16 April 2022, Updated.
From March 2022 I began to include excerpts of an old English natural remedy compendium called, Culpeper’s English Physician.
As the book is old, it can be a rather difficult read, ergo, I began to prepare a couple of herbal descriptions with a translated text to be easily read to end my weekly livestream on You Tube each Sunday at 9pm GMT.
Below I offer up the book as a Pdf but before that, I will present the parts already prepared and shared with my You Tube audience.
It is also called alisander, horse-parsley, and wild-parsley, and the black pot-herb: the seed of it is that which is usually sold in the apothecaries shops for Macedonian parsley-seed.
Description. It is usually sown in all the gardens in Europe, and so well known that it needs no further description.
Time. They flower in June and July, and the seed is ripe in August.
Government and Virtues. It is an herb of Jupiter, and therefore friendly to nature, for it warmeth a cold stomach, and openeth stoppings of the liver, and wonderfully helpeth the spleen; it is good to remove women’s courses, to expel the after- birth, to break wind, to provoke urine, and help the stranguary; and these things the seeds will do likewise. If either of them be boiled in wine, or be bruised and taken in wine, it is also effectual against the biting of serpents. And now you know what alexander pottage is good for, that you may no longer eat it out of ignorance, but out of knowledge.
Description and Names. This groweth up like a small shrub, or bush,
and spreads in many branches ; the wood is white, and red at the core, the bark blackish with white spots, the inner bark yellow, the leaves somewhat like the com-mon aider ; the flowers are white, and come forth at the joints with the leaves; the berries are round, first green, then red and black when they are ripe. The Latins call It fraugula, and aliius nigra baccifera; in Hampshire it is usually known by the name of dog-wood.
Place. This tree or shrub may be found plentifully in St. John’s wood by Hornsey, and in the woods upon Hampstead-heath, as also at a wood called the Old Park at Barcomb in Sussex, near the brook’s side.
Time. It flowereth in May, and the berries are ripe in September.
Government and Virtues. It is a tree of Saturn. The inner bark thereof purgeth downwards both choler and phlegm, and the watery humours of such as have the dropsy, and strengtheneth the inward parts again by binding. The green leaves of this tree, applied to tumours, discusses them, and takes off inflammations.
Being put into travellers shoes, they ease pain, and remove weariness. A black colour like ink is made with the bark of alder rubbed off with a rusty iron, and infused in water for some days. Some use it to dye. If the bark hereof be boiled with agrimony, wormwood, dodder, hops, and some fennel, with smallage, endive, and succory roots, and a reasonable draught taken every morning for some time together, it is very effectual against the jaundice, dropsy, and the evil disposition of the body : especially if some suitable purging medicine have been taken before to avoid the grosser excrements; it purgeth and strengtheneth the liver and spleen, cleansing them from such evil humours and hardness as they are afflicted with. It is to be understood, that these things are performed by the dried bark ; for the fresh green bark, taken inwardly, provoketh strong vomitings, pains in the stomach, and gripings in the belly : yet, if the decoction stand and settle two or three days, until the yellow colour be changed black, it will not work, so strongly as before, but will strengthen the stomach, and procure an appetite to meat. The outer bark contrarywise doth bind the body, and is helpful for all lasks and fluxes thereof; but this must also be dried first, whereby it will work the better. The inner bark thereof boiled in vinegar, is an approved remedy to kill lice, to cure the itch, and take away scabs by drying them up in a short time ; it is Angularly good to wash the teeth, to take away the pains, to fatten those that are loose, to cleanse them and keep them found. The leaves are good fodder for kine, to make them give more milk.
If in the sprlng-time you use the herbs before-mentioned, and will but take a handful of each of them, and to them add a handful of elder-buds, and, having bruised them all, boil them in a gallon of ordinary beer when it is new, and, having boiled them half an hour, add to this three gallons more, and let them work together, and drink a draught of it every morning, half a pint or thereabouts,—it is an excellent purge for the spring, to consume the phlegmatic quality the winter hath left behind it, and withal keep your body in health, and consume those evil humours which the heat of summer will readily stir up.
