The name SAXIFRAGE is derived from Latin saxum, stone, and frangere, to break - "break-stone", in other words, for these plants often grow in clefts of rocks. Inaccurate observation led to the conclusion that the roots had actually broken the rock, and that became the signature of the plant - that which breaks rocks must also have the power to break stones in the body. So the plant was prescribed for the purpose, from Anglo-Saxon times right up to the mid-18111 century, and probably later. Hill, for example, in 1754, was still repeating Gerard's prescription: "The root of White Saxifrage boiled in wine and drunken, provoketh urine, clenseth the kidnies and bladder, breaketh the stone and driveth it forth ...". Similarly, another "Breakstone", PARSLEY PIERT, was much used, by sympathy, against stone in the bladder. Gypsies use an infusion of the dried herb for gravel and other bladder troubles (Vesey-Fitzgerald). It was well-known as a powerful diuretic in Camden's time, and it was in great demand during World War11, being used for bladder and kidney troubles (Brownlow). Another example of the doctrine of signatures concerns GROMWELL (Lithospermum officinale), whose stony seeds (that is what Lithospermum means), proclaim its signature perfectly, and it was used for the stone from Pliny onwards, at least to the mid-18th century, for Hill repeated the prescription that had been in vogue for cenuries before his time.
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