grows higher than Treacle Mustard; the leaves are small and narrower, smooth, toothed, arrow-shaped at the base. The flowers are small and white, growing on long branches, the seed-vessels form a round pouch, flat, with very broad wings, earning for the plant its other name of Pennycress.
It was formerly an ingredient in the Mithridate confection, an elaborate preparation used as an antidote to poison, but no longer used in medicine.
Botanical: Commiphora myrrha (HOLMES)
Family: N.O. Burseraceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Balsamodendron Myrrha. Commiphora Myrrha, var. Molmol. Mirra. Morr. Didin. Didthin. Bowl.
---Part Used---The oleo-gum-resin from the stem.
The bushes yielding the resin do not grow more than 9 feet in height, but they are of sturdy build, with knotted branches, and branchlets that stand out at right-angles, ending in a sharp spine. The trifoliate leaves are scanty, small and very unequal, oval and entire. It was first recognized about 1822 at Ghizan on the Red Sea coast, a district so bare and dry that it is called 'Tehama,' meaning 'hell.'
Botanically, there is still uncertainty about the origin and identity of the various species.
There are ducts in the bark, and the tissue between them breaks down, forming large cavities, which, with the remaining ducts, becomes filled with a granular secretion which is freely discharged when the bark is wounded, or from natural fissures. It flows as a pale yellow liquid, but hardens to a reddish-brown mass, being found in commerce in tears of many sizes, the average being that of a walnut. The surface is rough and powdered, and the pieces are brittle, with a granular fracture, semi-transparent, oily, and often show whitish marks. The odour and taste are aromatic, the latter also acrid and bitter. It is inflammable, but burns feebly.
Several species are recognized in commerce. It is usually imported in chests weighing 1 or 2 cwts., and wherever produced comes chiefly from the East Indies. Adulterations are not easily detected in the powder, so that it is better purchased in mass, when small stones, senegal gum, chestnuts, pieces of bdellium, or of a brownish resin called 'false myrrh,' may be sorted out with little difficulty.
It has been used from remote ages as an ingredient in incense, perfumes, etc., in the holy oil of the Jews and the Kyphi of the wiccans for embalming and fumigations.
Little appears to be definitely known about the collection of myrrh. It seems probable that the best drug comes from Somaliland, is bought at the fairs of Berbera by the Banians of India, shipped to Bombay, and there sorted, the best coming to Europe and the worst being sent to China. The true myrrh is known in the markets as karam, formerly called Turkey myrrh, and the opaque bdellium as meena harma.
The gum makes a good mucilage and the insoluble residue from the tincture can be used in this way.
Volatile oil, resin (myrrhin), gum, ash, salts, sulphates, benzoates, malates, and acetates of potassa.
It is partially soluble in water, alcohol, and ether. It may be tested by a characteristic violet reaction if nitric acid diluted with an equal volume of water is brought into contact with the residue resulting from the boiling of 0.1 gramme of coarsely powdered myrrh with 2 c.c. of 90 per cent alcohol, evaporated in a porcelain dish so as to leave a thin film.
The oil is thick, pale yellow, and contains myrrholic acid and heerabolene, a sesquiterpenene.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Astringent, healing. Tonic and stimulant. A direct emmenagogue, a tonic in dyspepsia, an expectorant in the absence of feverish symptoms, a stimulant to the mucous tissues, a stomachic carminative, exciting appetite and the flow of gastric juice, and an astringent wash.
It is used in chronic catarrh, phthisis pulmonalis, chlorosis, and in amenorrhoea is often combined with aloes and iron. As a wash it is good for spongy gums, ulcerated throat and aphthous stomatitis, and the tincture is also applied to foul and indolentulcers. It has been found helpful in bronchorrhoea and leucorrhoea. It has also been used as a vermifuge.
When long-continued rubefacient effect is needed, a plaster may be made with 1 1/2 OZ. each of camphor, myrrh, and balsam of Peru rubbed together and added to 32 OZ. of melted lead plaster, the whole being stirred until cooling causes it to thicken.
Myrrh is a common ingredient of toothpowders, and is used with borax in tincture, with other ingredients, as a mouth-wash.
The Compound Tincture, or Horse Tincture, is used in veterinary practice for healing wounds.
Meetiga, the trade-name of Arabian Myrrh, is more brittle and gummy than that of Somaliland and has not its white markings.
The liquid Myrrh, or Stacte, spoken of by Pliny, and an ingredient of Jewish holy incense, was formerly obtainable and greatly valued, but cannot now be identified.
10 to 30 grains. Of fluid extract, 5 to 30 minims. Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Of tincture of aloes and Myrrh, as purgative and emmenagogue, 30 minims. Of N.F. pills of aloes and Myrrh, 2 pills. Of Rufus's pills of aloes and Myrrh, as stimulant cathartic in debility and constipation, or in suppression of the menses, 4 to 8 grains of Br. mass.
Bissa Bôl, or perfumed bdellium of theArabs, has an odour like mushrooms. Though it is sent from Arabian ports to India and China, it was formerly known as East Indian Myrrh. It is of a dark color, and may be a product of Commiphora erythraea, var. glabrescens, of B. Kalaf, A. Kafal, B. Playfairii or Hemprichia erythraea.
B. Kua of Abyssinia has been found to yield Myrrh.
Mecca balsam, a product of B. or C. Opobalsamum, is said to be the Myrrh of the Bible, the Hebrew word mar having been confused with the modern Arabic morr or Myrrh in translation.
Bdellium, recognized as an inferior Myrrh and often mixed with or substituted for it, is a product of several species of Commiphora, according to American writers, or Balsamodendron according to English ones. Four kinds are collected in Somaliland, making sub-divisions of African Bdellium:
Perfumed Bdellium or Habaghadi,
These African bdelliums, said by some writers to be products of Balsamodendron (Heudelotia) Africanum, are in irregular, hard, roundish tears about an inch in diameter, pale yellow to red-brown, translucent, the fracture waxy, taste and odour slight.
The product of Ceradia furcata is also called African Bdellium.
The commercial Gugul, or Indian Bdellium, is said by some writers to be a product of Commiphora roxburghiana, by others of B. Mukul, and by others again of B. roxbhurghii or Amyris Bdellium. It is more moist than Myrrh; is found in irregular, dark reddishbrown masses, with a waxy fracture; softens with the heat of the hand; adheres to the teeth when chewed; and smells slightly of Myrrh.
It is used in the East Indies in leprosy, rheumatism and syphilis, and in Europe for plasters.
---Dosage---10 to 40 grains.
Garden Madder shoots forth many very long, weak, four-square, reddish stalks, trailing on the ground a great way, very rough or hairy, and full of joints. At every one of these joints come forth divers long and narrow leaves, standing like a star about the stalks, round also and hairy, towards the tops whereof come forth many small pale yellow flowers, after which come small round heads, green at first, and reddish afterwards, but black when they are ripe, wherein is contained the seed. The root is not very great, but exceeding long, running down half a man's length into the ground, red and very clear, while it is fresh, spreading divers ways.
