Fennel-flower (nigella Sativa Linn)
Before dismissing this section of the subject, it may be interesting to
glance over the list of names once more. Seven of these plants were
formerly so prominent in medicine that they were designated "official"
and nearly all the others were extensively used by physicians. At the
present day there are very few that have not passed entirely out of
official medicine and even out of domestic practice, at least so far as
eir intrinsic qualities are concerned. Some, to be sure, are still
employed because of their pleasant flavors, which disguise the
disagreeable taste of other drugs. But this is a very different matter.
One of the most notable of these is fennel. What wonders could that
plant not perform 300 years ago! In Parkinson's "Theatricum Botanicum"
(1640) its "vertues" are recorded. Apart from its use as food, for
which, then, as now, it was highly esteemed, without the attachment of
any medicinal qualities as an esculent, it was considered efficacious in
cases of gout, jaundice, cramps, shortness of breath, wheezing of the
lungs; for cleansing of the blood and improving the complexion; to use
as an eye-water or to increase the flow of milk; as a remedy for serpent
bites or an antidote for poisonous herbs and mushrooms; and for people
who "are growen fat to abate their unwieldinesse and make them more
gaunt and lanke."