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Cashew Nut

Botanical: Anacardium occidentale (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Anacardiaceae
—Synonym—Cassavium pomiferum.
—Part Used—Nut.
—Habitat—Jamaica, West Indies, and other parts of tropical America.

—Description—A medium-sized tree, beautiful, and not unlike in appearance the walnut tree, with oval blunt alternate leaves and scented rose-coloured panicles of bloom – the tree produces a fleshy receptacle, commonly called an apple, at the end of which the kidney-shaped nut is borne; the end of it which is attached to the apple, is much bigger than the other. The outer shell is ashy colour, very smooth, the kernel is covered with an inner shell, and between the two shells is found a thick inflammable caustic oil, which will raise blisters on the skin and be dangerously painful if the nuts are cracked with the teeth.
—Constituents—Two peculiar principles have been found: Anacardic Acid and a yellow oleaginous liquid Cardol.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—The oil must be used with great caution, but has been successfully applied to corns, warts, ringworms, cancerous ulcers and even elephantiasis, and has been used in beauty culture to remove the skin of the face in order to grow a new one. The nuts are eaten either fresh or roasted, and contain a milky juice which is used in puddings. The older nuts are roasted and salted and the dried and broken kernels are sometimes imported to mix with old Madeira as they greatly improve its flavour. In roasting great care must be taken not to let the fumes cover the face or hands etc., as they cause acute inflammation an external poisoning. Ground and mixed with cocoa the nuts make a good chocolate. The fruit is a reddy yellow and has a pleasant sub-acid stringent taste, the expressed juice of the fruit makes a good wine, and if distilled, a spirit much better than arrack or rum. The fruit itself is edible, and its juice has been found of service in uterine complaints and dropsy. It is a powerful diuretic. The black juice of the nut and the milky juice from the tree after incision are made into an indelible marking-ink- the stems of the flowers also give a milky juice which when dried is hard and black and is used as a varnish. A gum is also found in the plant having the same qualities as gumarabic; it is imported from South America under the name of Cadjii gum, and used by South American bookbinders, who wash their books with it to keep away moths and ants. The caustic oil found in the layers of the fruit is sometimes rubbed into the floors of houses in India to keep white ants away.

—Other Species—
The Oriental Anacardium or Cashew Nut (Semecarpus anacardium), a native of India, has similar qualities to the West Indian Cashew, and is said to contain an alkaloid called Chuchunine.

Ammonium anarcadate. This is the Ammonium compound of beta and delta resinous acids of A. occidentale (Cashew Nut), and is used as a hair-dye, but cannot be used with acids, acid salts, or acetate of lead.

Cassia (Cinnamon)

Botanical: Cinnamomum cassia (BLUME)
Family: N.O. Lauraceae
—Synonyms—Bastard Cinnamon. Chinese Cinnamon. Cassia lignea. Cassia Bark. Cassia aromaticum. Canton Cassia.
—Part Used—The dried bark.
—Habitat—Indigenous to China. Cochin-China and Annam. Also cultivated in Sumatra, Ceylon, Japan, Java, Mexico and South America.

—Description—As its name of Bastard Cinnamon implies, the product of this tree is usually regarded as a substitute for that of the Cinnarmomum zeylanicum of Ceylon, which it closely resembles. The cultivated trees are kept as coppices, and numerous shoots, which are not allowed to rise higher than 10 feet, spring from the roots. Their appearance when the flame-coloured leaves and delicate blossoms first appear is very beautiful. The fruit is about the size of a small olive. The leaves are evergreen, ovaloblong blades from 5 to 9 inches long. The trees are at their greatest perfection at the age of ten to twelve years, but they continue to spread and send up new shoots. The bark may be easily distinguished from that of cinnamon, as it is thicker, coarser, darker, and duller, the flavour being more pungent, less sweet and delicate, and slightly bitter. The stronger flavour causes it to be preferred to cinnamon by German and Roman chocolate makers. The fracture is short, and the quills are single, while pieces of the corky layer are often left adhering. The best and most pungent bark is cut from the young shoots when the leaves are red, or from trees which grow in rocky situations. The bark should separate easily from the wood, and be covered inside with a mucilaginous juice though the flavour of the spice is spoiled if this is not carefully removed. The wood without the bark is odourless and is used as fuel. When clean, the bark is a little thicker than parchment, and curls up while drying in the sun. It is imported in bundles of about 12 inches long, tied together with strips of bamboo and weighing about a pound. It is the kind almost universally kept in American shops.
The dried, unripe fruits, or Chinese Cassia Buds, have the odour and taste of the bark, and are rather like small cloves in appearance. They have been known in Europe as a spice since the Middle Ages, being then probably used in preparing a spiced wine called Hippocras. Now they are employed in confectionery and in making Pot-Pourri. The importation of the buds into the U.S.A. in 1916 was 197,156 lb., and of Cassia and Cassia leaves 7,487,156 lb.

—Constituents—Cassia bark yields from 1 to 2 per cent of volatile oil, somewhat resembling that of cinnamon. It should be kept from the light in well-stoppered, ambercoloured bottles. It is cheaper and more abundant than the Ceylon variety, and is the only official oil of Cinnamon in the United States Pharmacopoeia and German Pharmacopoeia. It is imported from Canton and Singapore. Its value depends on the percentage of cinnamic aldehyde which it contains. It is heavier, less liquid, and congeals more quickly than the Ceylon oil.

