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Magic And Wicca - Herbal Encyclopedia - W


Herbs & Oils

~ W ~


(Salix alba)

Also known as White Willow, European Willow, Tree of Enchantment, and Witches Aspirin. One of the Seven Sacred Trees of the Irish. A Druid sacred tree, the willow is a Moon tree sacred to the White Lady. It's groves were considered so magical that priests, priestesses and all types of artisans sat among these trees to gain eloquence, inspiration, skills, and prophecies. The stem bark is a painkiller, a fever-reducer, and an original source for salicylic acid for aspirin. The infused leaves make a tea for nervous insomnia and are added to baths to ease rheumatism. The Salix species provide the best-quality artists' charcoal, branches are used for weaving, and the White Willow var. caerulea is the source of wood for cricket bats. The genus name Salix comes from the Celtic sal-lis, "near water".
Black willow (S. nigra) bark is used to treat gonorrhea and ovarian pain. The white willow contains salicin, the active constituent from which Aspirin was first synthesized. White willow bark is used for rhematic complaints, arthirtis and headaches as well as diarrhea and dysentary. Fevers, edema, and the aftereffects of worms are treated with willow bark. To make the tea, steep three teaspoons of the bark in on cup of cold water for two to five hours, boil for one minute, and strain. Willow is also available as a powder. The dose is one teaspoon, three times a day in tea or capsules. The tincture can be taken in ten- to twenty-drop doses four times a day.
Parts Used: Bark, collected in the Spring.
Magical Uses:
Willows are commonly found near ancient British burial sites. The willow is a guardian tree, said to protect from evil influences. The willow tree has a healing aura that blesses all it touches. All parts of the willow guard against evil and can be carried or placed in the home for this purpose. Burn bark with sandalwood for divination and love. Magical brooms, especially Witch's brooms, are traditionally bound with a willow branch.


(Hammamelis virginiana)

Also called Spotted Alder, and Winter Bloom, Witch Hazel, a distillation from the leaves and flower-bearing twigs, is included in skin products for its disinfectant and astringent properties. It is used on chapped and sunburned skin, bruises, swellings, and rashes; to stop bleeding; and to reduce varicose veins and hemorrhoids. The seeds are edible and the leaves can be brewed for a warming tea. Commercially distilled witch hazel contains 14 percent alcohol. It must not be confused with tincture of Witch Hazel, which may be much more astringent and could disfigure skin.
Parts Used: Leaf and young twigs
Magical Uses:
Witch hazel has long been used to fashion divining rods, hence the common name. The bark and twigs are also used to protect against evil influences. If carried, witch hazel helps to mend a broken heart and cool the passions.
Aromatherapy Uses: Distilled witch hazel is one of the basics in any home first aid kit. It is useful for stings, bruises, cuts, scrapes, sprains, tissue swelling, and many other minor conditions. It is also useful in skin care regimes.

WOOD ALOE: (Aquilaria agallocha) The prized elusive scent of Wood Aloe exists only in resin-saturated diseased wood.
Magical Uses:
Wood Aloe possesses high spiritual vibrations. Will bring love if worn. Use in incense for Love, Protection, Money and Riches, and Spirituality.


(Artemisia absinthium)

Also known as Absinthe. A Druid sacred herb, Wormwood is very magical and sacred to Moon deities. An accumulative poison if ingested. Wormwood is a bitter herb used to flavor vermouth and the now-banned liqueur absinthe. A leaf and flowering top infusion is a tonic for the digestive system, liver, gallbladder, and blood, reducing inflammation and clearing impurities. The plant treats fever, expels worms, and reduces the toxicity of lead poisoning. As a companion plant, it acts as a deterrent against several insect pests. Toxic in high doses!
The leaves and flowers are used in a light infusion to help digestion, flatulence, and heartburn. Wormwood improves circulation and stimulates the liver. The tea is said to relieve labor pains. Use one teaspoon per cup and steep for twenty minutes; take a quarter cup up to four times a day; or use as a tincture, eight to ten drops in water up to three times a day. A fomentation of the leaves and flowers soothes bruises and sprains. The oil relieves arthritis.
CAUTION: The oil is for external use only! Prolonged use of wormwood can lead to nerve damage.
Parts Used: Leaf and flower
Magical Uses: The scent of wormwood is said to increase psychic powers. Burned with incenses on Samhain to aid evocation, divination, scrying and prophecy. Especially good when c
ombined with Mugwort. Strengthens incenses for exorcism and protection. Hung from a rear-view mirror, wormwood protects vehicles from accidents on treacherous roads. Use in spells for: Binding; Psychic Awareness; Evocation; Love; Clairvoyance.


Wafer Ash
Ash, Wafer

See Spindle.

Wake Robin, American

Botanical: Arum triphyllum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Araceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Dragon Root. Wild Turnip. Devil's Ear. Pepper Turnip. Indian Turnip. Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Memory Root. Arisamae triphyllum (Schott.).
(French) Gouet à trois feuilles.
(German) Dreiblattiger Aron.
---Part Used---
The root (fresh corm).
Eastern North America in damp places. Indigenous almost all over United States and Canada.

The plant has a round flattened perennial rhizome, the upper part tunicated as in the onion, the lower and larger portion tuberous and fleshy, with numerous long white radicles in a circle from its upper edge, the under-side covered with a dark, loose, wrinkled epidermis. Spathe ovate, acuminate, convoluted into a tube at the bottom, flattened and bent at top like a hood, varying in color internally, supported by an erect scape inverted at base by petioles and their acute sheaths. Spadix club-shaped, shorter than spathe, rounded at end, contracted at base, surrounded by stamens or ovaries; the upper portions of the spadix withers together with the spathe, whilst the ovaries grow into a large compact bunch of shining scarlet berries. Leaves, one or two standing on long sheathing foot-stalks, ternate. Leaflets oval, mostly entire, acuminate,smooth, paler on under-side, becoming glaucous with growth, the two lateral ones rhomboidal.
In the recent state it has a peculiar odour and is violently acrid. It has been found to contain besides the acrid principle, 10 to 17 per cent of starch, albumen, gum, sugar, extractive, lignin and salts of potassium and calcium.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Acrid, expectorant, and diaphoretic. Used in flatulence, croup, whooping-cough, stomatitis, asthma, chronic laryngitis, bronchitis and pains in chest.
In the fresh state it is a violent irritant to the mucous membrane, when chewed burning the mouth and throat; if taken internally this plant causes violent gastro-enteritis which may end in death.
Powdered root, 10 grains two or three times daily.
The perfectly fresh root should not be used and the fully dried root is inactive.
trong tea and stimulants.


Botanical: Cherranthus cheiri (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cruciferae
Gillyflower. Wallstock-gillofer. Giroflier. Gillyflower. Handflower. Keiri. Beeflower. Baton d'or.
---Parts Used---
Flowers, stems.
All Southern Europe, on old walls, quarries and seacliffs.

his homely perennial plant of the cabbage family was introduced into this country over 300 years ago, and its delightful fragrance soon made it a general favourite. It has single flowers, yellowy orange in its wild state, and quickly spreads abundantly from seed, commencing to bloom in early spring, and continuing most of the summer. In olden times this flower was carried in the hand at classic festivals, hence it was called Cherisaunce by virtue of its cordial qualities.
Oil, a powerful glucoside, of the digitalis group, and cherinine, a crystalline alkaloid.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
(In homoeopathic medicine a tincture of the whole plant has been found useful in the effects of cutting the wisdom tooth. -EDITOR.) The oil has a pleasing perfume if diluted, but in full strength a disagreeable odour. The alkaloid is useful acting on nerve centres and on the muscles.

Wall Rue
See Ferns.


Botanical: Juglans nigra (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Juglandaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Parts Used Medicinally
Carya. Jupiter's Nuts.
(Dutch) Walnoot.
(Greek) Carya persica. Carya basilike.
(Roman) Nux persica. Nux regia.
---Parts Used---
Leaves, bark.
According to Dr. Royle Juglans regia extends from Greece and Asia Minor, over Lebanon and Persia, probably all along the Hindu-Kush to the Himalayas. It is abundant in Kashmir, and is found in Sirmore, Kumdon and Nepal. The walnuts imported into the plains of India are chiefly from Kashmir. Dr. Hooker states that in the Sikkim Himalaya, the Walnut inhabits the mountain slopes at an elevation of 4,000 to 7,000 feet.
According to Pliny, it was introduced into Italy from Persia, and it is mentioned by Varro, who was born B.C. 116, as growing in Italy during his lifetime.
There is no certain account of the time it was brought into this country. Some say 1562; but Gerard, writing about thirty years later, mentions the Walnut as being very common in the fields near common highways, and in orchards.

The Common Walnut, a large and handsome tree, with strong, spreading boughs, is not a native of Britain. Its native place is probably Persia. Other varieties of Walnut, the Black Walnut, the various kinds of Hickory, etc., are mostly natives of North America.
The Romans called the tree nux, on account of its fruit. The English name Walnut is partly of Teutonic origin, the Germans naming the nut Wallnuss, or Welsche Nuss - Welsche signifying foreign.
It was said that in the 'golden age,' when men lived upon acorns the gods lived upon Walnuts, and hence the name of Juglans, Jovis glans, or Jupiter's nuts.

