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Chap. 066. Water Betony.

Betony, Water. I. The Names. It knows no Greek Name: but it is called in Latin by Dodoneus, Gerard, Lobel, Lugdunensis, Parkinson, Tabernmontanus, and Turner, Betonica Aquatica, and Aquatilis. Tragus makes it his greater Ocimastrum: Thalius calls it Scrophularia major aquatica: so also Bauhinus: We in English call it Water Betony, and some Brown-wort; but this Name is more proper for the Scrophularia major.

II. The Kinds. It is the second Species of the Generick; and is also either the Greater, or the Lesser: the Greater is called in Latin and English, as aforesaid (Scrophularia auriculata. -Henriette.); the Lesser is called by Lobel, Betonica aquatica minor: Camerarius, in his Epitome of Matthiolus, calls it Scrophularia foemina: and in English, Water Betony the lesser, Brook-Betony, and Bishops-leaves. (Scrophularia umbrosa? -Henriette.)

II. The Description. The Greater has a Root consisting of a thick bush of strings and threads proceeding from a head; or of a great number of Fibrous strings, which being fastned to the bottom of the Stalk, seeds it with nourishment in Summer, at the end of which time it perishes. From this Root the Stalks rise up somewhat like Fig-wort, but generally higher, square, hard, and green, sometimes brown, set with dark, broad, green Leaves, so very like unto those of Fig-wort, that they have been often mistaken one for another, being also dented about the edges, but with rounder Notches; by the careful observing whereof, they may be distinguished; and in that respect something resembling Wood Betony Leaves, but of a larger size, and two for the most part set at a joint. At the tops of the Branches, as also at the Joints, where the Leaves come out from the middle of the Stalk upwards, coming forth many round bellied Flowers, which being perfectly blown, are open at the brims, but divided into two parts, the uppermost like a hood; the lowermost like a lip hanging down, of a dark red color: which being past away, there comes round heads with small points in the ends, containing small brownish seeds.

IV. The Lesser kind has thready Roots almost like the former, differing only in smallness: the Stalks are square and green; the Leaves round almost, but yet pointed, and of the same dark green colour, and the Flowers are of a sad red or purple. In a word, this is in all things like the former, save only in the magnitude; this being lower and lesser by three parts in four.

V. The Places. The first grows in England as frequently as any Herb whatever, by Brooks, Banks of Rivers, and other Water-courses; but is seldom found far from Water-side, unless it has been planted in a Garden. The other is found in places in Germany near Basel, and grows also with us, if planted in Gardens.

VI. The Times. They flower in July and August, and their Seed is ripe in a little time after.

VII. The Qualities. They are hot and dry in the end of the first degree, or beginning of the second: they are Astringent, Abstersive. Digestive, Traumatick, and Vulnerary: Pectoral, Hepatic, Splenetick, Hysterick, and Arthritick; Alterative, and Analeptick.

VIII. The Specification. They are peculiar, the Greater especially, for the curing of the Kings Evil, and other malign and inveterate Sores and Ulcers.

IX. The Preparations. There may be made from it:

  • 1. A liquid Juice by Expression.
  • 2. A Pouder.
  • 3. An Essence.
  • 4. A Decoction.
  • 5. A Wine.
  • 6. A Spiritous Tincture.
  • 7. An Oily Tincture.
  • 8. A Saline Tincture.
  • 9. An Acid Tincture.
  • 10. A Spirit.
  • 11. A Salt.
  • 12. A Wash.
  • 13. An Oil.
  • 14. A Balsam.
  • 15. A Cataplasm.
  • 16. A Distilled Water.
  • 17. A Syrup.

The Virtues.

X. The liquid Juice of the whole Plant. Mixed with Vinegar, and applied Morning and Night, it wastes and dissolves any hardness or swelling: The Juice drank five or six spoonfuls at a time, cures the spitting of Blood, bleeding at Nose, bloody Flux, overflowing of the Terms, and represses the afflux of Blood to the Tumor in the Throat, called a Quinsey.

XI. The Pouder of the whole Plant. Being drunk Morning and Evening to one dram, in any convenient Vehicle, it is much commended against the Piles or Hemorrhoids.

XII. The Essence. It has all the Virtues of the Juice, besides which, being taken inwardly every day for some time, Morning, Noon and Night, to three or four ounces, it wonderfully prevails against the Kings-Evil, and induces Running Sores, Old Ulcers, and Fistula's in what part of the Body soever to a speedy healing: It is also good against Scabs, Itch, Boils, Wheals, Pushes, Leprosie, being daily drunk, as aforesaid, and outwardly bathed, and applied upon the Parts affected.

XIII. The Decoction in Water. It allays the heat of Fevers, quenches Thirst, and is good to Bath with in Leprosies, Scabs, Breakings out, or any other defilements of the Skin: It also gently discusses Inflammations, and other hot Tumors.