IT is called in some countries water-hemp, bastard-hemp, and bastard-agrimony; also eupatorium and hepatorium, because it strengthens the liver.
Description. The root continues a long time, having many long slender firings; the stalks grow up about two feet high, sometimes higher; they are of a dark purple colour; the branches are many, growing at a distance the one from the other, the one from the one side of the stalk, the other from the opposite point; the leaves are winged, and much indented at the edges ; the flowers grow at the tops of the branches, of a brown yellow colour, spotted with black spots, having a substance within the midst of them like that of a daisy; if you rub them between your fingers, they smell like rosin, or cedar when it is burnt; the seeds are long, and easily stick to any woollen thing they touch.
Place. They delight not in heat, and therefore they are not so frequently found in the southern parts of England as in the north, where they grow frequently ; you may look for them in cold grounds, by ponds and ditch- sides, as also by running waters ; sometimes you will find them grow in the midst of the waters.
Time. They all flower in July and August, and the seed is ripe presently after.
Government and Virtues. It is a plant of Jupiter, as well as the other agrimony; only this belongs to the celestial sign Cancer. It healeth and drieth, cutteth and cleanseth, thick and tough humours of the breast and for this I hold it inferior to but few herbs that grow. It helps the cachexia, or evil disposition of the body ; the dropsy and yellow jaundice. It opens obstructions of the liver, and mollifies the hardness of the spleen; being applied outwardly, it breaks imposthumes ; taken inwardly, it is an excellent remedy for the third-day ague ; it provokes urine and the terms ; it kills worms, and cleanseth the body of sharp humours, which are the cause of itch, scabs, &c. l”he smoke of the herb, being burnt, drives away flies, wasps, &c. and it strengthens the lungs exceedingly.
Country people give it to their cattle when they are troubled with the cough, or broken winded.
ALE- HOOF, OR GROUND-IVY
Several countries give it several names, so that there is scarcely a herb growing of that bigness that hath got so many: it is called cat’s-foot, ground-ivy, gill- go-by-ground and gill-creep-by-ground, tun-hoof, hay-maids, and ale-hoof.
Description. This well-known herb lieth, spreadeth, and creepeth, upon the ground, shooting forth roots at the corners of the tender-jointed stalks, set all along with two round leaves at every joint, somewhat hairy, crumpled, and unevenly-dented about the edges, with round dents: at the joints likewise with the leaves, towards the ends of the branches, come forth hollow long flowers, of a bluish purple colour, with small white spots upon the lips that hang down. The root is small, with firings.
Place. It is commonly found under the hedges, and on the sides of ditches, under houses, or in shadowed lanes, and other waste grounds, in almost every part of the land.
Time. They flower somewhat early, and abide for a great while; the leaves continue green until winter, and. sometimes • abide, except the winter be very sharp and cold.
Government and Virtues. It is an herb of Venus, and therefore cures the diseases (he causes by sympathy, and those of Mars by antipathy. You may usually find it all the year long, except the weather be extreme frosty. It is quick, sharp, and bitter, in taste, and is thereby found to be hot and dry ; a singular herb for all inward wounds, ulcerated lungs or other parts, either by itself or boiled with other like herbs ; and, being drunk, it in a short time easeth all griping pains, windy and choleric humours in the stomach, spleen, or belly; helps the yellow jaundice by opening the stoppings of the gall and liver, and melancholy by opening the stoppings of the spleen ; expelleth venom or poison, and also the plague ; it provoketh urine and women’s courses. The decoction of it in wine, drunk for some time together, procureth ease unto them that are troubled with the sciatica, or hip-gout, as also the gout in the hands, knees, or feet; and, if you put to the deco(5lion some honey, and a little burnt allum, it is excellent good to gargle any sore mouth or throat, and to wash the sores and ulcers in the privy parts of man or woman; it speedily helpeth green wounds, being bruised and bound thereto. The juice of it, boiled with a little honey and verdigrease, doth wonderfully cleanse fistulas, ulcers, and stayeth the spreading or eating of cancers and ulcers ; it helpeth the itch, scabs, wheals, and other breakings-out in any part of the body. The juice of celandine, field-daisies, and ground-ivy, clarified, and a little fine sugar dissolved therein, and dropped into the eyes, is a sovereign remedy for all the pains, redness, and watering, of them ; as also for the pin and web, skins and films growing over the sight. It helpeth beasts as well as men. The juice dropped into the ears doth wonderfully help the noise and ringing of them, and helpeth the hearing which is decayed. It is good to tun up with new drink, for it will so clarify it in a night, that it will be fit to be drunk the next morning; or if any drink be thick with removing, or any other accident, it will do the like in a few hours.
