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Herbalism

Calumba

Botanical: Jateorhiza calumba (MIERS)
Family: N.O. Menispermaceae
—Synonyms—Cocculus Palmatus. Colombo.
—Part Used—The dried root sliced transversely.
—Habitat—Forests of Eastern Africa. Indigenous to Mozambique, where it is abundant in the forests.

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—Description—A dioecious climbing plant with a perennial root, consisting of several tuberous portions, flowers small and inconspicuous, the root is dug in dry weather, in March, but only the fusiform offsets are used; the old root is rejected and the brightest, least worm-eaten and well-shaped pieces are preferred. The root and powder, if kept any length of time, are liable to be attacked by worms; the colour of the freshly prepared powder is greenish, later on it turns brown and when moistened very dark; it quickly absorbs moisture from the air and is apt to decompose, so only a small quantity should be prepared at a time. Odour aromatic, taste very bitter, rind more so than the central pith, which is somewhat mucilaginous. It is rarely adulterated since the price has been lowered.
—Constituents—Columbamine, Jateorhizine and Palmatine, three yellow crystalline alkaloids closely allied to berberine; also a colourless crystalline principle, Columbine, and an abundance of starch and mucilage.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—A bitter tonic without astringency, does not produce nausea, headache, sickness or feverishness as other remedies of the same class. It is best given as a cold infusion; it is a most valuable agent for weakness of the digestive organs. In pulmonary consumption it is useful, as it never debilitates or purges the bowels. The natives of Mozambique use it for dysentery It allays the sickness of pregnancy and gastric irritation. In Africa and the East Indies it is cultivated for dyeing purposes.

—Preparations—Calumba is generally combined with other tonics. For flatulence, 1/2 oz. of Calumba, 1/2 oz. of ginger 1 drachm of senna, added to 1 pint of boiling water, is taken three times daily in wineglassful doses.

Calumba can be safely combined with salts of iron and alkalies, as it does not contain tannic or gallic acid. The powdered root, 10 to 15 grains. The solid extract, 2 grains. The powdered extract, 2 grains. The fluid extract, 10 to 30 minims. The infusion, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. The tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. The concentrated solution, B.P. 1/2 to 1 drachm.

Calotropis

POISON!

Botanical: Calotropis procera (R. BR.) and gigantea
Family: N.O. Asclepiadaceae
—Synonyms—Mudar Yercum.
—Parts Used—Bark, root-bark.
—Habitat—Native of Hindustan, but widely naturalized in the East and West Indies and Ceylon.

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—Description—The dried root freed from its outer cork layer and called Mudar. It occurs in commerce in short quilled pieces about 1/5 to 1/10 of an inch thick and not over 1 1/2 inch wide. Deeply furrowed and reticulated, colour greyish buff, easily separated from periderm. Fracture short and mealy, taste bitter, nauseous, acrid; it has a peculiar smell and is mucilaginous; official in India and the Colonial addendum for the preparation of a tincture.
—Constituents—A yellow bitter resin; a black acid resin; Madaralbum, a crystalline colourless substance; Madarfluavil, an ambercoloured viscid substance; and caoutchouc, and a peculiar principle which gelatinizes on being heated, called Mudarine. Lewin found a neutral principle, Calatropin, a very active poison of the digitalis type. In India the author’s husband experimented with it for paper-making, the inner bark yielding a fibre stronger than Russian hemp. The acrid juice hardens into a substance like gutta-percha. It has long been used in India for abortive and suicidal purposes. Mudar root-bark is very largely used there as a treatment for elephantiasis and leprosy, and is efficacious in cases of chronic eczema, also for diarrhoea and dysentery.

—Preparations—Tincture of Calatropis, 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Powder, 3 to 12 grains.

—Antidotes—As an antidote to poisoning atropine may be administered. In severe cases the stomach pump may be used and chloral or chloroform administered. Amyl nitrite may also be useful.

Calisaya

Botanical: Cinchona calisaya (WEDD.)
Family: N.O. Rubiaceae
—Synonyms—Jesuit’s Powder. Yellow Cinchona.
—Part Used—Bark.
—Habitat—Tropical valleys of the Andes. Bolivia and Southern Peru.