XIV. The Wine. Drunk daily as a Diet Drink, wonderfully prevails against the Scrophula, or Kings Evil, and strikes at the Root of the Disease, whether in Old or Young: resists Vapors in Women, and helps Fits of the Mother.

XV. The Spirituous Tincture. Being taken for some time, it warms and desiccates a cold and moist habit of Body, comforts a cold and moist Brain, gives relief to the Nerves, strengthens the Liver and Spleen and, as I have been told by a very understanding Midwife, it so corroborates and warms the Womb, as to cure Barrenness in Women, the which it has done in several. Dose, half a Spoonful Morning and Evening, in a Glass of Generous Wine.

XVI. The Oily Tincture. It cures wounds of the Nerves, takes away Pains and Aches of the Joints, proceeding from a cold Cause, gives relief in Rheumatisms; and softens cold indurated Tumors. Taken daily inwardly from ten drops to twenty, in any proper Vehicle, Morning and Night, it cleanses the Reins and Womb of cold flimsy Humors, and other Tartarous Mucilage.

XVII. The Saline Tincture. It is a famous thing to clear the Skin of Tanning, Sun-burning, Freckles, Lentils, Scabs, Itch, Scurf, Dandruff, Boils, Wheals, Scabs, Leprosie, and other like Defaedations, being bathed therewith Morning and Evening for 3 or 4 days, more or less, as occasion requires: 'tis possible it may take off the old Skin, under which a new one will come beforehand. It ought to be used simple of it self at first; afterwards it is to be weakened, and so used, mixed with Rose-water.

XVIII. The Acid Tincture. Being taken for some considerable time Morning, Noon and Night, from thirty to sixty drops in any convenient Vehicle, it cures the Scurvy radically with all its Symptoms, and destroys that humor which is the cause of the Kings-Evil; it also kills Worms in Children, and by correcting the matter which breeds them, prevents their future increase.

XIX. The Spirit. It is Cordial, Hysterick, Arthritick, and Antiscorbutick, and has the Virtues of the Spiritous Tincture. Dose one or two spoonfuls.

XX. The Salt. It opens obstructions of the Womb, Reins, Ureters, and Bladder, carries off Watery and Hydropick Humors; is good against the Rickets in Children, and the Cachexia in Virgins, and other young Women: and dissolved in Water, is good to wash the face withal, to clear it of Sunburnings, Tanning, Roughness, and other like deformities of the Skin.

XXI. The Wash. It is made of the clarified Juice mixed with the fixed Salt: to a quart of the Juice, one ounce of Salt. It is an admirable thing indeed for the Face and Skin, clearing it, as it were, of all deformities: and if to the former composition, an ounce of pure Nitre is added, it abates all manner of heats, redness of the Skin, Inflammations, and other like disaffections. If also yet you add thereto Lac Sulphuris, or if but flowers of Sulphur, you will find it effectual against the Itch, Pimples, Scabs, Scurfs, Dandruff, Leprosie, and all other Breakings out of the Skin whatsoever.

XXII. The Oil by Infusion or Insolation. It eases Pains, discusses Tumors, and is good against Contusions or Bruises in what part of the Body soever.

XXIII. The Balsam. It has all the Virtues of the Saline Tincture; and, being applied, is a singular thing against Wounds new or old, running Sores, old Ulcers, malign Fistula's, and it cures Scrofula's, or Kings-Evil Sores almost to a miracle, for which reason it is called by some Authors Scrophularia; it being also applied to the Gout, and other Aches and Pains of the Limbs, it gives ease to them, by attracting the Humor through the Pores of the Skin.

XXIV. The Cataplasm. It is Discussive, wasts and dissolves Swellings, and is profitable, being applied in Strumatick, or Kings-Evil Tumors. If the Cataplasm is only made of the green leaves beaten, and mixed with a little Vinegar, and applied Morning, Noon and Night, it does not only dissolve hard Tumors, but heals old, rotten, corrupted, spreading and fretting Sores and Ulcers, corrects the virulence of Pockey Sores, and stops the malignity of Cancers; and this more especially, if a proportional quantity of Litharge, or Saccharum Saturni be added thereto.

XXV. The Distilled Water. It is Cosmetick, and is of the nature of the Saline Tincture, and the Wash, having the same Virtues; but it is nothing near so powerful. However, where water is necessary to be mixed with them, this, as being more homogene, may be used in its place.

XXVI. The Syrup; if it is made with Honey and Juice of Lemons, or pure Wine Vinegar. It is an excellent thing to open Obstructions of the Breast and Lungs, help shortness of Breath, cause Expectoration, and to expel those gross and obnoxious Humors which cause the Scurvy, Gout, Rheumatism, Kings-Evil, and are the Ground and Foundation of all sorts of Fevers happening to the Bodies of Human Kind.


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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