Herbs & Oils
~ G ~
GALANGAL: (Alpinia officionalis or A.
galanga) Also known as Low John the Conquerer or Siamese
Ginger. Galangal has dark green, sword-shaped leaves, white flowers
with pink veins, round red seed capsules, and a rhizomous rootstalk
that smells of ginger and camphor. The rhizome has a spicy,
gingerlike flavor used in Southeast Asia soups and curries. The
young shoots and flowers are eaten raw and the flowers can be
boiled or pickled. The rhizome yields an essential oil, essence
d'Amali, used in perfumes.
Magical Uses: Use tincture for luck, money,
protection, exorcism and psychic development. Ginger can be
GARDENIA: (Gardenia jasmenoides) This
evergreen shrub or small tree has exquisitely scented white double
flowers and orange-red fruits, with glossy, dark green
Parts Used: Flower
Magical Uses: Health, Healing; Love; Peace;
Psychic Awareness; Spirituality. Place fresh blossoms in sick rooms
or on healing altars to aid the process. Add dried petals to
healing mixtures. Dried gardenia is scattered around a room to
induce peaceful vibrations. Add to Moon incenses. Gardenias are
used in love spells, and to attract good spirits during rituals.
They have very high spiritual vibrations.
GARLIC: (Allium sativum) Garlic has a
clustered bulb made up of several bulblets (cloves) enclosed in a
papery tunic. It has a single stem with long, thin leaves and an
ubmel of edible, rose-tinted white summer flowers and a bulb whose
flavor increases the more it is sliced or crushed. Cooking with
fresh ginger prevents the slight nausea some experience with
Garlic. Garlic repels insects and can be applied to their bites and
stings. The cloves add flavor to savory dishes, especially in hot
countries where the plants develop the best flavor. Garlic purifies
the blood, helps control acne, and reduces blood pressure,
cholesterol, and clotting. Tests confirm antibiotic activity
against samples of candida, cholora, staphylococcus, salmonella,
dysentery, and typhus: and a mild antifungal action. Garlic clears
phlegm, thus providing treatment for colds, bronchitis, pulmonary
tuberculosis, and whooping cough. New tests suggest it has a role
in treating lead poisoning, some carcinomas and diabetes. It's said
that growing garlic around potatoes reduces potato
bulb is one of the great herbal "polycrests" - herbs of many uses.
Fresh garlic is a preventative and a cure for intestinal worms. It
is generally taken in one-teaspoon doses, three to six times a day,
with some grated fresh ginger root. Garlic is a natural antibiotic
for internal and external use. Mash it and use as a wound dressing.
For a sore throat, lightly roast unpeeled cloves in a dry frying
pan, peel them when they grow soft, and eat them. For pinworms, a
slightly smashed fresh clove can be inserted into the rectum with
olive oil. For vaginal infections, smash a few cloves and wrap them
in cheese cloth. Insert directly into the vagina. Fresh raw garlic
is more effective than the powdered and extracted forms available
for sale. Garlic has been shown to be more effective than
tetracycline as an antibiotic.
CAUTION: Pregnant women and persons with "hot and
fiery" temperaments should avoid overuse of
Parts Used: Bulb
Magical Uses: In the home, braids of garlic guard
against evil, repel thieves, and turn away the envious. And of
course, garlic protects against vampires. It is a very effective
blessing for a new home. Garlic was eaten on festival days to
Hecate and was left at a crossroads as a sacrifice in Her name.
Garlic was once worn to guard against the plague. It is still used
to absorb diseases. Simply rub fesh, peeled cloves of garlic onto
the afflicted part of the body tehn throw into running water. An
old spell utilized garlic in protecting against hepatitis. To do
this, simply wear thirteen cloves of garlic at the end of a cord
around the neck for thirteen days. On the last day, in the middle
of the night, walk to a corner of an intersection of two streets,
remove the necklace, throw it behind you and run home without
also extemely protective. Sailors carry some while on board ship to
protect against its wrecking. Soldiers wore garlic as a defense in
the middle ages, while Roman soldiers ate it to give them
garlic guards against foul weather (mountaineers wear it) as well
as monsters, and it also shields you from the blows of your
spirits are about, bite into garlic to send them away, or sprinkle
powdered garlic on the floor (if you don't mind smelling it for
some time.) Garlic is placed beneath children's pillows to protect
them while asleep, and brides once carried a clove of garlic in the
pocket for good luck and to keep evil far from her on her big day.
Rubbed onto pots and pans before cooking, it removes negative
vibrations which might otherwise contaminate the food.
eaten, garlic acts as a lust-inducer, and when a magnet or
lodestone is rubbed with garlic it loses its magical
GINGER: (Zingiber officionale) Ginger has
an aromatic rhizome, erect stems of two ranks, lance-shaped leaves,
and spikes of white flowers. The rhizome is used fresh, dried,
pickled and preserved. Essential to Asian dishes. Crystalized or
infused Ginger suppresses nausea. Ginger tea eases indigestion and
flatulence, and reduces fever.
is warming to the body, is slightly antiseptic, and promotes
internal secretions. Chop about two inches of the fresh root, cover
with one cup of water, and simmer for about twenty minute, or
one-half teaspoon of the powdered root can be simmered in one cup
of water. Add lemon juice, honey, and a slight pinch of cayenne. A
few teaspoons of brandy will make and even more effective remedy
for colds. This preparation treats fevers, chest colds, and flu. A
bath or a foot-soak in hot ginger tea is also beneficial. The tea
without additives helps indigestion, colic, diarrhea, and alcoholic
gastritis. Dried ginger in capsules or in juice is taken to avoid
carsickness and seasickness. Use about one half teaspoon of the
powder. It works well for pets and children!
Parts Used: Root
Magical Uses: Powerfully spicy, Ginger essential
oil is useful in sexuality; love; courage; and money attracting
blends. Eating Ginger before performing spells will lend them
power, since you have been "heated up" by the Ginger; this is
especially true of love spells. Ginger is also used in Success
spells, or to ensure the success of a magical
Pacific the Dobu islanders make much use of ginger in their magic.
They chew it and spit it at the "seat" of an illness to cure it,
and also spit chewed ginger at an oncoming storm, while at sea, to
Aromatherapy Uses Arthritis; Fatigue; Muscular
Aches and Pains; Poor Circulation; Rheumatism; Sprains; Strains;
Catarrh; Congestion; Coughs; Sinusitis; Sore Throat; Diarrhea;
Colic; Cramp; Flatulence; Indigestion; Loss of Appetite; Nausea;
Travel Sickness; Chills; Colds; Flu; Fever; Infectious Disease;
Debility; Nervous Exhaustion. Key Qualities: Tonic; Aphrodisiac;
Stimulating; Warming; Cephalic; Comforting
GINSENG: Oriental(Panax ginseng) or North
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) roots older than two years
are a famous yang stimulant (North American less so than Oriental).
Rather than treating specific problems, Ginseng strengthens the
body by increasing the efficiency of the endocrine, metabolic,
circulatory, and digestive systems. It reduces physical, mental,
and emotional stress by increasing oxygen-carrying red blood cells
and immune strengthening white blood cells and eliminating toxins.
Warning-Ginseng should not be taken continuously.
Parts Used: Root
Magical Uses: Lust; Creative Work; Love; Wishes;
Beauty; Protection; Can be substituted for Mandrake. The root is
carries to attract love, as well as to guard one's health, to draw
money, and to ensure sexual potency. Ginseng will also bring beauty
to all who carry it.
Alpinia officinarum (HANCE.)
N.O. Zingaberaceae or Scilaminae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Galanga. China Root. India Root. East India
Catarrh Root. Lesser Galangal. Rhizoma Galangae. Gargaut. Colic
Root. Kaempferia Galanga.
---Habitat---China (Hainan Island), Java.
genus Alpinia was named by Plumier after Prospero Alpino, a famous
Italian botanist of the early seventeenth century. The name
Galangal is derived from theArabic Khalanjan, perhaps a perversion
of a Chinese word meaning 'mild ginger.'
has been known in Europe for seven centuries longer than its
botanical origin, for it was only recognized in 1870, when
specimens were examined that had been found near Tung-sai, in the
extreme south of China, and later, on the island of Hainan, just
opposite. The name of Alpinia officinarum was given to the herb, as
the source of Lesser Galangal. The Greater Galangal is a native of
Java (A. Galanga or Maranta Galanga), and is much larger, of an
orange-brown colour, with a feebler taste and odour. It is
occasionally seen at London drug sales, but is scarcely ever used.
There is also a resemblance to A. calcarata.The herb grows to a
height of about 5 feet, the leaves being long, rather narrow
blades, and the flowers, of curious formation, growing in a simple,
terminal spike, the petals white, with deep-red veining
distinguishing the lippetal.
branched pieces of rhizome are from 1 1/2 to 3 inches in length,
and seldom more than 3/4 inch thick. They are cut while fresh, and
the pieces are usually cylindrical, marked at short intervals by
narrow, whitish, somewhat raised rings, which are the scars left by
former leaves. They are dark reddish-brown externally, and the
section shows a dark centre surrounded by a wider, paler layer
which becomes darker in drying. Their odour is aromatic, and their
taste pungent and spicy. They are tough and difficult to break, the
fracture being granular, with small, ligneous fibres interspersed
throughout one side. The drug is exported, chiefly from Shanghai,
in bales made of split cane, plaited, and bound round with cane.
The root has been used in Europe as a spice for over a thousand
years, having probably been introduced by Arabian or Greek
physicians, but it has now largely gone out of use except in Russia
and India. Closely resembling ginger, it is used in Russia for
flavouring vinegar and the liqueur 'nastoika': it is a favourite
spice and medicine in Lithuania and Esthonia. Tartars prepare a
kind of tea that contains it, and it is used by brewers. The
reddishbrown powder is used as snuff, and in India the oil is
valued in perfumery.
---Constituents---The root contains a volatile oil, resin,
galangol, kaempferid, galangin and alpinin, starch, etc. The active
principles are the volatile oil and acrid resin. Galangin is
dioxyflavanol, and has been obtained synthetically. Alcohol freely
extracts all the properties, and for the fluid extract there should
be no admixture of water or glycerin.
and Uses---Stimulant and carminative. It is especially useful in
flatulence, dyspepsia, vomiting and sickness at stomach, being
recommended as a remedy for sea-sickness. It tones up the tissues
and is sometimes prescribed in fever. Homoeopaths use it as a
stimulant. Galangal is used in cattle medicine, and the Arabs use
it to make their horses fiery. It is included in several compound
preparations, but is not now often employed alone.
is used as a snuff for catarrh.
to 30 grains in substance, and double in infusion. Fluid extract,
30 to 60 minims.
Ferula Galbaniflua (BOISS. ET BUHSE)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosage
---Habitat---Persia; also Cape of Good Hope.
---Description---There are two kinds of Galbanum in commerce,
viz. Levant Galbanurn and the Persian Galbanum. The latter is
softer than the Levant, has a more terebinthic odour, has the smell
and consistency of Venice turpentine, and contains fruit and
fragments of stalks in place of bits of sliced roots. Several
species of Ferula are used as a source for commercial Galbanum, but
the official plant is Ferula galbaniflua, a perennial, with smooth
stem, and shining leaflets, ovate, wedge-shaped, acute and finely
serrated on the edges. The umbels of flowers are few, the seeds
plant abounds with a milky juice, which oozes from the joints of
old plants, and exudes and hardens from the base of the stem after
it has been cut down, then is finally obtained by incisions made in
the root. The juice from the root soon hardens and forms the tears
of the Galbanum of Commerce. The best tears are palish externally
and about the size of a hazel nut and when broken open are composed
of clear white tears. The taste is unpleasant, bitterish, acrid,
with a strong, peculiar, somewhat aromatic smell. The common kind
is an agglutinated mass, showing reddish and white tears, this is
of the consistency of firm wax, and can easily be torn to pieces
and softened by heat; when cold it is brittle, and mixed with seeds
and leaves, when imported in lumps it is often considered
preferable to the tears as it contains more volatile oil. Distilled
with water it yields a quantity of essential oil, about 6 drachms,
to 1 lb. of gum. It was well known to the ancients and Pliny called
it 'bubonion.' Galbanum under dry distillation yields a thick oil
of a bluish colour, which after purification becomes the blue
colour of the oil obtained from the flowers of Matricaria
---Constituents---Gum resin, mineral constituents, volatile
oil, umbelliferine, galbaresino-tannol.
and Uses---Stimulant, expectorant in chronic bronchitis.
Antispasmodic and considered an intermediate between ammoniac and
asafoetida for relieving the air passages, in pill form it is
specially good, in some forms of hysteria, and used externally as a
plaster for inflammatory swellings.
Dosage---In pill form 10 to 20 grains, or as an emulsion, mixed
with gum, sugar and water.
species---In Beyrout the people use the root of F. Hermonic,
commonly known as Zalou root, as an aphrodisiac.
Myrica Gale (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Bayberry. English Bog Myrtle. Dutch Myrtle. Herba
Myrti Rabanitini. Gale palustris (Chevalier).
---Habitat---Higher latitudes of Northern Hemisphere; Great
Britain, especially in the north; abundant on the Scottish moors
badge of the Campbells. A deciduous, bushy shrub, growing to 4 feet
high. The wood and leaves fragrant when bruised. The leaves, not
unlike a willow or myrtle, are oblanceolate, tapering entire at the
base, toothed and broadest at the apex, the upper side dark glossy
green, the underside paler and slightly downy, under which are a
few shining glands. The male plant produces flowers in May and June
in crowded, stalkless catkins. The fruit catkins about the same
size, but thicker, are closely-set, resinous nutlets, the flowers
being borne on the bare wood of one year's growth. The sexes are on
different plants. The leaves are often dried to perfume linen,
etc., their odour being very fragrant, but the taste bitter and
astringent. The branches have been used as a substitute for hops in
Yorkshire and put into a beer called there 'Gale Beer.' It is
extremely good to allay thirst. The catkins, or cones, boiled in
water, give a scum beeswax, which is utilized to make candles. The
bark is used to tan calfskins; if gathered in autumn, it will dye
wool a good yellow colour and is used for this purpose both in
Sweden and Wales. The Swedes use it in strong decoction to kill
insects, vermin and to cure the itch. The dried berries are put
into broth and used as spice. In China, the leaves are infused like
tea, and used as a stomachic and cordial.
---Constituents---Said to contain a poisonous volatile oil and
to have properties similar to those of Myrica
and Uses---The leaves have been used in France as an emmenagogue
var. tomentosa. The young wood and leaves on both sides are very
downy and specially so on the underside.
Garcinia Hanburyii (HOOK)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Gutta gamba. Gummigutta. Tom Rong. Gambodia.
---Habitat---Siam, Southern Cochin-China, Cambodia,
commercial Gamboge is obtained from several varieties, though
Garcinia Hanburyii is the official plant, an almost similar gum is
obtained from Hypericum (St. Johnswort). The Gamboge tree grows to
a height of 50 feet, with a diameter of 12 inches, and the gum
resin is extracted by incisions or by breaking off the leaves and
shoots of the trees, the juice which is a milky yellow resinous
gum, resides in the ducts of the bark and is gatheredin vessels,
and left to thicken and become hardened. Pipe Gamboge is obtained
by letting the juice run into hollowed bamboos, and when congealed
the bamboo is broken away from it. The trees must be ten years old
before they are tapped, and the gum is collected in the rainy
season from June to October. The term 'Gummi Gutta,' by which
Gamboge is generally known, is derived from the method of
extracting it indrops. Gamboge was first introduced into England by
the Dutch about the middle of the seventeenth century; it is highly
esteemed as a pigment, owing to the brilliancy of its orange
colour. It has no odour, and little taste, but if held in the mouth
a short time it gives an acrid sensation. The medicinal properties
of Gamboge are thought to be contained in the resin. It is official
in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
---Constituents---Resin gum, vegetable waste, garonolic acids;
the gum is analogous to gum acacia.
and Uses---A very powerful drastic hydragogue, cathartic, very
useful in dropsical conditions and to lower blood pressure, where
there is cerebral congestion. A full dose is rarely given alone, as
it causes vomiting, nausea and griping, and a dose of 1 drachm has
been known to cause death. It is usually combined with other
purgatives which it strengthens. A safe dose is from 2 to 6 grains,
but in the treatment of tapeworm the dose is often as much as 10
grains. It provides copious watery evacuations with little pain,
but must be used with caution. Dose, 2 to 5 grains in an emulsion
or in an alkaline solution.
G. Morella is the Indian Gamboge; a gum resin is obtained from it;
it has a similar action to Gamboge and is used as its equivalent in
India and Eastern Colonies. Dose, 1/2 to 2 grains.
Allium sativum (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonym---Poor Man's Treacle.
Garlic a member of the same group of plants as the Onion, is of
such antiquity as a cultivated plant, that it is difficult with any
certainty to trace the country of its origin. De Candolle, in his
treatise on the Origin of Cultivated Plants, considered that it was
apparently indigenous to the southwest of Siberia, whence it spread
to southern Europe, where it has become naturalized, and is said to
be found wild in Sicily. It is widely cultivated in the Latin
countries bordering on the Mediterranean. Dumas has described the
air of Provence as being 'particularly perfumed by the refined
essence of this mystically attractive bulb.'
leaves are long, narrow and flat like grass. The bulb (the only
part eaten) is of a compound nature, consisting of numerous
bulblets, known technically as 'cloves,' grouped together between
the membraneous scales and enclosed within a whitish skin, which
holds them as in a sac.
flowers are placed at the end of a stalk rising direct from the
bulb and are whitish, grouped together in a globular head, or
umbel, with an enclosing kind of leaf or spathae, and among them
are small bulbils.
the plant running to leaf, Pliny (Natural History, XIX, 34) advised
bending the stalk downward and covering it with earth, seeding, he
observed, may be prevented by twisting the stalk.
England, Garlic, apart from medicinal purposes, is seldom used
except as a seasoning, but in the southern counties of Europe it is
a common ingredient in dishes, and is largely consumed by the
agricultural population. From the earliest times, indeed, Garlichas
been used as an article of diet.
was placed by the ancient Greeks (Theophrastus relates) on the
piles of stones at cross-roads as a supper for Hecate, and
according to Pliny garlic and onion were invocated as deities by
the Egyptians at the taking of oaths.
largely consumed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as we may read
in Virgil's Eclogues. Horace, however, records his detestation of
Garlic, the smell of which, even in his days (as much later in
Shakespeare's time), was accounted a sign of vulgarity. He calls it
'more poisonous than hemlock,' and relates how he was made ill by
eating it at the table of Maecenas. Among the ancient Greeks,
persons who partook of it were not allowed to enter the temples of
Cybele. Homer, however, tells us that it was to the virtues of the
'Yellow Garlic' that Ulysses owed his escape from being changed by
Circe into a pig, like each of his companions.
makes Garlic part of the entertainment which Nestor served up to
his guest Machaon.
There is a Mohammedan legend
'when Satan stepped out from the Garden of
Eden after the fall of man, Garlick sprang up from the spot where
he placed his left foot, and Onion from that where his right foot
There is a
curious superstition in some parts of Europe, that if a morsel of
the bulb be chewed by a man running a race it will prevent his
competitors from getting ahead of him, and Hungarian jockeys will
sometimes fasten a clove of Garlic to the bits of their horses in
the belief that any other racers running close to those thus
baited, will fall back the instant they smell the offensive
the old writers praise Garlic as a medicine, though others,
including Gerard, are sceptical as to its powers. Pliny gives an
exceedingly long list of complaints, in which it was considered
beneficial, and Galen eulogizes it as the rustics' Theriac, or
Heal-All. One of its older popular names in this country was 'Poor
Man's Treacle,' meaning theriac, in which sense we find it in
Chaucer and many old writers.