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—Description—Cinchona is an important genus and comprises a large number of evergreen trees and shrubs, flowers white and pinkish arranged in panicles, very fragrant. Not all the species yield cinchona or Peruvian bark. The most important is called Calisaya or yellow bark. Its great value as a tonic and febrifuge depends on an alkaloid, quina (Quinine). This substance chiefly exists in the cellular tissue outside the liber in combination with kinic and tannic acids. Calisaya yields the largest amount of this alkaloid of any of the species – often 70 to 80 per cent of the total alkaloids contained in the bark which is not collected from trees growing wild, but from those cultivated in plantations. The bark for commerce is classified under two headings: the druggist’s bark, and the manufacturer’s at a low price. The great bulk of the trade is in Amsterdam, and the bark sold there mainly comes from Java. That sold in London from India, Ceylon and South America. Mature Calisaya bark has a scaly appearance, which denotes maturity and high quality. It is very bitter, astringent and odourless.
—Constituents—The bark should yield between 5 and 6 per cent of total alkaloids, of which not less than half should consist of quinine and cinchonidin. Other constituents are cinchonine, quinidine, hydrocinchonidine, quinamine, homokinchonidine, hydroquinine; quinic and cinchotannic acids, a bitter amorphous glucocide, starch and calcium-oxalate.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—See PERUVIAN BARK.

—Preparations and Dosages—Decoction of Cinchona, B.P., 1/2 to 2 fluid ounces. Elixir of Cinchona or Elixir of Calisaya, B.P.C., 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Tincture of Cinchona, B.P.C., 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Cinchona wine, B.P.C., 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce.

Calendula

 – Calendula officinalis
AKA: Marigold, garden marigold, holigold, Mary bud, pot marigold

Calendula, also known as pot marigold has been used all over the world.  Not only for its valuable medicinal qualities, but also for its culinary uses and its unique ability to control insects in the garden.

Calendula is an easy to grow annual as it’s not particular to soil conditions and can easily be grown from seed. When harvesting be sure to leave a few blossoms on the plant and let them form seed heads. Then scatter the dried seeds wherever you would like Calendula to be growing next spring.

History shows that Calendula was most often used in soups and stews to ward of illness.  Hence the name “pot Marigold”. But don’t confuse this plant with the shorter version of the African Marigold species.  Calendula grows from 1 to 2 ft tall and has hairy texture on its leaves.

Today, many studies have proven Calendula to be a highly beneficial herb worth taking a look at.  
   * It has a high concentration of natural iodine, which is believed to be what gives it many valuable wound healing properties.
  * Its antimicrobial compounds inhibit certain strains of Staphylococcus and Candida, as well as E. coli.
       * It contains lycopene, which has recently been shown to be beneficial to prostate health.
      *  Its high levels of carotene and maganese along with iodine promote skin cell regeneration.

In Aromatherapy, Calendula is mainly used for its skin healing properties.  It contains an essential oil in the flower heads and leaves that have an antibiotic effect. It can be used internally as well as externally. Calendula heals all kinds of wounds, especially internal and external ulcers of all kinds.

Externally, Calendula improves blood flow to the affected area and is useful for eczema, gastritis, minor burns, including sunburn, healing pulled muscles, bruises, sprains, boils, insect bites, rashes, wounds, and other sores. Not only that, it is nourishing and regenerative to the skin.  It’s My Nature carries some great Calendula Body Powder that is very soothing to the skin.

Calendula’s anti-fungal properties are great for athlete’s foot, ringworm, and candida.

There are many methods of using dried Calendula.  It can be made into tea, which can be drank, or used as a hot or cold compress. Salves, creams, lotions and infused oils are a convenient way to apply Calendula.

Internally, Calendula can be used for such gastrointestinal problems as ulcers, stomach cramps, menstrual difficulties, colitis, diarrhea and to prevent recurrent vomiting.

The high amounts flavonoids account for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Calendula is safe and recommended for use for children’s ailments.  It is great for diaper rash, juvenile acne, and all kinds of childhood skin rashes.

Medicinal Properties include: antibacterial, antiseptic,  antifungal agent, reducing inflammation, wound healing, antispasmodic, aperient, cholagogue, diaphoretic, vulnerary.

