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A Modern Herbal, Vol. I

A Modern Herbal, Vol. I

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A Modern Herbal, Vol. I

valutazioni:
4/5 (43 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
1,343 pagine
20 ore
Pubblicato:
Apr 9, 2013
ISBN:
9780486317298
Formato:
Libro

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"There is not one page of this enchanting book which does not contain something to interest the common reader as well as the serious student. Regarded simply as a history of flowers, it adds to the joys of the country." — B. E. Todd, Spectator.
If you want to know how pleurisy root, lungwort, and abscess root got their names, how poison ivy used to treat rheumatism, or how garlic guarded against the Bubonic Plague, consult A Modern Herbal. This 20th-century version of the medieval Herbal is as rich in scientific fact and folklore as its predecessors and is equally encyclopedic in coverage. From aconite to zedoary, not an herb, grass, fungus, shrub or tree is overlooked; and strange and wonderful discoveries about even the most common of plants await the reader.
Traditionally, an herbal combined the folk beliefs and tales about plants, the medicinal properties (and parts used) of the herbs, and their botanical classification. But Mrs. Grieve has extended and enlarged the tradition; her coverage of asafetida, bearberry, broom, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, dock, elecampane, almond, eyebright, fenugreek, moss, fern, figwort, gentian, Hart's tongue, indigo, acacia, jaborandi, kava kava, lavender, pimpernel, rhubarb, squill, sage, thyme, sarsaparilla, unicorn root, valerian, woundwort, yew, etc. — more than 800 varieties in all — includes in addition methods of cultivation; the chemical constituents, dosages, and preparations of extracts and tinctures, unknown to earlier herbalists; possible economic and cosmetic properties, and detailed illustrations, from root to bud, of 161 plants.
Of the many exceptional plants covered in Herbal, perhaps the most fascinating are the poisonous varieties — hemlock, poison oak, aconite, etc. — whose poisons, in certain cases, serve medical purposes and whose antidotes (if known) are given in detail. And of the many unique features, perhaps the most interesting are the hundreds of recipes and instructions for making ointments, lotions, sauces, wines, and fruit brandies like bilberry and carrot jam, elderberry and mint vinegar, sagina sauce, and cucumber lotion for sunburn; and the hundreds of prescriptions for tonics and liniments for bronchitis, arthritis, dropsy, jaundice, nervous tension, skin disease, and other ailments. 96 plates, 161 illustrations.

Pubblicato:
Apr 9, 2013
ISBN:
9780486317298
Formato:
Libro

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A Modern Herbal, Vol. I - Margaret Grieve

HERBAL

A MODERN HERBAL

ABSCESS ROOT

Polemonium reptans (LINN.)

N.O. Polemoniaceæ

Synonyms. American Greek Valerian. Blue Bells. False Jacob’s Ladder. Sweatroot

Part Used. Root

Habitat. United States

Description. This plant grows from New York to Wisconsin, in woods, damp grounds, and along shady river-banks. It has creeping roots, by which it multiplies very quickly. The stems are 9 to 10 inches high, much branched, bearing pinnate leaves with six or seven pairs of leaflets. The nodding, blue flowers are in loose, terminal bunches.

inch in diameter, with the bases of numerous stems on the upper surface, and tufts of pale, slender, smooth, wiry, brittle roots on the underside. The rootstock has a slightly bitter and acrid taste.

Medicinal Action and Uses. Astringent, alterative, diaphoretic, expectorant. The drug has been recommended for use in febrile and inflammatory cases, all scrofulous diseases, in bowel complaints requiring an astringent, for the bites of venomous snakes and insects, for bronchitis and laryngitis, and whenever an alterative is required. It is reported to have cured consumption; an infusion of the root in wineglassful doses is useful in coughs, colds and all lung complaints, producing copious perspiration.

The tincture of the root is made of whisky.

Dosage. 1 to 2 fluid ounces, two or three times a day.

ACACIAS

N.O. Leguminosæ

Acacias (nat. order, Leguminosæ) are composed of handsome trees and shrubby bushes scattered over the warmer regions of the globe. The flowers are arranged in rounded or elongated clusters, the leaves generally compoundly pinnate, i.e. divided into leaflets up to the mid-rib and each leaflet similarly cut into narrow segments.

In several of the Australian species the leaflets are suppressed and the leaf stalks, vertically flattened, serve the purpose of leaves. Some species afford valuable timber: the black wood of Australia, which is used for furniture because it takes such a high polish, is the wood of the A. melanoxylon. The bark of another Australian species, known as Wattles, is rich in tannin and forms a valuable article of export. The pods of other species are employed in Egypt and Nubia for their tannin. The pods of the A. Concuine are used by Indian women in the same way as the soapnut for washing the head; and the leaves of the same tree are employed in cookery for their acidity.

Certain tribes on the Amazon use the seeds of another species, the Acacia Niopo, for snuff combined with lime and cocculus. Various species of acacia yield gum; but the best gum arabic used in medicine is an exudation from the A. Senegal. This species grows abundantly in East and West tropical Africa, forming forests in Senegambia north of the River Senegal. Most of the gum acacia collected in Upper Egypt and the Sudan is produced by the A. verek, and is known locally as Hachah.

ACACIA BARK

Acacia decurrens

Acacia Arabica

N.O. Leguminosæ

Synonym. Wattle Bark

Acacia Bark, known as Wattle Bark, is obtained from the chief of the Australian Wattles, A. decurrens (Willd.), the Black Wattle, and, more recently, A. arabica has been similarly used in East Africa for its astringency.

The bark is collected from wild or cultivated trees, seven years old or more, and must be allowed to mature for a year before being used medicinally.

Description. The bark of A. decurrens is usually in curved pieces, externally greyish brown, darkening with age, often with irregular longitudinal ridges and sometimes transverse cracks. Inner surface longitudinally striated, fracture irregular and coarsely fibrous. It has a slight tan-like odour and astringent taste.

The bark of A. arabica is hard and woody, rusty brown and tending to divide into several layers. The outer surface of older pieces is covered with thick blackish periderm, rugged and fissured. The inner surface is red, longitudinally striated and fibrous. Taste, astringent and mucilaginous.

Constituents. Acacia Bark contains from 24 to 42 per cent, of tannin and also gallic acid. Its powerful astringency causes it to be extensively employed in tanning.

Medicinal Action and Uses. to 2 fluid ounces. The decoction also is used as an astringent gargle, lotion, or injection.