Place : It is only manured in gardens, or larger fields, for the profit that is made thereof.
Time : It flowers towards the end of Summer, and the seed is ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Mars. It hath an opening quality, and afterwards to bind and strengthen. It is a sure remedy for the yellow jaundice, by opening the obstructions of the liver and gall, and cleansing those parts; it opens also the obstructions of the spleen, and diminishes the melancholy humour. It is available for the palsy and sciatica, and effectual for bruises inward and outward, and is therefore much used in vulnerary drinks. The root for all those aforesaid purposes, is to be boiled in wine or water, as the cause requires, and some honey and sugar put thereunto afterwards. The seed hereof taken in vinegar and honey, helps the swelling and hardness of the spleen. The decoction of the leaves and branches is a good fomentation for women that have not their courses. The leaves and roots beaten and applied to any part that is discolored with freckles, morphew, the white scurf, or any such deformity of the skin, cleanses thoroughly, and takes them away.
Our common Maiden-Hair doth, from a number of hard black fibres, send forth a great many blackish shining brittle stalks, hardly a span long, in many not half so long, on each side set very thick with small, round, dark green leaves, and spotted on the back of them like a fern.
Place : It grows upon old stone walls in the West parts in Kent, and divers other places of this land; it delights likewise to grow by springs, wells, and rocky moist and shady places, and is always green.
WALL RUE, OR, WHITE MAIDEN-HAIR
This has very fine, pale green stalks, almost as fine as hairs, set confusedly with divers pale green leaves on every short foot stalk, somewhat near unto the color of garden Rue, and not much differing in form but more diversly cut in on the edges, and thicker, smooth on the upper part, and spotted finely underneath.
Place : It grows in many places of this land, at Dartford, and the bridge at Ashford in Kent, at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, at Wolly in Huntingdonshire, on Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, on the church walls at Mayfield in Sussex, in Somersetshire, and divers other places of this land; and is green in Winter as well as Summer.
Government and virtues : Both this and the former are under the dominion of Mercury, and so is that also which follows after, and the virtue of both are so near alike, that though I have described them and their places of growing severally, yet I shall in writing the virtues of them, join them both together as follows.
The decoction of the herb Maiden-Hair being drank, helps those that are troubled with the cough, shortness of breath, the yellow jaundice, diseases of the spleen, stopping of urine, and helps exceedingly to break the stone in the kidneys, (in all which diseases the Wall Rue is also very effectual). It provokes women's courses, and stays both bleedings and fluxes of the stomach and belly, especially when the herb is dry; for being green, it loosens the belly, and voids choler and phlegm from the stomach and liver; it cleanses the lungs, and by rectifying the blood, causes a good color to the whole body. The herb boiled in oil of Camomile, dissolves knots, allays swellings, and dries up moist ulcers. The lye made thereof is singularly good to cleanse the head from scurf, and from dry and running sores, stays the falling or shedding of the hair, and causes it to grow thick, fair, and well colored; for which purpose some boil it in wine, putting some Smallage seed thereto, and afterwards some oil. The Wall Rue is as effectual as Maiden-Hair, in all diseases of the head, or falling and recovering of the hair again, and generally for all the aforementioned diseases. And besides, the powder of it taken in drink for forty days together, helps the burstings in children.
GOLDEN MAIDEN HAIR
To the former give me leave to add this, and I shall say no more but only describe it to you, and for the virtues refer you to the former, since whatever is said of them, may be also said of this.
It has many small, brownish, red hairs, to make up the form of leaves growing about the ground from the root; and in the middle of them, in Summer, rise small stalks of the same color, set with very fine yellowish green hairs on them, and bearing a small gold, yellow head, less than a wheat corn, standing in a great husk. The root is very small and thready.
Place : It grows in bogs and moorish places, and also on dry shady places, as Hampstead Heath, and elsewhere.
MALLOWS AND MARSHMALLOWS
COMMON MALLOWS are generally so well known that they need no description.
Our common Marshmallows have divers soft hairy white stalks, rising to be three or four feet high, spreading forth many branches, the leaves whereof are soft and hairy, somewhat less than the other Mallow leaves, but longer pointed, cut (for the most part) into some few divisions, but deep. The flowers are many, but smaller also than the other Mallows, and white, or tending to a bluish color. After which come such long, round cases and seeds, as in the other Mallows. The roots are many and long, shooting from one head, of the bigness of a thumb or finger, very pliant, tough, and being like liquorice, of a whitish yellow color on the outside, and more whitish within, full of a slimy juice, which being laid in water, will thicken, as if it were a jelly.
The common Mallows grow in every county of this land. The common Marsh-mallows in most of the salt marshes, from Woolwich down to the sea, both on the Kentish and Essex shores, and in divers other places of this land.
Time : They flower all the Summer months, even until the Winter do pull them down.
Government and virtues : Venus owns them both. The leaves of either of the sorts, both specified, and the roots also boiled in wine or water, or in broth with Parsley or Fennel roots, do help to open the body, and are very convenient in hot agues, or other distempers of the body, to apply the leaves so boiled warm to the belly. It not only voids hot, choleric, and other offensive humours, but eases the pains and torments of the belly coming thereby; and are therefore used in all clysters conducing to those purposes. The same used by nurses procures them store of milk. The decoction of the seed of any of the common Mallows made in milk or wine, doth marvellously help excoriations, the phthisic pleurisy, and other diseases of the chest and lungs, that proceed of hot causes, if it be continued taking for some time together. The leaves and roots work the same effects. They help much also in the excoriations of the bowels, and hardness of the mother, and in all hot and sharp diseases thereof. The juice drank in wine, or the decoction of them therein, do help women to a speedy and easy delivery. Pliny saith, that whosoever takes a spoonful of any of the Mallows, shall that day be free from all diseases that may come unto him; and that it is especially good for the falling-sickness. The syrup also and conserve made of the flowers, are very effectual for the same diseases, and to open the body, being costive. The leaves bruised, and laid to the eyes with a little honey, take away the imposthumations of them. The leaves bruised or rubbed upon any place stung with bees, wasps, or the like, presently take away the pain, redness, and swelling that rise thereupon. And Dioscorides saith, The decoction of the roots and leaves helps all sorts of poison, so as the poison be presently voided by vomit. A poultice made of the leaves boiled and bruised, with some bean or barley flower, and oil of Roses added, is an especial remedy against all hard tumours and inflammations, or imposthumes, or swellings of the privities, and other parts, and eases the pains of them; as also against the hardness of the liver or spleen, being applied to the places. The juice of Mallows boiled in old oil and applied, takes away all roughness of the skin, as also the scurf, dandriff, or dry scabs in the head, or other parts, if they be anointed therewith, or washed with the decoction, and preserves the hair from falling off. It is also effectual against scaldings and burnings, St. Anthony's fire, and all other hot, red, and painful swellings in any part of the body. The flowers boiled in oil or water (as every one is disposed) whereunto a little honey and allum is put, is an excellent gargle to wash, cleanse or heal any sore mouth or throat in a short space. If the feet be bathed or washed with the decoction of the leaves, roots, and flowers, it helps much the defluxions of rheum from the head; if the head be washed therewith, it stays the falling and shedding of the hair. The green leaves (saith Pliny) beaten with nitre, and applied, draw out thorn or prickles in the flesh.