Calendula Usage in Aromatherapy
Inhalation – Great insect repellent in the garden.
Skin Care – Use for acne, and rejuvenating skin.
Compress –  Varicose veins., sprains and wounds, bring down fever.
Hair Care – Hair rinse to lighten and brighten hair.
Tea – Drink two to three cups daily.
Bath –  For soothing sunburn and skin rashes.
Massage – With infused oil. rejuvenating to the skin, and the soul.
Compress- To help in the healing of skin wounds: soak a compress in Calendula tea, and apply to the wound for 30 minutes twice daily.

Calamint

Botanical: Calamintha officinalis (MOENCH)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
—Synonyms—Mill Mountain. Mountain Balm. Basil Thyme. Mountain Mint.
—Part Used—Herb.

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—Description—Calamint belongs to a genus closely related to both the Thymes and to Catnep and Ground Ivy.
It is an erect, bushy plant with square stems, rarely more than a foot high, bearing pairs of opposite leaves, which, like the stems, are downy with soft hairs. The flowers bloom in July and August, and are somewhat inconspicuous, drooping gracefully before expansion: the corollas are of a light purple colour.

The plant grows by waysides and in hedges, and is not uncommon, especially in dry places. It may be cultivated as a hardy perennial, propagated by seeds sown outdoors in April, by cuttings of side shoots in cold frames in spring, or by division of roots in October and April.

—Constituents—It contains a camphoraceous, volatile, stimulating oil in commonwith the other mints. This is distilled by water, but its virtues are better extracted by rectified spirit.

—Medicinal Actions and Uses—Diaphoretic, expectorant, aromatic. The whole herb has a sweet, aromatic odour and an infusion of the dried leaves, collected about July, when in their best condition and dried in the same way as Catmint tops, makes a pleasant cordial tea, which was formerly much taken for weaknesses of the stomach and flatulent colic. It is useful in hysterical complaints, and a conserve made of the young fresh tops has been used, for this purpose.

Culpepper says that it ‘is very efficacious in all afflictions of the brain,’ that it ‘relieves convulsions and cramps, shortness of breath or choleric pains in the stomach or bowels,’ and that ‘it cures the yellow jaundice.’ He also recommends it, taken with salt and honey, for killing worms:
‘It relieves those who have the leprosy, taken inwardly, drinking whey after it, or the green herb outwardly applied, and that it taketh away black and blue marks in the face, and maketh black scars become well coloured, if the green herb (not the dry) be boiled in wine and laid to the place or the place washed therewith.’
He also considers it ‘helpful to them that have a tertian ague,’ and beneficial in all disorders of the gall and spleen.
Gerard says, ‘the seede cureth the infirmities of the hart, taketh away sorrowfulnesse which commeth of melancholie, and maketh a man merrie and glad.’

The LESSER CALAMINT (Calamintha nepeta) is a variety of the herb possessing almost superior virtues, with a stronger odour, resembling that of Pennyroyal, and a moderately pungent taste somewhat like Spearmint, but warmer. It is scarcely distinct from C. officinalis, and by some botanists is considered a sub-species. The leaves are more strongly toothed, and it bears its flowers on longer stalks. Both this and the Common Calamint seem to have been used indifferently in the old practice of medicine under the name of Calamint.

The name of the genus, Calamintha, is derived from the Greek Kalos (excellent because of the ancient belief in its power to drive away serpents and the dreaded basilisk – the fabled king of the serpents, whose very glance was fatal.

Calabar Bean

POISON!

Botanical: Physostigma venenosum (EALF.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
—Synonyms—Ordeal Bean. Chop Nut.
—Part Used—The seeds.
—Habitat—West Africa, Old Calabar. Has been introduced into India and Brazil.

