Historical Herbs

A recent post on Spitalfields Life about the herbalist Nicholas Culpeper piqued my interest, about both the man and his writings on the uses of herbs in medicine.   Of course the claims as to the uses and values of herbs varies widely, depending on the writer.   But here are a few:


Anise.   In 1305 Edward I declared this a taxable drug.   Some of the revenues from the tax was used to repair London Bridge (it was falling down, falling down).   A great use of this herb is to keep away nightmares, an admirable goal.


Chives.   Good as a cure for melancholy and is believed to drive away evil spirits.


Dandelion.   Should be used by “liverish” people who are resentful, irritable or prone to dark moods.   Dandelion is absolutely adorable when the flowers are eaten by bunnies.


Mint.  Said to be symbolic of success, motivation, money and healing (we all need one or the other of these, so it’s great that I grow so much of it).  It relaxes the nerves, stimulates the brain and protects from evil forces.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Oregano.   Ruled by Venus.  When worn on the head during sleep it promotes psychic dreams.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Parsley.   Doesn’t really have any funny uses, it’s mostly an attractive garnish.


Thistle.  Culpeper included lots of astrology in his description of useful herbs, such as thistle is the herb of Mars under the sign of Aries.  And he recommends thistle in wine because “being drank expells superfluous melancholy out of the body and makes a man as merry as a cricket.”   I have always wanted to be as merry as a cricket, so perhaps I shall have to try this.

One thought on “Historical Herbs”

  1. Let me know if drinking thistle in wine makes you as “merry as a cricket.” If it does, I’ll try it. Maybe in beer, not wine.

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