A liquid extract is prepared from the bark of A. arabicato 1 fluid drachm, but the use of both gum and bark for industrial purposes is much larger than their use in medicine. The bark, under the name of Babul, is used in Scinde for tanning, and also for dyeing various shades of brown.

ACACIA CATECHU. See CATECHU

ACACIA (FALSE)

Robinia pseudacacia

N.O. Leguminosæ

Synonym. Locust Tree

In common language, the term Acacia is often applied to species of the genus Robinia, which also belongs to the family Leguminosæ, though to a different section.

R. pseudacacia, the False Acacia or Locust Tree, one of the most valuable timber trees of the American forest, where it grows to a very large size, was one of the first trees introduced into England from America, and is cultivated as an ornamental tree in the milder parts of Britain, forming a large tree, with beautiful pea-like blossoms.

The timber is supposed to unite the qualities of strength and durability to a degree unknown in any other kind of tree, being very hard and close-grained. It has been extensively used for ship-building, being superior for the purpose to American Oak, and is largely used in the construction of the wooden pins called trenails, used to fasten the planks to the ribs or timber of ships. Instead of decaying, it acquires an extraordinary degree of hardness with time. It is also suitable for posts and fencing and other purposes where durability in contact with the ground is essential, and is used for axle-trees and other mechanical purposes, though not for general purposes of construction.

The roots and inner bark have a sweetish, but somewhat offensive and nauseating taste, and have been found poisonous to foraging animals.

Medicinal Action and Uses. The inner bark contains a poisonous proteid substance, Robin, which possesses strong emetic and purgative properties. It is capable of coagulating the casein of milk and of clotting the red corpuscles of certain animals.

Tonic, emetic and purgative properties have been ascribed to the root and bark, but the locust tree is rarely, if ever, prescribed as a therapeutic agent.

Occasional cases of poisoning are on record in which boys have chewed the bark and swallowed the juice: the principal symptoms being dryness of the throat, burning pain in the abdomen, dilatation of the pupils, vertigo and muscular twitches; excessive quantities causing also weak and irregular heart action.

Though the leaves of Robinia have also been stated to produce poisonous effects, careful examination has failed to detect the presence of any soluble proteid or of alkaloids, and by some the leaves have been recorded as even affording wholesome food for cattle.

The flowers contain a glucoside, Robinin, which, on being boiled with acids, is resolved into sugar and quercetin.

ACACIA (GUM)

Acacia Senegal (WILLD.)

Acacia nilotica (LINN.)

N.O. Leguminosæ

Part Used. Gummy Exudation from stem ACACIA NILOTICA (LINN.)

All the gum-yielding Acacias exhibit the same habit and general appearance, differing only in technical characters. They are spiny shrubs or small trees, preferring sandy or sterile regions, with the climate dry during the greater part of the year.

The gum harvest from the various species lasts about five weeks. About the middle of November, after the rainy season, it exudes spontaneously from the trunk and principal branches, but the flow is generally stimulated by incisions in the bark, a thin strip, 2 to 3 feet in length and 1 to 3 inches wide being torn off. In about fifteen days it thickens in the furrow down which it runs, hardening on exposure to the air, usually in the form of round or oval tears, about the size of a pigeon’s egg, but sometimes in vermicular forms, white or red, according to whether the species is a white or red gum tree.

About the middle of December, the Moors commence the harvesting. The masses of gum are collected, either while adhering to the bark, or after it falls to the ground, the entire product, often of various species, thus collected, is packed in baskets and very large sacks of tanned leather and brought on camels and bullocks to the centres of accumulation and then to the points of export, chiefly Suakin, Alexandria, or – in Senegambia – St. Louis. It is then known as ‘Acacia sorts,’ the term being equivalent to ‘unassorted Acacia.’ The unsorted gums show the widest variation as to size of fragments, whiteness, clearness, freedom from adhering matter, etc. It is next sorted or ‘picked’ in accordance with these differences.

There are many kinds of Acacia Gum in commerce:

KORDOFAN GUM, collected in Upper Egypt and the Sudan, in Kordofan, Dafur and Arabia, and exported from Alexandria, is considered the best and is the kind generally used in pharmacy. It consists of small, irregular pieces, commonly whitish, or slightly tinged with yellow, and is freer from impurities than most other commercial varieties. But those known in commerce as ‘Turkey sorts’ and ‘Trieste picked,’ which are brought from the Sudan by way of Suakin, are equally suitable for medicinal use.

SENEGAL GUM, of two varieties, produced by two different trees, one yielding a white, the other a red gum, is usually in roundish or oval unbroken pieces of various sizes, larger than those of Turkey Gum, less brittle and pulverizable, less fissured and often occurs in long, cylindrical or curved pieces.

The term ‘Gum Senegal’ is not, strictly speaking, synonymous with Gum Acacia, though it is commonly so used. Gum Acacia is the name originally pertaining to Sudan, Kordofan or Egyptian (hashabi) Gum, which possesses properties rendering it superior and always preferred to any other known to commerce. During the political and military disturbances in Egypt between 1880 and 1890, this gum became so nearly unobtainable that occasional packages only were seen in the market. Among the many substitutes then offered, the best was Gum Senegal, which was adopted as the official equivalent of Gum Acacia. In this way, it came about that the names were regarded as synonymous. In 1890, the original Acacia again came into the market and eventually became as abundant as ever, but it is no longer possible to entirely separate the two names. Most of the characteristically distinct grades of Acacia Gum are now referred to particular species of the genus Acacia. Most works state that both the Kordofan and Senegal Gums are products of A. Senegal (Willd.), the range of which is thus given as Senegambia in West Africa, the Upper Nile region in Eastern Africa, with more or less of the intervening central region.

A. glaucophylla (Staud.) and A. Abyssinica (Hochst.) are said to yield an equally good gum, but little of it is believed to reach the market.

Mogadore Gum, from A. gummifera (Willd), a tall tree found in Morocco and in the Isle of Bourbon, occurs in rather large pieces, closely resembling Kordofan Gum in appearance.

Indian Gum, the product of A. Arabica, the Gum Arabic tree of India. The gum of this and other Indian species of Acacia is there used as a substitute for the official Gum Acacia, to which it is, however, inferior. Indian Gum is sweeter in taste than that of the other varieties, and usually contains portions of a different kind of gum.

Cape Gum is also imported. It is of a pale yellow colour and is considered of inferior quality.

Australian Gum, imported from South Australia, is in elongated or globular pieces, rough and even wrinkled on the surface and of a violet tint, which distinguishes it from other varieties. It is not entirely soluble in water, to which it imparts less viscidity than ordinary Gum Acacia. It frequently contains tannin.