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—Description—The plant came into notice in 1846 and was planted in the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, where it grew into a strong perennial creeper. It is a great twining climber, pinnately trifoliate leaves, pendulous racemes of purplish bean-like flowers; seeds are two or three together in dark brown pods about 6 inches long and kidney-shaped thick, about 1 inch long, rounded ends, roughish but a little polished, and have a long scar on the edge where adherent to the placenta. The seeds ripen at all seasons, but are best and most abundant during the rainy season in Africa, June till September. The natives of Africa employ the bean as an ordeal owing to its very poisonous qualities. They call it esere, and it is given to an accused person to eat. If the prisoner vomits within half an hour he is accounted innocent, but if he succumbs he is found guilty. A draught of the pounded seeds infused in water is said to have been fatal to a man within an hour.
—Constituents—The chief constituent is the alkaloid physostigmine (eserine), with which are calabarines, eseridine, and eseramine. Eseridine is not employed medicinally.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Chiefly used for diseases of the eye; it causes rapid contraction of the pupil and disturbed vision.Also used as a stimulant to the unstriped muscles of the intestines in chronic constipation. Its action on the circulation is to slow the pulse and raise blood-pressure; it depresses the central nervous system, causingmuscular weakness; it has been employed internally for its depressant action in epilepsy, cholera, etc., and given hypodermically in acute tetanus. Physostigmine Salicylas is preferred for the preparation of eyedrops.

—Preparation of Doses—Extract of Calabar Bean, B.P.: dose, 1/4 to 1 grain. Extract of Physostigma, U.S.P.: dose, 1/8 grain. Tincture of Calabar Bean, B.P.C.: dose, 5 to 15 minims. Tincture of Physostigma, U.S.P.: dose, 15 minims. Physostigmine Eyedrops, B.P.C. Physostigmine eye ointment, B.P.C. Fluid extract, 1 to 3 drops.

—Poisons and Antidotes—In case of poisoning by the beans the stomach should be evacuated and atropine injected until the pulse quickens. With poisoning by physostigmine the stomach should be washed out with 0.2 per cent of potassium permanganate and atropine and strychnine administered hypodermically.

Cajuput

Botanical: Melaleuca leucadendron (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Myrtaceae
—Synonyms—Cajeput. White Tea Tree. Swamp Tea Tree. White Wood.
—Part Used—The oil.
—Habitat—East Indies, Tropical Australia. Imported from Macassar, Batavia, Singapore, Queensland and N.S. Wales.

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—Description—The tree has a long flexible trunk with irregular ascending branches, covered with a pale thick, lamellated bark it is soft and spongy and from time to time throws off its outer layer in flakes; leaves entire, linear, lanceolate, ash colour, alternate on short foot-stalks; flowers sessile, white, on a long spike. The leaves have a very aromatic odour and the oil is distilled from the fresh leaves and twigs, and is volatile and stimulating with an aroma like camphor, rosemary, or cardamom seeds; taste bitter, aromatic and camphoraceous. Traces of copper have been found in it, hence the greenish tint; it should be stored in dark or amber-coloured bottles in a cool place. Cajuput oil is obtained from Melaleuca leucadendron, Roxburgh, and the minor Smith, but several other species of Melaleuca leucadendron are utilized such as M. hypericifolia, M. veridifolia, M. lalifolia, and others. The Australian species M. Decussata and M. Erucifolia are also used. The oil is fluid, clear, inflammable, burns without residue, highly volatile. The trace of copper found may be due to the vessels in which the oil is prepared, but it is doubtless sometimes added in commerce to produce the normal green tinge when other species have been used which do not impart it naturally.
—Constituents—The principal constituent of oil is cineol, which should average 45 to 55 per cent. Solid terpineol is also present and several aldehydes such as valeric, butyric and benzoic.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, stimulant, antiseptic, anthelmintic. Highly stimulant, producing a sensation of warmth when taken internally, increasing the fullness and rapidity of the pulse and sometimes producing profuse perspiration. Used as a stimulating expectorant in chronic laryngitis and bronchitis, as an antiseptic in cystisis and as an anthelmintic for round worms, also used in chronic rheumatism. Applied externally, it is stimulant and mildly counter-irritant and is usually applied diluted with 2 parts of olive oil or turpentine ointment. Used externally for psoriasis and other skin affections.

—Adulterants—The oils of Rosemary and Turpentine, impregnated with Camphor and coloured, are said to be used. Spirit of Cajeput, B.P., 5 to 20 minims. Oil U S P., 3 to 10 minims. Oil, B.P., 1/2 to 3 minims.

Cacao

Botanical: Theobroma cacao (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Sterculiaceae
—Synonyms—Cocoa. Chocolate Tree.
—Part Used—The seeds.
—Habitat—Topical America. Cultivated in Ceylon. Java. etc.

