bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Transcribed from the facsimile in the Larkey & Piles 1941 edition.

Absinthum

This herbe is called wormwood. The vertue of this herbe is thus. It is good to comforte the herte and clense the stomake. Galyan sayth that this herbe hathe ii vertues. One is laxatyve / and the other is constiputatyve. therefore Galyan sayth / that yf this herbe gyven to an (evill) of which the mater is not fully defyed / it shall harde the stomake and let the dygestyon And yf ye the mater be typed/ it shall make a man laxatyve and easily put awaye the mater. If this herbe be dronken with Spiconarde / it aswageth of the stomake and of ye wove that is engendred of wycked wyndes. Also yf this herbe be tempered with hony / it wyll ease the swellynge in a mannes mouthe. Also it dothe awaye the blacke myste in a mannes eyes & clereth the syght. Also yf this herbe be powned with the gall of a Bull / and afterwarde put into a mannes eyese / it putteth away all maner unpedyments of the syght.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
I've left a lot of gardens in my time, and in nearly every one I left at least some herbs I had planted. (I doubt my Allentown landlord will ever get rid of the lemon balm, orange bergamot mint, and tansy I planted in the small strip of dirt between the side of the house and sidewalk; on the other hand, given the weeds that were growing there before, why would he want to?)

We went back to the house we're trying to sell on Saturday, and the herbs I left there (some of which will still be separated and come to the new house, but not today) have been growing apace.
There is Tansy, again, in a space between sidewalk and house/planting edge that was largely weeds; there is a sage plant, lemon balm, comfrey (part of an attempt to undermine a old pond liner and the stump of a mulberry tree), variegated lemon balm, sweet woodruff, three kinds of mint (the new owners, someday, will either bless or curse me!), costmary, bedstraw, and an amazing variety of dianthus (pinks/clove gillyflower) that came up again this year.

And then, there are the Nettles. Ok, for 2 years I've planned to harvest and rett the nettles-- you can rett them like flax and/or hemp to make a fiber; I know someone who's done it. I think I'm going to have to do that next Sunday; I hope the landlord at our new place isn't completely freaked out by it. Because there is now a rather large patch of nettles in the back yard of the old house, and it would be cruel to leave them there. Ow ow. Not that *I* have much of a reaction to them-- none at all, in fact, when I touched them on Saturday-- but that doesn't mean other people won't. So, there's pulling-up of Nettles in my future. And obviously, I *need* to rett those fibers. I don't know how well it will work out; they are young yet, and not tough, but I failed to get to it last fall, so I'll make do with what I have.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
So, I picked a medium-sized bunch of lamb's quarters (chenopodium/fat hen/goosefoot/pigweed) yesterday, pulled the leaf sprigs off the stems, cut up the stems, and washed the stems and leaves in two changes of water; then put them in a deep bowl with a little water in the bottom, covered the bowl with good plastic wrap, and microwaved it for 3 minutes.

The result was very good, like spinach but not as bitter as adult spinach can be. There were a few small stems that stayed tough, I'll have to look for them next time. I wonder what it would be like with garlic, or, contrariwise, with a little mint.

I wasn't sure whether this weed (which I knew from childhood but had no name for) was the one that was referenced in the books until I asked my grandmother about it. She said that when she and my grandfather were first married, they knew a couple who came from (some other country) and they were invited over for dinner. The lady cooked this for them (she called it pigweed) and my grandmother was worried she wouldn't like it. As it turned out, it was delicious and she liked it so much that every time after that that they visited, the lady would make sure to cook it for her.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Well, yesterday I picked some wood sorrel (http://www.nativetech.org/plantgath/sorrel.htm ) out of the edge of one of the beds along the parking lot, and walked back to work chewing it, muttering "oxalic acid". Yes, there are 2 reasons why this was foolish: one is that wood sorrel is high in oxalic acid, which is bad for humans in large amounts, and the other was it was in a parking lot, and therefore right next to car exhaust. I do need to remember that i'm still breastfeeding and take fewer chances. On the other hand, the tangy taste of woodsorrel is delicious.