The Marshmallows are more effectual in all the diseases before mentioned. The leaves are likewise used to loosen the belly gently, and in decoctions or clysters to ease all pains of the body, opening the strait passages, and making them slippery, whereby the stone may descend the more easily and without pain, out of the reins, kidneys, and bladder, and to ease the torturing pains thereof. But the roots are of more special use for those purposes, as well for coughs, hoarseness, shortness of breath and wheezings, being boiled in wine, or honeyed water, and drank. The roots and seeds hereof boiled in wine or water, are with good success used by them that have excoriations in the bowels, or the bloody flux, by qualifying the violence of sharp fretting humours, easing the pains, and healing the soreness. It is profitably taken by them that are troubled with ruptures, cramps, or convulsions of the sinews; and boiled in white wine, for the imposthumes by the throat, commonly called the king's evil, and of those kernels that rise behind the ears, and inflammations or swellings in women's breasts. The dried roots boiled in milk and drank, is especially good for the chin-cough. Hippocrates used to give the decoction of the roots, or the juice thereof, to drink, to those that are wounded, and ready to faint through loss of blood, and applied the same, mixed with honey and rosin, to the wounds. As also, the roots boiled in wine to those that have received any hurt by bruises, falls, or blows, or had any bone or member out of joint, or any swelling-pain, or ache in the muscles, sinews or arteries. The muscilage of the roots, and of Linseed and Fenugreek put together, is much used in poultices, ointments, and plaisters, to molify and digest all hard swellings, and the inflammation of them, and to ease pains in any part of the body. The seed either green or dry, mixed with vinegar, cleanses the skin of morphew, and all other discolorings, being boiled therewith in the Sun.
You may remember that not long since there was a raging disease called the bloody-flux; the college of physicians not knowing what to make of it, called it the inside plague, for their wits were at Ne plus ultra about it. My son was taken with the same disease, and the excoriation of his bowels was exceeding great; myself being in the country, was sent for up, the only thing I gave him, was Mallows bruised and boiled both in milk and drink, in two days (the blessing of God being upon it) it cured him. And I here, to shew my thankfulness to God, in communicating it to his creatures, leave it to posterity.
Government and virtues :
It is under the dominion of Jupiter. The decoction either of the leaves or bark, must needs strengthen the liver much, and so you shall find it to do, if you use it. It is excellently good to open obstructions both of the liver and spleen, and eases pains of the sides thence proceeding.
Called also Origanum, Eastward Marjoram, Wild Marjoram, and Grove Marjoram.
Wild or field Marjoram hath a root which creeps much under ground, which continues a long time, sending up sundry-brownish, hard, square stalks, with small dark green leaves, very like those of Sweet Marjoram, but harder, and somewhat broader; at the top of the stalks stand tufts of flowers, of a deep purplish red color. The seed is small and something blacker than that of Sweet Marjoram.
It grows plentifully in the borders of corn fields, and in some copses.
It flowers towards the latter end of the Summer.
Government and virtues : This is also under the dominion of Mercury. It strengthens the stomach and head much, there being scarce a better remedy growing for such as are troubled with a sour humour in the stomach; it restores the appetite being lost; helps the cough, and consumption of the lungs; it cleanses the body of choler, expels poison, and remedies the infirmities of the spleen; helps the bitings of venomous beasts, and helps such as have poisoned themselves by eating Hemlock, Henbane, or Opium. It provokes urine and the terms in women, helps the dropsy, and the scurvy, scabs, itch, and yellow jaundice. The juice being dropped into the ears, helps deafness, pain and noise in the ears. And thus much for this herb, between which and adders, there is a deadly antipathy.
Sweet Marjoram is so well known, being an inhabitant in every garden, that it is needless to write any description thereof, neither of the Winter Sweet Marjoram, or Pot Marjoram.
They grow commonly in gardens; some sorts grow wild in the borders of corn fields and pastures, in sundry places of this land; but it is not my purpose to insist upon them. The garden kinds being most used and useful.
They flower in the end of Summer.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Mercury, and under Aries, and therefore is an excellent remedy for the brain and other parts of the body and mind, under the dominion of the same planet. Our common Sweet Marjoram is warming and comfortable in cold diseases of the head, stomach, sinews, and other parts, taken inwardly, or outwardly applied. The decoction thereof being drank, helps all diseases of the chest which hinder the freeness of breathing, and is also profitable for the obstructions of the liver and spleen. It helps the cold griefs of the womb, and the windiness thereof, and the loss of speech, by resolution of the tongue. The decoction thereof made with some Pellitory of Spain, and long Pepper, or with a little Acorns or Origanum, being drank, is good for those that cannot make water, and against pains and torments in the belly; it provokes women's courses, if it be used as a pessary. Being made into powder, and mixed with honey, it takes away the black marks of blows, and bruises, being thereunto applied; it is good for the inflammations and watering of the eyes, being mixed with fine flour, and laid unto them. The juice dropped into the ears eases the pains and singing noise in them. It is profitably put into those ointments and salves that are warm, and comfort the outward parts, as the joints and sinews, for swellings also, and places out of joint. The powder thereof snuffed up into the nose provokes sneezing, and thereby purges the brain; and chewed in the mouth, draws forth much phlegm. The oil made thereof, is very warm and comfortable to the joints that are stiff, and the sinews that are hard, to molify and supple them. Marjoram is much used in all odoriferous water, powders, &c. that are for ornament or delight.
These being so plentiful in every garden, and so well known that they need no description.
Time : They flower all the Summer long, and sometimes in Winter, if it be mild.
Government and virtues :
It is an herb of the Sun, and under Leo. They strengthen the heart exceedingly, and are very expulsive, and a little less effectual in the smallpox and measles than saffron. The juice of Marigold leaves mixed with vinegar, and any hot swelling bathed with it, instantly gives ease, and assuages it. The flowers, either green or dried, are much used in possets, broths, and drink, as a comforter of the heart and spirits, and to expel any malignant or pestilential quality which might annoy them. A plaister made with the dry flowers in powder, hog's-grease, turpentine, and rosin, applied to the breast, strengthens and succours the heart infinitely in fevers, whether pestilential or not.