There are also found in it cinnamyl acetate, cinnamic acid, phenylpropyl acetate and orthocumaric aldehyde, tannic acid and starch.

Ceylon cinnamon, if tested with one or two drops of tincture of iodine to a fluid ounce of a decoction of the powder, is but little affected, while with Cassia a deep blueblack colour is produced. The cheaper kinds of Cassia can be distinguished by the greater quantity of mucilage, which can be extracted by cold water.

Eighty pounds of the freshly-prepared bark yield about 2.5 oz. of the lighter of the two oils produced, and 5 5 of the heavier.

An oil was formerly obtained by distilling the leaves after maceration in sea water, and this was imported into Great Britain.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Stomachic, carminative, mildly astringent, said to be emmenagogue and capable of decreasing the secretion of milk. The tincture is useful in uterine haemorrhage and menorrhagia, the doses of 1 drachm being given every 5, 10 or 20 minutes as required. It is chiefly used to assist and flavour other drugs, being helpful in diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and to relieve flatulence.

The oil is a powerful germicide, but being very irritant is rarely used in medicine for this purpose. It is a strong local stimulant, sometimes prescribed in gastro-dynia, flatulent colic, and gastric debility.

—Dosages—Of oil, 1 to 3 minims. Of powder, 10 to 20 grains.

—Poisons and Antidotes—It was found that 6 drachms of the oil would kill a moderately sized dog in five hours, and 2 drachms in forty hours, inflammation of the gastro-intestinal mucous membrane being observed.

—Other Species, Substitutes and Adulterations—The powder cinnamon is often adulterated with sugar, ground walnut shells, galanga rhizome, etc.

The oil sometimes contains resin, petroleum, or oil of Cloves. Saigon cinnamon was recognized by the United States Pharmacopoeia in 1890. It comes from French Cochin-China, its botanical origin being uncertain. It is also known as Annam Cinnamon, China Cinnamon, and God’s Cinnamon.

C. inners gives the Wild Cinnamon of Japan. It is also found in Southern India, where the buds are more mature, and are employed medicinally by the Indians in dysentery, diarrhcea and coughs. The bark is used as a condiment.

C. lignea includes several inferior varieties from the Malabar Coast.

C. Sintok comes from Java and Sumatra.

C. obtusifolium, from East Bengal, Assam, Burmah, etc., is perhaps not distinct from C. Zeylanicum.

C. Culilawan and C. rubrum come from the Moluccas, Amboyna, and have a flavour of cloves.

C. Loureirii grows in Cochin-China and Japan.

C. pauciflorum is found from Silhet and Khasya.

C. Burmanni is said to yield Massoi Bark, which is also a product of Massora aromatica.

The bark of C. Tamala as well as the above species gives the inferior Cassia Vera.

C. inserta is slightly known.

C. nitidum has aromatic leaves, which, when dried, are said to have been the ‘folia Malabathri.’

Martinique and Cayenne contribute three varieties, from trees introduced from Ceylon and Sumatra. Other kinds are known as Black Cinnamon, Isle of France Cinnamon, and Santa Fé Cinnamon.

Oil of Cassia is now recognized in the United States Pharmacopceia under the name of oil of Cinnamon.


Botanical: Croton Eleuteria (J. BENN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
—Synonyms—Sweetwood Bark. Sweet Bark. Bahama Cascarilla. Elutheria. Clutia Eleuteria. Cascarillae Cortex. Cortex Thuris. Aromatic Quinquina. False Quinquina.
—Part Used—The dried bark.
—Habitat—The Bahama Islands.

(Croton Eleuteria)  
—History—The name Croton comes from a Greek word meaning ‘a tick,’ and Eleuteria from the name of one of the Bahama Islands, Eleuthera, near Providence Island.
—Description—It is a small tree rarely reaching 20 feet in height, with scanty, alternate, ovate-lanceolate leaves, averaging 2 inches long, closely-scaled below, giving a metallic silver-bronze appearance, with scattered, white scales above. The flowers are small, with white petals, and very fragrant, appearing in March and April. The scented bark is fissured, and pale yellowish brown. It is imported from Nassau, in New Providence.

The quills of dried bark average 2 inches in length, and 3/8 inch in thickness. They are often furrowed in both directions, so that they appear to be chequered. The outer, thin, corky layer is white, often covered with a fine lichen ( Verrucaria albissima). The second layer is brownish, and sometimes shows through. The bark is hard and compact, breaking with a short, resinous fracture. The taste is nauseating, warm and bitter, and the odour agreeable and aromatic, especially when burned, resembling weak musk, so that it is used in fumigating pastilles, and sometimes mixed with tobacco, though in the latter case some regard it as being liable to cause giddiness and symptoms of intoxication.

The leaves can be infused for a digestive tea, and the bark yields a good, black dye.

—Constituents—There have been found in the bark albumen, tannin, cascar illin (a bitter, crystallizable principle, soluble in alcohol, ether, and hot water), red colouring matter, fatty matter with a sickly odour, volatile oil, gum, wax, resin, starch, pectic acid potassium chloride, a salt of calcium, and lignin.

The oil contains an alcohol, two sesquiterpenes, a free acid consisting of liquid cascarillic acid and a mixture of solid palmitic and stearic acids, eugenol, a terpene (differing from pinene), cymene, and possibly some l-limonene. Betaine has also been found.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—An aromatic, bitter tonic, with possibly narcotic properties. It is used in dyspepsia, intermittent and low fevers, diarrhoea and dysentery. It is a stimulant to mucous membranes, and in chronic bronchitis is used as an expectorant; while it is valuable in atonia dyspepsia, flatulence, chronic diarrhcea, nocturnal pollutions, debility and convalescence. Added to cinchona, it will arrest vomiting caused by that drug.