The tree grows to a height of 40 or 60 feet, with a large spreading top, and thick, massive stem. One accurately measured by Professor du Breuil, in Normandy, was upwards of 23 feet in circumference; and in some parts of France there are Walnut trees 300 years old, with stems of much greater thickness. In the southern parts of England the trees grow vigorously and bear abundantly, when not injured by late frosts in spring.
The flowers of separate sexes are borne upon the same tree and appear in early spring before the leaves. The male flowers have a calyx of five or six scales, surrounding from eighteen to thirty-six stamens; whilst the calyx of the female flowers closely envelops the ovary, which bears two or three fleshy stigmas. The deciduous leaves are pinnate.
For drying indoors, a warm, sunny attic, or loft may be employed, the window being left open by day, so that there is a current of air and the moist, hot air may escape: the door may also be left open. The leaves can be placed on coarse butter-cloth, stented - if hooks are placed beneath the window and on the opposite wall the butter-cloth can be attached by rings sewn on each side of it and hooked on so that it is stretched taut. The temperature should be from 70 degrees to 100 degrees.
Failing sun, any ordinary shed, fitted with racks and shelves, can be used provided it is ventilated near the roof anl has a warm current of air, caused by an ordinary coke or anthracite stove. Empty glasshouses can readily be adapted into drying-sheds (especially if heated by pipes) if the glass is shaded. Ventilation is essential, and there must be no open tank in the house to cause steaming.
The leaves should be spread in a single layer, preferably not touching, and may be turned during drying.
All dried leaves should be packed away at once, in airtight, wooden or tin boxes in a dry place, otherwise they re-absorb moisture from the air.
Walnut leaves are parchment-like when dry, and the leaf-stalks brown, but the leaves themselves keep their good color when dried. They have a bitter and astringent taste. By long keeping, the leaves become brown and lose their characteristic, aromatic odour.
The bark is dried in the same manner as the leaves. When dry, it occurs in quilled or curbed pieces, 3 to 6 inches long or more, and 3/4 inch broad, dull blackish-brown, with traces of a thin, whitish epidermal layer tough and fibrous and somewhat mealy. The inner fibres are tough and flattened, the outer ones, white and silky. The taste is bitter and astringent, but it has no odour.
The active principle of the whole Walnut tree, as well as of the nuts, is Nucin or Juglon. The kernels contain oil, mucilage, albumin, mineral matter, cellulose and water.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The bark and leaves have alterative, laxative, astringent and detergent properties, and are used in the treatment of skin troubles. They are of the highest value for curing scrofulous diseases, herpes, eczema, etc., and for healing indolent ulcers; an infusion of 1 OZ. of dried bark or leaves (slightly more of the fresh leaves) to the pint of boiling water, allowed to stand for six hours, and strained off is taken in wineglassful doses, three times a day, the same infusion being also employed at the same time for outward application. Obstinate ulcers may also be cured with sugar, well saturated with a strong decoction of Walnut leaves.
The bark, dried and powdered, and made into a strong infusion, is a useful purgative.
The husk, shell and peel are sudorific, especially if used when the Walnuts are green. Whilst unripe, the nut has wormdestroying virtues.
The fruit, when young and unripe, makes a wholesome, anti-scorbutic pickle, the vinegar in which the green fruit has been pickled proving a capital gargle for sore and slightly ulcerated throats. Walnut catsup embodies the medicinal virtues of the unripe nuts.
It is much cultivated in some parts of Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland, and formerly also in England, particularly on the chalk-hills of Surrey, for the sake of its timber, as well as for its fruit.
On the Continent, the wood is still in great request for furniture, but when mahogany became a favourite wood in this country, in the early part of last century, the old walnut trees that were cut down were not always replaced by young ones, so that plantations of this tree dlminished.
At one time as much as L. (Lear) 600 was given for a single Walnut tree.
The leaves have a very strong, characteristic smell, aromatic and not unpleasant, but said to be injurious to sensitive people. They have three, sometimes four pairs of leaflets and a terminal one, the leaflets varying in size on the same leaf, being 2 1/4 to 4 inches in length and 1 to 1 1/2 inch wide, entire, smooth, shining, and paler below.
The flowers begin to open about the middle of April and are in full bloom by the middle of May, before which time the tree is in full leaf.
Even in the south of France, this tree is frequently injured by spring frosts.
The wood has been much used, not only for furniture and wainscoting, but for the wheels and bodies of coaches, for making gun-stocks, and by the cabinet-maker for inlaying. It is unfit for use as beams because of its brittleness.
The oil yielded by the kernel of the fruit (the part eaten) is used to polish the wood. Not congealing by cold, it is found on this account most useful for painters for mixing gold-size and varnish with white and delicate colors. The oil has been used in some parts of France for frying, eaten as butter and employed as lamp oil. One bushel of nuts, producing about 15 lb. of peeled kernels, will yield about 7 lb. of the oil.
The green husks of the fruit, boiled, make a good yellow dye.
No insects will touch the leaves of the Walnut, which yield a brown dye, which gypsies use to stain their skin. It is said to contain iodine.
The husks and leaves, macerated in warm water impart to it an intense bitterness, which will destroy all worms (if the liquid be poured on to lawns and grass walks) without injuring the grass itself.

---Parts Used Medicinally---
The leaves and bark. The leaves are stripped off the tree singly, in June and July and dried.
Gather the leaves only in fine weather, in the morning, after the dew has been dried by the sun. The prevalence of an east wind is favourable, as the dry air facilitates the process of drying. Reject all stained leaves.
Drying may be done in warm, sunny weather, out-of-doors, but in half-shade as leaves dried in the shade retain their color better than those dried in the sun and do not become so tindery. They may be placed on wire sieves, or frames covered with wire or garden netting - at a height of about 3 or 4 feet from the ground, to ensure a current of air - and must be taken indoors to a dry room or shed, before there is any chance of them becoming damp from dew or showers.
The juice of the green husks, boiled with honey, is also a good gargle for a sore mouth and inflamed throat, and the distilled water of the green husks is good for quinsy and as an application for wounds and internally is a cooling drink in agues.
The thin, yellow skin which clothes the inner nut is a notable remedy for colic, being first dried, and then rubbed into powder. It is administered in doses of 30 grains, with a tablespoonful of peppermint water.
The oil extracted from the ripe kernels, taken inwardly in 1/2 OZ. doses, has also proved good for colic and is efficacious, applied externally, for skin diseases of the leprous type and wounds and gangrenes.

Fluid extract leaves, 1 to 2 drachms. Walnut oil.
The Walnut has been termed 'vegetable arsenic,' on account of its curative effect in eczema and other skin diseases.
William Cole, an exponent of the doctrine of signatures, says in Adam in Eden, 1657:
'Wall-nuts have the perfect Signature of the Head: The outer husk or green Covering, represent the Pericranium, or outward skin of the skull, whereon the hair groweth, and therefore salt made of those husks or barks, are exceeding good for wounds in the head. The inner wooddy shell hath the Signature of the Skull, and the little yellow skin, or Peel, that covereth the Kernell, of the hard Meninga and Pia-mater, which are the thin scarfes that envelope the brain. The Kernel hath the very figure of the Brain, and therefore it is very profitable for the Brain, and resists poysons; For if the Kernel be bruised, and moystned with the quintessence of Wine, and laid upon the Crown of the Head, it comforts the brain and head mightily.'
Culpepper says of Walnuts:
'if they' [the leaves] 'be taken with onions, salt, and honey, they help the biting of a mad dog, or the venom or infectious poison of any beast, etc. Caius Pompeius found in the treasury of Mithridates, King of Pontus, when he was overthrown, a scroll of his own handwriting, containing a medicine against any poison or infection; which is this: Take two dry walnuts, and as many good figs, and twenty leaves of rue, bruised and beaten together with two or three corns of salt and twenty juniper berries, which take every morning fasting, preserves from danger of poison, and infection that day it is taken. . . . The kernels, when they grow old, are more oily, and therefore not fit to be eaten, but are then used to heal the wounds of the sinews, gangrenes, and carbuncles. . . . The said kernels being burned, are very astringent . . . being taken in red wine, and stay the falling of the hair, and make it fair, being anointed with oil and wine. The green husks will do the like, being used in the same manner. . . . A piece of the green husks put into a hollow tooth, eases the pain.'




'To preserve green Walnuts in Syrup
'Take as many green Walnuts as you please, about the middle of July, try them all with a pin, if it goes easily through them they are fit for your purpose; lay them in Water for nine days, washing and shifting them Morning and Night; then boil them in water until they be a little Soft, lay them to drain; then pierce them through with a Wooden Sciver, and in the hole put a Clove, and in some a bit of Cinnamon, and in some the rind of a Citron Candi'd: then take the weight of your Nuts in Sugar, or a little more; make it into a syrup, in which boil your Nuts (scimming them) till they be tender; then put them up in Gally potts, and cover them close. When you lay them to drain, wipe them with a Course cloth to take off a thin green Skin. They are Cordial and Stomachal.' - (From The Family Physician, 'by Geo. Hartman, Phylo Chymist, who liv'd and Travell'd with the Honourable Sir Kenelm Digby, in several parts of Europe the space of Seven Years till he died.')
The next is from a seventeenth-century household MS. Receipt Book inscribed Madam Susanna Avery, Her Book, May ye 12th, Anno Domini 1688.

'To Pickel Wallnutts Green
'Let your nutts be green as not to have any shell; then run a kniting pin two ways through them; then put them into as much ordinary vinegar as will cover them, and let them stand thirty days, shifting them every too days in ffrech vinegar; then ginger and black peper of each ounce, rochambole two ounces slised, a handfull of bay leaves; put all togeather cold; then wrap up every wall nutt singly in a vine leaf, and put them in putt them into [sic] the ffolloing pickel: for 200 of walnutts take two gallans of the best whit vineager, a pint of the best mustard seed, fore ounces of horse radish, with six lemons sliced with the rin(d)s on, cloves and mace half an ounce, a stone jar, and put the pickel on them, and cork them close up; and they will be ffitt for use in three months, and keep too years.'

Walnut, White
Botanical: Juglans cinerea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Juglandaceae
---Synonyms---Oil Nut.

Water Betony
See Betony.


Botanical: Nasturtium officinale
Family: N.O. Cruciferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Parts Used---
Leaves, flowers, seeds.
Europe and Russian Asia.

A hardy perennial found in abundance near springs and open running watercourses, of a creeping habit with smooth, shining, brownish-green, pinnatifid leaves and ovate, heart-shaped leaflets, the terminal one being larger than the rest. Flowers small and white, produced towards the extremity of the branches in a sort of terminal panicle.
The true nasturtium or Indian Cress cultivated in gardens as a creeper has brilliant orange-red flowers and produces the seeds which serve as a substitute for capers in pickles.
The poisonous Marshwort or 'Fool's Cress' is often mistaken for Watercress, with which it is sometimes found growing. It may readily be distinguished by its hemlock-like white flowers, and when out of flower, by its finely toothed and somewhat pointed leaves, much longer than those of the watercress and of a paler green. The Latin name 'Nasturtium' is derived from the words nasus tortus (a convulsed nose) on account of its pungency.

-A sulpho-nitrogenous oil, iodine iron, phosphates, potash, with other mineral salts, bitter extract and water. Its volatile oil rich in nitrogen combined with some sulphur in the sulpho-cyanide of allyl.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Watercress is particularly valuable for its antiscorbutic qualities and has been used as such from the earliest times. As a salad it promotes appetite. Culpepper says that the leaves bruised or the juice will free the face from blotches, spots and blemishes, when applied as a lotion.
---Dosage---Expressed juice, 1 to 2 fluid ounces.
Watercress has also been used as a specific in tuberculosis. Its active principles are said to be at their best when the plant is in flower.

Water Dock
See Dock.

Water Dropwort
See Dropwort, Water.

Water Fennel
See Fennel, Water.

Water Soldier

Botanical: Stratiotes aloides
Family: N.O. Hydrocharidaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Water Houseleek. Water Aloe. Water Sengren. Sea Green. Crab's Claws. Knight's Pondweed. Freshwater Soldier. Water Parsnip.
(French) Aloides.
(German) Wasserfeder.
---Part Used---

Culpepper describes under the name of Water Houseleek, Water Sengren or Seagreen, a plant that has nothing to do with any of these other succulent plants, and that nowadays generally goes by one of its other popular names, Water Soldier, and is botanically known as Stratiotes aloides.
It is an aquatic plant, the only British representative of its genus, and is found growing in ditches in the Eastern counties of England, mostly in the Fen district. The roots extend some distance into the mud and throw up numerous deep-green, spreading, narrow, rigid and brittle leaves, from 6 to 18 inches long, very sharply pointed, with sharp prickles on each margin. They are strikingly similar to the foliage of an aloe hence its specific name, aloides, and another of its popular English names, Water Aloe. The name of the genus is derived from the Greek word for a soldier, in reference to its crowded, sword-like leaves.