Common Masterwort has divers stalks of winged leaves divided into sundry parts, three for the most part standing together at a small foot-stalk on both sides of the greater, and three likewise at the end of the stalk, somewhat broad, and cut in on the edges into three or more divisions, all of them dented about the brims, of a dark green color, somewhat resembling the leaves of Angelica, but that these grow lower to the ground, and on lesser stalks; among which rise up two or three short stalks about two feet high, and slender, with such like leaves at the joints which grow below, but with lesser and fewer divisions, bearing umbels of white flowers, and after them thin, flat blackish seeds, bigger than Dill seeds. The root is somewhat greater and growing rather sideways than down deep in the ground, shooting forth sundry heads, which taste sharp, biting on the tongue, and is the hottest and sharpest part of the plant, and the seed next unto it being somewhat blackish on the outside, and smelling well.
It is usually kept in gardens with us in England.
It flowers and seeds about the end of August.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Mars. The root of Masterwort is hotter than pepper, and very available in cold griefs and diseases both of the stomach and body, dissolving very powerfully upwards and downwards. It is also used in a decoction with wine against all cold rheums, distillations upon the lungs, or shortness of breath, to be taken morning and evening. It also provokes urine, and helps to break the stone, and expel the gravel from the kidneys; provokes women's courses, and expels the dead birth. It is singularly good for strangling of the mother, and other such like feminine diseases. It is effectual also against the dropsy, cramps, and falling sickness; for the decoction in wine being gargled in the mouth, draws down much water and phlegm, from the brain, purging and easing it of what oppresses it. It is of a rare quality against all sorts of cold poison, to be taken as there is cause; it provokes sweat. But lest the taste hereof, or of the seed (which works to the like effect, though not so powerfully) should be too offensive, the best way is to take the water distilled both from the herb and root. The juice hereof dropped, or tents dipped therein, and applied either to green wounds or filthy rotten ulcers, and those that come by envenomed weapons, doth soon cleanse and heal them. The same is also very good to help the gout coming of a cold causey.
Common Maudlin hath somewhat long and narrow leaves, snipped about the edges. The stalks are two feet high, bearing at the tops many yellow flowers set round together and all of an equal height, in umbels or tufts like unto tansy; after which follow small whitish seed, almost as big as wormseed.
Place and time :
It grows in gardens, and flowers in June and July.
Government and virtues : The Virtues hereof being the same with Costmary or Alecost, I shall not make any repetition thereof, lest my book grow too big; but rather refer you to Costmary for satisfaction.
The Tree grows near the bigness of the Quince Tree, spreading branches reasonably large, with longer and narrower leaves than either the apple or quince, and not dented about the edges. At the end of the sprigs stand the flowers, made of five white, great, broad-pointed leaves, nicked in the middle with some white threads also; after which comes the fruit, of a brownish green color, being ripe, bearing a crown as it were on the top, which were the five green leaves; and being rubbed off, or fallen away, the head of the fruit is seen to be somewhat hollow. The fruit is very harsh before it is mellowed, and has usually five hard kernels within it. There is another kind hereof nothing differing from the former, but that it hath some thorns on it in several places, which the other hath not; and usually the fruit is small, and not so pleasant.
Time and place : They grow in this land, and flower in May for the most part, and bear fruit in September and October.
Government and virtues : The fruit is old Saturn's, and sure a better medicine he hardly hath to strengthen the retentive faculty; therefore it stays women's longings. The good old man cannot endure women's minds should run a gadding. Also a plaister made of the fruit dried before they are rotten, and other convenient things, and applied to the reins of the back, stops miscarriage in women with child. They are powerful to stay any fluxes of blood or humours in men or women; the leaves also have this quality. The decoction of them is good to gargle and wash the mouth, throat and teeth, when there is any defluxions of blood to stay it, or of humours, which causes the pains and swellings. It is a good bath for women, that have their courses flow too abundant: or for the piles when they bleed too much. If a poultice or plaister be made with dried medlars, beaten and mixed with the juice of red roses, whereunto a few cloves and nutmegs may be added, and a little red coral also, and applied to the stomach that is given to casting or loathing of meat, it effectually helps. The dried leaves in powder strewed on fresh bleeding wounds restrains the blood, and heals up the wound quickly. The medlar-stones made into powder, and drank in wine, wherein some Parsley-roots have lain infused all night, or a little boiled, do break the stone in the kidneys, helping to expel it.
MELLILOT, OR KING'S CLAVER
This hath many green stalks, two or three feet high, rising from a tough, long, white root, which dies not every year, set round about at the joints with small and somewhat long, well-smelling leaves, set three together, unevenly dented about the edges. The flowers are yellow, and well-smelling also, made like other trefoil, but small, standing in long spikes one above another, for an hand breath long or better, which afterwards turn into long crooked pods, wherein is contained flat seed, somewhat brown.
It grows plentifully in many places of this land, as in the edge of Suffolk and in Essex, as also in Huntingdonshire, and in other places, but most usually in corn fields, in corners of meadows.
It flowers in June and July, and is ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues : Mellilot, boiled in wine, and applied, mollifies all hard tumours and inflammations that happen in the eyes, or other parts of the body, and sometimes the yolk of a roasted egg, or fine flour, or poppy seed, or endive, is added unto it. It helps the spreading ulcers in the head, it being washed with a lye made thereof. It helps the pains of the stomach, being applied fresh, or boiled with any of the aforenamed things; also, the pains of the ears, being dropped into them; and steeped in vinegar, or rose water, it mitigates the head-ache. The flowers of Mellilot or Camomile are much used to be put together in clysters to expel wind, and ease pains; and also in poultices for the same purpose, and to assuage swelling tumours in the spleen or other parts, and helps inflammations in any part of the body. The juice dropped into the eyes, is a singularly good medicine to take away the film or skin that clouds or dims the eye-sight. The head often washed with the distilled water of the herb and flower, or a lye made therewith, is effectual for those that suddenly lose their senses; as also to strengthen the memory, to comfort the head and brain, and to preserve them from pain, and the apoplexy.
FRENCH AND DOG MERCURY
This rises-up with a square green stalk full of joints, two feet high, or thereabouts, with two leaves at every joint, and the branches likewise from both sides of the stalk, set with fresh green leaves, somewhat broad and long, about the bigness of the leaves of Bazil, finely dented about the edges; towards the tops of the stalks and branches, come forth at every joint in the male Mercury two small, round green heads, standing together upon a short foot stalk, which growing ripe, are seeds, not having flowers. The female stalk is longer, spike-fashion, set round about with small green husks, which are the flowers, made small like bunches of grapes, which give no seed, but abiding long upon the stalks without shedding. The root is composed of many small fibres, which perishes every year at the first approach of Winter, and rises again of its own sowing; and if once it is suffered to sow itself, the ground will never want afterwards, even both sorts of it.
Having described unto you that which is called French Mercury, I come now to shew you a description of this kind also.
