The Botanist's Companion, Vol. II
Part 2 out of 6
110. CARPINUS Betulus. THE HORNBEAM.--This grows to a large tree, but is
not of much account as timber: it is however very useful in forming
ornamental fences, and is well adapted to this purpose from the tendency
of its young branches to grow thick.
111. CLEMATIS Vitalba. TRAVELLER'S JOY.--A beautiful creeping shrub very
useful to the farmers for making shackles for gates and hurdles, or
withs for tying faggots and other articles. Whenever this plant is found
in the hedges, &c. it is a certain indication of a ckalky under stratum
in the soil.
112. CORNUS sanguinea. DOG-WOOD.--This is planted in pleasuregrounds as
an ornamental shrub, and from the red appearance of the wood in the
winter forms a beautiful constrast in plantations. It is also used by
butchers for making skewers.
113. CORYLUS Avellana. THE HAZEL.--Is a well known shrub of large growth
producing nuts, which are much admired. The Filbert is an improved
variety of this plant. The farmers in Kent are the best managers of
Filberts, and it is the only place where they are grown with any
certainty; which appears to be owing principally to the trees being
regularly pruned of the superfluous wood. It is performed in the month
of March when the plants are in bloom, and is the only time when the
fruit-bearing wood can be distinguished.
114. CRATAEGUS Aria. WHITE BEAM-TREE.--Is a beautiful tree producing very
hard wood, and is much in esteem for cogs of millwork and various other
115. CRATAEGUS Oxyacantha. THE QUICKSET, or WHITE-THORN.--This is in
great request for making fences, and is the best plant we know for such
purposes if properly managed. It is readily propagated by sowing the
hips, or fruit, which does not readily grow the first season; it is
therefore usual to bury them mixed with saw-dust, or sand, one year, and
then to sow them in beds.
116. DAPHNE Laureola. SPURGE- or WOOD-LAUREL.--Is used in medicine;
We have many species of Daphne which are very ornamental to our
shrubberies and green-houses: these are propagated principally by
grafting; and the Wood-Laurel being hardy and of ready growth forms the
stock principally used. It is readily propagated by seeds, which in
three years will make plants large enough for this purpose.
The plant in all its parts is excessively acrid. I remember a man being
persuaded to take the leaves reduced to powder, as a remedy for
Syphilis, and he died in consequence in great agony in a few hours.
117. DAPHNE Mezerium. MEZERION.--Is a very beautiful shrub, and is one
of the earliest productions of Flora, often exhibiting its brilliant
scarlet flowers in January and February. We have also a white variety of
this shrub in the gardens. The bark and roots are extremely acrimonious,
and are used in medicine.
118. ERICA vulgaris. THE COMMON HEATH, HEATHER, or LING.---This
spontaneous produce of most of our sandy waste lands is of much usin
It is of considerable value for making brooms, and affords food to
sheep, goats, and other animals; particularly to the grouse and
heath-cock. The branches of heath placed upright in a wooden frame form
the couch of repose to the brave Highlander. It is also stated that an
excellent beverage was brewed from the tops of this plant, but the art
of making it is now lost. This is the most common of the species, but
all the others have similar properties. They are very ornamental plants.
A numerous variety of heaths are brought from the Cape of Good Hope, and
afford great pleasure to the amateur of exotic plants, being the
greatest ornaments to our green-houses.
119. EUONYMUS europaeus. SPINDLE-TREE.--An ornamental shrub. The wood is
in great request for making skewers for butchers, as it does not impart
any unpleasant taste to the meat.
120. FAGUS Castanea. THE SPANISH CHESNUT.--This tree produces timber
similar to oak in point of durability, and the bark also contains a
considerable quantity of tannin. The Chesnut was in greater plenty in
this country many years ago than at the present day; large forests are
represented to have been in the neighbourhood of London; and we are led
to believe such may have been the case, as many of the old buildings
when examined have been found to be built of this timber. The fruit is
used as a dainty at table; but the variety which is brought from
Portugal and Spain is much larger than what are grown in this country.
The large kind imported from those countries is grafted, and kept on
purpose for the fruit. It is an improvement to graft this variety by
taking the scions from trees in bearing, and they will produce fruit in
a few years and in a dwarf state.
121. FAGUS sylvatica. THE BEECH.--The timber of the Beech is valuable
for making wheels, and is applied to many other useful purposes in
domestic oeconomy. The seeds of the Beech are very useful for fattening
This tree affords many beautiful varieties in foliage, the handsomest of
which is the Copper Beech, whose purple leaves form a fine contrast in
colour with the lively green of the common sort.
123. FRAXINUS excelsior. THE ASH.--The wood of the Ash is considered the
best timber for all purposes of strong husbandry utensils. The wheels
and axle-trees of carriages, the shafts for carts, and the cogs for
mill-work, are principally made of this timber. The young wood when gown
in coppices is useful for hop-poles, and the small underwood is said to
afford the best fuel of any when used green. Coppice-land usually sells
for a comparatively greater price according as this wood prevails in
quantity, on account of its good quality as fuel alone.
124. HEDERA Helix. IVY.--A common plant in woods, and often planted in
shady places to hide walls and buildings. The leaves are good food for
deer and sheep in winter. The Irish Ivy, which was brought from that
country, is a fine variety with broad leaves. It was introduced by Earl
125. HIPPOPHAE Rhamnoides. SEA BUCKTHORN.--This is a scarce shrub; but
is very useful as a plant for forming shelter on the hills near the
sea-coast, it having been found to stand the sea-breeze better than any
plant of the kind that is indigenous to this country.
126. ILEX aquifolium. HOLLY.--A well-known evergreen of singular beauty,
of which we have many varieties, both striped, and of different colours
in the leaf. Birdlime is made from the inner bark of this tree, by
beating it in a running stream and leaving it to ferment in a close
vessel. If iron be heated with charcoal made of holly with the bark on,
the iron will be rendered brittle; but if the bark be taken off, this
effect will not be produced. Ray's Works and Travels by Scott.
127. JUNIPERUS communis. JUNIPER.--An evergreen shrub, very common on
waste lands. The berries are used in preparing the well-known spiritous
liquor gin, and have been considered of great use in medicine.
128. LIGUSTRUM vulgare. PRIVET.--A shrub of somewhat humble growth, very
useful for forming hedges where shelter is wanted more than strength. It
bears clipping, and forms a very ornamental fence. There is a variety of
this with berries, and another nearly evergreen.
129. MESPILUS germanica. THE MEDLAR.--Is cultivated for its fruit, and
of which we have a variety called the Dutch Medlar; it is larger than
our English one, but I do not think it better flavoured.
130. PINUS sylvestris. THE SCOTCH FIR.--A very useful tree in
plantations for protecting other more tender sorts when young. It is
also now very valuable as timber:--necessity, the common parent of
invention, has taught our countrymen its value. When foreign deal was
worth twenty pounds per load, they contrieved to raise the price of this
to about nine or ten pounds, and it was then thought proper for use;
before which period, and when it could be bought for little money, it
was deemed only fit for fuel. On the South Downs I know some plantations
of this tree, which have been sold, after twenty-five years growth, at a
price which averaged a profit of twenty shillings per annum per acre, on
land usually let for sheep-pasture at one shilling and six-pence.
131. POPULUS alba. WHITE POPLAR. This is a very ornamental tree. The
leaves on the under surface are of a fine white, and on the reverse of a
very dark green; and when growing on large trees are truly beautiful, as
every breath of air changes the colour as the leaves move. The wood of
all the species of poplar is useful for boards, or any other purposes if
kept dry. It is much in demand for floor-boards for rooms, it not
readily taking fire; a red-hot poker falling on a board, would burn its
way through it, without causing more combustion than the hole through
which it passed.
132. POPULUS monilifera. CANADA POPLAR.--This is also known by the name
of BLACK ITALIAN POPLAR, but from whence it had this name I do not know.
This species, which is the finest of all the kinds, grows very commonly
in woods and hedges in many parts of Worcestershire and Herefordshire,
where it reaches to prodigious sizes. Perhaps no timber is more useful
than this; it is very durable, and easy to be converted to all purposes
in building. The floors of a great part of Downton Castle, the seat of
R. Payne Knight, Esq. are laid with this wood, which have been used
forty years and are perfectly sound. Trees are now growing on his estate
which are three and four feet in diameter. I have one growing in my
Botanic garden which is eight years old, and measures upwards of six
cubic feet of timber. The parent of this tree which grew at Brompton I
converted into boards. It was nineteen years growing; and when cut down
it was worth upwards of fourteen pounds, rating it at the then price of
deal, for which it was a good substitute. Some fine specimens of this
tree are also to be seen at Garnins, the seat of Sir J. G. Cotterell,
Bart. the present worthy member for the county of Hereford.
133. PRUNUS domestica. THE COMMON PLUM-TREE.--This is the parent of our
fruit of this name.
134. PRUNUS Cerasus. WILD CHERRY-TREE.--Is the parent of our fine
cherries. It is cultivated much in Scotland for the timber, which is
hard, and of use for furniture and other domestic purposes. It is the
best and most lasting stock for grafting on. Persons who are about to
plant this fruit would do well to inquire into the nature of the stock,
as no fruit-tree is so liable to disease and become gummy as cherries
are, and that is often much owing to the improved kinds being sown for
stocks, which are of a more tender texture and of course less hardy than
135. PRUNUS insititia. SLOE-TREE.--Is of little use except when it
occurs in fences. The fruit is a fine acid, and is much used by the
common people, mixed with other fruits less astringent and acid, to
flavour made wines. It is believed that much Port wine is improved by
the same means.
136. PYRUS communis. PEAR-TREE.--This is the parent of all our fine
varieties of this fruit, and is used as the stock for propagating them;
these are raised from seeds for that purpose. The wood of the Peartree
is in great esteem for picture frames, it receiving a stain better than
almost any other timber known.
137. PYRUS Malus. CRAB-TREE.--A tree of great account, as being the
parent of all our varieties of apples, and is the stock on which the
fine varieties are usually grafted. A dwarf variety of this tree, called
the Paradise Apple, is used for stocks for making dwarf apple trees for
The juice of the Crab is called verjuice, which is in considerable
demand for medicinal and other purposes.
138. QUERCUS robur. THE OAK.--Is a well known tree peculiar to Great
Britain, and of the greatest interest to us as a nation. It is of very
slow growth; but the timber is very strong and lasting, and hence it is
used for building our shipping. The bark is supposed to contain more
tannin than that of any other tree, and is valuable on that account. The
acorns, or fruit, are good food for hogs, which are observed to grow
very fat when turned into the forests at the season when they are ripe.
The tree is raised from the acorn, which grows very readily.
