HERBAL SIMPLES APPROVED FOR MODERN USES OF CURE

by

W. T. FERNIE, M.D.
Author of "Botanical Outlines," etc_

Second Edition.
METRO-NATURALIST.COM
VIPER'S BUGLOSS.


The Simpler's passing consideration should be given to this tall
on walls. It belongs to the Borage tribe (see page 60), and, in
common with the Lungwort (_Pulmonaria_), the Comfrey, and the
ordinary Bugloss, abounds in a soft mucilaginous saline juice. This
is demulcent to the chest, or to the urinary passages, being also
slightly laxative. Bees favour the said plants, which are rich in
honey. Each herb goes by the rustic name of "Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob," because bearing spires of tricoloured flowers, blue, purple,
and red. The Viper's Bugloss is called botanically _Echium_, having
been formerly considered antidotal to the bite of (_Echis_) a viper:
and its seed was thought to resemble the reptile's head: wherefore
such a curative virtue became attributed to it after the doctrine of
signatures. "_In Echio, herba contra viperarum morsus celeberrima,
natura semen viperinis capitibus simile procreavit_." Similarly the
Lungwort (or Jerusalem Cowslip), because of its spotted leaves, was
held to be a remedy for diseased lungs. This rarely grows wild, but
it is of frequent cultivation in cottage gardens, bearing also the
rustic name, "Soldiers and Sailors," "To-day and to-morrow," and
"Virgin Mary." From either of these herbs a fomentation of the
flowers, or a decoction of the whole bruised plant, may be employed
with benefit locally to sore or raw surfaces: [595] whilst an infusion
made with three drams of the dried herb to a pint of boiling water
will be good in feverish pulmonary catarrh. By our ancestors viper
broth was thought to be highly invigorating: and vipers cooked like
eels were given to patients suffering from ulcers. The Sardinians
still take them in soup. Marvellous powers were supposed to be
acquired by the Druids through their possession of a viper's egg, laid
in the air, and caught before reaching the earth. All herbs of the
Borage order are indifferently "of force and virtue to drive away
sorrow and pensiveness of the mind: also to comfort and strengthen
the heart." With respect to the Comfrey (see page 120), quite
recently the President of the Irish College of Surgeons has reported
the gradual disappearance of a growth ("malignant, sarcomatous,
twice recurrent, and of a bad type"), since steadily applying
poultices of this root to the tumour. "I know nothing," says
Professor Thomson, "of the effects of Comfrey root: but the fact that
this growth has simply disappeared is one of the greatest surprises
and puzzles I have met with."