Selfheal





Several Herbal Simples go by the name of Selfheal among our wild

hedge plants, more especially the Sanicle, the common Prunella,

and the Bugle.



The first of these is an umbelliferous herb, growing frequently in

woods, having dull white flowers, in panicled heads, which are

succeeded by roundish seeds covered with hooked prickles: the

Wood Sanicle (Europoea).



It gets its name Sanicle, perhaps, from the Latin verb sanare, to

heal, or make sound; or, possibly, as a corruption of St. Nicholas,

called in German St. Nickel, who, in the Tale of a Tub, is said to

have interceded with God in favour of two children whom an

innkeeper had murdered and pickled in a pork tub; and he obtained

their restoration to life.



Anyhow, the name Sanicle was supposed in the middle ages to

mean curative, whatever its origin: [509] thus, Qui a la Bugle, et

la Sanicle fait aux chirurgiens la nicle--He who uses Sanicle and

Bugle need have no dealings with the doctor. Lyte and other

herbalists say concerning the Sanicle: It makes whole and sound all

wounds and hurts, both inward and outward.



Celui qui Sanicle a

De plaie affaire il n'a.



Who the Sanicle hath

At the surgeon may laugh.



The name Prunella (which belongs more rightly to another herb) has

been given to the Sanicle, perhaps, through its having been

originally known as Brunella, Brownwort, both because of the

brown colour of its spikes, and from its being supposed to cure the

disease called in Germany die braune, a kind of quinsy; on the

doctrine of signatures, because the corolla resembles a throat with

swollen glands.



The Sanicle is popularly employed in Germany and France as a

remedy for profuse bleeding from the lungs, bowels, womb, and

urinary organs; also for the staying of dysenteric diarrhoea. The

fresh juice of the herb may be given in tablespoonful doses.



As yet no analysis has been made of this plant; but evidence of

tannin in its several parts is afforded by the effects produced when

these are remedially applied.



The Prunella vulgaris is a distinct plant from the Self Heal, or

Sanicle, and belongs to the labiate order of herbs. It grows

commonly in waste places about England, and bears pink flowers,

being sometimes called Slough heal. This is incorrect, as the

surgical term slough was not used until long after the Prunella and

the Sanicle became named Self-heal. Each of these was applied as a

vulnerary, not to sloughing sores, but to fresh cut wounds.



[510] The Prunella Vulgaris has a flattened calyx, and whorls of

purplish blue flowers, which are collected in a head. It is also

known as Carpenter's Herb, perhaps, from its corolla, when seen in

profile, being shaped like a bill hook; and therefore, on the doctrine

of signatures, it was supposed to heal wounds inflicted by edge

tools; whence it was likewise termed Hook-heal and Sicklewort,

arid in Yorkshire, Black man.



By virtue of its properties as a vulnerary it has also been called

Consolida; but the daisy is the true Consolida minor.



The decoction of Prunell, says Gerard, made with wine and

water, doth join together and make whole and sound all wounds,

both inward and outward, even as Bugle doth. To be short, it serveth

for the same that the Bugle serveth; and in the world there are not

two better wound herbs, as bath been often proved.



The Bugle, or middle Comfrey, is also a Sanicle, because of its

excellence for healing wounds, in common with the Prunella and the

true Sanicle. It grows in almost every wood, and copse, and moist

shadowy place, being constantly reckoned among the Consounds.



This herb (Ajuga reptans) is of the labiate order, bearing dark

blue or purple flowers, whorled, and crowded into a spike. Its

decoction, when drunk, healeth and maketh sound all wounds of

the body. It is so singular good for all sorts of hurts that none who

know its usefulness will be ever without it. If the virtues of it make

you fall in love with it (as they will if you be wise), keep a syrup of

it, to take inwardly, and an ointment and plaister of it to use

outwardly, always by you.



The chemical principles of the Prunella and the Bugle [511]

resemble those of other Labiate herbs, comprising a volatile

oil, some bitter principle, tannin, sugar, and cellulose. The

Ladies' Mantle, Alchemilla--a common inconspicuous weed, found

everywhere--is called Great Sanicle, also Parsley-breakstone, or

Piercestone, because supposed to be of great use against stone in the

bladder. It contains tannin abundantly, and is said to promote quiet

sleep if placed under the pillow at night. Endymionis somnum

dormire.





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