We have accounts of Oak trees growing to great ages, and to most
enormous sizes. One instance is mentioned by Evelyn, of one growing at
Cowthorp, near Weatherby, in 1776, which within three feet of the ground
was sixteen yards in circumference, and its height about eighty-five
feet. Hunter's Evelyn's Sylva, p. 500.
139. ROSA rubiginosa. SWEET-BRIAR.--Is a very fragrant shrub, for which
it has long been cultivated in the gardens. There are several varieties
in the nurseries; as the Double-flowering, Evergreen, &c. which are much
140. RUBUS Idaeus. THE RASPBERRY.--Produces a well known fruit in great
esteem, and of considerable use both as food and for medicine.
141. RUBUS fruticosus. BRAMBLE.--Produces a black insipid fruit, but
which is used by the poor people for tarts and to form a made wine: when
mixt with the juice of sloes it is rendered very palatable.
142. RUBUS caesius.--Is a dwarf kind of bramble, and produces fruit of a
pleasant acid, and where it grows in plenty it is used by the poor
people for pies and other purposes of domestic oeconomy.
143. SALIX Russelliana. THE WILLOW.--No trees in this country are of
more use than the species of this genus: many are grown for
basket-makers in form of osiers, and other larger sorts serve for
stakes, rails, hop-poles, and many other useful purposes. The bark of
several species has been considered as useful for tanning leather. The
charcoal of the Willow is also much in demand for making gunpowder.
144. SALIX viminalis. THE OSIER.--These are cultivated in watery places
for making baskets, which are become a profitable article, and are the
shoots of one season's growth cut every winter. The species best adapted
to this purpose, besides the common osier, are
The Salix vitellina. Golden Willow. The Salix monandria. Monandrous
Willow. The Salix triandria. Triandrous Willow. The Salix mollissima.
Silky-leaved Willow. The Salix stipularis. Auriculated Osier. The Salix
purpurea. Bitter Purple Willow. The Salix Helix. Rose Willow. The Salix
Lambertiana. Boyton Willow. The Salix Forbyana. Basket Osier. The Salix
rubra. Green Osier. The Salix nigricans. Dark Purple Osier.
145. SAMBUCUS nigra. ELDER.--The timber of the Elder is useful for
making musical instruments, and the berries made into wine and fermented
make a useful and valuable beverage. A variety with green berries is
much esteemed for wine also.
146. SORBUS Aucuparia. QUICKEN-TREE, or MOUNTAIN-ASH.--In this part of
Britain we usually find this tree in plantations, where it is very
ornamental; and the berries, which are of a fine scarlet, are the food
of many species of birds. The wood is also useful for posts, &c. and is
147. SORBUS domestica. TRUE SERVICE.--Produces a fruit much like the
Medlar, and when ripe is in great esteem. The only tree in this country
in a wild state, is growing in Bewdley Forest, Worcester-shire.
148. SPARTIUM Scoparium. BROOM.--Is a very ornamental plant, and is used
for making besoms. It was once considered as a specific in the cure of
dropsy, but is now seldom used for medicial purposes.
149. STAPHYLEA pinnata. BLADDER-NUT.--This is not a common plant in this
country. I know of no other use to which it is applied, but its being
cultivated in nurseries and sold as an ornamental shrub. The
seed-vessel, from whence it takes its name, is a curious example of the
150. TAMARIX gallica. A shrub of large growth; and being less affected
by the sea breeze than any others, is useful to form a shelter in
situations where the bleak winds will not admit of trees of more tender
kinds to flourish.
151. TAXUS baccata. THE YEW.--Was formerly much esteemed for making
bows: but since those instruments of war and destruction have given
place to the more powerful gun-powder, it is not so much in request. The
wood is very hard and durable, and admits of a fine polish. The foliage
of Yew is poisonous to cattle, who will readily eat it, if cut and
thrown in their way in frosty weather.
152. TILIA europaea. THE LIME or LINDEN-TREE.--Is a very ornamental tree
in plantations, and from its early putting forth its leaves is much
esteemed. The flowers emit a very fine scent, and the inhabitants of
Switzerland make a favourite beverage from them. The wood is very soft,
though white and beautiful. It is much used for the ornamental boxes,
&c. so well known by the name of Turnbridge-ware.
153. VACCINIUM uliginosum. GREAT BILBERRY. Vaccinium Vitis Idaea, RED
WHORTLE-BERRY, and Vaccinium Oxycoccos, CRANBERRY, are all edible fruits,
but do not grow in this part of the kingdom. Great quantities of
Cranberries are imported every winter and spring from Russia; they are
much esteemed by the confectioners for tarts, &c. and are sold at high
prices. These three kinds grow only in wet boggy places. A species which
is native of America, called Vaccinium macrocarpon, has been very
successfully cultivated at Spring Grove by Sir Joseph Banks, Bart. and
which has also been attempted in various other places, but not with the
same success. The fruit of this species is larger and of better flavour
than either of the other kinds.
154. VACCINIUM Myrtillus. WHORTS, or BILBERRIES.--To a common observer
this would appear to be a very insignificant shrub; it is not uncommonly
met with on our heaths: but it is only in particular places where it
fruits in abundance, and in such districts it is of considerable value.
The waste lands on Hindhead and Blackdown in Surry and Sussex are
noticed for producing this fruit, which is similar to Black Currants.
They are gathered in the months of August and September, and sold at the
In a calculation of the value of this plant with an intelligent
nurseryman in that county, we found that from 500 l. to 700 l. were
earned and realized annually by the neighbouring poor, who employed
their families in this labour, and who are in the habit of travelling
many miles for this purpose. The fruit is ripe in August, and at that
season is met with in great plenty in all the neighbouring towns.
155. VISCUM album. MISSELTO.--A parasitical plant well known, and
formerly of much repute in medicine, but wholly disregarded in the
present practice. Birdlime is made from the berries.
Dr. Pulteney in tracing the history of Botanic science quotes Pliny for
an account of the veneration in which this plant was held by the Druids,
who attributed almost divine efficacy to it, and ordained the collecting
it with rites and ceremonies not short of the religious strictness which
was countenanced by the superstition of the age. It was cut with a
golden knife, and when the moon was six days old gathered by the priest,
who was clothed with white for the occasion, and the plant received on a
white napkin, and two white bulls sacrificed. Thus consecrated, Misselto
was held to be an antidote to poison, and prevented sterility. Query,
Has not the custom of hanging up Misselto at merry-makings, and the
ceremony so well known among our belles, some relation to above
156. ULEX europaeus. COMMON FURZE.--The culture of this shrub is given in
the Agricultural Plants, being good for feeding cattle; its principal
use however is for fuel, and it is frequently grown for such purposes.
It is common on most of our waste lands. It also forms good fences, but
should always be kept short and young, otherwise it becomes thin,
especially in good land where it grows up and makes large bushes.
157. ULMUS campestris. THE ELM.--We have a number of varieties of the
Elm; the most esteemed is that with the smooth bark. The timber has been
long in request for water-pipes, and for boards, which are converted
into various uses in domestic oeconomy.
158. ULMUS montana. BROAD-LEAVED ELM.--This has not been considered of
so great value as the common sort, but it is of much more free growth;
and I have been informed that in the West of England the timber has been
found to be good and lasting.
* * * * *
SECT. VII.--PLANTS USEFUL IN MEDICINE.
The initial letters in this class distinguish the Pharmacopoeia in which
each plant is inserted.
"By the wise and unchangeable laws of Nature established by a Being
infinitely good and infinitely powerful,--not only man, the lord of the
creation, 'fair form who wears sweet smiles, and looks erect on heaven,'
but every subordinate being becomes subject to decay and death: pain and
disease, the inheritance of mortality, usually accelerate his
dissolution. To combat these, to alleviate when it has not the power to
avert, Medicine, honoured art! comes to our assistance.
"It will not be expected that we should here give a history of this
ancient practice, or draw a parallel betwixt the success of former
physicians and those of modern times: all that concerns us to remark is,
that the ancients were infinitely more indebted to the vegetable kingdom
for the materials of their art than the moderns. Not so well acquainted
with the oeconomy of nature, which teaches us that plants were chiefly
destined for the food of various animals, they sought in every herb some
latent healing virtue, and frequently endeavoured to make up the want of
efficacy in one by the combination of numbers: hence the extreme length
of their farraginous prescriptions. More enlightened ideas of the
operations of medicine have taught the moderns greater simplicity and
conciseness in practice. Perhaps there is a danger that this simplicity
may be carried to far, and become finally detrimental to the practice."
The above is quoted from the Preface to a Catalogue of Medicinal Plants
published by my predecessor in 1783: and it may be observed, that the
medical student has, at the present season, a still less number of
plants to store up in memory, owing, probably, to the great advances
that chemistry has made in the mean time, through which mineral articles
in many instances have superseded those of the vegetable kingdom. But,
nevertheless, as Dr. Woodville has justly observed, "it would be
difficult to show that this preference is supported by any conclusive
reasoning drawn from a comparative superiority of the former;" or that
the more general use of them has led to greater success in the practice
of the healing art. It is however evident, that we have much to regret
the almost total neglect of the study of medical botany by the younger
branches of the professors of physic, when we are credibly informed that
Cow-parsley has been administered for Hemlock, and Foxglove has been
substituted for Coltsfoot [Footnote: See the account of a dreadful
accident of this nature, in Gent. Mag. for Sept. 1815.], from which
circumstance, some valuable lives have been sacrificed. It is therefore
high time that those persons who are engaged in the business of pharmacy
should be obliged to become so far acquainted with plants, as to be able
to distinguish at sight all such as are useful in diet or medicine, and
more particularly such as are of poisonous qualities.
The medical student has so many subjects for his consideration, that it
is not desirable he should have a greater number of vegetables to
consult than are necessary. And we cannot help lamenting the difficulty
he has to struggle with in consequence of the great difference of names
which the Pharmacopoeias of the present day exhibit. The London,
Edinburgh, and Dublin, in many instances, enforce the necessity of
learning a different term in each for the same thing, and none of which
are called by the same they were twenty years ago. Surely it would be
the means of forwarding the knowledge of drugs, if each could be
distinguished by one general term.
The candidate for medical knowledge, however, is not the only one who
has at times to regret this confusion of names. The Linnaean system is an
easy and delightful path to the knowledge of plants; but, like all other
human structures, it has its imperfections, and some of which have been
modified by judicious alterations. Yet the teachers of this science, as
well as the students, have often to deprecate the unnecessary change in
names which has been made by many writers, though., in many cases, no
more reason appears for it than there generally would be to change
Christian and surnames of persons.