—Dosages—Of Cascarilla powdered Bark, 20 to 30 grains. Of Infusum Cascarillae (B.P. 1 OZ. to 1/2 pint), 1 to 2 fluid ounces. Of Tinctura Cascarillae, 1/2 to 2 fluid drachms. Of fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Tincture, B.P. 1/2 to 1 drachm.

—Other Species—
Cascarilla is also the name of Quina morada, the bark of Pogonopus febrifugus, used in the Argentine Republic as a substitute for cinchona bark. An alkaloid, Moradeine, and a blue fluorescent substance, Moradin, have been separated from it.

Croton Cascarilla, the Wild Rosemary of the West Indies, was at first thought to be the source of the Cascarilla of commerce.

C. Pseudo-China, or Copalchi Bark, of Mexico, also known as Copalche Bark or C. niveus, resembles C. Eleuteria so closely that it can be mistaken for it. It is used in the same way. A second variety, more bitter, may be a product of C. suberosus.

It has also been mistaken for a variety of cinchona.

C. micans is thought to have similar properties.

White, red, and black Cascarillas are also found in commerce, differing in form and properties, but these are other names for varieties of quinquina.

Cascara, Amarga

Botanical: Picramnia antidesma (S. W.)
Family: N.O. Simarubacaea
—Synonyms—Mountain Damson Bark. Simaruba Honduras Bark.
—Parts Used—Bark, root-bark.
—Habitat—Jamaica and South Guiana.

—Description—A native of the West Indies and yields the drug known as Simaruba bark. The tree grows to a considerable height and thickness and has alternate spreading branches; the bark on the old trees is black and furrowed, on the younger trees smooth grey, in places spotted with big patches of yellow, the wood is hard, white and without any special taste; it has numerous leaves alternately on the branches, each leaf has several pinnae, nearly elliptical, upper side smooth deep green, under side whitish, short foot-stalks, flowers male and female on different trees, colour yellow in long panicles. The bark is rough scaly and poor; inside when fresh is a good yellow colour, but when dry paler; it has very little smell and taste and though very bitter is not disagreeable. Macerated in water or rectified spirits it gives a yellow tincture; makes a better and stronger infusion in cold water than in boiling water; the decoction is transparent yellow when hot, but when cooled, is turbid and brownish red in colour. The bark was brought from Guiana in 1713 as a remedy for dysentery. In France in 1718 to 1825 an epidemic flux was cured by the bark and this established its medicinal use in Europe.
—Constituents—A bitter tonic credited with specific alternative properties. It belongs to an undetermined species of picrammia and contains a bitter sweet amorphous alkaloid.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Purgative, tonic, diaphoretic. A very valuable bitter tonic, useful in diarrhoea, dysentery, and in some forms of indigestion; in large doses it is said to act as an emetic. It restores tone to the intestines, allays spasmodic motions, promotes a healthy secretion. Big doses cause vomiting and nausea – should not be used in dysentery attended with fever. In dysentery with weak indigestion it is often preferred to chamonilee.

—Dosage—The infusion taken in wineglassful doses every four to six hours.

—Other Species—
Simaruba versicolor, a Brazilian species,has similar properties; the fruits and barks are also used as anthelmintics, and an infusion of the bark is used for snake-bite. The plant is so bitter that insects will not attack it – on which account the powdered bark has been used to kill vermin.

S. alauca, a native of Cuba, gives a glutinous juice which has been found useful in some forms of skin disease.


Botanical: Jacaranda procera (SPRENG.)
Family: N.O. Bignoniacea
—Synonyms—Carob Tree. Carobinha. Bignonia Caroba. Jacaranda Caroba. Caaroba.
—Part Used—The leaves.
—Habitat—South America.

—Description—The genus Jacaranda includes several species which are used medicinally in South America, and especially in Brazil. The trees are small, and the leaves thick, tough, and lanceolate, about 2 1/2 inches long, odourless, and slightly bitter in taste.
—Constituents—There has been found in the leaves Caroba balsam, caroborelinic acid carobic acid, steocarobic acid, carobon, and crystalline substance, carobin.

—Medicinal Actions and Uses—The value of the Jacaranda active principles has been proved in syphilis and venereal diseases, being widely used by the aborigines of Brazil and other South American countries. The leaves have also been tried in epilepsy for their soothing influence.

—Dosage—From 15 to 60 grains.

—Other Species—
CAROB-TREE, or Ceratonia siliqua, is a small tree of the Mediterranean coasts. (One species of Jacarande tree grows in Palermo, and the exquisite blue flowers when in bloom about the middle of June are an arresting sight, much more suggestive of ‘Love in the Mist’ than the plant which actually bears that name. – EDITOR.) Beyond its name it has no connexion with Caroba. It furnishes the St. John’s Bread which probably corresponds to the husks of the Prodigal Son parable, and the seed which is said to have been the original jewellers’ carat weight.

The Spaniards call it Algaroba, and the Arabs Kharoub, hence Carob or Caroub Pods, Beans, or Sugar-pods. It is also called Locust Pods. These pods are much used in the south of Europe for feeding domestic animals and, in times of scarcity, as human food. Being saccharine, they are more heatgiving than nourishing. The seeds or beans were used as fodder for British cavalry horses during the Spanish campaign of 1811-12.