A M A R A – D U L C I S
CONSIDERING that divers shires in this nation give divers names to one and the same herb, and that the common name which it bears in one county is not known in another ; I shall take the pains to set down all the names that I know of each herb. Pardon me for setting that name first which is most common to myself ; besides amara-dulcis, some call it morral, others bitter-sweet, some wood-nightshade, and others felon-wort.
Description. It grows up with woody stalks even to a man’s height, and sometimes higher; the leaves fall oft at the approach of winter, and spring out of the same stalk again at spring-time ; the branch is encompassed about with a whitish bark, and hath a pith in the middle of it; the main branch spreadeth itself out into many small ones, with claspers, laying hold on what is next to them, as vines do ; it bears many leaves; they grow in no order at all, or at least in no vulgar order; the leaves are longish, though somewhat broad and pointed at the ends; many of them have two little leaves growing at the end of their footstalk, some of them have but one, and some none ; the leaves are of a pale green colour ; the flowers are of a purple colour, or of a perfect blue, like to violets, and they stand many of them.: together in knots ; the berries are green at the first, but, when they are ripe, they are very red ; if you taste them, you shall find them just as the crabs which v.e “ Sussex call bitter-sweet, viz. sweet at first, and bitter afterwards.
Place. They grow commonly almost throughout England, especially in moist and shady places. Time. The leaves shoot out about the latter end of March ; if the temperature of the air be ordinary, it flowereth in July, and the seeds are ripe soon after, usually in the next month.
Government and Virtues. It is under the planet Mercury, and a notable herb of this also, if it be rightly gathered under his influence. It is excellent good to remove witchcraft, both in men and beasts ; as also all sudden diseases whatsoever. Being tied about the neck, it is one of the most admirable remedies for the vertigo, or dizziness in the head, and that is the reason (as Tragus saith) the people in Germany commonly hang it about their cattle’s neck when they fear any such evil hath betided them. Country people commonly use to take the berries of it, and, having bruised them, they apply them to felons, and thereby soon rid their fingers of such troublesome guests.
Now we have shewn you the external use of the herb, we shall speak a word or two of the internal, and so conclude. Take notice, that it is a mercurial herb, and therefore of very subtle parts, as indeed all mercurial plants are ; therefore take a pound of the wood and leaves together, bruise the wood, (which you may easily do, for it is not fo hard as oak;) then put it in a pot, and put to it three pints of white wine ; put on the pot lid, and shut it close; then let it infuse hot over a gentle fire twelve hours ; then strain it out ; so you have a most excellent drink to open obstructions of the liver and spleen, to help difficulty of breath, bruises, and falls, and congealed blood in any part of the body, to help the yellow jaundice, the dropsy, and black jaundice, and to cleanse women newly brought to bed.
You may drink a quarter of a pint of the infusion every morning; it purgeth the body very gently, and not churlishly as some hold. And, when you find good by this, remember me.