In the following section, I shall enumerate and describe those plants
which are contained in the lists of the three colleges; and afterwards a
separate list of those which, although they have been expunged, are
still sometimes used by medical men.
I shall also endeavour to give such descriptions as are concise, at the
same time sufficient for general knowledge, and for which reason I have
taken Lewis's Materia Medica for my text, unless where improvements have
been made in certain subjects I have consulted more modern authorities.
It should be observed, that writers on medical plants, with few
exceptions, have copied from one another: or with a little alteration as
to words only.
And as some vegetables, from their affinitiy, may be confounded with
others, whereby those possessing medical qualities may be substituted
for others having none, or even poisonous ones, I shall in some
instances enumerate a list of similar plants, which, with attention to
their botanical characters, it is hoped will prevent those dangerous
errors we have lately witnessed. As it is our business, in demonstrating
plants, to guard the student against such confusion, it will be proper
that specimens of such as come under this head be preserved, as a work
for reference and contrast wherever doubts may arise.
158. ACONITUM Napellus. COMMON BLUE MONKSHOOD. The Leaves. L. E.--Every
part of the fresh plant is strongly poisonous, but the root is
unquestionably the most powerful, and when chewed at first imparts a
slight sensation of acrimony, and a pungent heat of the lips, gums,
palate and fauces, which is succeeded by a general tremor and sensation
This plant has been generally prepared as an extract or inspissated
juice, after the manner directed in the Edinburgh and many of the
foreign Pharmacopoeias, and, like all virulent medicines, it should be
first administered in small doses. Stoerck recommends two grains of the
extract to be rubbed into a powder with two drums of sugar, and as a
dose to begin with ten grains of this powder two or three times a-day.
Similar Plants.--Aconitum japonicum; A. pyrenaicum; Delphinium elatum;
Instead of the extract, a tincture has been made of the dried leaves
macerated in six times their weight of spirit of wine, and forty drops
given for a dose.--Woodville's Med. Bot. 965.
The Dublin College has ordered the Aconitum Neomontanum, which is not
common in this country [Footnote: In plants of so very poisonous a
nature as the Aconite, it is the duty of every one who describes them to
be particular. Here seems to have been a confusion. The A. Neomontanum
is figured in Jacquin's Fl. Austriaca, fasc. 4. p. 381; and the first
edition of Hortus Kewensis under A. Napellus erroneously quotes that
figure: but both Gmelin in Syst. Vegetabilium, p. 838, and Wildenow in
Spec. Plant. p. 1236, quote it under its proper name, A. Neomontanum.
Now the fact is, that the Napellus is the Common Blue Monkshood; and
the Neomontanum is altogether left out of the second edition of the
Hortus Kewensis for the best of all reasons, it is not in this country;
or, if it is, it must be very scarce, and, of course, not the plant used
160. ACORCUS Calamus. SWEET RUSH. The Root. L.--It is generally looked
upon as a carminative and stomachic medicine, and as such is sometimes
made use of in practice. It is said by some to be superior in aromatic
flavour to any other vegetable that is produced in these northern
climates; but such as I have had an opportunity of examining, fell
short, in this respect, of several of our common plants. It is,
nevertheless, a sufficiently elegant aromatic. It used to be an
ingredient in the Mithridate and Theriaca of the London Pharmacopoeia,
and in the Edinburgh. The fresh root candied after the manner directed
in our Dispensatory for candying eryngo root, is said to be employed at
Constantinople as a preservative against epidemic diseases. The leaves
of this plant have a sweet fragrant smell, more agreeable, though
weaker, than that of the roots.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
161. AESCULUS Hippocastanum. HORSE-CHESNUT. The Bark and Seed. E. D.--
With a view to its errhine power, the Edinburgh College has introduced
the seeds into the Materia Medica, as a small portion of the powder
snuffed up the nostrils readily excites sneezing; even the infusion or
decoction of this fruit produces this effect; it has therefore been
recommended for the purpose of producing a discharge from the nose,
which, in some complaints of the head and eyes is found to be of
On the continent, the Bark of the Horse Chesnut-tree is held in great
estimation as a febrifuge; and, upon the credit of several respectable
authors, appears to be a medicine of great efficacy.--Woodville's Med.
162. AGRIMONIA Eupatoria. COMMON AGRIMONY. The Herb. D.--The leaves have
an herbaceous, somewhat acrid, roughish taste, accompanied with an
aromatic flavour. Agrimony is said to be aperient, detergent, and to
strengthen the tone of the viscera: hence it is recommended in scorbutic
disorders, in debility and laxity of the intestines, &c. Digested in
whey, it affords an useful diet-drink for the spring season, not
ungrateful to the palate or stomach.
163. ALLIUM Porrum. LEEK. The Root. L.--This participates of the virtues
of garlic, from which it differs chiefly in being much weaker. See the
164. ALLIUM sativum. GARLIC. The Root. L. E. D.--This pungent root warms
and stimulates the solids, and attenuates tenacious juices. Hence in
cold leucophelgmatic habits it proves a powerful expectorant, diuretic,
and emmenagogue; and, if the patient is kept warm, sudorific. In humoral
asthmas, and catarrhous disorders of the breast, in some scurvies,
flatulent colics, hysterical and other diseases proceeding from laxity
of the solids, and cold sluggish indisposition of the fluids, it has
generally good effects: it has likewise been found serviceable in some
hydropic cases. Sydenham relates, that he has known the dropsy cured by
the use of garlic alone; he recommends it chiefly as a warm
strengthening medicine in the beginning of the disease.
Garlic made into an unguent with oils, &c. and applied externally, is
said to resolve and discuss cold tumors, and has been by some greatly
esteemed in cutaneous diseases. It has likewise sometimes been employed
as a repellent. Sydenham assures us, that among all the substances which
occasion a derivation or revulsion from the head, none operate more
powerfully than garlic applied to the soles of the feet: hence he was
led to make use of it in the confluent small-pox about the eighth day,
after the face began to swell; the root cut in pieces, and tied in a
linen cloth, was applied to the soles, and renewed once a day till all
danger was over.
165. ALLIUM Cepa. ONION. The Root. D.--These roots are considered rather
as articles of food than of medicine: they are supposed to afford little
or no nourishment, and when eaten liberally they produce flatulencies,
occasion thirst, headachs, and turbulent dreams: in cold phlegmatic
habits, where viscid mucus abounds, they doubtless have their use; as by
their stimulating quality they tend to excite appetite, attenuate thick
juices, and promote their expulsion: by some they are strongly
recommended in suppressions of urine and in dropsies. The chief
medicinal use of onions in the present practice is in external
applications, as a cataplasm for suppurating tumours, &c.
166. ALTHAEA officinalis. MARSH-MALLOW. The Leaves and Root. L.--This
plant has the general virtues of an emollient medicine; and proves
serviceable in a thin acrimonious state of the juices, and where the
natural mucus of the intestines is abraded. It is chiefly recommended in
sharp defluxions upon the lungs, hoarseness, dysenteries, and likewise
in nephritic and calculous complaints; not, as some have supposed, that
this medicine has any peculiar power of dissolving or expelling the
calculus; but as, by lubricating and relaxing the vessels, it procures a
more free and easy passage. Althaea root is sometimes employed externally
for softening and maturing hard tumours: chewed, it is said to give ease
in difficult dentition of children.
The officinal preparations are:-Decoctio Althaeae officinalis, and Syrupus
Similar Plants.--Malva officinalis; M. rotundifolia; M. mauritanica;
This root gives name to an officinal syrup [L. E.] and ointment [L.] and
is likewise an ingredient in the compound powder of gum tragacanth [L.
E.] and the oil and plaster of mucilages [L.] though it does not appear
to communicate any particular virtue to the two last, its mucilaginous
matter not being dissoluble in oils.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
167. AMYGDALUS communis. SWEET and BITTER ALMONDS. L. E. D.--The oils
obtained by expression from both sorts of almonds are in their sensible
qualities the same. The general virtues of these oils are, to blunt
acrimonious humours, and to soften and relax the solids: hence their use
internally, in tickling coughs, heat of urine, pains and inflammations:
and externally in tension and rigidity of particular parts.
168. ANCHUSA tinctoria. ALKANET-ROOT. E. D.--Alkanet-root has little or
no smell: when recent, it has a bitterish astringent taste, but when
dried scarcely any. As to its virtues, the present practice expects not
any from it. Its chief use is for colouring oils, unguents, and
plasters. As the colour is confined to the cortical part, the small
roots are best, these having proportionally more bark than the large.
169. ANETHUM graveolens. DILL. The Seeds. L.--Their taste is moderately
warm and pungent; their smell aromatic, but not of the most agreeable
kind. These seeds are recommended as a carminative, in flatulent colics
proceeding from a cold cause or a viscidity of the juices. The most
efficacious preparations of them are, the distilled oil, and a tincture
or extract made with rectified spirit. The oil and simple water
distilled from them are kept in the shops.--Lewis.
170. ANETHUM Foeniculum. FENNEL. Seeds. E.--These are supposed to be
stomachic and carminative; but this, and indeed all the other effects
ascribed to them, as depending upon their stimulant and aromatic
qualities, must be less considerable than those of Dill, Aniseed, or
Caraway, though termed one of the four greater hot seeds.--Woodville's
Med. Bot. p. 129.
171. ANGELICA Archangelica. GARDEN ANGELICA. The Root, Leaves, and
Seeds. E.--All the parts of Angelica, especially the roots, have a
fragrant aromatic smell, and a pleasant bitterish warm taste, glowing
upon the lips and palate for a long time after they have been chewed.
The flavour of the seeds and leaves is very perishable, particularly
that of the latter, which, on being barely dried, lose greatest part of
their taste and smell: the roots are more tenacious of their flavour,
though even these lose part of it upon keeping. The fresh root, wounded
early in the spring, yields and odorous yellow juice, which slowly
exsiccated proves an elegant gummy resin, very rich in the virtues of
the Angelica. On drying the root, this juice concretes into distinct
moleculae, which, on cutting it longitudinally, appear distributed in
little veins: in this state they are extracted by pure spirit, but not
by watery liquors.
This resin is considered one of the most elegant aromatics of European
growth, though little regarded in the present practice, and is rarely
met with in prescription; neither does it enter any officinal
172. ANTHEMIS nobilis. CHAMOMILE. The Flowers. L.E.D.--These have a
strong not ungrateful, aromatic smell, but a very bitter nauseous taste.
They are accounted carminative, aperient, emollient, and in some measure
anodyne: and stand recommended in flatulent colics, for promoting the
uterine purgations, in spasmodic affections, and the pains of women in
child-bed: sometimes they have been employed in intermittent fevers, and
the nephritis. These flowers are also frequently used externally in
discutient and antiseptic fomentations, and in emollient glysters. The
double-flowered variety is usually cultivated for medicine, but the wild
kind with single flowers is preferable.
