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Chap. 074. Bishops-Weed Common.

Botanical name:

Bishop's weed. I. The Names. It is called in Greek **** and ****** (from the smallness of the Seed which resembles Sand:) In Latin, Ammi, and Ameos (the Genitive Case:) Some call it Cuminum Aethiopicum (from the likeness to that of Cumin,) also Cuminum Regium, Royal Cumin (from its excellent properties:) In Arabick it is called Hanochach, Anazave, Nacachau, Nacachave : And in English it is called, Bishops-Weed, Herb-William, and by some, Bullwort.

II. The Kinds. They are of two principal Kinds,

  • 1. Domestick, called in Latin, Ammi Vulgare, and Vulgatius: If is called by Tabermontanus, Amnio selinum, which is our English Bishops-Weed. (Ammi majus. -Henriette.)
  • 2. Foreign, and is twofold,
    • 1. Ammi Creticum, as Camerarius calls it, Ammi Creticum Aromaticum, as Lobel calls it, Bishops-weed of Candy. (?? Can't find it. Help? -Henriette.)
    • 2. Ammi parvum foliis foeniculi, Ammi alterum parvum, by Dodonaeus, Ammi verum by Gefner, (but Parkinson says, the true Ammi of Dioscorides is not known) Tis true, Dioscorides does not describe it but from some remarks taken from him, from Pliny, and from Galen, it is almost plainly deciphered, especially the Seed as being much smaller and whiter than Cumin seed, and smelling like Origanum: Now none of the seeds which the Apothecaries use, or have been shew’d for Ammi, can be compared with Cumin, nor have they the smell of Origanum: in English, Small Bishops-weed: Of these two last we shall treat in the next Chapter. (Trachyspermum ammi. -Henriette.)

III. The Description. Our Common Bishops-weed has a Root White and fibrous, perishing every Year, after it has Seeded, and commonly rising again of its own sowing: from this Root rises up a round straight Stalk, sometimes as tall as a Man, but commonly 3 or 4 feet high, set with several small, long, and somewhat broad Leaves, cut in, in some places, and snipt or dented about the edges, growing on both sides of a long Footstalk one against another, of a dark green color, somewhat like unto Skirret Leaves, having several Branches on them and at The tops small Umbles of white flowers, which turn into small, round, and brown Seed, little bigger than Parsley Seed, and not so large as Annise Seed, of a brisk quick smell, and hot taste.

IV. The Places. It is found growing Wild in many places of England and Wales; by a hedge side next field beyond Green Hithe, on the way as you go to Gravesend; and with us it is also nourished up in Gardens.

V. The Times. It flowers in June and July, and the Seed is ripe towards the latter end of August.

VI. The Qualities. It is hot and dry in the third Degree, the Seed more especially. It is attenuating, Discussive, Diuretick, Nephritick, Hysterick, and Arthritick; Alterative, and Alexipharmick. It is bitter in taste, of thin parts, and sharp withal.

VII. The Specification. It is approved against the Cholick, and mightily provokes Lust; which I believe is from its Spermatogenetick faculty.

VIII. The Preparations. You may make therefrom,

  • 1. A liquid Juice.
  • 2. An Essence.
  • 3. A Distilled Water.
  • 4. A Pouder from the Seed.
  • 5. Spirituous Tincture of the same.
  • 6. An Oily Tincture.
  • 7. A Saline Tincture.
  • 8. A Spirit.
  • 9. Chymical Oil of the Seed.
  • 10. A fixed Salt.
  • 11. Potestates or Powers.
  • 12. A Balsam.
  • 13. A Cataplasm of the green Herb.

The Virtues.

IX. The liquid Juice. It is very thin and subtil, digests Humors, expels Wind, and gives ease in the Gripings of the Guts. Dose from iv. to viii. spoonfuls in a glass of Canary, Sherry, or other generous Wine, two or three times a day.

X. The Essence. It has the Virtues of the Juice, but more powerful to the purposes intended, it provokes Urine, and the Courses in Women when stopt, helps the Cholick, and is very powerful against the biting of Mad Dogs, Serpents, as the Viper, Rattle-snake, Slow-worm, or the biting or stinging of any other Venemous Creature whatsoever, being given Morning, Noon and Night, from iij. ounces to vi. in a glass of any generous Wine.

XI. The Distilled Water. It is stomatick, and has the Virtues of the Essence, but very much Weaker, and therefore may serve as a Vehicle, to convey any Medicine in, good against those kinds of Diseases.

XII. The Pouder of the Seed. It expels Wind, comforts the Stomach, and other Viscera, gives ease in the Cholick, and has been found, by experience, to be profitable against the Stone, Sand, Gravel, or any Tartarous or Slimy Matter in the Reins, Ureters and Bladder. It may be given (mixed with Sugar) in a glass of White or Rhenish Wine.