Gum Acacia for medicinal purposes should be in roundish ‘tears’ of various sizes, colourless or pale yellow, or broken into angular fragments with a glass-like, sometimes iridescent fracture, often opaque from numerous fissures, but transparent and nearly colourless in thin pieces; taste insipid, mucilaginous; nearly inodorous. It should be almost entirely soluble in water, forming a viscid, neutral solution, or mucilage, which, when evaporated, yields the gum unchanged. It is insoluble in alcohol and ether, but soluble in diluted alcohol in proportion to the amount of water present. It should be slowly but completely soluble in two parts of water: this solution shows an acid reaction with litmus- paper. The powdered gum is not coloured blue (indicating absence of starch) or red (indicating absence of dextrin) by the iodine test solution. It should not yield more than 4 per cent, of ash..

Adulteration. Adulteration in the crude state is confined almost wholly to the addition of similar and inferior gums, the detection of which requires only familiarity with the genuine article.

In the ground condition, it is adulterated oftenest with starch and dextrins, tests for which are given in the official description. Tannin is present in inferior gums and can be detected by the bluish-black coloration produced on adding ferric chloride. Gums of a yellow or brown colour usually contain tannin, and these, together with such as are incompletely soluble in water and which yield ropy or glairy solutions, should not be used for medicinal purposes.

Chemical Constituents. Gum Acacia consists principally of Arabin, a compound of Arabic acid with calcium, varying amounts of the magnesium and potassium salts of the same acid being present. It is believed, also, that small amounts of other salts of these bases occur. (Arabic acid can be obtained by precipitating with alcohol from a solution of Acacia acidulated with hydrochloric acid.) The gum also contains 12 to 17 per cent, of moisture and a trace of sugar, and yields 2·7 to 4 per cent, of ash, consisting almost entirely of calcium, magnesium and potassium carbonates.

Medicinal Action and Uses. Gum Acacia is a demulcent and serves by the viscidity of its solution to cover and sheathe inflamed surfaces.

It is usually administered in the form of a mucilage – Mucilago Acaciœ, British Pharmacopœia and United States Pharmacopœia – made from small pieces of Gum Acacia dissolved in water and strained (1 in 8·75).

Dose in syrup, 1 to 4 drachms of the gum.

Mucilage of Acacia is a nearly transparent, colourless or scarcely yellowish, viscid liquid, haying a faint, rather agreeable odour and an insipid taste. It is employed as a soothing agent in inflammatory conditions of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tract, and is useful in diarrhoea and dysentery. It exerts a soothing influence upon all the surfaces with which it comes in contact. It may be diluted and flavoured to suit the taste. In low stages of typhoid fever, this mucilage, sweetened, is greatly recommended. The ordinary dose of the mucilage is from 1 to 4 fluid drachms.

In dispensing, Mucilage of Acacia is used for suspending insoluble powders in mixtures, for emulsifying oils and other liquids which are not miscible with water, and as an ingredient of many cough linctures. The British Pharmacopœia directs it to be used as an excipient in the preparation of troches. Compound Mucilage of Acacia – Pill-coating Acacia – is made from Gum Acacia, 1 in 10, with tragacanth, chloroform and water, and is used for moistening pills previous to coating.

Gum Acacia is an ingredient of the official Pilula Ferri, Pulvis Amygdalœ compositus, Pulvis Tragacanthce compositus, all the official Trochisciy and various syrups, pastes and pastilles or jujubes.

Acacia Mixture, Mistura Acacice of the British Pharmacopœia Codex, is made from Gum Acacia (6 in 100) with syrup and diluted orange-flower water, employed as a demulcent in cough syrups and linctures.

Dose. 1 to 4 fluid drachms.

Syrup of Acacia, British Pharmacopœia Codex, used chiefly as a demulcent in cough mixtures, is freshly prepared as required, from 1 part of Gum Acacia Mucilage and 3 of syrup; the dose, 1 to 4 fluid drachms.

The United States Pharmacopœia Syrup of Acacia, though regarded as a useful demulcent, is chiefly employed as an agent for suspending powders in mixtures.

The French Pharmacopœia has a Syrup of Acacia and a potion gommeuse made from powdered Acacia, syrup and orange-flower water.

As a dry excipient, powdered Acacia is employed, mixed in small proportion with powdered Marsh Mallow root, or powdered Liquorice root. A variation of this is a mixture of Acacia, 50 parts; Liquorice root, 34 parts; Sugar, 16 parts, all in fine powder. Another compound Acacia Powder, used sparingly as an absorbent pill excipient, is made of equal parts of Gum Acacia and Tragacanth.

Gum Acacia is highly nutritious. During the time of the gum harvest, the Moors of the desert are said to live almost entirely on it, and it has been proved that 6 oz. is sufficient to support an adult for twenty-four hours. It is related that the Bushman Hottentots have been known in times of scarcity to support themselves on it for days together. In many cases of disease, it is considered that a solution of Gum Arabic may for a time constitute the exclusive drink and food of the patient.

ACONITE (POISON)

Aconitum Napellus (LINN.)

N.O. Ranunculaciæ

Synonyms. Monkshood. Blue Rocket. Friar’s Cap. Auld Wife’s Huid

Part Used. The whole plant

Habitat. Lower mountain slopes of North portion of Eastern Hemisphere. From Himalayas through Europe to Great Britain

Aconite is now found wild in a few parts of England, mainly in the western counties and also in South Wales, but can hardly be considered truly indigenous. It was very early introduced into England, being mentioned in all the English vocabularies of plants from the tenth century downwards, and in Early English medical recipes.

ACONITE

Aconitum Napellus

Description. The plant is a hardy perennial, with a fleshy, spindle-shaped root, pale-coloured when young, but subsequently acquiring a dark brown skin. The stem is about 3 feet high, with dark green, glossy leaves, deeply divided in palmate manner and flowers in erect clusters of a dark blue colour. The shape of the flower is specially designed to attract and utilize bee visitors, especially the humble bee. The sepals are purple – purple being specially attractive to bees – and are fancifully shaped, one of them being in the form of a hood. The petals are only represented by the two very curious nectaries within the hood, somewhat in the form of a hammer; the stamens are numerous and lie depressed in a bunch at the mouth of the flower. They are pendulous at first, but rise in succession and place their anthers forward in such a way that a bee visiting the flower for nectar is dusted with the pollen, which he then carries to the next flower he visits and thereby fertilizes the undeveloped fruits, which are in a tuft in the centre of the stamens, each carpel containing a single seed.