Descript : This is likewise of two kinds, male and Female, having many stalks slender and lower than Mercury, without any branches at all upon them, the root is set with two leaves at every joint, somewhat greater than the female, but more pointed and full of veins, and somewhat harder in handling: of a dark green color, and less dented or snipped about the edges. At the joints with the leaves come forth longer stalks than the former, with two hairy round seeds upon them, twice as big as those of the former Mercury. The taste hereof is herby, and the smell somewhat strong and virulent. The female has much harder leaves standing upon longer footstalks, and the stalks are also longer: from the joints come forth spikes of flowers like the French Female Mercury. The roots of them both are many, and full of small fibres which run under ground, and mat themselves very much, not perishing as the former Mercuries do, but abide the Winter, and shoot forth new branches every year, for the old lie down to the ground.
The male and female French Mercury are found wild in divers places of this land, as by a village called Brookland in Rumney Marsh in Kent.
The Dog Mercury in sundry places of Kent also, and elsewhere; but the female more seldom than the male.
Time : They flower in the Summer months, and therein give their seed.
Government and virtues : Mercury, they say, owns the herb, but I rather think it is Venus's, and I am partly confident of it too, for I never heard that Mercury ever minded women's business so much: I believe he minds his study more. The decoction of the leaves of Mercury, or the juice thereof in broth, or drank with a little sugar put to it, purges choleric and waterish humours. Hippocrates commended it wonderfully for women's diseases, and applied to the secret parts, to ease the pains of the mother; and used the decoction of it, both to procure women's courses, and to expel the after-birth; and gave the decoction thereof with myrrh or pepper, or used to apply the leaves outwardly against the stranguary and diseases of the reins and bladder. He used it also for sore and watering eyes, and for the deafness and pains in the ears, by dropping the juice thereof into them, and bathing them afterwards in white wine. The decoction thereof made with water and a cock chicken, is a most safe medicine against the hot fits of agues. It also cleanses the breast and lungs of phlegm, but a little offends the stomach. The juice or distilled water snuffed up into the nostrils, purges the head and eyes of catarrhs and rheums. Some use to drink two or three ounces of the distilled water, with a little sugar put to it, in the morning fasting, to open and purge the body of gross, viscous, and melancholy humours. Matthiolus saith, that both the seed of the male and female Mercury boiled with Wormwood and drank, cures the yellow jaundice in a speedy manner. The leaves or the juice rubbed upon warts, takes them away. The juice mingled with some vinegar, helps all running scabs, tetters, ringworms, and the itch. Galen saith, that being applied in manner of a poultice to any swelling or inflammation, it digests the swelling, and allays the inflammation, and is therefore given in clysters to evacuate from the belly offensive humours. The Dog Mercury, although it be less used, yet may serve in the same manner, to the same purpose, to purge waterish and melancholy humours.
Of all the kinds of Mint, the Spear Mint, or Heart Mint, being most usual, I shall only describe as follows:
Spear Mint has divers round stalks, and long but narrowish leaves set thereon, of a dark green color. The flowers stand in spiked heads at the tops of the branches, being of a pale blue color. The smell or scent thereof is somewhat near unto Bazil; it encreases by the root under ground as all the others do.
It is an usual inhabitant in gardens; and because it seldom gives any good seed, the seed is recompensed by the plentiful increase of the root, which being once planted in a garden, will hardly be rid out again.
It flowers not until the beginning of August, for the most part.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Venus. Dioscorides saith it hath a healing, binding and drying quality, and therefore the juice taken in vinegar, stays bleeding. It stirs up venery, or bodily lust; two or three branches thereof taken in the juice of four pomegranates, stays the hiccough, vomiting, and allays the choler. It dissolves imposthumes being laid to with barley-meal. It is good to repress the milk in women's breasts, and for such as have swollen, flagging, or great breasts. Applied with salt, it helps the biting of a mad dog; with mead and honeyed water, it eases the pains of the ears, and takes away the roughness of the tongue, being rubbed thereupon. It suffers not milk to curdle in the stomach, if the leaves thereof be steeped or boiled in it before you drink it. Briefly it is very profitable to the stomach. The often use hereof is a very powerful medicine to stay women's courses and the whites. Applied to the forehead and temples, it eases the pains in the head, and is good to wash the heads of young children therewith, against all manner of breakings-out, sores or scabs, therein. It is also profitable against the poison of venomous creatures. The distilled water of Mint is available to all the purposes aforesaid, yet more weakly. But if a spirit thereof be rightly and chymically drawn, it is much more powerful than the herb itself. Simeon Sethi saith, it helps a cold liver, strengthens the belly, causes digestion, stays vomits and hiccough; it is good against the gnawing of the heart, provokes appetite, takes away obstructions of the liver, and stirs up bodily lust; but therefore too much must not be taken, because it makes the blood thin and wheyish, and turns it into choler, and therefore choleric persons must abstain from it. It is a safe medicine for the biting of a mad dog, being bruised with salt and laid thereon. The powder of it being dried and taken after meat, helps digestion, and those that are splenetic. Taken with wine, it helps women in their sore travail in child-bearing. It is good against the gravel and stone in the kidneys, and the stranguary. Being smelled unto, it is comfortable for the head and memory. The decoction hereof gargled in the mouth, cures the gums and mouth that are sore, and mends an ill-savoured breath; as also the Rue and Coriander, causes the palate of the mouth to turn to its place, the decoction being gargled and held in the mouth.
The virtues of the Wild or Horse Mint, such as grow in ditches (whose description I purposely omitted, in regard they are well known) are serviceable to dissolve wind in the stomach, to help the cholic, and those that are short-winded, and are an especial remedy for those that have veneral dreams and pollutions in the night, being outwardly applied. The juice dropped into the ears eases the pains of them, and destroys the worms that breed therein. They are good against the venomous biting of serpents. The juice laid on warm, helps the king's evil, or kernels in the throat. The decoction or distilled water helps a stinking breath, proceeding from corruption of the teeth, and snuffed up the nose, purges the head. Pliny saith, that eating of the leaves hath been found by experience to cure the leprosy, applying some of them to the face, and to help the scurf or dandriff of the head used with vinegar. They are extremely bad for wounded people; and they say a wounded man that eats Mint, his wound will never be cured, and that is a long day.
This rises up from the branch or arm of the tree whereon it grows, with a woody stem, putting itself into sundry branches, and they again divided into many other smaller twigs, interlacing themselves one within another, very much covered with a greyish green bark, having two leaves set at every joint, and at the end likewise, which are somewhat long and narrow, small at the bottom, but broader towards the end. At the knots or joints of the boughs and branches grow small yellow flowers, which run into small, round, white, transparent berries, three or four together, full of a glutinous moisture, with a blackish seed in each of them, which was never yet known to spring, being put into the ground, or any where else to grow.
It grows very rarely on oaks with us; but upon sundry others as well timber as fruit trees, plentifully in woody groves, and the like, through all this land.
Time : It flowers in the Spring-time, but the berries are not ripe until October, and abides on the branches all the Winter, unless the blackbirds, and other birds, do devour them.
