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."