Similar Plants.--Anthemis arvensis; A. Cotula; Pyrethrum maritimum.
173. ANTHEMIS Pyrethrum. PELLITORY OF SPAIN. The Root. L.--The principal
use of Pyrethrum in the present practice is as a masticatory, for
promoting the salival flux, and evacuating viscid humours from the head
and neighbouring parts: by this means it very generally relieves the
tooth-ach, pains of the head, and lethargic complaints. If a piece of
the root, the size of a pea, be placed against the tooth, it instantly
causes the saliva to flow from the surrounding glands, and gives
immediate relief in all cases of that malady.
174. APIUM Petroselium. COMMON PARSLEY. The Root. E.--Both the roots and
seeds of Parsley are directed by the London College for medicinal use:
the former have a sweetish taste, accompanied with a slight warmth of
flavour somewhat resembling that of a carrot; the latter are in taste
warmer and more aromatic than any other part of the plant, and also
manifest considerable bittenress.
These roots are said to be aperient and diuretic, and have been
employed in apozems to relieve nephritic pains, and obstructions of
Although Parsley is commonly used at table, it is remarkable that facts
have been adducted to prove, that in some constitutions it occasions
epilepsy, or at least aggravates the epileptic fit in those who are
subject to this disease. It has been supposed also to produce
inflammation in the eyes.--Woodville's Med. Bot. p. 43. A variety which
produces larger roots, called Hamburgh Parsley, is commonly grown for
175. ARBUTUS Uva Ursi. TRAILING ARBUTUS or BEAR-BERRY. The Leaves.--This
first drew the attention of physicians as an useful remedy in calculous
and nephritic affections; and in the years 1763 and 1764, by the
concurrent testimonies of different authors, it acquired remarkable
celebrity, not only for its efficacy in gravelly complaints, but in
almost every other to which the urinary organs are liable, as ulcers of
the kidneys and bladder, cystirrhoea, diabetes, &c. It may be employed
either in powder or decoction; the former is most commonly preferred,
and given in doses from a scruple to a dram two or three times a-day.--
Woodville's Med. Botany.
176. ARNICA montana. MOUNTAIN ARNICA. The whole Plant. E. D.--The odour
of the fresh plant is rather unpleasant, and the taste acrid,
herbaceous, and astringent; and the powdered leaves act as a strong
This plant, according to Bergius, is an emetic, errhine, diuretic,
diaphoretic, emmenagogue; and from its supposed power of attenuating the
blood, it has been esteemed so peculiarly efficacious in obviating the
bad consequences occasioned by falls and bruises, that it obtained the
appellation of Panacea Lapsorum.--Woodville's Med. Bot. p. 43.
177. ARTEMISIA Absinthium. WORMWOOD, The Herb. L.--Wormwood is a strong
bitter; and was formerly much used as such against weakness of the
stomach, and the like, in medicated wines and ales. At present it is
rarely employed in these intentions, on account of the ill relish and
offensive smell which it is accompanied with. These it may be in part
freed from by keeping, and totally by long coction, the bitter remaining
entire. An extract made by boiling the leaves in a large quantity of
water, and evaporating the liquor with a strong fire, proves a bitter
sufficiently grateful, without any disgustful flavour.
178. ARTEMISIA Abrotanum. SOUTHERNWOOD. Leaves. D.--Southernwood has a
strong, not very disagreeable smell; and a nauseous, pungent, bitter
taste; which is totally extracted by rectified spirit, less perfectly by
watery liquors. It is recommended as an anthelmintic; and in cold
lencophlegmatic habits, as a stimulant, detergent, aperient, and
sudorific. The present practice has almost entirely confined its use to
external applications. The leaves are frequently employed in discutient
and antiseptic fomentations; and have been recommended also in lotions
and unguents for cutaneous eruptions, and the falling off of the hair.
179. ARTEMISIA maritima. SEA WORMWOOD. Tops. D.--In taste and smell, it
is weaker and less unpleasant than the common worm-wood. The virutes of
both are supposed to be of the same kind, and to differ only in
The tops used to enter three of our distilled waters, and give name to a
conserve. They are an ingredient also in the common fomentation and
180. ARTEMISIA Santonica. ROMAN WORMWOOD. Seeds. E. D.--It is a native
of the warmer countries, and at present difficultly procurable in this,
though as hardy and as easily raised as any of the other sorts. Sea
wormwood has long supplied its place in the markets, and been in general
mistaken for it.
Roman wormwood is less ungrateful than either of the others: its smell
is tolerably pleasant: the taste, though manifestly bitter, scarcely
disagreeable. It appears to be the most eligible of the three as a
stomachic; and is likewise recommended by some in dropsies.
181. ARUM maculatum. BITING ARUM. Fresh Root. L. E.--This root is a
powerful stimulant and attenuant. It is reckoned a medicine of great
efficacy in some cachectic and chlorotic cases; in weakness of the
stomach occasioned by a load of viscid phlegm, and in such disorders in
general as proceed from a cold sluggish indisposition of the solids and
lentor of the fluids. I have experienced great benefit from it in
rheumatic pains, particularly those of the fixed kind, and which were
seated deep. In these cases I have given from ten grains to a scruple of
the fresh root twice or thrice a day, made into a bolus or emulsion with
unctuous and mucilaginous substances, which cover its pungency, and
prevent its making any painful impression on the tongue. It generally
excited a slight tingling sensation through the whole habit, and, when
the patient was kept warm in bed, produced a copious sweat.
The only officinal preparation, in which this root was an ingredient,
was a compound powder; in which form its virtues are very precarious.
Some recommend a tincture of it drawn with wine; but neither wine,
water, nor spirit, extract its virtues.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
182. ASARUM Europaeum, ASARABACCA. The Leaves. L. E. D.--Both the roots
and leaves have a nauseous, bitter, acrimonious, hot taste; their smell
is strong, and not very disagreeable. Given in substance from half a
dram to a dram, they evacuate powerfully both upwards and downwards. It
is said that tinctures made in spirituous menstrua possess both the
emetic and cathartic virtues of the plant: that the extract obtained by
inspissating these tinctures acts only by vomit, and with great
mildness: that an infusion in water proves cathartic, rarely emetic:
that aqueous decoctions made by long boiling, and the watery extract,
have no purgative or emetic quality, but prove notable diaphoretics,
diuretics, and emmenagogues.
Its principal use at present is as a sternutatory. The root of asarum is
perhaps the strongest of all the vegetable errhines, white hellebore
itself not excepted. Snuffed up the nose, in the quantity of a grain or
two, it occasions a large evacuation of mucus, and raises a plentiful
spitting. The leaves are considerably milder, and may be used to the
quantity of three, four, or five grains. Geoffroy relates, that after
snuffing up a dose of this errhine at night, he has frequently observed
the discharge from the nose to continue for three days together; and
that he has known a paralysis of the mouth and tongue cured by one dose.
He recommends this medicine in stubborn disorders of the head,
proceeding from viscid tenacious matter, in palsies, and in soporific
distempers. The leaves are an ingredient in the pulvis sternutatoris of
183. ASPIDIUM Filix-Mas. Polypodium, Linn. MALE FERN. The Roots. L. E.
D.--They are said to be aperient and anthelmintic. Simon Pauli tells us,
that they have been the grand secret of some empirics against the broad
kind of worms called taenia; and that the dose is one, two, or three
drams of the powder. Two other kinds of Ferns used to be recommended;
but this, being the strongest, has therefore been made choice of in
preference, though the College of Edinburgh still retain them in their
Catalogue of Simples.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
184. ASTRAGALUS Tragacanthus. GOATS-THORN. The Gum. L. E. D.--This gum
is of a strong body, and does not perfectly dissolve in water. A dram
will give to a pint of water the consistence of a syrup, which a whole
ounce of gum Arabic is scarce sufficient to do. Hence its use for
forming troches, and the like purposes, in preference to the other gums.
It is used in an officinal powder, and is an ingredient in the compound
powders of ceruss and amber.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
185. ATROPA Belladonna. DEADLY NIGHTSHADE. The Leaves, L. E. D.--
Belladonna was first employed as an external application, in the form of
fomentation, to scirrhus and cancer. It was afterwards administered
internally in the same affections; and numerous cases, in which it had
proved successful, were given on the authority of the German
practitioners. It has been recommended, too, as a remedy in extensive
ulceration, in paralysis, chronic rheumatism, epilepsy, mania, and
hydrophobia, but with so little discrimination, that little reliance can
be placed on the testimonies in its favour; and, in modern practice, it
is little employed. It appears to have a peculiar action on the eye:
hence it has been used in amaurosis; and from its power of causing
dilatation of the pupil, when topically applied under the form of
infusion, it has been used before performing the operation for cataract.
A practice which is hazardous, as the pupil, though much dilated by the
application, instantly contracts when the instrument is introduced. When
given internally, its dose is from one to three grains of the dried
leaves, or one grain of the inspissated juice.--Murray's Mat. Med. p.
I have had a cancer of the lip entirely cured by it: a scirrhosity in a
woman's breast, of such kind as frequently proceeds to cancer, I have
found entirely discussed by the use of it. A sore, a little below the
eye, which had put on a cancerous appearance, was much mended by the
internal use of the Belladonna; but the patient having learned somewhat
of the poisonous nature of the medicine, refused to continue the use of
it; upon which the sore grain spread, and was painful; but, upon a
return to the use of the Belladonna, was again mended to a considerable
degree; when the same fears again returning, the use of it was again
laid aside, and with the same consequence, the sore becoming worse. Of
these alternate states, connected with the alternate use of and
abstinence from the Belladonna, there were several of these alterations
which fell under my own observation [Footnote: See the Poisonous Plants,
in a future page].--Cullen's Mat. Med. vol. ii. p. 270.
186. CARDAMINE pratensis. LADIES SMOCK. The Leaves. L. E. D.--Long ago
it was employed as a diuretic; and, of late, it has been introduced in
nervous diseases, as epilepsy, hysteria, choraea, asthma, &c. A dram or
two of the powder is given twice or thrice a-day. It has little sensible
187. CARUM Carui. CARAWAY. The Seeds. L. E. D.--These are in the number
of the four greater hot seeds; and frequently employed as a stomachic
and carminative in flatulent colics, and the like. Their officinal
preparations are an essential oil and a spiritous water; they were used
as ingredients also in the compound juniper water, tincture of sena,
stomachic tincture, oxymel of garlic, electuary of bayberries and of
scammony, and the cummin-seed plaster.
