The use of WOODY NIGHTSHADE for skin complaints can be confirmed by the name sometimes given to this plant - Felonwort. That is a sure sign that it would have been used in curing whitlows which were called in Latin 'furunculi', little thieves - felons, in other words (Prior). "Country people commonly used to take the berries of it, and having bruised them, they apply them to Felons, and thereby soon rid their fingers of such troublesome Guests" (Culpeper). Irish country people have a "herb poultice" with which to dress a whitlow - YARROW leaves, fresh grass and a herb called finabawn, whatever that is. Equal parts of the herbs are ground up thoroughly, and then beaten up with white of egg. This is put on the inflamed finger, and it must not be changed for 48 hours (Logan). Another Irish charm is to point a GOOSEBERRY thorn at it nine times in the name of the Trinity (Wilde. 1902). A chewed TOBACCO leaf has been used in Scotland to cure a whitlow (Rorie. 1914). But the best known cure is by use of the plant known as WHITLOW-WORT, Paronychia spp. The generic name is from Greek words meaning 'close to the nail', an allusion to its original use to treat the condition. See also WHITLOW GRASS (Erophila verna).
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