XII. The Spiritous Tincture from the Seed. It is Cordial and Stomatick, good against Vapors, Wind, Fainting and Swooning Fits, Cardialgia, Palpitation of the Heart, Poison of Vipers, Rattle-snakes, Mad-Dogs, and the biting or stinging of any other venomous Creature. Dose from one Dram to two, in a glass of excellent Wine.

XIV. The Oily Tincture. It is good against Palsies, Convulsions, Rheumatisms, Pains, Aches, Weaknesses, and Punctures of the Nerves in any part of the Body: It eases the pain of the Gout, proceeding from a cold cause, softens, discusses, and wastes cold Tumors, and is of admirable use, being taken inwardly, for the most inveterate Pains of the Back, or any Obstruction of the Reins, Ureters or Bladder. Dose from half a dram to one or two drams Morning and Evening in a glass of White Wine.

XV. The Saline Tincture. This may be made either of the Seed, or of the whole green Plant. It is good to take away Black and Blew Marks, Spots, Tanning, Sun-burning, and other deformities of the Skin, it being often washed therewith, it also is said to abate an high color, and a Spong being dipt therein, and applied upon the biting of any Venemous Beast, especially that of a Mad Dog, it effectually attracts and draws out the Poyson: It also discusses the afflux of humors in Contusions and being drank to one dram in White Wine, it is prevalent against Fits of the Mother in Women, and is good against the evil Effects of Cantharides, if timely taken in some proper Emulsion.

XVI. The Spirit. It is an excellent Cordial, good against Fainting and Swooning Fits, eases the Passions of the Heart, cheers the Spirits, comforts Nature, provokes Lust, strengthens the Womb, and all the Instruments of Generation in both Sexes; and has indeed all the Virtues of the Spiritous Tincture, but not altogether so powerful. Dose from two drams to four, alone by it self, if dulcified, other wise to be taken in a small glass of Wine.

XVII. The Chymical Oil of the Seed. It is said to correct the Virulency of Cantharides, that if they be digested in it for some time, they may be given inwardly without any danger; this may be true, but the true Corrective of Spanish Flies is Spirit of Nitre, as we shew in its proper place. This Chymical Oil is an admirable Carminative, and gives present ease in the Cholick, by giving it inwardly by the Mouth, if the Disease lies in the Stomach, Duodenum, and upper Bowels; or giving it Clyster-wise, if it lies in the Colon, or other lower parts. It also provokes Urine, and the Terms, is good against Poyson, and the bitings or stingings of Venomous Creatures. It opens Obstructions of the Spleen, and has been found very helpful against Hypochondriack Melancholly. Dose from six drops to twenty in a glass of Wine, or Wine and Water; drop the Oil into Sugar, and mix them well together, then mix it with the Wine, and so drink it up.

XVIII. The Fixed Salt of the whole Plant. It is a powerful Diuretick, and being taken in all the Liquor the Patient drinks, as Ale, Beer, Wine, it has been found profitable against the Dropsie and Jaundice: It also cleanses the Womb, Reins and Bladder, of any Tartarous Matter obstructing them. I once knew a Gouty Person, by the constant use of this Salt, and drinking Milk and Water, to become perfectly freed from his Gout, and had not so much as one Fit of it in above 18 Years time, which was confess'd to me at the writing hereof. Dose from xv. grains to xxx. in Water, or Whey, or Milk and Water, if for the Gout but in Ale, Beer, Cider Mead, or Wine, if against the Dropsie, or other Diseases.

XIX. Potestates or Powers. They have all the Virtues of the Essence, Spirit, Spirituous Tincture, Chymical Oil and Salt, and may be given from one dram to two, Morning, Noon, and Night, in Wine, Mead, Hypocras or any other fit Vehicle.

XX. The Balsam. If it is made of the Chymical Oil, with Turpentine and Wax, it is of excellent use in all Wounds and Punctures of the Nerves; and applied, gives ease in the Gout, proceeding from a cold Cause, as also in the Sciatica, and other Pains and Aches of the Nerves and Joints. If it is made of the green Herb, it is good against Pains and Aches also, but is a peculiar Vulnerary, for healing wounds made in Scorbutick, Cold, Moist, and ill habited Bodies, and in depending places, because besides its admirable healing property, it dries powerfully, and strengthens the part affected.

XXI. The Cataplasm. It is excellent to be applied to Contusions, for it prevents the further afflux of Humors, and discusses those which are present, dissolves and scatters congealed Blood, and this more especially if it is mixed with Honey: it also takes away Black and Blew marks, which come by blows or falls, or other discolorings of the Skin.

XXII. The Seed. It is one of the four lesser hot Seeds, always commended as a Carminative: and it is said the Egyptians make use of the Seed, to provoke Lust or Venery, for which it is very powerful.


Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Nick Jones.



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