A writer in the twelfth century -
Alexander Neckam - recommends it as a palliative for the heat of
the sun in field labour, and in a book of travel, written by
Mountstuart Elphinstone about 100 years ago, he says
'the people in places where the Simoon is
frequent eat Garlic and rub their lips and noses with it when they
go out in the heat of the summer to prevent their suffering from
mentioned in several Old English vocabularies of plants from the
tenth to the fifteenth centuries, and is described by the
herbalists of the sixteenth century from Turner (1548) onwards. It
is stated to have been grown in England before the year 1540. In
Cole's Art of Simpling we are told that cocks which have been fed
on Garlic are 'most stout to fight, and 50 are Horses': and that if
a garden is infested with moles, Garlic or leeks will make them
'leap out of the ground presently.'
is of Anglo-Saxon origin, being derived from gar (a spear) and lac
(a plant), in reference to the shape of its leaves.
ground should be prepared in a similar manner as for the
may be sandy, loam or clay, though Garlic flourishes best in a
rich, moist, sandy soil. Dig over well, freeing the ground from all
lumps and dig some lime into it. Tread firmly. Divide the bulbs
into their component 'cloves' - each fair-sized bulb will divide
into ten or twelve cloves - and with a dibber put in the cloves
separately, about 2 inches deep and about 6 inches apart, leaving
about 1 foot between the rows. It is well to give a dressing of
beds should be in a sunny spot. They must be kept thoroughly free
from weeds and the soil gathered up round the roots with a Dutch
hoe from time to time.
planted early in the spring, in February or March, the bulbs should
be ready for lifting in August, when the leaves will be beginning
to wither. Should the summer have been wet and cold, they may
probably not be ready till nearly the middle of
The use of
Garlic as an antiseptic was in great demand during the past war. In
1916 the Government asked for tons of the bulbs, offering 1s. per
lb. for as much as could be produced. Each pound generally
represents about 20 bulbs, and 5 lb. divided up into cloves and
planted, will yield about 38 lb. at the end of the growing season,
so it will prove a remunerative crop.
The following appeared in the Morning Post
of December 12, 1922:
'A Dog's Recovery
'Mr. W. H. Butlin, Tiptree, records the
following experience: A fox-terrier, aged 14 years, appeared to be
developing rapidly a pitiable condition, with a swollen neck and an
ugly intractable sore at the root of the tail, and dull, coarse
coat shedding abundantly. I administered "Yadil Antiseptic" in his
drinking water and in less than a month the dog became perfectly
sound and well, a mirabile dictu, his coat became firm, soft, and
glossy.' (Yadil is a patent medicine said to contain
'In cases of arterial tension, MM.
Chailley-Bert, Cooper, and Debrey, at the Society of Biology,
recommended about 30 drops of alcoholic extract as a remedy. To be
administered by the mouth or intravenously.'
only the cultivated Garlic is utilized medicinally, all of the
other species have similar properties in a greater or less degree.
Several of the species of Allium are natives of this
GARLIC (A. vineale) is widely distributed and fairly common in many
districts, but the bulbs are very small and the labour of digging
them would be great. It is frequent in pastures and communicates
its rank taste to mike and butter, when eaten by cows.
NOTE.--Professor Henslow calls A. vineale the Field Garlic, and
A. oleraceum the Crow Garlic.
(A. ursinum) grows in woods and has a very acrid taste and smell,
but it also has very small bulbs, which would hardly render it of
also very generally known as 'Broad-leaved Garlic.'
GARLIC (A. oleraceum) is rather a rare plant. Both this and the
Crow Garlic have, however, occasionally been employed as potherbs
or for flavouring. It is an old country notion that if crows eat
Crow Garlic, itstupefies them.
the wild Wood Garlic, but for its evil smell would rank among the
most beautiful of our British plants. Its broad leaves are very
similar to those of the Lily-of-the-Valley, and its star-like
flowers are a dazzling white, but its odour is too strong to admit
of it being picked for its beauty, and many woods, especially in
the Cotswold Hills, are spots to be avoided when it is in flower,
being so closely carpeted with the plants that every step taken
brings out the offensive odour.
many species of Allium grown in the garden, the flowers of some of
which are even sweet-smelling (as A. odorum and A. fragrans), but
they are the exceptions, and even these have the Garlic scent in
their leaves and roots.
---Constituents---The active properties of Garlic depend on a
pungent, volatile, essentialoil, which may readily be obtained by
distillation with water. It is a sulphide of the radical Allyl,
present in all the onion family. This oil is rich in sulphur, but
contains no oxygen. The pecular penetrating odour of Garlic is due
to this intensely smelling sulphuret of allyl, and is so diffusive
that even when the bulb is applied to the soles of the feet, its
odour is exhaled by the lungs.
and Uses---Diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant. Many
marvellous effects and healing powers have been ascribed to Garlic.
It possesses stimulant and stomachic properties in addition to its
antiseptic, its use has long been recognized. In the late war it
was widely employed in the control of suppuration in wounds. The
raw juice is expressed, diluted with water, and put on swabs of
sterilized Sphagnum moss, which are applied to the wound. Where
this treatment has been given, it has been proved that there have
been no septic results, and the lives of thousands of men have been
saved by its use.
sometimes externally applied in ointments and lotions, and as an
antiseptic, to disperse hard swellings, also pounded and employed
as a poultice for scrofulous sores. It is said to prevent anthrax
in cattle, being largely used for the purpose.
days, Garlic was employed as a specific for leprosy. It was also
believed that it had most beneficial results in cases of smallpox,
if cut small and applied to the soles of the feet in a linen cloth,
the principal ingredient in the 'Four Thieves' Vinegar,' which was
adapted so successfully at Marseilles for protection against the
plague when it prevailed there in 1722. This originated, it is
said, with four thieves who confessed, that whilst protected by the
liberal use of aromatic vinegar during the plague, they plundered
the dead bodies of its victims with complete security.
stated that during an outbreak of infectious fever in certain poor
quarters of London, early last century, the French priests who
constantly used Garlic in all their dishes, visited the worst cases
with impunity, whilst the English clergy caught the infection, and
in many instances fell victims to the disease.
Garlic is an invaluable medicine for asthma, hoarseness, coughs,
difficulty of breathing, and most other disorders of the lungs,
being of particular virtue in chronic bronchitis, on account of its
powers of promoting expectoration. It is made by pouring a quart of
water, boiled hot, upon a pound of the fresh root, cut into slices,
and allowed to stand in a closed vessel for twelve hours, sugar
then being added to make it of the consistency of syrup. Vinegar
and honey greatly improve this syrup as a medicine. A little
caraway and sweet fennel seed bruised and boiled for a short time
in the vinegar before it is added to the Garlic, will cover the
pungent smell of the latter.
for asthma, that was formerly most popular, is a syrup of Garlic,
made by boiling the bulbs till soft and adding an equal quantity of
vinegar to the water in which they have been boiled, and then
sugared and boiled down to a syrup. The syrup is then poured over
the boiled bulbs, which have been allowed to dry meanwhile, and
kept in a jar. Each morning a bulb or two is to be taken, with a
spoonful of the syrup.
by melting 1 1/2 OZ. of lump sugar in 1 OZ. of the raw expressed
juice may be given to children in cases of coughs without
successful treatment of tubercular consumption by Garlic has been
recorded, the freshly expressed juice, diluted with equal
quantities of water, or dilute spirit of wine, being inhaled
and mixed with lard, it has been proved to relieve whooping-cough
if rubbed on the chest and between the
infusion of the bruised bulbs, given before and after every meal,
has been considered of good effect in epilepsy.
A clove or
two of Garlic, pounded with honey and taken two or three nights
successively, is good in rheumatism.
also been employed with advantage in dropsy, removing the water
which may already have collected and preventing its future
accumulation. It is stated that some dropsies have been cured by it
into the nostrils, it will revive a hysterical sufferer. Amongst
physiological results, it is reported that Garlic makes the eye
retina more sensitive and less able to bear strong
of Garlic, and milk of Garlic made by boiling the bruised bulbs in
milk is used as a vermifuge.
---Preparations---Juice, 10 to 30 drops. Syrup, 1 drachm.
Tincture, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Garlic - made by macerating three or four bulbs in a quart of proof
spirit is a good stimulant lotion for baldness of the
cookery it is a great aid to digestion, and keeps the coats of the
stomach healthy. For this reason, essential oil is made from it and
is used in the form of pills.
If a very
small piece is chopped fine and put into chicken's food daily, it
is a sure preventative of the gapes. Pullets will lay finer eggs by
having garlic in their food before they start laying, but when they
commence to lay it must be stopped, otherwise it will flavour the
Beeton (in an old edition of her Household Management, 1866) gives
the following recipe for making 'Bengal MangoChutney,' which she
states was given by a native to an English lady who had long been a
resident in India, and who since her return to England had become
quite celebrated amongst her friends for the excellence of this
Ingredients. 1 1/2 lb. moist sugar, 3/4 lb. salt, 1/4 lb.
Garlic, 1/4 lb. onions, 3/4 lb. powdered ginger, 1/4 lb. dried
chillies, 3/4 lb. dried mustard-seed, 3/4 lb. stoned raisins, 2
bottles of best vinegar, 30 large, unripe, sour
sugar must be made into syrup; the Garlic, onions and ginger be
finely pounded in a mortar; the mustard-seed be washed in cold
vinegar and dried in the sun; the apples be peeled, cored and
sliced, and boiled in a bottle and a half of the vinegar. When all
this is done, and the apples are quite cold, put them into a large
pan and gradually mix the whole of the rest of the ingredients,
including the remaining half-bottle of vinegar. It must be well
stirred until the whole is thoroughly blended, and then put into
bottles for use. Tie a piece of wet bladder over the mouths of the
bottles, after which they are well corked. This chutney is very
superior to any which can be bought, and one trial will prove it to
Shorter's Medical Dictionary, Poisons &
Gelsemium nitidum (MICH.)
Description of Drug
Poisoning by Gelsemium
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Yellow Jasmine. Gelsemium Sempervirens (Pers.).
False Jasmine. Wild Woodbine. Carolina Jasmine.
---Habitat---Gelsemium is one of the most beautiful native
plants of North America, occurring in rich, moist soils, by the
sides of streams, along the seacoast from Virginia to the south of
Florida. extending into Mexico.
important drug Gelsemium, official in the principal Pharmacopoeias,
is composed of the dried rhizome and root of Gelsemium nitidum
(Michaux), a climbing plant growing in the southern States of North
America and there known as Yellow Jasmine, though it is in no way
related to the Jasmines, and is best distinguished as Caroline
Jasmine, as it belongs to the Loganiaceae, an order that forms a
connecting link between the orders Gentianaceae, Apocynaceae,
Scrophulariaceae and Rubiaceae. The plant is not to be confounded
with the true Yellow Jasmine (Jasminum odoratissimum), of Madeira,
which is often planted in the southern States for the sake of its
fragrant flowers and has also been known there under the name of
Gelseminum; this has only two stamens, while Gelsemium has
woody, twining stem often attains great height, its growth
depending upon its chosen support, ascending lofty trees and
forming festoons from one tree to another. It contains a milky
juice and bears opposite, shining and evergreen lanceolate leaves
and axillary clusters of from one to five large, funnel-shaped,
very fragrant yellow flowers, which during its flowering season, in
early spring, scent the atmosphere with their delicious odour. The
fruit is composed of two separable, jointed pods containing
numerous, flat-winged seeds.
often runs underground for a considerable distance, and these
portions (the rhizome) are used indiscriminately with the roots in
medicine, and exported from the United States in
was first described in 1640 by John Parkinson, who grew it in his
garden from seed sent by Tradescant from Virginia; at the present
time it is but rarely seen, even in botanic gardens, in Great
Britain, and specimens grown at Kew have not flowered.
the Drug---The drug in commerce mostly consists of the
undergroundstem or rhizome, with occasional pieces of the root. The
rhizome is easily distinguished by occurring in nearly straight
pieces, about 6 to 8 inches long, and 1/4 to 3/4 inch in diameter,
having a small dark pith and a purplish-brown, longitudinally
fissured bark. The root is smaller, tortuous, and of a uniform
yellowish-brown colour, finely wrinkled on the
rhizome and root in transverse section exhibit a distinctly radiate
appearance, the thin cortex or bark enclosing a large, pale,
yellowish-white wood, which consists of narrow bundles with small
pores, alternating with straight, whitish, medullary rays about six
or eight cells in thickness. In the case of the rhizome, a small
pith, frequently divided into four nearly equal parts, is also
present, particularly in smaller and younger pieces.
is hard and woody, breaking with an irregular splintery fracture,
and frequently exhibits silky fibres in the bast, which are
isolated, or occur in groups of two or three and form an
interrupted ring, whereas in the aerial stem, they are grouped in
has a bitter taste, due to the presence of alkaloids, which occur
chiefly in the bark. The slight aromatic odour is probably due to
the resin in the drug.
---Collection---Adulterations. The drug is commonly collected
in the autumn and dried.Though consisting usually of the dried
rhizomes with only the larger roots attached, sometimes smaller
roots are present, and it is often adulterated with the aerial
portions of the stem, which can be easily detected by the thinness
and dark-purplish colour of the latter. It is stated to be
destitute of alkaloid and therefore of no medicinal
roots of Jasmine, especially those of Jasminum fruticans, are
sometimes intermixed, and can be distinguished by the absence of
indurated pith cells, which occur in Gelsemium, by the abundance of
thin-walled starch cells in the pith and in the medullary ray cells
(those of Gelsemium being thickwalled and destitute of starch), and
by the bast fibres round the sieve tubes.
---Constituents---Gelsemium contains two potent alkaloids,
Gelseminine and Gelsemine.
Gelseminine is a yellowish, bitter andpoisonous amorphous
alkaloid, readily soluble in ether and alcohol, forming amorphous
alkaloid Gelsemine is colourless, odourless, intensely bitter and
forms crystalline salts. It is only sparingly soluble inwater, but
readily forms a hydrochloride, which is completely so. This
alkaloid is not to be confounded with the resinoid known as
'Gelsemin,' an eclectic remedy, a mixture of substances obtained by
evaporating an alcoholic extract of Gelsemium to
rhizome also contains Gelsemic acid a crystalline substance which
exhibits an intense bluish-green fluorescence in alkaline solution;
it is probably identical with methylaesculatin or chrysatropic acid
found in Belladonna root.
also present in the root 6 per cent of a volatile oil, 4 per cent
of resin and starch.
Gelsemium---The drug is a powerful spinal depressant; its most
marked action being on the anterior cornus of grey matter in the
kills by its action on the respiratory centre of the medulla
oblongata. Shortly after the administration of even a moderate
dose, the respiration is slowed and is ultimately arrested, this
being the cause of death.
doses of Gelsemium produce a sensation of languor, relaxation and
muscular weakness, which may be followed by paralysis if the dose
is sufficiently large. The face becomes anxious, the temperature
subnormal, the skin cold and clammy and the pulse rapid and feeble.
Dropping of the upper eyelid and lower jaw, internal squint, double
vision and dilatation of the pupil are prominent symptoms. The
respiration becomes slow and feeble, shallow and irregular, and
death occurs from centric respiratory failure, the heart stopping
almost simultaneously. Consciousness is usually preserved until
late in the poisoning, but may be lost soon after the ingestion of
a fatal dose. The effects usually begin in half an hour, but
sometimes almost immediately. Death has occurred at periods varying
from 1 to 7 1/2 hours.
treatment of Gelsemium poisoning consists in the prompt evacuation
of the stomach by an emetic, if the patient's condition permits;
and secondly, and equally important, artificial respiration, aided
by the early administration, subcutaneously, of ammonia,
strychnine, atropine or digitalis.
species, G. elegans (Benth.) of Upper Burma, is used in China as a
criminal poison, its effects are very rapid.
and Uses---Antispasmodic, sedative, febrifuge,
medical history of the plant is quite modern. It is stated to have
been brought into notice by a Mississippi planter, for whom, in his
illness, the root was gathered in mistake for that of another
plant. After partaking of an infusion, serious symptoms arose, but
when, contrary to expectations, he recovered, it was clear that the
attack of bilious fever from which he had been suffering had
disappeared. This accidental error led to the preparation from the
plant of a proprietary nostrum called the 'Electric Febrifuge.'
Later, in 1849, Dr. Porcher, of South Carolina, brought Gelsemium
to the notice of the American Medical Association. Dr. Henry, in
1852, and after him many others, made provings of it the chief
being that of Dr. E. M. Hale, whose Monograph on Gelsemium was an
efficient help to the true knowledge of the new American
America, it was formerly extensively used as an arterial sedative
and febrifuge in various fevers, more especially those of an
intermittent character, but now it is considered probably of little
use for this purpose, for it has no action on the skin and no
marked action on the alimentary or circulatory system.
been recommended and found useful in the treatment of spasmodic
disorders, such as asthma and whooping cough, spasmodic croup and
other conditions depending upon localized muscular spasm. In
convulsions, its effects have been very satisfactory.
It is, at
present, mainly used in the treatment of neuralgic pains,
especially those involving the facial nerves, particularly when
arising from decaying teeth.
It is said
it will suspend and hold in check muscular irritability and nervous
excitement with more force and power than any known remedy. While
it relaxes all the muscles, it relieves, by its action on the
general system, all sense of pain.
is also said to be most useful in the headache and sleeplessness of
the drunkard and in sick headache.
been used in dysmenorrhoea, hysteria, chorea and epilepsy, and the
tincture has been found efficacious in cases of retention of
recommend its use in acute rheumatism and pleurisy, in pneumonia
and in bronchitis, and it has been advocated, though not accepted
by all authorities, as of avail in the early stages of typhoid
Teucrium scorodonia (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Wood Sage. Large-leaved Germander. Hind Heal.
Ambroise. Garlic Sage.
---Habitat---Sage-leaved Germander (Teucrium scorodonia) is a
common woodland plant in healthy districts. It is a native of
Europe and Morocco, found in woody and hilly situations among
bushes and under hedges, where the soil is dry and stony. It is
frequent in such places in most parts of Great Britain, flowering
from July to September.
roots are perennial and creeping, the stems square, a foot or two
in height, of a shrubby character, with opposite greyish-green,
sage-like leaves, in form somewhat oblong heart-shaped, the edges
coarsely toothed, very much wrinkled in texture like those of the
Sage, hence its familiar names, Wood Sage and Sage
plant is softly hairy or pubescent. The small labiate flowers are
in onesided spike-like clusters, the corollas greenish-yellow in
colour, with four stamens, which have yellow anthers, and very
noticeable purple and hairy filaments. The terminal flowering spike
is about as long again as those that spring laterally below it from
the axils of the uppermost pair of leaves.
generic name of Teucrium was bestowed by Linnaeus, it has been
suggested, from a belief that this plant is identical with the
plant that Dioscorides says was first used medicinally by an
ancient king of Troy, named Teucer, but it is also said that
Linnaeus named the genus after a Dr. Teucer, a medical
specific name, scorodonia, is derived from the Greek word for
Garlic, and does not appear to be particularly appropriate to this
been popularly called ' Hind Heal,' from a theory that the hind
made use of it when sick or wounded, and was probably the same herb
as Elaphoboscum, the Dittany taken by harts in Crete.
and smell, the species resembles Hops. It is called 'Ambroise' in
Jersey, and used there and in some other districts as a substitute
for hops. It is said that when this herb is boiled in wort the beer
becomes clear sooner than when hops are made use of, but that it is
apt to give the liquor too much colour.
taste is due to the presence of a peculiar tonic principle found in
all the species of this genus.
about 100 species of Teucrium widely dispersed throughout the
world, but chiefly abounding in the northern temperate and
subtropical regions of the Eastern Hemisphere. Of the three other
British species besides the Wood Sage, two have been used
medicinally, T. Chamaedrys (Wall Germander), a famous old gout
medicine, and T. Scordium (Water Germander).
---Cultivation---Wood Sage is generally collected in the wild
state, but will thrive in any moderately good soil, and in almost
It may be
increased by seeds, by cuttings, inserted in sandy soil, under a
glass, in spring and summer; or by division of roots in the
whole herb, collected in July.
volatile oil, some tannin and a bitter principle.
and Uses---Alterative and diuretic, astringent tonic, emmenagogue.
Much used in domestic herbal practice for skin affections and
diseases of the blood, also in fevers, colds, inflammations, and as
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
useful for quinsy, sore throat, and in kidney and bladder
rheumatism it has been used with benefit, and is considered a
valuable tonic and restorer of the system after an attack of
rheumatism, gout, etc.
infusion (freshly prepared) is the proper mode of administration,
made from 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water, taken
warm in wineglassful doses, three or four times a day.
is an appetizer of the first order, and as a tonic will be found
equal to Gentian. It forms an excellent bitter combined with
Comfrey and Ragwort, which freely influences the
It is also good to cleanse old sores. If
used in the green state with Comfrey and Ragwort, the combination
makes an excellent poultice for old wounds and inflammations in any
part of the body. Culpepper tells us:
'The decoction of the green herb with wine
is a safe and sure remedy for those who by falls, bruises or blows
suspect some vein to be inwardly broken, to disperse and void the
congealed blood and consolidate the veins. The drink used inwardly
and the herb outwardly is good for such as are inwardly or
outwardly bursten, and is found to be a sure remedy for the palsy.