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Cacao
(Theobroma cacao)  
—Description and History—Cacao was named Theobroma by Linnaeus, the word meaning ‘food of the gods,’ so called from the goodness of its seeds. Mexicans named the pounded seeds ‘Chocolate.’ The tree is handsome, 12 to 16 feet high; trunk about 5 feet long; wood light and white coloured; bark brown; Ieaves lanceolate, bright green, entire; flowers small reddish, almost odourless; fruit yellowy red, smooth; rind fleshcoloured; pulp white; when seeds are ripe they rattle in the capsule when shaken; each capsule contains about twenty-five seeds; if separated from the capsule they soon become infertile, but if kept therein they retain their fertility for a long time. The tree bears its leaves, flowers and fruit (like the orange tree) all the year round, but the usual season for gathering the fruit is June and December. In Mexico during the time of the Aztec kings the small seeds were utilized as coins twelve approximating to the value of 1d., the smallest actual coin in use then being worth about 6d. The seeds were necessary for small transactions. The method is still in use in some parts of Mexico. The tree is generally cultivated on large estates under the shade of other trees, such as the banana and develops the pods continuously. When ripe they are cut open and the beans or nuts surrounded by their sweetish acid pulp are allowed to ferment so that they may be more easily separated from the shell. The beans are then usually dried in the sun, though sometimes in a steam drying shed.
—Constituents—The seeds contain about 2 per cent. of theobromine and 40 to 60 per cent of solid fat. The shells contain about 1 per cent of theobromine, together with mucilage, etc.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Cocoa is prepared by grinding the beans into a paste between hot rollers and mixing it with sugar and starch, part of the fat being removed. Chocolate is prepared in much the same way, but the fat is retained. Oil of Theobroma or cacao butter is a yellowish white solid, with an odour resembling that of cocoa, taste bland and agreeable; generally extracted by expression. It is used as an ingredient in cosmetic ointments and in pharmacy for coating pills and preparing suppositories. It has excellent emollient properties and is used to soften and protect chapped hands and lips. Theobromine, the alkaloid contained in the beans, resembles caffeine in its action, but its effect on the central nervous system is less powerful. Its action on muscle, the kidneys and the heart is more pronounced. It is used principally for its diuretic effect due to stimulation of the renal epithelium; it is especially useful when there is an accumulation of fluid in the body resulting from cardiac failure, when it is often given with digitalis to relieve dilatation. It is also employed in high blood pressure as it dilates the blood-vessels. It is best administered in powders or cachets.

—Dosage—Theobromine, 5 to 10 grains.

Burdock

Botanical: Arctium lappa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
—Synonyms—Lappa. Fox’s Clote. Thorny Burr. Beggar’s Buttons. Cockle Buttons. Love Leaves. Philanthropium. Personata. Happy Major. Clot-Bur.
—Parts Used—Root, herb and seeds (fruits).
—Habitat—It grows freely throughout England (though rarely in Scotland) on waste ground and about old buildings, by roadsides and in fairly damp places.
The Burdock, the only British member of its genus, belongs to the Thistle group of the great order, Compositae.

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—Description—A stout handsome plant, with large, wavy leaves and round heads of purple flowers. It is enclosed in a globular involucre of long stiff scales with hooked tips, the scales being also often interwoven with a white, cottony substance.
The whole plant is a dull, pale green, the stem about 3 to 4 feet and branched, rising from a biennial root. The lower leaves are very large, on long, solid foot-stalks, furrowed above, frequently more than a foot long heart-shaped and of a grey colour on their under surfaces from the mass of fine down with which they are covered. The upper leaves are much smaller, more egg-shaped in form and not so densely clothed beneath with the grey down.

The plant varies considerably in appearance, and by some botanists various subspecies, or even separate species, have been described, the variations being according to the size of the flower-heads and of the whole plant, the abundance of the whitish cottonlike substance that is sometimes found on the involucres, or the absence of it, the length of the flower-stalks, etc.

The flower-heads are found expanded during the latter part of the summer and well into the autumn: all the florets are tubular, the stamens dark purple and the styles whitish. The plant owes its dissemination greatly to the little hooked prickles of its involucre, which adhere to everything with which they come in contact, and by attaching themselves to coats of animals are often carried to a distance.