In the Anglo-Saxon vocabularies it is called thung, which seems to have been a general name for any very poisonous plant. It was then called Aconite (the English form of its Greek and Latin name), later Wolf’s Bane, the direct translation of the Greek lycotonum, derived from the idea that arrows tipped with the juice, or baits anointed with it, would kill wolves – the species mentioned by Dioscorides seems to have been Aconitum lycotonum. In the Middle Ages it became Monkshood and Helmet-flower, from the curious shape of the upper sepal overtopping the rest of the flower. This was the ordinary name in Shakespeare’s days.

The generic name is said to have been derived from akontion,a dart, because it was used by barbarous races to poison their arrows, or from akone,cliffy or rocKy, because the species grow in rocky glens. Theophrastus, like Pliny, derived the name from Aconæ, the supposed place of its origin. The specific name, Napellus, signifies a little turnip, in allusion to the snape of the roots.

Cultivation. The chief collecting centres for foreign Aconite root have been the Swiss Alps, Salzburg, North Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Much was also formerly collected in Germany. Supplies from Spain and Japan are imported, so that the demand for English Aconite is somewhat restricted. The official Aconite is directed by the British Pharmacopœia to be derived only from plants cultivated in England, and a certain amount of home-grown Aconite has been regularly produced by the principal drug-farms, though good crops are grown with some difficulty in England, and cultivation of Aconite has not paid very well in recent years.

Aconite prefers a soil slightly retentive of moisture, such as a moist loam, and flourishes best in shade. It would probably grow luxuriantly in a moist, open wood, and would yield returns with little further trouble than weeding, digging up and drying.

In preparing beds for growing Aconite, the soil should be well dug and pulverized by early winter frosts – the digging in of rotten leaves or stable manure is advantageous.

It can be raised from seed, sown 1 inch deep in a cold frame in March, or in a warm position outside in April, but great care must be exercised that the right kind is obtained, as there are many varieties of Aconite – about twenty-four have been distinguished – and they have not all the same active medicinal properties. It takes two or three years to flower from seed.

Propagation is usually by division of roots in the autumn. The underground portion of the plants are dug up after the stem has died down, and the smaller of the ‘daughter’ roots that have developed at the side of the old roots are selected for replanting in December or January to form new stock, the young roots being planted about a foot apart each way. The young shoots appear above ground in February. Although the plants are perennial, each distinct root lasts only one year, the plant being continued by ‘daughter’ roots.

This official Aconite is also the species generally cultivated in gardens, though nearly all the species are worth growing as ornamental garden flowers, the best perhaps being A, Napellus,both white and blue, A. particulatum, A. Japonicum and A. autumnale. All grow well in shade and under trees. Gerard grew four species in his garden: A. lyocotonum, A. variegatum, A. Napellus and A. Pyrenaicum.

Part Used. – Collection and Drying. The leaves, stem, flowering tops and root: the leaves and tops fresh, the root dried. The leaves and flowering tops are of less importance; they are employed for preparing Extract of Aconitum, and for this purpose are cut when the flowers are just breaking into blossom and the leaves are in their best condition, which is in June.

The roots should be collected in the autumn, after the stem dies down, but before the bud that is to produce the next year’s stem has begun to develop. As this bud grows and forms a flowering stem, in the spring, some of the lateral buds develop into short shoots, each of which produces a long, slender, descending root, crowned with a bud. These roots rapidly thicken, filled with reserve material produced by the parent plant, the root of which dies as the ‘daughter’ roots increase in size. Towards the autumn, the parent plant dies down and the daughter roots which have then reached their maximum development are now full of starch. If allowed to remain in the soil, the buds that crown the daughter roots begin to grow, in the late winter, and this growth exhausts the strength of the root, and the proportion of both starch and alkaloid it contains is lessened.

On account of the extremely poisonous properties of the root, it is considered desirable that the root should be grown and collected under the same conditions, so that uniformity in the drug is maintained. The British Pharmacopœia specifies, therefore, that the roots should be collected in the autumn from plants cultivated in Britain and should consist of the dried, full-grown ‘daughter’ roots: much of the Aconite root that used to come in large quantities from Germany was the exhausted parent root of the wild-flowering plants.

When the roots are dug up, they are sorted over, the smallest laid aside for replanting and the plumper ones reserved for drying. They are first well washed in cold water and trimmed of all rootlets, and then dried, either entire, or longitudinally sliced to hasten drying.

Drying may at first be done in the open air, spread thinly, the roots not touching. Or they may be spread on clean floors or on shelves in a warm place for about ten days, turning frequently. When somewhat shrunken, they must be finished more quickly by artificial heat in a drying room or shed, near a stove or gas fire, care being taken that the heated air can escape at the top of the room. Drying in an even temperature will probably take about a fortnight or more. It is not complete till the roots are dry to the core and brittle, snapping when bent.

inch in diameter, tapering quickly downwards. It is dark brown in colour and marked with the scars of rootlets. The surface is usually longitudinally wrinkled, especially if it has been dried entire. The root breaks with a short fracture and should be whitish and starchy within. A transverse section sfiows a thick bark, separated from the inner portion by a well-marked darker line, which often assumes a stellate appearance. Aconite root as found in commerce is, however, often yellowish or brownish internally with the stellate markings not clearly shown, probably from having been collected too early. It should be lifted in the autumn of the second year.

Aconite root is liable to attack by insects, and after being well dried should be kept in securely closed vessels.

Chemical Constituents. Aconite root contains from 0.3 to 1 per cent, alkaloidal matter, consisting of Aconitine – crystalline, acrid and highly toxic – with the alkaloids Benzaconine (Picraconitine) and Aconine.

Aconitine, the only crystallizable alkaloid, is present to the extent of not more than 0.2 per cent., but to it is due the characteristic activity of the root. Aconite acid, starch, etc., are also present. On incineration, the root yields about 3 per cent. ash.

The Aconitines are a group of highly toxic alkaloids derived from various species of Aconite, and whilst possessing many properties in common are chemically distinguishable according to the source from which they are obtained. The Aconitines are divided into two groups: (1) the Aconitines proper, including Aconitine, Japaconitine and Indaconitine, and (2) the Pseudaconitines – Pseudacomtine and Bikhaconitine.

This disparity between Aconites is a very important matter for investigation, though perhaps not so serious from a pharmaceutical point of view as might at first appear, since in the roots of several different species the alkaloid is found to possess similar physiological action; but this action varies in degree and the amount of alkaloid may be found to vary considerably. It is considered that the only relia ole method of standardizing the potency of any of the Aconite preparations is by a physiological method: the lethal dose for the guinea-pig being considered to be the most convenient and satisfactory standard. Tinctures vary enormously as to strength, some proving seven times as powerful as others.