Tonight I hope to pick some fat hen/pigweed/lamb's quarters (chenopodium species: http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/lamb_quarters.htm) that is growing as a weed in the side yard and cook it. I think steamed.

We also have huge amounts of spearmint/garden mint growing in the side yard, one of the things that convinced me this rental was the right place for us; we make an excellent salad by mixing mesclun/spring greens with baby spinach and adding mint leaves, though a small handful of mint leaves can pep up even a basic romaine salad.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
I had no idea that a "quilt" was once a term for a padded dressing as well as padded bedcovers, armor lining, etc. The OED gives:
Med. A pad or dressing, spread with a medicinal substance, and applied to the skin. Obs.
1583 P. BARROUGH Methode of Phisicke 32 Make a twilt with iij. sheetes of graie paper, & bast upon it cotton woll. 1601 P. HOLLAND tr. Pliny Hist. World II. XXVIII. xix. 339 The same rennet applied as a cataplasme upon a quilt of wooll [Fr. appliqué en cataplasme, sur de laine; L. in uellere adpositum]. 1626 BACON Sylva Sylvarum §56 The Quilts of Roses, Spices,..&c. are nothing so helpfull as to take a Cake of New bread. 1684 tr. T. Bonet Guide Pract. Physician III. 68 Concerning Quilts and Caps..such as are made of very strong scented things do affect the Head.


So, would the quilted cap filled with lavender mentioned in Banckes' Herbal (1525) also be a quilt? what kind of cap would it be? A skull cap? a bonnet?
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Found in Warm and Snug: The History of the Bed by Lawrence Wright:
"There were two Long Galleries at Cowdray, one on each side of the court, and int he Book of Household Rules drawn up by Lord Montague in 1595 the "Yeoman of the Wardroppe" is to
see the galleryes and all lodgings reserved for st[r]angers cleanly and sweetly kepte, with herbes, flowers, and bowes in their seasons and the beddes of such as shall hither resorte att their first cominge to be mayde and the better sortes of quiltes of beddes at any tyme to be used at nightes taken off, and Yrish Rugges layd in their places.

p. 64.

So it appears that there were herbs and flowers, either strewn on the floors, or used as decoration/air freshener, in the guest 'bedrooms'.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
A study of raspberry leaf tablets in pregnancy found no significant disadvantages, and no statistically significant advantages (though clinically significant shorter 2nd stage labor):

M. Simpson, M. Parsons, J. Greenwood and K. Wade, Raspberry leaf in pregnancy: its safety and efficacy in labor, J Midwifery Women's Health 46 (2001) (2), pp. 51–59.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby opened, 1669:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16441
on Project Gutenberg

Soaps

Jun. 18th, 2008 02:52 pm
bunnyjadwiga: (blazon)
From
Alessio: The Secretes. London, 1558 (Theatrum Orbis, 1975)
The English Experience, no. 707, ISBN: 90-221-0707-8


A very exquisyte sope, made of divers thinges

Take Aluminis catini thre onces, quicke lyme one part stronge lye that will beare an egge of swimming betwene two waters, thre pottels, a pot of commun oyle; mengle all well together, puttinge to it the white of an Egge well beaten, and a dysshefull of the meale or floure of Amylum, and an once of Romayne Vitrioll, ore redde leade well beaten into poulder, and mixe it continuallye for the space of three houres, and it will bee righte and perfite. Finallye, take it oute, and cutte it in pieces: after sette it to drie twoo daies, in the wynde, but not in the sunne. Occupie alwaies of this sope, when you will washe your head, for it is verie holsome, and maketh faier heare.

Sope with Cyvet

Take of the saied Sope as muche as you wyll, and set it a while in the Sunne in Rose water, putting to it the poulder of Cyuette, and mixinge it well. And if you adde to it also Muske, it will be the better, so that the Muske have been before steeped and tempered in rose water.

