Fractures

In 17th century Skye a mixture of BARLEY meal and white of egg was applied as a first aid measure for broken bones. After that, splints were used (Beith). But it is COMFREY that is the fracture herb par excellence. The glutinous matter of the roots was grated and used (and still is) for a plaster that set hard over a fracture. Sometimes a charm had to be spoken at the same time. In Ireland, it was taken internally, as part of the process of knitting fractures (Moloney). Many of the names for comfrey proclaim the usage; comfrey itself, from Latin confervere, to heal, and its alternative Consound, much applied to this and to plants of a similar reputation, and coming from Latin consolida. Vernacular names include many that advertise its qualities, names like

Knitbone and Boneset, and a few others. Comfrey is consolida major, and DAISY is consolida minor. "The Northern men call this herbe a Banwort because it helpeth bones to knyt againe" (Turner). Daisies were even called Bone-flowers in the north of England (Grigson. 1955). BUTCHER'S BROOM has been used in a similar way - a decoction of the leaves and berries was made into a poultice applied to help broken bones to knit (Leyel. 1937). Evelyn recommended the use of MYRTLE berries as a consound. In the Balkans, a plaster for splints was made from a mixture of FLAX seed, egg-white and powdered alum (Kemp); that particular usage is recorded from Ireland, too: "with white and yolk of egg [it is used] by bone setters and makes excellent splinting material when supported with leather" (Moloney). SOLOMON'S SEAL is another plant with a reputation for helping broken bones knit, either taken inwardly in ale, or as a poultice (Grigson. 1955), a use mentioned by Gerard, who said "there is not to be found another herbe comparable to it. The root stamped and applied in manner of a pultesse, and laid upon members that have been out of joynt, and newly restored to their places, driveth away the paine, and kintteth the joynt very firmely ..." (perhaps that is why it is known as "seal", conjectured Mrs Leyel) (Leyel. 1937). Culpeper recommended the leaves of BEAR'S BREECH, "bruised or rather boiled and applied like a poultice are excellent good to unite broken bones, and strangthen joints that have been put out".

Fragaria x ananassa > STRAWBERRY Fragaria vesca > WILD STRAWBERRY FRANGIPANI

(Plumería alba) According to legend, in the 12th century an Italian called Frangipani, by combining certain volatile oils, created an exquisite perfume. European settlers in the Caribbean 400 years later discovered a plant whose flower had a similar perfume, so it was naturally called Frangipani. In Asia, it is often planted near Buddhist temples (hence the names Pagoda Tree and Temple Flower, often given to it (Leyel. 1937)) in order that the blooms be readily available as temple flowers and as offerings to the gods (Chinese medicinal herbs of Hong Kong. Vol 3; 1987). It is also planted in Indian cemeteries, so that the daily fall of white flowers covers the graves (M North).

FRANKE is a word that seems to mean a stall in which cattle were shut up to be fattened. CORN SPURREY (Spergula arvensis), which has this name, was certainly grown in Britain to fatten cattle, and probably still is on the Continent (Prior). Halliwell has a slightly different explanation. He described Franke as "a small inclosure in which animals (generally boars) were fattened".

Fraxinus excelsior > ASH FRECKLES

The water that collects in the cups formed by the fusing together of the TEASEL's opposite leaves was much prized for cosmetic use, and in Wales it was said to be a remedy for freckles (Trevelyan). Another Welsh practice was to use a wart cure from the Physicians of Myddfai to cure freckles incidentally: "take the juice of SHEEP'S SORREL, and bay salt, wash your hands and let them dry spontaneously. Do this again and you will see the warts and freckles disappear. DANDELION flowers, boiled for half an hour in water, give a toilet water to get rid of freckles on the face (Palaiseul), and SILVERWEED was another cosmetic, steeped in buttermilk, to remove freckles and general brownness (Black). Gerard also advised the use of this herb: "the distilled water takes away freckles, spots, pimples in the face, and sun-burning". The sliced roots of BLUE FLAG were once applied to the skin for cosmetic effects, mainly to get rid of freckles (Le Strange).

In America, the roots of WHITE POND LILY (Nymphaea odorata) are used for the purpose. They produce a liquid that, mixed with lemon juice, was supposed to remove freckles (Sanford). Another American practice, from Kentucky, is to wash the face with melon rind, to get rid of freckles (Thomas & Thomas).

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