The Aconite which contains the best alkaloid, A. Napellus, is the old-fashioned, familiar garden variety, which may be easily recognized by its very much cut-up leaves, which are wide in the shoulder of the leaf – that part nearest the stem – and also by the purplish-blue flowers, which have the ‘helmet’ closely fitting over the rest of the flower, not standing up as a tall hood. All varieties of Aconite are useful, but this kind with the close set in helmet to the flower is the most valuable.

The Aconite derived from German root of A. Napellus appears to possess somewhat different properties to that prepared from English roots. The German roots may be recognized by the remains of the stem which crown the root. They are also generally less starchy, darker externally and more shrivelled than the English root and considered to be less active, probably because they are generally the exhausted parent roots.

Medicinal Action and Uses. Anodyne, diuretic and diaphoretic. The value of Aconite as a medicine has been more fully realized in modern times, and it now ranks as one of our most useful drugs. It is much used in homoeopathy. On account of its very poisonous nature, all medicines obtained from it come, however, under Table 1 of the poison schedule: Aconite is a deadly poison.

Both tincture and liniment of Aconite are in general use, and Aconite is also used in ointment and sometimes given as hypodermic injection. Preparations of Aconite are employed for outward application locally to the skin to diminish the pain of neuralgia, lumbago and rheumatism.

The official tincture taken internelly diminishes the rate and force of the pulse in the early stages of fevers and slight local inflammations, such as feverish cold, larnyngitis, first stages of pneumonia and erysipelas; it relieves the pain of neuralgia, pleurisy and aneurism. In cardiac failure or to prevent same it has been used with success, in acute tonsilitis children have been well treated by a dose of 1 to 2 minims for a child 5 to 10 years old; the dose for adults is 2 to 5 minims, three times a day.

Note. The tincture of Aconite of the British Pharmacopœia 1914 is nearly double the strength of that in the old Pharmacopœia of 1898.

Externally the linament as such or mixed with chloroform or belladonna liniment is useful in neuralgia or rheumatism.

Poisoning from, and Antidotes. The symptons of poisoning are tingling and numbness of tongue and mouth and a sensation of ants crawling over the body, nausea and vomiting with epigastric pain, laboured breathing, pulse irregular and weak, skin cold and clammy, features bloodless, giddiness, staggering, mind remains clear. A stomach tube or emetic should be used at once, 20 minims of Tincture of Digitalis given if available, stimulants should be given, and if not retained diluted brandy injected per rectum, artificial respiration and friction, patient to be kept lying down.

All the species contain an active poison, Aconitine, one of the most formidable poisons which have yet been discovered: it exists in all parts of the plant, but especially in the root. The smallest portion of either root or leaves, when first put into the mouth, occasions burning and tingling, and a sense of numbness immediately follows its continuance. One-fiftieth grain of Aconitine will kill a sparrow in a few seconds; one-tenth grain a rabbit in five minutes. It is more powerful than prussic acid and acts with tremendous rapidity. One hundredth grain will act locally, so as to produce a well-marked sensation in any part of the body for a whole day. So acrid is the poison, that the juice applied to a wounded finger affects the whole system, not only causing pains in the limbs, but a sense of suffocation and syncope.

Some species of Aconite were well known to the ancients as deadly poisons. It was said to be the invention of Hecate from the foam of Cerberus, and it was a species of Aconite that entered into the poison which the old men of the island of Ceos were condemned to drink when they became infirm and no longer of use to the State. Aconite is also supposed to have been the poison that formed the cup which Medea prepared for Theseus.¹

Various species of Aconite possess the same narcotic properties as A. Napellus, but none of them equal in energy the A. ferox of the East Indies, the root of which is used there as an energetic poison under the name of Bikh or Nabee. Aconite poisoning of wells by A. ferox has been carried out by native Indians to stop the progress of an army. They also use it for poisoning spears, darts and arrows, and for destroying tigers.

All children should be warned against Aconite in gardens. It is wiser not to grow Aconite among kitchen herbs of any sort. The root has occasionally been mistaken for horse-radish, with fatal results – it is, however, shorter, darker and more fibrous – and the leaves have produced similar fatal results. In Ireland a poor woman once sprinkled powdered Aconite root over a dish of greens, and one man was killed and another seriously affected by it.

In 1524 and 1526 it is recorded that two criminals, to whom the root was given as an experiment, quickly died.

The older herbalists described it as venomous and deadly. Gerard says: ‘There hath beene little heretofore set down concerning the virtues of the Aconite, but much might be saide of the hurts that have come thereby.’ It was supposed to be an antidote against other poisons. Gerard tells us that its power was ‘So forcible that the herb only thrown before the scorpion or any other venomous beast, causeth them to be without force or strength to hurt, insomuch that they cannot moove or stirre untill the herbe be taken away.’ Ben Jonson, in his tragedy Sejanus, says:

‘I have heard that Aconite

Being timely taken hath a healing might

Against the scorpion’s stroke.’

Linnæus reports Aconite to be fatal to cattle and goats when they eat it fresh, but when dried it does no harm to horses, a peculiarity in common with the buttercups, to which the Aconites are related. Field-mice are well aware of its evil nature, and in hard times, when they will attack almost any plant that offers them food, they leave this severely alone.

Other Varieties. Japanese Aconite – syn. Aconitum Chinense – is regularly imported in considerable quantities. It used formerly to be ascribed to A. Fischeri (Reichb.),but is now considered to be derived from A. uncinatum,var. Japonicum (Regel.) and possibly also from A. volubile to 1 inch in thickness at the top, externally covered with a brown, closely adhering skin, internally white. Dried roots do not contain much alkaloid, if steeped when fresh in a mixture of common salt, vinegar and water. The poisonous alkaloid present is called Japaconitine, to distinguish it from the official Aconitine and the Pseudaconitine of A. laciniatum. Japaconitine is similar in constituents and properties with the Aconitine of A. Napellus.

Indian Aconite root or Nepal Aconite consists of the root of A. laciniatum (Staph.). It is also called Bikh or Bish, and is collected in Nepal. It is much larger than the English variety, being a conical, not suddenly tapering root, 2 to 4 inches long and an inch or more at the top, of a lighter brown than the official variety, the rootlet scars much fewer than the official root. Internally it is hard and almost resinous, the taste intensely acrid and is much shrivelled longitudinally. This root yields a very active alkaloid, Pseudoaconitine, which is allied to Aconitine and resembles it in many of its properties; it is about twice as active as Aconitine. Indian Aconite root was formerly attributed to A. ferox (Wall). Their large size and less tapering character sufficiently distinguish these from the official drug.

