One of the roost useful, but not best known, of the Cruciferous wild
plants which are specifics against Scrofula is our English Scurvy
It grows by choice near the sea shore, or in mountainous places; and
even when found many miles from the sea its taste is Salt. It occurs
along the muddy banks of the Avon; also in Wales, and in
Cumberland, more commonly near the coast, and likewise on the
mountains of Scotland; again it may be readily cultivated in the
garden for medicinal uses. If eaten as a salad in its fresh state it
is the most effectual of all the antiscorbutic plants.
The herb is produced with an angular smooth shilling stem, twelve
or fourteen inches high, having narrow green leaves, and
terminating in thick clusters of white flowers. Its leaves are good
and wholesome when eaten in spring with bread and butter. The
juice, when diluted with water, makes a good mouth-wash for
The whole plant contains tannin, and a bitter principle, which is
butyl-mustard oil, and on which the medicinal properties depend.
This oil is of great volatility and penetrating power; one drop
instilled on sugar, or dissolved in spirit, communicates to a quart of
wine the taste and smell of Scurvy Grass.
The fresh plant taken as such, or the expressed fresh juice, confers
the benefits of the herb in by far the most effectual way. A distilled
water, and a conserve prepared with the leaves, were formerly
dispensed by druggists; and the fresh juice mixed with that of
Seville oranges went by the name of spring drinks, or juices.
The plant is found in large quantities at Lymington  (Hants),
on low banks almost dipping into the sea. Its expressed juice was
formerly taken in beer, or boiled in milk as a decoction, flavoured
with pepper, aniseed, etc.
This Scurvy Grass has the botanical name Cochlearia, or, in
English, Spoonwort, so named from its leaves resembling in shape
the bowl of an old-fashioned spoon. It is supposed to be the famous
Herba Britannica of the ancients. Our great navigators have borne
unanimous testimony to its never-failing value in scurvy; and it has
been justly noticed that the plant grows most plentifully in altitudes
where scurvy is specially troublesome and frequent. The green herb
bruised may be applied as a poultice.
For making a decoction of the plant as a blood purifier, and against
scurvy, put two ounces of the whole plant and its roots into a quart
jug, and fill up with boiling water, taking care to keep this well
covered. When it is cold take a wineglassful thereof three, or four
times in the day.
Another name for the plant is Scruby grass. The fresh herb has a
strong pungent odour when bruised, and a warm bitter taste. Its
beneficial uses in scurvy, are due to the potash salts which it
contains. Externally, the juice will cleanse and heal foul ulcers,
and ill-favoured eruptions.