188. CENTAUREA benedicta. BLESSED THISTLE. The Leaves. E. D.--The herb
should be gathered when in flower, great care taken in drying it, and
kept in a very dry airy place, to prevent its rotting or growing mouldy,
which it is very apt to do. The leaves have a penetrating bitter taste,
not very strong or very durable, accompanied with an ungrateful flavour,
which they are in great measure freed from by keeping.
The virtues of this plant seem to be little known in the present
practice. We have frequently experienced excellent effects from a light
infusion of carduus in loss of appetite, where the stomach was injured
by irregularities. A stronger infusion made in cold or warm water, if
drunk freely, and the patient kept warm, occasions a plentiful sweat,
and promotes all the secretions in general.
The seeds of this plant are also considerably bitter, and have been
sometimes used for the same purposes as the leaves.
189. CHIRONIA Centaurium. LESSER CENTAURY. The Tops. L. E. D.--This is
justly esteemed to be the most efficacious bitter of all the medicinal
plants indigenous to this country. It has been recommended as a
substitute for Gentian, and, by several, thought to be a more useful
medicine: experiments have also shown it to possess an equal degree of
Many authors have observed, that, along with the tonic and stomachic
qualities of a bitter, Centaury frequently proves cathartic; but it is
possible that this seldom happens, unless it be taken in very large
doses. The use of this, as well as of the other bitters, was formerly
common in febrile disorders previous to the knowledge of Peruvian-bark,
which now supersedes them perhaps too generally; for many cases of fever
occur which are found to be aggravated by the Cinchona, yet afterwards
readily yield to the simple bitters.--Woodville, p. 277.
190. COCHLEARIA officinalis. SCURVY-GRASS. The Herb. E.--Is antiseptic,
attenuant, aperient, and diuretic, and is said to open obstructions of
the viscera and remoter glands, without heating or irritating the
system. It has long been considered as the most effectual of all the
antiscorbutic plants; and its sensible qualities are sufficiently
powerful to confirm this opinion. In the rheumatismus vagus, called by
Sydenham Rheumatismus scorbuticus, consisting of wandering pains of long
continuance, accompanied with fever, this plant, combined with Arum and
Wood-Sorrel, is highly commended both by Sydenham and Lewis.
We have testimony of its great use in scurvy, not only from physicians,
but navigators; as Anson, Linschoten, Maartens, Egede, and others. And
it has been justly noticed, that this plant grows plentifully in those
high latitudes where the scurvy is most obnoxious. Forster found it in
great abundance in the islands of the South Seas.--Woodville, p. 395.
191. COCHLEARIA Armoracia. HORSE-RADISH. The Root. E.-The medical
effects of this root are, to stimulate the solids, attenuate the juices,
and promote the fluid secretions: it seems to extend its action through
the whole habit, and affect the minutest glands. It has frequently done
great service in some kinds of scurvies and other chronic disorders
proceeding from a viscidity of the juices, or obstructions of the
excretory ducts. Sydenham recommends it likewise in dropsies,
particularly those which sometimes follow intermittent fevers. Both
water and rectified spirit extract the virtues of this root by infusion,
and elevate them in distillation: along with the aqueous fluid an
essential oil arises, possessing the whole taste and pungency of the
horse-radish. The College have given us a very elegant compound water,
which takes its name from this root.
192. COLCHICUM autumnale. MEADOW-SAFFRON. The Roots. L. E. D.--The
roots, freed from the outer blackish coat and fibres below, are white,
and full of a white juice. In drying they become wrinkled and dark
coloured. Applied to the skin, it shows some signs of acrimony; and
taken internally, it is said sometimes to excite a sense of burning
heat, bloody stools, and other violent symptoms. In the form of syrup,
however, it has been given to the extent of two ounces a-day without any
bad consequence. It is sometimes employed as a diuretic in dropsy. It is
now supposed to be a principal ingredient in the celebrated French gout
medicine L'Eau Medicinale.
193. CONIUM maculatum. HEMLOCK. The Leaves. L. E. D.--Physicians seem
somewhat in dispute about the best mode of exhibiting this medicine;
some recommending the extract, as being most easily taken in the form of
pills; others the powder, as not being subject to that variation which
the extract is liable to, from being made in different ways. With
respect to the period, likewise, at which the plant should be gathered,
they seem not perfectly agreed; some recommending it when in its full
vigour, and just coming into bloom, and others, when the flowers are
going off. An extract of the green plant is ordered by the College in
their last list. Dr. Cullen has for many years commended the making it
from the unripe seeds; and this mode the College of Physicians at
Edinburgh have thought proper to adopt in their late Pharmacopoeia.
Similar Plants.--Aethusa Cynapium; Apium Petroselium; Oenanthe crocata;
Oe. fistulosa; Phellandrium aquaticum.
194. CORIANDRUM sativum. CORIANDER. The Seeds. L. E. D.-These, when
fresh, have a strong disagreeable smell, which improves by drying, and
becomes sufficiently grateful. They are recommmended as carminative and
195. CROCUS sativus. TRUE SAFFRON. The Stigmata. L. E. D.--There are
three sorts of saffron met with in the shops, two of which are brought
from abroad, the other is the produce of our own country. This last is
greatly superior to the two former.
This medicine is particularly serviceable in hysteric depressions
proceeding from a cold cause, or obstruction of the uterine secretions,
where other aromatics, even those of the more generous kind, have little
effect. Saffron imparts the whole of its virtue and colour to rectified
spirit, proof spirit, wine, vinegar, and water: a tincture used to be
drawn with vinegar, but it looses greatly its colour in keeping. There
can be little use for preparations of saffron, as the drug itself will
keep good for any length of time.
196. CUMINUM Cymini. CUMMIN. The Seeds. L.--Cummin seeds have a
bitterish warm taste, accompanied with an aromatic flavour, not of the
most agreeable kind. They are accounted good carminatives, but not very
often made use of. An essential oil of them used to be kept in the
shops, and they gave name to a plaster and cataplasm.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
197. CYNARA Scolymus. ARTICHOKE. The Leaves. E.--The bitter juice of the
leaf, mixed with an equal part of Madeira wine, is recommended in an
ounce dose night and morning, as a powerful diuretic in dropsy. An
infusion of the leaf may likewise be used.
198. DAPHNE Mezereum. THE MEZEREON. The Roots. L. E. D.--This plant is
extremely acrid, especially when fresh, and, if retained in the mouth,
excites great and long continued heat and inflammation, particularly of
the throat and fauces. The bark and berries of Mezereon in different
forms have been long externally used to obstinate ulcers and ill
conditioned sores. In France, the former is strongly recommended as an
application to the skin, which, under certain management, produces a
continued serious discharge without blistering, and is thus rendered
useful in many chronic diseases of a local nature answering the purpose
of what has been called a perpetual blister, while it occasions less
pain and inconvenience.
In this country Mezereon is principally employed for the cure of some
siphylitic complaints; and in this way Dr. Donald Monro was the first
who gave testimony of its efficacy in the successful use of the Lisbon
The considerable and long-continued heat and irritation that is produced
in the throat when Mezereon is chewed, induced Dr. Withering to think of
giving it in a case of difficulty of swallowing, seemingly occasioned by
a paralytic affection. The patient was directed to chew a thin slice of
the root as often as she could bear it, and in about a month recovered
her power of swallowing. This woman had suffered the complaint three
years, and was greatly reduced, being totally unable to swallow solids,
and liquids but very imperfectly.--Woodville's Med. Bot. p. 720.
199. DATURA Stramonium. THORN APPLE. The whole Plant. E.--Dr. Woodville
informs us, that an extract of this plant has been the preparation
usually employed, and from one to ten grains and upwards a-day: but the
powdered leaves after the manner of those directed for hemlock would
seem, for the reason given, to be a preparation more certain and
It has been much celebrated as a medicine in epilepsy and convulsions
and mania; but it is of a violent narcotic quality, and extremely
dangerous in its effects.
Stramonium has been recommended, as being of considerable use in cases
of asthma, on the authority of some eminent physicians of the East
Indies; and the late Dr. Roxburgh has stated to me many instances
wherein it had performed wonders in that dreadful malady.
The Datura Metal, Purple-flowered Thorn-apple, is much like the
Stramonium, except in the flowers and the stalks being of a purple
colour. I have made particular inquiry of Dr. Roxburgh if any particular
kind was used in preference, and he said not; that both the above sorts
were used; and, in fact, not only these, but the Datura Tatula, another
species which grows wild there, and is cultivated in our stoves for the
sake of its beautiful flowers, is also used for the same purposes.
The mode of using it was by cutting the whole plant up after drying, and
smoking it in a common tobacco-pipe; and which, in some cases in this
country also, has given great ease in severe attacks; and I know several
persons who use it with good effect to this day. In vegetables of such
powerful effects as this is known to have, great care ought to be taken
in their preparation, which, I fear, is not always so much attended to
as the nature of this subject requires [Footnote: See Observations on and
Directions for preparing and preserving Herbs in general, et the end of
200. DAUCUS sylvestris. WILD CARROT. The Seeds. L.--These seeds possess,
though not in a very considerable degree, the aromatic qualities common
to those of the umbelliferous plants, and hence have long been deemed
carminative and emmenagogue; but they are chiefly esteemed for their
diuretic powers, and for their utility in calculus and nephritic
complaints, in which an infusion of three spoonfuls of the seeds in a
pint of boiling water has been recommended; or the seeds may be
fermented in malt liquor, which receives from them an agreeable flavour
resembling that of the lemon-peel.--Woodville's Med. Bot. p. 132.
Similar Plants.--Sison Amonum; Daucus Carota.
201. DAUCUS Carota. CULTIVATED CARROT. The Roots. L. E. D.--The
expressed juice, or a decoction of these roots, has been recommended in
calculous complaints, and as a gargle for infants in aphtous affections
or excoriations of the mouth; and a poultice of scraped carrots has been
found an useful application to phagedenic ulcers, and to cancerous and
202. DELPHINIUM Staphis Agria. STAVES AGRIA. The Seeds. L. D.--
Stavesacre was employed by the ancients as a cathartic, but it operates
with so much violence both upwards and downwards, that its internal use
has been, among the generality of practitioners, for some time laid
aside. It is chiefly employed in external applications for some kinds of
cutaneous eruptions; and for destroying lice and other insects; insomuch
that it has from this virtue received its name in different languages,
Herba pedicularis, Herbe aux poux, Lauskraut, Lousewort.
203. DIANTHUS caryophyllus. CLOVE-PINK. The Petals. E.--These flowers
are said to be cardiac and alexipharmac. Simon Paulli relates, that he
has cured many malignant fevers by the use of a de-coction of them;
which he says powerfully promoted sweat and urine without greatly
irritating nature, and also raised the spirits and quenched thirst. The
flowers are chiefly valued for their pleasant flavour, which is entirely
lost even by light coction. Lewis says, the College directed the syrup,
which is the only officinal preparation of them, to be made by infusion.