Other varieties of Aconite are A. chasmanthum (Staph.), known in India as Mohri, which contains Indaconitine, and A. spicatum, another Indian species containing Bikhaconitine, resembling Pseudaconitine.

Russian Aconite, A. orientale,grows abundantly in the Crimea and Bessarabia. It has a small, compact, greyish-black root with a transverse section similar to that of A. Napellus. Its taste is hot and acrid. When treated by a process which gave 0-0526 per cent, of crystalline Aconitine from a sample of powdered root of A. Napellus, the dried root of A. orientale yielded 2.207 per cent, of total alkaloids, which were, however, amorphous. The total alkaloid has not yet been investigated further.

A. heterophyllum (Wall), Atis root, is a plant growing in the Western temperate Himalayas. This species does not contain Aconitine and is said to be non-poisonous. Its chief constituent is an intensely bitter alkaloid – Atisine ? possessing tonic and anti-periodic principles. A. palmatum, of Indian origin, yields a similar alkaloid, Palmatisine.

The province of Szechwen in West China grows large quantities of medicinal plants, among them A. Wilsoni, which is worth about 4s. per cwt., of which 55,000 lb. a year can be produced in this province; A. Fischeri, about four times the price, of which rather less are yearly available, and A. Hemsleyan,about the same price as the latter, of which about 27,000 lb. are available in an average year.

Other Species. The Anthora, or Wholesome Aconite described by Culpepper, is a small plant about a foot high, with pale, divided green leaves, and yellow flowers ? a native of the Alps. Its stem is erect, firm, angular and hairy; the leaves alternate and much cut into. The flowers are large, hooded, with fragrant scent, growing on top of the branches in spikes of a pale yellow colour, smaller than the ordinary Monkshood and succeeded by five horn-like, pointed pods, or achenes, containing five angular seeds. It flowers in July and the seeds ripen at the end of August. The root is tuberous.

Culpepper tells us that the herb was used in his time, but not often. It was reputed to be very serviceable against vegetable poisons, and ‘a decoction of the root is a good lotion to wash the parts bitten by venomous creatures.’ … ‘The leaves, if rubbed on the skin will irritate and cause soreness and the pollen is also dangerous if Dlown in the eyes.’

As a matter of fact, this species of Aconite by no means deserves its reputation of harmlessness, for it is only poisonous in a less degree than the rest of the same genus, and the theory that it is a remedy against poison, particularly that of the other Aconites, is now an exploded one.

Parkinson, speaking of the Yellow Monkshood, calls it:

‘The counter-poison monkeshood – the roots of which are effectual, not only against the poison of the poisonful Helmet Flower and all others of that kind, but also against the poison of all venomous beasts, the plague or pestilence and other infectious diseases, which raise spots, pockes, or markes in the outward skin, by expelling the poison from within and defending the heart as a most sovereign cordial.’

The so-called Winter Aconite, Æranthis hyemalis, is not a true Aconite, though closely allied, being also a member of the Buttercup family, whose blossoms it more nearly resemoles.

Also see DELPHINIUM, FIELD LARKSPUR, STARVEACRE.

ADDER’S TONGUE (AMERICAN)

Erythronium Americanum (KER-GAWL)

N.O. Liliaceæ

Synonyms. Serpent’s Tongue. Dog’s Tooth Violet. Yellow Snowdrop

Parts Used. Leaves, bulbs

Habitat. Eastern United States of America, from New Brunswick to Florida, and westwards to Ontario and Arkansas

The American Dog’s Tooth Violet or Adder’s Tongue, Erythronium Americanum (Ker Gawl), is a very beautiful early spring flower of the Eastern United States of America, belonging to the Lily family. It grows in damp, open woodlands from New Brunswick to Horida and westwards to Ontario and Arkansas.

Description. The plant, which is quite smooth, grows from a small, slender, ovoid, fawn-coloured corm, ? to 1 inch long, which is quite deeply buried in the soil and is of solid, firm consistence and white and starchy internally.

inches long and 1 inch wide, minutely wrinkled, with parallel, longitudinal veins. The stem terminates in a handsome, large, pendulous, lily-like flower, an inch across, with the perianth divisions strongly recurved, bright yellow in colour, often tinged with purple and finely dotted within at the base, and with six stamens. It flowers in the latter part of April and early in May.

Medicinal Action and Uses. The constituents of the plant have not yet been analysed. The fresh leaves and corm, and to a lesser degree the rest of the plant, are emetic.

The fresh leaves having emollient and anti-scrofulous properties are mostly used in the form of a stimulating poultice, applied to swellings, tumours and scrofulous ulcers.

The infusion is taken internally in wineglassful doses. It is reputed of use in dropsy, niccough and vomiting.

The recent bulbs have been used as a substitute for colcnicum. They are emetic in doses of 25 to 30 grains.

ADDER’S TONGUE (ENGLISH). See under ferns

ADONIS. See HELLEBORE (FALSE)

ADRUE

Cyperus articulatus (LINN.)

N.O. Cyperaceæ

Part Used. The drug Adrue is the tuberous rhizome of the Guinea Rush (Cyperus articulatus Linn.), a tall sedge, common in Jamaica, and on the banks of the Nile.

Description. inch in diameter and 1 to 2 inches long. Internally, the tubers are pale in colour, a transverse section showing a central column with darker points indicating vascular bundles. The dried tubers often bear the bristly remains of former leaves on their upper ends. The drug has a bitterish, aromatic taste, recalling that of Lavender. The odour of the fresh tubers has been likened to that of the Sweet Sedge, Calamus aromaticus.

Medicinal Action and Uses. Carminative, sedative, very useful in vomiting of pregnancy.

The aromatic properties of the drug cause a feeling of warmth to be diffused throughout the whole system and it acts as a sedative in dyspeptic disorders.

Preparations. A fluid extract is made from the tubers. Dose, 10 to 30 mmims.