South American varieties are Prosopis dulcis and P. siliquastrum of the Leguminosae family.


Botanical: Elettaria cardamomum (MATON)
Family: N.O. Zingiberaceae (Scitamineae)
—Synonyms—Amomum Cardamomum. Alpinia Cardamomum. Matonia Cardamomum. Cardamomum minus. Amomum repens. Cardamomi Semina. Cardamom Seeds. Malabar Cardamums. Ebil. Kakelah seghar. Capalaga. Gujatatti elachi. Ilachi. Ailum.
—Part Used—The dried, ripe seeds.
—Habitat—Southern India.

—Description—The large perennial herb. yielding Cardamom seeds is known in its own country as ‘Elattari’ or ‘Ilachi,’ while ‘Cardamomum’ was the name by which some Indian spice was known in classical times.
It has a large, fleshy rhizome, and the alternate, lanceolate leaves are blades from 1 to 2 1/2 feet long, smooth and dark green above, pale, glaucous green and finely silky beneath. The flowering stems spread horizontally near the ground, from a few inches to 2 feet long, and bear small, loose racemes, the small flowers being usually yellowish, with a violet lip. The fruits are from 2/5 to 4/5 of an inch long, ovoid or oblong, bluntly triangular in section, shortly beaked at the apex, pale yellowish grey in colour, plump, and nearly smooth. They are three-celled, and contain in each cell two rows of small seeds of a dark, reddish-brown colour. These should be kept in their pericarps and only separated when required for use. Though only the seeds are official, the retention of the pericarp is an obstacle to adulteration, while it contains some oil and forms a good surface for grinding the seeds. The value is estimated by the plumpness and heaviness of the fruits and the soundness and ripeness of the seeds. Unripe seeds are paler and less plump. The unbroken fruits are gathered before they are quite ripe, as the seeds of fruits which have partially opened are less aromatic, and such fruits are less valued. The seeds have a powerful, aromatic odour, and an agreeable, pungent, aromatic taste, but the pericarps are odourless and tasteless.

There is some confusion as to the different kinds, both botanically and commercially, different writers distinguishing them in varied ways.

The official Cardamums in the United States are stated to be only those produced in India, chiefly in Malabar and Mysore, but in Britain the seeds corresponding most closely to the official description are recognized, in spite of their names, as being imported from Ceylon.

The Cardamom is a native of Southern India, and grows abundantly in forests 2,500 to 5,000 feet above sea-level in North Canara Coorgi and Wynaad, where it is also largely cultivated. It flowers in April and May and the fruit-gathering lasts in dry weather for three months, starting in October. The methods of cultivating and preparing vary in different districts.

In the Bombay Presidency the fruits are washed by women with water from special wells and pounded soap nut (a kind of acacia). They are dried on house-roofs, the stalks clipped, and sometimes a starchy paste is sprinkled over them, in addition to the bleaching.

Bombay ships about 250,000 lb. annually to the London market. They were formerly known by their shapes as shorts, short-longs, and long-longs, but the last are now rarely seen. One hundred parts of the fruit yield on an average 74 parts of seeds and 26 of pericarp. The powdered seeds may be distinguished from the powdered fruit by the absence of the tissues of the pericarp.

The seeds are about 1/5 of an inch long, angular, wrinkled, and whitish inside. They should be powdered only when wanted for use, as they lose their aromatic properties.

In Great Britain and the United States Cardamums are employed to a small extent as an ingredient of curry powder, and in Russia, Sweden, Norway, and parts of Germany are largely used for flavouring cakes and in the preparation of liqueurs, etc. In Egypt they are ground and put in coffee, and in the East Indies are used both as a condiment and for chewing with betel. Their use was known to the ancients. (There are constant references to Cardamom Seeds in The Arabian Nights. – EDITOR) In France and America the oil is used in perfumery.

—Constituents—The seeds contain volatile oil, fixed oil, salt of potassium, a colouring principle, starch, nitrogenous mucilage, ligneous fibre, an acrid resin, and ash. The volatile oil contains terpenes, terpineol and cineol. Good ‘shorts’ yield about 4-6 per cent. It is colourless when fresh, but becomes thicker, more yellow, and less aromatic. It is very soluble in alcohol and readily soluble in four volumes of 70 per cent. alcohol, forming a clear solution.

Its specific gravity is 0.924 to 0.927 at 25 degrees C. (77 degrees F.). It is not used medicinally, but solely for pharmaceutical purposes, being employed as a flavouring in the compound spirit and compound elixir of Cardamums, and in other elixirs and mixtures. It is largely adulterated, owing to the high price of the seeds and the small percentage of volatile oil found in them.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Carminative, stimulant, aromatic, but rarely used alone; chiefly useful as an adjuvant or corrective.

The seeds are helpful in indigestion and flatulence, giving a grateful but not fiery warmth. When chewed singly in the mouth the flavour is not unpleasant, and they are said to be good for colic and disorders of the head.

In flavouring they are combined with oils of Orange, Cinnamon, Cloves, and Caraway.

The substitution of glycerine for honey in the 1880 United States’ formula for compound tincture increased its stability.

—Dosages—15 to 30 grains of the powdered seeds. Of tincture, 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Of compound tincture, B.P., 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Fluid extract, 5 to 30 drops.