204. DIGITALIS purpurea. FOXGLOVE. The Leaves. L. E. D.--The leaves of
Foxglove have a nauseous taste, but no remarkable smell. They have been
long used externally to sores and scrophulous tumours with considerable
advantage. Its diuretic effects, for which it is now so deservedly
received into the Materia Medica, were entirely overlooked. To this
discovery Dr. Withering has an undoubted claim; and the numerous cures
of dropsy related by him and other practitioners of established
reputation, afford incontestable proofs of its diuretic powers, and of
its practical importance in the cure of those diseases. The dose of
dried leaves in powder is from one grain to three twice a-day; but if a
liquid medicine be preferred, a dram of the dried leaves is to be
infused for four hours in half a pint of boiling water, adding to the
strained liquor an ounce of any spiritous water. One ounce of this
infusion given twice a-day is a medium dose; it is to be continued in
these doses till it either acts upon the kidneys; the stomach, or the
pulse, (which it has a remarkable power of lowering,) or the bowels.--
Woodville's Med. Bot. p. 221.
This is now become a very popular medicine, but if used incautiously is
attended with danger. Medical practitioners should make themselves
perfectly acquainted with this plant, as the leaves are the only part
used; and their not being readilly discriminated when separated from the
flowers, several accidents have occurred. In the Gent. Mag. for
September 1815 is recorded a very extraordinary mistake, where the life
of a child was sacrificed to the ignorance of a person who administered
this instead of Coltsfoot; a plant so very dissimilar, that, had it not
been well authenticated, I should not have believed the fact.
Similar Plants.--Verbascum nigrum; V. Thapsus; Cynoglossum officinale,
or, after the above mistake, any other plant with a lanceolate leaf, we
fear, may be confounded with it.
205. ERYNGIUM maritimum. SEA-HOLLY. Roots. D.--The roots are slender,
and very long; of a pleasant sweetish taste, which on chewing for some
time is followed by a light degree of aromatic warmth and acrimony. They
are accounted aperient and diuretic, and have also been celebrated as
aphrodisiac: their virtues, however, are too weak to admit them under
the head of medicines. The candied root is ordered to be kept in the
shops.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
206. FERULA assafoetida. ASSAFOETIDA. Gum. L. E. D.--This drug has a
strong fetid smell, somewhat like that of garlick; and a bitter, acrid,
biting taste. It looses with age of its smell and strength, a
circumstance to be particularly regarded in its exhibition. It consists
of about one-third part pure resin, and two-thirds of gummy matter; the
former soluble in rectified spirit, the other in water. Proof-spirit
dissolves almost the whole into a turbid liquor; the tincture in
rectified spirit is transparent.
Assafoetida is the strongest of the fetid gums, and of frequent use in
hysteric and different kinds of nervous complaints. It is likewise of
considerable efficacy in flatulent colics; and for promoting all the
fluid secretions in either sex. The ancients attributed to this medicine
many other virtues which are at present not expected from it.--Lewis's
207. FICUS Carica. COMMON FIG. Fruit. L. D.--The recent fruit completely
ripe is soft, succulent, and easily digested, unless eaten in immoderate
quantities, when it is apt to occasion flatulency, pain of the bowels,
and diarrhoea. The dried fruit is pleasanter to the taste, and is more
wholesome and nutritive. Figs are supposed to be more nutritious by
having their sugar united with a large portion of mucilaginous matter,
which, from being thought to be of an oily nature, has been long
esteemed an useful demulcent and pectoral; and it is chiefly with a view
of these effects that they have been medicinally employed.
208. FRAXINUS Ornus. MANNA. L. E. D.--There are several sorts of Manna
in the shops. The larger pieces, called Flake Manna, are usually
preferred; though the smaller grains are equally as good, provided they
are white, or of a pale yellow colour, very light, of a sweet not
unpleasant taste, and free from any visible impurities.
Manna is a mild agreeable laxative, and may be given with saftey to
children and pregnant women: nevertheless, in some particular
constitutions it acts very unkindly, producing flatulencies and
distension of the viscera.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
209. GENTIANA lutea. YELLOW GENTIAN. Root. L. D.--This root is a strong
bitter, and, as such, very frequently made use of in practice: in taste
it is less exceptionable than most of the other substances of this
class: infusions of it, flavoured with orange peel, are sufficiently
grateful. It is the capital ingredient in the bitter wine; and a
tincture and infusion of it are kept in the shops.
Lewis mentions a poisonous root being mixed among some of the Gentian
brought to London; the use of which occasioned in some instances death.
This was internally of a white colour, and void of bitterness. There is
no doubt but this was the root of the Veratrum album, a poisonous plant
so similar, that it might readily be mistaken for it.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
210. GEUM urbanum. COMMON AVENS. Root. D.--This has a warm, bitterish,
astringent taste, and a pleasant smell, somewhat of the clove kind,
especially in the spring, and when produced in dry warm soils. Parkinson
observes, that such as is the growth of moist soils has nothing of this
flavour. This root has been employed as a stomachic, and for
strengthening the tone of the viscera in general: it is still in some
esteem in foreign countries, though not taken notice of among us. It
yields, on distillation, an elegant odoriferous essential oil, which
concretes into a flaky form.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
Similar Plants.--Geum rivale; G. intermedium.
211. GLYCYRRHIZA glabra. LIQUORICE. Root. L. D.--This is produced
plentifully in all the countries of Europe: that which is the growth of
our own is preferable to such as comes from abroad; this last being
generally mouldy, which this root is very apt to become, unless kept in
a dry place.
The powder of liquorice usually sold is often mingled with flower, and,
I fear, too often with substances not quite so wholesome. The best sort
is of a brownish yellow colour (the fine pale yellow being generally
sophisticated) and of a very rich sweet taste, much more agreeable than
that of the fresh root. Liquorice is almost the only sweet that quenches
This root is a very useful pectoral, and excellently softens acrimonious
humours, at the same time that it proves gently detergent: and this
account is warranted by experience. It is an ingredient in the pectoral
syrup, pectoral troches, the compound lime waters, decoction of the
woods, compound powder of gum tragacanth, lenitive electuary, and
theriaca. An extract is directed to be made from it in the shops; but
this preparation is brought chiefly from abroad, though the foreign
extract is not equal to such as is made with proper care among
ourselves.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
212. GRATIOLA officinalis. HEDGE-HYSSOP. Herb. E. D.--The leaves have a
very bitter disagreeable taste: an infusion of a handful of them when
fresh, or a dram when dried, is said to operate strongly as a cathartic.
Kramer reports that he has found the root of this plant a medicine
similar in virtue to Ipecacuanha.
Similar Plants.--Lythrum Salicaria; Scutellaria galericulata.
213. HELLEBORUS niger. BLACK HELLEBORE. Root. L.--The tase of Hellebore
is acrid and bitter. Its acrimony, as Dr. Grew observes, is first felt
on the tip of the tongue, and then spreads immediately to the middle,
without being much perceived on the intermediate part: on chewing it for
a few minutes, the tongue seems benumbed, and affected with a kind of
paralytic stupor, as when burnt by eating any thing too hot.
Our Hellebore is at present looked upon principally as an alterative,
and in this light is frequently employed, in small doses, for
attenuating viscid humours, promoting the uterine and urinary
discharges, and opening inveterate obstructions of the remoter glands:
it often proves a very powerful emmenagogue in plethoric habits, where
steel is ineffectual or improper. An extract made from this root with
water, is one of the mildest, and for the purposes of a cathartic the
most effectual preparation of it: this operates sufficiently, without
occasioning the irritation which the pure resin is accompanied with. A
tincture drawn with proof-spirit contains the whole virtue of the
Hellebore, and seems to be one of the best preparations of it: this
tincture, and the extract, used to be kept in the shops. The College of
Edinburgh used to make this root an ingredient in the purging cephalic
tincture, and compound tincture of jalap; and its extract, in the
purging deobstruent pills, gamboge pills, the laxative mercurial pills,
and the compound cathartic extract.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
Similar Plant.--Helleborus viridis.
214. HELLEBORUS foetidus. BEARSFOOT. Leaves. L.--The root is a strong
cathartic; it destroys worms, and is recommended in different species of
mania. It is commonly substituted for that of the Helleborus viridis,
which is a more dangerous medicine. Hill's Herbal, p. 32. Great care
ought to be used in the administering this plant: many instances of its
dreadful effects are related. (See Poisonous Plants.)
Similar Plant.--Helleborus viridis.
215. HORDEUM distichon. PEARL BARLEY. Seeds. L. E.--Barley, in its
several states, is more cooling, less glutionous, and less nutritious
than wheat or oats; among the ancients, decoctions of it were the
principal aliment, and medicine, in acute diseases. The London College
direct a decoction of pearl barley; and both the London and Edinburgh
make common barley an ingredient in the pectoral decoction.
216. HUMULUS Lupulus. THE HOP.--The flowers and seed-vessels are used in
gout and rheumatism, under the form of infusion in boiling-water. The
powder formed into an ointment with lard, is said to ease the pain of
open cancer. A pillow stuffed with hops is an old and successful mode of
procuring sleep in the watchfulness of delirious fever.
217. HYOSCYAMUS niger. HENBANE. Leaves and Seeds. L. E.--Henbane is a
strong narcotic poison, and many instances of its deleterious effects
are recorded by different authors; from which it appears, that any part
of the plant, when taken in sufficient quantity, is capable of producing
very dangerous and terrible symptoms. It is however much employed in the
present days as an anodyne. Dr. Withering found it of great advantage in
a case of difficult deglutition. Stoerck and some others recommend this
extract in the dose of one grain or two; but Dr. Cullen observes, that
he seldom discovered its anodyne effects till he had proceeded to doses
of eight or ten grains, and sometimes to fifteen and even to twenty. The
leaves of Henbane are said to have been applied externally with
advantage, in the way of poultice, to resolve scirrhous tumours, and to
remove some pains of the rheumatic and arthritic kind.
Similar Plants.--Verbascum Lychnites; V. nigrum.
The roots of the Henbane are to be distinguished by their very powerful
and narcotic scent.
218. HYSSOPUS officinalis. HYSSOP. The Herb. L. E. D.--The leaves of
Hyssop have an aromatic smell, and a warm pungent taste. Besides the
general virtues of aromatics, they are particularly recommeded in
humoral asthmas, coughs, and other disorders of the breast and lungs;
and said to notably promote expectoration.