AGAR-AGAR

Gelidium Amansii (KUTZ)

N.O. Algæ

Synonyms, Japanese Isinglass

Part Used. The mucilage dried, after boiling the seaweed

Habitat. Japan, best variety; Ceylon and Macassar

Description. A seaweed gathered on the East Indian coast and sent to China, it is derived from the various species of Sphærococcus Euchema and Gelidium. It is brownishwhite in colour with thorny projections on its branches; the best variety, known as Japanese Isinglass, contains large quantities of mucilage. The seaweed after collection is spread out on the shore until bleached, and then dried; it is afterwards boiled in water and the mucilaginous solution strained, the filtrate being allowed to harden, and then it is dried in the sun. The time for collection of the Algæ is summer and autumn when the bleaching and drying can take place, but the final preparation of Agar-Agar is carried out in winter from November to February. The Japanese variety is derived from several kinds of Algæ and comes into European commerce in two forms: (1) In transparent pieces 2 feet long, the thickness of a straw, prepared in Singapore by treating it in hot water. (2) In yellowish white masses about 1 inch wide and 1 foot long. The latter is the form considered the more suitable for the culture of bacteria.

Constituents, Agar-Agar contains glose, which is a powerful gelatinizing agent. It is precipitated from solution by alcohol. Glose is a carbohydrate. Acetic, hydrochloric and oxalic acids prevent gelatinization of Agar-Agar.

Medicinal Action and Uses. Agar-Agar is widely used as a treatment for constipation, but is usually employed with Cascara when atony of the intestinal muscles is present. It does not increase peristaltic action. Its therapeutic value depends on the ability of the dry Agar to absorb and retain moisture. Its action is mechanical and analogous to that of the cellulose of vegetable foods, aiding the regularity of the bowel movements. It is sometimes used as an adulterant of jams and jellies.

Dosage and Preparations, to 1 ounce may be taken at a time. 1 ounce to a pint of boiling water makes a suitable jelly for invalids and may be flavoured with lemon.

Other Species. Ceylon Agar-Agar, or Agal Agal, which is the native name of Gracillaña lichenoides,is largely used in the East for making soups and jellies. Gigartina speciosa, a variety found on the Swan River, was erroneously supposed to have formed the edible swallow’s nest, but it has been ascertained that this delicacy comes from a peculiar secretion in the birds themselves. Macassar Agar-Agar comes from the straits between Borneo and Celebes and consists of impure Euchema Spinolum incrusted with salt.

AGARIC. See FUNGI. LARCH AGARIC. See FUNGI.

AGAVE. See ALOES

AGRIMONY

Agrimonia Eupatoria (LINN.)

N.O. Rosaceæ

Synonyms. Common Agrimony. Church Steeples. Cockeburr. Sticklewort. Philanthropos

Part Used, The herb

Habitat. The plant is found abundantly throughout England, on hedge-banks and the sides of fields, in dry thickets and on all waste places. In Scotland it is much more local and does not penetrate verv far northward

Agrimony has an old reputation as a popular, domestic medicinal herb, being a simple well known to all country-folk. It belongs to the Rose order of plants, and its slender spikes of yellow flowers, which are in bloom from June to early Sebtember, and the singularly beautiful form of its much-cut-into leaves, make it one of the most graceful of our smaller herbs.

Description, inches long. They are oblong-oval in shape, toothed, downy above and more densely so beneath.

inch long, and the mouth, about as wide, is surmounted by an enlarged ring armed with spines, of which the outer ones are shorter and spreading, and the inner ones longer and erect.

The whole plant is deep green and covered with soft hairs, and has a slightly aromatic scent; even the small root is sweet scented, especially in spring. The spikes of flowers emit a most refresmng and spicy odour like that of apricots. The leaves when dry retain most of their fragrant odour, as well as the flowers, and Agrimony was once much sought after as a substitute or addition to tea, adding a peculiar delicacy and aroma to its flavour. Agrimony is one of the plants from the dried leaves of which in some country districts is brewed what is called ‘a spring drink,’ or ‘diet drink,’ a compound made by the infusion of several herbs and drunk in spring time as a purifier of the blood. In France, where herbal teas or tisanes are more employed than here, it is stated that Agrimony tea, for its fragrancy, as well as for its virtues, is often drunk as a beverage at table.

The plant is subject to a considerable amount of variation, some specimens being far larger than others, much more clothed with hairs and with other minor differences. It has, therefore, by some botanists, been divided into two species, but the division is now scarcely maintained. The larger variety, having also a greater fragrance, was named Agrimonia odorata.

The long flower-spikes of Agrimony have caused the name of ‘Church Steeples’ to be given the plant in some parts of the country. It also bears the title of ‘Cockeburr,’ ‘Sticklewort’ or ‘Stickwort,’ because its seed-vessels cling by the hooked ends of their stiff hairs to any person or animal coming into contact with the plant. It was, Gerard informs us, at one time called Philanthropos, according to some old writers, on account or its beneficent and valuaole properties, others saying that the name arose from the circumstance of the seeds clinging to the garments of passers-by, as if desirous of accompanying them, and Gerard inclines to this latter interpretation of the name.

The whole plant yields a yellow dye: when gathered in September, the colour given is pale, much like that called nankeen; later in the year, the dye is of a darker hue and will dye wool of a deep yellow. As it gives a good dye at all times and is a common plant, easily cultivated, it seems to deserve the notice of dyers.

Sheep and goats will eat this plant, but cattle, horses and swine leave it untouched.

History. The name Agrimony is from Argemone, a word given by the Greeks to plants which were healing to the eyes, the name Eupatoria refers to Mithridates Eupator, a king who was a renowned con-coctor of herbal remedies. The magic power of Agrimony is mentioned in an old English medical manuscript:

‘It be leyd under mann’s heed,

He shal sleepyn as he were deed;

He shal never drede ne wakyn

Till fro unaer his heed it be takyn.’

Agrimony was one of the most famous vulnerary herbs. The Anglo-Saxons, who called it Garclive, taught that it would heal wounds, snake bites, warts, etc. In the time of Chaucer, when we find its name appearing in the form of Egrimoyne, it was used with Mugwort and vinegar for ‘a bad back’ and ‘lle woundes’: and one of these old writers recommends it to be taken with a mixture of pounded frogs and human blood, as a remedy for all internal hæmorrhages. It formed an ingredient of the famous arquebusade water as prepared against wounds inflicted by an arquebus, or hand-gun, and was mentioned by Philip de Comines, in his account of the battle of Morat in 1476. In France, the eau de arquebusade is still applied for sprains and bruises, being carefully made from many aromatic herbs. It was at one time included in the London Materia Medica as a vulnerary herb, but modern official medicine does not recognize its virtues, though it is still fully appreciated in herbal practice as a mild astringent and tonic, useful in coughs, diarrhœa and relaxed bowels. By pouring a pint of boiling water on a handful of the dried herb – stem, leaves and flowers – an excellent gargle may be made for a relaxed throat, and a teacupful of the same infusion is recommended, taken cold three or four times in the day for looseness in the bowels, also for passive losses of blood. It may be given either in infusion or decoction.

