Nodding Bur-Marigold (Bidens Cernua, Linn.).
Three-Cleft Bur-Marigold (Bidens Tripartita, Linn.).
Also see Hool, 1918: Bur-Marigold.
Two common plants of the same order and species found wild in al] parts of Lancashire, Great Britain, throughout Europe, the Caucasus and Siberia. It grows in wet places—ditches, pits, ponds, reservoirs, canals, small rivers—and in gardens or comparatively dry land. This plant seems to be very little known by many herbalists, herb dealers, herb gatherers, and botanists of our country, and its medicinal properties as a remedial agent in the cure of certain diseases of the human body for which it can be applied with good effect, even less so.
For the benefit of those, who are wishful to know the plant, with an idea of making use of it afterwards, I will give a short description of it:—The root is tapering, with many fibres attached to it. The stem is two or three feet high, smooth, angular, solid, maculated, that is, spotted with small brown spots (almost like Spotted Hemlock); it stands erect, is leafy, with opposite axillary branches. The leaves are opposite, on winged foot stalks; they are of a dark green colour, smooth, strongly serrated, acute or sharp-pointed in three deep segments, sometimes five, the uppermost and occasionally the lowermost found undivided. The flowers are in terminal heads, solitary, of a brownish yellow colour, and are somewhat drooping; they are devoid of beauty, smell, or fragrance. Each flower is surrounded by about eight spreading lanceolate, serrated, or entire bracts of unequal size, but all extending much beyond the flower head, achenia with two or three prickly angles, and as many erect bristles, which are likewise prickly, with reflexed hooks, by which the achenia will stick like burs to anything they may come in contact with, even to sticking in one's skin. One of the best tests whereby to know you have the right plant is to press one of the heads of the flowers on your clothing, and if in pulling it away the brown achenias stick in the cloth, you may be sure you have the correct article. There are other plants that produce burs that will stick to cloth, such as Burdock, Cleavers, Wild Carrot, Hounds' Tongue, etc., but they do not grow in water like Bur-Marigold. It flowers in July, August, and September, and is an annual plant. It belongs to class 19 in the Linnaean system, called syngenesia; order first polygamia Aequalis. In the natural system it belongs to the order compositae.
The principles of Bur-Marigold are four, viz.: Resin, resinoid alkaloid, and neutral. The properties are slightly narcotic, sedative, diuretic, aperient, astringent, styptic, antiseptic, and diaphoretic.
Its employment is in fevers, dropsy, gravel, stone in bladder, kidney diseases, consumption, ulcerated lungs, general debility, ruptured blood vessels, and bleedings of every description, whether internal or external. The whole plant is used.
Bur-Marigold, in the treatment of dropsy and gravel affections, depends more upon its diaphoretic and astringent properties than on its direct diuretic influences. It resolves mucous deposits, and deterges and heals abraded mucous surfaces in catarrh of the bladder, engorgement of the ureters, and in all atonic conditions of the urinary apparatus. It is peculiarly useful in dropsy, stranguary, hematuria, gout, etc., being a most valuable and auxiliary agent. Its utility in the last-mentioned diseases is owing to the power of resolving the viscidity of the secretions and of promoting renal depuration. It seems to exercise a peculiar soothing and toning influence upon inflamed and abraded mucous surfaces. It also promotes assimilation and restrains diarrhoeal tendency, but it is in all cases of haemorrhage and where bleeding is concerned that its greatest qualities are found. In bleeding from the lungs, stomach, or bowels its equal cannot be found, for as a styptic it puts all other remedies in the shade, no matter whether they be vegetable or mineral. Turpentine, so generally used in such cases, seems only a plaything to Bur-Marigold; Iron, Bistort, Tormentil, Oak Bark, Kino, Catechu, and other powerful astringents being far less reliable.
In all diseases of the respiratory organs, where bleeding is concerned, Bur-Marigold is of the highest value and utility, as it first resolves the viscidity of the pulmonary secretions, the plasticity of the venous blood, and promotes cutaneous depuration, healing the part affected without causing any irritation to the patient.
Three instances may be given out of hundreds which will go far to prove the value of this simple plant. The first came under the writer's observation when a boy; it occurred in the summer of 1854. An old Waterloo pensioner named William Bamber, of St. Mary Street, Preston, whilst in action was wounded in the lungs. These were never completely made right, periodical ruptures and bleeding taking place, one of which occurred at the time and place aforementioned. It was a very severe attack, the doctor at Fulwood Barracks being sent for, as well as one from the House of Correction, and one from the Militia Barracks. The three had a consultation and did all they could think of to allay the bleeding, but without avail. They then went away with gloomy faces, saying they could do no more, but would call again in the evening. I happened to be in the house with my mother at the time, and when the doctors had gone, she persuaded the old soldier to let her make somthing for him, stating that she thought it would do him good. He consented, and she went home and made a strong infusion of Bur-Marigold and crushed lump Ginger. The patient was induced to drink half-a-teacupful while warm, the other being put on the hob and a similar quantity taken every 30 minutes. The result was that when the doctors came in again they were astonished to find the bleeding had entirely ceased and the man greatly improved. They inquired what had been done, and when informed, sent for my mother and told her she had saved the man's life. He lived for several years and was not troubled again with bleeding from the lungs. Though very young at the time, the simple method of the cure was so impressed upon my mind that I have caused the same herb to be used in the same manner in hundreds of cases since, and where bleeding was concerned I have never known it to fail.
The second instance occurred about five years ago, when a well-built young man residing at Farnworth, was told by the doctors that he was consumptive, and that it was hereditary, his father having died of a decline. He was spitting blood and was informed he would never be fit for work again; but after taking freely of Bur-Marigold and a few other simple herbs, in six weeks he was able to go to work once more. Six months afterwards the same doctors told him that his lungs were perfectly sound, and he has followed his employment ever since.
I will give you another instance and then leave readers to try it for themselves and see the result. It is that of a young lady who was suffering with extreme uterine haemorrhage which the doctors could not stop. Bur-Marigold was tried with grand results, as it not only stopped the hemorrhage but also the flow of passive urine, which was continuous.
Bur-Marigold is known throughout South-West and North-East Lancashire by the name of Water Agrimony.
The mode of preparation is as follows:—Take 2 oz. of Bur-Marigold, cut into small pieces, and place with 1 oz. of crushed lump Ginger into 3 pints of cold water, and simmer it down to one quart. Strain, and it is ready for use. The dose is half to one teacupful, taken either warm or cold as often as required; the severer the case the more frequently it should be given.
Common Plants and their Uses in Medicine was written by Richard Lawrence Hool, F.N.A.M.H., in 1922.