The juice of the herb or the powder dried is good for moist ulcers
and sores. It is no less effectual also in green wounds to be used
upon any occasion.'
has been made from its powdered leaves to cure nasal
Teucrium Chamaedrys (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Petit Chêne. Chasse fièvre.
or Wall Germander (Teucrium Chamaedrys) is a native of many parts
of Europe, the Greek Islands and also of Syria, being found near
Jerusalem, but in England is scarce and hardly indigenous being
chiefly found on the ruins of old buildings and in other places
where it has escaped from cultivation. It was formerly much
cultivated in this country for medicinal purposes.
roots are perennial and creeping, the square stem, 6 to 18 inches
high, erect, much branched, leafy. The opposite, dark green leaves
are 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch long and indented, somewhat like an oak leaf,
hence the name Chamaedrys, from chamai (ground) and drus (oak). The
name Germander is considered also to be a corruption of Chamaedrys.
The French term this plant Petit Chêne, from the shape of the
leaves, as well as Chasse fièvre, from its use in
rose-coloured, labiate flowers, which bloom in June and July, are
in three to six flowered whorls, in the axils of leafy bracts, and
in leafy, terminal spikes. The whole plant is almost roughly
leaves are bitter and pungent to the taste and when rubbed, emit a
strong odour somewhat resembling garlic.
---Cultivation---Germander will grow in almost any soil and is
propagated by seeds,by cuttings taken in spring or summer, and by
division of roots, in the autumn. Plant about a foot apart each
whole herb, collected in July and dried in the same manner as Wood
and Uses---Stimulant, tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic. Germander acts
as a slight aperient, as well as a tonic.
reputation of Germander as a specific for gout is of very old date,
the Emperor Charles V having been cured by a decoction of this herb
taken for sixty days in succession.
been employed in various forms and combinations, of which the once
celebrated Portland Powder is one of the chief
also used as a tonic in intermittent fevers, and is recommended for
expressed juice of the leaves, with the addition of white wine, is
held to be good in obstruction of the viscera.
qualities nearly allied to those of Horehound, a decoction of the
green herb, taken with honey, has been found useful in asthmatic
affections and coughs, being recommended for this purpose by
Dioscorides. The decoction has also been given to relieve dropsy in
its early stages.
Culpepper tells us that it
'most effectual against the poison of all
serpents, being drunk in wine and the bruised herb outwardly
applied.... Used with honey it cleanseth ulcers and made into an
oil and the eyes anointed therewith, taketh away dimness and
moisture. It is also good for pains in the side and cramp.... The
decoction taken for four days driveth away and cureth tertian and
quartan agues. It is also good against diseases of the brain, as
continual headache, falling sickness, melancholy, drowsiness and
dulness of spirits, convulsions and palsies.'
states that the powdered seeds are good against jaundice. The tops,
when in flower, steeped twenty-four hours in white wine will
Botanical: Teucrium Scordium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The Water Germander (Teucrium Scordium) is a creeping
plant growing in marshy places in various parts of Europe, but very
rare in Great Britain except in the Isle of Ely. It was formerly
cultivated in gardens for medicinal uses.
---Description---The square, hairy stalks, are of a
dirty green colour and very weak. The leaves are short, broad,
woolly and soft, and indented at the edges. The flowers are small,
of a purplish-rose colour, in whorls, in the axils of the leaves.
It flowers in July and August.
The whole plant is bitter and slightly aromatic.
The fresh leaves, when rubbed, have a penetrating odour, like
Garlic, and it is said that when cows eat it through hunger, it
gives the flavour of Garlic to their milk.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---It was once esteemed as
an antidote for poisons and as an antiseptie and anthelmintic, but
is now searcely used, though its tonic and aromatic bitter
qualities and diaphoretic action make a decoction of it an
excellent remedy in all inflammatory diseases, and it may be used
with advantage in weak, relaxed constitutions.
The tincture in small doses is considered a good remedy for
exhilarating and rousing torpid faculties.
For intermittent fever and scrofulous complaints the infusion
of 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water, taken in
wineglassful doses, is recommended.
The dried leaves have been employed as a vermifuge, and
decoction is said to be a good fomentation in gangrenous
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1
Botanical: Zingiber officinale (ROSC.)
Family: N.O. Zingiberaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---Said to be a native of Asia. Cultivated in
West Indies, Jamaica, Africa.
---Description---Naturalized in America after the
discovery of that country by the Spaniards. Francisco de Mendosa
transplanted it from the East Indies into Spain, where
Spanish-Americans cultivated it vigorously, so that in 1547 they
exported 22,053 cwt. into Europe.
It is now cultivated in great quantities in Jamaica and comes
into this country dried and preserved. The root from the West
Indies is considered the best. Also imported from Africa, there are
several varieties known in commerce. Jamaica or White African is a
light-brown colour with short rhizome, very pungent. Cochin has a
very short rhizome, coated red-grey colour. 'Coated or Uncoated' is
the trade term for peel on or skinned. Green Ginger is the immature
undried rhizome. Preserved Ginger is made by steeping the root in
hot syrup. Ratoon is uncultivated Ginger. Ginger is a perennial
root which creeps and increases underground, in tuberous joints; in
the spring it sends up from its roots a green reed, like a stalk, 2
feet high, with narrow lanceolate leaves; these die down annually.
The flowering stalk rises directly from the root, ending in an
oblong scallop spike; from each spike a white or yellow bloom
grows. Commercial Ginger is called black or white, according to
whether it is peeled or unpeeled; for both kinds the ripened roots
are used, after the plant has died down. The black are scalded in
boiling water, then dried in the sun. The white (best) are scraped
clean and dried, without being scalded. For preserve young green
roots are used- they are scalded and are washed in cold water and
then peeled. The water is changed several times, so that the
process takes three or four days. The tubers are then put into jars
and covered with a weak syrup; this is changed after a few days'
soaking for a stronger syrup, which is again changed for a still
stronger one. The discarded syrups are fermented and made into a
liquor called 'cool drink'; a few drops of chloroform or chloride
are generally added to the preserve to prevent insects breeding in
it. Ginger flowers have an aromatic smell and the bruised stem a
characteristic fragrance, but the root is considered the most
useful part of the plant, and must not be used under a year's
growth. The peeling has to be done very thinly or the richest part
of the resin and volatile oil is lost. It is sometimes soaked in
lime-juice instead of plain water, and the colour is improved by a
final coating of chalk. The Chinese fresh Ginger is grated into
powder. African and Cochin Ginger yield the most resin and volatile
oil. The root must be kept in a dry place, or it will start growing
and is then spoilt. The odour of Ginger is penetrating and
aromatic, its taste spicy, hot and biting; these properties are
lost by exposure. The most common adulterants are flour, curcuma,
linseed, rapeseed, the hulls of cayenne pepper and waste
---Constituents---Volatile oil, acrid soft resin, resin
insoluble in ether and oil, gum, starch, lignin, vegeto matter,
asmazone, acetic acid, acetate of potassa, sulphur.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, carminative,
given in dyspepsia and flatulent colic excellent to add to bitter
infusions; specially valuable in alcoholic gastritis; of use for
diarrhoea from relaxed bowel where there is no inflammation. Ginger
Tea is a hot infusion very useful for stoppage of the mensesdue to
cold, externally it is a rubefacient. Essence of Ginger should be
avoided, as it is often adulterated with harmful
---Dosage---Infusion: 1/2 oz. bruised or powdered root
to 1 pint boiling water is taken in 1 fluid ounce. Dose, 10 to 20
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 10 to 20 drops.
Tincture, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Syrup, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1
drachm. Oleoresin, U.S.P., 1/2 grain.
Botanical: Asarum Canadense (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Aristolochiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Canada Snakeroot. Indian Ginger.
---Parts Used---Rhizome dried and roots.
---Habitat---North America, North Carolina,
---Description---An inconspicuous but fragrant little
plant, not over 12 inches high, found growing in rich soil on
roadsides and in woods. A stemless perennial, much resembling the
European Asarum, but with larger leaves, provided with a short
spine, leaves usually only two, kidney-shaped, borne on thin fine
hairy stems, dark above and paler green under-surface, 4 to 8
inches broad, strongly veined. A solitary bell-shaped flower, dull
brown or brownish purple, drooping between the two leaf stems,
woolly, the inside darker than the outside and of a satiny texture,
the fruit a leathery six-celled capsule. It has a yellowish
creeping rootstock, slightly jointed, with thin rootlets from the
joints. In commerce the rootstock is found in pieces 4 to 5 inches
long, 1/8 inch thick, irregular quadrangular, brownish end wrinkled
outside, whitish inside, showing a large centre pith hard and
brittle, breaking with a short fracture. Odour fragrant, taste
aromatic, spicy and slightly bitter--it is collected in the
---Constituents---A volatile oil once largely used in
perfumery, also resin, a bitter principle called asarin, mucilage,
alkaloid, sugar and a substance like camphor.
The plant yields its properties to alcohol and to hot
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, carminative,
diuretic, diaphoretic. Used in chronic chest complaints, dropsy
with albuminaria, painful spasms of bowels and
---Dosage---1/2 oz. of the powdered root in 1 pint of
boiling water, taken hot, produces copious
Dry powder, 20 to 30 grains.
As an adjuvant to tonic mixtures or infusions, 1/2 to 1
---Synonyms---Hazlewort, Wild Nard, very similar in
properties to above).
---Part Used---Root and leaves dried.
---Description---A European plant growing in most hilly
woods, flowering from May till August. The root smells like pepper,
with a spicy taste and gives an ash-coloured powder. The leaves
give a green powder and have the same properties as the
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Emetic, cathartic and
errhine, for which latter purpose it is principally used in
affections of the brain, eyes, throat, toothache and paralysis of
the mouth. In France drunkards use it as an emetic, and it promotes
sneezing and is therefore helpful for colds in the
---Dosage---Powder, 10 to 12 grains. As anemetic, 1/2 to
A. ARIFOLIUM yields an oil with the odour of
Botanical: Panax quinquefolium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Araliaceae
Harvesting, Preparation for Market
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Aralia quinquefolia. Five Fingers. Tartar
Root. Red Berry. Man's Health.
---Habitat---Ginseng is distinguished as Asiatic or
Chinese Ginseng. It is a native of Manchuria, Chinese Tartary and
other parts of eastern Asia, and is largely cultivated there as
well as in Korea and Japan.
Panax, the generic name, is derived from the Greek
Panakos (a panacea), in reference to the miraculous virtue
ascribed to it by the Chinese, who consider it a sovereign remedy
in almost all diseases.
It was formerly supposed to be confined to Chinese Tartary, but
now is known to be also a native of North America, from whence
Sarrasin transmitted specimens to Paris in 1704.
The word ginseng is said to mean 'the wonder of the
---Description---The plant grows in rich woods
throughout eastern and central North America, especially along the
mountains from Quebec and Ontario, south to Georgia. It was used by
the North American Indians. It is a smooth perennial herb, with a
large, fleshy, very slow-growing root, 2 to 3 inches in length
(occasionally twice this size) and from 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness.
Its main portion is spindle-shaped and heavily annulated (ringed
growth), with a roundish summit, often with a slight terminal,
projecting point. At the lower end of this straight portion, there
is a narrower continuation, turned obliquely outward in the
opposite direction and a very small branch is occasionally borne in
the fork between the two. Some small rootlets exist upon the lower
portion. The colour ranges from a pale yellow to a brownish colour.
It has a mucilaginous sweetness, approaching that of liquorice,
accompanied with some degree of bitterness and a slight aromatic
warmth, with little or no smell. The stem is simple and erect,
about a foot high, bearing three leaves, each divided into five
finely-toothed leaflets, and a single, terminal umbel, with a few
small, yellowish flowers. The fruit is a cluster of bright red
The plant was first introduced into England in 1740 by the
Chinese Ginseng is a larger plant, but presents practically the
same appearance and habits of growth. Its culture in the United
States has never been attempted, though it would appear to be a
promising field for experiment.
Father Jartoux, who had special privileges accorded him in the
study of this plant, says that it is held in such esteem by the
natives of China, that the physicians deem it a necessity in all
their best prescriptions, and regard it as a remediable agency in
fatigue and the infirmities of old age. Only the Emperor has the
right to collect the roots. The prepared root is chewed by the sick
to recover health, and by the healthy to increase their vitality;
it is said to remove both mental and bodily fatigue, to cure
pulmonary complaints, dissolves tumours and prolongs life to a ripe
Father Jartoux was satisfied that its praise was justified, and
he adds his own testimony to its efficacy in relieving fatigue and
increasing vitality. The roots are called, by the natives of China,
Jin-chen, meaning 'like a man,' in reference to their
resemblance to the human form. The American Indian name for the
plant, garantoquen, has the same meaning.
Owing to the enormous demand for the root in China recourse was
had to the American species, Panax quinquefolium (Linn.),
and in 1718 the Jesuits of Canada began shipping the roots to
China, and the first shipment from North America to Canton yielded
enormous profits. In 1748 the roots sold at a dollar a pound in
America and nearly five in China. Afterwards, the price fluctuated,
but the root is still eagerly purchased by Chinese traders for
export to China, and at the present time commands a yet higher
price in the American markets, though it is not an official
medicine and has only a place in the eclectic Materia Medica. The
American Consul at Amoy stated a few years ago that it is possible
to market twenty million dollars worth of American Ginseng annually
to China, if it could be produced; but since its collection for
exportation, it has been so eagerly sought that it has become
exterminated in many districts where it was formerly
This has led to its cultivation and to various devices for
preserving the natural supply. In Canada a fine is imposed for
collecting between January and the 1st of September. Among the
Indians, it is customary to collect the root only after the
maturity of the fruit and to bend down the stem before digging the
root, thus providing for its propagation. Indian collectors assert
that a large number of such seeds will germinate, and that they
have been able to increase their area of collection by this
In 1876, 550,624 lb. were exported at an average price of 1
dollar 17 cents; the amount available for export since then has
steadily decreased and the price has gone up in proportion, till in
1912 the export was only 155,308 lb., at an average price of 7
dollars 20 cents per pound.
---Cultivation---On account of the growing scarcity of
the American Ginseng plant, experiments have been made by the State
of Pennsylvania to determine whether it can be grown profitably,
resulting in the conclusion that in five years, starting with seeds
and one year plants (or sooner if a start were made with older
plants), an acre of ground would yield a profit of 1,500 dollars,
without allowance for rental, but many precautions are necessary
for success. The cultivated plants produced larger roots than those
of the wild plant.
In 1912 it was estimated that the acreage of cultivated Ginseng
in the United States was about 150 acres, and it is calculated that
to supply China with twenty million dollars' worth of dry root
would require the American growers to plant 1,000 acres annually
for five years, before this estimated annual supply could be sold.
The cultivation of Ginseng would therefore appear to offer a rich
field to American agriculture. It presents, however, considerable
difficulty, owing to the great care and special methods required
and to the fact that it is a very slow-growing crop, so that rapid
returns can hardly be anticipated, and it is doubtful if its
cultivation can be carried on profitably except by specialists in
the crop. None the less, the percentage returns for the
industrious, patient and painstaking farmer are large, and the
demand for a fine article for export is not at all likely to be
exceeded by the supply.
For successful cultivation of Ginseng in America, it is stated
that a loose, rich soil, with a heavy mulch of leaves and about 80
per cent shade - generally provided artificially is
It is difficult to cultivate it here with success. A rich
compost is necessary. Most of the species of this genus need
greenhouse treatment in this country. Propagation by cuttings of
the roots is the most successful method, the cuttings being placed
in sand, under a handglass. Seeds, generally obtained from abroad,
are sown in pots in the early spring and require gentle heat. When
the plants are a few inches high, they must be transplanted into
beds or sheltered borders. They require a good, warm soil, but much
shade. To grow on a commercial basis is not considered feasible in
---Harvesting, Preparation for Market---The root should
be collected only in the autumn, in which case it retains its plump
and handsome appearance after drying. It is much more highly prized
when of a fine light colour, which it is more apt to assume when
grown in deep, black, fresh mould.
The best root is said to be that collected by the Sioux Indian
women, who impart this white appearance by rotating it with water
in a partly-filled barrel, through which rods are run in a
longitudinal direction. In no other way, it is said, can the
surface be so thoroughly and safely cleansed.
The structure of the root is fleshy and somewhat elastic and
flexible, and it is of a firm, solid consistence if collected at
the proper time and properly cured. The bark is very thick,
yellowish-white, radially striate in old roots and contains
brownishred resin cells. The wood is strongly and coarsely radiate,
with yellowish wood wedges and whitish rays.
The best roots for the Chinese market are sometimes submitted
before being dried to a process of clarification, which renders
them yellow, semi-transparent and of a horny appearance and
enhances their value. This condition is gained by first plunging
them in hot water, brushing until thoroughly scoured and steaming
over boiling seed. Its commercial value is determined in a high
degree by its appearance. The roots are valued in accordance with
their large size and light colour, their plumpness and fine
consistence, their unbroken and natural form, and above all by the
perfectly developed condition of the branches.
---Constituents---A large amount of starch and gum, some
resin, a very small amount of volatile oil and the peculiar
sweetish body, Panaquilon. This occurs as a yellow powder,
precipitating with water a white, amorphous substance, which has
been called Panacon.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Panax is not official in
the British Pharmacopoeia, and it was dismissed from the United
States Pharmacopceia at a late revision. It is cultivated almost
entirely for export to China.
In China, both varieties are used particularly for dyspepsia,
vomiting and nervous disorders. A decoction of 1/2 oz. of the root,
boiled in tea or soup and taken every morning, is commonly held a
remedy for consumption and other diseases.
In Western medicine, it is considered a mild stomachic tonic
and stimulant, useful in loss of appetite and in digestive
affections that arise from mental and nervous
A tincture has been prepared from the genuine Chinese or
American root, dried and coarsely powdered, covered with five times
its weight of alcohol and allowed to stand, well-stoppered, in a
dark, cool place, being shaken twice a day. The tincture, poured
off and filtered, has a clear, light-lemon colour, an odour like
the root and a taste at first bitter, then dulcamarous and an acid
---Substitutes---A substitute for Ginseng, somewhat
employed in China, is the root of Codonopsis Tangshen, a
bell-flowered plant, used by the poor as a substitute for the
Ginseng is sometimes accidentally collected with Senega Root
(Polygala Senega, Linn.) and with Virginian Snake Root
(Aristolochia Serpentaria, Linn.), but is easily detected,
being less wrinkled and twisted and yellower in colour. It is
occasionally found with the collected root of Cypripedium
parviflorum (Salis) and Stylophorum diphyllum
Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides, Linn.) is often
called locally in the United States 'Blue' or 'Yellow Ginseng,' and
Fever Root (Triosteum perfoliatum, Linn.) also is sometimes
given the name of Ginseng.
Botanical: Lycopus Europaeus
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Water Horehound. Gipsy-wort. Egyptian's
Common Gipsyweed (Lycopus Europaeus), frequent
throughout Europe, yields a black dye, stated to give a permanent
colour to wool and silk. As its name implies, it was formerly used
by gipsies to stain their skins darker. It is common by the banks
of streams, flowers from July to September, and is an erect plant
with scarcely branched stems, about 2 feet high, with deeply-cut,
pointed leaves and small, pale flesh-coloured flowers, growing in
crowded whorls in the axils of the upper leaves.
Anne Pratt says it received its old name of Egyptian's Herb
'because of the rogues and runnegates which call themselves
Egyptians, and doe colour themselves black with this
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Astringent,
Botanical: Iris foetidissima (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Iridaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Gladwin. Spurge Plant. Roast Beef
Stinking Gladwyn is found only locally in England, but is
common in all the southwestern counties, growing in woods and shady
places, on hedgebanks and sloping grounds.
---Description---The creeping rhizomes are thick, tufted
and fibrous. The leaves are firm, deep green, sword-shaped,
shorter, narrower and less rigid and of a darker green than those
of the Yellow Flag, and are evergreen in winter. When bruised or
crushed, they emit a strong odour, at a distance not unlike that of
hot, roast beef, hence its country name of 'Roast Beef Plant.' On
closer acquaintance, the scent becomes disagreeable, hence the more
usual common name 'Stinking Gladwyn,' and the Latin specific
It flowers from June to August, but sparingly, and the
corollas, of a dull, livid purple colour, rarely bluish or
yellowish, are smaller than those of the other flags and not
fragrant at night.