Constituents. Agrimony contains a particular volatile oil, which may be obtained from the plant by distillation and also a bitter principle. It yields in addition 5 per cent, of tannin, so that its use in cottage medicine for gargles and as an astringent applicant to indolent ulcers and wounds is well justified. Owing to this presence of tannin, its use has been recommended in dressing leather.

Medicinal Action and Uses. Astringent, tonic, diuretic. Agrimony has had a great reputation for curing jaundice and other liver complaints. Gerard believed in its efficacy. He says: ‘A decoction of the leaves is good for them that have naughty livers’: and he tells us also that Pliny called it a ‘herb of princely authoritie.’ Dioscorides stated that it was not only ‘a remedy for them that have bad livers,’ but also ‘for such as are bitten with serpents.’ Dr. Hill, who from 1751 to 1771 published several works on Herbal medicine, recommends ‘an infusion of 6 oz. of the crown of the root in a quart of boiling water, sweetened with honey and half a pint drank three times a day,’ as an effectual remedy for jaundice. It gives tone to the system and promotes assimilation of food.

Agrimony is also considered a very useful agent in skin eruptions and diseases of the Dlood, pimples, blotches, etc. A strong decoction of the root and leaves, sweetened with honey or sugar, has been taken successfully to cure scrofulous sores, being administered two or three times a day, in doses of a wineglassful, persistently for several months. The same decoction is also often employed m rural districts as an application to ulcers.

Preparation. Fluid extract dose, 10 to 60 drops.

In North America, it is said to be used in fevers with great success, by the Indians and Canadians.

In former days, it was sometimes given as a vermifuge, though that use of it is obsolete.

In the Middle Ages, it was said to have magic powers, if laid under a man’s head inducing heavy sleep till removed, but no narcotic properties are ascribed to it.

Green (Universal Herbal, 1832) tells us that ‘its root appears to possess the properties of Peruvian bark in a very considerable degree, without manifesting any of its inconvenient qualities, and if taken in pretty large doses, either in decoction or powder, seldom fails to cure the ague.’

Culpepper (1652) recommends it, in addition to the uses already enumerated, for gout, ‘either used outwardly in an oil or ointment, or inwardly, in an electuary or syrup, or concreted juice.’ He praises its use externally, stating how sores may be cured ‘by bathing and fomenting them with a decoction of this plant’ and that it heals ‘all inward wounds, bruises, hurts and other distempers.’ He continues: ‘The decoction of the herb, made with wine and drunk, is good against the biting and stinging of serpents … it also helpeth the colic, cleanseth the breath and relieves the cough. A draught of the decoction taken warm before the fit, first relieves and in time removes the tertian and quartian ague.’ It ‘draweth forth thorns, splinters of wood, or any such tmng in the flesh. It helpeth to strengthen members that are out of joint.’

There are several other plants, not actually related botanically to the Common Agrimony, that were given the same name by the older herbalists because of their similar properties. These are the COMMON HEMP AGRIMONY, Eupatorium Cannabinum (Linn.), called by Gerard the Common Dutch Agrimony, and by Salmon, in his English Herbal (1710), Eupatorium Aquaticum mas, the Water Agrimony; also the plant now called the Trifid Bur-Marigold, Bidens tripartita (Linn.), but by older herbalists named the Water Hemp, Bastard Hemp and Bastard Agrimony. The name Bastard Agrimony has also been given to a species of true Agrimony, Agrimonium Agrimonoides, a native of Italy, growing in moist woods and among bushes.

AGRIMONY (HEMP)

Eupatorium Cannabinum (LINN.)

N.O. Compositæ

Synonyms. Holy Rope. St. John’s Herb

Part Used. Herb

The Hemp Agrimony, Eupatonunt Cannabinum, belongs to the great Composite order of plants. It is a very handsome, tallgrowing perennial, common oil the banks of rivers, sides of ditches, at the base of cliffs on the seashore, and in other damp places in most parts of Britain, and throughout Europe.

Description. The root-stock is woody and from it rises the erect, round stems, growing from 2 to 5 feet high, with short branches springing from the axils of the leaves, which are placed on it in pairs. The stems are reddish in colour, covered with downy hair and are woody below. They have a pleasant aromatic smell when cut.

The root-leaves are on long stalks, but the stem-leaves have only very short foot-stalks. They are divided to their base into three, more rarely five, lance-shaped toothed lobes, the middle lobe much larger than the others, the general form of the leaf being similar to that of the Hemp (hence both the English name and the Latin specific name, deriven from cannabis, hemp). In small plants the leaves are sometimes undivided. They have a bitter taste, and their pungent smell is reminiscent of an umbelliferous rather than of a composite plant. All the leaves bear distinct, short hairs, and are sparingly sprinkled with small inconspicuous, resinous dots.

The plant blooms in late summer and autumn, the flower heads being arranged in crowded masses of a dull lilac colour at the top of the stem or branches. Each little composite head consists of about five or six florets. The corolla has five short teeth; though generally light purple or reddish lilac, it sometimes may be nearly white; it is covered with scattered resinous points. The anthers of the stamens are brown, and the very long style is white. The crown of hairs, or pappus, on the angled fruit is of a dirty white colour.

We sometimes find the plant called ‘St. John’s Herb,’ and on account of the hempenshaped leaves, it was also formerly called, in some districts, ‘Holy Rope,’ being thus named after the rope with which the Saviour was bound.

Constituents. The leaves contain a volatile oil, which acts on the kidneys, and likewise some tannin and a bitter chemical principle which will cut short the chill of intermittent fever.

Medicinal Action and Uses. Alternative and febrifuge. Though now little used medicinally, herbalists recognize its cathartic, diuretic and anti-scorbutic properties, and consider it a good remedy for purifying the blood, either used by itself, or in combination with other herbs. A homoeopathic tincture is prepared, given in frequent small well-diluted doses with water, for influenza, or for a similar feverish chill, and a tea made with boiling water poured on the dry leaves will give prompt relief if taken hot at the onset of a bilious catarrh or of influenza.

In Holland it was used by the peasants for jaundice with swollen feet, and given as an alternative or purifier of the blood in the spring and against scurvy. The leaves have been used in infusion as a tonic, and in the fen districts where it prevails, such medicines are very necessary. Country people

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