Description. THIS hath divers long leaves, some greater, some smaller, set upon a stalk, all of them dented about the edges, green above, and greyish underneath, and a little hairy withal. Among which riseth up usually but one strong, round, hairy, brown stalk, two or three feet high, with smaller leaves set here and there upon it; at the top whereof grow many yellow flowers one above another in long spikes, after which come rough heads of seeds hanging downwards, which will cleave to and stick upon garments, or any thing that shall rub against them. The root is black, long, and somewhat woody, abiding many years, and shooting afresh every spring ; which root, though small, hath a pleasant smell.
Place. It grows upon banks, near the sides of hedges or rails.
Time. It flowereth in July and August, the seed being ripe shortly after.
Government and Virtues. It is moderately hot and moist, according to the nature of Jupiter. It is under Jupiter and the sign Cancer, and strengthens those parts under that planet and sign and remove diseases in them by sympathy, and those under Saturn, Mars, and Mercury, by antipathy, if they happen in any part of the body governed by Jupiter, or under the signs Cancer, Sagittarius, or Pisces; and therefore must needs be good for the gout, either used outwardly in an oil or ointment, or inwardly in an electuary or syrup, or concreted juice ; for which see the latter end of the book. It has moreover been recommended in dropsies and the jaundice. Externally, it has indeed its use ; I have seen very bad sore legs cured by bathing and fomenting them with a decoction of this plant.
It is of a cleansing and cutting faculty, without any manifest heat, moderately drying and binding. It openeth and cleanseth the liver, helpeth the jaundice, and is very beneficial to the bowels, healing all inward wounds, bruises, hurts, and other distempers. The decoction of the herb made with wine, and drunk, is good against the biting and stinging of serpents; and helps them that have foul, troubled, or bloody water, and causes them to make water clear and speedily. It also helpeth- the cholic, cleanseth the breast, and relieves the cough. A draught of the decoction, taken warm before the fit, first relieves, and in time removes, the tertian or quartan ague. The leaves and feed, taken in wine, stay the bloody-flux ; outwardly applied, being stamped with old swine’s grease, it helpeth old sores, cancers, and inveterate ulcers ; and draweth forth thorns, splinters of wood, nails, or any other such thing, gotten into the flesh. It helpeth to strengthen the members that be out of joint; and being bruised and applied, or the juice dropped in, it helpeth foul and imposthumed ears. The distilled water of the herb is good to all the said purposes, either inward or outward, but is a great deal weaker.
I cannot stand to give you a reason in every herb why it cureth such diseases; but, if you please to peruse my judgment in the herb wormwood, you shall find it there; and it will be well worth your while to consider it in every herb; you shall find them true throughout the book.
Prickly ASPARAGUS, SPARAGUS, or SPERAGE
Description. IT groweth usually in gardens, and some of it grows wild in Appleton-meadow, in Gloucestershire, where the poor people do gather the buds, or young shoots, and sell them cheaper than our garden asparagus is sold in London.
Time. They do for the most part flower, and bear their berries, late in the year, or not at all, although they are housed in winter.
Government and virtues. They are both under the dominion of Jupiter. The young buds or branches, boiled in ordinary broth, make the belly soluble and open, and, boiled in white wine, provoke urine, being stopped, and are good against the suranguary, or difficulty of making water. It expelleth the gravel and stone out of the kidneys, and helpeth pains in the reins : if boiled in white wine or vinegar, it is prevalent for them that have their arteries loosened, or are troubled with the hip-gout, or sciatica. The decoction of the roots, boiled in wine and taken, is good to clear the sight, and, being held in the mouth, easeth the toothache; and, being taken fasting several mornings together, stirreth up bodily lust in man or woman, whatsoever some have written to the contrary. The garden asparagus nourisheth more than the wild, yet it hath the same effect in all the aforementioned diseases.
The decoction of the roots in white wine, and the back and belly bathed therewith, or kneeling or lying down in the same, or fitting therein as a bath, hath been found effectual against pains of the reins and bladder, pains of the mother and cholic, and generally against all pains that happen to the lower parts of the body and is no less effectual against stiff and benumbed sinews, or those that are shrunk by cramps and convulsions it also helpeth the sciatica.