The flower-stalk is stout and short, about 6 inches high, bearing at its summit a two-leaved sheath, which is likened by old writers to the claws of a crab, from which another of its names, Crab's Claws, is derived. Stamens and pistils are on different plants. In the case of the staminate flowers, the sheath contains several delicate white flowers, with three petals and numerous stamens, twelve of which are perfect, as well as many other imperfect ones. The flowers containing the ovary - which is six-celled and six-angled, and develops into a pulpy, flaskshaped berry - are solitary on the stem.
After flowering in the month of July, the plant sinks to the bottom and ripens its fruit while submerged. It is a perennial and propagates itself freely by stolons as well as by seed. Although each root only flowers once, the parent plant rooted in the mud at the bottom of the ditch, after flowering, sends out buds of leaves at the end of long runners, which rise to the surface in the spring, and become separate plants, forming roots, flower, and then sink to the bottom, where they fix themselves in the mud, ripen their seeds and become, in their turn, parents of another race of young offsets, which in turn rise in the spring and float on the surface, sometimes eight or ten in a circle, so thick as to entirely fill up the surface of the ditches, and prevent all other plants from growing.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Culpepper tells us that the herb 'is good against St. Anthony's Fire, and assuages swelling and inflammations in wounds; an ointment made of it is good to heal them.' He also informs us it is good for 'bruised kidneys.' It had in olden times the reputation of being an unfailing cure for all wounds made by iron weapons.

White Pond Lily
See Lily, White Pond.

Wild Carrot
See Carrot, Wild.

Wild Cherry
See Cherry, Wild.

Wild Ginger
See Ginger, Wild.

Wild Indigo
See Indigo (Wild).

Wild Yam
See Yam, Wild.

Wild Mint
See Mints.

Willow, Black American

Botanical: Salyx nigra (MARCH)
Family: N.O. Salicaceae
Pussy Willow.
---Parts Used---
Bark, berries.
America (New York and Pennsylvania).

A tree growing on banks of rivers up to 15 to 25 feet high, with a rough blackish bark. Leaves narrowly lanceolate, pointed, tapering at each end, serrulate, smooth, and green on both sides, petioles and midveins tomentose. Stipules small, decuduous, dentate; aments erect, cylindric, villous. Scales oblong, very villous. Sterile aments 3 inches long, glands of sterile flowers two large and deeply two or three cleft. Stamens four to six, often but three in the upper scales, filaments bearded at base. Ovary pedicillate, smooth, ovoid. Style very short, stigmas bifid.
The bark contains tannin and about 1 per cent of Salinigrin, a white crystalline glucoside soluble in water and alcohol.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
An aphrodisiac sedative, tonic. The bark has been prescribed in gonorrhoea and to relieve ovarian pain; a liquid extract is prepared and used in mixture with other sedatives. Largely used in the treatment of nocturnal emissions.
Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm

Willow, White

Botanical: Salix alba (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Salicaceae
European Willow.
---Part Used---
Central and Southern Europe.

A large tree with a rough greyish bark, the twigs being brittle at the base; the leaves are pubescent on both surfaces and finely serrulate; it hybridizes with other species of Salix, it flowers in April and May and the bark is easily separable throughout the summer; flowers and leaves appear coincidently from March to June.
The bark contains up to 13 per cent of tannin as its chief constituent, also a small quantity of salicin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Tonic, antiperiodic and astringent. It has been used in dyspepsia connected with debility of the digestive organs. In convalescence from acute diseases, in worms, in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery, its tonic and astringent combination renders it very useful.
1 drachm of the powdered root. 1 or 2 fluid ounces of the decoction.


Family: N.O. Onagrariaceae
Willow-Herb, Rose Bay
Willow-Herb, Great Hairy
The Willow-herbs (Epilobium), nine species of which are natives of Great Britain, belong to the order Onagraceae, to which belong also the familiar garden flowers the Fuchsia, Clarkia and Godetia, and the Evening Primrose (Cenothera biennis) (a native of North America, which, as a garden escape, is sometimes found apparently wild). The insignificant wild plant Circaea lutetiana, the Enchanter's Nightshade, also belongs to the same family. Many of the members of the order, being rich in tannin, find considerable domestic use as astringents.
The name of the genus Epilobium is from two Greek words epi (upon) and lobos (a pod), from the fact that the flowers stand upon the top of long, thin, pod-like seed-vessels, having somewhat the appearance of rather thick flower-stems. The name Willow-herb refers to the willow-like form of the leaves.


Botanical: Epilobium angustifolium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Onagrariaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Flowering Willow. French Willow. Persian Willow. Rose Bay Willow. Blood Vine. Blooming Sally. Purple Rocket. Wickup. Wicopy. Tame Withy.
---Part used---Herb.
Epilobium angustifolium (Linn.), the Rose Bay Willow-herb, is one of our handsomest wild flowers, and like the Foxglove, is for its beauty often cultivated as a garden plant.
Its tall, erect stems, 4 to 8 feet high, densely clothed with long, narrow, minutely-toothed leaves, terminate in long, showy spikes of flowers of a light rose-purple, hence the name Rose Bay, the leaves having likewise been compared to those of the Bay Laurel. The plant has also been named Blood Vine, because it has a red appearance. In Ireland, we find it called 'Blooming Sally,' Sally being a corruption of the Latin Salix, the Willow, really a reference to the willow-like leaves.
Gerard calls it:
'A goodly and stately plant having leaves like the greatest willow or osier, garnished with brave flowers of great beautie, consisting of four leaves apiece of an orient purple color.'
It is a native of most countries of Europe. In this country, it has apparently become more common than it was in Gerard's day. He tells us he had received some plants of this species from a place in Yorkshire, apparently as a rarity, 'which doe grow in my garden very goodly to behold, for the decking up of houses and gardens.'
It is to be found by moist riversides and in copses, but will sometimes spring up in a town, self-sown, on waste ground recently cleared of buildings: the site of Kingsway and Aldwych in London, adjoining the Strand, where many buildings, centuries old, had been pulled down, was the following summer covered by the Rose Bay Willow-herb, as by a crimson mantle, though no one could explain where the seeds had come from. The same phenomenon was repeated, in Westminster, when other old buildings were demolished for improvements and the ground remained waste for a considerable time. In America, it springs up on ground recently cleared by firing, being one of the plants called 'Fireweed' in the United States where it is known as the Great or Spiked Willow-herb, Bay Willow, Flowering Willow, Purple Rocket, Wickup and Wicopy.
The plant is in bloom for about a month.
The individual flowers are about an inch in diameter, calyx and corolla each four-parted; the stamens, eight in number, standing up, form an arch or dome over the ovary, on the green, fleshy, upper surface of which nectar is secreted. Sprengel, in 1790, showed that the flowers, which open soon after sunrise, are protenandrous, i.e. the anthers ripen first, and self-pollination would occur if insects did not visit them. Bees, who much visit the flowers in search of nectar, get smeared by the pollen, which is sticky. It is not left by them on the stigma of the same flower, however, which at this stage is a mere knob, immature and unable to receive the pollen grains. On reaching another flower, further advanced, the stigma, ripe for reception of pollen, has opened out to become a white, four-rayed cross of great distinctness and perforce receives any pollen the insect visitor may have collected as he pushes by to get to the nectar below, and the ovules thus become fertilized.
The dead flowers, when fertilization has been effected, fall off cleanly from the long, projecting, quadrangular pods, which later split into four long strands, which stretch wide apart, disclosing a mass of silky white hairs, in which are embedded the very tiny seeds, a few hairs being attached to the top of each seed. The slightest wind scatters them broadcast over the neighbourhood. All the Willow-herbs distribute their seeds in the same manner, and as the plant spreads extensively by creeping stems it is very difficult to keep it within bounds.

The leaves of the Rose Bay Willow herb have been used as a substitute andadulterant of Tea. Though no longer so employed in England, the leaves of both this species and of the Great Hairy Willow-herb (E. hirsutum, Linn.) are largely used in Russia, under the name of Kaporie Tea.
Green (Universal Herbal, 1832) reports:
'The young shoots are said to be eatable, although an infusion of the plant produces a stupifying effect.
'The pith when dried is boiled, and becoming sweet, is by a proper process made into ale, and this into vinegar, by the Kamtschatdales; it is also added to the Cow Parsnip, to enrich the spirit that is prepared from that plant.
'As fodder, goats are said to be extremely fond of it and cows and sheep to eat it.
'The down of the seeds, mixed with cotton or fur, has been manufactured into stockings, etc.'
The young shoots are boiled and eaten like asparagus.
The ale made from the plant in Kamchatka is rendered still more intoxicating with a toadstool, the Fly Agaric, Agaricus muscarius.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The roots and leaves have demulcent, tonic and astringent properties and are used in domestic medicine in decoction, infusion and cataplasm, as astringents.
Used much in America as an intestinal astringent.
The plant contains mucilage and tannin.
The dose of the herb is 30 to 60 grains. It has been recommended for its antispasmodic properties in the treatment of whoopingcough, hiccough and asthma.
In ointment, it has been used locally as a remedy for infantile cutaneous affections.
By some modern botanists, this species is now assigned to a separate genus and designated: Chamcenerion angustifolium (Scop.).


Botanical: Epilobium hirsutum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Onagrariaceae
Son-before-the-Father. Codlings and Cream. Apple Pie. Cherry Pie. Gooseberry Pie. Sod Apple and Plum Pudding.
---Part Used---
The Great Hairy Willowherb, though it has not so conspicuous a flower as the Rose Bay, is yet a striking plant, growing in great masses by pond sides, along the margins of lakes and rivers and in marshes and pools.
It is tall and erect, branched, with underground creeping shoots, like the Rose Bay. The leaves are placed opposite one another on the stem, are 3 to 5 inches long, their bases clasping the stem and like it, very woolly, hence the specific Latin name hirsutum, and the common English name.
The flowers are numerous and large, rose purple, though not so brilliant as those of theRose Bay, bell-shaped and partly drooping, the petals broad and notched.
In this species, stigmas and anthers ripen together and the plant is capable of selfpollination, but cross-pollination is ensured by insect visitors by the more prominent position of the stigmas. Insect visitors are, however, not very numerous, and in their absence the stigmas curl back and touch the anthers. (In another smaller species, Epilobium parviflorum (Schreb.) rarely visited by insects, four stamens are shorter, four longer than the style; the former are only useful for cross-pollination, the latter selfpollinate the flower. Stamens and stigma ripen simultaneously.)
The seeds, contained in similar long pods, are provided as in the Rose Bay, with a tuft of hairs which aid in wind dispersal.
The leaves, and particularly the topshoots, when slightly bruised, have a delicate, cool fragrance, resembling scalded codlings, whence its popular name of Codlings and Cream, but this fragrance is very soon lost after the plant is gathered. It is also called, in allusion to this delicate scent, Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Gooseberry Pie, Sod Apple and Plum Pudding. It is said to be the 'St. Anthony's Herb' of antiquity.
The old English country name of 'Son-before-the-Father' arises because, as Lyte says: 'the long huskes in which the seede is contained doe come forth and waxe great before that the flouere openeth.'
The name 'Hooded Willow-herb' does not refer to one of these species, but is another name for the Scullcap (Scutellaria), and the 'Purple Willow-herb' is also not this species, but another name for Lythrum Salicaria, the Purple Loosestrife, a plant that is often present in the same riverside situations.
Although the leaves of E. hirsutum have also been used as astringents there are reports of violent poisoning with epileptic-like convulsions having been caused by its employment.


