Anthemis Cotula. May Weed, Dog Fennel, Wild Camomile.
Syn: Maruta cotula.
Description: This is a too common annual weed, throughout the United States and Canada, along the roadsides and elsewhere, growing thickly to the height of about ten to fifteen inches. In general habit and appearance, it resembles the garden camomile; but it is more dense, branched, and leafy. Flowers solitary, terminating the branches, disk yellow, ray white; rays standing horizontal during the day, reflexed at night. Involucre hemispherical, imbricated, hairy, July to October. The whole plant has a strong, unpleasant smell; which is very persistent if bruised in the fingers. It imparts its properties to water and alcohol. When green, it is extremely bitter and acrid to the taste; and is rather pungent, even when dried. It has been used in some places for tanning some of the softer leathers.
Properties and Uses: A number of practitioners have assured me that the flowers of the may weed resemble those of the garden camomile; but are stronger, more stimulating, more diaphoretic, and better fitted for sluggish conditions of the stomach and the circulation. Personally, I can not speak of their value; but the practitioners above-named are careful men, and have spoken from their own experience.
The herb as a whole, is extremely acrid when green, and almost excoriating; when dry, it is a rather sharp stimulant. The only uses to which I have known this put, were externally. The green herb, pounded and put in small bags may be boiled in a little water; and the bags then applied as a fomentation in congestions of the abdominal or pelvic viscera, and in rheumatism; or several of them may be placed along the sides of the patient, to secure perspiration. They yield a little volatile and very stimulating oil; and this in connection with the vapor, makes this appliance quite a powerful one, when a strong determination to the surface is needed. The dried herb, similarly managed, I have known to be applied to old and very indolent ulcers; where it aroused strong local action, secured the sloughing of degenerate parts, and put the surface in a condition favorable to healing. Probably the agent deserves more attention than it has yet received; but the stimulating qualities of even the flowers should be borne in mind, when using it. Dr. Horton Howard speaks of the article in very warm terms; especially of the flowers in colds and rheumatism. They are used in warm infusion, much as the garden camomile.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com