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Chap. 095. Of Bugloss Vipers.

Botanical name:

Bugloss, Vipers. I. The Names. It is called in Greek, *********; and in Latin, Echium, Alcibiadion, Alcibion, & Alcibiacum, (from the first finder of it out, who being bitten by a Viper, and gathering this Herb, and chewing it, and swallowing down the Juice, and applying the rest of the Herb to the bitten place, was cured thereby) it is also called Buglossum Viperinum, and Sylvestre Viperinum, as some say, from the effects of the Roots in curing the bitings of Serpents; but as others say, from the color of the Stalks which are speckled like a Serpents skin: In English Vipers Bugloss. Apuleius saith, that the Greeks called it also ********, Theriorrizon, Radix Viperea; and ******, from the form of the Seed, which, as Dioscorides says, is like the Head of a Viper; whence came the name Echium.

II. The Kinds. Authors make twelve several Kinds of Vipers Bugloss, of all which, two only are said to grow with us, viz. ******, Echium Vulgare, Common Vipers Bugloss 2. ********, Echium Vulgare flore albo, White flowered Vipers Bugloss. (Echium vulgare. -Henriette.)

III. The Description. The first of these has a Root which is somewhat large and blackish, and grows woody at the approach of Seedtime, perishing in the Winter: from whence springs forth many long, rough Leaves, lying on the ground, and from among which rise up several hard round Stalks, which are very rough, as if thick set with prickles or prickly hairs, having many black spots on them, not much unlike to the skin of a Viper, upon which grow such like long, rough, prickly or hairy green Leaves, something narrow, the middle rib being for the most part white. The flowers stand at the tops of the Stalks, branched forth into many spiked Leaves or Flowers bowing or turning like to the Turnsole, all of them opening generally on the one side, which are long and hollow, turning up the brims a little, of a purplish violet color, where they are fully blown but more Reddish, where they are but yet in the Bud, or not blown open, as also when they are upon their decay and withering: but in some places they are of a paler purple color, with a long Pointel in the middle, feathered, or pointed at the top. The Flowers being fallen, the Seeds grow inclosed in round heads, which growing to be ripe, are blackish, cornered, and pointed something like to a Vipers Head.

IV. The second Kind differs not much in any thing from the former, save that in some places it grows larger, the Leaves are of a fresher green color and the Flowers are wholly of a white color.

V. The Places. The first of these grows wild almost every where, and as Gerard says, it is found in great abundance, where Alkanet grows. The second grows about the the Castle Walls of Lewes in Sussex.

VI. The Times. They flower in the Summer Months, as the other Buglosses do, and their Seed comes to ripeness in the mean season.

VII. The Qualities. They are temperate in respect to heat or cold, and dry in the first Degree: Aperitive, Abstersive, and Traumatick, or Vulnerary, Cephalick, Stomatick, Cordial and Neurotick; Alterative and Alexipharmick.

VIII. The Specification. The Experiences of many Ages have proved them to be peculiar against the Poison and Malignity of Serpents, Vipers, and other Poisonous and Venomous Creatures.

  • 1. A liquid Juice.
  • 2. An Essence.
  • 3. A Syrup.
  • 4. A distilled Water.
  • 5. A Tincture of the Flowers.
  • 6. A Pouder of the Seed.
  • 7. A Decoction of the Root.
  • 8. An Ointment or Balsam.
  • 9. A Cataplasm of Roots or Leaves.

The Virtues.

X. The liquid Juice. The Juice of these Plants are wonderfully clammy and slimy, so that it is hard to Express the same; for which reason, after you have well beaten the Herb, you must set it close covered in a cold Cellar, or some other cold and moist place, for two Days and Nights, and then press forth the Juice in a Wooden press: after which you may clarifie it with Whites of Eggs, beaten into Glair, and passed gently thro' a thick Hippocras Bag. It is a famous thing against the biting of the Viper, and of all other Serpents, or any other Venomous Creature, and prevails also against Poison, and the Malignity of Poisonous Herbs. You may give five or six spoonfuls at a time in a Glass of Wine, and repeat it as you see Occasion.

XI. The Essence. It has all the Virtues of the Liquid Juice, besides which, it is an excellent thing against the Plague or Pestilence, Spotted Fever, Purple, and all other Burning and Malign Fevers whatsoever. It is a most admirable Traumatick or Vulnerary, so that scarcely any of the Vulneraries or All-heals go beyond it. It comforts the Head, Brain and Nerves, strengthens and fortifies the Stomach, and chears the Heart admirably. Dose, three or four spoonfuls or more, two, three or four times a day, in a glass of the Distilled Water, or in a glass of Wine, or some other proper Vehicle.

XII. The Syrup. Parkinson makes it thus. Rx. of the Clarified Juice four pounds: fine white Sugar three pounds: Infusion of the Flowers, one pound: mix and boil these gently to the consistence of a Syrup, which keep for use. It is (says he) very effectual for comforting the Heart, and to expel Sadness and Melancholly. Dose two spoonfuls or more.

XIII. The Distilled Water. It is drawn from the whole Plant, when it is in its chiefest strength, which is, when it is in Flower; it is profitable for all the Diseases aforementioned, being inwardly taken, and outwardly applied; and is used as a Vehicle to convey the other Preparations in.

XIV. The Tincture of the Flowers. It is highly Cordial, and Alexipharmick, and resists Poisons of all kinds: it defends the Heart from the Malignity of pestilential Fevers, and of the Plague itself, and suppresses Melancholly Vapors: It has the Virtue of the Essence, and may be given in the Distilled Water to two Drams.

XV. The Pouder of the Seed. It is Alexipharmick, comforts the Heart, expels Sadness and Melancholly, attemperates the Blood, allays the hot Fits of Agues, encreases Milk in Nurses, and eases pains in the Loins, Back and Kidnies. Dose one dram.

XVI. The Decoction of the Root. It prevails against Poison, and the Plague, and the biting of Vipers, and other Venomous Creatures, and is a singular good thing (if made with Wine, or Wine and Water) to be drank as a Diet Drink by wounded Persons, and such as have inveterate, filthy, and running Ulcers and Fistula's, &c.

XVII. The Ointment or Balsam. They are Vulnerary, cure admirably both Wounds and Ulcers; and are of especial use to be applied to Wounds made by the bitings of Venomous Creatures, as Vipers, Mad Dogs, &c. or made with any Poisoned Weapon, it extracts the Poison or Venom, and induces the healing.

XVIII. The Cataplasm. Applied to the biting of a Viper, Mad Dog, or other Venomous Creature, it extracts or draws forth the Poison, and so secures the life of the Patient; other Alexipharmicks being given in the mean season inwardly.


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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