—Adulterations—Various unofficial Cardamums are included, the product of otherspecies. Orange seeds and unroasted grains of coffee are also admixed. The oil is said to be no longer distilled from Eiettaria cardamomum. It is often factitious, and composed of oils of Cajuput, Nutmeg, etc.

—Other Species—
MADRAS CARDAMUMS, exported from Madras and Pondicherry.

ALEPPY CARDAMUMS, exported from Aleppy and Calicut, are also recognized in Britain, the former being paler and ‘short-longs’ and the latter ‘shorts.’

CEYLON WILD CARDAMOMS are the fruits of E. cardamomum var. major, imported from Ceylon, and sometimes called Long Wild Natives. They are cultivated in Kandy, and sometimes called in the East, Grains of Paradise, but they are not the product known by that name in Europe and America.

ROUND or SIAM CARDAMUMS are probably those referred to by Dioscorides, and called Amomi uva by Pliny. They are the fruits of A. cardamomum and A. globosum, growing in Java, Siam, and China, etc., and are nearly the size of a cherry. In their natural clusters they are the amomum racemosum or amome en grappe of the French, and in Southern Europe are sometimes used in the same way as the official kinds.

BENGAL CARDAMOMS, from A. subulatum, are sometimes called Winged Bengal Cardamums, Morung elachi, or Buro elachi. They are oblong or oval, and about an inch long.

NEPAL CARDAMUMS, of unknown origin, are like the Bengal species, but usually stalked, and have a long, tubular calyx.

WINGED JAVA CARDAMOMS, from A. maximum, growing in the Malay islands, are about an inch long, and when soaked in water show from 4 to 13 ragged wings on each side. They are feebly aromatic, and are usually sent abroad from the London markets.

KORARIMA CARDAMOMS, from A. kararima, have recently become known.

MADAGASCAR CARDAMUMS, of A. angustifolium, have pointed, ovate flattened capsules. The flavour of the seeds resembles the official variety.

BASTARD CARDAMUMS, from A. Xanthioides looks like the real kind, but is greenish in colour, and tastes like crude camphor.

Cardamomum Siberiense (Star Aniseed), Annis de Siberie of the seventeenth century and badiane of the French, is from Illicium verum, the fruit of which is chiefly used in preparing a volatile oil resembling the official oil of Anise.


Botanical: Carum Carvi (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
—Synonym—Caraway Seed.
—Part Used—Fruit.
—Habitat—The plant is distributed throughout the northern and central parts of Europe and Asia, though where it occurs in this country it is only considered a naturalized species, having apparently escaped from cultivation.
Caraway is another member of the group of aromatic, umbelliferous plants characterized by carminative properties, like Anise, Cumin, Dill and Fennel. It is grown, however, less for the medicinal properties of the fruits, or so-called ‘seeds,’ than for their use as a flavouring in cookery, confectionery and liqueurs .

—Description—It is a biennial, with smooth, furrowed stems growing 1 1/2 to 2 feet high, hearing finely cut leaves, and umbels of white flowers which blossom in June. The fruitswhich are popularly and incorrectly called seeds – and which correspond in general character to those of the other plants of this large family, are laterally compressed, somewhat horny and translucent, slightly curved, and marked with five distinct, pale ridges. They evolve a pleasant, aromatic odour when bruised, and have an agreeable taste.
The leaves possess similar properties and afford an oil identical with that of the fruit. The tender leaves in spring have been boiled in soup, to give it an aromatic flavour.

—History—The roots are thick and tapering, like a parsnip, though much smaller and are edible. Parkinson declared them, when young, to be superior in flavour to Parsnips. Mixed with milk and made into bread, they are said to have formed the ‘Chara’ of Julius Ceasar, eaten by the soldiers of Valerius.

Caraway was well known in classic days, and it is believed that its use originated with the ancient Arabs, who called the ‘seeds’ Karawya, a name they still bear in the East, and clearly the origin of our word Caraway and the Latin name Carvi, although Pliny would have us believe that the name Carvi was derived from Caria, in Asia Minor, where according to him the plant was originally found. In old Spanish the name occurs as Alcaravea.

Caraway is frequently mentioned by the old writers. Dioscorides advised the oil to be taken by pale-faced girls. In the Middle Ages and in Shakespeare’s times it was very popular.
‘The seed,’ says Parkinson, ‘is much used to be put among baked fruit, or into bread, cakes, etc., to give them a rellish. It is also made into comfites and taken for cold or wind in the body, which also are served to the table with fruit.’
In Henry IV, Squire Shallow invites Falstaff to ‘a pippin and a dish of caraways.’ The custom of serving roast apples with a little saucerful of Caraway is still kept up at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at some of the old-fashioned London Livery Dinners, just as in Shakespeare’s days – and in Scotland to this day a saucerful is put down at tea to dip the buttered side of bread into and called ‘salt water jelly.’
The scattering of the seed over cakes has long been practised, and Caraway-seed cake was formerly a standing institution at the feasts given by farmers to their labourers at the end of the wheat-sowing. The little Caraway comfits consist of the seeds encrusted with white sugar. In Germany, the peasants flavour their cheese, cabbage, soups, and household bread with Caraway, and in Norway and Sweden, polenta-like, black, Caraway bread is largely eaten in country districts.

The oil extracted from the fruits is used as an ingredient of alcoholic liquors: both the Russians and the Germans make from Caraway a liqueur, ‘Kummel,’ and Caraway enters into the composition of l’huile de Venus and other cordials.