‘They are Burs, I can tell you, they’ll stick where they are thrown,’

Shakespeare makes Pandarus say in Troilus and Cressida, and in King Lear we have another direct reference to this plant:
‘Crown’d with rank Fumiter and Furrow-weeds,
With Burdocks, Hemlocks, Nettles, Cuckoo-flowers.’
Also in As You Like It:
ROSALIND. How full of briers is this working-day world!
CELIA. They are but burs, cousin, thrown upon thee in holiday foolery. If we walk not in the trodden paths, our very petticoats will catch them.
The name of the genus, Arctium, is derived from the Greek arktos, a bear, in allusion to the roughness of the burs, lappa, the specific name, being derived from a word meaning ‘to seize.’
Another source derives the word lappa from the Celtic llap, a hand, on account of its prehensile properties.

The plant gets its name of ‘Dock’ from its large leaves; the ‘Bur’ is supposed to be a contraction of the French bourre, from the Latin burra, a lock of wool, such is often found entangled with it when sheep have passed by the growing plants.

An old English name for the Burdock was ‘Herrif,’ ‘Aireve,’ or ‘Airup,’ from the Anglo-Saxon hoeg, a hedge, and reafe, a robber – or from the Anglo-Saxon verb reafian, to seize. Culpepper gives as popular names in his time: Personata, Happy Major and Clot-Bur.

Though growing in its wild state hardly any animal except the ass will browse on this plant, the stalks, cut before the flower is open and stripped of their rind, form a delicate vegetable when boiled, similar in flavour to Asparagus, and also make a pleasant salad, eaten raw with oil and vinegar. Formerly they were sometimes candied with sugar, as Angelica is now. They are slightly laxative, but perfectly wholesome.

—Cultivation—As the Burdock grows freely in waste places and hedgerows, it can be collected in the wild state, and is seldom worth cultivating.

It will grow in almost any soil, but the roots are formed best in a light well-drained soil. The seeds germinate readily and may be sown directly in the field, either in autumn or early spring, in drills 18 inches to 3 feet apart, sowing 1 inch deep in autumn, but less in spring. The young plants when well up are thinned out to 6 inches apart in the row.

Yields at the rate of 1,500 to 2,000 lb. of dry roots per acre have been obtained from plantations of Burdock.

—Parts Used Medicinally—The dried root from plants of the first year’s growth forms the official drug, but the leaves and fruits (commonly, though erroneously, called seeds) are also used.

The roots are dug in July, and should be lifted with a beet-lifter or a deep-running plough. As a rule they are 12 inches or more in length and about 1 inch thick, sometimes, however, they extend 2 to 3 feet, making it necessary to dig by hand. They are fleshy, wrinkled, crowned with a tuft of whitish, soft, hairy leaf-stalks, grey-brown externally, whitish internally, with a somewhat thick bark, about a quarter of the diameter of the root, and soft wood tissues, with a radiate structure.

Burdock root has a sweetish and mucilaginous taste.

Burdock leaves, which are less used than the root, are collected in July. For drying, follow the drying of Coltsfoot leaves. They have a somewhat bitter taste.

The seeds (or fruits) are collected when ripe. They are brownish-grey, wrinkled, about 1/4 inch long and 1/16 inch in diameter. They are shaken out of the head and dried by spreading them out on paper in the sun.

—Constituents—Inulin, mucilage, sugar, a bitter, crystalline glucoside – Lappin-a little resin, fixed and volatile oils, and some tannic acid.

The roots contain starch, and the ashes of the plant, burnt when green, yield carbonate of potash abundantly, and also some nitre.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Alterative, diuretic and diaphoretic. One of the best blood purifiers. In all skin diseases, it is a certain remedy and has effected a cure in many cases of eczema, either taken alone or combined with other remedies, such as Yellow Dock and Sarsaparilla.

The root is principally employed, but the leaves and seeds are equally valuable. Both root and seeds may be taken as a decoction of 1 OZ. to 1 1/2 pint of water, boiled down to a pint, in doses of a wineglassful, three or four times a day.

The anti-scorbutic properties of the root make the decoction very useful for boils, scurvy and rheumatic affections, and by many it is considered superior to Sarsaparilla, on account of its mucilaginous, demulcent nature; it has in addition been recommended for external use as a wash for ulcers and scaly skin disorders.

