Sunflower

(Helianthus annuus) To dream of sunflowers means your pride will be deeply wounded (Mackay), but to have them growing in the garden will bring good luck (H M Hyatt). The American Indians used the plant medicinally to a large extent. It was considered an antidote to rattlesnake-bite, the method being to chew the seeds in order to make a poultice of them (Stevenson). They also boiled the seeds to get oil to dress their hair, and the whole flower heads were boiled by, among others, the Dakota Indians, for lung trouble (Gilmore), which is interesting, for the plant is used in Russian domestic medicine for the same complaint, listed as bronchitis, laryngitis and pulmonary disorders. The same medicine is used there for nervous disorders (Kourennoff). Russian folk medicine also prescribed the stalks and leaves, infused in vodka, and taken three times a day, for gout. To cure a wart, the Navajo Indians burned some powdered sunflower pith on the wart (Wyman & Harris). Herbalists still use the tincture for bruises, in the same way as arnica (Schauenberg & Paris).

The seeds are a specific for whooping cough, and Sunflower Gin is often made for that complaint. The recipe is to boil 2 ounces of the seeds in a quart of water till it is reduced to a pint. Strain and add 6 ounces of Hollands gin and sugar to taste. The dose is a teaspoonful at a time (Leyel. 1937). Much simpler is a syrup made in Iowa, of stewed seeds and brown sugar, and regarded there as a good remedy for the complaint (Stout). They are smoked, too, (dried of course) as a hay fever remedy in America (H M Hyatt). Having them growing in the garden will prevent typhoid, so it was believed in Indiana (Brewster).

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