ALOE, OR ALOES
Names. By the same name of aloe or aloes is the condensed juice of this plant called in all parts of Europe; the plant is also called fea-housleek and fea-ay-green.
Description. This plant hath very long leaves, thick, and set round about with short points or crests, standing wide one from another; the root is thick and long; all the herb is of a strong favour, and bitter taste; out of this herb is drawn a juice, which is dried, and called aloes in different parts of the world.
Place. Aloe groweth very plenteously in India, and from thence cometh the best juice; it groweth also in many places of Asia and Arabia, near the sea-side, but the juice thereof is not so good as that of India.
SPERAGE It is a martial plant, hot in the second degree, and dry in the third, of a very bitter taste; the juice, being refined and clarified from its dross, is of a clear and blackish clean brown colour, it openeth the belly, and purgeth cold phlegmatic and choleric humours, which overburthen and hurt the stomach; it is the balls in almost all pills ; it comforteth, cleanseth, and dryeth up superfluous humours. It may be taken with cinnamon, ginger, mace, galingal, or aniseed, to assuage and drive away pains of the stomach, and to comfort and warm the stomach, and expel phlegm; the same is also good against the jaundice and spitting of blood. Aloe made into powder, and strewed upon new bloody wounds, stoppeth the blood and healeth the wound ; likewise, being applied upon old ulcers, it closeth them up, and is a sovereign medicine for ulcers about the secret parts and fundament. The same, boiled with wine and honey, healeth rifts and outgrowings of the fundament, and stoppeth the flux of the haemorrhoids, and, being applied with honey, it taketh away black spots, that come by stripes or bruises; it is also good against inflammations, hurts and scabs of the eyes, and against running and dimness of the same. Aloes mixed with oil of roses and vinegar, and laid to the forehead and temples, assuageth the headache; the head being often rubbed with aloes mixed with wine, keepeth the hair from falling off. The same applied with wine cureth sores of the mouth and gums, the throat, and kernels under the tongue; and outwardly applied it is a good consolidative medicine; stoppeth bleeding, and doth modify and cleanse all corruption.
Description and Names. Of this tree there are two kinds, the one bears sweet fruit, the other bitter; they grow bigger than any peach-tree; I have seen a bitter almond-tree in Hampshire, as big as a great plumb-tree. It hath leaves much like peach- leaves, and is called in Latin amigdalum ; they grow plentifully in Turkey and Barbary.
Nature and Virtues. The sweet almonds are hot and moist in the first degree, the bitter dry in the second. It is a plant of Jupiter. The sweet almonds nourish the body, and increase the feed ; they strengthen the breath, cleanse the kidneys, and open the passages of urine. There is a fine pleasant oil drawn out of the sweet almonds which being taken with sugar-candy is excellent against dry coughs and hoarseness ; it is good for those that have any inward sore, and for such as are troubled with the stone, because it makes slippery the passages of the urine. Bitter almonds also open obstructions of the liver and spleen, cleanse the lungs from phlegm, provoke urine, they expel wind, and provoke womens’ courses ; the oil of them kills worms, and helps pains of the womb. Some write that bitter almonds preserve from drunkenness, five or six being eaten fasting; the oil of both cleanses the Skin ; it easeth pains of the head, the temples being anointed therewith; and the oil, with honey, powder of liquorice, oil of roses, and white wax, makes a good ointment for dimness of sight. Also almond butter is very good for a stuffed breast this kind of butter is made of almonds with sugar and rose-water, which being eaten with violets is very wholesome and commodious for students; for it rejoiceth the heart, comforteth the brain, and qualifies the heat of the liver.
A C O N I T U M
Of this there are two sorts, the one bearing blue flowers, the other yellow; it is also called wolf’s bane, and the blue is generally known by the name of monk’s hood.
