MANDRAKE was probably the first anaesthetic, and could be prepared simply by steeping the juice, or boiling the root, in wine; then a draught could be given before surgery, and the pain possibly dulled (H F Clark). A 5th century work has the observation (in translation) "if anyone is to have a member amputated, cauterized, or sawed, let him drink an ounce and a half in wine; he will sleep until the member is taken off, without either pain or sensation". Mixing it with lettuce seed and mulberry leaves would make it more potent. It has been said that the first volatile anaesthetic was a sponge boiled in such a mixture and held under the face of the patient. But of course, it is a powerful poison, and too much of it could bring on madness, paralysis or death. HEMP, too, has been used as an anaesthetic. It was in AD 220 that a Chinese physician and surgeon used cannabis resins mixed with wine as an anaesthetic, rather like the early Greek use of Mandrake. Both are pain-relievers (Emboden. 1972).

Mexican surgeons have used an alkaloid from the bark of TREE CELANDINE (Bocconia frutescens) as an anaesthetic (Perry. 1972). In central Africa, the leaves of CHINESE LANTERN (Dichrostachys glomerata), when used as a treatment for snakebite, are said to act as a local anaesthetic (Palgrave).

Anagallis arvensis > SCARLET PIMPERNEL.

Anaphalis margaretacea > PEARLY IMMORTELLE

Anastatica hierochuntica > ROSE OF JERICHO

Anchusa officinalis > ALKANET

Anemone coronaria > POPPY ANEMONE

Anemone nemerosa > WOOD ANEMONE

Angelica archangelica > ARCHANGEL

Angelica sylvestris > WILD ANGELICA

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