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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
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House Leek (crassulaceoe)



Mustard








The wild Mustard (Brassica Sinapistrum), a Cruciferous herb
commonly called Chedlock, from leac, a weed, and kiede, to
annoy, grows abundantly as a product of waste places, and in newly
disturbed ground.

The Field Mustard (Arvensis) is Charlock, or Brassock; its
botanical term, Sinapis, being referable to the Celtic nap, as a
general name for plants of the rape kind. Mustard was formerly
known as senvie in English. It has been long cultivated and
improved, especially in Darham.

Now we have for commercial and officinal purposes two varieties of
the cultivated plant, the black Mustard (Sinapis nigra), and the
white Mustard (Brassica, or Sinapis alba). There is also a plain
plant of the hedges, [376] Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale)
which is a mere rustic Simple. It is the black Mustard which
yields by its seeds the condiment of our tables, and the
pungent yellow flour which we employ for the familiar stimulating
poultice, or sinapism. This black Mustard is a tall smooth plant,
having entire leaves, and smooth seed pods, being now grown for
the market on rich alluvial soil chiefly in Lincolnshire and
Yorkshire. In common with its kindred plants it gets its name from
mustum, the must, or newly fermented grape juice, and
ardens, burning, because as a condiment, Mustard flour was
formerly mixed with home-made wine and sugar. The virtues of
black Mustard depend on the acrid volatile oil contained in its seeds.
These when unbruised and macerated in boiling water yield only a
tasteless mucilage which resides in their skin. But when bruised
they develop a very active, pungent, and highly stimulative principle
with a powerful penetrating odour which makes the eyes water.
From thence is perhaps derived the generic name of the herb
Sinapis (Para tou sinesthai tous hopous, because it irritates the
eyes). This active principle contains sulphur abundantly, as is
proved by the discoloration of a silver spoon when left in the
mustard-pot, the black sulphuret of silver being formed. The
chemical basis of black Mustard is sinnigrin and its acid myronic.
The acridity of its oil is modified in the seeds by combination with
another fixed oil of a bland nature which can be readily separated by
pressure, then the cake left after the expression of this fixed oil is
far more pungent than the seeds. The bland oil expressed from the hulls
of the black seeds after the flour has been sifted away, promotes the
growth of the hair, and may be used with benefit externally for
[377] rheumatism. Whitehead's noted Essence of Mustard is made
with spirits of turpentine and rosemary, with which camphor and the
farina of black Mustard seed are mixed. This oil is very little
affected by frost or the atmosphere; and it is therefore specially
prized by clock makers, and for instruments of precision.

A Mustard poultice from the farina of black Mustard made into a
paste with, or without wheaten flour commingled, constitutes one of
the most powerful external stimulating applications we can employ.
It quickly induces a sharp burning pain, and it excites a destructive
outward inflammation which enters much more into the true skin
than that which is caused by an old fashioned blister of Spanish fly.
This has therefore superseded the latter as more promptly and
reliably effective for the speedy relief of all active internal
congestions. If the application of Mustard has caused sores, these
may be best soothed and healed by lime-water liniment.

Mustard flour is an infallible antiseptic and sterilising agent. It is
a capital deodoriser; and if rubbed thoroughly into the bands and nails
will take away all offensive stink when corrupt or dead tissues have
been manipulated.

If a tablespoonful of Mustard flour is added to a pint of tepid water,
and taken at a draught it operates briskly as a stimulating and sure
emetic. Hot water poured on bruised seeds of black Mustard makes
a good stimulating footbath for helping to throw off a cold, or to
dispel a headache; and meantime the volatile oil given out as an
aroma, if not too strong, proves soporific. This oil contains erucic,
and sinapoleic acids. When properly mixed with spirit of wine,
twenty-four drops of the oil to an ounce of spirit, the essential oil
forms, [378] by reason of its stimulating properties and its contained
sulphur, a capital liniment for use in rheumatism, or for determining
blood to the surface from deeper parts. Caution should be used not
to apply a plaster made altogether of Mustard flour to the delicate
skin of young children, or females, because ulcers difficult to heal
may be the result, or even gangrenous destruction of the deeper skin
may follow. The effects of a Mustard bath, at about ninety degrees,
are singular; decided chills are felt at first throughout the whole
body, with some twitchings at times of the limbs; and later on, even
after the skin surface has become generally red, this sense of
coldness persists, until the person leaves the water, when reaction
becomes quickly established, with a glowing heat and redness of the
whole skin.

For obstinate hiccough a teacupful of boiling water should be
poured on a teaspoonful of Mustard flour, and taken when sufficiently
cool, half at first, and the other half in ten minutes if still
needed. For congestive headache a small roll of Mustard paper or
Mustard leaf may be introduced into one or both nostrils, and left
there for a minute or more. It will relieve the headache promptly,
and may perhaps induce some nose bleeding.

Admixture with vinegar checks the development of the pungent
principles of Mustard. This used to be practised for the table in
England, but is now discontinued, though some housewives add a
little salt to their made Mustard.