Botanical: Gaultheria procumbens (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ericaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Other Species
Teaberry. Boxberry. Mountain Tea. Checkerberry. Thé du Canada. Aromatic Wintergreen. Partridge Berry. Deerberry.
---Part Used---
Northern United States from Georgia to Newfoundland; Canada.

A small indigenous shrubby, creeping, evergreen plant, growing about 5 to 6 inches high under trees and shrubs, particularly under evergreens such as Kalmias and Rhododendrons. It is found in large patches on sandy and barren plains, also on mountainous tracts. The stiff branches bear at their summit tufts of leaves which are petiolate, oval, shiny, coriaceous, the upper side bright green, paler underneath. The drooping white flowers are produced singly from the base of the leaves in June and July, followed by fleshy, bright red berries (with a sweetish taste and peculiar flavour), formed by the enlargement of the calyx. The leaves were formerly official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, but now only the oil obtained from them is official, though in some parts the whole plant is used. The odour is peculiar and aromatic, and the taste of the whole plant astringent, the leaves being particularly so.
The volatile oil obtained by distillation and to which all the medicinal qualities are due, contains 99 per cent Methyl Salicylate: other properties are 0.3 of a hydrocarbon, Gaultherilene, and an aldehyde or ketone, a secondary alcohol and an ester. To the alcohol and ester are due the characteristic odour of the oil. The oil does not occur crudely in the plant, but as a nonodorous glucoside, and before distillation, the leaves have to be steeped for twelve to twenty-four hours for the oil to develop by fermentation - a reaction between water and a neutral principle: Gaultherin.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Tonic, stimulant, astringent, aromatic. Useful as a diuretic and emmenagogue and for chronic mucous discharges. Is said to be a good galactogogue. The oil of Gaultheria is its most important product. It has all the properties of the salicylates and therefore is most beneficial in acute rheumatism, but must be given internally in capsules, owing to its pungency, death from inflammation of the stomach having been known to result from frequent and large doses of it. It is readily absorbed by the skin, but is liable to give rise to an eruption, so it is advisable to use for external application the synthetic oil of Wintergreen, Methyl Salicylate, or oil from the bark of Betula lenta, which is almost identical with oil of Gaultheria. In this form, it is a very valuable external application for rheumatic affections in all chronic forms of joint and muscular troubles, lumbago, sciatica, etc. The leaves have found use as a substitute for tea and as a flavouring for genuine tea. The berries form a winter food for animals, partridges, deer, etc. They have been used, steeped in brandy, to produce a bitter tonic taken in small quantities. The oil is a flavouring agent for tooth powders, liquid dentifrices, pastes, etc., especially if combined with menthol and eucalyptus.
---Dosage---Capsules of oil of Gaultheris, 10 minims in each, 1, three times daily.

---Other Species---
Gaultheria hispidula, or Cancer Wintergreen, supposed to remove the cancerous taint from the system. Is also used for scrofula and prolapsus of the womb.
G. Shallon is the Sallol of North-west America, whose edible fruit deserves to be more widely known and cultivated.
Pyrola rotundifolia, known as False Wintergreen or British Wintergreen, was formerly considered a vulnerary.
With Chimophila umbellata, the Bitter Wintergreen, Rheumatism Weed or Pipsissewa, C. maculata, the Spotted Wintergreen was used internally by North American Indians for rheumatism and scrofula. For its diuretic action it is occasionally prescribed, in fluid extract, for cystitis and considered useful in disordered digestion.
Trientalis Europaea, the Chickweed Wintergreen, a British plant, was formerly esteemed in ointment as a wound salve, and an infusion taken internally for blood poisoning or eczema. The root is emetic.

Winter's Bark

Botanical: Drimys winteri (FORST.)
Family: N.O. Magnoliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Other Species
True Winter's Bark. Winter's Cinnamon. Wintera aromatica. Wintera.
---Part Used---Bark.
Antarctic America, southern parts of South America, along the Straits of Magellan and north to Chile, Brazil.

This very large evergreen tree took its name from Captain Winter, who discovered its medicinal properties while attending Drake in his voyage round the world. It will grow to 50 feet high. The bark is green and wrinkled, that of the branches smooth and green, erect and scarred, leaves alternate, oblong, obtuse, with a midrib veinless, glabrous and finely dotted underside. Flowers small on terminal peduncles, approximately one-flowered, simple. Fruits up to six obovate, baccate, and many seeded. The bark is the official part and is found in small carved pieces 1/4 inch thick, dull yellow grey externally. Both Canella and Cinnamodendron are found in its transverse section, exhibiting radiating white lines at the end of the last rays, diverging towards the circumference; odour aromatic with a warm pungent taste.
An inodorous acrid resin, pale yellow volatile oil, tannic acid, oxide of iron, coloring matter and various salts.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Stimulant, aromatic tonic, antiscorbutic, may be substituted in all cases for canella and cinnamon barks. Dose, 30 grains powdered bark; this bark is becoming very scarce and is seldom imported into Britain.
---Other Species---
Under the name of Winter's Bark Malambo Bark was imported into the United States (or Croton Malambo) or Matias bark, is the product of a small shrubby tree, found on the coast of Venezuela and Columbia. It has an aromatic smell and a pungent bitter taste with a calamus flavour. Active contents, a volatile oil, and bitter extractive, found most useful for dyspepsia, hemicrania, intermittent fever, and as a general aromatic tonic, also a useful adjuvant to diuretics and a good substitute for Peruvian bark.
Drimys Chilensis, growing in Chile, has analogous properties to Winter's Bark.
Cinnamodendron axillaris. The bark is used in fevers and called Casca Paratuds.
D. aromatica. An Australian species.

Winter's Bark, False

Botanical: Cinnamodendron corticosum
Family: N.O. Canallaceae
Red Canella. Mountain Cinnamon.
---Part Used---
Dried bark.

This is pungent like Winter's Bark, but a much paler brown color, resembling canella bark, but without its chalky white inner surface. It has a ferruginous grey-brown color, darker externally, with scars of the nearly circular subereous warts smooth and finely striated on the inner surface. Like canella bark in odour and pungent taste but is not bitter.
Volatile oil and tannic acid, it may be distinguished from canella bark by its decoction becoming blackened by a persalt of iron, can be used for the same diseases as Winter's Bark. In South America it is much used for diarrhoea, etc.

Witch Hazel

Botanical: Hamamelis Virginiana (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Hamamelidaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Spotted Alder. Winterbloom. Snapping Hazelnut.
---Parts Used---
Bark, dried; leaves, fresh and dried.
The Eastern United States and Canada.

The name Hamamelis was adopted from a Greek word to indicate its resemblance to an apple-tree.
This shrub, long known in cultivation, consists of several crooked branching trunks from one root, 4 to 6 inches in diameter, 10 to 12 feet in height, with a smooth grey bark, leaves 3 to 5 inches long and about 3 inches wide, on short petioles, alternate, oval or obovate, acuminate, obliquely subcordate at the base, the margin crenate, dentate, scabrous, with raised spots underneath, pinnately veined and having stellate hairs. The leaves drop off in autumn, then the yellow flowers appear, very late in September and in October, in clusters from the joints, followed by black nuts, containing white seeds which are oily and edible. In Britain, the nut does not bear seeds, but in America, they are produced abundantly, but often do not ripen till the following summer. The seeds are ejected violently when ripe, hence the name Snapping Hazelnut. The leaves are inodorous, with an astringent and bitterish aromatic taste. The twigs are flexible and rough, color externally, yellowish-brown to purple, wood greeny white, pith small. The bark as found in commerce is usually in quilled pieces 1/16 inch thick, 2 to 8 inches long, with silvery grey, scaly cork; longitudinally striated; fracture fibrous and laminated; taste and odour slight.
Of the leaves (official in the United States Pharmacopoeia), tannic and gallic acids, an unknown bitter principle and some volatile oil.
The bark contains tannin, partly amorphous and partly crystal, gallic acid, a physterol, resin, fat and other bitter and odorous bodies.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The properties of the leaves and bark are similar, astringent, tonic, sedative, valuable in checking internal and external haemorrhage, most efficacious in the treatment of piles, a good pain-killer for the same, useful for bruises and inflammatory swellings, also for diarrhoea, dysentery and mucous discharges.
It has long been used by the North American Indians as poultices for painful swellings and tumours.
The decoction has been utilized for incipient phthisis, gleet, ophthalmia, menorrhagia and the debilitated state resultingfrom abortion.
A tea made of the leaves or bark may be taken freely with advantage, being good for bleeding of the stomach and in complaints of the bowels, and an injection of this tea is excellent for inwardly bleeding piles, the relief being marvellous and the cure speedy. An ointment made of 1 part fluid extract of bark to 9 parts simple ointment is also used as a local application, the concentration Hamamelin being also employed, mainly in the form of suppositories.
Witch Hazel has been supposed to owe its utility to an action on the muscular fibre of veins. The distilled extract from the fresh leaves and young twigs forms an excellent remedy for internal or external uses, being beneficial for bleeding from the lungs and nose, as well as from other internal organs. In the treatment of varicose veins, it should be applied on a lint bandage, which must be constantly kept moist: a pad of Witch Hazel applied to a burst varicose vein will stop the bleeding and often save life by its instant application.
Pond's Extract of Witch Hazel was much used in our grandmother's days as a general household remedy for burns, scalds, and inflammatory conditions of the skin generally and it is still in general use.
In cases of bites of insects and mosquitoes a pad of cotton-wool, moistened with the extract and applied to the spot will soon cause the pain and swelling to subside.
Diluted with warm water, the extract is used for inflammation of the eyelids.
Liquor Hamamelidis, 1/2 to 3 drachms (a distillate of the fresh leaves). Used also with equal parts of glycerine as injection for piles.
Liquid extract, 5 to 15 minims (preparation of the dried leaves made with alcohol) externally for varicose veins. Injection for piles, 2 to 5 minims.
Hamamelin, 1/2 to 2 grains, in pill (powdered extractive from the bark). 1 to 3 grains with cacao butter is useful for piles.
Tincture (from the bark), 30 to 60 minims. 1 drachm in 3 OZ. cold water given as enema for piles. Lotion of 1 or 2 drachms with water to an ounce useful for bruises.
Ointment: employed externally for piles.