A curious superstition was held in olden times about the Caraway. It was deemed to confer the gift of retention, preventing the theft of any object which contained it, and holding the thief in custody within the invaded house. In like manner it was thought to keep lovers from proving fickle (forming an ingredient of love potions), and also to prevent fowls and pigeons from straying. It is an undoubted fact that tame pigeons, who are particularly fond of the seeds, will never stray if they are given a piece of baked Caraway dough in their cote.

—Cultivation—Preparation for Market—Caraway does best when the seeds are sown inthe autumn, as soon as ripe, though they may be sown in March. Sow in drills, 1 foot apart, the plants when strong enough, being thinned out to about 8 inches in the rows. The ground will require an occasional hoeing to keep it clean and assist the growth of the plants. From an autumn-sown crop, seeds will be produced in the following summer, ripening about August.

When the fruit ripens, the plant is cut and the Caraways are separated by threshing. They can be dried either on trays in the sun, or by very gentle heat over a stove, shaking occasionally.

There are several varieties, the English, the Dutch and the German (obtained from plants extensively cultivated in Moravia and Prussia), and other varieties imported from Norway, Finland, Russia and the Morocco ports.

—Habitat—One marked peculiarity about Caraway is that it is indigenous to all parts of Europe, Siberia, Turkey in Asia, Persia, India and North Africa, and yet it is cultivated only in a few comparatively restricted areas. It grows wild in many parts of Canada and the United States, but is nowhere grown there as a field or garden crop. Its cultivation is restricted to relatively small areas in England, Holland, Germany, Finland, Russia, Norway and Morocco, where it constitutes one of the chief agricultural industries within its narrow confines. It has so far received comparatively little attention in England, where it is grown only in Essex, Kent and Suffolk, upon old grassland broken up for the purpose. Holland cultivates the main crop, producing and exporting far larger quantities than any other country. It is cultivated most extensively there in the provinces of Groningen and North Holland, in which more than half the acreage is found. In the whole country about 20,000 acres are devoted to this crop, each acre yielding about 1,000 lb., whereas while Caraway is grown commercially throughout Germany, Austria, France and parts of Spain, the character and amounts produced are very variable, and the yield per acre varies only from 400 to 700 lb., and these countries do not produce much more than they require for home consumption. Morocco produces a grade of Caraway that comes regularly into the English and American markets, but is somewhat inferior in quality. Dutch Caraway is preferred among consumers in the United States, and the bulk used there comes from Holland.

During the last year or two there has been a scarcity of Caraway, owing partly to the fact that the extensive area of land in Holland usually employed for the cultivation of the plant was devastated by floods towards the close of 1915. Much Dill seed is now being sold in its place. Quite lately, a small grower reported that she had netted L. 5 (pounds sterling) from growing Caraway on a corner of what otherwise would have been waste ground.

—Constituents—The seeds contain from 4 to 7 per cent of volatile oil, according to the variety of Caraway fruit from which obtained that distilled from home-grown fruits being considered the best. Caraway grown in more northerly latitudes is richer in essential oil than that grown in southern regions, and if grown in full sun a greater percentage and a richer oil is obtained.

The oil is distilled chiefly from Dutch, Norwegian and Russian fruits. The Dutch are small and dark brown in colour. English fruits, of which only a small quantity is produced, are of a brighter tint.

The chief constituent of the oil is a hydrocarbon termed Carvene, also found in oils of Dill and Cumin, and an oxygenated oil Carvol, a mobile liquid (isomeric with the menthol of Spearmint).

From 6 lb. of the unbruised seeds, 4 oz. of the pure essential oil can be expressed.

The exhausted seed, after the distillation of the oil, contains a high percentage of protein and fat, and is used as a cattle food.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Both fruit and oil possess aromatic, stimulant and carminative properties. Caraway was widely employed at one time as a carminative cordial, and was recommended in dyspepsia and symptoms attending hysteria and other disorders. It possesses some tonic property and forms a pleasant stomachic. Its former extensive employment in medicine has much decreased in recent years, and the oil and fruit are now principally employed as adjuncts to other medicines as corrective or flavouring agents, combined with purgatives. For flatulent indigestion, however, from 1 to 4 drops of the essential oil of Caraway given on a lump of sugar, or in a teaspoonful of water, will be found efficacious. Distilled Caraway water is considered a useful remedy in the flatulent colic of infants, and is an excellent vehicle for children’s medicine. When sweetened, its flavour is agreeable.

One ounce of the bruised seeds infused for 6 hours in a pint of cold water makes a good Caraway julep for infants, from 1 to 3 teaspoonsful being given for a dose.

The bruised seeds, pounded with the crumb of a hot new loaf and a little spirit to moisten, was an old-fashioned remedy for bad earache. The powder of the seeds, made into a poultice, will also take away bruises.


“I didn’t inhale.”
 ~ Bill Clinton ~

Yes, I know Cannabis is an illegal plant, but in the context of herbs, especially medicinal herbs, it is an important entity, and as such no herbal compilation is complete without it.

The recreational use of Cannabis has long overshadowed any therapeutic or medicinal benefits of the plant, but what few Cannabis opponents realize is that when it was outlawed in 1937, it was over the vigorous objections of the American Medical Society, who had to scramble to find other sometimes less effective substances to treat their patients.