Description. The wolf’s bane which beareth the blue flower, is small, but groweth up a cubit high, the leaves are split and jagged, the flowers in long rows towards the tops of the stalks, gaping like hood; on the hoary root groweth as it were a little knob, wherewith it spreadeth itself abroad, and multiplieth. Place. The monk’s hood or blue wolf’s bane is very common in many gardens, the other rarely found but in the gardens of some curious herbalists ; but groweth in forests and dark low woods and valleys in some parts of Germany and France.
Time. They flower in April, May, and June.
Government and Danger. These plants are hot and dry in the fourth degree, of a martial venomous quality; if it be inwardly taken, it inflameth the heart, burneth the inward parts, and killeth the body. Dodonaeus reporteth of some men at Antwerp, who unawares did eat some of the monk’s hood in a salad, instead of some other herb, and died forthwith : this I write that people who have it in their gardens might beware of it.
A S H – T R E E
This is so well known, that time would be mis-spent in writing a description of it ; and therefore I shall only insist upon the virtues of it.
Government and Virtues. It is governed by the fun, and the young tender tops with the leaves taken inwardly, and some of them outwardly applied, are singularly good against the biting of the viper, adder, or any other venomous beast: and the water distilled therefrom, being taken in a small quantity every morning fading, is a singular medicine for those that are subject to the dropsy, or to abate the greatness of those who are too gross or fat. The decoction of the leaves in white wine, helpeth to break the stone and expel it, and cureth the jaundice. The ashes of the bark of the ash made into lye, and those heads bathed therewith which are leprous, scabby, or scald, are thereby cured. The kernels within the husks, commonly called ashen keys, prevail against stitches and pains in the side, proceeding from wind, and voideth the stone by provoking urine.
Description. ASARABACCA hath many heads rising from the roots, from whence come many smooth leaves, every one upon his own footstalk, which are rounder and bigger than violet- leaves, thicker also, and of a dark-green shining colour on the upper-side, and of a paler yellow-green underneath, little or nothing dented about the edges, from among which rife small, round, hollow, brown, green, husks, upon short stalks about an inch long, divided at the brims into five divisions, very like the cups or heads of the henbane seed, but that they are smaller, and these are all the flowers it carrieth, which are somewhat sweet, being smelled unto, and wherein when they are ripe is contained small cornered rough seeds, very like the kernels or stones of grapes or raisins. The roots are small and whitish, spreading divers ways in the ground, and increasing into divers heads, but not running or creeping under the ground as some other creeping herbs do. They are somewhat sweet in smell, resembling nardus, but more when they are dry than green; and of a sharp, but not unpleasant, taste,
Place. It groweth frequently in gardens.
Time. They keep their leaves green all the winter, but shoot forth new in the spring, and with them come forth those heads or flowers which give ripe seed about midsummer, or somewhat after.
Government And Virtues. It is a plant under the dominion of Mars, and therefore inimical to nature. This herb, being drunk, not only provoketh vomiting, but purgeth downward, and by urine also, purging both choler and phlegm : if you add to it some spikenard with the whey of goat’s milk, or honeyed water, it is made more strong; but it purgeth phlegm more- manifestly than choler, and therefore doth much help pains in the hips and other parts. Being boiled in whey, it wonderfully helpeth the obstruction of the liver and spleen, and is therefore profitable for the dropsy and jaundice, being steeped in wine and drunk. It helps those continual agues that come by the plenty of stubborn humours : an oil made there, of by setting it in the sun, with some laudanum added to it, provoketh sweating, the ridge of the back being anointed therewith, and thereby driveth away the shaking fits of the ague. It will not abide any long boiling, for it loseth its chief strength thereby; nor much beating, for the finer powder doth provoke vomits and urine, and the coarser purgeth downwards. The common use hereof, is to take the juice of five or seven leaves in a little drink to cause vomitings; the roots have also the same virtue, though they do not operate so forcibly, yet they are very effectual against the biting of serpents, and therefore are put as an ingredient both into mithridate and Venice treacle. The leaves and roots being boiled in lye, and the head often washed therewith while it is warm, comforteth the head and brain that is ill-affected by taking cold, and helpeth the memory.