Botanical: Ivatis tinctoria (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cruciferae
Treatment of the Crop
Medicinal Action and Uses
(Anglo-Saxon) Wad.
(French) Guède.
(Italian) Guado.
(Spanish and French) Pastel.
(Dutch) Weat.
---Part Used---

Dyer's Woad, French Guède (supposed to be derived from Gaudum, now Gualdo, the name of a town in the Roman States, where it was extensively cultivated), was formerly much cultivated in Britain for the dye extracted from the leaves. It is now nearly superseded by indigo, but is still cultivated in the south of France and in Flanders, as its dye is said to improve the quality and color of indigo, when mixed in certain proportions. Woad is cultivated to a small extent in Lincolnshire and Woad mills are still worked at Wisbech, but not for the dye itself, the produce fixes true indigo, and is also used to form a base, or mordant, for a black dye.
Woad belongs to a genus spread over Southern Europe and Western Asia, and from having been much cultivated in many parts of Asia and Europe, has become established in stony and waste places as far north as Sweden. It is found in many parts of Great Britain, but not fully naturalized, except near Tewkesbury, where, according to Hooker, it appears to be indigenous. At the earliest time in the history of Britain it must have been plentiful in the country, since Caesar found the natives stained with it, but afterwards, probably from its extensive use, it became less common, and we find our Saxon forefathers importing Woad to dye their home-spun cloth. Their name for it was Wad or Waad, whence the English name woad.
---Description---Gerard tells us:
'Glaston or Guadon, Woad is about three feet high, with long, bluish-green leaves growing round and out of the stalk, growing smaller as they reach the top, when they branch out with small yellow flowers, which in turn produce seed like little black tongues. The root is white and single. The Wild Woad is similar except that the stalk is softer, smaller and browner, and the leaves and tongues narrower. Where Woad is cultivated in fields, the wild Woad grows. It flowers from June to September. Caesar in his fifth book of the French wars mentions that the British stained themselves blue with woad. Pliny in his 22nd book, Chapter 1, says the French call it Glastum and British women and girls coloring themselves with it went naked to some of their sacrifices.
'Garden Woad is dry but not sharp, Wild Woad is drier and sharper and biting. The decoction made of Woad is good for hardness of the spleen, also good for wounds and ulcers to those of strong constitution and those accustomed to much physical labour and coarse fare. It is used as a dye, profitable to some, hurtful to many.'
Culpepper says:
'Some people affirm the plant to be destructive to bees, and fluxes them, which if it be, I cannot help it. I should rather think, unless bees be contrary to other creatures, it possesses them with the contrary disease, the herb being exceeding dry and binding. . . . A plaister made thereof, and applied to the region of the spleen which lies on the left side, takes away the hardness and pains thereof. The ointment is excellently good for such ulcers as abound with moisture, and takes away the corroding and fretting humours: It cools inflammations, quenches St. Anthony's fire, and stays defluxion of the blood to any part of the body.'
He also says that the seeds, if chewed, turn the saliva blue.

The cultivation of Woad was formerly carried on by people who devoted themselves entirely to it, and as crops of the plant are not successful for more than two years on the same piece of land, they never stayed long in one place, but hiring land in various districts, led a wandering life with their families and gained their living by their crops. Later, many farmers devoted a portion of their land to the growth of Woad, alternating the spots year after year.
Good loam soil is needed, land in good heart, repeatedly ploughed and harrowed from autumn till the following August, when the seeds are sown in drills, being thinned out by hoeing when about a fortnight old, to a distance of about 6 inches apart. In the spring, careful hoeing to remove weeds is necessary. The first crop can be gathered as soon as the leaves are fully grown, while perfectly green. The leaves are picked off when the plant is coming into flower. If the land be good and the crop well husbanded, it will produce three or more gatherings, repeated at intervals of a few weeks, but the first two gatherings are the best. An acre of land will produce a ton of Woad, and in good seasons, a ton and a half. If the land in which the seed is sown should have been in culture before for other crops, it will require dressing before it is sown - about twenty loads of stable manure to the acre being laid on and ploughed in with the last ploughing before the seeds are sown, this being enough to keep the ground in heart till the final crop of Woad is gathered.
---Treatment of the Crop---
The leaves are dried a little in the sun, then ground in a mill to a pasty mass, which is formed into heaps exposed to the air but protected from rain, until it ferments. A crust which forms over it is carefully prevented from breaking, and when fermentation is complete, usually in about a fortnight, the mass is again mixed up and formed into cakes. Before being used by the dyer, these cakes have to be again broken up, moistened and subjected to further fermentation. Much of the quality of the dye is said to depend on the way in which this operation is performed.
The color is brought out by mixing an infusion of the Woad thus prepared with limewater.
The best Woad used to be worth L. (Lear) 20 or more a ton, till its price declined on the introduction of indigo, to which it is inferior in richness of color, but is more permanent.
It is stated, also, that Woad leaves, covered with boiling water, weighted down for half an hour and the water poured off, treated with caustic potash and subsequently with hydrochloric acid, yield a good indigo dye. If the time of infusion be increased, greens and browns are obtained.
How the Ancients prepared the blue dye is not known.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The herb is so astringent, that it is not fit to be given internally as a medicine, and has only been used medicinally as a plaster, applied to the region of the spleen, and as an ointment for ulcers, inflammation and to stanch bleeding.
Ivatis indigotica is cultivated as a tinctorial plant in the north of China, where it is called Tein-ching. It is a small, halfshrubby plant, with a decumbent stem, bearing at its extremity several long drooping racemes of small yellow flowers, and smooth black fiddle-shaped pods about 1/2 inch long. The lower leaves are rather fleshy, on long stalks, oval, lance-shaped, and pointed, with the edges slightly toothed, the upper ones very much narrower and smaller. In the north of China, this plant takes the place of the indigo of the south, and its coloring matter is obtained by a process closely analogous to that employed in the preparation of indigo, but instead of being thoroughly inspissated so as to form solid cakes, it is used by the Chinese dyers in a semi-liquid or pasty state. It is commonly employed for dyeing cotton cloth, to which it imparts a dark-blue color.

Wood Anemone
See Anemone.

Wood Betony
See Bentony.

Woodruff, Sweet

Botanical: Asperula odorata (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rubiaceae
Chemical Constituents
Medicinal Action and Uses
(Old English) Wuderove. Wood-rova.
(Old French) Muge-de-boys.
---Part Used---

The Sweet Woodruff, a favourite little plant growing in woods and on shaded hedgebanks, may be readily recognized by its small white flowers (in bloom in May and June) set on a tender stalk, with narrow, bright-green leaves growing beneath them in successive, star-like whorls, just as in Clivers or Goosegrass, about eight leaves to every whorl. Unlike the latter, however, its stems are erect and smooth: they rarely exceed a foot in height, their average being 8 or 9 inches. The plant is perennial, with creeping, slender root-stock.
Being a lover of woods and shady places, its deep-green foliage develops best in the half-shade, where the sunlight penetrates with difficulty. Should the branches over shadowing it be cut away, and the full lightfall upon it, it loses its color and rapidly becomes much paler.
When the seed is quite ripe and dry, it is a rough little ball covered thickly with flexible, hooked bristles, white below, but black-tipped, and these catch on to the fur and feathers of any animal or bird that pushes through the undergrowth, and thus the seed is dispersed.
The name of the plant appears in the thirteenth century as 'Wuderove,' and later as 'Wood-rove' - the rove being derived, it is said, from the French rovelle, a wheel, in allusion to the spoke-like arrangement of the leaves in whorls. In old French works it appears as Muge-de-boys, musk of the woods.
Some of the old herbalists spelt the name Woodruff with an array of double consonants: Woodderowffe. Later this spelling was written in a rhyme, which children were fond of repeating:
W O O D D E,
R O W F F E.

As a rule, the plant is not cultivated, but collected from the woods, but it might be grown under orchard trees and can be propagated, (1) by seeds, sown as soon as ripe, in prepared beds of good soil, in the end of July or beginning of August, (2) by division of roots during the spring and early summer, just after flowering. Plant in moist, partially shaded ground, 1 foot apart.
---Chemical Constituents---
The agreeable odour of Sweet Woodruff is due to a crystalline chemical principle called Coumarin, which is used in perfumery, not only on account of its own fragrance, but for its property of fixing other odours. It is the odorous principle also present in melilot, tonka beans, and various other plants belonging to the orders Leguminosae, Graminae and Orchidaceae. It is employed in pharmacy to disguise disagreeable odours, especially that of iodoform, for which purpose 1 part of coumarin is used to 50 parts of iodoform. The plant further contains citric, malic and rubichloric acids, together with some tannic acid.
The powdered leaves are mixed with fancy snuffs, because of their enduring fragrance, and also put into potpourri.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Woodruff was much used as a medicine in the Middle Ages.
The fresh leaves, bruised and applied to cuts and wounds, were said to have a healing effect, and formerly a strong decoction of the fresh herb was used as a cordial and stomachic. It is also said to be useful for removing biliary obstructions of the liver.
The plant when newly gathered has but little odour, but when dried, has a most refreshing scent of new-mown hay, which is retained for years. Gerard tells us:
'The flowers are of a very sweet smell as is the rest of the herb, which, being made up into garlands or bundles, and hanged up in houses in the heat of summer, doth very well attemper the air, cool and make fresh the place, to the delight and comfort of such as are therein. It is reported to be put into wine, to make a man merry, and to be good for the heart and liver, it prevaileth in wounds, as Cruciata and other vulnerary herbs do.'
In Germany, one of the favourite hockcups is still made by steeping the fresh sprigs in Rhine wine. This forms a specially delightful drink, known as Maibowle, and drunk on the first of May.
The dried herb may be kept among linen, like lavender, to preserve it from insects. In the Middle Ages it used to be hung and strewed in churches, and on St. Barnabas Day and on St. Peter's, bunches of box, Woodruff, lavender and roses found a place there. It was also used for stuffing beds.

Wood Sage
Germander, Sage-Leaved

Wood Sanicle
See Sanicle, Wood.

Wood Sorrel
See Sorrel, Wood.

Wormseed, American

Botanical: Chenopodium anthelminticum (BERT.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
Constituents of the Oil
Medicinal Action and Uses
Other Species
Chenopodium Ambrosioides (Linn.). Mexican Tea. Jesuit's Tea. Herba Sancti Mariae.
---Part Used---
Indigenous to Mexico and South America, Missouri, New England, and eastern United States.