The flowers are followed by triangular seed-vessels, which,
when ripe, open, disclosing beautiful orange-red coloured
---Cultivation---Stinking Gladwyn flourishes in moist
and partially-shaded places, in ordinary garden soil. Seeds
scattered in semiwild places soon make good plants and plants may
also be increased by division of the rhizomes. The brilliant seeds
in their gaping capsules make it an effective garden plant in
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Antispasmodic, cathartic,
anodyne. Iris foetidissima has been employed for the same
medicinal purposes as the Yellow Flag and is equally violent in its
action. A decoction of the roots acts as a strong purge. It has
also been used as an emmenagogue and for cleansing eruptions. The
dried root, in powder or as an infusion, is good in hysterical
disorders, fainting, nervous complaints and to relieve pains and
Taken inwardly and applied outwardly to the affected part, it
is an excellent remedy for scrofula.
The use of this Iris was well known to the Ancients and is
referred to by Theophrastus, in the fourth century before
Botanical: Salicornia herbacea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
Many species of the genera Salsola, Suaeda and
Salicornia belonging to Chenopodiaceae are rich in soda and
were formerly much employed in making both soap and glass, hence
the name Glasswort. Large quantities of the ashes of these plants
were formerly imported from southern Europe and northern Africa
under the name of Barilla, the chief sources being
Salsola Kali (Linn.) and Salsola Soda (Linn.), the
Spanish Salsola sativa (Loft) and S. tragus (Linn.).
On the introduction of Le Blanc's process of obtaining soda from
common salt, the importance of Barilla as an article of commerce
Our native plant, the Jointed Glasswort (Salicornia
herbacea, Linn.), was, as its name implies, also regarded as of
value in the manufacture of glass.
---Description---It is a low-growing, annual herb,
common in salt marshes and on muddy seashores all round the British
Islands and was much used for this purpose. It has no leaves, but
is formed of cylindrical, jointed branches of a light green colour,
smooth, very succulent and full of a salt, bitterish juice, its
minute flowers produced in threes in little pits in the axils of
The whole plant is greedily devoured by cattle for its saltish
taste. Steeped in malted vinegar, the tender shoots make a good
pickle and were often used as a substitute for Samphire in those
parts of the coast where the latter did not abound, on which
account the plant is also called Marsh Samphire. Sir Thomas More,
enumerating the useful native plants that would improve 'many a
poor knave's pottage' if he were skilled in their properties, says
that 'Glasswort might afford him a pickle for his mouthful of salt
Parkinson relates a theory in
connexion with Glasswort in his days:
'If the soap that is made of
the lye of the ashes be spread upon a piece of thicke coarse brown
paper cut into the forme of their shooe sole that are casually
taken speechless and bound to the soles of their feete, it will
bring again the speech and that within a little time after the
applying thereof if there be any hope of being restored while they
live: this hath been tried to be effectuall upon diverse
There are references in the Bible to the uses of Glasswort for
soap and for glass.
Botanical: Salsola Kali (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
The Prickly Glasswort (Salsola Kali, Linn.) has a thick,
round, brittle stem, with few, rigid leaves of a bluish-green
colour and small, yellow flowers.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The juice of the fresh
plant was said to be an excellent diuretic, the twisted
seed-vessels having the same virtue and being given in
The whole plant was likewise burnt for its fixed salt used in
Botanical: Gleditschia triacanthos (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Gleditschine. Honey Locust. Gleditschia
Ferox. Three-(t)horned Acacia.
---Parts Used---The twigs and leaves.
---Habitat---Eastern and Central United
---Description---A small, thorny tree, with pinnated
leaves and greenish flowers growing in dense spikes. The younger
and smaller branches have strong, triple tapering thorns. In the
autumn they bear thin, flat pods resembling apple-parings. They
contain seeds surrounded by a sweetish pulp from which it is stated
that sugar has been extracted. The wood is chiefly used for
---Constituents---An alkaloid, Gleditschine, has been
abstracted, and another called Stenocarpine. It also contains
cocaine, and probably atropine.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stenocarpine was
introduced as a local anaesthetic in 1887. Gleditschine was found
to produce stupor and loss of reflex activity in a
G. Macracantha possesses similar properties, and is
indigenous to China.
Botanical: Trollius Europaeus
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Globe Trollius. Boule d'Or. European Globe
Flower. Globe Ranunculus. Globe Crowfoot.
---Part Used---The whole plant, fresh.
---Habitat---Northern and Central Europe, from the
Caucasus and Siberia to Wales and sometimes Ireland. Found wild in
northern counties of England and in Scotland.
---Description---The plant grows usually in moist woods
and mountain pastures, and is about 2 feet high, the stalk being
hollow, smooth, and branching towards the top, each branch bearing
one yellow flower without a calix, shaped like that of Crowfoot.
The leaves are beautifully cut into five, indented sections. It is
a favourite bloom for rustic festivals, and early in June
collections of it are made by youths and maidens to decorate
It is often cultivated as a border flower, as are the other two
species of the genus.
---Constituents---The Swedish naturalist Peter Kalm
affirms that these plants have medicinal properties, but lose the
greater part of their active principles in drying. The irritant,
acrid principle is not well defined, and appears to be destroyed by
the action of heat.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---It is stated that
Trollius is used in Russia in certain obscure maladies, while
another authority claims that it has cured a scorbutic case
declared incurable by doctors. It is a plant to be
T. Asiaticus, or Asiatic Globe Flower. The leaves of
this species are larger than in the European plant, resembling
those of Yellow Monk's Hood, although the stature of T.
Asiaticus is less. The flowers are an orangetinged yellow. It
is a native of Siberia, but can be grown in any garden with shade
and a moist soil.
T. Laxus is yellow, and grows in shady, wet places on
the mountains of New York and Pennsylvania.
CROWFOOT, UPRIGHT MEADOW
Family: N.O. Compositae
The Gnaphaliums are a group of plants, individual species of
which are known as Life Everlasting, Eternal Flowers, etc. They are
used by the aborigines of America, who taught the white settlers
their medical properties.
The Antennaria Dioica, known under the name of Life
Everlasting or Catsfoot, is the only British species and must not
be confused with Antennaria Plantaginifolia, or White
Plantain, which is also sometimes called Life
Family: N.O. Compositae
---Habitat---Scania, Denmark, Germany,
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Formerly much recommended
for dysentery. Said to preserve woollen cloths from moth. In Japan
it is used for moxas and as tobacco.
---Description---Leaves lanceolate, lower ones obtuse,
flowers compound corymb, stalks simple. An annual hoary plant, stem
upright, white, downy, about 1 foot high, with shiny yellow heads
of flowers - the calicine scales ovate, blunt, lemon-coloured; also
the corollets. Found in dry sandy pastures and hills. Blooming in
Germany, Denmark and Scania July to December, in Japan December to
Gnaphalium Cymosum, or Branching Everlasting. The leaves
when rubbed emit an odour like Southern Wood.
G. Plantaginifolia. For a small fee the American Indians
allow themselves to be bitten by a rattlesnake and immediately cure
themselves with this herb.
Botanical: Helichrysum Stoechas
Family: N.O. Compositae
---Synonyms---Eternal Flower. Goldilocks. Stoechas
Citrina. Gnaphalium citrinum. Common Shrubby
---Parts Used---Tops and the flowers.
---Habitat---Germany, France, Spain, Italy.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Expectorant, deobstruent,
used for colds, flowers formerly used as attenuants, discutients,
diaphoretics. (In homoeopathic medicine, a tincture is made from
Gnaphalium polycephalum which has proved very useful in sciatica,
lumbago and some forms of arthritis. - EDITOR.)
---Description---Leaves linear; compound corymb;
branches wand-like; stem 3 feet high, with long slender irregular
branches, lower ones have blunt leaves, 2 1/2 inches long 1/8 inch
broad at end; those on flower stalks very narrow, ending in acute
points. Whole plant very woolly, calyces at first silvery, then
turn a sulphur yellow. Taste warm, pungent, bitter, agreeable odour
Botanical: Tragopogon pratensis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---Goat's Beard (Tragopogon pratensis),
a rather close relation of the Hawkweeds, is a handsome plant
fairly common throughout Britain in meadows and on the broad green
strips that often border country roads, being very common in the
north of England.
---Description---It has an erect, slightly branching
stem, rising to a height of 1 to 2 feet, from a perennial tap-root.
The leaves are long, narrow and grass-like in character, without
any indentations, broadening at the base and sheathing the stem,
bluish-green in colour, the lower ones 8 or 9 inches long, the
upper ones much shorter.
The plant is in bloom during June and July. Each flower-stem
has at its summit a single, large flower-head, the stem being
slightly thickened just below it. The involucre or cup at the base
of the flower-head is composed of a ring of about eight narrow
lance-shaped, leaf-like bracts, which, when the flower is expanded,
spread out in rays beyond the florets, which are golden-yellow in
colour, and all of the 'ligulate' or strapshaped type. After
flowering, the green rays of the involucre elongate and the lower
portion becomes thicker, till finally a big, round head of winged,
long seeds - like the familiar clock of the Dandelion - develops,
which becomes broken up by the wind. The pappus, or feathery down
crowning each seed, is very beautiful, being raised on a long stalk
and interlaced, so as to form a kind of shallow cup. By means of
the pappus, the seeds are wafted by the wind and freely
The Goat's Beard opens its
blossoms at daybreak and closes them before noon, except in cloudy
weather, hence its old country name of 'Noon-flower' and
'Jack-go-to-bedat-noon,' a peculiarity noticed more than once by
the poets and referred to in Cowley's lines:
'The goat's beard, which each
morn abroad doth peep
But shuts its flowers at noon
and goes to sleep.'
The name of the genus, Tragopogon, is formed from two
Greek words, having the same signification as the popular English
name, Goat's Beard, which is thought to have been suggested by the
fluffy character of the seed-ball.
'it shutteth itselfe at
twelve of the clocke, and sheweth not his face open untill the next
dayes Sun doth make it flower anew. Whereupon it was called
go-to-bed-at-noone; when these flowers be come to their full
maturitie and ripenesse they grow into a downy Blowball like those
of Dandelion, which is carriedaway by the winde.'
---Medicinal Action and Uses---In mediaeval times, the
Goat's Beard had some reputation as a medicinal plant, though it
has fallen out of use.
The tapering roots were formerly eaten as we now eat parsnips,
and the young stalks, taken before the flowers appear, were cut up
into lengths and boiled like asparagus, of which they have somewhat
the flavour, and are said to be nearly as nutritious. The roots
were dug up in the autumn and kept in dry sand for winter
The fresh juice of the young plant has been recommended as 'the
best dissolvent of the bile, relieving the stomach without danger
and without introducing into the blood an acrid, corrosive
stimulant, as is frequently done by salts when employed for this
'A large double handful of
the entire plant, roots, flowers and all bruised and boiled an then
strained with a little sweet oil, is an excellent clyster in most
desperate cases of strangury or suppression of urine. A decoction
of the roots is very good for the heartburn, loss of appetite,
disorders of the breast and liver, expels sand and gravel, and even
small stone. The roots dressed like parsnips with butter are good
for cold, watery stomachs, boiled or cold, or eaten as a raw salad;
they are grateful to the stomach strengthen the lean and
consumptive, or the weak after long sickness. The distilled water
gives relief to pleurisy, stitches or pains in the
Another close relation of the above is the Bristly Ox-Tongue
(Helmintha Echioides), a stout, much-branched plant, 2 to 3
feet high, well distinguished by its numerous prickles, each of
which springs from a raised white spot, and by the large
heart-shaped bracts at the base of the yellow flowers. The fruit,
which is beaked and singularly corrugated, bears some resemblance
to 'a little worm,' which is the meaning of the systematic name.
The English name 'Ox-Tongue' has reference to the shape and
roughness of the leaves. Not uncommon.
Botanical: Coptis trifolia (SALIS.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and uses
Other Species and Substitutes
---Synonyms---Helleborus triflius or trilobus.
Helleborus pumilus. Coptis. Anemone grcenlandica. Coptide.
Mouthroot. Vegetable Gold. Chrusa borealis.
---Parts Used---The dried rhizome, with roots, stems,
---Habitat---Northern America and Asia. Greenland and
---Description---The name of the genus Coptis is
suggested by the form of the leaflets, and means 'to cut.' The
popular name is derived from the thin, creeping, gold-coloured
rhizome, which yields a yellow dye. The solitary, yellowish
flowers, and obovate, evergreen leaves grow in tufts with yellow
scales surrounding the base. The herb is a small perennial, usually
found creeping in swamps or damp, sandy places. In commerce, the
dried herb is found in loose masses, odourless, and with a pure,
bitter taste. The powder is yellowish-green. It resembles gentian
and quassia in its properties.
The Coptis family is closely linked to that of the
---Constituents---Its bitterness is imparted to both
water and alcohol, but more readily to the latter. As there is
neither tannic nor gallic acid, the activity is due to berberia or
berberine, which is associated with another alkaloid called Coptine
or Coptina, resembling hydrastia. It also contains albumen, fixed
oil, colouring matter, lignin, extractive, and sugar. Authorities
differ as to the presence of resin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---It may be used as other
pure bitters. In New England it is valued as a local application in
thrush, for children.
It is stated to be good for dyspepsia, and combined with other
drugs is regarded as helpful in combating the drink
---Dosage---Of powder, 10 to 30 grains. Of tincture of 1
OZ. of root to a pint of diluted alcohol, 1 fluid drachm. Of fluid
extract, 30 minims.
---Other Species and Substitutes---
Statice monopetala, used as an astringentin the United
States, sometimes used to adulterate C.
Coptis Teeta, or Coptidis Rhizoma, Coptidis Radix,
Mahmira, Tita, Mishmi Bitter, Mishmi Tita, Hwang-lien, Honglane,
Chuen-lien, Chonlin, Mu-lien, is official in the Pharmacopoeia of
India. It grows in the Mishmi Mountains, East Assam, is imported
into Bengal in little rattan bags, and is thus sold in the Indian
bazaars. Large quantities have been sold in London. It contains a
higher percentage of berberia than any other drug, and is much used
as a tonic in India and China, especially for the stomach, and in
Scind for inflammation of the eyes.
The Chinese and Japanese variations (var. chinensis and
C. anemonaefolia) imported into Bombay are thinner and
duller than the Assam rhizomes. In Japan, the last variety is used
for intestinal catarrh.
Botanical: Solidago virgaurea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Verge d'Or. Solidago. Goldruthe.
Woundwort. Aaron's Rod.
---Habitat---Europe, including Britain. Central Asia.
---Description---The generic name comes from solidare,
for the plant is known as a vulnerary, or one that 'makes whole.'
It grows from 2 to 3 feet in height, with alternate leaves, of a
clear green, and terminal panicles of golden flowers, both ray and
disk. It is the only one (of over eighty species) native to Great
The leaves and flowers yield a yellow dye.
When bruised, the herb smells like Wild Carrot.
---Constituents---The plant contains tannin, with some
bitter and astringent principles.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Aromatic, stimulant,
carminative. Golden Rod is an ingredient in the Swiss Vulnerary,
faltrank. It is astringent and diuretic and efficacious for
stone in the bladder. It is recorded that in 1788 a boy of ten,
after taking the infusion for some months, passed quantities of
gravel, fifteen large stones weighing up to 1 1/4 OZ., and fifty
over the size of a pea. It allays sickness due to weak
In powder it is used for cicatrization of old ulcers. It has
been recommended in many maladies, as it is a good diaphoretic in
warm infusion, and is in this form also helpful in dysmenorrhoea
and amenorrhoea. As a spray and given internally, it is of great
value in diphtheria.
---Dosage---1/2 to 1 drachm of the fluid
S. Rigida, Hardleaf Goldenrod, and S.Gigantea,
Smooth Three-Ribbed Golden Rod, have leaves and blossoms which are
valuable for all forms of haemorrhage, being astringent and
styptic. The oil is diuretic.
S. Odora or Sweet-scented, or Fragrantleaved Goldenrod,
also of the United States, is used as an astringent in dysentery
and ulceration of the intestines. The essence has been used as a
diuretic for infants, as a local application in headache, and for
flatulence and vomiting. The flowers are aperient, tonic, and
astringent, and their infusion is beneficial in gravel, urinary
obstructions, and simple dropsy.
S. Canadensis, or Gerbe d'Or, of Canada, and S.
sempervirens of North America, are used as
RAYLESS GOLDEN ROD is an American name for
GOLDEN ROD TREE is Bosea Yervamora.
GOLDEN ROD is also the common name of Leontice
Botanical: Hydrastis Canadensis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Yellow Root. Orange Root. Yellow Puccoon.
Ground Raspberry. Wild Curcuma. Turmeric Root. Indian Dye. Eye
Root. Eye Balm. Indian Paint. Jaundice Root. Warnera.
---Habitat---The plant is a native of Canada and the
eastern United States, the chief States producing it being Ohio,
Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, New York and in Canada, Ontario.
Most of the commercial supplies are obtained from the Ohio Valley,
the chief market being Cincinnati. It is scarce east of the
Alleghany Mountains, having become quite rare in New York State,
where it has been almost exterminated by collectors. It is found in
the rich soil of shady woods and moist places at the edge of wooded
The North American plant Golden Seal produces a drug which is
considered of great value in modern medicine. The generic name of
the plant, Hydrastis, is derived from two Greek words,
signifying water and to accomplish, probably given it from its
effect on the mucous membrane.
Golden Seal belongs to the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae,
though its leaves and fruit somewhat resemble those of the
Raspberry and the Rubus genus generally.
---Description---It is a small perennial herb, with a
horizontal, irregularly knotted, bright yellow root-stock, from 1/4
inch to 3/4 inch thick, giving off slender roots below and marked
with scars of the flower-stems of previous years. The flowering
stem, which is pushed up early in the spring, is from 6 to 12
inches high, erect, cylindrical, hairy, with downward-pointing
hairs, especially above, surrounded at the base with a few short,
brown scales. It bears two prominently-veined and wrinkled, dark
green, hairy leaves, placed high up, the lower one stalked, the
upper stalkless, roundish in outline, but palmately cut into 5 to 7
lobes, the margins irregularly and finely toothed. There is one
solitary radical leaf on a long foot-stalk, similar in form to the
stem leaves, but larger, when full-grown being about 9 inches
The flower, which is produced in April, is solitary, terminal,
erect, small, with three small greenish-white sepals, falling away
immediately after expansion, no petals and numerous stamens. The
fruit is a head of small, fleshy, oblong, crimson berries, tipped
with the persistent styles and containing one or two hard black,
shining seeds. It is ripe in July and has much the appearance of a
Raspberry (whence the name 'Ground Raspberry'), but is not
Hydrastis Canadensis was first introduced into England
by Miller in 1760, under the name of Warnera, after Richard
Warner of Woodford, and later was grown at Kew, Edinburgh and
Dublin. Having no claims to horticultural attractiveness, its
cultivation has not been attempted in this country except in
botanical gardens - and on a slight experimental scale - nor has it
been cultivated on any scale in any other country until quite
recently, when owing to its growing scarcity in the woods of Ohio,
where it used to be abundant, plantations were started in a few
parts of America, but the amount under cultivation there is still
In 1905 the United States Department of Agriculture called
attention to the increasing demand for Golden Seal for medicinal
purposes in a Bulletin (No. 51). There it is stated that the early
settlers learnt of the virtues of Golden Seal from the American
Indians, who used the root as a medicine and its yellow juice as a
stain for their faces and a dye for their clothing. It was not
until about 1850 that the root became an article of commerce, and
in 1905 the annual supply of it was estimated at from 200,000 lb.
to 300,000 lb., about one-tenth of which was exported, with an
ever-increasing demand. Thirty years ago it was plentiful in its
wild haunts and sold for 8 cents per lb., but as its supply
diminished, not only from overcollection, but from the forests in
the central States being cut away, the price rose in proportion and
is now almost prohibitive.
---Cultivation---Experimental growing of the drug here
has not been attended with much success, as it is of somewhat
The best conditions for the cultivation of Golden Seal are said
to be a well-drained soil, rich in humus, in a partially shaded
situation. Lath blinds (placed overhead on wires and light runners)
are used by American cultivators - as with Ginseng - and these are
considered to be preferable to the shade of trees, the roots of
which interfere with operations. The plant requires from 60 to 75
per cent shade. The root-stocks are divided into small pieces and
then planted about 8 inches apart in rows. Seeds are not considered
reliable. Fresh plantations are made in autumn, after the plants
have died down, or earlier, if they are lifted for a supply of
marketable rhizomes. The strong fibrous roots sometimes develop
buds which can be used as stock. Plantations thus formed take two
or three years to grow to marketable size, the rhizomes
deteriorating in their fourth year. According to an American
grower, 32 sturdy plants set to each square yard, in three years'
growth will produce 2 lb. of dry root. Experiments conducted by the
United States Department of Agriculture recommend growing it only
two years and marketing. It is stated that the plant may be
transplanted at any time of the year with safety.
