Feverfew





The Feverfew is one of the wild Chamomiles (Pyrethrum Parthenium),

or Matricaria, so called because especially useful for

motherhood. Its botanical names come from the Latin febrifugus,

putting fever to flight, and parthenos, a virgin. The herb

is a Composite plant, and grows in every hedgerow, with numerous

small heads of yellow flowers, having outermost white rays,

but with an upright stem; whereas that of the true garden

Chamomile is procumbent. The whole plant has a pungent odour,

and is particularly disliked by bees. A double variety is cultivated

in gardens for ornamental purposes.



The herb Feverfew is strengthening to the stomach, preventing

hysteria and promoting the monthly functions of women. It is much

used by country mediciners, though insufficiently esteemed by the

doctors of to-day.



[193] In Devonshire the plant is known as Bachelor's buttons, and

at Torquay as Flirtwort, being also sometimes spoken of as

Feathyfew, or Featherfull.



Gerard says it may be used both in drinks, and bound on the wrists,

as of singular virtue against the ague.



As Feverfue, it was ordered, by the Magi of old, to be pulled

from the ground with the left hand, and the fevered patient's name

must be spoken forth, and the herbarist must not look behind him.

Country persons have long been accustomed to make curative uses

of this herb very commonly, which grows abundantly throughout

England. Its leaves are feathery and of a delicate green colour, being

conspicuous even in mid-winter. Chemically, the Feverfew

furnishes a blue volatile oil; containing a camphoraceous stearopten,

and a liquid hydrocarbon, together with some tannin, and a bitter

mucilage.



The essential oil is medicinally useful for correcting female

irregularities, as well as for obviating cold indigestion. The herb is

also known as Maydeweed, because useful against hysterical

distempers, to which young women are subject. Taken generally it

is a positive tonic to the digestive and nervous systems. Out

chemists make a medicinal tincture of Feverfew, the dose of which

is from ten to twenty drops, with a spoonful of water, three times a

day. This tincture, if dabbed oil the parts with a small sponge, will

immediately relieve the pain and swelling caused by bites of insects

or vermin. In the official guide to Switzerland directions are given

to take a little powder of the plant called Pyrethrum roseum and

make it into a paste with a few drops of spirit, then apply this to the

hands and face, or any exposed part of the body, and let it [194] dry:

no mosquito or fly will then touch you. Or if two teaspoonfuls of

the tincture are mixed with half a pint of cold water, and if all parts

of the body likely to be exposed to the bites of insects are freely

sponged therewith they will remain unassailed. Feverfew is

manifestly the progenitor of the true Chamomilla (Anthemis

nobilis), from which the highly useful Camomile blows, so

commonly employed in domestic medicine, are obtained, and its

flowers, when dried, may be applied to the same purposes. An

infusion of them made with boiling water and allowed to become

cold, will allay any distressing sensitiveness to pain in a highly

nervous subject, and will afford relief to the faceache or earache of a

dyspeptic or rheumatic person. This Feverfew (Chrysanthemum

parthenium), is best calculated to pacify those who are liable to

sudden, spiteful, rude irascibility, of which they are conscious, but

say they cannot help it, and to soothe fretful children. Better is a

dinner or such herbs, where love is; than a stalled ox, and hatred

therewith.





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