The American Wormseed plant (Chenopodium ambrosioides, Linn.), and still more a variety of it, C. ambrosioides, var. anthelminticum (Bert), furnishes the important drug Chenopodium.
It is indigenous to Mexico and South America, but has become thoroughly naturalized as far north as Missouri and New England, where it grows about dwellings and in manured soils. It is now found in almost all parts of the eastern United States, a coarse, perennial weed of the roadside and waste places, smoothish, more or less viscidglandular, the stout, erect, angular and grooved stem growing to a height of about 2 feet.
The leaves are slightly petioled, oblong-lanceolate, toothed, the upper ones entire and tapering at both ends. The small, very numerous flowers are yellowish-green in color and occur in numerous small clusters, or globular spikes, arranged in the axils of slender, lateral, leafy branches. The calyx is five-cleft, the lobes ovate, pointed. Stamens five, ovary covered on the top with small, oblong, stalked glands; styles, two to three. The fruit is perfectly enclosed in the calyx, obtusely angled, the seed smooth and shining, the embryo forming about three-quarters of a ring around the mealy albumen.
The drug consists of these small, irregular, globular fruits, not larger than the head of a pin. They are very light and of a greenishyellow or brown color. On rubbing the fruit, the membraneous pericarp is removed and the single, small, brownish-black seed is exposed.
The odour of the fruit is strong, resembling somewhat that of eucalyptus; the taste, pungent and bitter.
The fruit of C. ambrosioides, var. anthelminticum is even more aromatic.
Both varieties of the plant flower from July to September and the fruits ripen successively through the autumn and are collected in October.
The whole herb has a strong, peculiar, somewhat aromatic odour, which is due to the presence of a volatile oil and is retained on drying. The leaves have been used in place of tea in Mexico.
The American aborigines used the whole herb in decoction in painful menstruation, but its principal use has been - both leaves and seeds - as a vermifuge, and it is to-day considered one of the best expellents of lumbricoids.
Though all parts of the plant possess anthelmintic properties, the fruits and the oil extracted from them are alone employed, being official in the United States Pharmacopoeia. It was long customary for the seeds to be administered in the form of a powder, or an electuary, but although the activity of the seed is unquestioned, it has now been entirely displaced in America by the volatile oil obtained by distillation from the crushed fruits, to which the medicinal importance of the fruit is due.
The oil was first isolated in 1895 by a German pharmacist who lived in Brazil, where the seeds had long been used as a vermifuge.
Most of this oil is distilled in Maryland, and since Baltimore is the commercial centre of that state, this oil is commonly known as Baltimore oil, in distinction from Western Missouri oil, which has at times played a role in the market. The plant is now cultivated in large quantities near Baltimore.

---Constituents of the Oil---
American Worm seed oil, known as Chenopodium oil, is colorless or yellowish, when freshly distilled, becoming deeper yellow and even brownish by use. It has a peculiar, penetrating, somewhat camphoraceous odour (the peculiar odour of the plant), and a pungent, bitter taste.
The yield of oil from the crushed fruits is 0.6 to 1.0 per cent.
Its chief constituent is Ascaridole, to the high percentage of 60 to 70 per cent, an unstable substance, allied to cineal, readily decomposed on heating, with the production of a hydrocarbon. It also contains p-cymene, a-perpinene, probably dihydro-p-cymene and possibly sylvestrene. Betzine and choline have also been reported.
According to the researches of De Langen, Flue and Welhuizen, of the Dutch-Indian Medical Service, in 1919, the oil contains Glycol and Safrol, and these authors ascribe the powerful effect of the oil to the combination of Ascaridole and Safrol.
The characters of the oil are:
Specific gravity, 0.950 to 0.990.
Optical rotation, - 5 degrees to 10 degrees.
Refraction index, 1.4723 to 1.4726.
Saponification number, 246 to 280.
Soluble in three volumes of 70 per cent alcohol.
Adulteration with American turpentine oil causes lowering of the specific gravity and insolubility in alcohol.
The fresh plant yields the alkaloid Chenopodine, a white tasteless and odourless crystalline powder, soluble in 11 parts of cold water, 3 of boiling water and 20 per cent of alcohol.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Chenopodium, being a very active anthelmintic, is frequently used for the expulsion of lumbricoid (round) worms, especially in children. Because of its efficacy, ease of administration and low toxicity, it is perhaps the most valuable of all the vermifuge remedies.
The bruised fruit may be given in doses of 20 grains, in the form of an electuary.
A fluid extract is prepared, of which the dose is 1/2 to 1 drachm.
The expressed juice of the fresh plant is also employed, in tablespoonful doses. A decoction made by boiling 1 OZ. of the fresh plant with 1 pint of milk or water has sometimes been given in doses of a wineglassful.
The volatile oil is now much used, the dose of which, for a child, is from 5 to 10 mimims.
The drug should be given in one full dose, fasting, and then be followed, in about two hours, by an active purgative, such as castor oil. When the purge has acted, the patient can take food. The treatment should be repeated ten days later. In view of the uncertain ascaridole contents of some samples, small doses should be given at first.
Toxic symptoms are transient dizziness and vomiting.
The oil has been recommended in the treatment of malaria, chorea, hysteria and other nervous diseases.
The plant has been employed, under the name of Herba Sancti Mariae, in pectoral complaints, as an expectorant, in catarrh and asthma.
Although oil of Chenopodium has been official in the United States Pharmacopoeia for many years, it does not appear to have received official recognition elsewhere. It owes its modern popularity to the investigations of Brüning, who repeatedly drew attention to it (see Zeitschrift für exot. Path., 1906).
In 1912 two Dutch physicians, both working in Delhi (Dutch East Indies), stated that this essential oil is the most effective remedy against ankylostomiasis, the Hookworm disease. Originally, this disease was exclusively a tropical and subtropical one, but about thirty years ago, it appeared in mineworkers in Europe north of the Alps.
The Hookworm, which causes the disease, is called Ankylostos duodenale, the male of which attains a length of 10 mm., the female 14 mm. The living hookworm is fleshcolored, the dead one has a grey or white color. At the foot of the hook-formed teeth, glands, each consisting of a single cell, pour their contents into the wounds which the worm makes in the mucous membrane of the intestinal canal and into the blood-vessels by means of the teeth. It is supposed that the phenomena of the disease must be attributed to the mechanical changes brought about by the hookworm, as well as to a poisonous substance secreted by the worm. The worm deposits its eggs in the intestinal canal of its host. Together with the faeces, these eggs leave the body of the host. At a temperature of 25 degrees to 30 degrees C., the larva develops, and after two changes of skin, enters into the body of the new host by means of vegetables, drinking-water, or through the skin.
Several medicaments have been tried against the hookworm; thymol had appeared to be the only remedy that had been used with some success, but it is much surpassed by Chenopodium oil, which gives better results than eucalyptus, betanaphthol, or thymol.
The use of this oil commenced when thymol was not available during the early days of the Great War. It proved to be satisfactory in every way and is the drug commonly used in Ceylon since 1917. Statistics indicate that in three treatments, about 95 per cent of the worms are removed from the body. It has also been used in Fiji and has proved an anthelmintic of great potency. It is said there that over 80 per cent. of the worms are expelled after a single dose.
The maximum individual dose would appear to be 1 c.c., but it is best given in three cacheta of 0.5 c.c. each, at two-hourly intervals, followed three hours later by a saline purge of 1 OZ. of magnesium sulphate.
The observances of the two Dutch physicians Schuffner and Vervoort have been confirmed by other medical men, and at present, Chenopodium oil has become the specific remedy against the Hookworrn disease.
It is, however, a dangerous remedy in the hands of the layman on account of its activity, for unfortunately, the oil as it appears in commerce contains markedly varying quantities of the active principle Ascaridole, and the amount lessens with keeping, making it desirable that dealers should always mention the Ascaridole percentage of the oil they are selling and the date of distillation. The freshly-distilled oil in cases of overdoses has been known to cause symptoms of poisoning. Ascaridole, extracted and administered in place of the whole oil, is effective, and the use of it eliminates uncertainty of the strength of a dose of the oil, but it is relatively costly.
Carbon tetrachloride, recently introduced as a remedy for Hookworm, has proved most efficient. It is the cheapest of all advocated treatments, but the dose of 3 mils., at present given, sometimes proves dangerous and would appear to require reduction. A combination of this drug with Ascaridole is being now tested.
Chenopodium oil has also been shown to be of great service against the tapeworm and is employed in veterinary practice in a worm mixture for dogs, combined with oil of turpentine, oil of aniseed, castor oil and olive oil.
Since this oil has proved so important, steps have been taken to cultivate the plant in the Dutch East Indies, and these endeavours have met with great success, and manufacture of the oil in Netherlands India is now being extensively carried on.

---Other Species---
From C. glaucum (Linn.), the Oak-leaved Goosefoot of the United States, a medicinal tincture is made, which is used for expelling round-worms. There exists some doubt as to whether the properties of the tincture are not also due in part to the aphis that infests the plant.
This species is also a native of Great Britain.
The European and Asiatic C. Botrys, Jerusalem Oak, or Feather Geranium, is considered an expectorant in France.

Wormseed, Levant

Botanical: Artemisia cina (BERG.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Sea Wormwood. Santonica. Semen Sanctum. Semen Cinae. Semen Contra. Semen Santonici. Artemesia Lercheana. Artemisia maritima, var. Stechmanniana. Artemisia maritima, var. pauciflora. Artemesia Chamaemelifolia.
(Italian) Semenzina.
---Part Used---

The Levant Wormseed, largely imported into Britain, is derived from a variety of the Sea Wormwood. Several species of Wormwood are mentioned by Dioscorides as being effective as a vermifuge, one of which was reported as growing in the country of the Santones in Gaul. Its ancient reputation has been maintained in modern times, for the universally employed vermifuge Santonin (the very name derived from classic days) is produced from Santonica - popularly called Wormseed - which consists of the minute, dried, unexpanded flower-heads of a Russian variety of the Sea Wormwood (Artemisia maritima, var. Stechmanniana, Bess.). This variety, which some botanists consider to be a distinct species, under the name of A. Cina (Berg.), or A. chamaemelifolia (Vill.), grows in profusion in Siberia, Turkestan and Chinese Mongolia. The greater part of the Wormseed is used in Turkestan, where it grows in enormous quantities in the desert of the Kirghiz, especially near the town of Chimkent, where a factory has been erected in which large quantities of Santonin are produced from the Wormseed collected in the vicinity, not more than 10 per cent of the drug being now exported in the crude state, in which condition it is known in this country as Levant Wormseed. The plant is low and shrubby, throwing up a number of erect stems on which the little greenish-yellow, oblong flower-heads are borne. Each head is about 1/8 inch long and 1/16 inch in diameter, and contains three to five minute, tubular flowers. In July and August, before the flowers expand, they are stripped from the stems and dried, being brought into Chimkent by the Kirghiz and other tribes.
Wormseed has long been used as an anthelmintic. Tragus, in 1531, in Brunfels' Herbal, mentions Wormseed as being imported by way of Genoa; it was employed in Italy under the name of Semenzina (diminutive of Semenza, seed), in the belief that it consisted of small seeds. From this word is derived the name of Semen cinae, by which the drug is often known: Semen contra (another of its names) is an abbreviation of Semen contra vermes. The drug at first sight appears to consist of a number of small brownish, ridged seeds, and it is not till they are closely examined that their true nature becomes apparent.
The drug exhales when crushed an agreeable aromatic odour, and possesses a bitter, aromatic camphoraceous taste. As imported, it frequently contains considerable fragments of the leaves and slender flower-stalks.