Sope with divers sweete and excellent oyles

Take of the foresaied Sope, whiche hath stande a while in the Sunne in Rose water, and put to it a lytle of the oyle of Bengewine, or of some other odoriferous oyle, and mixe it well: but you muste putte in of the oyles reasonablie, neither to muche nor to lyttle, but with discretion, accordinge to the quantitie of the Sope.


fol. 54-55.

Bengewine would be benjamin (benzoin). Amylum is starch, probably wheat starch.
Cyvet is Civit.
Aluminis catini may be rock alum of Casino
Roman vitriol is probably Copper sulfate, aka blue vitriol
Both Copper sulfate and Red lead are toxic.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
The second part of Alexis, p. 20.


A verye profitable remedye for the hardenesse of wemens breast after they be brought a bed.
You must take Wheate Bran, and seeth it with the iuice of Rue, and laie it upon her breastes that be hardened after her lying downe, and they will waxe softe and supple. The like remedie is also verye good againste the bitting of Venimous beastes.

To make wemens milke encrease.
Take Fenell seed, and seeth it in barley water, and give the woman drinke of it, and her milke shall encrease abondantly. Also the broth or water that ciche peason be sodden in, is very good for the like thinge.


Rue can cause a dermatological reaction... not recommended.
Ciche peason would be chickpeas (garbanzos).
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
The second part of the Secretes, p. 28-29

To heale Lippes that be closted and full of chinkes by meanes of colde or wynde
Take Gomme Arabike, and Dragant, as much of the one as of the other, and make Pouder of it, and incorporate it wyth Oile of Violettes, and anoynt your Lippes therewyth.

To heal handes that be full of Chappes by cold or wynde
Take masticke, frankencens, new waxe, and Oyle of Roses, and make of al this an unguent or ointment and anoint the chappes or chinks of your hands, and they wyll immediatly be hole.


Dragant would be gumdragon, i.e. Gum Tracaganth.
"new ware" puzzles me, though. it's new waxe.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
2nd part of The Secretes, p. 27-28

A secrete or remedy, not to be stonge of Scorpions
Carry aboute you of the roote of Polimonia, or Polimontum, and you shall never be stonge of Scorpyons, and yf you be stonge wyth them they shall doe you no hurt.

A remedie not to be stong of waspes or Bees
Take Mallows & stampe them with oile Olive, and where as you anointe your self with the unction, never flies, Waspes, nor Bees will tutch you.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Alessio, The Second part of the Secretes, p. 18-19.


For the stinkinge of the breath, and to make the teeth whyte.
Take a pound of skimmed Hony, halfe a pound of Aqua vite, three onces of Lignum aloe, two onces of gomme Arabick, Nuttemegges, Galingale, Cububes, Cinamome, Masticke, Cloves, Spic, and Lavander new, anna three drammes, tow drammes of Amber beaten, mix all this together, & still water of it in a limbeck, and this water will take away the stinking of the breath, whiten the teeth, and maintaine helth long.

A water to make cleane teeth.
Take salt Armoniac, and salt Gemma, three onces of eche one, an once & a halfe of alumen Sucharinum, and distill it, or temper it in two pound of water, the space of eight daies, & with this licour distilled or so tempered, you shal rubbe your teeth & they will be whyte.

Another water to whiten teeth,
Take a pound of salt well purged, and beaten, an once of Alumen Glaciale, & distill it in a limbeck, and mingle an once of the water, with an once of Plantaine water, and rubbe your teeth with the composition, and with cotten, and they will be white and cleane.

To take away the smell of Garlike, Leekes, or Onyons.
After that you have eaten Garlike, Leekes, or Onions, take the roote of Beete, & rost it under embers, and eate it, & you shall see the effect; or els eate a piece of the rote of Zeduaria, & you shal not smell at all, and this is easier to be done than with the roote of Beete.