As a plant, Cannabis is a very easy herb to grow, requiring only well-drained soil, adequate water, and full sunlight.  There are volumes of websites devoted to growing plants for the best highs, and we will leave that aspect of growing Cannabis to them.  Suffice it to say that if you are determined to grow it despite it’s illegality, it is an easy plant to cultivate and harvest, sharing roughly the same requirements and light conditions as ordinary garden tomatoes.

With all the controversy surrounding Cannabis and it’s legality – at least for medicinal purposes – the one striking fact seems to be that though there are social issues involved, there is no real evidence that it causes any serious physical harm.  No documented cases of death have been recorded for people using this herb either medicinally or recreationally, and no cases of permanent psychosis or dementia have been documented or proven.

Unfortunately, few studies about the true medicinal properties have been done, and much of the evidence for therapeutic benefits in modern times stem from anecdotal reports given to physicians by their patients.  Indeed, one report states that up to 44 percent of doctors privately recommend Cannibis use in seriously ill patients with specified illnesses – because they feel it is the best medicine.

Cannabis is not a cure for any known illness, and its use in medicine is confined mostly to the treatment of symptoms.  Claims that seem to be substantiated if only by the sheer number of claimants include relief from the debilitating symptoms of AIDS, reducing pressure in the eye in glaucoma, treatment of pain and nausea for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, pain and tremor in cases of  multiple sclerosis, and controlling seizures in epilepsy cases.   Other lesser known symptom relief includes menstrual cramps, arthritis, migraine headaches, alcohol addiction, chronic pain, mood disorders, and depression.

Most patients who use marijuana medicinally smoke it, likely because that is the easiest and quickest way to get relief.  But the leaves and seeds are edible and can be used to make capsules, teas, essential oils, and yes – brownies –  just like any other herb listed on these pages.  For more information, please see the links below.

* This page is designed as an informative vehicle primarily geared to illustrate the medicinal uses of Cannabis, though we are aware of the widespread recreational uses.  We do not offer opinions on the legal issues, nor do we condone the use of illicit substances.


********Herbal Use Warning~

Federal Law requires that we warn you of the following:

1. Natural methods can sometimes backfire.
2. If you are pregnant, consult your physician before using any
natural remedy.
3. The Constitution guarantees you the right to be your own physician and to prescribe for your own health.
4.If you are pregnant, nursing, or attempting to become pregnant, do
your homework and be sure you know what you are doing, or don’t use herbal remedies. Very little study has been done on pregnancy and herbs.
5.Be careful if you have hay fever or are allergic to some plants.
Plants have large families, many of which are unrecognizable as
parts of those families, except to an experienced herbalist.
6.Don’t give herbal remedies to small babies.
7.Don’t use herbal remedies in excess.

**DISCLAIMER – This is by no means meant to perscribe a cure for any
illness. Always consult your doctor and/or a registered herbalist
before taking anything as some herbs can interfere with medications
you may already be taking, or worsen a not yet diagnosed condition.
Any opinions put forth by this list are exactly that, and any person
following the advice of any posting here does so at their own risk.
It is up to you to educate yourself. By accepting advice or
products from list, you are agreeing to be fully responsible for
your own health, and hold the List Owner  and members, free of any liability.

Candytuft, Bitter

Botanical: Iberis amara
Family: N.O. Cruciferae
—Parts Used—Leaves, stem, root, seeds.
—Habitat—Found in various parts of Europe and in English and Scotch cornfields, specially in limestone districts.

—Description—This plant is an erect, rather stiff, very bitter annual, 6 to 12 inches high; flowers milky white, forming a terminal flat corymb; leaves oblong, lanceolate, acute, toothed; pod nearly orbicular, the long style projecting from notch at top; it flowers with the corns.
—Medicinal Action and Uses—A tincture made from the ripe seeds is much used in homoeopathy, but the plant is more generally used by American herbalists. All parts of the plant are used, leaves, stem, root and seeds, more particularly the latter. It has always been used for gout, rheumatism and kindred ailments, and is now usually combined with other plants for the same diseases in their acute form, and as a simple to allay excited action of the heart, especially when it is enlarged. For asthma, bronchitis and dropsy it is considered very useful.

—Dosage—1 to 3 grains of the powdered seeds. In overdoses or too large ones it is said to produce giddiness, nausea and diarrhoea.


Botanical: Cinnamonum camphora (T. NEES and EBERM.)
Family: N.O. Lauraceae
—Synonyms—Laurel Camphor. Gum Camphor.
—Part Used—Gum.
—Habitat—China, Japan, and adjacent parts of East Asia. Formosa official in the U.S.P. Dryobalanops aromatica is indigenous to Borneo and Sumatra.

