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MAIDENHAIR FERN has been used to stop the hair falling out, a use stemming from the legend that the hair of Venus (capillus-veneris) was dry when the goddess came out of the sea, since when the fern has been used in hair lotions, particularly for lotions to prevent the hair from going out of curl on damp days. From there it is but a short step for the doctrine of signatures to ensure that it should be used for alopecia. It is the ashes of the fern, mixed with olive oil and vinegar, that are used (Leyel. 1937). SOUTHERNWOOD had a similar reputation. See Gerard's prescription "the ashes of burnt Southernwood, with some kind of oyle that is of thin parts ... cure the pilling of the hairs of the head, and make the beard to grow quickly".

A cap of IVY-leaves worn on the head was supposed to stop the hair falling out (Leather), or to make it grow again when illness had caused it to fall. Gerard claimed that a gall from a DOG ROSE, stamped with honey and ashes "causeth haires to grow which are fallen through the disease called Alopecia, or the Foxes Evill".

Alopecurus myosuroides > HUNGRY GRASS

Alopecuruspratensis > FOXTAIL, i.e., MEADOW FOXTAIL


(Heuchera americana) The root of this plant would be used when a powerful astringent was needed, for example, a wash can be made for wounds and obstinate ulcers (Lindley). The Meskwaki Indians used the leaves in a similar way for sores (H H Smith. 1928), and a tea is an American country remedy for diarrhoea (H M Hyatt).

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