A plant belonging to the order of Nettles, the Pellitory of the Wall,

or Paritory--Parietaria, from the Latin parietes, walls--is a

favourite Herbal Simple in many [424] rural districts. It grows

commonly on dry walls, and is in flower all the summer. The leaves

are narrow, hairy, and reddish; the stems are brittle, and the small

blossoms hairy, in clusters. Their filaments are so elastic that if

touched before the flo
er has expanded, they suddenly spring from

their in curved position, and scatter the pollen broadcast.

An infusion of the plant is a popular medicine to stimulate the

kidneys, and promote a large flow of watery urine. The juice of the

herb acts in the same way when made into a thin syrup with sugar,

and given in doses of two tablespoonfuls three times in the day.

Dropsical effusions caused by an obstructed liver, or by a weak

dilated heart, may be thus carried off with marked relief. The

decoction of Parietaria, says Gerard, helpeth such as are troubled

with an old cough. All parts of the plant contain nitre abundantly.

The leaves may be usefully applied as poultices.

But another Pellitory, which is more widely used because of its

pungent efficacy in relieving toothache, and in provoking a free

flow of saliva, is a distinct plant, the Pyrethrum, or Spanish

Chamomile of the shops, and not a native of Great Britain, though

sometimes cultivated in our gardens. The title Purethron is from

pur, fire, because of its burning ardent taste. Its root is

scentless, but when chewed causes a pricking sensation (with heat,

and some numbness) in the mouth and tongue. Then an abundant flow of

saliva, and of mucus within the cheeks quickly ensues. These effects

are due to pyrethrin contained in the plant, which is an acid fixed

resin; also there are present a second resin, and a yellow, acrid oil,

whilst the root contains inulin, tannin, and other substances. When

sliced and applied to the skin it induces heat, [425] tingling, and

redness. A patient seeking relief from rheumatic or neuralgic

affections of the head and face, or for palsy of the tongue, should

chew the root of this Pyrethrum for several minutes.

The Pelleter of Spain (Pyrethrum Anacyclus), was so styled,

not because of being brought from Spain; but because it is grown


A gargle of Pyrethrum infusion is prescribed for relaxed uvula,

and for a partial paralysis of the tongue and lips. The tincture made

from the dried root may be most helpfully applied on cotton wool to

the interior of a decayed tooth which is aching, or the milder

tincture of the wall Pellitory may be employed for the same

purpose. To make a gargle, two or three teaspoonfuls of the

tincture of Pyrethrum, which can be had from any druggist,

should be mixed with a pint of cold water, and sweetened with

honey, if desired. The powdered root forms a good snuff to cure

chronic catarrh of the head and nostrils, and to clear the brain by

exciting a free flow of nasal mucus and tears--Purgatur cerebrum

mansa radice Pyrethri.

Incidentally, as a quaint but effective remedy for carious toothache,

may be mentioned the common lady bird insect, Coccinella, which

when captured secretes from its legs a yellow acrid fluid having a

disagreeable odour. This fluid will serve to ease the most violent

toothache, if the creature be placed alive in the cavity of the hollow


Gerard says this Pyrethrurn (Pellitory of Spain, or Pelletor) is

most singular for the surgeons of the hospitals to put into their

unctions contra Neapolitanum morbum, and such other diseases

that are cousin germanes thereunto. The Parietaria, or Pellitory

of the wall, is named Lichwort, from growing on stones.

[426] Sir William Roberts, of Manchester, has advised jujubes,

made of gum arabic and pyrethrum, to be slowly masticated by

persons who suffer from acid fermentation in the stomach, a copious

flow of alkaline saliva being stimulated thereby in the mouth, which

is repeatedly swallowed during the sucking of one or more of the

jujubes, and which serves to neutralise the acid generated within the

stomach. Distressing heartburn is thus effectively relieved without

taking injurious alkalies, such as potash and soda.