It has proved difficult to obtain a supply of living roots with
which to start plantations in this country. The market is in the
hands of American growers, collectors and dealers, and it may be
that they are unwilling to spoil their monopoly by aiding other
countries to grow their own Golden Seal, but the drug is growing in
favour with medical practitioners, therefore its production on a
commercial scale in this country would appear to be desirable, if
it could be carried out with success.
The fresh rhizome is juicy and loses much of its weight in
drying. When fresh, it has a well-marked, narcotic odour, which is
lost in a great measure by age, when it acquires a peculiar
sweetish smell, somewhat resembling liquorice root. It has a very
bitter, feebly opiate taste, more especially when freshly
The rhizome is irregular and tortuous, much knotted, with a
yellowish-brown, thin bark and bright yellow interior, 1/2 inch to
1 1/2 inch long, and from 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. The upper surface
bears short ascending branches, which are usually terminated by
cup-like scars, left by the aerial stems of previous years. From
the lower surface and sides, numerous thin, wiry, brittle roots are
given off, many of them breaking off, leaving small protuberances
on the root.
The colour of the rhizome, though yellow in the fresh root,
becomes a dark, yellowishbrown by age; that of the rootlets and the
interior of the root is yellow and that of the powder still more
When dry, the rhizome is hard and breaks with a clean, resinous
fracture, the smooth, fractured surface is of a brownish-yellow, or
greenish-yellow colour, and exhibits a ring of bright yellow,
somewhat distant narrow wood bundles surrounding a large
---Constituents---The chief constituents of Hydrastis
rhizome are the alkaloids Berberine (3.5 to 4 per cent.), which
constitutes the yellow colouring matter of the drug, Hydrastine (2
to 4 per cent.), a peculiar crystallizable substance and a third
alkaloid, Canadine; resin, albumin, starch, fatty matter, sugar,
lignin and a small quantity of volatile oil, to which its odour is
due, are also present. The rhizome is stated to be much richer in
alkaloid than the roots.
Hydrastis owes its virtues almost entirely to Hydrastine, the
alkaloid Berberine, apart from some effect as a bitter being
practically inert. The United States Pharmacopoeia requires
Hydrastis to yield not less than 2.5 per cent of
For many years the alkaloids and the powdered root were the
chief forms administered, but now the fluid extract is the form
most used. The tincture is also official in both the British and
the United States Pharmacopoeias.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The American aborigines
valued the root highly as a tonic, stomachic and application for
sore eyes and general ulceration, as well as a yellow dye for their
clothing and weapons.
It is official in most Pharmacopoeias, several of which refer
to its yellowing the saliva when masticated.
The action is tonic, laxative, alterative and detergent. It is
a valuable remedy in the disordered conditions of the digestion and
has a special action on the mucous membrane, making it of value as
a local remedyin various forms of catarrh. In chronic inflammation
of the colon and rectum, injections of Hydrastine are often of
great service, and it has been used in haemorrhoids with excellent
results, the alkaloid Hydrastine having an astringent action. The
powder has proved useful as a snuff for nasal catarrh.
It is employed in dyspepsia, gastric catarrh, loss of appetite
and liver troubles. As a tonic, it is of extreme value in cases of
habitual constipation, given as a powder, combined with any
aromatic. It is an efficient remedy for sickness and
---Preparations---Powdered root, 10 grains. Fluid
extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm. Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1
drachm. Solid extract, 5 to 8 grains.
As an infusion, it has great influence in preventing and curing
night-sweats. It is sometimes used as a wash for ulcerated
Externally, it is used as a lotion in treatment of eye
affections and as a general cleansing application.
It is said to be a specific to prevent pitting by
In large amounts the drug proves very poisonous.
The employment of Hydrastis as a dye by the Indians has led to
investigations as to its possible commercial employment in this
direction . Durand (Amer. Journ. Pharm., Vol. XXIII) states
that 'it imparts to linen a rich and durable light yellow colour,
of great brilliancy, which might probably by proper mordants give
all the shades of that colour, from the pale yellow to the orange.
The lake produced by the bichloride of tin might also prove a
useful pigment in oil and water-colour painting.' With indigo, it
is said to impart a fine green to wool, silk and
---Substitutes---Owing to the high price of Hydrastis,
the quality of the commercial article has steadily deteriorated,
and in recent years, about every drug native to the soil which
resembles this rhizome, either in fibre or in colour, has been
known to be mixed with it. The yellow colour of Hydrastis rhizome,
the appearance of a transverse section and the characteristic odour
of the drug distinguish it readily from Blood Root, obtained from
Sanguinaria Canadensis, which is usually of a dark
reddish-brown colour, while a transverse section exhibits a more or
less pronounced red colour and no evident wood
None of the substitutes can be reasonably mistaken for the drug
in the entire condition.
Good King Henry
Botanical: Ribes Grossularia
Family: N.O. Grossulariaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Fea. Feverberry. Feabes. Carberry.
Groseille. Grozet. Groser. Krusbaar. Deberries. Goosegogs.
---Parts Used---Fruit, leaves.
---Habitat---Central and Northern Europe, especially
Britain. Ribes Uva Crispa, also, as far east as Nepal and
south to Morocco.
---Description---The well-known fruit grows on shrubs 3
to 4 feet high, with many branches, spreading prickles, and small,
three- or five-lobed, hairy leaves. The flowers are green and hang
singly or in pairs from little tufts of young leaves. The berries
may be red, green, yellow, or white, hairy (Ribes
Grossularia) or smooth (R. Uva Crispa), over 200
varieties being recognized. It is especially cultivated in
Lancashire and in the Lothians, in Scotland, the former district
aiming at size, and the latter at flavour. The shrub may attain
great age and size. In 1821, at Duffield, near Derby, a bush had
been planted for at least forty-six years, and was 12 yards in
circumference, while two, trained against a wall near Chesterfield,
reached upwards of 50 feet in growth from end to end.
The yellow gooseberries have usually the richest flavour for
dessert, and the best wine made from them very closely resembles
champagne. The red are generally the most acid, supporting the fact
that acids change vegetable blues to red.
The fruit does not appear to be highly valued in the South of
Europe, but further North is very popular for tarts, pies, sauces,
chutneys, jams, and dessert, also for preserving in bottles for
winter use. The young and tender leaves are eaten in
---Constituents---Citric acid, pectuse, sugar, and
mineral matters, the pectuse causing the fruit to be excellent for
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The juice was formerly
said to 'cure all inflammations.' In the green berries it is
sub-acid and is corrective of putrescent foods, such as mackerel or
goose. The light jelly made from the red berries is valuable for
sedentary, plethoric, and bilious subjects.
As a spring medicine,
gooseberry is more valuable than rhubarb. In one of the many books
on the Plague, published in the sixteenth century, the patient is
recommended to eat 'Goseberries.' Gerard, describing it under the
name of 'Feaberry,' says:
'the fruit is much used in
diners, sawces for meates and used in brothe instead of Verjuyce,
which maketh the brothe not only pleasant to taste, but is greatly
profitable to such as are troubled with a hot, burning
The leaves were formerly considered very wholesome and a
corrective of gravel. An infusion taken before the monthly period
will be found a useful tonic for growing girls.
---Dosage---Of an infusion of 1 OZ. of dried leaves to 1
pint of water, 1 teacupful three times a day.
Good King Henry
Good King Henry
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
Botanical: Chenopodium Bonus Henricus
---Synonyms---English Mercury. Mercury Goosefoot.
Allgood. Tola Bona. Smearwort. Fat Hen.
(German) Fette Henne.
---Habitat---Good King Henry grows abundantly in waste
places near villages, having formerly been cultivated as a garden
---Description---It is a dark-green, succulent plant,
about 2 feet, high, rising from a stout, fleshy, branching
root-stock, with large, thickish, arrow-shaped leaves and tiny
yellowish-green flowers in numerous close spikes, 1 to 2 inches
long, both terminal and arising from the axils of the leaves. The
fruit is bladder-like, containing a single seed.
The leaves used to be boiled in broth, but were principally
gathered, when young and tender, and cooked as a pot-herb. In
Lincolnshire, they are still eaten in place of spinach. Thirty
years ago, this Goosefoot was regularly grown as a vegetable in
Suffolk, Lincolnshire, and other eastern counties and was preferred
to the Garden Spinach, its flavour being somewhat similar, but less
pronounced. In common with several other closely allied plants, it
was sometimes called 'Blite' (from the Greek, bliton,
insipid), Evelyn says in his Acetaria, 'it is well-named
being insipid enough.' Nevertheless, it is a very wholesome
vegetable. If grown on rich soil, the young shoots, when as thick
as a lead pencil, may be cut when 5 inches in height, peeled and
boiled and eaten as Asparagus. They are gently
---Cultivation---Good King Henry is well worth
cultivating. Being a perennial, it will continue to produce for a
number of years, being best grown on a deep loamy soil. The ground
should be rich, well drained, and deeply dug. Plants should be put
in about April, 1 foot apart each way, or seeds may be sown in
drills at the same distance. During the first year, the plants
should be allowed to establish themselves, but after that, both
shoots and leaves may be cut or picked, always leaving enough to
maintain the plant in health. Manure water is of great assistance
in dry weather, or a dressing of 1 OZ. of nitrate of soda, or
sulphate of ammonia may be given.
As with many of the wild plants, it does not always adapt
itself to a change of soil when transplanted from its usual habitat
and success is more often ensured when grown from
Dodoens says the name Good King Henry, was given it to
distinguish the plant from another, and poisonous one, called
Malus Henricus ('Bad Henry'). The name Henricus in
this case was stated by Grimm to refer to elves and kobolds
('Heinz' and 'Heinrich'), indicating magical powers of a malicious
nature. The name has no connexion with our King Hal.
The plant is also known as Mercury Goosefoot, English Mercury
and Marquery (to distinguish it from the French Mercury), because
of its excellent remedial qualities in indigestion, hence the
proverb: 'Be thou sick or whole, put Mercury in thy
The name 'Smear-wort' refers to its use in ointment. Poultices
made of the leaves were used to cleanse and heal chronic sores,
which, Gerard states, 'they do scour and mundify.'
The roots were given to sheep as a remedy for cough and the
seeds have found employment in the manufacture of
The plant is said to have been used in Germany for fattening
poultry and was called there Fette Henne, of which one of
its popular names, Fat Hen, is the translation.
Botanical: Chenopodium album (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
---Synonyms---Frost Blite. Mutton Tops. Dirtweed. Lamb's
Quarters. Dirty Dick. Midden Myles. Pigweed (Canada). Baconweed.
The White Goosefoot (Chenopodium album, Linn.), so
called from its mealy leaves, rejoices in old manure heaps, and if
the manure is stacked up on a farm ready for use at a later season,
it is soon overrun by this weed, which has thus gained the popular
names of 'Midden Myles,' 'Dirtweed' and 'Dirty Dick.'
It shares with its near relative Good King Henry the names of
Allgood and Fat Hen from its usefulness as a pot-herb and its
reputed value in feeding poultry. 'Boil Myles in water and chop
them in butter and you will have a good dish,' is an old English
saying. It is a very wholesome medicine, as well as a pleasant
vegetable, and an excellent substitute for spinach.
---Description---The stem is erect, from 1 to 3 feet
high, the leaves oval, wedge-shaped, with wavy teeth, the flowers
in dense spikes. The mealiness is most apparent in the flowers and
undersides of the leaves, but has not the objectionable odour of
that of the Stinking Goosefoot.
This nutritious plant is grown as food for pigs and sheep in
Canada, where it is called 'Pigweed.'
The young and tender plants are collected by the Indians of New
Mexico and Arizona, and boiled as herbs, alone or with other food;
large quantities also are eaten in the raw state. The seeds of this
species are gathered by many tribes, ground into flour after drying
and made into bread. The flour resembles that of Buckwheat in
colour and taste and is regarded as equally nutritious. The small
grey seeds are not unpleasant when eaten raw.
Botanical: Chenopodium rubrum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
The seeds of the Red Goosefoot (Chenopodium rubrum,
Linn.) are a favourite food of birds and are also good for poultry.
This species has a reddish stem, 1 to 3 feet high, usually upright,
its leaves triangular to oval, with large blunt lobes and notches,
but very variable in size and shape. It is very common about manure
heaps. Its erect flowerspikes, intermixed with leaves, distantly
resemble those of Dock.
The leaves of another Goosefoot, C. hybridum, are
sometimes found as an adulterant of Stramonium leaves, when these
are imported in a broken condition, but they can be detected by
their small epidermal cells, with nearly straight walls, and hairs
terminated by a large, bladdery, waterstoring cell.
Botanical: Ulex Europaeus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Furze. Broom. Whin. Prickly Broom. Ruffet.
---Parts Used---Flowers, seed.
---Habitat---It is found from Denmark to Italy, the
Canaries and Azores, and in every part of Great Britain, though it
is rarer in the north. There is probably hardly a heath in the
country which lacks a patch, however small, of the dry-soil-loving
The Golden Gorse (Ulex Europaeus, Linn.) is conspicuous
in waste places and on commons throughout Great Britain, from its
spiny branches and bright yellow flowers, situated on the spines,
either solitary or in pairs. It is thought to be the
Scorpius of Theophrastus and the Ulex of Pliny. By
botanists before Linnaeus, it was known as a Broom and called
Genista spinosa. Linnaeus restored to it the name of
Ulex, by which it has ever since been
Although it looks so sturdy,
it is not very hardy. Severe frosts are liable to injure it, and
during some exceptionally severe winters whole tracts of it on open
commons have perished. Linnaeus, we are told in Johnson's Useful
Plants of Great Britain:
'lamented that he could not
keep Furze alive in Sweden, even in a greenhouse. It was one of his
favourite plants, though the wellknown story of his falling on his
knees when first seeing it in this country and thanking Heaven for
having created a flower so beautiful is of rather doubtful
authenticity as it is likewise related of Dillenius.'
---Description---The plant is a dense, muchbranched,
stunted shrub, rarely attaining a height of more than 6 feet. It is
evergreen, but the leaves are very minute and fall off early, not
being present in the older stages, when they take the form of long,
thread-like spines, which are straight and furrowed, or branching.
The stem is hairy and spreading.
papilionaceous flowers have a powerful scent, perfuming the air.
They open from early spring right up to August, or even later, but
the bushes are to be found in blossom, here and there practically
all the year round, hence the old saying:
'When Gorse is out of
Kissing's out of
and an old custom in some
parts of the country of inserting a spray of Gorse in the bridal
bouquet, is an allusion to this.
The following reference to
its continuous flowering appeared in the Chemist and
Druggist of January 15, 1921. The writer says:
'Sir, The impression that is
prevalent concerning the perennial flowering of the common Furze is
a very natural, although a mistaken one.
'The ordinary furze, U.
Europaeus, begins to flower in December, is in full bloom in
March and April, and continues sometimes in a desultory manner as
late as June. Then the Dwarf Furze begins to flower, and is in lull
bloom in August. When mixed with the heather - then in blossom - it
forms gorgeous purple and gold carpets wherever, as in Jersey, it
is abundant. U. Gallii then takes up the tale, and from
August to November blossoms freely. U. Europaeus is rarely
less than 2 ft. high when it begins to flower: the U. Nanus
has a decumbent habit, and is rarely more than 1 1/2 ft. high, and
the flowers are paler and do not expand the wings widely. U.
Gallii is easily recognized by the larger lateral spines of the
branches being decurved, and the flowers more of an orange tint.
But an ordinary observer would discount these differences, if
noticed at all, and merely regard the other species as more or less
dwarf plants. U. Gallii is sometimes as short as U.
nanus, and sometimes as tall as U. Europaeus, but may
always be recognized by the stout spines curved
Its elastic seed-vessels, like those of the Broom, burst with a
crackling noise in hot weather and scatter the seeds on all
The Gorse has not as many uses as the Broom, nor is it of such
'In France,' to quote Syme and Sowerby, British Botany,
1864, 'it is used for burning, being cut down every few years, in
places where it grows naturally. In Surrey and other counties, it
is used largely as fuel, especially by bakers in their ovens and is
cultivated for that purpose and cut down every three years. When
burned, it yields a quantity of ashes rich in alkali, which are
sometimes used for washing, either in the form of a solution or
lye, or mixed with clay and made into balls, as a substitute for
soap. The ashes form an excellent manure and it is not uncommon
where the ground is covered with Furze bushes to burn them down to
improve the land and to secure a crop of young shoots, which are
readily eaten by cattle. In some parts of England, it is usual to
put the Furze bushes into a mill to crush the thorns and then to
feed horses and cows with the branches. When finely cut or crushed,
sheep will readily eat it.'
The bruised shoots form a very nutritious fodder and when well
bruised are eaten with much relish by horses, and cows are said to
give good milk upon this food alone. When crushed, it is necessary
to use it quickly, as the mass soon ferments. The variety of Furze
found in the west of England and in Ireland, called U.
strictus, is the best for this purpose, its shoots being softer
and more succulent. It has terminal bunches of
Professor Henslow (Uses of British Plants, 1905) states
that Furze 'has also been used chopped up into small pieces and
sown in drills with Peas, proving a good defence against the attack
of birds and mice.'
The leaf-buds have been used as a substitute for tea and the
flowers yield a beautiful yellow dye.
The seeds are said to be nutritious, but do not appear to have
been used for cattle feeding, though in earlier days they were
sometimes employed medicinally.
Goldsmith calls the Furze 'unprofitably gay,' but Furze is not
'unprofitable.' It is usually cut once in three years, and its
ashes, after burning, yield a serviceable dressing for the
Gorse is frequently sown as a shelter to very young trees in
plantations and as a cover for game and makes excellent hedges when
kept closely cut, but is only to be recommended for this purpose in
mild climates or sheltered situations, as it is always liable to be
cut off by hard frost. Wherever sown, it requires to be kept free
from weeds during the first year or two. Like Broom, it grows well
near the sea.
The name Ulex was given it by Pliny, but its
signification is unknown. He states that the plant was used in the
collection of gold, being laid down in water to catch any golddust
brought down by the water.
The word Furze is derived from the AngloSaxon name fyrs,
while Gorse is also from the A.-S. gorst (a waste), a
reference to the open moorlands on which it is found.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The plant has never
played an important part in herbal medicine.
Parkinson tells us that 'some have used the flowers against the
jaundice.' An infusion of the blossoms used to be given to children
to drink in scarlet-fever.
Gerard states: 'the seeds are employed in medicines against the
stone and staying of the laske' (laxness of the bowels). They have
some astringent property, containing tannin.
Old writers also tell-us that 'sodden with honey, it clears the
mouth' and that it 'is good against snake-bite.'
It had an old reputation as an insecticide: 'Against fleas,
take this same wort, with its seed, sodden; sprinkle it into the
house; it killeth the fleas.'
In 1886 A. W. Gerrard discovered an alkaloid in the seeds, more
powerful as a purgative than the Sparteine obtained from Cytisus
scoparius (Link) (Pharm. Journal, Aug. 7, 1886). This
was named Ulexine. In 1890 the German scientist Kobert, as the
result of much investigation, came to the conclusion that Ulexine
and Cytisine are identical. He also found indication of a second
alkaloid. The suggestion gave rise to a considerable
chemico-physiological discussion (see Pharm. Journal, Feb.
1891). Ulexine has been used in cardiac dropsy, the dose being from
1/15 to 1/20, of a grain.
Botanical: Ægopodium podagraria (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Jack-jump-about. Goatweed. Herb Gerard.
Ashweed. Achweed. English Masterwort. Wild Masterwort. Pigweed.
Eltroot. Ground Elder. Bishop's Elder. Weyl Ash. White Ash.
Bishopsweed. Bishopswort. Ground Ash.
---Parts Used---Herb, root.
---Habitat---Europe (except Spain) and Russian Asia. Not
really indigenous to England.
---Description---The generic name is a corruption of the
Greek aix, aigos (a goat) and pous,
podos (a foot), from some fancied resemblance in the shape
of the leaves to the foot of a goat. The specific name is derived
from the Latin word for gout, podagra, because it was at one
time a specific for gout.
It is a stout, erect plant, coarse and glabrous, a perennial;
in height, 1 1/2 to 2 feet, sometimes more, the stem round,
furrowed and hollow. It has a creeping root-stock and by this means
it spreads rapidly and soon establishes itself, smothering all
vegetation less rampant than its own. It is a common pest of
orchards, shrubberies and ill-kept gardens, and is found on the
outskirts of almost every village or town, being indeed rarely
absent from a building of some description. It is possible that
Buckwheat might drive it out if planted where Goutweed has gained a
It was called Bishopsweed and Bishopswort, because so
frequently found near old ecclesiastical ruins. It is said to have
been introduced by the monks of the Middle Ages, who cultivated it
as a herb of healing. It was called Herb Gerard, because it was
dedicated to St. Gerard, who was formerly invoked to cure the gout,
against which the herb was chiefly employed.