Government and virtues : This is under the dominion of the Sun, I do not question; and can also take for granted, that which grows upon oaks, participates something of the nature of Jupiter, because an oak is one of his trees; as also that which grows upon pear trees, and apple trees, participates something of his nature, because he rules the tree it grows upon, having no root of its own. But why that should have most virtues that grows upon oaks I know not, unless because it is rarest and hardest to come by; and our college's opinion is in this contrary to scripture, which saith, God's tender mercies are over all his works; and so it is, let the college of physicians walk as contrary to him as they please, and that is as contrary as the east to the west. Clusius affirms that which grows upon pear trees to be as prevalent, and gives order, that it should not touch the ground after it is gathered; and also saith, that, being hung about the neck, it remedies witchcraft. Both the leaves and berries of Misselto do heat and dry, and are of subtle parts; the birdlime doth molify hard knots, tumours, and imposthumes; ripens and discusses them, and draws forth thick as well as thin humours from the remote parts of the body, digesting and separating them. And being mixed with equal parts of rozin and wax, doth molify the hardness of the spleen, and helps old ulcers and sores. Being mixed with Sandaric and Orpiment, it helps to draw off foul nails; and if quick-lime and wine lees be added thereunto, it works the stronger. The Misselto itself of the oak (as the best) made into powder, and given in drink to those that have the falling sickness, does assuredly heal them, as Matthiolus saith: but it is fit to use it for forty days together. Some have so highly esteemed it for the virtues thereof, that they have called it Lignum Sancti& Crucis, Wood of the Holy Cross, believing it helps the falling sickness, apoplexy and palsy very speedily, not only to be inwardly taken, but to be hung at their neck. Tragus saith, that the fresh wood of any Misselto bruised, and the juice drawn forth and dropped in the ears that have imposthumes in them, doth help and ease them within a few days.
MONEYWORT, OR HERB TWOPENCE
The common Moneywort sends forth from a small thready root divers long, weak, and slender branches, lying and running upon the ground two or three feet long or more, set with leaves two at a joint one against another at equal distances, which are almost round, but pointed at the ends, smooth, and of a good green color. At the joints with the leaves from the middle forward come forth at every point sometimes one yellow flower, and sometimes two, standing each on a small foot-stalk, and made of five leaves, narrow-pointed at the end, with some yellow threads in the middle, which being past, there stand in their places small round heads of seed.
It grows plentifully in almost all places of this land, commonly in moist grounds by hedge-sides, and in the middle of grassy fields.
They flower in June and July, and their seed is ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues : Venus owns it. Moneywort is singularly good to stay all fluxes in man or woman, whether they be lasks, bloody-fluxes, bleeding inwardly or outwardly, or the weakness of the stomach that is given to casting. It is very good also for the ulcers or excoriations of the lungs, or other inward parts. It is exceedingly good for all wounds, either fresh or green, to heal them speedily, and for all old ulcers that are of spreading natures. For all which purposes the juice of the herb, or the powder drank in water wherein hot steel hath been often quenched; or the decoction of the green herb in wine or water drank, or used to the outward place, to wash or bathe them, or to have tents dipped therein and put into them, are effectual.
It rises up usually with but one dark green, thick and flat leaf, standing upon a short foot-stalk not above two fingers breadth; but when it flowers it may be said to bear a small slender stalk about four or five inches high, having but one leaf in the middle thereof, which is much divided on both sides into sometimes five or seven parts on a side, sometimes more; each of which parts is small like the middle rib, but broad forwards, pointed and round, resembling therein a half-moon, from whence it took the name; the uppermost parts or divisions being bigger than the lowest. The stalks rise above this leaf two or three inches, bearing many branches of small long tongues, every one like the spiky head of the adder's tongue, of a brownish color, (which, whether I shall call them flowers, or the seed, I well know not) which, after they have continued awhile, resolve into a mealy dust. The root is small and fibrous. This hath sometimes divers such like leaves as are before described, with so many branches or tops rising from one stalk, each divided from the other.
It grows on hills and heaths, yet where there is much grass, for therein it delights to grow.
It is to be found only in April and May; for in June, when any hot weather comes, for the most part it is withered and gone.
Government and virtues :
The Moon owns the herb. Moonwort is cold and drying more than Adder's Tongue, and is therefore held to be more available for all wounds both inward and outward. The leaves boiled in red wine, and drank, stay the immoderate flux of women's courses, and the whites. It also stays bleeding, vomiting, and other fluxes. It helps all blows and bruises, and to consolidate all fractures and dislocations. It is good for ruptures, but is chiefly used, by most with other herbs, to make oils or balsams to heal fresh or green wounds (as I said before) either inward or outward, for which it is excellently good.
Moonwort is an herb which (they say) will open locks, and unshoe such horses as tread upon it. This some laugh to scorn, and those no small fools neither; but country people, that I know, call it Unshoe the Horse. Besides I have heard commanders say, that on White Down in Devonshire, near Tiverton, there were found thirty horse shoes, pulled off from the feet of the Earl of Essex's horses, being there drawn up in a body, many of them being but newly shod, and no reason known, which caused much admiration: the herb described usually grows upon heaths.
I shall not trouble the reader with a description of these, since my intent is to speak only of two kinds, as the most principal, viz. Ground Moss and Tree Moss, both which are very well known.
The Ground Moss grows in our moist woods, and at the bottom of hills, in boggy grounds, and in shadowy ditches, and many other such like places. The Tree Moss grows only on trees.
Government and virtues :
All sorts of Mosses are under the dominion of Saturn. The Ground Moss is held to be singularly good to break the stone, and to expel and drive it forth by urine, being boiled in wine and drank. The herb being bruised and boiled in water, and applied, eases all inflammations and pains coming from an hot cause; and is therefore used to ease the pains of the gout.
The Tree Mosses are cooling and binding, and partake of a digesting and molifying quality withal, as Galen saith. But each Moss partakes of the nature of the tree from whence it is taken; therefore that of the oak is more binding, and is of good effect to stay fluxes in man or woman; as also vomiting or bleeding, the powder thereof being taken in wine. The decoction thereof in wine is very good for women to be bathed in, that are troubled with the overflowing of their courses. The same being drank, stays the stomach that is troubled with casting, or hiccough; and, as Avicena saith, it comforts the heart. The powder thereof taken in drink for some time together, is thought available for the dropsy. The oil that has had fresh Moss steeped therein for a time, and afterwards boiled and applied to the temples and forehead, marvellously eases the head-ache coming of a hot cause; as also the distillations of hot rheums or humours in the eyes, or other parts. The ancients much used it in their ointments and other medicines against the lassitude, and to strengthen and comfort the sinews. For which, if it was good then, I know no reason but it may be found so still.