Spic is probably spike, which may be spike lavender.
Aqua Vitae is distilled spirits
Lignum aloes is aloeswoood (Aquilaria species?)
I have no idea what 'anna' is there.
gomme Arabick is Gum Arabic; Acacia gum.
Salt armoniac shoule be Sal Ammoniac, ammonium chloride, NH4Cl
Salt gemma may be salgemma, halite, AKA natural salt.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)

To make that the Mothes and Vermine shall not eate nor destroy e clothes and apparell.
Take Wormwoode, or Southerwoode, the leaves of a Cedar tree, & valerian, and laie them in your coffers or presses where your clothes be, or in the pleites of your garmentes, and you shall see that they wil not hurt them, bicause these leaves & herbes are bitter of tast, and the savour or smell is very stronge, which the vermine, doe abhoyre, and can not abyde.

p. 14.
Alessio. The Seconde Parte of the Secretes: London, 1563 (Norwood, NJ: Walter J. Johnson Inc, 1977). Vol 839, The English Experience.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Recipe from The Secretes of Alexis of Piemont... Fol. 76

To make heare [hair] as yelow as golde
Take the vyne or the scrappynges of Rubarbe, & stepe it in white wyne, or in cleare lye; and after youhave washed your head with it, you shall weate [wet] your heares [hairs] with a sponge or some other cloth, and lette them drye by the fyre, or in the Sunne; after this weate [we] them and drye them agayne: for the oftener you dooe it, the fairer they wyll bee, without hurting your head anye thyng at all.

It's unclear whether 'clear lye' is an actual lye, and what strength it might be at. More tomorrow about the lyes; there's one set of Italian instructions that suggests making a lye for women to wash their bodies and privy parts! by boiling ash in water and then straining it; how strong a lye that might be, I don't know.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Someone was referred to me because I know a bunch about historical use of herbs. She's doing a paper on the Egyptian herbals, and was splashing about in search of narrowing her topic.
So, I thought I'd post my most useful responses here, in case someone else is doing the same thing.
The text she's working with is
Lise Manniche, An Ancient Egyptian Herbal,* which is generally considered a nice solid summary.
I suggested that she check out:
Guido Majno, The healing hand : man and wound in the ancient world which anyone interested in pre-modern medicine will find enlightening if somewhat disgusting (hint: there is good pus and bad pus.)
R.J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology a nine-volume set that includes all sorts of information on Greek, Roman, and Egyptian technologies from engineering to perfume.
There is also the terrible Wallis Budge and his Divine Origin of the Craft of the Herbalist but I'd only use that to suggest alleyways to pursue in more reputable sources.
If I had access to it, which I don't now, I'd also suggest Dioscordies, De Materia Medica. There's a English translation from 1655 reprinted under the title The Greek herbal of Dioscorides.

Another text her instructor thought would be helpful is:
John F. Nunn, Ancient Egyptian medicine

Another fascinating book, with lovely pictures and some text from parchments, is:
James P. Allen, The art of medicine in ancient Egypt.

Manniche also wrote Sacred Luxuries: Fragrance, Aromatherapy, and Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt which was well-recieved.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Research and Re-creating herbalism in the Society for Creative Anachronism has its satisfactions. But it has some big, big frustrations, too.

To begin with, let's leave aside to some extent the alternative lifestylists, the people who dabble in medical herbalism, and want to drag their personal hobbyhorses into our re-creation. If you want to document for me the use of Echinacea before 1601, have at. I like to learn. Besides, I've written here before about the way the social and political environment surrounding modern herbalism shapes and interferes with the study of the use of herbs in history.

People in the SCA are fascinated to some extent by herbs, especially dangerous ones. They want you to teach classes on period poisons; they want to know about herbal contraceptives, about how to cure themselves with herbs and aromatherapy, etc. They are perfectly happy to smear creams on themselves, drink beers, or ask your advice about complex medical problems.

What they don't want you to do is use actual herbs. Especially on site.

Why?