Its large leaves are alternate, the lobes ovate and
sharply-toothed, 2 to 3 inches long. The radical leaves are on long
stalks, bi- and tri-ternate. There are fewer stem-leaves; they are
less divided, with smaller segments.
The umbels of flowers are rather large, with numerous, small
white flowers, which are in bloom from June to August and are
followed by flattened seed-vessels which when ripe are detached and
jerked to a distance by the wind, hence its local name,
'Herbe Gerard groweth of
itself in gardens without setting or sowing and is so fruitful in
its increase that when it hath once taken roote, it will hardly be
gotten out againe, spoiling and getting every yeare more ground, to
the annoying of better herbe.'
An Alpine species, which appears to possess all the bad
properties of its congener, is found in Asia.
The plant is eaten by pigs,
hence one of its names. The following charm is from an Anglo-Saxon
'To preserve swine from
sudden death take the worts lupin, bishopwort and others,
drive the swine to the fold, hang the worts upon the four sides and
upon the door' (Lacnunga, 82).
John Parkinson recommends cummin seed and bishopsweed 'for
those who like to look pale.'
The white root-stock is pungent and aromatic, but the flavour
of the leaves is strong and disagreeable.
Culpepper gives 'Bishop-weed' a separate description, and
states it is also called 'Æthiopian Cummin-Seed,' and
'Cummin-Royal,' also 'Herb William' and 'Bull-Wort.' He also (like
Parkinson) says that 'being drank or outwardly applied, it abates
an high colour, and makes pale.'
Linnaeus recommends the young leaves boiled and eaten as a
green vegetable, as in Sweden and Switzerland, and it used also to
be eaten as a spring salad.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic and sedative.
Can be successfully employed internally for aches in the
joints, gouty and sciatic pains, and externally as a
fomentation for inflamed parts.
The roots and leaves boiled together, applied to the hip, and
occasionally renewed,have a wonderful effect in some cases of
'It is not to be supposed
Goutwort hath its name for nothing, but upon experiment to heal the
gout and sciatica; as also joint-aches and other cold griefs. The
very bearing of it about one eases the pains of the gout and
defends him that bears it from the disease.'
Gerard tells us
'with his roots stamped and
laid upon members that are troubled or vexed with gout, swageth the
paine, and taketh away the swelling and inflammation thereof, which
occasioned the Germans to give it the name of Podagraria, because
of his virtues in curing the gout.'
---Other Species---Bishopsweed is also the common name
of Ammi majus.
Botanical: Berberis aquifolium (PURSH.)
Family: N.O. Berberidaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Mahonia aquifolia. Holly-leaved Barberry.
Oregon Grape Root.
---Habitat---Western United States.
---Description---Several varieties of the subgenus
Mahonia contribute to the drug of commerce under the name of
Berberis aquifolium. It is a quickly-growing shrub about 6
feet high: the oddly compound leaves have no spine at the base;
they are evergreen and shining. The flowers grow in terminal
racemes, are small and yellowish-green in colour, and the purple
berries are three- to nine-seeded. The bark is brown on the surface
and yellow beneath. The root is from 1/2 inch in diameter to 3
inches at the base of the stem, odourless, and with a bitter taste.
The shrub was introduced into England from North America in 1823.
It was formerly known as Mahonia aquifolia and is very
---Constituents---The principal constituent is a high
proportion of berberin, and there is also oxycanthin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Tonic and alterative,
recommended in psoriasis, syphilis and impure blood-conditions. It
may be used like colombo, berberis, etc., in dyspepsia and chronic
mucous complaints. In constipation it is combined with Cascara
Sagrada. It improves digestion and absorption.
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 10 to 30
B. nervosa and B. repens are frequently found in
Family: N.O. Graminaceae
Couch-Grass, Dog's Tooth
Vernal Grass, Sweet Scented
The family of Grasses is, perhaps, of all groups in the plant
world, the most important to mankind. The seeds of the valuable
cereals, wheat, barley, oats, rye, etc., furnish us with
indispensable farinaceous food and their stems with straw - the
coarser kinds are useful for litter and fodder, also for thatching
and other purposes, such as the making of mats, etc. - the finer
varieties are widely employed in the making of hats, and our native
Grasses furnish nutritious herbage, either as green pasture, or as
hay, and some of them with mucilaginous roots possess distinctive
Botanical: Agropyrum repens (BEAUV.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Twitch-grass. Scotch Quelch. Quick-grass.
Dog-grass. Triticum repens (Linn.).
---Habitat---Couch-grass is widely diffused, being not
only abundant in fields and waste places in Britain and on the
Continent of Europe, but also in Northern Asia, Australia and North
and South America. It was formerly known as Triticum repens,
though now assigned to the genus Agropyrum.
Among these the Couch-grass (Agropyrum repens) is
pre-eminent, though anything but a favourite with the farmer, for
it has a slender, creeping rhizome, or underground stem, which
extends for a considerable distance just beneath the surface of the
ground, giving off lateral branches occasionally, and marked at
intervals of about an inch by nodes, from which leaf-buds and
slender branching roots are produced. These long, creeping,
subterranean stems increase with great rapidity, and the smallest
piece left in the ground will vegetate and quickly extend itself,
so that it is almost impossible to extirpate it when once
established in the soil, while its exhaustive powers render it very
injurious to the crops. Its very name, Couch, is supposed to
be derived from the Anglo-Saxon, civice (vivacious), on
account of its tenacity of life. It is said that the only way to
extirpate it, is to lay the ground down in pasture for some years,
when the Couch will soon be destroyed by the close-growing Grasses,
for it flourishes only in loose soil.
The name Agropyron is from the Greek agros
(field), and puros (wheat).
On sandy seashores, the grass is often very abundant and
assists in binding the sand and preventing the dunes from shifting,
its long rhizome answering the purpose nearly as well as those of
the Mat and Lyme Grasses.
Though commonly regarded in this country as a worthless and
troublesome weed, its roots are, however, considered on the
Continent to be wholesome food for cattle and horses. In Italy,
especially, they are carefully gathered by the peasants and sold in
the markets. The roots have a sweet taste, somewhat resembling
liquorice, and Withering relates that, dried and ground into meal,
bread has been made with them in time of scarcity.
---Description---From its long creeping, pointed
root-stock, it produces in July several round, hollow flower stems,
2 to 3 feet high, thickened at the joints, bearing five to seven
leaves and terminated by long, denselyflowered, two-rowed spikes of
flowers, somewhat resembling those of rye or beardless wheat,
composed of eight or more oval spikelets on alternate sides of the
spike, each containing four to eight florets, the awns, when
present, being not more than half the length of the flower. The
leaves are flat, with a long, cleft sheath, and are rough on the
upper surface, having a row of hairs on each principal
One of the names of this grass is Dog'sgrass, from its efficacy
in relieving dogs when ill. They are often to be seen searching for
its rough leaves, which they chew in order to procure vomiting.
Culpepper closes his description of the grass by saying: 'If you
know it not by this description, watch the dogs when they are sick
and they will quickly lead you to it,' and concludes his account of
its medicinal virtues with: 'and although a gardener be of another
opinion, yet a physician holds half an acre of them to be worth
five acres of carrots twice told over.'
'Although that Couch-grasse
be an unwelcome guest to fields and gardens, yet his physicke
virtues do recompense those hurts; for it openeth the stoppings of
the liver and reins without any manifest heat.' He says concerning
a variety of Couch-grass that -
'the roots of this grass are
knotty and tuberous in early spring, but in summer-time these bulbs
lose all shape or form. . . . The learned Societie of London and
the Physitions of the Colledge do hold this bulbous Couch grass in
temperature agreeing with the common Couch Grass, but in vertues
more effectual,' and mentions it as 'growing in the fields next to
St. James' Wall, as ye go to Chelsea, and in the fields as ye go
from the Tower Hill of London to Radcliffe.'
Culpepper greatly praises its virtues for diseases of the
The juice of the roots drank freely is recommended by Boerhaave
in obstruction of the viscera, particularly in cases of scirrhous
liver and jaundice, and it is noteworthy that cattle having
scirrhous livers in winter soon get cured when turned out to grass
in spring. Sheep and goats eat the leaves as well as cows, horses
eat them when young, but leave them untouched when fully
The ancients were familiar with a grass under the names of
Agrostis and Gramen - having a creeping root-stock
like the Couchgrass. Dioscorides asserts that its root, taken in
the form of decoction is a useful remedy in suppression of urine
and stone in the bladder. The same statements are made by Pliny,
and are found in the writings of Oribasius and Marcellus Empiricus
in the fourth century and of Ætius in the sixth century, and
figures of the plant may be found in Dodoens's herbal. The drug is
also met with in the German pharmaceutical tariffs of the sixteenth
Formerly the decoction of Couch-grass roots was a popular drink
taken to purify the blood in spring. The drug is still a domestic
remedy in great repute in France, being taken as a demulcent and
sudorific in the form of a tisane. Readers of Trilby
will remember Little Billee being dosed with this, as most
Parisians have been. The French also use the Cocksfoot-grass
(Cynodon Dactylon), which they term Pied-de-poule, in
a similar way and for a similar purpose.
---Part Used---The rhizome, or underground stem,
collected in the spring and freed from leaves and
Couch-grass rhizome is long, stiff, pale yellow and smooth,
about 1/10 inch in diameter, hollow except at the nodes and
strongly furrowed longitudinally, with five or six longitudinal
ridges. Where the nodes occur, traces of rootlets may be found on
the under surfaces and the fibrous remains of sheathing leaf-bases
on the upper surfaces, but all traces of rootlets and leaves must
be removed before use.
As found in commerce, the rhizome is always free from rootlets,
cut into short lengths of 1/8 to 1/4 inch and dried, being thus in
the form of little shining, straw-coloured, many-edged tubular
pieces, which are without odour, but have a sweet
---Constituents---Couch-grass rhizome contains about 7
to 8 per cent of Triticin (a carbohydrate resembling Inulin) and
yielding levulose on hydrolysis. It appears to occur in the rhizome
of other grasses, and possibly is widely diffused in the vegetable
kingdom. Sugar, Inosite, Mucilage and acid malates are also
constituents of the drug. Lactic acid and mannite may occur in an
extract of the rhizome, but are understood to be fermentation
products. Starch is not present and no definite active constituent
has yet been discovered. The rhizome leaves about 4 1/2 per cent
ash on incineration.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic demulcent. Much
used in cystitis and thetreatment of catarrhal diseases of the
bladder. It palliates irritation of the urinary passages and gives
relief in cases of gravel.
It is also recommended in gout and rheumatism. It is supposed
to owe its diuretic effect to its sugar, and is best given in the
form of an infusion, made from 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water,
which may be freely used taken in wineglassful doses. A decoction
is also made by putting 2 to 4 oz. in a quart of water and reducing
down to a pint by boiling. Of the liquid extract 1/2 to 2
teaspoonsful are given in water.
Couch-grass is official in the Indian and Colonial Addendum of
the British Pharmacopoeia for use in the Australasian, Eastern and
North American Colonies, where it is much employed.
---Substitutes---Agropyrum acutum (R. et S.)
A. pungens (R. et S.) and A. junceum (Beauv.), by
some botanists regarded as mere maritime varieties of A.
repens, have root-stocks similar to the latter.
COUCH-GRASS, DOG'S TOOTH
Botanical: Cynodon dactylon (PERS.)
Cynodon dactylon (Pers.), a grass very common in the
south of Europe and the warmer parts of Western Europe, also
indigenous to Northern Africa as far as Abyssinia, affords the
Gros Chien-dent or Chiendent and Pied-de-poule
of the French. It is a rhizome differing from that of Couch-grass,
in being a little stouter and in containing much starch, of which
there is no trace in Couch-grass. Under the microscope it displays
an entirely different structure, inasmuch as it contains a large
number of much stronger fibrovascular bundles and a cellular tissue
loaded with starch, and is, therefore, in appearance much more
woody. It thus approximates to the rhizome of Carex arenaria
(Linn.) which is as much used in Germany as that of Cynodon
in France and Southern Europe. The latter appears to contain
Asparagin, or a substance similar in composition to
The herb of Hygrophila spinosa (Linn.) has been used for
the same purpose as Couchgrass rhizome, and was formerly included
in the Indian and Colonial Addendum to the British Pharmacopoeia.
It contains much mucilage.
Botanical: Lolium temulentum (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Ray-grass. Drake. Cheat.
(Old English) Cokil.
The Bearded Darnel, a common grass weed in English cornfields,
is easily distinguished by its long glumes or awns and turgid,
fruiting pales, containing the large grains, from the common Ray or
Rye-grass (Lolium perenne), which is one of the best of the
cultivated grasses, peculiarly adapted for both hay and pasture,
especially in wet or uncertain climates. Both are often
indiscriminately called Darnel or Ray-grass.
The seeds or grains of the Bearded Darnel were used medicinally
by the ancient Greeks and Romans, but were never official in our
The admixture of the grain with those of the nutritious cereals
amongst which it is often found growing should be guarded against,
as its properties are generally regarded as deleterious. Gerard
tells us: 'the new bread wherein Darnel is eaten hot causeth
drunkenness.' When Darnel has been given medicinally in a harmful
quantity, it is recorded to have produced all the symptoms of
drunkenness: a general trembling, followed by inability to walk,
hindered speech and vomiting. For this reason the French call
Darnel: 'Ivraie,' from Ivre (drunkenness); the word
Darnel is itself of French origin and testifies to its intoxicating
qualities, being derived from an old French word Darne,
signifying stupefied. The ancients supposed it to cause blindness,
hence with the Romans, lolio victitare, to live on Darnel,
was a phrase applied to a dim-sighted person.
The alleged poisonous properties of Darnel are now generally
believed to be due to a fungus.
Darnel is in some provincial districts known as Cheat, and
there is reason to suspect that the old custom of using Darnel to
adulterate malt and distilled liquors has not been entirely
Culpepper terms it 'a pestilent enemy among the corn,' and in
olden days its name was so commonly used as a synonym for a
pernicious weed that it has been said that the expression in
Matthew xiii. 25, would have been better translated Darnel
The Arabs still give the name zirwan to a noxious grass
(which is only too common in the cornfields of Palestine)
simulating the wheat when undeveloped, though easily
distinguishable at 'harvest' time.
In connection with this similarity, it may be of interest to
relate an experiment made by a friend of the writer. She procured
some ears of Palestine wheat and also some of Palestine 'Darnel'
('tares'), for the purpose of illustrating the truth of the Parable
of the Tares to her Bible-class. After sowing both kinds in a patch
of ground she asked her scholars to watch the appearance of the
respective 'blades' as they appeared. They attached small strands
of wool to distinguish each. In many cases wheat grew from the tare
seeds, and tares from the wheat.
It is said that the country people of Cheshire believed Darnel
to be 'degenerated wheat.'
In the East it is a more
serious enemy to the farmer, and in the low-lying districts of the
Lebanon and other parts of Palestine it becomes alarmingly
plentiful. If inadvertently eaten it produces sickness, dizziness,
and diarrhoea. It would seem that the 'malice aforethought' of
sowing this wild grass deliberately (as in our Lord's parable), was
a not unusual practice. The following is a quotation from an old
'The Country of
Ill-Will is the by-name of a district hard by St. Arnaud, in
the north of France. There tenants, when ejected by a landlord, or
when they have ended their tenancy on uncomfortable terms, have
been in the habit of spoiling the crop to come by vindictively
sowing tares, and other coarse strangling weeds, among the
wheat, whence has been derived the sinister name of the district.
The practice has been made penal, and any man proved to have
tampered with any other man's harvest will be dealt with as a
Virgil speaks of 'unlucky
darnel' (Georg., lib. i. 151-4) and groups it with thistles,
thorns, and burs, among the enemies of the husbandman, and
'Darnel and all the idle
weeds that grow
In our sustaining
In the Middle Ages it was sometimes called Cokil, as well as
Ray, and in the fourteenth century we hear of it being used against
'festour and morsowe,' and of Cokkilmeal being thought good for
freckles and to make the face white and soft. Culpepper, after
calling it 'a malicious part of sullen Saturn,' adds: 'as it is not
without some vices, hath it also many virtues . . . the meal of
darnel is very good to stay gangrenes; it also cleanseth the skin
of all scurvy, morphews, ringworms, if it be used with salt and
reddish (Radish) roots.' Also: 'a decoction thereof made with water
and honey, and the places bathed therewith cures the sciatica,' and
finally: 'Darnel meal applied in a poultice draweth forth splinters
and broken bones in the flesh.'
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Darnel is usually
regarded as possessing sedative and anodyne properties. It was not
only employed medicinally by the Greeks and Romans and in the
Middle Ages, but in more modern practice in the form of a powder or
pill in headache, rheumatic meningitis, sciatica and other cases.
Cases are on record of serious effects having resulted from the use
of bread, containing by accidental admixture the flour of Darnel
seeds. Chemically the seeds contain an acrid fixed oil and a yellow
glucoside, but as far as microscopical appearances indicate, the
Darnel contains nothing that is not contained in wheat, and
analysis has not yet revealed its poisonous elements.
Of late years, it has been questioned whether the ill-effects
of Darnel are inherent in the grain themselves, or whether they may
not be ascribed to their having been ergotized. Lindley in his
Vegetable Kingdom takes the latter view, stating moreover,
'this is the only authentic instance of unwholesome qualities in
the order of grasses,' and Professor Henslow considers too that as
the use of Darnel in the sixteenth century was similar to that of
Ergot - a diseased condition of the grain of Rye - it is more
probable that the injurious nature of Darnel has been due to an
ergotized condition, especially as experiments have shown that
perfectly healthy Darnel seeds have no injurious
VERNAL GRASS, SWEET SCENTED
Botanical: Anthoxanthum odoratum (LINN.)
The Sweet-scented Vernal Grass - with yellow anthers,
not purple, as so many other grasses - gives its characteristic
odour to newly-mown meadow hay, and has a pleasant aroma of
Woodruff. It is, however, specially provocative of hay fever and
hay asthma. The flowers contain Coumarin, the same substance that
is present in the Melilot flowers, and the volatile pollen
impregnates the atmosphere in early summer, causing much distress
to hay-fever subjects. The sweet perfume is due chiefly to benzoic
A medicinal tincture is made from this grass with spirit of
wine, and it said that if poured into the open hand and sniffed
well into the nose, almost immediate relief is afforded during an
attack of hay fever. It is recommended that 3 or 4 drops of the
tincture be at the same time taken as a dose with water, repeated
if required, at intervals of twenty to thirty minutes.
The name Anthoxanthum is from the Greek anthos
(flower) and xanthos (yellow).
A. Puelii is a smaller species than A.odoratum,
with many slender much-branched stems; lax panicles; long, slender
awns, and a fainter perfume. It occurs occasionally as a modern
introduction in sandy fields. Flowers from July to
The following British grasses have varying degrees of utility,
though are not all medicinally valuable.
Botanical: Spartina stricta
The generic name is from the Greek spartiné (a cord)
from the use to which the leaves have been put. It grows on muddy
saltmarshes in the south. It is cut at Southampton by the poorer
classes for thatching. Another variety grows on the mud-flats at
Southampton, and is known as MANY-SPIKED CORD-GRASS (S.
Towsendi) with shorter leaves; broader, larger spikelets, more
lanceolate downy glumes, and a flexuous tip to the rachis; it also
occurs on Southampton Water and in the Isle of Wight.
CANARY - GRASS
Though probably an escape in England, it is much cultivated as
'canary-seed' in Central and Southern Europe for caged 'song
Name said to be from the Greek holkos, connected with
helko (I draw), referring to a supposed power of drawing
thorns out of the flesh. There are two British species, H.
Mollis (Creeping Softgrass), abundant on light soil, and H.
lanatus (Yorkshire Fog, Meadow Soft-grass) larger than the
Botanical: Fibichia umbellata
Of which the only British species is F. umbellata, a low
prostrate grass, with long tough runners and short fat glaucous
leaves, distinguished from all other British grasses (except
Panicum sanguinale and P. glabrum) by the digitate
arrangement of the three to five slender purplish spikes in the
panicle, each of which is 1 to 1 1/2 inches long; and from those
two species by having its awnless spikelets arranged singly,
instead of in pairs, along the spikes. It is found in sandy
pastures by the sea in the south-western counties, but is very
rare. It is a good sand-binder, and one of the best pasture grasses
of many dry climates. In India it is called Doorba or
Doab-grass, and in Bermuda, Bermuda-grass. It was
named after J. Fibich, a German botanist.