The chief constituent of Wormseed is a crystalline principle, Santonin, to which the anthelmintic property of the drug is due. Santonin attains its maximum 2.3 to 3.6 per cent in July and August; after the flowerheads have expanded, it rapidly diminishes in quantity. It is extracted from the flower-heads by treating them with Milk of Lime, the Santonin being converted into soluble calcium santonate. It occurs in colorless, shining, flat prisms, without odour and almost tasteless at first, but afterwards developing a bitter taste. It is sparingly soluble in water, but soluble in alcohol and ether.
Wormseed also contains a crystalline substance, Artemisin, and a yellow volatile oil consisting of Cineol, to which its odour is due.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Wormseed is one of the oldest and most common anthelmintics, especially for children. In domestic practice the seeds are used powdered, combined with honey or treacle, the dose of the seeds taken thus in substance being 10 to 30 grains. The seeds have also been employed in infusion or decoction, but in these forms their bitterness is a strong objection. As a general rule, however, the crude drug Wormseed is seldom administered, its active constituent Santonin being employed. It acts as a direct poison to parasites, and is used as a remedy for round-worms, which it rapidly expels; it has also an effect on thread-worms to a lesser degree, but has no action on tapeworms. It is usually administered as a powder or in lozenges, not in solution, and is often given with calomel, or compound powder of scammony.
Santonin, 2 to 5 grains. Santonin lozenges, B.P.
Several cases are on record of fatal poisoning by Santonin, and Santonin rendered yellow by exposure to direct sunlight is sometimes preferred, it being stated to be less poisonous. It is known as yellow Santonin, or Photosantonin.
Even small doses of Santonin will produce remarkable effects on the vision, appreciation of color being so disturbed that objects appear to have a yellowish tinge, which is sometimes preceded by a faint color. Santonin may also cause headache, nausea and vomiting, and in large doses, epileptiform convulsions.


Botanical: N.O. Compositae
Wormwood, Common
Wormwood, Roman
Wormwood, Sea
The Wormwoods are members of the great family of Compositae and belong to the genus Artemisia, a group consisting of 180 species, of which we have four growing wild in England, the Common Wormwood, Mugwort, Sea Wormwood and Field Wormwood. In addition, as garden plants, though not native, Tarragon (A. dracunculus) claims a place in every herb-garden, and Southernwood (A. abrotanum), an old-fashioned favourite, is found in many borders, whilst others, such as A. sericea, A. cana and A. alpina, form pretty rockwork shrubs.
The whole family is remarkable for the extreme bitterness of all parts of the plant: 'as bitter as Wormwood' is a very Ancient proverb.
In some of the Western states of North America there are large tracts almost entirely destitute of other vegetation than certain kinds of Artemisia, which cover vast plains. The plants are of no use as forage: and the few wild animals that feed on them are said to have, when eaten, a bitter taste. The Artemisias also abound in the arid soil of the Tartarean steppes and in other similar situations.
The genus is named Artemisia from Artemis, the Greek name for Diana. In an early translation of the Herbarium of Apuleius we find:
'Of these worts that we name Artemisia, it is said that Diana did find them and delivered their powers and leechdom to Chiron the Centaur, who first from these Worts set forth a leechdom, and he named these worts from the name of Diana, Artemis, that is Artemisias.'


Botanical: Artemisia Absinthium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Parts Used
Medicinal Action and Uses
Green Ginger.
---Part Used---
Whole Herb.
Europe, Siberia, and United States of America.
The Common Wormwood held a high reputation in medicine among the Ancients. Tusser (1577), in July's Husbandry, says:
'While Wormwood hath seed get a handful or twaine
To save against March, to make flea to refraine:
Where chamber is sweeped and Wormwood is strowne,
What saver is better (if physick be true)
For places infected than Wormwood and Rue?
It is a comfort for hart and the braine
And therefore to have it it is not in vaine.'
Besides being strewn in chambers as Tusser recommended, it used to be laid amongstuffs and furs to keep away moths and insects.
According to the Ancients, Wormwood counteracted the effects of poisoning by hemlock, toadstools and the biting of the seadragon. The plant was of some importance among the Mexicans, who celebrated their great festival of the Goddess of Salt by a ceremonial dance of women, who wore on their heads garlands of Wormwood.
With the exception of Rue, Wormwood is the bitterest herb known, but it is very wholesome and used to be in much request by brewers for use instead of hops. The leaves resist putrefaction, and have been on that account a principal ingredient in antiseptic fomentations.
An Old Love Charm
'On St. Luke's Day, take marigold flowers, a sprig of marjoram, thyme, and a little Wormwood; dry them before a fire, rub them to powder; then sift it through a fine piece of lawn, and simmer it over a slow fire, adding a small quantity of virgin honey, and vinegar. Anoint yourself with this when you go to bed, saying the following lines three times, and you will dream of your partner "that is to be":
"St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me,
In dreams let me my true-love see." '
Culpepper, writing of the three Wormwoods most in use, the Common Wormwood, Sea Wormwood and Roman Wormwood, tells us: 'Each kind has its particular virtues' . . . the Common Wormwood is 'the strongest,' the Sea Wormwood, 'the second in bitterness,' whereas the Roman Wormwood, 'to be found in botanic gardens' - the first two being wild - 'joins a great deal of aromatic flavour with but little bitterness.'
The Common Wormwood grows on roadsides and waste places, and is found over the greater part of Europe and Siberia, having been formerly much cultivated for its qualities. In Britain, it appears to be truly indigenous near the sea and locally in many other parts of England and Scotland, from Forfar southwards. In Ireland it is a doubtful native. It has become naturalized in the United States.
The root is perennial, and from it arise branched, firm, leafy stems, sometimes almost woody at the base. The flowering stem is 2 to 2 1/2 feet high and whitish, being closely covered with fine silky hairs. The leaves, which are also whitish on both sides from the same reason, are about 3 inches long by 1 1/2 broad, cut into deeply and repeatedly (about three times pinnatifid), the segments being narrow (linear) and blunt. The leaf-stalks are slightly winged at the margin. The small, nearly globular flowerheads are arranged in an erect, leafy panicle, the leaves on the flower-stalks being reduced to three, or even one linear segment, and the little flowers themselves being pendulous and of a greenish-yellow tint. They bloom from July to October. The ripe fruits are not crowned by a tuft of hairs, or pappus, as in the majority of the Compositae family.
The leaves and flowers are very bitter, with a characteristic odour, resembling that of thujone. The root has a warm and aromatic taste.
Wormwood likes a shady situation, and is easily propagated by division of roots in the autumn, by cuttings, or by seeds sown in the autumn soon after they are ripe. No further care is needed than to keep free from weeds. Plant about 2 feet apart each way.

---Parts Used---
The whole herb - leaves and tops - gathered in July and August, when the plant is in flower and dried.
Collect only on a dry day, after the sun has dried off the dew. Cut off the upper green portion and reject the lower parts of the stems, together with any discolored or insect-eaten leaves. Tie loosely in bunches of uniform size and length, about six stalks to a bunch, and spread out in shape of a fan, so that the air can get to all parts. Hang over strings, in the open, on a fine, sunny, warm day, but in half-shade, otherwise the leaves will become tindery; the drying must not be done in full sunlight, or the aromatic properties will be partly lost. Aromatic herbs should be dried at a temperature of about 70 degrees. If no sun is available, the bunches may be hung over strings in a covered shed, or disused greenhouse, or in a sunny warm attic, provided there is ample ventilation, so that the moist heated air may escape. The room may also be heated with a coke or anthracite stove, care being taken that the window is kept open during the day. If after some days the leaves are crisp and the stalks still damp, hang the bunches over a stove, when the stalks will quickly finish drying. Uniformity in size in the bunches is important, as it facilitates packing. When the drying process is completed, pack away at once in airtight boxes, as otherwise the herbs will absorb about 12 per cent moisture from the air. If sold to the wholesale druggists in powdered form, rub through a sieve as soon as thoroughly dry, before the bunches have had time to absorb any moisture, and pack in tins or bottles at once.
The chief constituent is a volatile oil, of which the herb yields in distillation from 0.5 to 1.0 per cent. It is usually dark green, or sometimes blue in color, and has a strong odour and bitter, acrid taste. The oil contains thujone (absinthol or tenacetone), thujyl alcohol (both free and combined with acetic, isovalerianic, succine and malic acids), cadinene, phellandrene and pinene. The herb also contains the bitter glucoside absinthin, absinthic acid, together with tannin, resin, starch, nitrate of potash and other salts.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Tonic, stomachic, febrifuge, anthelmintic.
A nervine tonic, particularly helpful against the falling sickness and for flatulence. It is a good remedy for enfeebled digestion and debility.

Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Wormwood Tea, made from 1 OZ. of the herb, infused for 10 to 12 minutes in 1 pint of boiling water, and taken in wineglassful doses, will relieve melancholia and help to dispel the yellow hue of jaundice from the skin, as well as being a good stomachic, and with the addition of fixed alkaline salt, produced from the burnt plant, is a powerful diuretic in some dropsical cases. The ashes yield a purer alkaline salt than most other vegetables, except Beanstalks and Broom.
The juice of the larger leaves which grow from the root before the stalk appears has been used as a remedy for jaundice and dropsy, but it is intensely nauseous. A light infusion of the tops of the plant, used fresh, is excellent for all disorders of the stomach, creating an appetite, promoting digestion and preventing sickness after meals, but it is said to produce the contrary effect if made too strong.
The flowers, dried and powdered, are most effectual as a vermifuge, and used to be considered excellent in agues. The essential oil of the herb is used as a worm-expeller, the spirituous extract being preferable to that distilled in water. The leaves give out nearly the whole of their smell and taste both to spirit and water, but the cold water infusions are the least offensive.
The intensely bitter, tonic and stimulant qualities have caused Wormwood not only to be an ingredient in medicinal preparations, but also to be used in various liqueurs, of which absinthe is the chief, the basis of absinthe being absinthol, extracted from Wormwood. Wormwood, as employed in making this liqueur, bears also the name 'Wermuth' - preserver of the mind - from its medicinal virtues as a nervine and mental restorative. If not taken habitually, it soothes spinal irritability and gives tone to persons of a highly nervous temperament. Suitable allowances of the diluted liqueur will promote salutary perspiration and may be given as a vermifuge. Inferior absinthe is generally adulterated with copper, which produces the characteristic green color.
The drug, absinthium, is rarely employed, but it might be of value in nervous diseases such as neurasthenia, as it stimulates the cerebral hemispheres, and is a direct stimulant of the cortex cerebri. When taken to excess it produces giddiness and attacks of epileptiform convulsions. Absinthium occurs in the British Pharmacopoeia in the form of extract, infusion and tincture, and is directed to be extracted also from A. maritima, the Sea Wormwood, which possesses the same virtues in a less degree, and is often more used as a stomachic than the Common Wormwood. Commercially this often goes under the name of Roman Wormwood, though that name really belongs to A. Pontica. All three species were used, as in Culpepper's time.
Dr. John Hill (1772) recommends Common Wormwood in many forms. He says:
'The Leaves have been commonly used, but the flowery tops are the right part. These, made into a light infusion, strengthen digestion, correct acidities, and supply the place of gall, where, as in many constitutions, that is deficient. One ounce of the Flowers and Buds should be put into an earthen vessel, and a pint and a half of boiling water poured on them, and thus to stand all night. In the morning the clear liquor with two spoonfuls of wine should be taken at three draughts, an hour and a half distance from one another. Whoever will do this regularly for a week, will have no sickness after meals, will feel none of that fulness so frequent from indigestion, and wind will be no more troublesome; if afterwards, he will take but a fourth part of this each day, the benefit will be lasting.'
He further tells us that if an ounce of these flowers be put into a pint of brandy and let to stand six weeks, the resultant tincture will in a great measure prevent the increase of gravel - and give great relief in gout. 'The celebrated Baron Haller has found vast benefit by this; and myself have very happily followed his example.'