Claims for the introduction of Mustard at Durham in 1720, have
been raised in favour of a Mrs. Clements, but they cannot be
substantiated. Shakespeare in the Taming of the Shrew makes
Grumio ask Katherine What say you to a piece of beef and
Mustard? and speaks, in Henry IV., of Poins' wit being as thick
[379] as Tewkesbury Mustard; whilst Fuller in his Worthies of
England, written only a very few years after Shakespeare's death,
says the best Mustard in England is made at Tewkesbury in the
county of Gloucester. Coles observes (1657), in Gloucestershire
about Teuxbury they grind Mustard seed and make it up into balls,
which are brought to London and other remote places as being the
best that the world affords. George the First restored the popularity
of Mustard by his approval of it. Prior to 1720 no such condiment as
Mustard in its present form was used at table in this country. It
is not improbable that the Romans, who were great eaters of
Mustard-seed pounded and steeped in new wine, brought the condiment
with them to our shores, and taught the ancient Britons how to prepare
it. At Dijon in France where the best mixed continental Mustard is
made, the condiment is seasoned with various spices and savouries,
such as Anchovies, Capers, Tarragon, Catsup of Walnuts, or
Mushrooms, and the liquors of other pickles. Philip the Bold
granted armorial ensigns (1382) to Dijon, with the motto moult me
tarde (I wish for ardently). The merchants of Sinapi copied this on
their wares, the middle word of the motto being accidentally
effaced. A well-known couplet of lines supposed to occur in
Hudibras (but not to be found there), has long baffled the research
of quotation hunters:

Sympathy without relief
Is like to Mustard without beef.

Mustard flour moistened with a little water into a paste has the
singular property of dispelling the odours of musk, camphor, and
the fetid gum resins. For deodorising vessels which have contained
the essences of turpentine, creasote, assafetida, or other such drugs,
it [380] will answer to introduce some bruised Mustard-seed, and
then a little water, shaking the vessel well for a minute or more, and
afterwards rinsing it out with plenty of water.

The white Mustard grows when uncultivated on waste ground with
large yellow flowers, and does not yield under any circumstances a
pungent oil like the black Mustard. It is a hirsute plant, with stalked
leaves and hairy seed pods; and when produced in our gardens its
young leaves are eaten as a salad, or as Mustard, with Cress.

When in the leaf, says John Evelyn in his Acetaria, Mustard,
especially in young seedling plants, is of incomparable effect to
quicken and revive the spirits, strengthening the memory, expelling
heaviness, preventing the vertiginous palsy, and a laudable cephalic,
besides being an approved antiscorbutic. He tells further that the
Italians, in making Mustard as a condiment, mingle lemon and
orange peel with the (black) seeds. In the composition of a sallet
the Mustard (a noble ingredient) should be of the best Tewkesbury
or else of the soundest and weightiest Yorkshire seed, tempered a
little by the fire to the consistence of a pap with vinegar, in which
some shavings of the horseradish have been steeped. Then, cutting
an onion, and putting it into a small earthen gally-pot, pour the
Mustard over it and close it very well with a cork. Note.--The
seeds should have been pounded in a mortar, or bruised with a
polished cannon bullet in a large wooden bowl dish.

The active principle of white Mustard is Sinapin, and the seed
germinates so rapidly that it has been said a salad of this may be
grown while the joint of meat is being roasted for dinner. Seeds of
the white Mustard have been employed medicinally from early
times. [381] Hippocrates advised their use both internally, and as a
counter-irritating poultice made with vinegar. When swallowed
whole in teaspoonful doses three or four times a day, they exercise a
laxative effect mechanically, and are voided without undergoing any
perceptible change, only the outer skin being a little softened and
mucilaginous. An infusion of the seed taken medicinally will relieve
chronic bronchitis, and confirmed rheumatism: also for a relaxed
sore throat a gargle of Mustard seed tea will be found of service.

A French expression for trifling one's time away is s'amuser a la
moutarde. The essential oil is an admirable deodorant and
disinfectant, especially on an emergency.

But the grain of Mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds (Mark
iv., 31), which when it is grown up is the greatest among herbs,
was a tree of the East, very different from our Mustard, and bearing
branches of real wood.

The Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium, or Erisymum) grows by our
roadsides, and on waste grounds, where it seems to possess a
peculiar aptitude for collecting and retaining dust. The pods are
downy, close pressed to the stem, and the leaves hairy with their
points turned backwards. It is named by the French St. Barbara's
Hedge Mustard, and the Singer's Plant, herbe au chantre, or
herbe au chanteur. Up to the time of Louis XIV, it was
considered an infallible remedy for loss of the voice. Racine writing
to Boileau recommended the syrup of Erysimum to him when
visiting the waters of Bourbonne in order to be cured of
voicelessness. Si les eaux de Bourbonne ne vous guerissent pas de
votre extinction de voix, le sirop d'Erysimum vous guerirait
infalliblement. Ne l'oubliez pas, et a l'occasion vingt grammes par
litre d'eau en tisane [382] matin et soir. It used to be called Flix,
or Flux weed from being given with benefit in dysentery, a disease
formerly known as the Flix. This herb has been commended for
chronic coughs and hoarseness, using the juice mixed with an equal
quantity of honey, or sugar. It has been designated the most
excellent of all remedies for diseases of the throat, especially in
ulcerated sore throats, which it will serve to cure when all the advice
of physicians and surgeons has proved ineffectual. A strong
infusion of the herb is excellent in asthmas, and it may be made
with sugar into a syrup which will keep all the year round. The
Hedge Mustard contains chemically a soft resin, and a sulphuretted
volatile oil. This herb with the vervain is supposed to form Count
Mattaei's noted nostrum Febrifugo.





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