Of which P. communis (Common Reed) is the only species, is a
stout grass, 5 to 10 feet high, with a long creeping root-stock. It
is common all over the world, is very serviceable on river banks
for binding the soil, and is used also for thatch (especially in
The runners are nutritious, containing much sugar, and might be
used as fodder.
Name said to be from the Greek, phragma (a hedge).
Is a most useful grass, but the wiry stalks, when not eaten by
sheep, remain in a dry state and are known as 'bents' or
Botanical: Molinia varia
The only species, and a rather coarse, stiff plant, sometimes 3
feet high, with one node near the base of the stem. It grows in
tussocks in company with Scabiosa succisa (Premorse, or
Devil's-bit Scabious). The stems of this grass are sold in bundles
by tobacconists for cleaning pipes. It was named after G. F.
Molina, a Chilian botanist.
Botanical: Catabrosa aquatica
The only species is a soft smooth pale-green plant, creeping or
floating, sometimes muchbranched, 1 to 2 feet high. It grows in
ditches and by the margins of ponds. Rather scarce, though
distributed over the whole island. One of the sweet grasses;
water-fowl and cattle are fond of it; but it is unsuitable for
cultivation from the character of its habitat. Its name is derived
from the Greek Katabrosis, an 'eating out,' alluding to the torn
ends of the glumes.
Botanical: Glyceria aquatica
A conspicuous and imposing grass, 4 to 6 feet high, frequent in
England and Ireland but rare in Scotland.
It is a fine covert for waterfowl.
Among the Grasses may be included the SCENTED GRASSES, growing
in tropical climates, largely cultivated in India, Ceylon and the
Straits Settlements. They furnish very important essential oils for
LEMONGRASS OIL is prepared from Cymbopogon citratus,
formerly known as Andropogon Schoenanthus, a species growing
abundantly in India and cultivated in Ceylon and Seychelles. It
owes its scent almost entirely to its chief constituent, citral,
and is one of the chief sources of the citral used in the
manufacture of Tonone or artificial violet perfume. It is sometimes
called Oil of Verbena from its similarity to the odour of the true
Verbena Oil which is rarely found in commerce. It is frequently
used to adulterate Lemon Oil. Samples of the oil produced
experimentally in the West Indies, Uganda, and new districts of
India were examined in the laboratories of the Imperial Institute
in 1911, and as a result of the recommendations made, the
production of Lemongrass has been taken up on a considerable scale
CITRONELLA OIL is derived from C. nardus, grown in
Ceylon, Java and Burmah. The oil is distilled on an enormous scale
and used for perfuming the cheapest household soaps and in the
manufacture of coarse scents, and is also added as an adulterant to
more expensive oils. Its scent is chiefly due to two substances,
Geraniol and Citronellel.
PALMAROSA, Rosha or Indian Geranium Oil, is derived from C.
martine. It is grown in India and was formerly known as
'Turkish Geranium Oil,' because it was imported into Europe
via Turkey and Bulgaria as an adulterant to Otto of Roses.
It has a strong geranium-like odour and is used in the commercial
preparation of pure Geraniol, its chief constituent. The
distillation of this oil was started in the eighteenth
GINGERGRASS OIL is also the product of the last-named grass, an
oil of poorer quality, which is only suitable for cheap
Botanical: Eupatorium purpureum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Trumpet-weed. Gravelweed. Joe-pye Weed.
Jopi Weed. Queen-of-the-Meadow Root. Purple Boneset. Eupatorium
purpureum, trifoliatum, and maculatum. Eupatorium verticillatum.
Eupatorium ternifolium. Hempweed.
---Part Used---Fresh root.
---Habitat---Is indigenous to North America, and common
from Canada to Florida, growing in swampy and rich low grounds,
where it blossoms throughout the summer months.
---Description---This species varies greatly in form and
foliage, the type being very tall and graceful.
The stem is rigidly erect, usually about 5 or 6 feet high,
though sometimes even reaching a height of 12 feet, and is stout,
unbranched and either hollow, or furnished with an incomplete pith.
It is purple above the joints and often covered with elongated
spots and lines (this variety having been called maculata by
Linnaeus). The leaves, oblong and pointed, rough above, but downy
beneath, are placed in whorls of four or five on the stem (mostly
in fives) and are nearly destitute of resinous dots. The margins
are coarsely and unequally toothed, the leafstalks either short or
merely represented by the contracted bases of the leaves. The
flowers are purple, in a dense terminal inflorescence, the heads
very numerous, five to ten flowered, contained in an eight-leaved,
It grows in low, swampy ground. There are over forty species of
the genus, many of which are used medicinally. The name is derived
from a king of Pontus, Mithridates Eupator, who first used the
plant as a remedy, and the popular name of Jopi or Joe-pye is taken
from an American Indian who cured the typhus with it.
The taste is aromatic, astringent, and bitter.
The roots should be collected in the autumn.
---Constituents---The chief constituent is Euparin. It
is yellow, neutral, and crystalline,and received the formula Cl2 =
H11 = O3.
Eupurpurin, a so-called oleoresin, has been precipitated from a
tincture of the drug.
A tincture and a fluid extract are prepared.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic, nervine.
Formerly the use of this purpleflowered Boneset was very similar to
that of the ordinary Boneset. It is especially valuable as a
diuretic and stimulant as well as an astringent tonic, and is
considered a valuable remedy in dropsy, strangury, gravel,
hematuria, gout and rheumatism, exerting a special influence upon
chronic renal and cystic troubles.
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Eupatorin, 3 to 5 grains.
Botanical: Genista tinctoria (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Greenweed. Greenwood. Woad or Wood-waxen,
formerly Wede-wixen or Woud-wix. Base-broom. Genet des Teinturiers.
F„rberginster. Dyers' Broom.
---Part Used---Whole plant.
---Habitat---Mediterranean countries. Canary Islands.
Western Asia. Britain. Established in the United
---Description---The name of the genus is derived from
the Celtic Gen (a small bush). Genista tinctoria is a
small, tufted shrub, bearing short racemes of yellow flowers. The
bright, luxuriant growth of the latter has led to its cultivation
in greenhouses in the United States.
The bright green, smooth stems, 1 to 2 feet high, are much
branched, the branches erect, rather stiff, smooth or only slightly
hairy and free from spines. The leaves are spear-shaped, placed
alternately on the stem, smooth, with uncut margins, 1/2 to 1 inch
in length, very smoothly stalked, the margins fringed with
The shoots terminate in spikes of brightyellow, pea-like
flowers, opening in July. They are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, on
foot-stalks shorter than the calyx. Like those of the Broom, they
'explode' when visited by an insect. The 'claws' of the four lower
petals are straight at first, but in a high state of tension, so
that the moment they are touched, they curl downwards with a sudden
action and the flower bursts open. The flowers are followed by
smooth pods, 1 to 1 1/4 inch long, much compressed laterally, brown
when ripe, containing five to ten seeds.
A dwarf kind grows in tufts in meadows in the greater part of
England and is said to enrich poor soil.
Cows will sometimes eat the plant, and it communicates an
unpleasant bitterness to their milk and even to the cheese and
butter made from it.
All parts of the plant, but especially the flowering tops,
yield a good yellow dye, and from the earliest times have been used
by dyers for producing this colour, especially for wool: combined
with woad, an excellent green is yielded, the colour being fixed
with alum, cream of tartar and sulphate of lime. In some parts of
England, the plant used to be collected in large quantities by the
poor and sold to the dyers.
Tournefort (1708) describes the process of dyeing linen,
woollen, cloth or leather by the use of this plant, which he saw in
the island of Samos. It is still applied to the same purpose in
some of the Grecian islands. The Romans employed if for dyeing and
it is described by several of their writers.
In some countries the buds are prepared and served as
seasoning. As a dye the plant has largely been superseded by
The seeds have been suggested as a substitute for
In Spain and Italy strong cloths that take dyes well are woven
from the fibres.
---Constituents---The active principle,
Scopnarine, is found as starry, yellow crystals, and is
soluble in boiling water and in alcohol. From the liquid which
remains another principle, Spartéine, is extracted, an
organic base, liquid and volatile, with strong narcotic
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic, cathartic,
emetic. Both flower tops and seedshave been used
The powdered seeds operate as a mild purgative and a decoction
of the plant has been used medicinally as a remedy in dropsy and is
also stated to have proved effective in gout and rheumatism, being
taken in wineglassful doses three or four times a day.
The ashes form an alkaline salt, which has also been used as a
remedy in dropsy and other diseases.
In the fourteenth century it was used, as well as Broom, to
make an ointment called Unguentum geneste, 'goud for alle
could goutes,' etc. The seed was used in a plaister for broken
A decoction of the plant was regarded in the Ukraine as a
remedy for hydrophobia, but its virtues in this respect do not seem
to rest on very good evidence.
Dioscorides and Pliny speak of the purgative properties of the
seeds and flowers, and the latter also regarded them as diuretic
and good for sciatica. Cullen used a decoction of the young shoots
for the same purpose. An infusion of the flowers has been found
useful for albuminuria, and a combination of the tips with mustard,
in dropsy. A poultice has benefited cold abscesses and scrofulous
tumours. The infusion can be taken in wineglassful doses three or
four times a day.
It has been stated that scoparine can replace all preparations,
while one drop of spartéine dissolved in alcohol is a strong
G. scoparia, G. purgans, and G. griot havesimilar
properties. The last two are employed by the peasants as
The flowers of G. Hispanica have been used in dropsy
combined with albuminaric.
Dyers' Woad or Dyers' Weed is also the common name of Isatis
tinctoria, and Reseda Luteola, or Yellow Weed or Weld,
used in dyeing and painting.
Botanical: Grindelia camporum (GREENE), Grindelia cuneifolia,
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Hardy Grindelia. Gum Plant. California Gum
Plant. Scaly Grindelia. Rosin Weed. Grindelia robusta
---Parts Used---Dried leaves and flowering
---Habitat---The western United States.
---Description---Until the work of Perredes in 1906 the
drug was supposed to be derived from Grindelia robusta, and
the species now regarded as official were thought to be merely
varieties. G. robusta, however, is rarely used.
There are about twenty-five species of the genus, seven or
eight being found in South America. The early growth of most of
them is covered with a glutinous varnish. They are perennial or
biennial herbs or small shrubs, with stems up to half-a-yard long,
round, yellow, and smooth, with alternate, light-green,
coarsely-toothed leaves having a clasping base. They are easily
broken off when dried, so are often found loose in packages. The
solitary, terminal flower-heads are large and yellow, both disk and
radiate. Taste and odour are slightly aromatic, the former
The distinctive mark of the genus is the limb of the calyx,
consisting of two to eight rigid, narrow awns, which fall
The plant was only made widely known to the medical profession
in the latter part of the nineteenth century, by Dr. C. A.
Canfield, and Mr. J. G. Steele of San Francisco.
---Constituents---Grindelia may contain as much as 21
per cent of amorphous resins. Two are dark-coloured, one being
soluble in ether, and one soft and greenish, soluble in petroleum
spirit. There is also found tannin, laevoglucose, and a little
volatile oil. The presence of glucosides has not been
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Expectorant and sedative,
with an action resembling atropine. It has been recommended in
cystitis and catarrh of the bladder, but its principal use is in
bronchial catarrh, especially when there is any asthmatic tendency.
It relieves dyspnoea due to heart disease, has been successfully
employed in whooping cough, and as a local application in rhus
poisoning, burns, genito-urinary catarrh, etc. As its active
principle is excreted from the kidneys, it sometimes produces signs
of renal irritation; in chronic catarrh of the bladder it
stimulates the mucous membrane.
A homoeopathic tincture is prepared.
---Dosage---Of fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Of
Grindelia, 30 to 40 grains.
The Fluid extract is sometimes continued with liquorice in the
proportion of 1/2 drachm of Grindelia to 1 draehm of the Fluid
extract of Liquorice, mucilage to 1 oz. (It combines well with
yerba santa in equal proportions. - EDITOR.)
G. cuneifolia is a marsh plant, darker greenand less
glutinous than G. camporum. It has a variety called
G. squarrosa grows on prairies and dry banks. The bracts
of the involucre are linear-lanceolate and spreading.
G. robusta var. latifolia is large, hardy, and a
native of California.
These are all official varieties.
Ground Pine (American)
Ground Pine (European)
Botanical: Guaiacum officinale (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Zygophyllaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Parts Used---Resin, bark, wood.
---Habitat---West Indian Islands. North Coast of South
---Description---An ornamental evergreen tree with
pretty rich blue flowers, the trunk is a greenish-brown colour, the
wood of slow growth but attains a height of 40 to 60 feet, stem
almost always crooked, bark furrowed; the wood is extraordinarily
heavy, solid and dense, fibres cross-grained; pinnate leaves, oval
obtuse; fruit obcordate capsule; seeds solitary, hard, oblong. The
old heart wood is dark green, the sap wood little in quantity and
of a much lighter yellowish colour; the wood is largely used by
turners, where weight is not an obstacle; it is very hard and
durable, suitable for making black sheaves, pestles, pulleys,
rulers, skittle boards, etc.; it has a slight acrid taste and is
odourless, unless heated, when it emits an agreeable scent. The
bark yields 1 per cent volatile oil of delicious
Guaiacum sanctum. Habitat, Bahamas and South Florida) is
also used for the same purposes as G. officinale; it is
easily distinguished from the latter, by its five-celled fruit, and
its oblong leaflets, six to eight to each leaf. The leaves are
sometimes used as a substitute for soap.
Guaiacum Resin. This is obtained from both the above
trees and is procured by raising one end of the log and firing it;
this melts the resin, which runs out of a hole cut in the other
end, and is then caught into vessels. The resin is found in round
or ovoid tears; some are imported the size of walnuts, but usually
it is in large blocks; these break easily; the fracture is clean
and glassy, in thin pieces, colour yellow-reddish brown. The powder
is grey, and must be kept in dark-coloured bottles, as exposure to
the light and air soon turns it green.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The wood is very little
used in medicine; it obtained a great reputation about the
sixteenth century, when it was brought into notice as a cure for
syphilis and other diseases; later on the resin obtained from the
wood was introduced and now is greatly preferred, for medicinal
use, to the wood. The wood is sometimes sold by chemists in the
form of fine shavings, and as such called Lignum Vitae, which are
turned green by exposure to the air, and bluish green by the action
of nitric fumes. This test proves its genuiness.
It is a mild laxative and diuretic. For tonsilitis it is given
in powdered form. Specially useful for rheumatoid arthritis, also
in chronic rheumatism and gout, relieving the pain and inflammation
between the attacks, and lessening their recurrence if doses are
continued. It acts as an acrid stimulant, increasing heat of body
and circulation; when the decoction is taken hot and the body is
kept warm, it acts as a diaphoretic, and if cool as a diuretic.
Also largely used for secondary syphilis, skin diseases and
---Dosage---Of the wood 30 to 60 grains, Decoction, 2
oz. to 4 oz. in a pint of water. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Guaiacum tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Ammoniated
tincture Guaiacum, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Resin, 5 to 15
grains. Guaiacum mixture, B.P., 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce. Guaiacum
Resin Lozenges, B.P., 1 to 6 may be taken.
Botanical: Paullinia Cupana, Kunth. (H. B. and K.)
Family: N.O. Sapindaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Paullinia. Guarana Bread. Brazilian Cocoa.
Uabano. Uaranzeiro. Paullinia Sorbilis.
---Part Used---Prepared seeds, crushed.
---Habitat---Brazil, Uruguay. - NOTE: Dr Earle
Sweet, Sayfer Botanicals, points out that this is incorrect,
Guarana does NOT grow in Uruguay.
---Description---This climbing shrub took the name of
its genus from C. F. Paullini, a German medical botanist who died
1712. It has divided compound leaves, flowers yellow panicles,
fruit pear shaped, three sided, three-celled capsules, with thin
partitions, in each a seed like a small horse-chestnut half
enclosed in an aril, flesh coloured and easily separated when
dried. The seeds of Paullinia Sorbilis are often used or
mixed with those of P. Cupana. Guarana is only made by the
Guaranis, a tribe of South American Indians.
(Note: Marcos Garcia, Embrapa-CPAA, Manaus Amazonas, Brazil,
also points out "The origin habitat of Guarana is the Amazon
Region. But actually it is cultivated in others locations at
Southest of Brazil." - editor HTML version - A MODERN
After the seeds are shelled and washed they are roasted for six
hours, then put into sacks and shaken till their outside shell
comes off, they are then pounded into a fine powder and made into a
dough with water, and rolled into cylindrical pieces 8 inches long;
these are then dried in the sun or over a slow fire, till they
became very hard and are then a rough and reddish-brown colour,
marbled with the seeds and testa in the mass. They break with an
irregular fracture, have little smell, taste astringent, and bitter
like chocolate without its oiliness, and in colour like chocolate
powder; it swells up and partially dissolves in water.
---Constituents---A crystallizable principle, called
guaranine, identical with caffeine, which exists in the seeds,
united with tannic acid, catechutannic acid starch, and a greenish
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Nervine, tonic, slightly
narcotic stimulant, aphrodisiac febrifuge. A beverage is made from
the guaran sticks, by grating half a tablespoonful into sugar and
water and drinking it like tea. The Brazilian miners drink this
constantly and believe it to be a preventive of many diseases, as
well as a most refreshing beverage. Their habit in travelling is to
carry the stick or a lump of it in their pockets, with a palate
bone or scale of a large fish with which to grate it. P.
Cupana is also a favourite national diet drink, the seeds are
mixed with Cassava and water, and left to ferment until almost
putrid, and in this state it is the favourite drink of the Orinoco
Indians. From the tannin it contains it is useful for mild forms of
leucorrhoea, diarrhoea, etc., but its chief use in Europe and
America is for headache, especially if of a rheumatic nature. It is
a gentle excitant and serviceable where the brain is irritated or
depressed by mental exertion, or where there is fatigue or
exhaustion from hot weather. It has the same chemical composition
as caffeine, theine and cocaine, and the same physiological action.
Its benefit is for nervous headache or the distress that
accompanies menstruation, or exhaustion following dissipation. It
is not recommended for chronic headache or in cases where it is not
desirable to increase the temperature, or excite the heart or
increase arterial tension. Dysuria often follows its
administration. It is used by the Indians for bowel complaints, but
is not indicated in cases of constipation or blood
---Dosage---Powder, 10 grains to 1/2 drachm. Fluid
extract of Guarana, U.S.P., 30 minims sweetened with one
teaspoonful of syrup in water three times a day.
As a strong diuretic 7 1/2 grains can be taken daily and in 24
hours it has been known to increase urine from 27 OZ. to 107
Tincture of Guarana, B.P.C., for sick headaches, 1 to 2 fluid
drachms in water.
Botanical: Viburnum opulus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Caprifoliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Cramp Bark. Snowball Tree. King's Crown.
High Cranberry. Red Elder. Rose Elder. Water Elder. May Rose.
Whitsun Rose. Dog Rowan Tree. Silver Bells. Whitsun Bosses. Gaitre
Berries. Black Haw.
---Habitat---The 'Gaitre-Beries' of which Chaucer makes
mention among the plants that 'shal be for your hele' to 'picke hem
right as they grow and ete hem in,' are the deep red clusters of
berries of the Wild Guelder Rose (Viburnum Opulus, Linn.), a
shrub growing 5 to 10 feet high, belonging to the same family as
the Elder, found in copses and hedgerows throughout England, though
rare in Scotland, and also indigenous to North America, where it is
to be found in low grounds in the eastern United
---Description---It resembles the Common Elder in habits
of growth, hence in some districts we find it called Red Elder or
Rose Elder. The conspicuous, large, nearly flattopped heads of
snow-white flowers are 3 to 5 inches across, the inner ones very
small, but with an outer ring of large, showy, sterile blossoms,
containing undeveloped stamens with no pollen and an ovary without
ovules. Only the inner, complete flowers provide the nectar for the
attraction of insects who are to fertilize them. The resulting
fruits, which ripen very quickly, form a drooping cluster of bright
red berries, shining and translucent, perhaps the most ornamental
of our wild fruits, the tree presenting a very beautiful appearance
in August, when they are ripe, especially as the leaves assume a
rich purple hue before falling. But although edible, the berries,
in spite of Chaucer's recommendation, are too bitter to be
palatable eaten fresh off the trees, and when crushed, smell
somewhat disagreeable, though birds appreciate them and in Siberia
the berries used to be, and probably still are, fermented with
flour and a spirit distilled from them. They have been used in
Norway and Sweden to flavour a paste of honey and
In Canada, they are employed to a considerable extent as a
substitute for Cranberries and are much used for making. a piquant
jelly, their sourness gaining for them there the name of High Bush
Cranberry, though the tree is, of course, quite unrelated to the
The name Guelder comes from Gueldersland, a Dutch province,
where the tree was first cultivated. It was introduced into England
under the name of 'Gueldres Rose.' The garden variety, Viburnum
sterile, with snowball flowers, does not produce the showy fruit of
the wild species.
