MEDICINAL AND OTHER HERBS
Adonis vernalis. N.O. Ranunculaceae.
Synonym: False Hellebore, Pheasant's Eye.
Habitat: Cornfields and meadows.
Features: Stem up to one foot high. Leaves alternate, divided pinnately into linear
segments. Flowers large, yellow, solitary at termination of stem. Oval head of achenes
Part used: Herb.
Action: Cardiac, tonic, diuretic.
Highly esteemed in cases where stimulation of heart's action is necessary,
heart strain and cardiac dropsy. Diuretic qualities of value in kidney
affections. Dose, 1-2 drops of the fluid extract.
Agrimonia eupatoria. N.O. Rosaceae.
Habitat: Hedgerows, field borders and dry waste places.
Features: One of our prettiest wild plants, the erect, round, hairy stem reaching a
height of two feet. The numerous pinnate leaves, hairy on both sides, and 5-6 inches
long, grow alternately, having 3-5 pairs of lanceolate, toothed leaflets, with
intermediate smaller ones, and still smaller ones between these. The many small,
star-like, bright yellow flowers are arranged in long, tapering spikes. The root is
woody, and the seeds form little burs, the taste being astringent and slightly bitter.
Part used : The whole herb.
Action: Acts as a mild astringent, tonic and diuretic, these qualities being useful in
loose coughs and relaxed bowels.
Agrimony is an old remedy for debility, as it gives tone to the whole
by Harold Ward - Page 16
The Southwest School of Botanical Medicine http://www.swsbm.com
system. It is administered as a decoction of one ounce to 1 1/2 pints
water, simmered down to 1 pint, in half teacupful or larger doses, and
may be sweetened with honey or black treacle if desired. The herb has
been recommended for dyspepsia, but is probably only useful in this
disorder when carefully combined with other more directly operating
Angelica archangelica. N.O. Umbelliferae.
Synonym : Garden Angelica.
Habitat: Marshes and watery places generally.
Features: Stem up to five feet high ; erect, shiny, striated. Leaves lanceolate, serrate,
terminal leaflet lobed. Umbels globular. Root fleshy, aromatic, much branched
Part used: Root, herb, seed.
Action: Carminative, stimulant, expectorant, diaphoretic, diuretic.
Infusion of 1 ounce herb to 1 pint boiling water. Dose, a wineglassful
frequently. Used in coughs, colds, urinary disorders. The sweetmeat
known as candied angelica is made by preserving the dried leaf stalks with
Geum urbanum. N.O. Rosaceae.
Synonym: Colewort, Herb Bennet.
Habitat: Hedges, woods and shady banks,
Features: This slender, sparsely branched plant reaches a height of one to two feet.
The stem leaves have two leaflets, with one margin-toothed terminal lobe. The root
leaves are on long stalks with two small leaflets at the base. The yellow, erect flowers,
with naked styles, appear between May and September. The root is short, hard and
rough, with light brown rootlets.
Part used: Herb and root.
Action: Astringent, tonic, antiseptic and stomachic.
The properties of Avens make for success in the treatment of diarrhoea
and dysentery. The tonic effect upon the glands of the stomach and
alimentary tract point to its helpfulness in dyspepsia. In general debility
continued use has had good results. The astringent qualities may also be
utilized in cases of relaxed throat Although wineglass-ful doses three or
four times daily of the 1 ounce to 1 pint infusion are usually prescribed,
Avens may be taken freely, and is, indeed, used by country people in
certain districts as a beverage in place of tea or coffee.
Melissa officinalis. N.O. Labiateae.
Synonym : Lemon Balm, Sweet Balm.
Habitat: Borders of woods and in hedges, particularly in south of England. Common in
Features : Stem one to two feet high, freely branched, square, smoothish. Leaves
stalked, opposite, broadly ovate, coarsely serrate, wrinkled, hairy. Numerous small,
white or yellowish flowers, in loose bunches from leaf axils. Roots long, slender,
creeping. Taste and odour of lemon.
Part used: Herb. Action : Carminative, diaphoretic, tonic.
In influenza and feverish colds, to induce perspiration. Aids digestion.
Infusion of 1 ounce to 1 pint boiling water, taken freely.
Chelone glabra. N.O. Scrophulariaceae.
Synonym : Bitter Herb. Snake Head, Turtle Bloom, Turtle Head
Habitat: Common in North America.
Features : Short-stalked leaves, opposite, oblong, lanceolate. Fruits ovate, half-inch
long, bunched on short spike, two-celled, with roundish, winged, dark-centred seeds.
Very bitter taste.
Part used : Leaves.
Action : Anthelmintic, detergent, tonic.
Used in constipation, dyspepsia, debility, and children's worms.
Sometimes added to alteratives. Infusion of 1 ounce to 1 pint water in
wineglassful doses. Powdered herb, 5-10 grains.
Berberis vulgaris. N.O. Berberidaceae.
Synonym : Berberidis, Berbery, Gouan.
Habitat : Woods and hedges, also gardens.
Features : Shrub or bush, three to eight feet high. Leaves obovate, bristly serratures.
Flowers bright yellow clusters, raceme, pendulous. Berries red, oblong. Stem bark
thin, yellowish-grey externally, inner surface orange yellow, separating in layers.
Root dark brown, short fracture. Very bitter taste.
Part used : Bark, rootbark.
Action : Tonic, antiseptic, purgative.
Jaundice and other liver derangements. General debility. Regulates
digestion, corrects constipation. 1/4 teaspoonful of powdered bark, three
or four times daily.
Myrica cerifera. N.O. Myricaceae.
Synonym : Candleberry, Waxberry, Wax Myrtle.
Habitat: Near the sea in pastures and on stony soils.
Features: The bark has a white, peeling epidermis covering a hard, reddish-brown
layer beneath. It is slightly fibrous on the inner surface, and the fracture is
granular. The taste is pungent, astringent and bitter, the odour faintly aromatic.
Part used : The bark is the only part of the Bayberry shrub now used as a medicine.
Action: A powerful stimulant, astringent and tonic to the alimentary tract.
Bayberry bark is one of the most widely used agents in the herbal
practice. It figures in many of the compound powders and is the base of
the celebrated composition powder, a prescription of which will be found
in the "Herbal Formulae" section of this volume. In cases of coldness of
the extremities, chills and influenza, an infusion of 1 ounce of the
powdered bark to 1 pint of water is taken warm. This assists circulation
and promotes perspiration, especially when combined with Cayenne as in
the formula referred to above.
As an antiseptic the powder is added to poultices for application to ulcers,
sores and wounds. It also makes an excellent snuff for nasal catarrh, and
an ingredient in tooth powders, for which a prescription is given in the
section previously mentioned.
The virtues of Bayberry bark were recognized and used beneficially by the
herbalists of many generations ago. Indeed, their enthusiasm for this, as
for certain other remedies also extremely efficacious within proper limits,
led them to ascribe properties to the bark which it does not possess.
Many affections of the uterine system, fistula, and even cancer were said to yield to its influence. Even in these cases, however, Bayberry bark certainly did less harm than many of the methods employed by the more orthodox practitioners of
that time !