This hath a hard, square, brownish, rough, strong stalk, rising three or four feet high at least, spreading into many branches, whereon grow leaves on each side, with long foot-stalks, two at every joint, which are somewhat broad and long, as if it were rough or crumpled, with many great veins therein of a sad green color, and deeply dented about the edges, and almost divided. From the middle of the branches up to the tops of them (which are long and small) grow the flowers round them at distances, in sharp pointed, rough, hard husks, of a more red or purple color than Balm or Horehound, but in the same manner or form as the Horehound, after which come small, round, blackish seeds in great plenty. The root sends forth a number of long strings and small fibres, taking strong hold in the ground, of a dark yellowish or brownish color, and abides as the Horehound does: the smell of the one not much differs from the other.
It grows only in gardens with us in England.
Government and virtues : Venus owns the herb, and it is under Leo. There is no better herb to take melancholy vapours from the heart, to strengthen it, and make a merry, cheerful, blithe soul than this herb. It may be kept in a syrup or conserve; therefore the Latins called it Cardiaca. Besides, it makes women joyful mothers of children, and settles their wombs as they should be, therefore we call it Motherwort. It is held to be of much use for the trembling of the heart, and faintings and swoonings; from whence it took the name Cardiaca. The powder thereof, to the quantity of a spoonful, drank in wine, is a wonderful help to women in their sore travail, as also for the suffocating or risings of the mother, and for these effects, it is likely it took the name of Motherwort with us. It also provokes urine and women's courses, cleanses the chest of cold phlegm, oppressing it, kills worms in the belly. It is of good use to warm and dry up the cold humours, to digest and disperse them that are settled in the veins, joints, and sinews of the body, and to help cramps and convulsions.
Mouse-ear is a low herb, creeping upon the ground by small strings, like the Strawberry plant, whereby it shoots forth small roots, whereat grow, upon the ground, many small and somewhat short leaves, set in a round form together, and very hairy, which, being broken, do give a whitish milk. From among these leaves spring up two or three small hoary stalks about a span high, with a few smaller leaves thereon; at the tops whereof stands usually but one flower, consisting of many pale yellow leaves, broad at the point, and a little dented in, set in three or four rows (the greater uppermost) very like a Dandelion flower, and a little reddish underneath about the edges, especially if it grow in a dry ground; which after they have stood long in flower do turn into down, which with the seed is carried away with the wind.
It grows on ditch banks, and sometimes in ditches, if they be dry, and in sandy grounds.
It flowers about June or July, and abides green all the Winter.
Government and virtues :
The Moon owns this herb also; and though authors cry out upon Alchymists, for attempting to fix quicksilver, by this herb and Moonwort, a Roman would not have judged a thing by the success; if it be to be fixed at all, it is by lunar influence. The juice thereof taken in wine, or the decoction thereof drank, doth help the jaundice, although of long continuance, to drink thereof morning and evening, and abstain from other drink two or three hours after. It is a special remedy against the stone, and the tormenting pains thereof: as also other tortures and griping pains of the bowels. The decoction thereof with Succory and Centaury is held very effectual to help the dropsy, and them that are inclining thereunto, and the diseases of the spleen. It stays the fluxes of blood, either at the mouth or nose, and inward bleeding also, for it is a singular wound herb for wounds both inward and outward. It helps the bloody flux, and helps the abundance of women's courses. There is a syrup made of the juice hereof and sugar, by the apothecaries of Italy, and other places, which is of much account with them, to be given to those that are troubled with the cough or phthisic. The same also is singularly good for ruptures or burstings. The green herb bruised and presently bound to any cut or wound, doth quickly solder the lips thereof. And the juice, decoction, or powder of the dried herb is most singular to stay the malignity of spreading and fretting cankers and ulcers whatsoever, yea in the mouth and secret parts. The distilled water of the plant is available in all the diseases aforesaid, and to wash outward wounds and sores, by applying tents of cloths wet therein.
Common Mugwort hath divers leaves lying upon the ground, very much divided, or cut deeply in about the brims, somewhat like Wormwood, but much larger, of a dark green color on the upper side, and very hoary white underneath. The stalks rise to be four or five feet high, having on it such like leaves as those below, but somewhat smaller, branching forth very much towards the top, whereon are set very small, pale, yellowish flowers like buttons, which fall away, and after them come small seeds, inclosed in round heads. The root is long and hard, with many small fibres growing from it, whereby it takes strong hold on the ground; but both stalks and leaves do lie down every year, and the root shoots anew in the Spring. The whole plant is of a reasonable scent, and is more easily propagated by the slips than the seed.
It grows plentifully in many places of this land, by the water-sides; as also by small water courses, and in divers other places.
It flowers and seeds in the end of Summer.
Government and virtues : This is an herb of Venus, therefore maintains the parts of the body she rules, remedies the diseases of the parts that are under her signs, Taurus and Libra. Mugwort is with good success put among other herbs that are boiled for women to apply the hot decoction to draw down their courses, to help the delivery of the birth, and expel the after-birth. As also for the obstructions and inflammations of the mother. It breaks the stone, and opens the urinary passages where they are stopped. The juice thereof made up with Myrrh, and put under as a pessary, works the same effects, and so does the root also. Being made up with hog's grease into an ointment, it takes away wens and hard knots and kernels that grow about the neck and throat, and eases the pains about the neck more effectually, if some Field Daisies be put with it. The herb itself being fresh, or the juice thereof taken, is a special remedy upon the overmuch taking of opium. Three drams of the powder of the dried leaves taken in wine, is a speedy and the best certain help for the sciatica. A decoction thereof made with Camomile and Agrimony, and the place bathed therewith while it is warm, takes away the pains of the sinews, and the cramp.
This is so well known where it grows, that it needs no description.
It bears fruit in the months of July and August.
Government and virtues : Mercury rules the tree, therefore are its effects variable as his are. The Mulberry is of different parts; the ripe berries, by reason of their sweetness and slippery moisture, opening the body, and the unripe binding it, especially when they are dried, and then they are good to stay fluxes, lasks, and the abundance of women's courses. The bark of the root kills the broad worms in the body. The juice, or the syrup made of the juice of the berries, helps all inflammations or sores in the mouth, or throat, and palate of the mouth when it is fallen down. The juice of the leaves is a remedy against the biting of serpents, and for those that have taken aconite. The leaves beaten with vinegar, are good to lay on any place that is burnt with fire. A decoction made of the bark and leaves is good to wash the mouth and teeth when they ache. If the root be a little slit or cut, and a small hole made in the ground next thereunto, in the Harvest-time, it will give out a certain juice, which being hardened the next day, is of good use to help the tooth-ache, to dissolve knots, and purge the belly. The leaves of Mulberries are said to stay bleeding at the mouth or nose, or the bleeding of the piles, or of a wound, being bound unto the places. A branch of the tree taken when the moon is at the full, and bound to the wrists of a woman's arm, whose courses come down too much, doth stay them in a short space.