219. INULA Helenium. ELECAMPANE. Root. D.--Elecampane root possesses the
general virtues of alexipharmics: it is principally recommended for
promoting expectoration in humoural asthmas and coughs; in which
intention, it used to be employed in the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia:
liberally taken, it is said to excite urine, and loosen the belly. In
some parts of Germany, large quantities of this root are candied, and
used as a stomachic, for strengthening the tone of the viscera in
general, and for attenuating tenacious juices. Spiritous liquors extract
its virtues in greater perfection than watery ones: the former scarce
elevate any thing in distillation: with the latter, an essential oil
arises, which concretes into white flakes; this possesses at first the
flavour of the elecampane, but is very apt to lose it in keeping.
220. JUNIPERUS Sabina. SAVINE. The Tops. L. E. D.--Savine is a warm
irritating aperient medicine, capable of promoting all the glandular
secretions. The distilled oil is one of the most powerful emmenagogues;
and is found of good service in obstructions of the uterus, or other
viscra, proceeding from a laxity and weakness of the vessels, or a cold
sluggish indisposition of the juices.
Similar Plants.--Juniperus oxycedrus; J. Phoenicea. These should be
particularly distinguished, as Savine is attended with danger when taken
221. JUNIPERUS communis. JUNIPER. Berries. L. E. D.--Juniper berries
have a strong, not disagreeable smell; and a warm, pungent sweet taste,
which, if they are long chewed, or previously well bruised, is followed
by a bitterish one. The pungency seems to reside in the bark; the sweet
in the juice; the aromatic flavour in oily vesicles, spread through the
substance of the pulp, and distinguishable even by the eye; and the
bitter in the seeds: the fresh berries yield, on expression, a rich,
sweet, honey-like, aromatic juice; if previously pounded so as to break
the seeds, the juice proves tart and bitter.
222. LACTUCA virosa. WILD LETTUCE. Leaves. E.--Dr. Collin at Vienna
first brought the Lactuca virosa into medical repute; and its character
has lately induced the College of Physicians at Edinburgh to insert it
in the Catalogue of the Materia Medica. More than twenty-four cases of
dropsy are said by Collin to have been successfully treated, by
employing an extract prepared from the expressed juice of this plant,
which is stated not only to be powerfully diuretic, but, by attenuating
the viscid humours, to promote all the secretions, and to remove
visceral obstructions. In the more simple cases proceeding from
debility, the extract in doses of eighteen to thirty grains a-day,
proved sufficient to accomplish a cure; but when the disease was
inveterate, and accompanied with visceral obstructions, the quantity of
extract was increased to three drams; nor did larger doses, though they
excited nausea, ever produce any other bad effect; and the patients
continued so strong under the use of this remedy, that it was seldom
necessary to employ any tonic medicines.--Woodville's Med. Bot. p. 76.
Similar Plants.--Sonchus arvensis; Lactuca Scariola.
223. LAVANDULA Spica. LAVENDER. Flowers. L. D.--Lavender has been an
officinal plant for a considerable time, though we have no certain
accounts of it given by the ancients. Its medical virtue resides in the
essential oil, which is supposed to be a gentle corroborant and
stimulant of the aromatic kind; and is recommended in nervous
debilities, and various affections proceeding from a want of energy in
the animal functions.--Woodville's Med. Bot. p. 323.
224. LAURUS nobilis. BAY-TREE. Leaves and Berries. L.--In distillation
with water, the leaves of bay yield a small quantity of very fragrant
essential oil; with rectified spirit, they afford a moderately warm
pungent extract. The berries yield a larger quantity of essential oil:
they discover likewise a degree of unctuosity in the mouth; give out to
the press an almost insipid fluid oil; and on being boiled in water, a
thicker butyraceous one of a yellowish-green colour, impregnated with
the flavour of the berry. An infusion of the leaves is sometimes drunk
as tea; and the essential oil of the berries may be given from one to
five or six drops on sugar, or dissolved by means of mucilages, or in
spirit of wine.--Woodville's Med Bot. p. 680, 681.
225. LAURUS Sassafras. SASSAFRAS-TREE. Bark. L. E. D.--Its medical
character was formerly held in great estimation; and its sensible
qualities, which are stronger than any of the woods, may have probably
contributed to establish the opinion so generally entertained of its
utility in many inveterate diseases: for, soon after its introduction
into Europe, it was sold at a very high price, and its virtues were
extolled in publications professedly written on the subject. It is now,
however, thought to be of very little importance, and seldom employed
but in conjunction with other medicines of a more powerful nature.
Dr. Cullen found that a watery infusion of it taken warm and pretty
largely, was very effectual in promoting sweat; but he adds, "to what
particular purpose this sweating was applicable, I have not been able to
determine." In some constitutions sassafras, by its extreme fragrance,
is said to produce headache: to deprive it of this effect, the decoction
ought to be employed.--Woodville's Mat. Med. p. 677.
226. LEONTODON Taraxicum. N EBION. Root. L.--The roots contain a bitter
milky juice; they promise to be of use as asperient and detergent
medicines; and have sometimes been directed in this intention with good
success. Boerhaave esteems them capable, if duly continued, of resolving
almost all kinds of coagulations, and opening very obstinate
obstructions of the viscera.
227. LINUM usitatissimum. FLAX. The Seeds. L. E.--Linseed yields to the
press a considerable quantity of oil; and boiled in water, a strong
mucilage: these are occasionally made use of for the same purposes as
other substances of that class; and sometimes the seeds themselves in
emollient and maturating cataplasms. They have also been employed in
Asia, and, in times of scarcity, in Europe, as food: but are not
agreeable, or in general wholesome.
228. LINUM catharticum. PURGING-FLAX. The Herb. L. D.-This is a very
small plant, not above four or five inches high, found wild upon chalky
hills, and in dry pasture-grounds. Its virtue is expressed in its title:
an infusion in water or whey of a handful of the fresh leaves, or a dram
of them in substance when dried, is said to purge without inconvenience.
229. LOBELIA siphylitica. BLUE CARDINAL FLOWER. The Root. E.--Every part
of the plant abounds with a milky juice, and has a rank smell. The root,
which is the part directed for medicinal use, in taste resembles
tobacco, and is apt to excite vomiting. It derived its name,
Siphylitica, from its efficacy in the cure of Siphylis, as experienced
by the North American Indians, who considered it a specific to that
A decoction was made of a handful of the roots in three measures of
water. Of this, half a measure is taken in the morning fasting, and
repeated in the evening; and the dose is gradually increased till its
purgative effects become too violent, when the decoction is to be
intermitted for a day or two, and then renewed till a perfect cure is
effected. But it does not appear that the antisiphylitic powers of
Lobelia have been confirmed by any instances of European practice.--
Woodville's Med. Bot. p. 251.
230. LYTHRUM Salicaria. WILLOW HERB. The Herb. D.--This is used
internally in dropsies, obstinate gleets, and leucorrhoea.
Similar Plants.--Epilobium palustre; Epilob. angustifolium; Epilob.
231. MALVA sylvestris. COMMON MALLOW. Herb. L. E.--The leaves are ranked
the first of the four emollient herbs: they were formerly of some
esteem, in food, for loosening the belly; at present, decoctions of them
are sometimes employed in dysenteries, heat and sharpness of urine, and
in general for obtunding acrimonious humours: their principal use is in
emollient glysters, cataplasms, and fomentations.
232. MARRUBIUM vulgare. HORFHOUND. Herb. E. D.--It is greatly extolled
for its efficacy in removing obstructions of the lungs and other
viscera. It has chiefly been employed in humoural asthmas. Mention is
made of its successful use in scirrhous affections of the liver,
jaundice, cachexies, and menstrual suppressions.--Woodville's Med. Bot.
Similar Plants.--Ballota nigra; B. alba.
233. MELISSA officinalis. BALM. Herb. L. E.--This herb, in its recent
state, has a weak roughish aromatic taste, and a pleasant smell,
somewhat of the lemon kind. On distilling the fresh herb with water, it
impregnates the first runnings pretty strongly with its grateful
flavour. Prepared as tea, however, it makes a grateful diluent drink in
fevers; and in this way it is commonly used, either by itself, or
acidulated with the juice of lemons.--Woodville's Med. Bot. p. 335, 336.
234. MENTHA viridis. SPEAR-MINT. Leaves. L. D.--The virtues of Mint are
those of a warm stomachic and carminative: in loss of appetite, nauseae,
continual retchings to vomit, and (as Boerhaave expresses it) almost
paralytic weakness of the stomach, there are few simples perhaps of
equal efficacy. In colicky pains, the gripes to which children are
subject, lienteries, and other kinds of immoderate fluxes, this plant
frequently does good service. It likewise proves beneficial in sundry
hysteric cases, and affords an useful cordial in languors and other
weaknesses consequent upon delivery. The best preparations for these
purposes are, a strong infusion made from the dry leaves in water (which
is much superior to one from the green herb) or rather a tincture or
extract prepared with rectified spirit.
The essential oil, a simple and spirituous water, and a conserve, are
kept in the shops: the Edinburgh College directs an infusion of the
leaves in the distilled water. This herb is an ingredient also in the
three alexitereal waters; and its essential oil in the stomach plaster
and stomach pills.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
235. MENTHA Piperita. PEPPER-MINT. Herb. L. E. D.--The leaves have a
more penetrating smell than any of the other mints, and a much warmer,
pungent, glowing taste like pepper, sinking as it were into the tongue.
The principal use of this herb is in flatulent colics, languors, and
other like disorders; it seems to act as soon as taken, and extends its
effects through the whole system, instantly communicating a glowing
warmth. Water extracts the whole of the pungency of this herb by
infusion, and elevates it in distillation. Its officinal preparations
are an essential oil, and a simple and spirituous water.
236. MENTHA Pulegium. PENNYROYAL. Herb. L. E. D.--Pennyroyal is a warm
pungent herb of the aromatic kind, similar to mint, but more acrid and
less agreeable. It has long been held in great esteem, and not
undeservedly, as an aperient and deobstruent, particularly in hysteric
complaints, and suppressions of the uterine purgations. For these
purposes, the distilled water is generally made use of, or, what is of
equal efficacy, an infusion of the leaves. It is observable, that both
water and rectified spirit extract the virtues of this herb by infusion,
and likewise elevate greatest part of them in distillation.--Lewis's
237. MENYANTHES trifoliata. BUCK-BEAN. Leaves. L. E. D.--This is an
efficacious aperient and deobstruent; it promotes the fluid secretions,
and, if liberally taken, gently loosens the belly. It has of late gained
great reputation in scorbutic and scrophulous disorders; and its good
effects in these cases have been warranted by experience: inveterate
cutaneous diseases have been removed by an infusion of the leaves, drunk
to the quantity of a pint a-day, at proper intervals, and continued some
weeks. Boerhaave relates, that he was relieved of the gout by drinking
the juice mixed with whey.
