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Mugwort roots.

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An old Finnish text mentions them.

You have of course all noticed that I've added another classic work to my lineup: "K. Th. Hällström: Tuloja vähävaraisille.", Helsinki 1898.

It's a tiny booklet that outlines how to collect the pertinent parts of a handful of plants, so that the local pharmacists' association can buy them.

And being gifted with languages, you were as perplexed as I was at that little booklet's description of mugwort:
"Artemisia vulgaris (Maruna, Pujo, Gråbo). Juuren paksuin osa leikataan pois, ainoastaan hienommat ja paksummat lisäjuuret otetaan. Maksetaan 45 p. kilolta."
I'll translate, just in case your Finnish isn't up to scratch:
"Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort). The thickest part of the root is cut off, only the best and thickest side roots are taken. Will pay 45 penni per kilogram."

Whatever did they need the root for?

King's to the rescue: "The root, which contains volatile oil, tannin, and an acrid resin, is used for medicinal purposes in Europe. Emmenagogue and German remedy for hysteria and epilepsy."

The other olde works on my site are less than helpful.

Snigger. Hager's Handbuch (1876) says that Herba Artemisiae, that is, the aboveground parts, is only used as a spice for goosesteak. He does add that it's used for menstrual pain, hysteria and as an emmenagogue in France.
The root, according to Hager, was used 50 years earlier by Burdach for epilepsy and St. Vitus' dance (which of course was due to ergot). Dose, 1.0 - 2.0 - 4.0 a few times a day. Or dose, 2.5 - 3.5 - 4.0 of the powder in warm beer (gak!) before or after an epileptic fit, and if no sweating occurred, a larger dose during the following day.

Don't ask me what those numbers mean, though, cos they're not explained anywhere in Hager's Handbuch.
And I'll have to scan that one, one of these years.

Related entry: Mugwort