(Sanicula europaea) Sanicle means a healing herb (from Latin sanare, to heal), in spite of attempts to see in it a corruption of St Nicholas (Fernie). It has been widely used as a medicinal herb for a very long time, chiefly as a wound herb, though numerous other complaints have been treated with it. These days it is usually prescribed in the form of a compress made from the roots, for wounds (Thomson. 1978), but in earlier times it was taken internally, as a "wound drink". Gerard for example said that "the juice being inwardly taken is good to heale wounds". A 15th century wound drink was made from sanicle, yarrow and bugle, pounded, and given with wine. "This is the vertu of this drynke: bugle holdith the wound open, mylfoyle clenseth the wound, sanycle helith it". But it was emphasised that sanicle must not be given for wounds in the head, or a broken skull, for fear of killing the patient (Grigson. 1955). There was a veterinary use, too - after a cow had calved, country people used to feed it with sanicle leaves, to help the expulsion of the afterbirth, and to stop any bleeding (Drury. 1985).
The astringent leaves can be used in infusion to treat catarrh (Conway), and as a gargle for sore throats and quinsy (Wickham), as well as stomach or lung complaints (Usher). It formed an old treatment for dropsy, and was once used as a lotion for chilblains (Mitton). All in all, the French rhyme is understandable:
Qui a la Bugle et la Sanicle
(faire la nicle means to thumb one's nose at). Sanicula europaea > SANICLE Santalum album > SANDALWOOD Santolina chamaecyparissus > GROUND CYPRESS Sanvitaliaprocumbens > CREEPING ZINNIA Sapindus saponaria > SOAPBERRY Saponaria officinalis > SOAPWORT Sarcostemma acidum > MOON PLANT Sarothamnus scoparius > BROOM
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