I shall desire ignorant people to forbear the use of the leaves : the roots purge more gently, and may prove beneficial in such as have cancers, or old putrefied ulcers, or fistulas, upon their bodies, to take a drachm of them in powder in a quarter of a pint of white wine in the morning. The truth is, I fancy purging and vomiting medicines as little as any man breathing, for they weaken nature, nor shall ever advise them to be used unless upon urgent necessity. If a physician be nature’s servent, it is his duty to strengthen his mistress as much as he can, and weaken her as little as may be.
A L K AN E T
Besides the common name, it is called orchanet and Spanish bugloss, and by apothecaries anchusa.
Description. Of the many forts of this herb there is but one grows commonly in this nation, of which one take this description. It hath a great and thick root of a reddish colour ; long, narrow, and hairy, leaves, green like the leaves of bugloss, which lie very thick upon the ground, and the stalks rile up compassed about thick with leaves, which are less and narrower than the former; they are tender and lender; the flowers are hollow, small, and of a reddish purple colour; the seed is greyish.
Place. It grows in Kent near Rochester, and in many places in the west country, both in Devonshire and Cornwall.
Time. They flower in July and the beginning of August, and the seed is ripe soon after ; but the root is in its prime, as carrots and parsnips are, before the herb runs up to stalk.
Government and Virtues. It is an herb under the dominion of Venus, and indeed one of her darlings, though something hard to come by. It helps old ulcers, hot inflammations, burnings by common fire and St. Anthony’s fire, by antipathy to Mars ; for these uses, your best way is to make it into an ointment. Also if you make a vinegar of it, as you make vinegar of roses, it helps the morphew and leprosy ; if you apply the herb to the privities, it draws forth the dead child ; it helps the yellow jaundice, spleen, and gravel in the kidneys. Dioscorides saith it helps such as are bitten by venomous beasts, whether it be taken inwardly or applied to the wound ; nay, he saith further, if any one who hath newly eaten it do but spit in the mouth of a serpent, the serpent instantly dies. It stays the flux of the belly, kills worms, helps the fits of the mother ; it’s decoction, made in wine and drunk, strengthens the back, and easeth the pains thereof; it helps bruises and falls, and is a good remedy to drive out the small pox and measles. An ointment made of it is excellent for green wounds, pricks, or thrusts.
ADDER’S TONGUE, or SERPENT’s TONGUE
Description, This small herb hath but one leaf, which grows with the stalk a finger’s length above the ground, being fat, and of a fresh green colour, broad like the water plantane, but less, without any middle rib in it; from the bottom of which leaf, on the inside, riseth up ordinarily one, sometimes two or three, small slender stalks, the upper half whereof is somewhat bigger, and dented with small round dents of a yellowish green colour, like the tongue of an adder or serpent. Only this is as useful as they are formidable. The root continues all the year.
Place. It groweth in moist meadows and such-like places.
Time. And is to be found in April and May, for it quickly perisheth with a little heat.
Government and Virtues. It is an herb under the dominion of the Moon in Cancer; and therefore, if the weakness of the retentive faculty be caused by an evil influence of Saturn in any part of the body governed by the Moon, or under the dominion of Cancer, this herb cures it by sympathy ; it cures those diseases after specified in any part of the body under the influence of Saturn by antipathy. It is temperate in respect of heat, but dry in the second degree.