Common White Mullein has many fair, large, woolly white leaves, lying next the ground, somewhat larger than broad, pointed at the end, and as it were dented about the edges. The stalk rises up to be four or five feet high, covered over with such like leaves, but less, so that no stalk can be seen for the multitude of leaves thereon up to the flowers, which come forth on all sides of the stalk, without any branches for the most part, and are many set together in a long spike, in some of a yellow color, in others more pale, consisting of five round pointed leaves, which afterwards have small round heads, wherein is small brownish seed contained. The root is long, white, and woody, perishing after it hath borne seed.
It grows by way-sides and lanes, in many places of this land.
It flowers in July or thereabouts.
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion of Saturn. A small quantity of the root given in wine, is commended by Dioscorides, against lasks and fluxes of the belly. The decoction hereof drank, is profitable for those that are bursten, and for cramps and convulsions, and for those that are troubled with an old cough. The decoction thereof gargled, eases the pains of the tooth-ache. And the oil made by the often infusion of the flowers, is of very good effect for the piles. The decoction of the root in red wine or in water, (if there be an ague) wherein red hot steel hath been often quenched, doth stay the bloody-flux. The same also opens obstructions of the bladder and reins. A decoction of the leaves hereof, and of Sage, Marjoram, and Camomile flowers, and the places bathed therewith, that have sinews stiff with cold or cramps, doth bring them much ease and comfort. Three ounces of the distilled water of the flowers drank morning and evening for some days together, is said to be the most excellent remedy for the gout. The juice of the leaves and flowers being laid upon rough warts, as also the powder of the dried roots rubbed on, doth easily take them away, but doth no good to smooth warts. The powder of the dried flowers is an especial remedy for those that are troubled with the belly-ache, or the pains of the cholic. The decoction of the root, and so likewise of the leaves, is of great effect to dissolve the tumours, swellings, or inflammations of the throat. The seed and leaves boiled in wine, and applied, draw forth speedily thorns or splinters gotten into the flesh, ease the pains, and heal them also. The leaves bruised and wrapped in double papers, and covered with hot ashes and embers to bake a while, and then taken forth and laid warm on any blotch or boil happening in the groin or share, doth dissolve and heal them. The seed bruised and boiled in wine, and laid on any member that has been out of joint, and newly set again, takes away all swelling and pain thereof.
Our common Mustard hath large and broad rough leaves, very much jagged with uneven and unorderly gashes, somewhat like turnip leaves, but less and rougher. The stalk rises to be more than a foot high, and sometimes two feet high, being round, rough, and branches at the top, bearing such like leaves thereon as grow below, but lesser, and less divided, and divers yellow flowers one above another at the tops, after which come small rough pods, with small, lank, flat ends, wherein is contained round yellowish seed, sharp, hot, and biting upon the tongue. The root is small, long, and woody, when it bears stalks, and perishes every year.
This grows with us in gardens only, and other manured places.
It is an annual plant, flowering in July, and the seed is ripe in August.
Government and virtues : It is an excellent sauce for such whose blood wants clarifying, and for weak stomachs, being an herb of Mars, but naught for choleric people, though as good for such as are aged, or troubled with cold diseases. Aries claims something to do with it, therefore it strengthens the heart, and resists poison. Let such whose stomachs are so weak they cannot digest their meat, or appetite it, take of Mustard-seed a dram, Cinnamon as much, and having beaten them to powder, and half as much Mastich in powder, and with gum Arabic dissolved in rose-water, make it up into troches, of which they may take one of about half a dram weight an hour or two before meals; let old men and women make much of this medicine, and they will either give me thanks, or shew manifest ingratitude. Mustard seed hath the virtue of heat, discussing, ratifying, and drawing out splinters of bones, and other things of the flesh. It is of good effect to bring down women's courses, for the falling-sickness or lethargy, drowsy forgetful evil, to use it both inwardly and outwardly, to rub the nostrils, forehead and temples, to warm and quicken the spirits; for by the fierce sharpness it purges the brain by sneezing, and drawing down rheum and other viscous humours, which by their distillations upon the lungs and chest, procure coughing, and therefore, with some, honey added thereto, doth much good therein. The decoction of the seed made in wine, and drank, provokes urine, resists the force of poison, the malignity of mushrooms, and venom of scorpions, or other venomous creatures, if it be taken in time; and taken before the cold fits of agues, alters, lessens, and cures them. The seed taken either by itself, or with other things, either in an electuary or drink, doth mightily stir up bodily lust, and helps the spleen and pains in the sides, and gnawings in the bowels; and used as a gargle draws up the palate of the mouth, being fallen down; and also it dissolves the swellings about the throat, if it be outwardly applied. Being chewed in the mouth it oftentimes helps the tooth-ache. The outward application hereof upon the pained place of the sciatica, discusses the humours, and eases the pains, as also the gout, and other joint aches; and is much and often used to ease pains in the sides or loins, the shoulder, or other parts of the body, upon the plying thereof to raise blisters, and cures the disease by drawing it to the outward parts of the body. It is also used to help the falling of the hair. The seed bruised mixed with honey, and applied, or made up with wax, takes away the marks and black and blue spots of bruises, or the like, the roughness or scabbiness of the skin, as also the leprosy, and lousy evil. It helps also the crick in the neck. The distilled water of the herb, when it is in the flower, is much used to drink inwardly to help in any of the diseases aforesaid, or to wash the mouth when the palate is down, and for the disease of the throat to gargle, but outwardly also for scabs, itch, or other the like infirmities, and cleanses the face from morphew, spots, freckles, and other deformities.
This grows up usually but with one blackish green stalk, tough, easy to bend, but not to break, branched into divers parts, and sometimes with divers stalks set full of branches, whereon grow long, rough, or hard rugged leaves, very much tore or cut on the edges in many parts, some bigger, and some less, of a dirty green color. The flowers are small and yellow, that grow on the tops of the branches in long spikes, flowering by degrees; so that continuing long in flower, the stalk will have small round cods at the bottom, growing upright and close to the stalk, while the top flowers yet shew themselves, in which are contained small yellow seed, sharp and strong, as the herb is also. The root grows down slender and woody, yet abiding and springing again every year.
This grows frequently in this land, by the ways and hedge-sides, and sometimes in the open fields.
It flowers most usually about July.
Government and virtues : Mars owns this herb also. It is singularly good in all the diseases of the chest and lungs, hoarseness of voice: and by the use of the decoction thereof for a little space, those have been recovered who had utterly lost their voice, and almost their spirits also. The juice thereof made into a syrup, or licking medicine, with honey or sugar, is no less effectual for the same purpose, and for all other coughs, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The same is also profitable for those that have the jaundice, pleurisy, pains in the back and loins, and for torments in the belly, or cholic, being also used in clysters. The seed is held to be a special remedy against poison and venom. It is singularly good for the sciatica, and in joint-aches, ulcers, and cankers in the mouth, throat, or behind the ears, and no less for the hardness and swelling of the testicles, or of women's breasts.
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