An infusion of the leaves is useful to impart strength and tone to the stomach, for some forms of long-standing indigestion.

When applied externally as a poultice, the leaves are highly resolvent for tumours and gouty swellings, and relieve bruises and inflamed surfaces generally. The bruised leaves have been applied by the peasantry in many countries as cataplasms to the feet and as a remedy for hysterical disorders.

From the seeds, both a medicinal tincture and a fluid extract are prepared, of benefit in chronic skin diseases. Americans use the seeds only, considering them more efficacious and prompt in their action than the other parts of the plant. They are relaxant and demulcent, with a limited amount of tonic property. Their influence upon the skin is due largely to their being of such an oily nature: they affect both the sebaceous and sudoriferous glands, and probably owing to their oily nature restore that smoothness to the skin which is a sign of normal healthy action.

The infusion or decoction of the seeds is employed in dropsical complaints, more especially in cases where there is co-existing derangement of the nervous system, and is considered by many to be a specific for all affections of the kidneys, for which it may with advantage be taken several times a day, before meals.

—Preparations—Fluid extract, root, 1/2 to 2 drachms. Solid extract, 5 to 15 grains. Fluid extract, seed, 10 to 30 drops.

Culpepper gives the following uses for the Burdock:

‘The Burdock leaves are cooling and moderately drying, wherby good for old ulcers and sores…. The leaves applied to the places troubled with the shrinking in the sinews or arteries give much ease: a juice of the leaves or rather the roots themselves given to drink with old wine, doth wonderfully help the biting of any serpents- the root beaten with a little salt and laid on the place suddenly easeth the pain thereof, and helpeth those that are bit by a mad dog:… the seed being drunk in wine 40 days together doth wonderfully help the sciatica: the leaves bruised with the white of an egg and applied to any place burnt with fire, taketh out the fire, gives sudden ease and heals it up afterwards…. The root may be preserved with sugar for consumption, stone and the lax. The seed is much commended to break the stone, and is often used with other seeds and things for that purpose.’
It was regarded as a valuable remedy for stone in the Middle Ages, and called Bardona. As a rule, the recipes for stone contained some seeds or ‘fruits’ of a ‘stony’ character, as gromel seed, ivy berries, and nearly always saxifrage, i.e. ‘stone-breaker.’ Even date-stones had to be pounded and taken; the idea being that what is naturally ‘stony’ would cure it; that ‘like cures like’ (Henslow).

Cabbage Tree

POISON!

Botanical: Andira inermis
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
—Synonyms—Vouacapoua inermis. Bastard Cabbage Tree. Worm Bark. Yellow Cabbage Tree. Jamaica Cabbage Tree.
—Part Used—Bark.
—Habitat—Jamaica and other West Indian Islands. Senegambi.

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—Description—A leguminous tree, growing very tall and branching towards the top called Cabbage Tree because it forms a head in growing; it has a smooth grey bark which, cut into long pieces, is the part utilized for medicine. It is thick, fibrous, scaly, and of an ashy brownish colour externally, covered with lichens – the inside bark is yellow and contains a bitter sweet mucilage, with an unpleasant smell. In Europe the bark of another species, Avouacouapa retusa, has been utilized. It grows in Surinam, is a more powerful vermifuge than Vouacapoua inermus and does not as a rule produce such injurious after-effects. In the dried state it is without odour, but has a very bitter taste; when powdered it has the colour of cinnamon.
—Constituents—Jamaicine-Andirin aglucoside, an inodorous, bitter, acrid resin.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Narcotic vermifuge. Cabbage Tree bark used in large doses may cause vomiting, fever and delirium, especially if cold water is drunk just before or after taking it. In the West Indies it is largely employed as a vermifuge to expel worm – ascaris lumbrecoides – but if used incautiously death has been known to occur. The powder purges like jalap.

—Dosages—Usually given in decoction, though the powder, syrup and extract are all used. Dose of powder, 20 to 30 grains. Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm.

—Antidote—Lime-juice or Castor oil.

—Other Species—Andira retusa, a Brazilian species, has purple flowers, the odour of oranges and a slight aroma. The fruit is said to smell like tonka beans.

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