An acquaintance of mine once said that we in the SCA would be very well prepared to survive the apocalyptic fall of civilization-- until our inhalers ran out.

Put it simply: the SCA is full of people with asthma and allergies and those who are vigilant on their behalfs (behalves?). Add to that the people who believe that their non-histamine reactions are serious/lifethreatening. These people and their advocates are vocal and active.

In a world where food service professionals put their plastic gloved hands first into the mushrooms, onions, peppers and lettuce in turn when making sub sandwiches, and where commercial enterprises routinely spray us with synthetic scents it's not unreasonable to be concerned about issues of allergens and contamination. In a world where some people believe that everything that is natural is safe, it's natural to be worried about unsafe things being advocated. Over time, we find out that even the most innocuous-seeming substances-- wheat, peanut butter, alcohol, even chlorinated water-- can cause our friends and relatives distress or even kill them. Things long considered inert or even beneficial may turn out, on investigation, to be dangerous.

Pre-modern medicine, even pre-modern cuisine, can be dangerous, filled with hazards that have long been removed in our society, often for good cause. We're very happy, for instance, that mercury is not part of our medicines, and lead isn't part of our cosmetics (though belladonna is sometimes used in medicine still).

And yet... the SCA, and SCAdian re-enactors, have the same hazards as any other part of modern life outside one's bedroom. If you are allergic to roses, or lavender, or mint, those items may well be brought into an environment you are in by someone who doesn't know that. Walking into the shower-house at a camping event means braving an ever-changing cocktail of airborne essential and fragrance oils. Attending an even where food is cooked and served means taking a chance on encountering someone cutting open an orange. Yes, we try to avoid killing our friends, just like your co-workers will rush out that bouquet of roses if you have a rose allergy. But modern life means contact with plants generally regarded as safe, whether you like it or not. Be safe, be sane, and be aware- someone near you might be using lavender oil to treat a cold sore, or drinking mint tea.

And when it comes to consuming re-created products-- no one should feed you a whole nutmeg or some rue. But if you have a counterindication to black pepper, you should know not to eat a teaspoonful of it, whether that be in a herbal breath remedy or a pepper-crusted steak. Every cook in the SCA should be ready to give out a list of the ingredients in their dishes-- and every person in the SCA with allergies and reactions should be aware of what to look for.
bunnyjadwiga: (wise)
What herb, herbal, or herb-related topic would you like me to research and post a short essay(s) on?
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Herbs, Branches and Flowers, for Windows and Pots

1. Bae, sowe in January
2. Bacheler's buttens
3. Botles, blew, red, and tauney.
4. Collembines.
5. Campions.
6. Daffadondillies.
7. Eglantine, or sweete-bryer
8. Fetherfewe.
9. Flower amour, sowe in May.
10. Flower de luce.
11. Flower gentil, white and red.
12. Flower nyce.
13. Gelyflowers, red, white, and carnations, set in spring, and harvest in potts, pailles, or tubs, or for summer, in beds.
14. Holiokes, red, white, and carnations.
15. Indian eye, sowe in May or set in slips in March.
16. Lavender of all sorts.
17. Lark's foot.
18. Laus tibi.
19. Lillium cumbalium.
20. Lilies, red and white, sow or set in March and September.
21. Marigoldes, double.
22. Nigella Romana.
23. Pauncies, or hearts-ease.
34. Pragels, greene and yellowe.
25. Pinks of all sortes.
26. Queene's gilliflowers.
27. Rosemary.
28. Roses of all sorts.
29. Snap-dragons.
30. Sopps in wine.
31. Sweete Williams.
32. Sweete Johns.
33. Star of Bethelem.
34. Star of Jerusalem.
35. Stock gilleflowers of all sorts.
36. Tuft gelliflowers.
37. Velvet flowers, or Frenche marigold.
38. Violets, yellow and white.
39. Wall gelliflowers of all sorts.
-- Thomas Tusser, 1557 Floruit, His good points of husbandry, p. 153

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