The juice of the leaves drunk with the distilled water of horse-tail is a singular remedy for all manner, ‘of. wounds in the breast, bowels, or other parts of the body, and is given with good success unto those who are troubled with casting, vomiting, or bleeding at the mouth or nose, or otherwise downwards. The said juice, given in the distilled water of oaken buds, is very good for women who have their usual courses, or the whites, flowing down too abundantly. It helps sore eyes. The leaves infused or boiled in oil omphacine, or unripe olives set in the sun for certain days, or the green leaves sufficiently boiled in the said oil, make an excellent green balsam, not only for green and fresh wounds, but also for old and inveterate ulcers ; especially if a little fine clear turpentine be dissolved therein. It also stayeth and represseth all inflammations that arise upon pains by hurts or wounds, either taken inwardly or outwardly applied. For ruptures or burden bellies, take as much of the powder of the dried leaves as will lie on a sixpence, or less, according to the age of the party, in two ounces of horse-tail or oak-bud water, sweetened with syrup of quinces. Use it every morning for the space of fifteen days. But, before you enter upon the use of this or any other medicine, the gut, if it fall into the scrotum, must be reduced by a surgeon, and a trust must be worn to keep it up, and the party must avoid all violent motions, and lie as much as may be in bed, or on a couch. Fabricius Hildanus says, that some have been cured of great ruptures by lying in bed, when they could be cured no other way.
A L H E A L
It is called’ alheal, Hercules’s alheal, and Hercules’s woundwort; because it Is supposed that Hercules learned the virtues of this herb from Chiron, when he learned physic of him : some call it panay, and other opopanawort.
Description. Its root is long, thick, and exceedingly full of juice, of a hot and biting taste; the leaves are great and large, and winged almost like ash-tree leaves, but that they are somewhat hairy, each leaf consisting of five or fix pair of such wings set one against the other, upon footstalks broad below, but narrow toward the end; one of the leaves is a little deeper at the bottom than the other, of a fair, yellowish, fresh, green colour, they are of a bitterish taste, being chewed in the mouth. From among these riseth up a stalk, green in colour, round in form, great and strong in magnitude, five or fix feet in altitude, with many joints and some leaves thereat ; towards the top come forth umbels of small yellow flowers, • and after they are passed away you may find whitish -yellow short flat feeds, bitter also in taste.
Place. Having given you the description of the herb from the bottom to the top, give me leave to tell you that there are other herbs called by this name ; but, because they are strangers in England, I gave only the description of this, which is easy to be had in the gardens of divers persons.
Time. Although Gerrard saith that they flower from the beginning of May’ to the end of December, experience teacheth those that keep it in their gardens, that it does not flower till the latter end of the summer, and sheds its seeds presently after.
Government and Virtues, If is under the dominion of Mars; hot, biting, and choleric; and remedies what evils Mars afflicts the body of man with by sympathy, as viper’s flesh attracts poison and the loadstone iron. It kills worms; helps the gout, cramp, and convulsions; provokes urine, and helps all joint aches; it helps • all cold griefs of the head, the vertigo, falling sickness, and lethargy ; the wind- cholic, obstructions of the liver and spleen, stone in the kidneys and bladder. It provokes the terms, expels the dead birth; it is excellent good for the grief of the sinews, itch, sores, and tooth-ach; also the biting of mad dogs and venomous beasts ; and purgenh choler very, gently.
Called also wind-flower, because they Say the flowers never open but when the wind bloweth: Pliny is my author; if it be not So, blame him. The feed also, if it bears any at all, flies away with the wind.
Place and Time. They are sown usually in the gardens of the curious, and flower in the spring-time. As for the description, I shall pass it, they being well known to all those that sow them.
Government and Virtues. It is under the dominion of Mars, being supposed to be a kind of crow-foot. The leaves provoke the terms mightily, being boiled and the decoction drunk. The body being bathed with the decoction of them cures the leprosy. The leaves being stamped, and the juice snuffed up the nose, purgeth the head greatly : so doth the root being chewed in the mouth, for it causeth much spitting ; and bringeth away many watery and phlegmatic humours, and is therefore excellent for the lethargy. And, when all is done, let physicians say what they please, all the pills in the dispensatory purge not the head like to hot things held in the mouth : being made into an ointment, and the eyelids anointed therewith, it helps inflammations of the eyes, whereby it is palpable that every stronger draweth its weaker light; the Same ointment is exceeding good to cleanse malignant and corroding ulcers.