The Tormentil (Potentilla Tormentilla) belongs to the tribe of

wild Roses, and is a common plant on our heaths, banks, and dry

pastures. It is closely allied to the Potentilla, but bears only four

petals on its flowers, which are of bright yellow. The woody roots

are medicinally useful because of their astringent properties.

Sometimes the stem is trailing, making this the Tormentilla

Reptans, but more commonly it ascen
s. The name comes from

tormina, which signifies such griping of the intestines as the herb

will serve to relieve, as likewise the twinges of toothache. The root

is employed both for tanning leather, and for dyeing it by the

thickened red juice. Furthermore through its astringency this root is

admirable for arresting bleedings. Vesalius considered it to be as

useful against syphilis as Guiacum, and Sarsaparilla. A decoction of

Tormentil makes a capital gargle, and will heal ulcers of the mouth

if used as a wash. If a piece of lint soaked therein be kept applied to

warts, they will wither and disappear. Chemically the herb contains

Tormentilla Red, identical with that of the Horse Chestnut, also

tannic, and kinoric acids. The decoction should be made with four

drams to half-a-pint of water boiled together for ten minutes, adding

half a dram of Cinnamon stick at the end of boiling; one or two

tablespoonfuls will be the dose, or of the powdered root (dried) the

dose will be from five to thirty grains.

In fluxu sanguinis, fluore albo, et mictu involuntario Tormentilla

valet. Dr. Thornton (1810) tells of a labouring botanist who learnt

the powers of this root, and by its decoction, sweetened with honey,

cured intractable agues, severe diarrhoeas, and scorbutic ulcers

(which had been turned out of hospitals as inveterate), [578] also

many fluxes. Lord William Russell heard about this, and allowed

the poor man a piece of his park in which to cultivate the herb,

Non est vegetabile quod in fluxionibus alvi efficacius est. The

root is so rich in tannin that it may be used instead of oak bark.