238. MOMORDICA Elaterium. SPIRTING CUCUMBER. Fruit L. E. D.--Elaterium
is a strong cathartic, and very often operates also upwards. Two or
three grains are accounted in most cases a sufficient dose. Simon Paulli
relates some instances of the good effects of this purgative in
dropsies: but cautions practitioners not to have recourse to it till
after milder medicines have proved ineffectual; to which caution we
heartily subscribe. Medicines indeed in general, which act with violence
in a small dose, require the utmost skill to manage them with any
tolerable degree of safety: to which may be added, that the various
manners of making these kinds of preparations, as practised by different
hands, must needs vary their power.
239. MORUS nigra. MULBERRY. Fruit. L.--It has the common qualities of
the other sweet fruits, abating heat, quenching thirst, and promoting
the grosser secretions; an agreeable syrup made from the juice is kept
in the shops. The bark of the roots has been in considerable esteem as a
vermifuge; its taste is bitter, and somewhat astringent.--Lewis's Mat.
240. NICOTIANA Tabacum. TOBACCO. Leaves. L. E. D.--Tobacco is sometimes
used externally in unguents for destroying cutaneous insects, cleansing
old ulcers, &c. Beaten into a mash with vinegar or brandy, it has
sometimes proved serviceable for removing hard tumours of the
241. ORIGANUM Majorana. SWEET MARJORAM. Herb. L. E.-It is a moderately
warm aromatic, yielding its virtues both to aqueous and spirituous
liquors by infusion, and to water in distillation. It is principally
celebrated in disorders of old people. An essential oil of the herb is
kept in the shops. The powder of the leaves proves an agreeable errhine.
242. ORIGANUM vulgare. POT MARJORAM. Herb. L. D.--It has an agreeable
aromatic smell approaching to that of marjoram, and a pungent taste much
resembling thyme, to which it is likewise thought to be more nearly
allied in its medicinal qualities than to any of the other verticillatae,
and therefore deemed to be emmenagogue, tonic, stomachic, &c.
The dried leaves used instead of tea are said to be extremely grateful.
They are also employed in medicated baths and fomentations.--Woodville's
Med. Bot. p. 345.
243. OXALIS Acetosella. WOOD SORREL. Herb. L.--In taste and medical
qualities it is similar to the common sorrel, but considerably more
grateful, and hence is preferred by the London College. Boiled with
milk, it forms an agreeable whey; and beaten with sugar, a very elegant
conserve.--Lewis's Mat. Med.
244. PAPAVER Rhoeas. RED POPPY. Petals. L. E. D.--The flowers of this
plant yield upon expression a deep red juice, and impart the same colour
by infusion to aqueous liquors. A syrup of them is kept in the shops:
this is valued chiefly for its colour; though some expect from it a
lightly anodyne virtue.
245. PAPAVER somniferum. OPIUM POPPY. Gum. L. E. D.-Poppy heads, boiled
in water, impart to the menstruum their narcotic juice, together with
the other juices which they have in common with vegetable matters in
general. The liquor strongly pressed out, suffered to settle, clarified
with whites of eggs, and evaporated to a due consistence, yields about
one-fifth or one-sixth the weight of the heads, of extract. This
possesses the virtues of opium; but requires to be given in double its
dose to answer the same intention, which it is said to perform without
occasioning nausea and giddiness, the usual consequences of the other.
The general effects of this medicine are, to relax the solids, ease
pain, procure sleep, promote perspiration, but restrain all other
evacuations. When its operation is over, the pain, and other symptoms
which it had for a time abated, return; and generally with greater
violence than before, unless the cause has been removed by the
diaphoresis or relaxation which it occasioned.
The operation of opium is generally attended with a slow, but strong and
full pulse, a dryness of the mouth, a redness and light itching of the
skin: and followed by a degree of nausea, a difficulty of respiration,
lowness of the spirits, and a weak languid pulse.
With regard to the dose of opium, one grain is generally sufficient, and
often too large a one; maniacal persons, and those who have been long
accustomed to take it, require three or more grains to have the due
effect. Among the eastern nations, who are habituated to opium, a dram
is but a moderate dose: Garcias relates, that he knew one who every day
took ten drams. Those who have been long accustomed to its use, upon
leaving it off, are seized with great lowness, languor, and anxiety;
which are relieved by having again recourse to opium, and, in some
measure, by wine or spirituous liquors.
Similar Plants.--Papaver hybridum; P. Argemone.
246. PASTINACA Opoponax. OPOPONAX, or CANDY CARROT. Gum Opoponax. L.--
The juice is brought from Turkey and the East Indies, sometimes in round
drops or tears, but more commonly in irregular lumps, of a
reddish-yellow colour on the outside, with specks of white, inwardly of
a paler colour, and frequently variegated with large white pieces.
Boerhaave frequently employed it, along with ammoniacum and galbanum, in
hypochondriacal disorders, obstructions of the abdominal viscera from a
sluggishness of mucous humours, and a want of due elasticity of the
247. PIMPINELLA Anisum. ANISEED. The Seeds. L. E. D.-These seeds are in
the number of the four greater hot seeds: their principal use is in cold
flatulent disorders, where tenacious phlegm abounds, and in the gripes
to which young children are subject. Frederick Hoffman strongly
recommends them in weakness of the stomach, diarrhoeas, and for
strengthening the tone of the viscera in general; and thinks they well
deserve the appellation given them by Helmont, intestinorum solamen.
248. PINUS sylvestris. SCOTCH FIR. Tar, yellow Resin, and Turpentine. L.
D.--Tar, which is well known from its oeconomical uses, is properly an
empyreumatic oil of turpentine, and has been much used as a medicine,
both internally and externally. Tar-water, or water impregnated with the
more soluble parts of tar, was some time ago a very popular remedy in
various obstinate disorders, both acute and chronic, especially in
small-pox, scurvy, ulcers, fistulas, rheumatisms, &c.
Turpentine is an extract also from the same tree, which is used for
various purposes of medicine and the arts.
249. PINUS Abies. SPRUCE-FIR. Burgundy Pitch. L. E. D.--This is entirely
confined to external use, and was formerly an ingredient in several
ointments and plasters. In inveterate coughs, affections of the lungs,
and other internal complaints, plasters of this resin, by acting as a
tropical stimulus, are frequently found of considerable service.--
Woodville's Med. Bot.
250. POLYGONUM Bistorta. BISTORT. The Roots. L. E. D.--All the parts of
bistort have a rough austere taste, particularly the root, which is one
of the strongest of the vegetable stringents. It is employed in all
kinds of immoderate haemorrhages and other fluxes, both internally and
externally, where astringency is the only intention. It is certainly a
very powerful styptic, and is to be looked on simply as such; the
sudorific, antipestilential, and other like virtues attributed to it, it
has no other claim to, than in consequence of this property, and of the
antiseptic power which it has in common with other vegetable styptics.
The largest dose of the root in powder is one dram.
251. PRUNUS domestica. FRENCH PRUNES. The Fruit. L. E. D.--The medical
effects of the damson and common prunes are, to abate heat, and gently
loosen the belly: which they perform by lubricating the passage, and
softening the excrement. They are of considerable service in costiveness
accompanied with heat or irritation, which the more stimulating
cathartics would tend to aggravate: where prunes are not of themselves
sufficient, their effects may be promoted by joining with them a little
rhubarb or the like; to which may be added some carminative ingredient,
to prevent their occasioning flatulencies. Prunelloes have scarce any
laxative quality: these are mild grateful refrigerants, and, by being
occasionally kept in the mouth, usefully allay the thirst of hydropic
252. PUNICA Granatum. POMEGRANATE. Rind of the Fuit. L. E. D.--This
fruit has the general qualities of the other sweet summer fruits,
allaying heat, quenching thirst, and gently loosening the belly. The
rind is a strong astringent, and as such is occasionally made use of.
253. PYRUS Cydonia. QUINCE. The Kernels. L.--The seeds abound with a
mucilaginous substance, of no particular taste, which they readily
impart to watery liquors: an ounce will render three pints of water
thick and ropy like the white of an egg. A syrup and jelly of the fruit,
and mucilage of the seeds, used to be kept in the shops.
254. QUEROUS pedunculata. OAK. Bark. L. E. D.--This bark is a strong
astringent; and hence stands recommended in haemorrhagies, alvine fluxes,
and other preternatural or immoderate secretions.
255. RHAMNUS catharticus. BUCKTHORN. Berries. L. E.--Buckthorn-berries
have a faint disagreeable smell, and a nauseous bitter taste. They have
long been in considerable esteem as cathartics; and celebrated in
dropsies, rheumatisms, and even in the gout; though in these cases they
have no advantage above other purgatives, and are more offensive, and
operate more churlishly, than many which the shops are furnished with:
they generally occasion gripes, sickness, dry the mouth and throat, and
leave a thirst of long duration. The dose is about twenty of the fresh
berries in substance, and twice or thrice this number in decoction, an
ounce of the expressed juice, or a dram of the dried berries.
256. RHEUM palmatum. TURKEY RHUBARB. Roots. L. E. D.--Rhubarb is a mild
cathartic, which operates without violence or irritation, and may be
given with safety even to pregnant women and to children. In some
people, however, it always occasions severe griping. Besides its
purgative quality, it is celebrated for an astringent one, by which it
strengthens the tone of the stomach and intestines, and proves useful in
diarrhoea and disorders proceeding from a laxity of the fibres. Rhubarb
in substance operates more powerfully as a cathartic than any of the
preparations of it. Watery tinctures purge more than the spirituous
ones; whilst the latter contain in greater perfection the aromatic,
astringent, and corroborating virtues of the rhubarb. The dose, when
intended as a purgative, is from a scruple to a dram or more.
The Turkey rhubarb is, among us, universally preferred to the East India
The plant is common in our gardens, but their medicinal powers are much
weaker than in those from abroad.
RHODODENDRON Chrysanthemum. YELLOW-FLOWERED RHODODENDRON. See No. 290.
257. RHUS Toxicodendron. POISON-OAK. Leaves. L. E.--Of considerable use
in paralytic affections, and is much used in the present day.
It is, however, often substituted by the Rhus radicans, which has not
the medical properties that this plant has; and it is to be regretted
that the leaves of both species are so much alike, that, when gathered,
they are not to be distinguished.
258. RICINUS communis. PALMA CHRISTI. Seeds and Oil. L. E. D.--The oil,
commonly called nut or castor oil, is got by expression, retains
somewhat of the mawkishness and acrimony of the nut; but is, in general,
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