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Least Viewed Herbs

Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Acorn
Poppy
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Asparagus
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)



Chestnuts (horse And Sweet)








Ever since 1633 the Horse Chestnut tree has grown and flourished
in England, having been brought at first from the mountains of
Northern Asia. For the most part it is rather known and admired
for its wealth of shade, its large handsome floral spikes of creamy,
pink-tinted blossom, and its white, soft wood, than supposed to
exercise useful medicinal properties. But none the less is this tree
remarkable for the curative virtues contained in its large nuts of
mahogany polish, its broad palmate leaves, and its smooth silvery
bark. These virtues have been discovered and made public
especially by physicians and chemists of the homoeopathic school.
From the large digitated leaves an extract is made which has
proved of service in whooping-cough, and of which from one-third
to half a teaspoonful may be given for a dose. On the Continent
the bark is held in estimation for cutting short attacks of
intermittent fever and ague by acting in the same way as Peruvian
bark, though it is much more astringent. But the nuts are chiefly to
be regarded as the medicinal belongings of the Horse Chestnut
tree; and their bodily sphere of action is the rectum, or lower
bowel, in cases of piles, and of obstinate constipation. Their use is
particularly indicated when the bottom of the back gives out on
walking, with aching and a sense of weariness in that region.
Likewise, signal relief is found to be wrought by the same remedy
when the throat is duskily red and dry, in conjunction with
costiveness, and piles. A tincture is made (H.) from the ripe nuts
with spirit of wine, for the purposes described above, or the nuts
themselves are finely powdered and given in that form. These nuts
are starchy, and contain so much potash, that they may be
used when boiled for washing purposes. [103] In France and
Switzerland they are employed for cleansing wool and bleaching
linen, on account of their saponin. Botanically, the Horse
Chestnut is named AEsculus hippocastanea--the first word
coming from esca, food; and the second from hippos, a horse;
and Castana, the city, so called. The epithet horse does not
imply any remedial use in diseases of that animal, but rather the
size and coarseness of this species as compared with the Sweet
Spanish Chestnut. In the same way we talk of the horse radish, the
horse daisy, and the horse leech. In Turkey the fruit is given to
horses touched or broken in the wind, but in this country horses
will not eat it. Nevertheless, Horse Chestnuts may be used for
fattening cattle, particularly sheep, the nuts being cut up, and
mixed with oats, or beans. Their bitterness can be removed by first
washing the Chestnuts in lime water. Medicinally, the ripe nut of
this tree is employed, being collected in September or October,
and deprived of its shell. The odour of the flowers is powerful and
peculiar. No chemical analysis of them, or of the nuts, has been
made, but they are found to contain tannin freely. Rich-coloured,
of a reddish brown, and glossy, these nuts have given their name
to a certain shade of mellow dark auburn hair. Rosalind, in As
You Like It, says Orlando's locks are of a good colour: I' faith
your Chestnut was ever the only colour.

Of the Horse Chestnut tincture, two or three drops, with a spoonful
of water, taken before meals and at bedtime, will cure almost any
simple case of piles in a week. Also, carrying a Horse Chestnut
about the person, is said to obviate giddiness, and to prevent piles.

Taken altogether, the Horse Chestnut, for its splendour of
blossom, and wealth of umbrageous leaf, [104] its polished
mahogany fruit, and its special medicinal virtues, is facile
princeps the belle of our English trees. But, like many a
ball-room beauty, when the time comes for putting aside the gay leafy
attire, it is sadly untidy, and makes a great litter of its cast-off
clothing.

It has been ingeniously suggested that the cicatrix of the leaf
resembles a horse-shoe, with all its nails evenly placed.

The Sweet Spanish Chestnut tree is grown much less commonly in
this country, and its fruit affords only material for food, without
possessing medicinal properties; though, in the United States of
America, an infusion of the leaves is thought to be useful for
staying the paroxysms of whooping-cough. Of all known nuts, this
(the Sweet Chestnut, Stover Nut, or Meat Nut) is the most
farinaceous and least oily; hence it is more easy of digestion than
any other. To mountaineers it is invaluable, so that on the
Apennines and the Pyrenees the Chestnut harvest is the event of
the year. The Italian Chestnut-cakes, called necci, contain forty
per cent. of nutritious matter soluble in cold water; and Chestnut
flour, when properly prepared, is a capital food for children.

To be harvested the Chestnuts are spread on a frame of lattice-work
overhead, and a fire is kept burning underneath. When dry the
fruit is boiled, or steamed, or roasted, or ground into a kind of
flour, with which puddings are made, or an excellent kind of bread
is produced. The ripe Chestnut possesses a fine creamy flavour,
and when roasted it becomes almost aromatic. A good way to cook
Chestnuts is to boil them for twenty minutes, and then place them
for five minutes more in a Dutch oven.

It was about the fruit of the Spanish tree Shakespeare [105] said:
A woman's tongue gives not half so great a blow to the ear as will
a Chestnut in a farmer's fire. In the United States of America an
old time-worn story, or oft repeated tale, is called in banter a
Chestnut, and a stale joker is told not to rattle the Chestnuts.

For convalescents, after a long serious illness, the French make a
chocolate of sweet Chestnuts, which is highly restorative. The nuts
are first cooked in eau de vie until their shells and the pellicle
of the kernels can be peeled off; then they are beaten into a pulp
together with sufficient milk and sugar, with some cinnamon
added. The mixture is afterwards boiled with more milk, and
frothed up in a chocolate pot.





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Previous: Chervil Or Beaked Parsley



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