This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
COMMON NAME. Smartweed.
MEDICINAL PART. The whole herb.
Description. -- This is an annual plant, with a smooth stem, branched, often decumbent at the base, of reddish or greenish-brown color, and growing from one to two feet high. The leaves are alternate, lanceolate, petiolate, with pellucid dots, wavy, and scabrous on the margin. The flowers are small, greenish-white or purple, and are disposed in loose, slender, drooping, but finally erect spikes.
History. -- It is a well-known plant, growing in England and America, in ditches, low grounds, among rubbish, and about brooks and water-courses. It flowers in August and September. The whole plant is officinal. It has a biting, pungent, acrid taste, and imparts its virtues to alcohol or water. It should be collected and made into a tincture while fresh. When it is old it is almost worthless. The English variety of this plant possesses the same properties.
Properties and Uses. -- It is stimulant, diuretic, emmenagogue, antiseptic, diaphoretic, etc. The infusion in cold water has been found serviceable in gravel, colds and coughs, and in milk sickness. In cholera, the patients wrapped in a sheet moistened with a hot decoction have recovered.
It is used as a wash in chronic erysipelatous inflammations. The fresh leaves bruised with the leaves of May-weed, and moistened with the oil of turpentine, and applied to the skin, will speedily vesicate. The infusion in cold water forms an excellent local application in the sore mouth of nursing women, and in mercurial ptyalism or salivation. The decoction or infusion in hot water is not so active as when prepared in cold or warm water. It has very many virtues; and its office in my "Restorative Assimilant" (see page 469) it performs well.
Dose. -- Of the infusion, from a wineglassful to a teacupful, three or four times a day.