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Tuesday, August 16, 2011
FIELD SOUTHERNWOOD - USED BY THE PHYSICIANS OF MYDDFAI TO CURE INSANITY
Field Southernwood, unlike southernwood, is a native of the
British Isles, although it is not as prolific as it was in Culpeper’s day in the 17th century, as he reports that it grew everywhere. It grows all over the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere and can grow to around 30 inches high.
It is another member of the Artemis genus which includes tarragon, (A dracunculus), mugwort (A. vulgaris), wormwood (A. absinthum) and sweet wormwood (A. annua). It has very similar properties to southernwood but they are not as potent. However if it is easier to come by and you’d like to discover what a tisane of it tastes like, follow the recipe given for southernwood).
Culpeper believed that it was a good diuretic and advocated a conserve being made from the fresh tops, beaten with twice their weight of sugar and given in cases of hysteria and as a diuretic. He describes the taste as being “…pleasant, warm, aromatic” so unlike its close relative wormwood.
It was used in poultices for rheumatic joints, eczema, bruises and sores. The tisane or infusion can be applied on the skin for eczema too. An infusion of the roots was used especially for children as a hair tonic and to treat any scalp problems, although these did not include head lice. The roots were also made into an infusion and given as a laxative and diuretic. However if you need a laxative, then senna would be more easily available, I imagine (Jamalgota is far too potent in the normal way of these things.)
The pulverized roots were often used as perfume in the Middle Ages, to keep away unpleasant odours and diseases.
The Welsh Physicians of Myddfai used it for palsy and insanity, although these uses seem to be very diverse.
This is their remedy to cure palsy, although it did have to be taken specifically on Christmas Day.
“Take the field southernwood, pound it in a mortar, and strain the juice to about a small cupful, and give it the patient to drink, on the dawn of God's day of Christmas.”
“When a man becomes insane, take daisy, field southernwood and sage, digesting it in wine, and let the patient drink it for fifteen days.”
In other ways, Field southernwood is little different in properties and uses to the Southern European southernwood.