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Papaver rhoeas L. Papaveraceae Corn Poppy, Flanders Poppy. Distribution: Temperate Old World. Dioscorides (Gunther, 1959) recommended five or six seed heads in wine to get a good night's sleep the leaves and seeds applied as a poultice to heal inflammation, and the decoction sprinkled on was soporiferous. Culpeper (1650) ' ... Syrup of Red, or Erratick Poppies: by many called Corn-Roses. ... Some are of the opinion that these Poppies are the coldest of all other - believe them that list [wishes to]: I know no danger in this syrup, so it be taken in moderation and bread immoderately taken hurts
- Dr Henry Oakeley
Medicina gerocomica: or, the Galenic art of preserving old men's healths ... To which is added an appendix, concerning the use of oyls and unction, in the prevention and cure of some diseases. As also a method ... of curing convulsions and epilepsies, by external operation
- Floyer, John, Sir, 1649-1734.
On the diseases of females, a treatise illustrating their symptoms, causes, varieties, and treatment, including the diseases and management of pregnancy and lying-in women. Designed as a companion to the author's "Modern domestic medicine." Containing also an appendix on the proper principles of the treatment of epilepsy, an account of the symptoms and treatment of diseases of the heart and a medical glossary
- Graham, Thomas John, 1795?-1876.
Galega officinalis L. Fabaceae. Goat's Rue. Distribution: Central and Southern Europe, Asia Minor. Culpeper (1650) writes that it ‘... resists poison, kills worms, resists the falling sickness [epilepsy], resisteth the pestilence.’ Galega officinalis contains guanidine which reduces blood sugar by decreasing insulin resistance and inhibiting hepatic gluconeogenesis.. Metformin and Phenformin are drugs for type II diabetes that rely on this group of chemicals, known as biguanidines. Its name gala, meaning milk plus ega meaning 'to bring on', refers to its alleged property of increasing milk yield, and has been used in France to increase milk yield in cows. officinalis refers to its use in the offices of the monks, and is a common specific name for medicinal plants before 1600 and adopted by Linnaeus (1753). The fresh plant tastes of pea pods. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
- Dr Henry Oakeley
Paeonia officinalis L. Paeoniaceae, European Peony, Distribution: Europe. The peony commemorates Paeon, physician to the Gods of ancient Greece (Homer’s Iliad v. 401 and 899, circa 800 BC). Paeon, came to be associated as being Apollo, Greek god of healing, poetry, the sun and much else, and father of Aesculapius/Asclepias. Theophrastus (circa 300 BC), repeated by Pliny, wrote that if a woodpecker saw one collecting peony seed during the day, it would peck out one’s eyes, and (like mandrake) the roots had to be pulled up at night by tying them to the tail of a dog, and one’s ‘fundament might fall out’ [anal prolapse] if one cut the roots with a knife. Theophrastus commented ‘all this, however, I take to be so much fiction, most frivolously invented to puff up their supposed marvellous properties’. Dioscorides (70 AD, tr. Beck, 2003) wrote that 15 of its black seeds, drunk with wine, were good for nightmares, uterine suffocation and uterine pains. Officinalis indicates it was used in the offices, ie the clinics, of the monks in the medieval era. The roots, hung round the neck, were regarded as a cure for epilepsy for nearly two thousand years, and while Galen would have used P. officinalis, Parkinson (1640) recommends the male peony (P. mascula) for this. He also recommends drinking a decoction of the roots. Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal (1737), published by the College of Physicians, explains that it was used to cure febrile fits in children, associated with teething. Although she does not mention it, these stop whatever one does. Parkinson also reports that the seeds are used for snake bite, uterine bleeding, people who have lost the power of speech, nightmares and melancholy. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
- Dr Henry Oakeley