The berries have anti-scorbutic properties. They turn black in
drying and have been used for making ink.
The wood, like that of the Spindle Tree and Dogwood, is used
for making skewers.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The bark, known as Cramp
Bark, is employed in herbal medicine. It used formerly to be
included in the United States Pharmacopoeia, but is now omitted
though it has been introduced into the National Formulary in the
form of a Fluid Extract, Compound Tincture and Compound Elixir, for
use as a nerve sedative and anti-spasmodic in asthma and
In herbal practice in this country, its administration in
decoction and infusion, as well as the fluid extract and compound
tincture is recommended. It has been employed with benefit in all
nervous complaints and debility and used with success in cramps and
spasms of all kinds, in convulsions, fits and lockjaw, and also in
palpitation, heart disease and rheumatism.
The decoction (1/2 oz. to a pint of water) is given in
The bark is collected chiefly in northern Europe and appears in
commerce in thin strips, sometimes in quills, 1/20 to 1/12 inch
thick, greyish-brown externally, with scattered brownish warts,
faintly cracked longitudinally. It has a strong, characteristic
odour and its taste is mildly astringent and decidedly
---Constituents---The active principle of Cramp Bark is
the bitter glucoside Viburnine; it also contains tannin, resin and
---Preparations and Dosages---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 2
drachms. Viburnin, 1 to 3 grains.
Its constituents are identical with the species of
Viburnum that is more widely used and is an official drug in
the United States, viz. Viburnum Prunifolium or Black Haw,
though Cramp Bark contains 1/3 the resin contained in Black Haw and
its similar properties are considered much weaker.
Fluid Extract of Cramp Bark has a reddishbrown colour and the
slight odour and somewhat astringent taste of the
offensiveness of the breath of him that hath eaten Garlick, will
lead you by the nose to the knowledge hereof, and (instead of a
description) direct you to the place where it grows in gardens,
which kinds are the best, and most physical.
Government and virtues : Mars owns this herb.
This was anciently accounted the poor man's treacle, it being a
remedy for all diseases and hurts (except those which itself
breed.) It provokes urine, and women's courses, helps the biting of
mad dogs and other venomous creatures, kills worms in children,
cuts and voids tough phlegm, purges the head, helps the lethargy,
is a good preservative against, and a remedy for any plague, sore,
or foul ulcers; takes away spots and blemishes in the skin, eases
pains in the ears, ripens and breaks imposthumes, or other
swellings. And for all those diseases the onions are as effectual.
But the Garlick hath some more peculiar virtues besides the former,
viz. it hath a special quality to discuss inconveniences
coming by corrupt agues or mineral vapours; or by drinking corrupt
and stinking waters; as also by taking wolfbane, henbane, hemlock,
or other poisonous and dangerous herbs. It is also held good in
hydropick diseases, the jaundice, falling sickness, cramps,
convulsions, the piles or hæmorrhoids, or other cold diseases. Many
authors quote many diseases this is good for; but conceal its
vices. Its heat is very vehement, and all vehement hot things send
up but ill-favoured vapours to the brain. In coleric men it will
add fuel to the fire; in men oppressed by melancholy, it will
attenuate the humour, and send up strong fancies, and as many
strange visions to the head; therefore let it be taken inwardly
with great moderation; outwardly you may make more bold with
GENTIAN, FELWORT, OR
confessed that Gentian, which is most used amongst us, is brought
over from beyond sea, yet we have two sorts of it growing
frequently in our nation, which, besides the reasons so frequently
alledged why English herbs should be fittest for English bodies,
has been proved by the experience of divers physicians, to be not a
wit inferior in virtue to that which comes from beyond sea,
therefore be pleased to take the description of them as
Descript : The greater of the two hath many small
long roots thrust down deep into the ground, and abiding all the
Winter. The stalks are sometimes more, sometimes fewer, of a
brownish green colour, which is sometimes two feet high, if the
ground be fruitful, having many long, narrow, dark green leaves,
set by couples up to the top; the flowers are long and hollow, of a
purple colour, ending in fine corners. The smaller sort which is to
be found in our land, grows up with sundry stalks, not a foot high,
parted into several small branches, whereon grow divers small
leaves together, very like those of the lesser Centaury, of a
whitish green colour; on the tops of these stalks grow divers
perfect blue flowers, standing in long husks, but not so big as the
other; the root is very small, and full of threads.
Place : The first grows in divers places of both
the East and West counties, and as well in wet as in dry grounds;
as near Longfield, by Gravesend, near Cobham in Kent, near
Lillinstone in Kent, also in a chalk pit hard by a paper-mill not
far from Dartford in Kent. The second grows also in divers places
in Kent, as about Southfleet, and Longfield; upon Barton's hills in
Bedfordshire; also not far from St. Albans, upon a piece of waste
chalky ground, as you go out by Dunstable way towards
Time : They flower in August.
Government and virtues : They are under the
dominion of Mars, and one of the principal herbs he is ruler of.
They resist putrefactions, poison, and a more sure remedy cannot be
found to prevent the pestilence than it is; it strengthens the
stomach exceedingly, helps digestion, comforts the heart, and
preserves it against faintings and swoonings. The powder of the dry
roots helps the biting of mad dogs and venomous beasts, open
obstructions of the liver, and restores an appetite for their meat
to such as have lost it. The herb steeped in wine, and the wine
drank, refreshes such as be overweary with traveling, and grow lame
in their joints, either by cold or evil lodgings; it helps
stitches, and griping pains in the sides; is an excellent remedy
for such as are bruised by falls; it provokes urine and the terms
exceedingly, therefore let it not be given to women with child. The
same is very profitable for such as are troubled with cramps and
convulsions, to drink the decoction. Also they say it breaks the
stone, and helps ruptures most certainly: it is excellent in all
cold diseases, and such as are troubled with tough phlegm, scabs,
itch, or any fretting sores and ulcers; it is an admirable remedy
to kill the worms, by taking half a dram of the powder in a morning
in any convenient liquor; the same is excellently good to be taken
inwardly for the king's evil. It helps agues of all sorts, and the
yellow jaundice, as also the bots in cattle; when kine are bitten
on the udder by any venomous beast, do but stroke the place with
the decoction of any of these, and it will instantly heal
It is vain
to describe an herb so well known.
Government and virtues : They are gallant, fine,
temperate flowers, of the nature and under the dominion of Jupiter;
yea, so temperate, that no excess, neither in heat, cold, dryness,
nor moisture, can be perceived in them; they are great
strengtheners both of the brain and heart, and will therefore serve
either for cordials or cephalics, as your occasion will serve.
There is both a syrup and a conserve made of them alone, commonly
to be had at every apothecary's. To take now and then a little of
either, strengthens nature much, in such as are in consumptions.
They are also excellently good in hot pestilent fevers, and expel
Descript : Common Germander shoots forth sundry
stalks, with small and somewhat round leaves, dented about the
edges. The flowers stand at the tops of a deep purple colour. The
root is composed of divers sprigs, which shoots forth a great way
round about, quickly overspreading a garden.
Place : It grows usually with us in
Time : And flowers in June and July.
Government and virtues : It is a most prevalent
herb of Mercury, and strengthens the brain and apprehension
exceedingly when weak, and relieves them when drooping. This taken
with honey (saith Dioscorides) is a remedy for coughs, hardness of
the spleen and difficulty of urine, and helps those that are fallen
into a dropsy, especially at the beginning of the disease, a
decoction being made thereof when it is green, and drank. It also
brings down women's courses, and expels the dead child. It is most
effectual against the poison of all serpents, being drank in wine,
and the bruised herb outwardly applied; used with honey, it
cleanses old and foul ulcers; and made into an oil, and the eyes
anointed therewith, takes away the dimness and moistness. It is
likewise good for the pains in the sides and cramps. The decoction
thereof taken for four days together, drives away and cures both
tertain and quartan agues. It is also good against all diseases of
the brain, as continual head-ache, falling-sickness, melancholy,
drowsiness and dullness of the spirits, convulsions and palsies. A
dram of the seed taken in powder purges by urine, and is good
against the yellow jaundice. The juice of the leaves dropped into
the ears kills the worms in them. The tops thereof, when they are
in flowers, steeped twenty-four hours in a drought of white wine,
and drank, kills the worms in the belly.
Descript : This is one of the kinds of
Flower-de-luce, having divers leaves arising from the roots, very
like a Flower-de-luce, but that they are sharp-edged on both sides,
and thicker in the middle, of a deeper green colour narrower and
sharper pointed, and a strong ill-scent, if they be bruised between
the fingers. In the middle rises up a reasonably strong stalk, a
yard high at least, bearing three or four flowers at the top, made
somewhat like the flowers of the Flower-de-luce, with three upright
leaves, of a dead purplish ashcolour, with some veins discoloured
in them; the other three do not fall down, nor are the three other
small ones so arched, nor cover the lower leaves as the
Flower-de-luce doth, but stand loose or asunder from them. After
they are past, there come up three square hard husks, opening wide
into three parts when they are ripe, wherein lie reddish seed,
turns black when it hath abiden long. The root is like that of the
Flower-de-luce, but reddish on the outside, and whitish within,
very sharp and hot in the taste, of as evil a scent as the
Place : This grows as well in upland grounds, as
in moist places, woods, and shadowy places by the sea-side in many
places of this land, and is usually nursed up in
Time : It flowers not until July, and the seed is
ripe in August or September, yet the husks after they are ripe,
opening themselves, will hold their seed with them for two or three
months, and not shed them.
Government and virtues : It is supposed to be
under the dominion of Saturn. It is used by many country people to
purge corrupt phlegm and choler, which they do by drinking the
decoction of the roots; and some to make it more gentle, do but
infuse the sliced roots in ale; and some take the leaves, which
serve well for the weaker stomach. The juice hereof put up, or
snuffed up the nose, causes sneezing, and draws from the head much
corruption; and the powder thereof doth the same. The powder
thereof drank in wine, helps those that are troubled with the
cramps and convulsions, or with the gout and sciatica, and gives
ease to those that have griping pains in their body and belly, and
helps those that have the stranguary. It is given with much profit
to those that have had long fluxes by the sharp and evil quality of
humours, which it stays, having first cleansed and purged them by
the drying and binding property therein. The root boiled in wine
and drank, doth effectually procure women's courses, and used as a
pessary, works the same effect, but causes abortion in women with
child. Half a dram of the seed beaten to powder, and taken in wine,
doth speedily cause one to make water abundantly. The same taken
with vinegar, dissolves the hardness and swellings of the spleen.
The root is very effectual in all wounds, especially of the head;
as also to draw forth any splinters, thorns, or broken bones, or
any other thing sticking in the flesh, without causing pains, being
used with a little verdigrease and honey, and the great Centaury
root. The same boiled in vinegar, and laid upon an eruption or
swelling, doth very effectually dissolve and consume them; yea,
even the swellings of the throat called the king's evil; the juice
of the leaves or roots heals the itch, and all running or spreading
scabs, sores, blemishes, or scars in the skin, wheresoever they
Descript : This rises up with brownish small
round stalks, two feet high, and sometimes more, having thereon
many narrow and long dark green leaves, very seldom with any dents
about the edges, or any stalks or white spots therein, yet they are
sometimes so found divided at the tops into many small branches,
with divers small yellow flowers on every one of them, all which
are turned one way, and being ripe, do turn into down, and are
carried away by the wind. The root consists of many small fibres,
which grows not deep in the ground, but abides all the winter
therein, shooting forth new branches every year, the old one lying
down to the ground.
Place : It grows in the open places of woods and
copses, on both moist and dry grounds, in many places of this
Time : It flowers about the month of
Government and virtues : Venus claims the herb,
and therefore to be sure it respects beauty lost. Arnoldus de Villa
Nova commends it much against the stone in the reins and kidneys,
and to provoke urine in abundance, whereby also the gravel and
stone may be voided. The decoction of the herb, green or dry, or
the distilled water thereof, is very effectual for inward bruises,
as also to be outwardly applied, it stays bleeding in any part of
the body, and of wounds; also the fluxes of humours, the
bloody-flux, and women's courses; and is no less prevalent in all
ruptures or burstings, being drank inwardly, and inwardly, and
outwardly applied. It is a sovereign wound herb, inferior to none,
both for the inward and outward hurts; green wounds, old sores and
ulcers, are quickly cured therewith. It also is of especial use in
all lotions for sores or ulcers in the mouth, throat, or privy
parts of man or woman. The decoction also helps to fasten the teeth
that are loose in the gums.
GOUT-WORT, OR HERB
Descript : It is a low herb, seldom rising half a
yard high, having sundry leaves standing on brownish green stalks
by three, snipped about, and of a strong unpleasant savour. The
umbels of the flowers are white, and the seed blackish, the root
runs in the ground, quickly taking a great deal of
Place : It grows by hedge and wallsides, and
often in the border and corner of fields, and in gardens
Time : It flowers and seeds about the end of
Government and virtues : Saturn rules it. Neither
is it to be supposed Gout-wort hath its name for nothing but upon
experiment to heal the gout and sciatica; as also joint-aches, and
other cold griefs. The very bearing of it about one eases the pains
of the gout, and defends him that bears it from the
Of this I
shall briefly describe their kinds, which are principally used in
physic, the virtues whereof are alike, though somewhat different in
their manner and form of growing.
Descript : The greater Gromel grows up with
slender hard and hairy stalks, trailing and taking root in the
ground, as it lies thereon, and parted into many other small
branches with hairy dark green leaves thereon. At the joints, with
the leaves, come forth very small blue flowers, and after them hard
stony roundish seed. The root is long and woody, abiding the
Winter, and shoots forth fresh stalks in the spring.
smaller wild Gromel sends forth divers upright hard branched
stalks, two or three feet high full of joints, at every one of
which grow small, long, hard, and rough leaves like the former, but
less; among which leaves come forth small white flowers, and after
them greyish round seed like the former; the root is not very big,
but with many strings thereat.
Gromel has divers upright, slender, woody, hairy stalks, blown and
cressed very little branched, with leaves like the former, and
white flowers; after which, in rough brown husks, is contained a
white, hard, round seed, shining like pearls, and greater than
either the former; the root is like the first described, with
divers branches and sprigs thereat, which continues (as the first
doth) all the Winter.
Place : The two first grow wild in barren or
untilled places, and by the way side in many places of this land.
The last is a nursling in the gardens of the curious.
Time : They all flower from Midsummer until
September sometimes, and in the mean time the seed
Government and virtues : The herb belongs to Dame
Venus; and therefore if Mars cause the cholic or stone, as usually
he doth, if in Virgo, this is your cure. These are accounted to be
of as singular force as any herb or seed whatsoever, to break the
stone and to void it, and the gravel either in the reins or
bladder, as also to provoke urine being stopped, and to help
stranguary. The seed is of greatest use, being bruised and boiled
in white wine or in broth, or the like, or the powder of the seed
taken therein. Two drams of the seed in powder taken with women's
breast milk, is very effectual to procure a very speedy delivery to
such women as have sore pains in their travail, and cannot be
delivered. The herb itself, (when the seed is not to be had) either
boiled, or the juice thereof drank, is effectual to all the
purposes aforesaid, but not so powerful or speedy in
also Feapberry, and in Sussex Dewberry-Bush, and in some Counties
Government and virtues : They are under the
dominion of Venus. The berries, while they are unripe, being
scalded or baked, are good to stir up a fainting or decayed
appetite, especially such whose stomachs are afflicted by choleric
humours. They are excellently good to stay longings of women with
child. You may keep them preserved with sugar all the year long.
The decoction of the leaves of the tree cools hot swellings and
inflammations; as also St. Anthony's fire. The ripe Gooseberries
being eaten, are an excellent remedy to allay the violent heat both
of the stomach and liver. The young and tender leaves break the
stone, and expel gravel both from the kidneys and bladder. All the
evil they do to the body of man is, they are supposed to breed
crudities, and by crudities, worms.
Descript : This sends forth seven, eight, or nine
leaves from a small brown creeping root, every one standing upon a
long foot stalk, which are almost as broad as long, round pointed,
of a sad green colour, and hard in handling, and like the leaf of a
Pear-tree; from whence arises a slender weak stalk, yet standing
upright, bearing at the top many small white sweet-smelling
flowers, laid open like a star, consisting of five round pointed
leaves, with many yellow threads standing in the middle about a
green head, and a long stalk with them, which in time grows to be
the seed-vessel, which being ripe is found five square, with a
small point at it, wherein is contained seed as small as
Place : It grows seldom in fields, but frequent
in the woods northwards, viz. in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and
Time : It flowers about June and
Government and virtues : Winter-green is under
the dominion of Saturn, and is a singularly good wound herb, and an
especial remedy for healing green wounds speedily, the green leaves
being bruised and applied, or the juice of them. A salve made of
the green herb stamped, or the juice boiled with hog's lard, or
with salad oil and wax, and some turpentine added to it, is a
sovereign salve, and highly extolled by the Germans, who use it to
heal all manner of wounds and sores. The herb boiled in wine and
water, and given to drink to them that have any inward ulcers in
their kidneys, or neck of the bladder, doth wonderfully help them.
It stays all fluxes, as the lask, bloody fluxes, women's courses,
and bleeding of wounds, and takes away any inflammations rising
upon pains of the heart; it is no less helpful for foul ulcers hard
to be cured; as also for cankers or fistulas. The distilled water
of the herb effectually performs the same things.
Descript : Our common Groundsel has a round green
and somewhat brownish stalk, spreading toward the top into
branches, set with long and somewhat narrow green leaves, cut in on
the edges, somewhat like the oak-leaves, but less, and round at the
end. At the tops of the branches stand many small green heads, out
of which grow several small, yellow threads or thumbs, which are
the flowers, and continue many days blown in that manner, before it
pass away into down, and with the seed is carried away in the wind.
The root is small and thready, and soon perishes, and as soon rises
again of its own sowing, so that it may be seen many months in the
year both green and in flower, and seed; for it will spring and
seed twice in a year at least, if it be suffered in a
Place : They grow almost every where, as well on
tops of walls, as at the foot amongst rubbish and untilled grounds,
but especially in gardens.
Time : It flowers, as was said before, almost
every month throughout the year.
Government and virtues : This herb is Venus's
mistress-piece, and is as gallant and universal a medicine for all
diseases coming of heat, in what part of the body soever they be,
as the sun shines upon; it is very safe and friendly to the body of
man: yet causes vomiting if the stomach be afflicted; if not,
purging: and it doth it with more gentleness than can be expected;
it is moist, and something cold withal, thereby causing expulsion,
and repressing the heat caused by the motion of the internal parts
in purges and vomits. Lay by our learned receipts; take so much
Sena, so much Scammony, so much Colocynthis, so much infusion of
Crocus Metallorum, &c. this herb alone preserved in a syrup, in
a distilled water, or in an ointment, shall do the deed for you in
all hot diseases, and, shall do it, 1, Safely; 2,
decoction of this herb (saith Dioscorides) made with wine, and
drank, helps the pains of the stomach, proceeding of choler, (which
it may well do by a vomit) as daily experience shews. The juice
thereof taken in drink, or the decoction of it in ale, gently
performs the same. It is good against the jaundice and falling
sickness, being taken in wine; as also against difficulty of making
water. It provokes urine, expels gravel in the reins or kidneys; a
dram thereof given in oxymel, after some walking or stirring of the
body. It helps also the sciatica, griping of the belly, the cholic,
defects of the liver, and provokes women's courses. The fresh herb
boiled, and made into a poultice, applied to the breasts of women
that are swollen with pain and heat, as also the privy parts of man
or woman, the seat or fundament, or the arteries, joints, and
sinews, when they are inflamed and swollen, doth much ease them;
and used with some salt, helps to dissolve knots or kernels in any
part of the body. The juice of the herb, or as (Dioscorides saith)
the leaves and flowers, with some fine Frankincense in powder, used
in wounds of the body, nerves or sinews, doth singularly help to
heal them. The distilled water of the herb performs well all the
aforesaid cures, but especially for inflammations or watering of
the eyes, by reason of the defluxion of rheum unto