17th Century Medical Uses Continued:
Herb Garden Continued
Sneezewort: Achillea ptarmica var
The plant growing here, "The Pearl," is a modern cultivar of Sneezewort. The traditional plant was used as a snuff or the root could be held in the mouth to relieve toothaches. Neither plant is used medically today. The Pearl is common addition to dried flower arrangements.
Sweet Cicely: Myrrhis odorata
The taproot was used as a vegetable, favored by elderly, to renew strength and promote digestion. Has an anise flavor which is used to make liqueurs. Fresh leaf can be used in salads and soups. When drunk in wine it was protection from the plague.
Yarrow: Achillea millefolium
The Latin name reflects the belief that the Greek hero, Achilles, used Yarrow to staunch the wounds of his warriors. It is an effective coagulant and was used to halt balding. May be used as a substitute for hops in the brewing process, will lower fevers and reduce blood pressure.
Columbine: Aquilegia vulgaris
PLANTS AND SEEDS ARE POISONOUS! Primarily used as an ornamental though Columbine was believed to have medical virtues. The seeds were used to speed childbirth, the leaves were made into a lotion to relieve sore throats and rheumatic pains, and the root was used to dissolve kidney stones.
Lily of the Valley: Convallaria majalis
Plants &Berries are POISONOUS! Used as a salve for inflamed eyes and the flowered warmed in wine were believed helpful for epilepsy and other nervous disorders. Flowers are still used as a perfume base and the plant provides a substance similar to digitalis. Roots were used as a snuff.
WOAD: Isatis tinctora
POISONOUS IF TAKEN INTERNALLY! Until the early part of the 20th century, Woad was the principal source of blue dye. Queen Elizabeth I banned the production of this dye within her castles due to the nauseous smell of the process.
Hens and Chicks: Sempervivum tectorum
The fleshy, succulent leaves were used externally to cool fevers, ease burns and insect bites, while a tea could be made to rid oneself of skin blemishes and burns. It was grown on rooftops to act as a sort of lightning rod, hence the common name of Houseleek.
Lady's Bedstraw: Galium verum
Believed to have been laid in Jesus' manger and was used to stuff mattresses. Also known as Cheese Rennet, it is used to curdle milk in cheese making. Staunches blood and is a source for yellow and red dyes.
Mugwort: Artemisia vularis
This herb has been noted since pre-Christian times for its magical properties. Lore also includes its vitalizing effect upon travelers and women during childbirth. It is an effective insect repellant and was also used to flavor beer. Though it helps ring menstruation, it can damage the nervous system.
Periwinkle: Vinca major & V. minor
Periwinkle was grown around houses to provide protection against witchcraft. It was used to halt external and internal bleeding and as a mild sedative. Except for protection against witchcraft, it is still used in modern pharmacopeia for the above reasons and to treat diabetes.
Rue: Ruta graveolens
This is an abortive but can cause death. Rue has enjoyed a long and verified history as a disinfectant. It was also eaten as a vegetable, used as an eyewash and to treat skin diseases. Pliny observed it grew best if stolen from another's garden where the wife ruled the household.
Last updated: October 13, 2016