Botanical: Artemesia Pontica
Family: N.O. Compositae
---Part Used---
Roman Wormwood (Artemesia Pontica) is not indigenous to this country, being a native of Southern Europe. It grows about the same height as the Common Wormwood, but has smaller and more finely cut leaves, the segments being narrower, the upper leaves more resembling those of Southernwood; the leaves are white with fine hairs on both upper and under surfaces. The flowers, which blossom in July, are numerous, at the tops of the branches, and are darker and much smaller than those of Common Wormwood.
This is the most delicate though the least strong of the Wormwoods; the aromatic flavour with which its bitterness is mixed causes it to be employed in making the liqueur Vermuth.
Medicinally, the fresh tops are used, and also the whole herb, dried. Much of the A. Pontica in commerce is A. maritima.
Culpepper considered the Roman Wormwood 'excellent to strengthen the stomach.' Also that 'the juice of the fresh tops is good against obstructions of the liver and spleen. . . . An infusion of the flowering tops strengthens digestion. A tincture is good against gravel and gives great relief in the gout.'
Dr. John Hill says of this plant that it is the 'most delicate, but of least strength. The Wormwood wine, so famous with the Germans, is made with Roman Wormwood, put into the juice and work'd with it; it is a strong and an excellent wine, not unpleasant, yet of such efficacy to give an appetite that the Germans drink a glass with every other mouthful, and that way eat for hours together, without sickness or indigestion.'


Botanical: Artemesia maritima
Family: N.O. Compositae
Part Used
Medicinal Action and Uses
Old Woman.
---Parts Used---
Young flowering tops and shoots.
In Britain it is found as far-as Wigton on the West and Aberdeen on the East; also in north-east Ireland and in the Channel Islands.
The Sea Wormwood, in its many variations of form, has an extremely wide distribution in the northern hemisphere of the Old World, occurring mostly in saltish soils. It is found in the salt marshes of the British Isles, on the coasts of the Baltic, of France and the Mediterranean, and on saline soils in Hungary; thence it extends eastwards, covering immense tracts in Southern Russia, the region of the Caspian and Central Siberia to Chinese Mongolia.
It somewhat resembles Artemesia Absinthium, but is smaller. Thestems rise about a foot or 18 inches in height. The leaves are twice pinnatifid, with narrow, linear segments, and, like the whole plant, are covered on both sides with a white cottony down. The small, oblong flower-heads - each containing three to six tubular florets - are of a yellowish or brownish tint; they are produced in August and September, and are arranged in racemes, sometimes drooping, sometimes erect.
Popularly this species is called 'Old Woman,' in distinction to 'Old Man' or Southernwood, which it somewhat resembles, though it is more delicate-looking and lacks the peculiar refreshing scent of 'Old Man.'
Dr. Hill says of this species:
'This is a very noble bitter: its peculiar province is to give an appetite, as that of the Common Wormwood is to assist digestion; the flowery tops and the young shoots possess the virtue: the older Leaves and the Stalk should be thrown away as useless. . . . The apothecaries put three times as much sugar as of the ingredient in their Conserves; but the virtue is lost in the sweetness, those will not keep so well that have less sugar, but 'tis easy to make them fresh as they are wanted.'
The plant abounds in salt marshes in which cattle have been observed to fatten quickly, and thus the herb has acquired the reputation of being beneficial to them, but they do not eat it generally, and the richness of maritime pasturage must be regarded as the true reason of their improvement under such circumstances.

---Part Used---
The flowering tops and young shoots are used, collected and dried in the same manner as Wormwood.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The plant possesses the same properties as the otherWormwoods, but is less powerful. It is a bitter tonic and aromatic.
Although it is not now employed in regular medical practice, it is often made use of by country people for intermittent fever, and for various other medicinal purposes instead of the true Wormwood.
Thornton, in his Family Herbal, tells us that:
'beat up with thrice its weight of fine sugar, it is made up into a conserve ordered by the London College, and may be taken where the other preparations disgust too much.'
It acts as a tonic and is good in worm cases, and Culpepper gives the following uses for it:
'Boiling water poured upon it produces an excellent stomachic infusion, but the best way is taking it in a tincture made with brandy. Hysteric complaints have been completely cured by the constant use of this tincture. In the scurvy and in the hypochondriacal disorders of studious, sedentary men, few things have a greater effect: for these it is best in strong infusion. The whole blood and all the juices of the body are effected by taking this herb. It is often used in medicine instead of the Roman Wormwood, though it falls far short of it in virtue.'

Woundwort, Hedge

Botanical: Stachys sylvatica (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
---Part Used---Herb.

The Hedge Stachys, or Hedge Woundwort, the most frequent of the Stachys, is a coarse, hairy, malodorous plant, common in woods and hedges. It has thick, creeping roots that throw up tall stems, 2 or 3 feet high. Like the rest of the genus and labiate plants in general, these are quadrangular, but instead of being hollow (like the Deadnettles) they are filled with pith and solid; they are very hairy and often more or less red in color.
The stem branches a good deal, though the upright character of the plant is preserved, the branches being very similar in character to the main stem and issuing from it in pairs, opposite to each other, at the same spot from which the leaf-stalks arise, the leaves being thrown off from the stem in pairs, each at right angles to the pair above and below it. The blades of the leaves are heart-shaped, similar in form to those of the nettle, with bold, saw-like teeth to the margins, and are on rather long footstalks.
The flowers grow in rings or whorls upon the stem, as in the other species of Stachys, each ring having narrow, leafy bracts beneath it, and being separated from the other by an intervening space of stem, the whole forming a long, terminal spike. There are rarely more than six flowers in each whorl. The lower lip of each flower is entire, beautifully variegated with white upon the dull crimson-purple ground and with its sides folded back. The upper lip is also entire and very convex, slightly viscid to the touch. The four stamens are beneath the protecting hood formed by the upper part of the flower, two of them longer than the others, their anthers first dull violet, then becoming black and containing pure white pollen. When in seed, the calyx teeth become rigid, and as the calyx tube dries and contracts, the four little nutlets enclosed are shot out. The corolla tube is often half filled with honey, and the mouth of the tube is provided with stiff white hairs to keep insect visitors to the centre of the channel, this flower laying itself out to be fertilized by hive bees, humble bees and long-tongued flies, who settle on the lower lip, and as they creep up the channel of the petal tube, get dusted with the pollen from the stamens in the hooded petal.
An old authority tells us that this herb 'stamped with vinegar and applied in manner of a pultis, taketh away wens and hard swellings, and inflammation of the kernels under the eares and jawes,' and also that the distilled water of the flowers 'is used to make the heart merry, to make a good color in the face, and to make the vitall spirits more fresh and lively.'
It is said that a yellow dye can be obtained from the plant, and it has been suggested that the very tough fibres of its stem might be utilized commercially; it has also been classed among the Woundworts good for stanching blood. Referring to its pungent foetid smell when rubbed, Green, in his Universal Herbal (1832), considers that 'being one of those that powerfully affect the nerves, it might prove no contemptible stimulant if judiciously used.' He informs us also that toads are thought to be fond of living under its shade, and that though sheep and goats eat it, cows and hogs refuse it.

Woundwort, Marsh

Botanical: Stachys palustris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
All-Heal. Panay. Opopanewort. Clown's Woundwort. Rusticum Vulna Herba. Downy Woundwort. ---Part Used---Herb.

The Marsh Woundwort is common in marshy meadows and by the sides of rivers and ditches in most parts of Great Britain.
From its root-stock, which is perennial, with numerous, white, fleshy, subterranean stolons, which creep in all directions, it throws up stout stems, 2 or 3 feet high, quadrangular, having many pairs of rather elongated, oblong leaves, tapering to a point and usually clasping the stem at the base. The light purple labiate flowers are arranged in a long spike terminating the stem, usually with only six flowers in each whorl. The long-stalked leaves that spring directly from the root, as in the Wood Betony, have mostly faded off by the time the flowers appear in late summer. The whole plant is very hairy.
This plant had formerly a great reputation as a vulnerary, being strongly recommended by Gerard in his Herbal. He tells us that once being in Kent, visiting a patient, he accidentally heard of a countryman who had cut himself severely with a scythe, and had bound a quantity of this herb, bruised with grease and 'laid upon in manner of a poultice' over the wound, which healed in a week, though it would 'have required forty daies with balsam itself.' Gerard continues:
'I saw the wound and offered to heal the same for charietie, which he refused, saying I could not heal it so well as himself - a clownish answer, I confesse, without any thanks for my good-will: whereupon I have named it "Clown's Woundwort." '
Parkinson gives the same origin of the name.
Gerard himself, according to his own account, afterwards 'cured many grievous wounds, and some mortale with the same herbe.' The plant was regarded as a valuable remedy in such cases long before Gerard's time, having long borne the names, among country people, All-heal and Woundwort. The Welsh have an ancient name for it bearing the same signification.
It has edible roots. These are tuberous and attain a considerable size; when boiled they form a wholesome and nutritious food, rather agreeable in flavour. The young shoots may likewise be eaten cooked like Asparagus, but though pleasant in taste they have a disagreeable smell.
In modern herbal medicine this plant (which is collected in July, when just coming into flower and dried in the same manner as Wood Betony) is employed for its antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. It relieves gout, cramp and pains in the joints and vertigo. The bruised leaves, which have an unpleasant odour and an astringent taste, when applied to a wound will stop bleeding and heal the wound, as is claimed for them by old tradition, and the fresh juice is made into a syrup and taken internally to stop haemorrhages, dysentery, etc.



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