Cinnamon

(Cinnamon zeylanicum) According to medieval legend, the spice was found in birds' nests, particularly that of the phoenix, "and may not be found, but what falleth by its own weight, or is smitten down with lead arrows. But these men do feign, to make things dear and of great price ..." (Bartholomew Anglicus). It is often used as incense, when a little is burned on charcoal, which is good for "aiding meditation and clairvoyance" (Valiente). There is a ritual use in Rhodes; at wedding ceremonies the bride's hands were anointed with it (Rodd) (as an oil, presumably).

Pomanders were once carried as a preservative against infection, and they usually contained cinnamon bark amongst other aromatic substances (Clair). It has even been used, in Spain, to cure rabies (H W Howes). A spoonful of cinnamon with water was an Alabama domestic remedy for a headache (R B Browne). Cinnamon powder taken in milk is given as a cure for dysentery, and strong cinnamon tea taken at the beginning of mumps will, it is claimed, reduce the violence of the complaint and prevent complications. It can even be used for warts. The practice in Illinois was simply to cover the wart with cinnamon in order to get rid of it (H M Hyatt). Cinnamon brandy is good to take at the beginning of a cold or influenza (Leyel. 1937). But it appeared very early in medical receipts: Dawson, for instance, quoted a "powder to gather flesh. Take powder of mastic and frankincense, canell [cinnamon, that is], and coral, of each equally much, and make powder thereof". That word 'canell' is the Italian cannella, French cannelle, and was given because the sticks of rolled bark resemble pieces of reed, which is what cannella means. It is mentioned as early as the 13th century, in a poem on the Land of Cockaigne - "pudrid with gilofre and canel", and is still in use - l'eau de cannelle is cinnamon water, and it used to be essential in Jersey to celebrate a christening (Lempriere).

Cinnamonium camphora > CAMPHOR Cinnamonium cassia > CASSIA Cinnamonium zeylanicum > CINNAMON CINQUEFOIL

(Potentilla reptans) Cinquefoil means five leaves, and that features in many of the names of this plant, whether they are called leaves, or fingers, as in Five-finger Grass (Turner), or Five-finger Blossom (Grigson. 1955), etc., It is good for fevers, so it was said, and at a time when fevers were considered to be the work of witches, the plant came to be an antidote to witchcraft. Reginald Scot refers to the custom of those "who hang in their entries an herb called Pentaphyllon, Cinquefoil", with hawthorn gathered on May Day, in order "to be delievered from witches" (Scot). In Wales they would dig up a root on May Eve and wear it in their coats, for luck (Trevelyan). According to Graves, it was used by medieval French witches as the chief ingredient of flying ointment. Montague Summers gave two recipes for flying ointment, taken from Scot again, in which cinquefoil is mentioned as an ingredient, along with other poisonous or revolting substances. Very similar is the recipe in Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum (1627), who says that witches' ointments were made "of the fat of children digged out of their graves, of the juices of smallage, wolfbane, and cinquefoil, mingled with the meal of fine wheat". But what is cinquefoil doing in all this? It appears again in a witch philtre for love or hate, composed of adders, spiders, cinquefoil, the brains of an unbaptised baby, and so on (Summers). That philtre, with only cinquefoil, makes an unlikely appearance with the Pennsylvania Germans. "To gain the admiration of girls, carry cinquefoil in your pocket" (Fogel). There is one piece of weather lore to notice. It comes from Devonshire, and states that if the flowers of cinquefoil expand, you can expect rain; if they close, fine weather (Hewett). It sounds the wrong way round, but that is what the author, Sarah Hewett, wrote.

Cinquefoil is used as a tea for diarrhoea (but tormentil is much more effective). Externally, the decoction is sued to bathe wounds, and as a mouthwash for throat and gum irritants (Fluck). In Alabama, a tea is made from it to be used for fevers (R B Browne). Aubrey. 1696 quoted a recipe for ague, tertian or Quartan : "Gather cinquefoil in a good aspect of." [here follows astrological instructions] "and take. of the powder of it in white wine . With this receipt, one Bradley, a Quaker at Kingston Wick upon Thames (near the bridge end), hath cured above a hundred". Earlier herbalists seem to be agreed that Cinquefoil offers a cure for toothache. (see Gerard, Dawson).

Cirsium acaulon > PICNIC THISTLE

Cirsium heterophyllum > MELANCHOLY THISTLE

Cirsium vulgare > SPEAR PLUME THISTLE

Citrullus vulgaris > WATER MELON

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Responses

  • MATILDA
    Can cinnamon cure rabies?
    2 years ago

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