—Description—Camphor is a white crystalline substance, obtained from the tree Cinnamonum camphora, but the name has been given to various concrete odorous volatile products, found in different aromatic plants. The commercial Camphor comes only from C. camphora and Dryobalanops camphora (fam. Dipterocarpacaea). The first gives our official Camphor, the latter the Borneo Camphor, which is much valued in the East, but unknown in Europe and America. C. camphora is an evergreen tree looking not unlike our linden; it grows to a great size, is manybranched, flowers white, small and clustered, fruit a red berry much like cinnamon. While the tree grows in China, etc., it can be cultivated successfully in sub-tropical countries, such as India and Ceylon, and it will thrive in Egypt, Formosa, Madagascar, Canary Islands and southern parts of Europe, California, Florida, and also in Argentina. It grows so slowly that the return financially is a long investment. Some growers think that Camphor cannot be taken from the trees till they are fifty years old. In Japan and Formosa the drug comes from the root, trunk and branches of the tree by sublimation, but there is less injury done to the tree in the American plantations, as it is taken there from the leaves and twigs of the oldest trees. A Camphor oil exudes in the process of extracting Camphor, which is valued by the Chinese, used for medicinal purposes. Two substances are found in commerce under the name of oil of Camphor: one is the produce of C. cinnamonum, and is known as Formosa or Japanese oil of Camphor; the other as East Indian oil of Camphor, from the D. aromatica but this oil is not found in European or American trade. It is less volatile than the other, and has a distinctive odour; it is highly prized by the Chinese, who use it for embalming purposes and to scent soap. The Chinese attribute many virtues to it. It is mentioned by Marco Polo in the thirteenth century and Camoens in 1571, who called it the ‘balsam of disease.’ During the last few years large quantities have come into the American and European markets as Japanese oil; it varies in quality and colour from a thin watery oil to a thick black one. It is imported in tin cans and varies greatly in the amount of Camphor it contains, some cans having had all the solid principle extracted before importation. The odour is peculiar, like sassafras and distinctly camphoraceous; this oil is said to be used in Japan for burning, making varnish and for Chinese inks, as a diluent for artists’ colours; it has a capacity for dissolving resins that oil of Turps has not. The properties in the oil are much the same as in Camphor, but it is more stimulant and very useful in complaints of stomach and bowels, in spasmodic cholera and flatulent colic. It is also used as a rubefacient and sedative liniment, and if diluted with Olive oil or soap is excellent for local rheumatism, sprains, bruises, and neuralgia dose, 2 or 3 minims. There is an erroneous idea that Camphor acts as a preventive to infectious diseases. It is very acrid and in large doses very poisonous, and should be used cautiously in certain heart cases. It is a well-known preventive of moths and other insects, such as worms in wood; natural history cabinets are often made of it, the wood of the tree being occasionally imported to make cabinets for entomologists. The Dryobalanops oil of Camphor is said to be found in trees too young to produce Camphor, and is said to be the first stage of the development of Camphor, as it is found in the cavities of the trunk, which later on become filled with Camphor. Its chief constituent is an oil called Borneene. The D. aromatica tree, found in Sumatra and Borneo, grows to an enormous height, often over 100 feet, and trunk 6 or 7 feet in diameter. The Camphor of the older trees exists in concrete masses, in longitudinal cavities, in the heart of the tree, 1 1/2 feet long at certain distances apart. The only way of finding out if Camphor has formed in the tree is by incision. This Camphor is chiefly used for funeral rites, and any that is exported is bought by the Chinese at a high price, as they use it for embalming, it being less volatile than ordinary Camphor. Another Camphor called N’gai, obtained from the Blumea Balcamferi (Compositae), differs chemically from the Borneo species, being levogyrate, and is converted by boiling nitric acid, to a substance considered identical with stearoptene of Chrysanthemum parthenium. This plant grows freely in the author’s garden, and is known in Great Britain as Double-flowered Bush Fever-Few.
—Medicinal Action and Uses—Camphor has a strong, penetrating, fragrant odour, a bitter, pungent taste, and is slightly cold to the touch like menthol leaves; locally it is an irritant, numbs the peripheral sensory nerves, and is slightly antiseptic; it is not readily absorbed by the mucous membrane, but is easily absorbed by the subcutaneous tissue- it combines in the body with glucuronic acid, and in this condition is voided by the urine. Experiments on frogs show a depressant action to the spinal column, no motor disturbance, but a slow increasing paralysis; in mankind it causes convulsions, from the effect it has on the motor tract of the brain; it stimulates the intellectual centres and prevents narcotic drugs taking effect, but in cases of nervous excitement it has a soothing and quieting result. Authorities vary as to its effect on blood pressure; some think it raises it, others take an opposite view; but it has been proved valuable as an excitant in cases of heart failure, whether due to diseases or as a result of infectious fevers, such as typhoid and pneumonia, not only in the latter case as a stimulant to circulation, but as preventing the growth of pneumococci. Camphor is used in medicine internally for its calming influence in hysteria, nervousness and neuralgia, and for serious diarrhoea, and externally as a counter-irritant in rheumatisms, sprains bronchitis, and in inflammatory conditions, and sometimes in conjunction with menthol and phenol for heart failure; it is often given hypodermically, 3 to 5 grains dissolved in 20 to 30 minims of sterile Olive oil – the effect will last about two hours. In nervous diseases it may be given in substance or in capsules or in spirit; dose 2 to 5 grains. Its great value is in colds, chills, and in all inflammatory complaints; it relieves irritation of the sexual organs.

—Preparations and Dosages—Spirit of Camphor, B.P., 5 to 20 drops. Tincture of Camphor Comp., B.P. (Paregoric), 1/2 to 1 drachm. Camphor water, B.P., 1 to 2 OZ. Liniment of Aconite, B.P. Liniment of Belladonna, B.P. Liniment of Camphor Comp., B.P. Liniment of Opium, B.P. Liniment of Soap, B.P. Liniment of Mustard, B.P. Liniment of Turpentine, B.P. Liniment of Turpentine and Acetic Acid, B.P. Spirit of Camphor, B.P., 5 to 20 drops. Tincture of Camphor Comp., B.P.

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